Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

10 October 2019

The world of renewables this week

Poland’s resistant stance on coal may be bending, with plans to expand 10 GW of offshore wind capacity, if new transmission line to Denmark can be approved. Plans to triple solar capacity within the year have also been stated by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

Germany and the Netherlands have signed a joint declaration, promoting close cooperation through the energy transition in both countries. This is likely to be most notable in offshore wind, hydrogen, and transboundary infrastructure projects.

The State premier of Saarland has written to Angela Merkel, calling for €billions from the government to support the German steel industry in its transition to carbon neutral.

The Trump administration aims to facilitate offshore drilling in California. Despite claims of being both ‘safe’ and ‘wildlife friendly’, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra insists that the state, which already produce nearly 10% of the US’s oil, is firmly on its way to energy independence without additional oil investment.

The US has agreed to help develop cyber-security for Baltic states as they disconnect from the Russian electricity grid and join the European grid. The partnership aims to protect the Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from any energy supply disruption caused by Russian hackers, through the provision of strategic and technical support.

Twenty UK universities have collaborated in a £50 million deal to purchase renewable electricity directly from British windfarms. This will be the first power purchase agreement where public sector users have teamed up to buy electricity.

The European Commission has granted €530 million for a 700 MW electricity link between Ireland and France. The Celtic Interconnect project, scheduled to go live in 2026, will use 575km of cables to provide transmission infrastructure for electricity and fibre optic communications.

Taxation policy could cost the UK up to £28 billion, if a new approach is not adopted in the transition toward electric vehicles, said the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in an analysis published on Friday. The reduced income in taxes from fuel duty is a problem that the IFS suggest may be tackled by taxing EV motorists on a distance driven basis.

The National Grid would give up managing the UK’s electricity if necessary, said Chief Executive John Pettigrew to the Financial Times this week. Despite no mention of this in Ofgem’s state of the market conference last week, Pettigrew said he will likely sit down with Ofgem in the new year to ensure the right plan is in place to keep Britain’s lights on. He further stated his beliefs that the current model was “probably right” in pursuing this endeavour.

It seems unlikely that the US is bound for imminent energy policy change. Dan Brouillette, the favourite to replace Rick Perry as the US energy Secretary after his rumoured departure, has a track record of backing Perry’s efforts to strengthen coal and nuclear power generation.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has plans to secure $34.4 billion in debt financing following its bankruptcy in January. In a statement to the US Bankruptcy Court for the Norther District of California on Friday, it was detailed that banks including JP Morgan and Chase & Co were involved in financing a reorganization plan which awaits approval.

Vattenfall will handle the charging infrastructure of Norwegian dairy company Tine after signing a 5-year deal involving 200 charging hubs across Tine’s 30 dairy plants and 2 warehouses. Tine plans to cease CO2 emissions from 2025 and operate solely on renewables.

WindEurope has warned of high uncertainty in Europe’s wind capacity growth in the next 5 years in a report released this week. Despite falling costs and ambitious decarbonisation plans, growth is highly dependent on permitting problems caused by the European National Energy and Climate Plan which means annual growth may vary between 13 and 22 GW.

European Energy has released a paper indicating the significant savings available if offshore windfarms are brought closer to the coast. Following research by KPMG, HOFOR and European Energy, the paper recommends that shorter distance to shore and lower water depth will improve CAPEX costs, security of supply, local integration and community involvement in offshore farms. A 2% to 14% economic gain is predicted if farms beyond 20 km from shore were constructed between 5km and 15km from the coast.

ZeroAvia has been granted £2.7 million in grant funding for the development of zero emission aviation as part of the ATI programme supported by BEIS. This will be matched by Project HyFlyers with the project attempting to achieve a 250-300 Nautical mile flight with zero emissions and hydrogen as a fuel source.

Germany has announced intentions to triple the countries offshore wind power capacity within the next 10 years, targeting 20 GW by 2030. Energy Minister of Lower Saxony expects that now the expansion cap has been raised, the target will be legally secured within the next few months.

An unlikely pairing of Hamburg and Fukushima has been formed to improve collaboration in the production of electrolysis systems powered by wind. Hamburg aims to learn from Fukushima’s experience in generating storable hydrogen in its hopes of producing the world largest hydrogen electrolysis plant. The 100 MW plant, announced in September, is set to be built by the end of next year.

Gresham House has unveiled a new scheme to place £58 million into the UK energy storage market through its exclusivity pipeline. The UK based investment fund also plans to use a further pipeline of assets which already contains four operational storage systems with a capacity of 95 MW, with rights to add 240 MW.

The US Supreme Court has rejected requests from San Diego Gas & Electric to incorporate the $379 million losses from the 2007 wildfires into ratepayers’ bills. The utility, who has so far invested an additional $1.5 billion in wildfire prevention, are now out of options to recover these losses, meaning SDG&E shareholders will foot the costs.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has launched a proposal to allow US states greater flexibility when implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). Proposed changes include allowing utilities to pay varying rates to solar facilities and lowering the threshold of qualifying facilities from 20 MW to 1 MW. Utilities will benefit from greater pricing flexibility, but some solar developers will not relish the uncertainty the changes bring and may struggle to remain competitive.

NextEra is among the favourites to purchase JEA, which is looking for bids between $6.8 billion and $7.3 billion for the combined water and electric utility. After unsealing bids on Monday, JEA officials will now spend several months reviewing them.

The European Union has been called upon to raise the EU’s carbon dioxide reduction target for 2030 from 40% to 55% by Eight of its member states. Ministers include those from Portugal, Latvia, Sweden and Spain, who have criticized the lack of ambition of the current targets since they were announced in 2018.

Thirty major global cities have peaked in CO2 output and are now reducing their emissions. Cities including Athens, London, Rome and New York have averaged a 22% decrease in carbon release.

Total will be using lithium-ion batteries produced by Saft to power its Singapore data center. Two Flex’ion systems will be used to provide 10 minutes of backup power to maintain trading activities allowing for backup generators to power up.

US Department of Energy and Equinor have backed a new floating wind foundation concept from RRD Engineering. The new SpiderFLOAT sub structure for offshore turbine’s claims enhanced maneuverability and promises to reduce the LCOE of offshore wind to below $60/MWh.

New York Congressman Paul Tonko has stated his optimism that clean energy legislation, including extended tax credits for solar and wind, will pass through Congress in the next few months. While acknowledging that a “comprehensive climate bill” is unlikely, “there are meaningful policies that stand a chance”.

Minnesota regulators have denied attempts of manufacturing and petroleum groups to block Xcel Energy’s $25 million electric vehicle program. The groups claimed that regulators did not have the authority to regulate behind-the-meter charging, and that ratepayers may suffer. As utilities such as Xcel continue to develop EV infrastructure projects, it is fair to expect more legal action and conflict with the oil industry.

Shell Energy is expected to acquire UK supplier Green Star Energy. The £10.5 million deal should see Shell expand its consumer base by around 200,000.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, for their development of lithium-ion batteries 30 years ago.

Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said that the scene is set for Germany to become the “No. 1 in the world in hydrogen technologies”. Pipeline operators have agreed that infrastructure may allow hydrogen to slowly begin overtaking natural gas as Germany attempt to meet emissions targets, of which it is currently falling short.

We’re not sure of the advisability of using 20 MW of old, exhausted EV batteries for grid stability. Older batteries are capable of thermal runaway, inconsistent performance and gradual degradation of performance. But Germany is trying out just this very thing in a project run by Renault, The Mobility House, Mitsui and Demeter’s private equity fund, the Fonds de Modernisation Écologique des Transports. It is being billed as the largest stationary electricity storage system using EV batteries in Germany, but there can’t be too many. And it follows a trail in France for a 45 MW battery where which generated 60MWh using over 2,000 EV batteries.

Just 20 fossil fuel companies – just list all the world’s largest oil concerns and add two or three coal advocates – are responsible for over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1965, shows new data from the Climate Accountability Institute. The study commissioned by the Guardian has directly linked both investor and state-owned firms to the emission of 480 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over this period, with 90% of this attributed to the burning of fossil-fuel products.

Donald Trump is refusing to pay legal bills a court battle to prevent the addition of 11 turbines to the Aberdeen Bay windfarm, near to his Aberdeenshire golf course. Following defeat in 2015, Trump has failed to accept or negotiate terms associated to the tens of thousands of pounds of fees. The case has now been handed to a court-appointed adjudicator and is expected to be resolved quickly.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Dominion Energy, after a lower court ruling halted construction of a $7.5 billion natural gas pipeline. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, bound to run from West Virginia to North Carolina, was initially marked as a “dangerous, costly and unnecessary”.

Equinor has invested EUR €40 million in Saipem’s subsea drones for underwater inspections and operation in its Njord Field.

Siemens Gamesa’s SG 8.0-167 DD wind turbine has been certified by the DNV GL. Each 167m diameter turbine, set for use in projects such as Hornsea One and Changhua 1&2a, will provide 8.0 MW of nominal power.

Energy Commissioner candidate Kadri Simson has held back on pledging any enhanced targets for 2030 in European Parliament last week, despite her support of 2050 climate neutrality.

Sweden looks set to invest approximately €150 million in a hydrogen project, with the aim of replacing coal with renewable energy in steel production by 2035.