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The world of renewables this week

Energy Vault has been given $110 million by SoftBank’s Vision Fund to fully develop its gravity storage idea – take it from a partial scale demo to two full installations. Energy Vault literally uses cranes to build huge skyscraper-high piles of 35 ton concrete bricks, where the crane either uses energy to take the blocks upwards, or gives off electrical energy by using the crane as a turbine as it lowers them. It is a US idea that came out of the Idealab incubator and it built its demonstrator project in Switzerland. A full stack will be able to deliver energy at a rate of 4 MWp and hold 35 MWh of energy, at a capex price of $200 per KWh and a levelized cost way under Lithium Ion batteries. Tata Power has ordered the first Energy Vault.

The UK government has offered a pitiful £2.5 million for local authorities to install 1,000 electric vehicle charge points on residential roads. This is a doubling of funding from last year for local authorities to install charge points, into existing structures like lamp-posts. The scheme has already seen 16 local authorities ready to install 1,200 charge points this year, so the amount, and therefore the number of charge points has been doubled.

Iberdrola has agreed to sell a 40% stake in its UK offshore wind project East Anglia One to Green Investment Group for $2 billion. East Anglia One will be one of the world’s largest wind farms when it becomes operational in 2020, with a capacity of 714 MW and is located off the Suffolk coast and currently under construction.

The latest German onshore wind tender has once again been significantly undersubscribed, with just 208 MW awarded out of the 650 MW on offer The problem once again comes back to permitting issues. The auction was conducted by Germany’s Federal Network Agency, which awarded just 32 projects across Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Thuringia at an average price of €62 per MWh. Permit times have slid from 10 months to two years.

An IPO of Sterling and Wilson Solar in India, with over 6 GW of solar plants,  has been reduced in size following poor response from retail investors. It was planning to sell 22 million shares, but only had bids for 19 million. This has meant a drop in funds raised from $650 million to $450 million. Other renewable energy companies, mostly project developers have been force to scrap IPOs due to valuation issues, perhaps because they have not fared so well in India, which has very low prices for renewable energy.

Neoen, a French renewables developer has approval for a 405 MW renewable energy hub in South Australia, which will combine wind, solar and battery storage, which will be used to create green hydrogen. Neoen will install 125 MW of wind, 150 MW of solar and up to 130 MW/400 MWh of lithium-ion storage and use up to 50 MW of it to make hydrogen.

Swedish power company Vattenfall says it will build a large scale wind-solar-storage plant in the Netherlands, with 38 MW of solar, 22 MW of wind and a 12 MW battery system. It will invest €35 million in solar, €26 million in wind and they will share the storage system. Vattenfall is known to have plans to deploy similar facilities on coal mining sites next year in Germany.

Italy plans a 500 MW auction at the end of September, the start of up to 47 GW of commercial projects to be organized by auction. Further auction rounds will happen in January, May and September of both 2020 and 2021. The first two rounds are for 500MW, the next three 700MW and the final two 800MW.

The state organization Gestore dei Servizi Energetici will run the process. The auction is technology neutral – either wind or solar – priced between €21 and €68 per MWh. Seems rather a large span.

The Global Wind Energy Council said this week saying China is the world’s largest wind power market in both new and cumulative installations and that it 20.2 GW of onshore wind and 1.6 GW of offshore wind in 2018, around 44% and 37% of global market share respectively.  China plans to end subsidies for new onshore wind power projects at the start of 2021, with renewable projects set to compete on an equal footing with coal and gas-fired electricity.

The global market leader in wind turbines, Denmark’s Vestas, reported a fall in profits in Q2 partly due to the global trade war. But its order book has swelled significantly, especially in offshore wind. It had a profit of €90 million on revenues of just over €2billion. Last year profits were €184 million. Total revenue fell 6% also. It confirmed what GE has said, that prices are stable, and said its order backlog had reached an all-time high of €31.5 billion.

People are taking fossil fuel less flight seriously and this week a South African startup Pegasus Universal Aerospace, officially launched an electric vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) aircraft that can also operate as an electric conventional take-off & landing (eCTOL) airplane. It carries 6 to 8 people and has a 4,400 km range when taking off from a runway or a 2,124 km range it if takes off vertically. It can cruise at 800 kmph.

Germany’s E.ON says it will invest $500 million to build a 440 MW wind farm in Texas dubbed Big Raymond in Willacy, Cameron and Hidalgo counties which will be the largest single-phase project the company has ever realized in the US. It says it has already sold rights for 200 MW of the facility for 12 years. It will begin building in late 2019.

The WTO has been asked by China to intervene in its tariff war with the US on solar panels, and in response the WTO has set up a dispute panel. China says the tariffs on solar cells violates WTO rules.

Canadian Solar Q2 module shipments were 2,143 MW, compared to 1,575 MW in the first quarter of 2019 against guidance of 1.95 GW to 2.05 GW. Net revenue was just over $1 billion, compared to guidance of $970 million to $1.01 billion and net income was $62.7 million. Net income was $46.4 million, and net cash from operating activities was $225.8 million, compared to $104.9 million in Q1.

Portugal’s Directorate-General of Energy and Geology published those winning bids we talked about last week for it solar auction confirming that Spain’s Iberdrola with 149 MW and French power producer Akuo Energy (with 370 MW) were the biggest winners, and that 25 deals representing 1,150 MW were agreed, with Akuo offering the cheapest global price for solar ever, to date.8

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