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16 November 2022

The world of renewables this week

Yet another Western wind turbine maker in the form of Germany’s Nordex reported this week, with sales of €3.9 billion for the three quarters so far, down only 4%, with its order book increasing somewhat. It made a loss of €200 million, twice that of this time last year. Quarterly sales were €1.7 billion, on the rise. The market has seen GE make layoffs in the US and Vestas missing its revenue target substantially, as Siemens Gamesa grew revenues to just $3.4 billion for the quarter, but registered restructuring costs of some €375 million. Nordex increased its order backlog €9.7 billion and released its N175/6.X turbine for locations with lighter and more moderate winds.

Airly announced that it has raised $5.5 million to offer an air pollution platform along with actionable insights. Airly has now raised $8.8 million since March 2021, and it will now scale its air quality monitoring platform across 40 countries. The company points out that more than 10 million people die each year from air pollution.

Last week EOS Energy Enterprises which offers zinc-powered long-duration energy storage systems, said it has an order for 35 MWh energy storage system capable of 10-hour discharge duration worth $13.5 million. It is being funded by a grant through the CEC’s Long-Duration Energy Storage Program as part of a project being carried out by Indian Energy, a 100 percent Native American-owned business.

Electrek said this week that Tesla has canceled many solar projects across the US and seems to be shutting down select solar operations. Tesla had record US residential solar deployments in Q2 and in Q3 put in 94 MW of solar power, up 13%. Electrek says it has had half a dozen reports from Tesla Solar customers who have been told Tesla will not be moving forward and canceling the order and says this applies to the greater Los Angeles area, Northern California, Oregon, and Florida and has laid of certain employees form solar.

Moodys has said it now has a negative outlook for the regulated utility sector, due to high gas prices, inflation and recession. It is concerned that there will be a high number of homes who cannot pay their bills.

The US Department of Energy said this week it would put $350 million into about 11 Long-Duration Energy Storage demonstration projects which can deliver electricity for 10 hours to 24 hours or longer to support a low-cost, reliable, carbon-free electric grid. For some this is way too late as they are already in volume production with such systems, for others, which have been unable to scale their manufacturing, this is a lifeline and a chance to get a large scale project off the ground. Interest needs to be in by December, and decisions will be made in March.

In another Department of Energy announcement $250 million is being made available for funding through the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund Capitalization Grant Program to invest in energy audits and energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits of commercial and residential buildings. That’s a mere drop in the ocean.

Finally the Department of Energy is also taking $1.5 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act to build and upgrade America’s national laboratories to help them develop advanced energy technologies and groundbreaking tools like Argonne National Laboratory’s powerful new supercomputer, Aurora, that we need to advance new frontiers, like modeling climate change and developing vaccines.

The SunZia Transmission line in the US has achieved almost full permitting, a 550-mile 525 kV high-voltage direct current transmission line between central New Mexico and south-central Arizona, with the capacity to transport 3,000 MW of clean, renewable energy. It took an investment of more than $8 billion to build this says developer Pattern Energy Group. Construction will begin on schedule in mid-2023.

UK solar developer Toucan Energy Holdings has gone bankrupt and has gone into administration owing £500 million says Bloomberg. The company owns 53 solar farms and had borrowed £655 million from Thurrock Council over the course of four years. Presumably selling off that many solar farms should get most of that money back.

H2, a South Korean flow battery maker making Vanadium flow batteries has secured $15 million in series B funding and will use it to extend its manufacturing capacity and add crucial elements of automation to its factories to output 330MWh of capacity each year. It will push into the US and UK markets now.

According to an IEEFA analysis, seven Asian countries – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand – saved a combined $34 billion in H1 2022 on fuel costs thanks to their solar fleets. In China specifically, whose solar fleet grew from 305 GW to 340 GW in the period, $21 billion was saved on gas and coal imports, with solar meeting 5% of power demand. Vietnam’s around 24 GW fleet, with significant curtailment issues, saw it save $1.7 billion, while South Korea’s 20 GW fleet saved $1.5 billion.

California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has yet again published a draft Net Metering reform proposal, NEM 3.0, which has yet again met with criticism from the industry. This latest proposal removes the $8 per kW per month grid connection fee featured in the prior draft from late 2021, and introduces a $900 million upfront incentive program for new adopters. In order to promote domestic battery adoption the new NEM draft would also double down on time-of-day pricing for residential customers. On the downside for rooftop solar, the proposal would reduce payments for export to the grid from $30 per MWh to $8 per MWh.

The Senate of France has passed legislation requiring outdoor car parks of 80 or more parking spots to have solar panels installed. There are various caveats such as exemptions for heritage sites and heavy goods vehicles, but according to Senator Jean-Pierre Corbisez, this law will add between 6.7 GW and 11 GW of solar capacity. Car parks of between 80 and 400 spots are allowed five years to install photovoltaic shade roofs from June 2023, while those of more than 400 spots will have three years. In September the French government budgeted $16 billion to limit electricity price rises to 15% for small consumers. The Prime Minister stated that prices would otherwise have risen 120%.

China’s electricity consumption grew by only 3.8% year-on-year across the first ten months of 2022 according to the latest National Energy Administration data, with October itself seeing only 2.2% increase over October 2021. Across the ten-month period primary industry consumption grew by 9.9%, secondary by only 1.7%, and tertiary by 4.2%, while domestic consumption grew by a massive 12.6%. Of those categories, secondary industry accounts for two-thirds of the total.

US Customs and Border Protection have detained 1,053 shipments of solar panels suspected of using raw materials from China’s Xinjiang Province. According to industry sources cited by Reuters, these shipments amount to around 1 GW and mostly come from LONGi, Trina Solar, and JinkoSolar.

JinkoSolar has posted a record n-type TOPCon efficiency of 23.86% for a module, as compared to 26.1% cell efficiency from the same company, both for 182mm size. This record was verified by TUV Rheinland.

The Shanghai Metals Market estimates TOPCon production capacity will reach 77.4 GW by the end of 2022 and 305.9 GW by the end of 2023.

A newly formed developer, Innovo Group, is targeting a 1.5GW/9GWh BESS development portfolio in Italy and the UK. Its first project will be the development of a 72MW/432MWh system in Abruzzo, central Italy using lithium-ion batteries. It claims that “lithium ion is considered the most viable chemistry on the market based on its modularity, high efficiency and high density.” Whether or not this will hold true to the project’s completion in early 2024 is yet to be seen. The company claims to be open to using alternate chemistries for its products should the economic viability of different chemistries affect project affordability. Innovo’s engineering director Stefano Girolami says that the company has moved to a 6-hour model because the energy sector is increasingly energy intensive rather than power intensive, citing a shift towards using energy storage for energy trading rather than providing frequency response services. He does recognize that developments need to be made with regards to lithium-ion’s degradation and sustainability issues.

According to a joint investigation from Réporter Brasil, Greenpeace Brazil, and Unearthed, JBS, the world’s largest meat company, has admitted to buying nearly 9,000 cattle from a convicted criminal from Brazil between 2018 and 2022, claiming itself a victim of fraud when presented with evidence. The cattle were purchased from Chaules Pozzebon, a man widely considered to be the largest deforester in Brazil who illegally stripped the amazon of 2,844 hectares of forest cover to support cattle farming. This time period heavily coincides with Jair Bolsonaro’s time as president, alongside his lax attitude to addressing deforestation within the country and his naked ambition to court the votes of cattle farmers.

Mercedes has cut vehicle costs in China by up to $33,000 as vehicle sales lag amid stiff competition from domestic OEMs. The company has reduced the price of its EQE model by 50,000 yuan and is reimbursing customers who bought before the price reduction. The move marks a wider shift among western OEMs including Tesla to compete on price more within the country as competition heats up with domestic OEMs continuing to innovate and find cost-savings. Mercedes is reducing the price of its luxury EQS vehicle from 1.19 million yuan down to 956,000 yuan, a reduction of around $33,000. Reasons given for this shift include poorer than expected sales within the region, largely attributed to the high pricing and competition within the country.

Zenobē has begun construction of its battery storage portfolio in Scotland. The investments total $750 million and will amount to ,050MW/2,100MWh of projects in Blackhillock, Kilmarnock South and Eccles. With an expected lifespan of 15 years, the project aims to displace 13.4 million tons of Co2e, the same as removing 490,000 diesel or petrol cars from the roads over the same time horizon. The battery storage projects will primarily be used to provide relief to the national grid, playing the same role as a peaker plant would to satisfy peak demand levels and negating intermittency issues from Scotland’s significant renewable energy generation. Zenobē plans to announce further expansion into international markets such as the US and Australia in early 2023