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5 October 2022

The world of renewables this week

It seems that the entirely fake UK generator Drax Group, which continuously claims it is a big renewables provider, has been exposed by the UK investigations TV program Panorama – which says it is simply burning down environmentally important Canadian forests. Rethink has raised question marks over the amount of energy used to shred its wood pellets, and then dry them and transport them across 3,000 miles of ocean, and whether that is all included in the carbon count, and why the UK government has given it £6 billion in subsidies. Now the worst fears have been realized that it is simply a logger, burning forests. Panorama have provided satellite images, and traced logging licenses and used drone footage to confirm its findings. The current Government will now either have to stop the subsidies or ignore an outraged public.

The Germany government has said it will spend €200 billion on fighting soaring energy prices – which will be used to prevent the German in the street from paying full price for gas for heating or electricity. It’s interesting that the UK Prime Minister got financially crucified for doing something very similar to fight inflation due to energy prices, but the German government is seen as wise, pragmatic and sensible for doing much the same. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that “prices must go down.” Perhaps it was how he presented it.

New York has joined California in settling on 2035 for a ban on new internal combustion engine vehicle sales. As it became clear in China and Europe that this type of policy would not be reversed, consumers began to buy EVs in earnest more than ten years before the deadlines came into play. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation will develop draft rules requiring a growing percentage of new light-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles, beginning with 35% in model year 2026. There will almost certainly be a legal challenge to this.

Thirteen municipal electricity departments in Massachusetts have agreed to buy 110 GWh of hydroelectric power from FirstLight Power’s two hydroelectric facilities in Connecticut. This will help the Massachusetts requirement of getting 50% of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2030.

US investor owned energy company Vistra said it would look to extend its Luminant Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant through to 2053, 20 years beyond its original license and has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It will all depend upon how much refurbishment and safety work the Commission insists upon, as to whether or not this will be financially viable. The two plants offer 2.4 GW. Vistra says it will have 7.3 GW of zero-carbon generation online by 2026 across Texas, California, and Illinois and saving Comanche Peak would likely save 600 jobs. They two plants are scheduled to close in 2030 and 2031.

Wind giant Siemens Gamesa has fired its onshore CEO, Lars Bondo Krogsgaard. The Siemens Gamesa CEO, Jochen Eickholt, will temporarily take charge of the onshore division until a replacement will be found. The news comes after the company announced 2,900 jobs cut as part of a new strategy. Additionally, Siemens has unveiled a new 7MW onshore wind turbine.

Planning permission for a £300 million hydrogen hub in Manchester, UK has been given by the Trafford Council. The first phase of the project will see 15-20MW worth of power capacity be deployed with a projected capability of 200MW.

Cemvita Factory, US start-up backed by Mitsubishi and United Airlines, claims to have paved the way forward for ‘gold’ hydrogen that will cost less than $1/kg. The production method consists of special microbes deployed in abandoned oil and gas wells that consume the remaining fossil fuels and excrete clean hydrogen.

OX2, a renewable project developer, has added a 5GW project to its portfolio. The wind farms will be located outside the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland, and will make use of a total of 610 wind turbines.

French developer, Engie, has made a firm order for 120 wind turbines from Vestas, with an option for an additional 68, which will power a wind farm in Brazil worth 846MW. This will be the largest wind farm in Latin America.

Greenpeace has published a report made in collaboration with the BBC about oil production in Southern Iraq. The two found that BP, lead contractor of the Rumaila field since 2009, which produces roughly a third of Iraq’s oil output has been omitting the Rumaila field’s contributions to GHG emissions from flaring, amounting to roughly 4.52 million tons of CO2 equivalent. BP avoids reporting data from this particular field because it technically has no ownership of the field, despite the company that manages it, the Basra Energy Company having been established by BP and PetroChina. If BP was to include the Rumaila field’s flaring emissions within its data, it would more than double their CO2e emissions for 2021.

Hurricane Ian has left 2.5 million Floridians disconnected from power as it raged through the state. The storm has cut off main transport routes to the island, blocking off rescue vehicle access from many who are still

trapped. The storm has been classified as a category 4 hurricane, tying it for the 5th strongest in history to hit the US. A significant amount of infrastructure was damaged due to the hurricane, which will be rebuilt with federal and private investment. The storm had already brought down Cuba’s electrical grid before hitting Florida.

Hitachi buys out remaining 19.9% share of joint venture from ABB of Hitachi Energy. Hitachi Energy has products within various power sector technologies from transmission infrastructure to producing its own BESS systems. This gives Hitachi full ownership of its grid, transmission and energy storage products. Also, a solar + storage plant in Canada came online at the end of September using Hitachi’s BESS technologies to service a water treatment plant.

Fluence is to build 250MW energy storage unit to alleviate throughput for transmission lines in Germany. Transmission system operator (TSO) TransnetBW will benefit from 2 such systems with the first to be completed in 2025. The system will have 1 hour’s capacity at 250MWh and will be installed along transmission lines to control power flows throughout Germany. The aim is for this to lead to increased grid transmission efficiency.

A consortium of plant manufacturers, metrology companies and research institutions headed by Fraunhofer ISE has formulated a proof of concept for a silicon wafer production line with doubled output speed, and presented details at the earth World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion last week.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has allowed the Basic Customs Duty (BCD) of 40% on imported modules and 25% for cells, and the General Services Tax (GST) increase from 5% to 12%, to be considered as “Change in Law” even for projects whose bids were submitted prior to March 9th and whose commissioned date schedule falls later than April 2022. This will allow project developers to pass on the extra costs.

New South Wales has launched a 10-year series of renewable energy plus storage auctions to replace the Australian state’s 12 GW coal power plant fleet with 12 GW of renewables and2 GW of long-duration energy storage. At the same time Queensland, with a similar 12 GW coal fleet, has promised to close that capacity by 2035, and according to its new energy blueprint, this state of only 5 million people will be investing $40 billion in renewables through to 2035, featuring 25 GW of utility-scale split evenly wind-solar, 7 GW of rooftop solar, and 7 GW of pumped hydro. That is before accounting for a rapid scenario of EV adoption and export-destined green hydrogen. Australian coal plant owner AGL Energy has also moved forward the closure of its coal plants from 2035 to 2045.