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Sustainable Switch: Botswana and Portugal set sights on solar

·7 min read

Sharon Kimathi Energy and ESG Editor, Reuters Digital sharon.kimathi@thomsonreuters.com


The transition to renewables has picked up pace this week as a slew of government agencies around the globe launch solar power projects. Portugal is working on a mega floating solar park with 12,000 solar panels the size of four soccer pitches, whilst Botswana is inviting bids from power producers to build a large solar power plant.

Blessed by long hours of sunshine and Atlantic winds, Portugal has accelerated https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/portugal-set-start-up-europes-largest-floating-solar-park-2022-05-09 its shift to renewables. Miguel Patena, EDP group director in charge of the solar project, said on May 5 when tugboats moved the panels into position that electricity produced from the floating park, with installed capacity of 5 megawatts (MW), would cost a third of that produced from a gas-fired plant. Sun-filled Botswana has some of the world's highest https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/botswana-invites-bids-build-200-mw-solar-plant-2022-05-09 levels of direct normal (solar) irradiation (DNI) - a measure of the amount of sunlight - at over 3,000 kWh/m2 per annum. The bid – closing on June 8 – covers financing, construction, operation and maintenance as well as decommissioning the plant at the end of its economic life, according to a document published by the country's Ministry of Minerals and Energy.

But it’s not just government bodies working on energy transition projects this week as stock exchanges and corporations are getting involved. The Intercontinental Exchange launched a nature-based solutions carbon credit futures http://reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/ice-launches-nature-based-carbon-credit-futures-contract-2022-05-09 contract to help bring price signals to the voluntary carbon market. Many global companies such as oil major Shell have pledged to reach net zero emissions and said they would seek to use some nature-based credits to help compensate for emission reductions they were unable to cut from their operations.

Elsewhere, Austrian hydropower utility Verbund https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/verbund-buys-portfolio-spanish-renewable-assets-2022-05-09 acquired a portfolio of renewable energy assets in Spain from local private equity fund Q-Energy for an undisclosed sum. The deal is part of Verbund's plan to produce 20-25% of its electricity from photovoltaic sources and offshore wind farms.

* Talking Points - BlackRock said on Tuesday it expected to support fewer shareholder resolutions https://www.reuters.com/business/blackrock-back-fewer-shareholder-resolutions-this-agm-season-2022-05-10 on issues such as climate change in the current season of annual general meetings, as many proposals were too prescriptive. - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) extended the period https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/us-sec-gives-public-until-june-17-weigh-climate-risk-proposal-amid-significant-2022-05-09 for public comment on its landmark proposal to require U.S.-listed companies to disclose a range of climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions until June 17. - Rules may be needed to stop the risk of greenwashing https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britain-decide-this-year-whether-regulate-esg-raters-2022-05-09 from "totally unregulated" environment, social and governance (ESG) ratings used for investing in sustainable assets, an official from Britain's finance ministry said on Monday. - Activist investor Daniel Loeb, who wants Royal Dutch Shell to break https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/third-points-loeb-praises-shell-moves-sticks-by-calls-breakup-2022-05-07 apart, applauded the energy giant's decision to move its headquarters even as he sticks to views that a different corporate structure would make it more successful. - Breakingviews: The Detroit automaker Ford is selling part of its stake https://www.reuters.com/breakingviews/ford-wisely-trims-its-electric-bets-2022-05-09 in stumbling electric startup Rivian, just as its own costly electric turnaround takes hold.

* In Conversation Reuters correspondent Ross Kerber https://www.reuters.com/authors/ross-kerberspeaks with Paul Simpson, CEO at the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an international non-profit organization Q: What are some of the challenges facing attempts to curb emissions? A: "The gap between the science and the markets still needs to be addressed. We have about a 7% per-annum reduction in emissions that’s needed, it’s not good that we needed COVID to get emissions down 8% in 2020, and since then they have rebounded. I’m encouraged by changes like more (government-required) disclosure. One thing we need is really rapid delivery of capital to green. The pace is insufficient." Q: Hasn’t Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the energy transition? A: "In the short term governments are, rightly, trying to switch off Russian oil and gas. But in the medium term I think it will be a positive catalyst to drive the energy transition."

* ESG Lens

The European Union executive wants to speed up the bloc's green transition https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/eu-plans-one-year-renewable-energy-permits-faster-green-shift-2022-05-09and cut its reliance on Russian fuels by allowing some renewable energy projects to receive permits within a year, a draft document shows. As part of this, the European Commission will propose rules requiring countries to designate "go-to areas" of land or sea suitable for renewable energy, where such projects would have a low environmental impact, the draft legislative proposal shows.

* ESG Movers and Shakers - Paul Simpson will be stepping down on June 30 as CEO of international non-profit CDP after two decades of leadership. He will leave the organization at the end of July to take some time off to spend with his family and consider what he will do next. CDP is in the process of launching a search for a new CEO to ensure a smooth transition. - Global investment organization EQT has appointed two new hires to its sustainability team. Tinna Nielsen has joined as an equitable transformation lead for social and human sustainability. She previously worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the United Nations, and as a consultant across multiple industries. - Angela Jhanji joins EQT Private Capital as managing director for sustainability integration. Jhanji joins EQT from Grant Thornton, where she was an ESG director and played a pivotal role in launching and leading the company’s U.S.advisory services in ESG and sustainability. - Global law firm Allen & Overy has appointed Dennis Quinio as the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the Americas, based in the New York office. Quinio comes from international law firm Milbank, where he served as the associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion. He has more than a dozen years of experience advocating for, developing and leading diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives in law firms.

* Quote of the Day "Today, most energy transition investors are investing in the dark. The uncertainties are immense around the science, regulation, technology, the corporate response, consumer behavior and many other key complexities which will determine the path of global energy transition to net zero emissions." Stan Miranda, CEO of Partners Capital, an international outsourced investment office

* Looking Ahead

* The City of London hosts the Net Zero Delivery Summit on May 11-12 to discuss progress made since last year’s climate talks in Scotland and what needs to happen before COP27 in Egypt in November.

* The European Parliament's environment committee will vote to confirm its position on a proposed EU law to end sales of new CO2-emitting cars by 2035 on May 11.

* Representatives from Colombia's energy ministry, regulators and major oil producers will gather in Cartagena for a conference on sustainability and renewable energy on May 11.

* The Biden administration will hold an auction for two leased areas off the Carolina coast to offshore wind energy developers on May 11. * Franchise The Great Reboot https://www.reuters.com/world/the-great-reboot For decades, a cash-filled envelope - or "sobre" - was how hundreds of thousands of Spaniards working without legal contracts https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/pandemic-pushes-spanish-workers-out-shadows-2022-05-09 in tourism, agriculture or construction collected their salaries. COVID-19, however, may finally be putting paid to the "sobre", economic data and workers' experiences suggest - accelerating a six-year-long crackdown in Spain on the shadow economy and providing a welcome boost to the country's public finances.

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