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14 December 2022

The world of renewables this week

BYD has had to limit orders for its launch of the Atto 3 in Thailand, after 10,000 were ordered within the first month of availability. The vehicle which costs $31,500 exceeded expectations and has been limited to maintain standard wait times. The vehicle has a 50kWh battery with the option to increase it to 60kWh, with a base-range of 320km on a single charge.

Vietnam and the G7 have reached a $15.5 billion deal to reduce the country’s coal usage. Similar deals of its kind have been signed with South Africa and Indonesia. The deal will include grants and loans designed to reduce Vietnam’s coal usage, of which it is one of the world’s largest consumers. Prior deals with South Africa and Indonesia were worth $8.5 billion and $10 billion respectively, making it the largest deal of the three. Roughly half of this money will be provided through public funds while the other half will be through private investment loans, only a small proportion will be provided as grants.

Vulcan Energy says that it is one year behind schedule for its target of 40,000 tons per year of lithium output. The company primarily blames material shortages which resulted from supply chain bottlenecks which delayed its sample facility that was planned to begin construction in summer of this year. The study facility will now come in early 2023, and the company expects to reach its target of 40,000 tons of lithium output by the end of 2026 rather than 2025 as was originally planned. Vulcan Energy already has offtake agreements with automakers Volkswagen, Stellantis and Renault, as well as Umicore, LG Energy Solutions, and utility MVV Energy. The company expects to produce 18,400 tons of lithium in 2025 through a new technology that extracts lithium-rich brine from water in underground reservoirs. Some say this time span is still unrealistic due to the need for new licensing because of using this new technology.

Indonesia has appealed a WTO ruling that found its ban on nickel ore exports that arose from a complaint from the EU that the ban was harming the bloc’s steel industry. The WTO panel ruling was found to be in favor of the EU’s claim and has resulted in the EU’s executive vice president asking Indonesia to reverse these rules. The Indonesian President Jokowi has largely ignored this request and has in the past expressed a desire to prevent the export of other unrefined raw materials such as bauxite, tin, and copper to encourage domestic refining investment. He went on to say “We want to be a developed country, we want to create jobs,” and “If we are scared of being sued, and we step back, we will not be a developed country.” Implying he is willing to ignore the WTO’s ruling similarly to some developed nations in pursuit of protectionist policies.

Yet another Oregon, US alternative chemistry battery company has been awarded a round of funding – this time $54 million in ZincFive, taking total investments in the firm to $139 million. ZincFive is developing a series of nickel-zinc batteries for stationary storage applications including data center UPS systems. ZincFive claims that nickel-zinc electrochemistry is high power density, fully recyclable with a low carbon footprint, is nonflammable a charge/discharge profile similar to Nickel Cadmium batteries, but with a higher voltage. The big issue with Nickel Zinc is that they tend to self-discharge more rapidly as they age. Funding was from Helios Climate Ventures and other existing investors plus OGCI Climate Investments and Japan Energy Fund.

The European Parliament has reached a provisional initial agreement on how the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will be introduced. It will be reliant on some other pieces of legislation which have not gone through yet, but should come into play in October 2023 – almost two years early – initially in a simplified form with only reporting obligations in place, no tax. At first it will only include high carbon products like iron, steel, cement, fertilizer, aluminum, electricity and hydrogen. Taxation will be phased in and free allowances phased out.

A German politician has revealed that Germany is still considering supporting 10 foreign fossil fuel projects worth over $1billion, despite a pledge to end funding for coal, oil and gas.  A parliamentary question form Udo Philipp revealed this, with funding mostly through export guarantees in favor of Brazil, Iraq, Uzbekistan, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Germany has signed a pledge at Cop26 to end international funding for fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. Whoops.

US car giant Stellantis says it will buy 400 MW of power in solar from DTE Energy, in what it claims is the second-largest renewable energy purchase ever made in the US from a utility.

Meanwhile RWE says it has plans for a solar farm in South Yorkshire, UK with capacity of up to 600MW but this will only be operational by 2029.

Nickel Hydrogen battery firm EnerVenue told us this week that it has found a way to build large battery installations in a lower footprint than is smaller than a similar lithium ion installations, using its newly announced ESVs. It placed 3 lots of 3,000 ESVs into a covered building 100 feet by 55 feet (Building Square Feet = 5500 ft) to yield 10.6 MWh of usable energy. A similar lithium ion reference installation was 110 feet by 65 feet (7,150 square feet),  to house 10.4 MWh. This was partly due to larger clearance requirements for Li-ion systems. Additionally the Li-ion had to be installed outside of Commercial and Industrial buildings as they posed insurance risks. There were also land and parking constraints applied to the areas around the Li-ion, EnerVenue told us.

Chinese company Utmo Light has commissioned a 150 MW perovskite production line, which is by far the world’s largest, though it is most likely still producing small batches of test products. The company intends to sell to the BIPV sector, indicating that this is not a tandem design. It began construction of the production line in Q4 2021 with an investment of $29 million. The company states that its 10cm2 perovskite module efficiency is over 20%, 19% for 20cm2, and 18% for 30cm2, which it claims (quite reasonably) is industry-leading.

Chinese car maker ALAE Auto Electric has formed Aolian Solar, a perovskite startup with $7 million initial funding and the intention to construct a multi-GW perovskite production line within five years.

Chinese clothing maker Bangjie has formed a partnership to enter the photovoltaic industry with a 10 GW cell factory investment.

Germany’s latest tax relief package includes an exemption for rooftop solar installations below 30 kW size, applying both to supply of equipment and installation work.

The expected turbulent end-of-year price declines are occurring throughout the supply chain, with a decline of around 4% last week for wafers and likely a steeper decline this week.

A study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has found that smoke from wildfires in California in 2020 reduced solar photovoltaic output by amounts ranging from 10% to 30% during the period from 7th to 16th September.

JinkoSolar has announced a 26.4%-efficient TOPCon solar cell.

Air Products, an industrial gas supplier, and renewable energy firm AES Corp agreed to invest around $4 billion to build he largest US green hydrogen facility in Texas. Commercial operation is expected to begin in 2027 with a target of 200 metric tons of green hydrogen per day. The renewable energy assets, which can include offshore wind and solar, alongside the electrolyzer stacks will be owned equally by the two companies.

Various Transmission System Operators from Europe have agreed to develop H2MED, Europe’s first dedicated hydrogen corridor. Spanish TSO Enagas, French TSOs GRTgaz and Terega, and Portuguese TSO REN have signed a MoU to formalize their commitment to developing a European hydrogen infrastructure. The target of the project is 2030 and among the details discussed the main goals are a hydrogen interconnection between Portugal and Spain (Celorico-Zamora), as well as the development of a maritime pipeline connecting Spain and France (Barcelona-Marseille) in order to transport hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to Central Europe. H2MED will have a capacity to transport up to 2 million tons per year of renewable hydrogen, which represents 10% of the forecast consumption in Europe in 2030, according to REPowerEU.

Ryanair and Shell have signed a MoU to advance the supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at over 200 Ryanair airports across Europe, with particular focus on SAF supply at RYR’s largest bases like Dublin and London Stansted. Ryanair has set itself the target of 12.5% SAF by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. A forecast on the aviation industry and the future potential of SAF can be accessed here.

BP signed a MoU with the Government of Egypt under which it will explore the potential for establishing a new green hydrogen production facility in the country. Under the MoU, BP will carry out several studies to evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of developing a multi-phase, large scale green hydrogen export hub in Egypt. More on Egypt’s plans for the Suez Canal Economic Zone can be found here.