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The world of renewables this week

We mentioned last week that Walmart was suing Tesla, but CleanTechnica this week outlined a long and sorry history of Tesla putting things right, and Walmart still not letting Tesla turn back on the solar systems it built for Walmart. It has apparently never truthfully said what it is after, moved the goalposts once Tesla did remedial work and continued to keep Tesla not earning on the assets, which are installed on a pay as you go basis. So Tesla is saying that Walmart breached the contract, not the other way around. It operates 248 solar energy systems on the roofs of 248 Walmart stores and the problems go back to May last year.

Shell’s new home battery play sonnen, which began life in Germany said this week it will supply battery systems to an entire greenfields residential community, and will use their batteries to deliver grid services to the local utility. It will install 600 ecoLinx batteries in developer Wasatch Group’s Soleil Lofts apartments in Herriman, Utah, totaling 5 MW or 12.6 MWH of storage paired with onsite solar generation. Sonnen has previously struck deals in Arizona, Florida and Illinois but this is the first time the company has contracted with a utility, Rocky Mountain Power, to put its devices to work for the grid.

Scotland’s Smarter Grid Solutions says it is expanding into Germany having completed successful trials of its Distributed Energy Resource Management system in Germany. It says it is already bringing 1.3GW of renewable energy, battery storage and flexibility services to electricity grids around the world.

The company has a presence in the UK and the US. The German trial demonstrated dynamic curtailment, where excess electricity produced by renewables is cut back so that too much power is not pumped into the grid.

Denmark’s wind turbine market leader Vestas says it has sold 80% of its share of 3 wind farms in Romania called Pantelimon, Pegasus, and Apollo to an undisclosed buyer for €136 million.

The Chinese government says it will finance a 500 MW renewable energy system in Bangladesh, with around 450 MW of it being solar. The two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint to develop solar capacity in Bangladesh’s northern districts and wind power generation near the port of Payra, in the south. Bangladesh’s contribution is in land, and China will put in $500 million in cash and equipment. The move should almost double Bangladesh’s clean energy capacity.

A US district court judge has blocked Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) motion to dismiss a lawsuit which challenges its new rate structure and its new grid access charge. Although the motion to dismiss was not granted, TVA may still win out. The rate changes dropped energy costs, but added a grid access charge, which has meant that renewable energy firms felt disadvantaged, as they have to pay the grid access fee. Environmental groups have been up in arms, and they resorted to a court because TVA did not carry out an environmental assessment and this decision will affect the environment. Since this was between its customers and the TVA, it argued in court that environmental groups had no legal standing to make the challenge, which has been squashed.

The remarkable story of the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) trying to buy the bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy coal mine really threw us this week. It is supposed to be done for the Navajo native Indians, but it is being carried out by three executives on their behalf. Looks like it will take them into a stranded assets against their wishes. The three managers are supposed to know something about energy all having had a career in coal mining, but surely what the Navajo people want is clean energy and clean drinking water, and some jobs. The tribal leaders may step in once they realize they are inheriting the obligation to put the house back in order once the coal mine shuts, and this goes against the Navajo’s declared interests in clean energy.

BayWa r.e. and Norwegian firm Statkraft have signed a 12-year power purchase agreement for the Don Rodrigo 2 solar park project. It is 50 MW peak near Seville, in the south of Spain and BayWa r.e. has begun construction and aims to complete by year end. It expects 100 GWh of solar power every year.

Enel Green Power Chile has begun construction of a new solar plant, Campos del Sol with 382 MW of capacity, and the largest solar plant under construction in Chile. It is 60 km northeast of Copiapó, in the Atacama Region, will involve an investment of $320 million.

Orix a financial company from Japan has acquired the 51% stake in IL&FS Wind Energy in India which it did not hold and this gives it control over 873 MW of wind capacity. IL&FS has been in deep financial trouble and was dragged to India’s bankruptcy court after it failed to service debt obligations. The parent group has about $14 billion in debt and is selling off the family silver to get on top of its debt.

BP has agreed to sell all of its Alaska operations to Hilcorp for $5.6 billion which includes it interests in giant Prudhoe Bay field and the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Hilcorp is the largest private operator in Alaska, and specializes in mature oil and gas assets. This gets BP a big chunk of the $10 billion divestment program it has promised. Hilcorp will pay BP $4.0 billion up front and $1.6 billion through an earnout.

GE’s Grid Solutions business says it has been awarded a contract in excess of $100 million to complete Korea Electric Power Corp’s second phase of its Buk Dangjin-Godeok high-voltage direct current transmission link. The final phase will add an additional 1.5 GW of transmission capacity to the existing 33-km link, supplying electricity from the Dangjin power plant to Godeok, home to one of the largest semi-conductor plants in the world, and to Pyeongtaek city and the south of Seoul.

South Carolina’s state-owned utility Santee Cooper said its new CEO will outline a new strategy in a week which calls for the phasing out of coal generation entirely and a switch to cleaner technologies. It only has two coal fired plants but both will be shut within ten years. It said it is looking to modernize and go green.

Ellen a powerful all-electric ferry, has completed sea trials, and celebrated its maiden voyage and will now enter full service on the 22-mile route between two islands in Denmark. The Ellen can carry 200 passengers and 30 cars or 5 trucks. There is no backup diesel or gasoline engine but uses a 4.3 MWh Lithium Ion battery supplied by Leclanché powering two 750 kW electric main propulsion motors and two 250 kW auxiliary motors for maneuvering.

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) in the US has called for comments on how it should value transmission changes. One group of 18 organizations, including Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, filed a joint reply which called for “Increased investment in transmission which would allow electricity consumers to share in significant energy savings and other benefits.” Specifically it wants to see FERC adopt policies let grids expand with wind and solar. We shall see how it responds to this round of comments with its next rulemaking.

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