The world of renewables this week

Nature Communications magazine has a report on machines which suck CO2 directly from the air, which suggests that it would need 25% of the world’s electricity to do it and a land mass 5 times the size of India. A computer model Direct Air Capture has been carried out and it highlights the “clear risks” of assuming that DAC will be available at scale, with global temperature goals being breached by up to 0.8C if the technology then fails to deliver. It suggests policymakers do not take see it as a “panacea” instead of cutting emissions, because the risks are far too high.

It turns out that some £680 million of UK foreign aid was spent on fossil fuel projects since 2010, says a study from the Catholic development agency Cafod

The UK gave more funding to oil and gas in the 2 years after signing the 2015 Paris Agreement than it had in the previous five.

In the first half of this year, solar power technology had the largest contribution towards the new power generation capacity added in India. Of the 7.8 gigawatts of new capacity added between January and June 2019, 3.5 GW came in the form of solar power projects.

General Electric finished making the first nacelle for its new Haliade-X 12-MW offshore wind turbine at its production site in Saint-Nazaire, France and shipped it to an onshore testing site in the Netherlands. A second nacelle will be shipped later this year to an offshore test site in UK waters, leaving GE confident it will obtain its “type certificate” sometime next year.

TerraForm Power announced Monday it will take over ownership of a portfolio of 291 MW of commercial and industrial solar projects and 21 MW of residential solar bought from Canadian infrastructure firm AltaGas for $720 million. It also includes 10 MW of fuel cells. The company said this will grow its distributed generation portfolio to over 750 MW.

Enel electrical capacity closed down in its Q2 results, to 85.8 GW, a fall of 577 MW which came from the closure of 401 MW of wind farms and 176 MW of thermal plants. Iberdrola also produced Q2 numbers where renewables were up 3% in capacity terms to 36.2 GW while gas capacity fell 8% to 12.9 GW.

Mexico and Spain drove growth, but it has booked Mexico sales which are Gas turbines, from the fossil loving current administration, so that will rise in subsequent numbers.

Duke Energy has increased its solar energy portfolio by acquiring the 200 MW Holstein project being built in central Texas from 8minute Solar Energy for an undisclosed sum. DUK says it wants to own or purchase 8 GW of wind, solar and biomass capacity by 2020.

Mercom Capital Group says that in H1 2019, some $1.7 billion was raised by battery storage, smart grid, and efficiency companies compared to $843 million in 1H 2018. VC funding in battery storage was up 139% with $1.4 billion in 17 deals compared to the $543 million in 30 deals in 1H 2018. Lithium battery company Northvolt in Europe and Sila Nanotechnologies, a startup, got the most funding in the battery storage sector.

In Ohio, despite 70% of voters making it clear they opposed it, its House of Representatives passed a bill which slashes the state’s existing efficiency and renewable energy mandates, and redirected hundreds of millions of dollars to support bankrupt utility FirstEnergy Solutions’ nuclear power plants, and its oldest coal plants. What’s more there is a public suggestion that FirstEnergy is nowhere near in as bad a state as the public think, and a complete absence of public data on the subject. It is a republican stronghold. And electricity bills are now bound to rise.

The Joint Research Center of the European Commission reveals a piece of research which it says shows that EU coal regions could deploy 730 GW of solar and have the same number of people employed. That’s compared with just 152.5 GW which is the total output of coal in the EU. There are 248 coal fired power stations in 21 EU member states. There are currently 180,000 people with full time equivalent employment in coal and lignite mining, and 60,000 in the plants And 730 MW of solar capacity, would translate to 124,000 permanent jobs plus 135,000 construction while they were being built, per year.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) named 9 pumped-storage hydropower concepts as winners of the latest stage in the FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower prize competition. The idea is to accelerate the commissioning times of PSH projects from 10 years to five, while reducing both cost and risk. The 9 winners will now move on to the “incubation stage”.

Ratings agency Moody’s has acquired control of Four Twenty Seven, a Californian specialist in climate risk – extreme rainfall, hurricanes, heat stress and sea level rise, and it tracks their impact on 2,000 companies and 196 countries. In the US it covers 761 cities. The idea seems to be that Moodys will go into the climate risk business at scale.

Bloomberg said this week that China has just upped its renewables target, shooting for 35% renewables by 2030 instead of 20%. Strangely it has already claimed much the same last year in September.

Tesla reported its quarterly numbers and revealed it has sold 81% more Powerwalls and Powerpacks in Q2 a record 415MWh. Previously all the capacity had gone into the new EV Model 3. Tesla now says Powerwall has passed 50,000 installs.

Prysmian Group says it has the $780 million contract to develop the Viking Link, a 777 mile submarine transmission cable connection between the UK and Denmark from the National Grid and Danish grid operator Energinet. The project is planned to come online by the end of 2023. It is a direct current

Interconnect which will allow up to 1,400 MW of power to be transferred between the two countries passing through UK, Dutch, German and Danish waters, using single-core, paper-insulated cables.

China’s total renewable power capacity rose 9.5% to 750 GW in the year to June with hydropower making up 354 GW, wind some 193 GW and solar 186 GW. The increased capacity has pushed electricity generated from renewable sources to 887.9 billion kWh in 1H 2019, up 14%.

India’s Greenko Energy Holdings has just raised $950 million by selling green bonds, for the second time in nearly two years. This comes just week after raising $824 million through equity funding from existing investors GIC and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). Singapore’s sovereign growth fund GIC is the majority shareholder in the company.

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, an Oklahoma co-op, has signed a power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources for 500 MW of electricity from the Skeleton Creek renewable energy project. That project is part of the Southwest Power Pool across 14 states and there are around 6000 MW of battery storage projects planned within the pool.

NextEra Energy’s Q2 presentation included a chart spotted by  the Motley Fool which says that the US will get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Previously it said 25%. What has changed is that its own conclusions based on research from National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) backed up by data from 2018. Every forecast to date on renewables published in the US is based not on any forecast methodology, but purely on current pipeline, which is why NextEra also published how far out prior forecasts had been – showing that the EIA forecast from ten years before 1GW) from 5 years earlier (7GW) and that actually happened in 2018 (32 GW) for solar, and the same for Wind 31GW ten years ago; 58 GW 5 years ago; 96 GW, what happened. The company is now working on LCOEs of $20 per MWh for Wind, and $30 per MWh for solar and adding energy storage would tack on another $10 per megawatt-hour to each, by around 2023.