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9 November 2022

The world of renewables this week

Dominion Energy Virginia said last week that it had reached agreement on how to handle cost overruns on its $9.8 billion, 2.6 GW offshore wind farm, allowing it to go ahead with the project after all. Back in August the Virginia State Corporation Commission said it wanted to impose a “performance guarantee” on the wind farm and this suddenly made it too risky to go ahead. Now the two parties have reached agreement.  In August the SCC said Dominion’s customers must be held harmless for any shortfall in energy production below the wind farm’s expected 42% average annual capacity factor, measured on a three-year rolling average. Dominion and the stakeholders crafted an alternate 50/50 approach for dealing with cost overruns and production shortfalls, which has now been accepted.

Deutsche Telekom which operates as T-Mobile in US said this week it has taken climate action with a handful of initiatives, including a plan to buy only 100% electric cars for its fleet starting in 2023. Deutsche Telekom also said it would “double its energy efficiency gains by 2024” and achieve climate neutrality within its own business operations by 2025.

The General Motors EV version of its Hummer pickup truck has sold out manufacturing capacity for over two years. Which only goes to show what we have said about EV sales in the US – GM and Ford customers want them faster than the company has planned. And any sales shortfall is all in ICE vehicles.

PR firm Hill+Knowlton which is working with the Egyptian government, on COP27, has been revealed to be working with fossil fuel companies like Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil, and a group of 420 scientists have told them they must drop their polluting clients before the pivotal COP27 talks start. Not quite sure if this has happened yet or not. How Hill+Knowlton is still in business after it defended the tobacco companies in to discredit the scientific evidence of the harms of smoking, we do not understand. Certainly if we come across one of their clients we won’t write about them.

The EIA part of the US DoE, this week said that it expects continued high prices for diesel and home heating oils in the US through to early 2023. Its November Short-Term Energy Outlook shows prices above $5 per gallon for the remainder of the year.

Amazon has started using the Rivian made electric vans for delivery of  holiday packages in more than 100 US cities the company said. Deliveries have already started in a dozen cities, including Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, New York, Oakland and Pittsburgh.

E.On said that its nine month earnings showed adjusted EBITDA of €6.1 billion, and adjusted net income of €2.1 billion and that for the year it is still forecasting EBITDA of €7.6 to €7.8 billion, and adjusted net income of €2.3 to €2.5 billion.

The California ISO CAISO reported this week that the heat wave that the US experienced in September this year, which called for its to deliver a peak record load of 52,061 MW was helped out by the use of 3,500 MW of lithium-ion battery storage, without which it might have had to have rolling brownouts.

Canada’s Boralex said this week it has added 600 MW of energy storage projects and 111 MW of wind and solar projects to its project pipeline in its third quarter as it reported an increase in EBITDA for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2022 of $379 million and an operating income of $133 million. The projects are split between Canada and France.

US EV makers Mullen which introduced the I-Go into Europe from a mysterious Chinese supplier, said that it has already found an Irish distributor in Newgate Motor Group, who will take 500 of the cars each year with first deliveries in December.

BP has signed a MoU with the West African country of Mauritania in order to explore large-scale green hydrogen production, joining other oil and gas companies working on energy transition ambitions in the region. Water electrolysis would be powered by either wind or solar, according to BP, but the MoU only points at feasibility studies.

PT Pertamina, an Indonesian petroleum company, is exploring potential geothermal projects in Indonesia alongside Chevron. The downstream products include green hydrogen and green ammonia.

TECO 2030, Shell and partners have received €5 million in funding to retrofit a 18.600 DWT tanker with a 2.4 MW fuel cell system and 4 tons compressed hydrogen tank in 2024. All beneficiaries have now signed the GA Declaration of Honor, stating that they are committed to participate in the project.

Oman launched its first green hydrogen auction as it chases a goal of one million tons of production in 2030. Through the auction, tenders will offer up to six plots of land on which it wants to see developers build fully integrated green hydrogen production plants, including renewables, water desalination and electrolyzer facilities.

A team led by Mai Yaohua from Jinan University’s New Energy Technology Research Institute has obtained third-party confirmation for their result of 36% perovskite module efficiency in indoor light conditions. This result is reminiscent of Polish manufacturer Saule Technologies’ emphasis on indoor perovskites for device usage.

South Africa will invest $7.65 billion of an $8.5 billion package from the US, UK, EU, Germany and France into its energy grid, mainly transmission, renewable generation, and some EV and hydrogen.

California avoided any rolling blackouts in the course of this year’s September heatwave, unlike previous years. A report published by grid operator CAISO attributes this success to 3.5 GW of battery energy storage built since 2020, allied to various power consumption, power market and cross-state energy trading reforms. The grid was able to endure peak demand of 52 GW, whereas in 2020 it fell a few hundred MW short of 47 GW peak load.

Sunpower has announced partnerships with home builder KB Homes, University of California Irvine, Schneider Electric, Southern California Edison, Kia, and the Department of Energy (DoE) to design microgrid communities, starting with KB Homes’ Oak Shade and Durango developments.

Canada’s Industry Minister has ordered 3 Chinese companies to divest their ownership from 3 Canadian lithium companies. This order was made on national security grounds claiming that the presence of these companies within critical mineral supply chains would amount to a national security risk. China’s Sinomine was forced to divest from Power Metals, Chengze Lithium from Lithium Chile, and Zangge Mining from Ultra Lithium. As a result of this Ultra Lithium and Zangge Mining have mutually agreed to terminate an agreement concerning Laguna Verde in Chile.

ZPN Energy is a UK-based provider of stationary energy storage systems, EV charging infrastructure. The company does not manufacture its own batteries and instead opts to import them from China, currently this has been LFP batteries for stationary storage applications. The company then applies its own battery management system where it then works alongside local solar installation companies to provide solar+storage options, primarily to commercial customers. The company is battery agnostic since its primary product is its battery management system which can be adapted accordingly to different chemistries. It was mentioned that both EV charging and stationary storage markets were fairly competitive in the UK, but that the company has interest coming from outside of the UK due to its price positioning.

BMW is set to spend $1.7 billion expanding its US operations $1 billion will be spent expanding the company’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, while the remainder will build a battery assembly plant in Woodruff, SC. BMW plans to produce at least 6 fully electric Model X’s at the plant by 2030. Envision AESC will produce specially designed circular cells for BMW’s 6th generation if its eDrive technology, which BMW claims will improve energy density by 20%, charging speed by 30% and increase range by 30%. The batteries will use significant amounts of recycled materials in their construction which BMW is prioritizing as a means to reduce raw material costs.

The Saudi Investment Authority (PIF) and Foxconn have signed a deal to create CEER, a Saudi Arabia-based EV company that will support the development of a local EV manufacturing industry within the country. It should be noted that either this company or the Council of European Energy Regulators may have to find a new acronym. The company will license technology from BMW, and will focus on infotainment, connectivity, and autonomous driving capabilities. The vehicles are scheduled to be available in 2025. The crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman claims that this project will add up to 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $8 billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2034.