An airplane in the skies over France. The government there wants to cut short-haul flights in the country to reduce emissions.
Alain Pitton | Nurphoto | Getty Images
A French ban on domestic short-haul flights when alternative train journeys exist came into force this week, with one lawmaker hailing it as “an essential step” in the country’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The law, which was published via decree, essentially prohibits public internal flights between French destinations when a train journey of under 2 hours and 30 minutes is available.
France is home to an extensive high-speed rail network. According to a CNBC translation, the flight substitution applies only when train travel “provides a satisfactory alternative service.”
It means public passenger flights between Paris-Orly and cities like Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon, are affected by the law. Connecting flights are not impacted.
In a statement translated by CNBC, Clément Beaune, transport minister, described the move as “an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Beaune also said the ban was a “global first that is fully in line with the Government’s policy of encouraging the use of modes of transportation that emit fewer greenhouse gases.”
The World Wildlife Fund describes the environmental footprint of aviation as “one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change.”
The WWF also says air travel is “currently the most carbon intensive activity an individual can make.”
The news out of France comes as the wider debate about private jet use wages on. In March 2023, analysis published by Greenpeace showed the number of private jet flights in Europe last year jumped by 64% to a record high of 572,806.
The use of private jets by high-profile, wealthy people generates a large amount of discussion.
During a BBC interview earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was asked for his view on the charge that a climate change campaigner’s use of a private jet was hypocritical.
“Well, I buy the gold standard of, funding (CO2 removal firm) Climeworks to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates, who was being interviewed in Kenya, replied.
“And I spend billions of dollars on … climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay at home and not come to Kenya and learn about farming and malaria?”
The billionaire added that he was “comfortable with the idea that, not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy Group is spending, that I’m part of the solution.”
While the direct air capture sector has high-profile backers, it faces challenges. The International Energy Agency notes that capturing carbon dioxide from the air “is more energy intensive and therefore expensive than capturing it from a point source.”
It adds that technologies like direct air capture “are not an alternative to cutting emissions or an excuse for delayed action, but they can be an important part of the suite of technology options used to achieve climate goals.”
—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report
The first US-built offshore wind substation is sailing to New York
The first US-built offshore wind substation is complete and headed to South Fork Wind – a major milestone for the US offshore wind industry.
Offshore substations collect and stabilize power that the wind turbines generate, preparing it for transmission to shore. South Fork Wind’s 1,500-ton, 60-foot-tall substation was designed and engineered in Kansas, and built near Corpus Christi by Kiewit Offshore Services, the largest offshore fabricator in the US.
The first US-built offshore wind substation left Kiewit’s factory on a ship late last week. It’s going to cross the Gulf of Mexico and then sail up the East Coast for installation off Long Island in a few weeks.
David Hardy, group EVP and CEO Americas at Ørsted, said:
The completion of South Fork Wind’s offshore wind substation is yet another first for this groundbreaking project and moves us one step closer to the project’s first ‘steel in the water.’
South Fork, which is being jointly developed by Danish wind giant Ørsted and energy provider Eversource, is expected to be operational by 2023, when it will become the first completed utility-scale offshore wind farm in US federal waters.
Cable laying is currently under way, and the installation of monopile foundations will begin in coming weeks.
The 132 megawatt (MW), 12-turbine project will produce enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in New York.
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Read more: The first US-built offshore wind service ship reaches a milestone
Quick Charge Podcast: May 29, 2023
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ZParq completes $2.7M seed round to bring ultracompact electric marine motors to market
Swedish marine propulsion startup ZParq announced it has successfully completed a seed round led by cleantech investors, totaling 2.5 million euros ($2.68M). With the fresh funding, ZParq looks to bring its compact electric marine motors, powertrains, and other adjacent technologies to market to help decarbonize the segment.
ZParq is a young startup founded in Sweden in 2020, which, according to the company, was founded to challenge the limits of marine propulsion by providing the most compact and scalable systems for propeller-driven watercraft. Furthermore, the startup is striving to deliver products that are designed to be sustainable over the entire value chain. Per the company site:
Our founding team covers the span of electromechanical design, hydrodynamics, electronics and product design. We’ve been developing our technology to fill the gap where compact submersible electric propulsion systems are needed for high performance applications.
As you’ll see below, ZParq has already developed and sleek and compact portfolio of marine technologies, including electric motors, battery packs, inverters, levers, and even a steering joystick. Early on, ZParq joined the portfolio of EIT InnoEnergy – the largest impact cleantech investor in Europe, who was the startup’s first institutional investor.
Now, EIT InnoEnergy, along with a couple of other capital venture funds, have opened up their checkbooks to help get ZParq’s electric marine motors out to market and beyond.
ZParq’s electric marine motors are sustainable end-to-end
The startup recently shared details of its successful seed round coled by Santander (via the Santander InnoEnergy Climate Fund) and Almi Invest GreenTech. EIT InnoEnergy also participated once again.
Each of these funds is focused around investments in early-stage companies developing new technologies to support a circular economy and combat climate change. Clearly, they see potential in ZParq – which is touting all-electric marine motors that are significantly smaller and more efficient compared to everything else on the current market.
ZParq states the motor’s light design reduces raw material and CO2 footprint by more than 50% in the production phase, and the circular design approach of its products helps reduce their environmental impact and climate footprint throughout their entire life cycle. ZParq CEO Jonas Genchel spoke to the successful seed round and the venture capitalists that have shown their support:
We are very happy to get Santander and Almi Invest GreenTech as new investors, they will provide us with the support required to finalize development of our first products and enable shipment to our customers already this year. Our scalable and modular technology has generated an overwhelming interest from boat manufacturers and ship builders globally, and we have customers within the complete range from small leisure boats to commercial vessels waiting for our powertrains. The company is currently in pilot phase with several OEMs and boat builders who are testing its 10kW and 50kW motors. It aims to have several units operating in water by this summer
It appears ZParq already has plenty of exciting electric marine technology in the works, including more powerful motors, so we will be sure to track its progress as these products approach market launch. A fresh 2.5 million euros should certainly help it continue to innovate and hopefully find success. More to come.
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