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20 September 2019

The world of renewables this week

General Electric’s renewables arm has landed its first orders for its massive 12-megawatt Haliade-X offshore wind turbine with Ørsted planning to deploy more than 1,200 MW of the turbines in US waters between 2022 and 2024, and making GE the preferred supplier for its 120 MW Skipjack and 1.1 GW Ocean Wind projects, off Maryland and New Jersey. Ironically the turbines and blades will be made at the GE facilities in France and pushed back to the US for installation.

Donald Trump has said he will remove the waiver that was granted to California by the EPA which lets it set its own vehicle emissions standards. In reply California has said that it will consider amendments to its rebate programs for EVs and hybrids. And cars like the Chevy Bolt nor electric models from Fiat, Hyundai, KIA will qualify unless they adhere to the California standard. The logic is that California should not incentivize the purchase of vehicles manufactured by companies who are not helping to achieve the state’s public health and climate goals. This fight will end in the courts, and California will still be a state a long time after Trump is not a president.

European Energy says that two of its Danish solar projects at Naessundvej at Mors (27 MW) and Roedbyfjord at (55 MW) will be supplying power for Google across Denmark. This in in the form of a multi-year offtake agreement for 100% of their energy.

India’s NTPC  (National Thermal Power Corporation) has leaked plans to build a 5 GW solar park in the western state of Gujarat, by far the country’s biggest solar facility. A site has been identified and a financial figure of $3.5 billion has been mentioned and a target date of being operational by 2024. It is all part of its overall NTPC plan to build 32 GW of renewable capacity by 2032 and reduce the share of fossil fuels in its energy mix to 70% from about 96% now.

McDonalds in Sweden is planning EV chargers in all 55 of its outlets there. We have said consistently that EV chargers need to be somewhere where you plan to spend 11 to 15 minutes, sounds about right. McDonalds did a survey and 48% of people said finding a place to charge their EVs was difficult.

Poland, the most coal loving European country, this week said that it plans to have 1.1 GW of solar, building one 600 MW project on degraded land through a Polish investment fund using China’s Sinogy Electric Engineering. And utility PGE has agreed to build a 500 MW facility for an energy intensive copper and silver producer, KGHM Polska Miedź. Like every country that used to love their coal, look for future projects to be on the sites of defunct coal mines.

France has launched three solar tenders for a total of some 2 GW of capacity

It wants two of these to be ground mounted, one in January  for 850 MW and another in June for 1 GW, and a third in February, curiously for 300 MW of rooftop solar, broken into systems each with between 200 kW and 8 MW. The French 6 year plan envisages 2.7 GW of new capacity this year and 2.9 GW annually for each of the next five years.

BP said that it will deploy continuous measurement of methane emissions in its all of its future BP operated oil and gas processing projects. It anticipates continuous measurement, including gas cloud imaging on all its major projects worldwide. The technology has already been tested on facilities such as BP’s giant natural gas Khazzan field in Oman. Well testing for it is one step, telling the world how much the next, and then doing something about it, the final and most important one. You know how deeply suspicious we are of BP, so we will believe it when BP reaches stage 3. There are gas abatement experts available which could have shown them how to do that years ago.

US senators are putting forward a bill which is designed to ease the permitting of distributed energy systems, including solar, battery storage and electric vehicle fast chargers. It is to be funded by $20 million a year under the auspices of the Department of Energy, and called the Distributed Energy Opportunity Board, to streamline local permits and inspection for qualifying systems. Rooftop systems spend around 64% of a new system cost on soft costs like permitting, the bill says.

A US national bank to finance clean energy projects could mobilize up to $1 trillion of investment over 30 years, triggered from the investment of just $35 billion of federal funds, according to a white paper from the New York-based Coalition for Green Capital. It operates like any development bank and would be able to partner with private investors to maximize impact and finance large-scale projects.

India’s National Hydro Power Corporation wants to get in on the act to build renewables and will issue a large-solar power tender for 2 GW it said this week, right across the country. It says the maximum bid price will be 2.95 Rupees per kWh ($0.04/kWh) and individual developers can bid for a maximum of 600 MW capacity each. This is now the standard price for Indian auctions, and is thought to be so low as to strangle Indian solar players.

Kore says that its Idaho lithium Ion battery plant will be up and running in Q1 next year and will output 6GWh in annual production, based on high power nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cells.

Los Angeles regulators this week approved a solar plus storage project, with 400 MW of solar and a 300 MW/1,200 MWh battery for the Eland Solar and Storage Center. The Eland project was selected from a 130 proposals which includes a fixed cost of less than $0.02/kWh and will be developed by 8Minutenergy and online by the end of 2023.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced last week that it has an $11 billion settlement covering 85% of the insurance claims related to the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp Fire. This is PG&E’s second massive settlement related for wildfires and PG&E has now filed its reorganization plan with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California, in total paying $17.9 billion for wildfire claims.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy said it has begun work on what it thinks is the largest wind turbine blade test stand in the world at Aalborg, Denmark, testing its 94 meter long blades for its SG 10.0-193 DD offshore wind turbine. It says it is building the test site for this generation and the next, so will be able to work with even larger blades.