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16 June 2022

The world of renewables this week

Germany energy company HH2E will invest €1 billion in a green hydrogen production plant in Germany, as part of a bid to reduce the country’s dependence on Russia’s natural gas and to meets its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045. The project, which marks the largest single investment in Germany’s hydrogen sector to date, will include an electrolyzer powered by offshore wind in the Baltic Sea, as well as a portfolio of onshore wind and solar projects.

The UK is aiming to strike a deal with EDF to keep one of the country’s last remaining coal-fired power stations running for one more winter. The West Burton A power station in Nottinghamshire was scheduled to shut in October, with its closure postponed to March if negotiations are successful. The government insists that it will still follow through with its plan to shut all coal-fired power stations by 2024, and that this measure is simply to bolster Russian-free supply and to reduce energy prices ahead of the coming winter.

French oil major Total has agreed to buy a 25% stake in Adani New Industries, as part of plans to bolster its green hydrogen investments. Adani New Industries has pledged $50 billion of investment in the sector over the next 10 years, with plans to build capacity to produce one million tons of green hydrogen per year by 2030.

India will launch a tender for up to 4 GW of offshore wind capacity off the coast of Tamil Nadu in the next three to four months, according to plans announced this week. This will be followed by two further 4 GW sales over the next two years, with 5 GW offered for the five years up to 2030. Bidding for the first 12 GW will work on a single stage two envelope model with bidders evaluated based on their techno-commercial capabilities.

Denmark has boosted its plans for offshore wind capacity, raising the country’s target capacity for 2030 from 8.9 GW to 12.9 GW. It expects that much of the power produced from this new capacity will be used in power-to-X plants to produce green hydrogen. Denmark currently has an offshore wind capacity of 2.3 GW.

Semco Maritime has acquired a 20% stake in CPower Energy, with both companies forming a strategic partnership to help grow the offshore wind market.

The polysilicon price in China has risen again, with the highest observed price at $41.7 per kilogram, meaning a new record high price (for the past ten years) is soon to be set.

China Silicon Industry, an industry body, has stated that solar wafer production in China was between 26 GW and 27 GW in June, which annualises to between 312 GW and 324 GW. Meanwhile polysilicon supply was 70,000 tons for the month, which is enough (at 2.9 grams per Watt) for 24.1 GW to be manufactured.

Azure Power has invested $12.9 million in Indian module manufacturer Premier Energies and has secured a 600 MW supply deal for each of the next four years from the company, whose production capacity is at 1.25 GW.

Mitsubishi and Kyushu Electric Power are co-operating on grid-scale energy storage aimed at reducing solar curtailment on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The island has 10 GW of solar and 4 GW of nuclear capacity – which cannot ramp up and down to match solar variation, resulting in curtailment of 4.4% last year, up from 3.8% in 2020.

REC Silicon has signed an MoU with Ferroglobe for supply of high-purity silicon metal, to be processed into solar-grade polysilicon at REC’s Moses Lake factory in Washington State.

India’s Energy Minister R.K. Singh has reiterated that the recently-imposed 40% module, 25% cell BCD tariff policy will be maintained even as developers begin to see a shortage of solar panel supplies. The Minister stated that he “wants everything Made in India” – and it is possible that this uncompromising position stems from a lack of appreciation for the time necessary for India’s manufacturing capacity to scale up, as well as the difficulty of importing modules or cells against both the BCD and the high polysilicon price. As such, India is headed for a few years of declining installations starting in 2023, and lasting until either domestic manufacturing catches up – which may well use Chinese cells in Indian modules to dodge the higher 40% tariff – or until the tariff is cancelled, which is unlikely.

China’s Jilin Province has proposed 3,000 villages must install either 100 kW of wind power each, or 200 kW of solar, with full coverage of the scheme across the province by 2024.

There is still no movement on its share price yet, but Nikola has reported that early customers have begun taking delivers of its Tre batter-electric semi-trucks. The company also says that its trucks have qualified for incentives in the State of New York, at a rate of $185,000 in rebates per truck. But the short sellers that initially demonstrated that the previous CEO had shown trucks which had no engines, running down a hill on gravity alone, as promotional videos – still seem to have ever investors suspicious still of even the new management team. The company says it will produce between 300 and 500 trucks this year, and that’s without even getting to the hydrogen trucks which it originally set up to make, which are not due yet.

CNN has reported that BYD expects to be making LFP batteries for Tesla shortly. Which is odd since currently CATL, far less of a rival to Tesla itself, has been supplying Tesla Shanghai withy LFP batteries so far, and has looked to build factories overseas to extend and continue this. Tesla may do well to have supply arrangement with both and use some of key car models and others for grid energy storage. BYD says of its batteries that they are hugely resilient against thermal runaway, which would make them very attractive to Tesla for sure. In the West Tesla uses NMC batteries supplied by LG Energy Solution and the 4680 style batteries made in Japan by Panasonic.

Giant commodities multinational Trafigura says it has made an investment in Malta Inc, a  based long-duration energy storage specialist. Malta is working with Siemens to provide it with heat pumps, and other existing suppliers to use heat as storage. A heat pump can give you 300% of the energy you would get from using electricity to make heat, by instead pumping heat away from a source of heat using a refrigerant. As a result that energy when converted from heat (it uses a cold source and a hot source) you get back perhaps a third of that energy. So you start with 100%, the heat pumps turns it into 300%, and then 33% of that gives you back 100%, give or take losses in transport. The idea is revolutionary, the technology is all well understood. So far funding has only been $30 million or so, and the product not yet fully undefined, and it did not say how much Trafigura is in for. Trafigura has also spent about $30 million on about 8 tech start-ups, mostly in hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels, electricity storage and emissions capture.

Ford has pulled new sales of its Mustang Mach-E electric car and recalled almost 50,000 of them over a battery heating issue. The battery should not blow up or anything, but it might just cut out power. This is nearly half the cars that it has sold of the Mustang Mach-E, most of which are in the US. It will issue an over the air software update to fix it next month, or they can drive into a Ford dealer now. In September last year the same car had a recall for its roof glass and windshield not being stuck on well enough.

GE says it is tripling its solar and battery energy storage Power Electronics Systems manufacturing capacity by the end of 2022 up to 9 GW per annum. This is due to strong growth order book building up over the past few months. The systems are manufactured at GE’s Renewable Hybrids factory in Vallam, near Chennai, India. Product names include the FLEXINVERTER and the FLEXRESERVOIR.

Chinese EV maker NIO had Q1 revenues of $1,563.4 million with 25,768 vehicles delivered including 4,341 ES8s, 13,620 ES6s, 7,644 EC6s and 163 ET7s, up 28.5% from Q1. Vehicle margin was 18.1% compared with 21.2% in Q1 2021. In May NIO listed on the Singapore stock exchange.