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21 September 2022

The world of renewables this week

The Silicon Industry Branch of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association has cancelled its weekly polysilicon price publication, claiming that this is “in order to avoid excessive interpretation and misunderstanding of the polysilicon price.” There are other organizations publishing weekly prices, and for several months the polysilicon price has grown by a consistent 0.3% to 0.4% each week, but in the last quarter of the year the price of polysilicon could spike even despite an at least 5% growth of supply each month. With both demand and supply to rise significantly throughout Q4, some “excessive interpretation of the price” could indeed occur, though this will be eased by the confident expectation of lower prices from Q1 2023 on.

German gas importer Uniper has revealed plans for it to be nationalized under control of the German state, after huge losses due to sky high gas prices. The German government will make €8 bn available additional capital and take over 99% of, replacing Finnish company Fortum as the majority owner. Uniper imports about 40% of Germany’s gas supply. It became essential after Russia cut off gas flows from its Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

German utility E.ON said this week it will partner with US hydrogen truck maker Nikola to decarbonize heavy-duty trucking and plan to establish a hydrogen supply and related infrastructure to meet the demands of the heavy-duty truck market in Europe. They will combine Class 8 semi-truck technology with service and maintenance and hydrogen infrastructure.

Sweden’s OX2 has sold a stake in its 9 GW offshore wind development portfolio to Ingka Investments and updates earnings guidance for 2022. Ingka gets 49% of 3 projects in Sweden off the coast of Halland, Gotland and Öland and it will get an initial payment of 610 million Swedish Krona. OX2 will record an extra 584m Krona in profits.

Researchers at MIT, working with other international universities have come up with an aluminum-sulfur battery which it says is cheaper and more effective than lithium-ion. The battery is ideal for BESS, but not for electric vehicles. Research was included from Peking University, Yunnan University, and the Wuhan University of Technology in China as well as the University of Louisville in Kentucky; the University of Waterloo in Canada; Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee as well as MIT. Aluminum and sulfur are the two electrode materials, with a molten salt electrolyte in between which needs to be at around 100°C to operate but this is the natural temperature as it charges and discharges. It is cheap and safe and cannot catch fire.

China’s BYD said this week it will build a factory in Thailand to make EVs for the southeast Asia market and will work with the local WHA Group, to build a $500 million factory in Rayong, says Reuters. The company expects to build 150,000 electric passenger cars a year by 2024.

Amazon has added 71 new renewable projects and a total of 2.7 GW of capacity, and now has 202 renewable energy projects in North America, 117 in Europe, 57 in Asia and the Pacific, one in the Middle East, one in Africa, and its first project in South America. Total renewable energy projects commissioned by Amazon can generate 50,000 GWh or enough to power 4.6 million US homes each year

A consortium has been put together to explore Carbon Capture and Sequestration in Singapore, including Air Liquide, Chevron, Keppel Infrastructure and PetroChina in support of Singapore’s drive to achieve net-zero by 2050. Rethink Energy believes that most of these technologies are pointless, ineffectual and remain too expensive.

LG Energy Solution says that in Q1 2023 it will introduce a new design of lithium ion batteries for the home. It will be modular and easy to install and will offer capacity from 10.6 kWh to 35.4 kWh, with the 10.6 KWh system fitting into 3 modules delivers 10.6 kWh, which can be expanded up to 5 modules to offer a capacity of 17.7 kWh and a second installation gets you up to 35.4 kWh.

China’s State Council approved the construction of two water-pressured nuclear reactors in Guangdong and two in Fujian. This comes as part of China’s efforts to accelerate its transition towards a zero-carbon future.

A €3 billion European Hydrogen Bank has been announced in order to combat the current energy crisis. The bank will fund the future hydrogen market and support hydrogen projects. The European domestic target, combined with hydrogen imports, is ten million tons per annum, which is believed to be enough to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard to decarbonize industries.

Bavaria’s largest electrolysis plant is officially up and running in the Wunsiedler Energiepark. With a power capacity of 8.75 MW, the plant will output 1,350 tons of green hydrogen per year from solar and wind renewable electricity. In the medium term an expansion to 20 MW is planned.

Bloom Energy, a solid oxide fuel cell (SOC) manufacturer, has revealed plans to produce zero-carbon hydrogen at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Plant in Minnesota, US. Bloom will use its proprietary SOC which will make use of the high heat and steam produced by the nuclear reactor. The design stage of a 240kW demonstration project is currently underway, with construction expected to begin in late 2023 and operation in 2024.

BMW has been implementing a digital scanning process to produce digital twins that can be used to plan new plants. BMW intends to use digital scanning and rendering to digitally design new plants before construction, aiming to reduce costs and prevent delays. BMW estimates that around 4 million square meters of indoor space and 9 million square meters of outdoor space has been digitally recorded for use within this project.

Glencore is looking to add lithium to the suite of metals it trades, as prices rise on the back of increasing demand for EV batteries. Entrance seems late by comparison to other mining companies but shows that they see opportunity within the commodity.

Renault, Stellantis and Toyota are the latest automakers to join a platform that mediates patent licensing from tech companies, aiming to simplify access to wireless technology and avoid costly legal battles. Using independent licensing marketplace Avanci, automakers are looking to acquire IP for their EV offerings after a number of brands were successfully sued in the past for IP breaches including Mercedes-Benz, Daimler and Volkswagen Group.

LONGi has posted yet another heterojunction efficiency record, as it seems to do every month or two. This time it’s 26.12% efficiency on a gallium-doped, p-type, heterojunction cell, up by 0.65% from a March result of the same cell type.

From early 2023, Germany will abolish the tax on generated electricity from commercial and single-family residential rooftop photovoltaic systems of up to 30 kW size. Among other measures, solar and storage systems will also be exempted from VAT. Bureaucratic hurdles will be reduced and a 1.5 GW “emergency” solar tender will be held in January, for systems to be commissioned within nine months of FiT award.

Sri Lanka’s Energy Minister intends to seek a credit line from the Indian or Chinese governments for solar panel imports. Electricity bills are one of the focal points of the island nation’s economic crisis.