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27 September 2019

The world of renewables this week

It was entirely predictable that EDF would come back at some point and say that the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in the UK was going to cost more than it had initially bid, at £19.5 billion. It has said that another £3 billion will be needed this week, adding 15% to the total price. Every deal EDF has done in nuclear has suffered from cost overruns. This time the delays are down to “difficult ground conditions” and you might have thought that it would have tested the ground before it started working. The current mood in the UK is that this is a project that cannot be cancelled without huge legal actions and penalties, but that the UK is now unlikely to ever build any more nuclear given its lead on renewables. EDF pitched the plant based on a rate for electricity of £92 per MWh, where the wind auction last week was down at £39.65 per MWH.

One of China’s biggest Lithium Ion battery makers CATL is planning to open up shop in the US. It has launched at the Solar Power International show in Salt Lake City, this week. It will show two new lines, a new generation of racked cells which are said to be more efficient, and a new residential energy storage offering.

French company Neoen said it plans to build a huge giant renewables complex in South Australia, 1.2 GW of Wind generation, 600 MW of solar, and 900 MW of battery storage and that it will require an initial investment of the equivalent of US $687 million. The company says it will draw on its experience with the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which it said had saved consumers over A$40 million since its 2017 start by bolstering grid stability.

Google said that it will make the largest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history, a 1.6 GW combination of wind and solar and 18 new energy deals, spending more than $2 billion across the United States, Europe, and Chile as well. Google’s renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.

Brazilian utility Cia Energetica de Minas Gerais (Cemig) announced last week awards of a 476 MW of wind and solar projects through a tender held in September, with supply to start in January 2023 for 19 years. The PPAs were awarded to meet demand in the Southeast, Midwest, South and Northeast markets.

Bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric has had another plan of reorganization proposed by debt holders in which they will inject 29.2 billion, in return for just over 59% of the shares. This would allow for wildfire victims to get $14.5 billion in fire claims, and another £11 billion in insurance claims compared to PG&E’s plan, which offers a total of $17.9 billion. The court now has to decide whether or not to consider the new debt holder plan. Most opinions seem to believe that this plan would cost PG&E customers billions of dollars in additional interest payments.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected a research consortium which includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to conduct a five-year, $100-million Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues in the United States. This will be called the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), and involve NREL, Berkeley Labs, National Energy Technology Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The mission is to find an energy-efficient, cost-competitive desalination technology, mostly for water for growing crops. NAWI will develop a roadmap of the highest impact technologies options, then identify and solicit projects to support those priorities.

Nokia has joined the list of companies which want to do more to limit global warming to 1.5°C and will revisit its current commitments to achieve this in the design of its cellular networks, by enabling smarter processes, smarter use of resources and better energy efficiency in 5G.

First Solar in the US said it will supply 1.7 GW of its high-performance Series 6 photovoltaic modules to utility-scale renewable energy developer Intersect Power as part of a multiyear supply agreement. Deliveries will commence in the fourth quarter of 2020 and will continue until the end of 2021. First Solar will expand its manufacturing capacity with a second US facility representing $1 billion in investment and ready to start production in early-2020.

Ocean Power Technologies has reported a $3 million net loss for Q1 2020 ended July 31, compared to a net loss of $3.2 million for the prior-year period. The change is a decrease in selling, general and administrative costs. Revenue for Q1 2020 was just $202,000, up $171,000 compared to $31,000 for the prior-year period. Sea based generation really has a long way to go until it takes off.

GE has seen its fifth wind turbine collapse at the Delta 6 wind park in Brazil, which injured one employee. GE says it is investigating the cause of the accident. The fourth collapse was just two months ago at the 216 MW Ventos de Sao Clemente wind facility. GE says all five are unrelated.

Germany’s Energy Watch Group is making it really clear that natural gas is not a bridge technology to get to lower emissions before going to renewables. Why? Because there is so much unreported methane that actually natural gas gives off more emissions than coal. The study calculated the climate impact of switching to natural gas based on the latest research on methane and carbon dioxide emissions throughout the supply chain over the next 20 years when the potential for climate tipping points is greatest. It concludes that any carbon dioxide savings from switching to natural gas are far outweighed by the high methane emissions associated with natural gas production and transportation.

Another UK wind project looks set to go ahead, 75 miles off England’s Yorkshire coast, Hornsea One 174 wind turbines each peaking at 7 MW (1.2 GW) and it should be completed during 2020 by Orsted.

Vietnam looks set to cut its Feed In Tariffs for large scale solar by up to 20%. The rooftop FiT will stay at $0.0935/kWh but ground-mounted and floating solar will be cut to $0.0709/kWh and $0.0769, respectively. The previous FiT schemes have driven deployment of 5 GW of solar generation capacity. New regional FiTs will also be created to promote areas which have less renewables. The old FiT of $0.0935, will still be applied until the end of 2021.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has cleared Duke Energy Carolinas to recover $258 million in costs associated with the cancelled Lee Nuclear Station project in South Carolina under an amortization plan. This is very much a change of normal FERC policy. The logic seems to be that customers benefitted by the project not going ahead, so they can help pay for it and Duke requested recovery of 50% of incurred costs.

Australia’s Macquarie Group says it intends to build a 20GW renewables pipeline over the next five years through its Green Investment Group (GIG), the green finance bank it bought from the British government in 2017. It told

Visitors to the UN Climate Week event in New York, that about 4GW of planned capacity will be in emerging markets where climate financing is harder to secure. Many of the projects will be backed by corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) brokered by the GIG.

Amazon says that it will meet its Paris climate goals 10 Years early and it has committed to 100,000 Electric Delivery Vehicles which it is ordering from Rivian to enter service in 2021, and the last of them on the road by 2030. At the press conference Jeff Bezos, CEO said the company would be carbon neutral by 2040, ten years ahead of plan and says that it will reach 80% renewables by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030. It has 15 wind and solar projects which will generate 1.3 GW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of energy each year.

CPIH (China Power International Holding) and Equinor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on offshore wind in China and Europe. The MoU also opens for potentially expanding the collaboration between the two companies and clearly it gets Equinor into China in a much bigger way. CPIH has installed capacity of over 35GW of which 44.87% is renewable.