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15 February 2023

The world of renewables this week

US EV maker Mullen Automotive issued Q1 figures completing its purchase of Electric Last Mile Solutions for $105 million in cash, announced in November, on the back of buying Bollinger Motors in September. Mullen still has $100 million in cash and $90 million in investment monies on its way before April. It’s secretive deal to import the $12,000 I-GO from China to Europe is still on the cards. Mullen says it has orders for 6,000 EV Vans valued worth $200 million from Randy Marion Automotive Group. Its Q1 loss was $376.9 million with much of that non-cash items.

Long duration US storage firm ESS said this week it plans to deliver two Energy Warehouse systems to the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) in Central California. They will work alongside solar panels floating on US irrigation canals. Funding has come from the State of California and the Department of Water Resources. The idea is to shade canals with solar panels to reduce evaporative losses, while generating clean energy.

The project is expected to be complete in 2024 and used ESS iron flow technology. There was no indication how large the storage projects will be.

Vast, a US concentrated solar power (CSP) specialist is to go public in the US by merging with Nabors Energy Transition, a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC which will give it access to $286 million of funding. It will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade as Vast under the ticker symbol VSTE. Vast has a proprietary CSP system which uses a sodium heat transfer loop and molten salt for thermal storage. Vast has validated its technology with a single Australian site (see pic) it has run for three years and now has developed 230MW of projects, including a 30 MW grid-connected facility in Port Augusta, Australia.

Reuters this week cited, Pakistan Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan this week saying Pakistan would stop building gas plants and instead build coal plants. We have a story inside the issue which suggests its spend on renewables would also be considerable. He said Pakistan would increase coal-fired power capacity to 10 GW in the medium-term, from 2.31 GW currently.

General Motors and US firm GlobalFoundries have agreed a deal under which “a dedicated capacity corridor exclusively for GM’s (semiconductor) chip supply” will be set up for its EV chips in upstate New York. Semiconductor orders will more than double in the next few years says GM.

Gansu Jingang Solar has commenced mass production of wafers at 130μm thickness, with the resulting heterojunction cells rating at 25% efficiency (full modules will be one or two percent lower rating). The company states that it has the technical capability to adopt 120μm, and will work towards 100μm next. Its current manufacturing capacity at this thickness consists of the first phases of a 4.8 GW project. Prior to the polysilicon price spike, the long-standing norm for wafer thickness was 175μm.

The Dutch parliament has approved a proposal to phase out Net Metering on an unspecified time frame, with new provisions expected to retain a seven-year payback period while incentivizing battery energy storage on the clogged national grid.

TaiyangNews’ latest monthly update on high-efficiency commercially-available solar module features thirty-four products ranging from 21.5% to 22.8% efficiency. LONGi’s HPBC and Maxeon’s IBC products hold joint first place, SPIC’s IBC occupies 8th place, with the rest of the top ten spots consisting of three TOPCon and four heterojunction products.

IEEFA has published negative commentary on the latest restructuring agreement for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). To put it simply, PREPA will wind up both debt-ridden and lacking in new investments, as well as charging higher rates. Federal funds of $14 billion are insufficient, with IEEFA estimating that at least $20 billion is needed over the next ten years. Additionally a gas company, Fortress New Energy, was appointed to oversee generation system policy, which will obstruct a paradigm shift to a renewable energy grid.

Australia liquid-sodium CSP company Vast Solar has announced it will go public through a $586 million business combination with Nabors Energy Transition Corp, with the new combined entity to be named Vast. The company spent 2022 racking up a constant stream of funds from a variety of sources. This week saw the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) approve $65 million for Vast Solar’s 30 MW, 288 MWh VS1 project in Port Augusta, to be commissioned in 2025, and it received $14 million from HyGate, a German-Australian government collaboration, to address hard-to-abate industries such as shipping and aviation.

India’s Power Minister R.K. Singh has approved a two-year exemption from the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM), which consists of domestic manufacturing only, for solar project development in the country. According to the Minister domestic production capacity is at 10 GW, which is growing rapidly but is far exceeded by the 70 GW project pipeline.

France has approved a new law requiring all car parks of 80 spots or more to reach at least 50% photovoltaic coverage across their roofspace, which could add around 10 GW of capacity to the national grid.

SolarApp, the automated digitized permitting process being gradually expanded across the US since 2021, has reached a benchmark of 10,000 processed permits, or 59 MW. Ul Solutions estimates that the app saves one man-hour per permit.

Siemens Gamesa has revealed plans to build a $500 million offshore nacelle manufacturing facility in the state of New York subject to the company’s turbines being selected for the state’s third offshore wind solicitation. The latest auction can help New York contribute with 9GW towards the US 2030 target of 30GW of offshore wind.

Coudberry Clean Energi and Skovgaard Energy revealed that the former has purchased an 80% stake in the Odin Energy wind project for $213 million. The project consists of 51 wind turbines (47 located in Denmark and 4 in southern Sweden). The expected remaining lifetime of the turbines manufactured by Vestas and Siemens Gamesa is roughly 23 years.

UGI Energy Services and Archaea Energy (BP subsidiary) have announced that they recently entered into a joint venture, Aurum Renewables, in order to develop a renewable natural gas (RNG) project at the Commonwealth Environmental Systems landfill in Hegins, Pennsylvania. UGI will contribute its existing 11MW landfill gas-to-electricity facility while Aurum will develop a new facility where the landfill gas will be processed into RNG. Once complete, the project is expected to have the capacity to produce approximately 5,000 MMBtu per day of pipeline-quality RNG.

Vestas has announced the results of one of its latest studies which reveals the potential for epoxy-based turbine blades to be fully recyclable through the discovery of a novel chemical process. Developed in partnerships with Olin and Stena Recycling, the solution can be applied to blades currently in operation. Once matured, this will eliminate the need for blade redesign, or landfill disposal of epoxy-based blades when they are decommissioned.

A joint venture was formed between BP and Deep Wind Offshore with the aim to develop offshore wind projects in South Korea. As part of this agreement, BP has acquired a 55% stake in Deep Wind Offshore’s early-stage wind portfolio, which includes four projects across the Korean peninsula with a potential generating capacity of up to 6GW. South Korea is targeting around 22% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

Indonesia has become the world’s 2nd largest producer of cobalt in 2022 after the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), overtaking Australia and Russia. The increase follows significant investment into the country’s manufacturing capabilities for EV batteries, spearheaded by Prime Minister Joko Widodo. Indonesia has been able to retain its mineral wealth and spur investment in domestic refining capacity because it has already placed an export ban on the sale of nickel ore, where it is the largest global producer. The World Trade Organization has been trying to get Indonesia to reverse this decision to no avail. Investment into domestic refining capacity has primarily come from Chinese companies, including Tsingshan Holding Group and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and CATL.


Vulcan Energy has released its definitive feasibility study (DFS) for phase one of its Zero Carbon Lithium Project, where projected capex has risen from an estimate of $700 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion. The bulk of this increased capex comes from changing scope for phase one of the project, rising from 15,000 tons per year of lithium hydroxide monohydrate to 24,000. The project has also increased in scope to include significantly more local energy production, largely as a result of ballooning energy prices in the time between assessments, the project has increased from an estimated 52MWh/year to 300GWh per year, 250GWh of which will be produced as industrial heat. This massive increase in scope follows the company partnering with Stellantis to develop geothermal resources to feed Vulcan’s direct lithium extraction technology Vulsorb.


Major metals trader Trafigura has been caught in a $500 million case of fraud, where it believed to have purchased significant quantities of nickel that never existed. The company has begun legal proceedings against a series of companies “connected to and apparently controlled by” Dubai-based metals trader Prateek Gupta, including TMT Metals and companies owned by UD Trading Group. Containers received in December were found to not be containing any nickel, and Trafigura is awaiting the arrival of more for inspection. Currently Trafigura is expecting to incur a $577 million impairment charge to its first half financials.