U.N. Energy Efficiency Mandate for Shipping Industry
Roughly 50,000 ships carry 90 percent of the worlds trade cargo every year, and unbeknownst to most, these ships tend to run on a heavily polluting oil known as bunker fuel. The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has decided to regulate both seafaring cargo and transport vessels to meet new energy efficiency and carbon emission guidelines. Unlike attempts by the U.N. to regulate carbon emissions in other sectors, this new set of rules will be applied equally to all U.N. countries regardless of whether they are industrialized or developing.
According to the IMO, shipping was responsible for 2.7 percent of global carbon emissions in 2007, but that could double or even triple by mid-century if no action is taken now.
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The IMO’s Environmental Protection Committee concluded at a weeklong meeting that all ships built in the future must reduce pollution from today’s averages. The levels of emissions reduction will be based on an efficiency index for ships of varying sizes and types. The mandates state that shipbuilders may decide exactly how to meet the new standards.
“As long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, ship designers and builders would be free to use the most cost-efficient solutions for the ship to comply with the regulations,” the resolution said.
“This is a very positive and important first step for a truly global, binding measure to reduce CO2 emissions,” Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner on climate action, said from Brussels.
The new rules mandate that ships contracted in the first five years after 2015 must improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent. The standards are to be tightened every subsequent five years. By 2030, a 30 percent reduction rate would be set for most types of ships, based on the average of those built between 1999 to 2009.
The committee is also debating on whether to charge ships for carbon emissions, however, the delegation cannot yet agree on how such taxes would be spent.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.