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17 October 2019

The world of renewables this week

BP aims to expand its digital energy portfolio with an investment in AI developer Grid Edge, which has developed a cloud platform to predict future energy demand, allowing more efficient distribution. The move complements a previous £5 million investment in AI start-up Belmont Technology at the start of the year.

New design standards issued by the International Electrotechnical Commission include a special class to account for wind farms located in zones affected by tropical cyclones. An IRENA study has shown that by considering local environments, control methods, dimension constraints and insurance policies, potential wind capacity may be increased significantly.

Equinor will invest nearly $550 million on the development of the Hywind Tampen floating offshore windfarm, although doubts remain over profitability. The facility will operate 140km offshore, using 11 x 8MW turbines to provide 35% of the power demand for the Snorre and Gulfalks offshore oil platforms.

Wind Estate has submitted proposals for three new windfarms off the Danish coast, which would provide a capacity of 1.8 GW. This comes alongside seven other proposals made to the Danish Energy Agency, applying for assessment licenses for projects which would contain turbines of up to 12MW each.

An auction of rights for new offshore wind projects will be opened this month by the Crown Estate, opening 7GW of electricity generation capacity off the coast of Britain.

In the UK, renewable energy sources produced more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time over the last quarter. Coal-fired power accounted for less than 1% of all electricity generated.

The Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets (ORCA) hub has developed fully autonomous drones for the inspection and basic maintenance of offshore wind turbines. The academic consortium claims its system can attach itself to vertical surfaces, allowing it to deploy sensors or carry out repairs. Improving remote accessibility will reduce OPEX costs for offshore wind, allowing its LCOE to continue its downwards trend.

Tocardo Tidal Power has declared bankruptcy. The Zeeland Tidal Power subsidiary aimed to develop 100MW of tidal energy in the Delta works but was unable to obtain the grants necessary to bring down installation costs. The company will be talking to potentially buyers in the coming weeks.

California will not reach 2050 carbon targets at its current rate of reduction. A recent report from Next 10 has forecast that the 80% reduction will not be reached until 2157, despite progressive renewables policy.

Ofgem plans to restrict the National Grid’s funding to Hinkley Point C by £80 million. To save consumers money, a £637 million grant will be provided for the development of a transmission link, rather than the £717 million initially requested by the National Grid. Rejected costs include ‘risk funding’ for extreme weather and ‘T-Pylons’.

Violent protests have ceased in Quito, Ecuador, after its Government agreed to reinstate fuel subsidies. It was proposed 12 days prior that fossil fuel subsidies would be cut for environmental reasons, but the increased cost of fuel was propagated to the public through public transport prices rather than to energy companies.

Avangrid is discussing a potential merger with PPL Corporation. The two US utilities have a combined customer base of 4.5 million, with Avangrid providing two-thirds. The merger would create one of the US’s largest utilities in a deal valued at approximately $67 billion if completed.

Siemens Gamesa will develop the 250MW West Bakr Windfarm in Egypt. Owned by Lekela, the onshore farm will power 350,000 homes in the North-West of the country.

Orsted has opened a trading office in Chicago, with the initial focus of selling power from its windfarms to the US.  

LONGi’s board of directors has approved the manufacture of 10GW of modules and 5GW of new solar cell capacity. The projects span over three locations in Zhangzhou, Xianyang and Xi’an, costing between $1.8 and $2.4 billion each.

Duke Energy will invest heavily in energy storage for Carolina and aims to reach its 300MW target in 15 years through a culmination of small projects. This will start with a 5MW battery storage project, announced on Monday, which will use lithium-ion technology. The project will be located at the Anderson Civic Center and will provide the facility with backup power for up to 30 hours.

PG&E has come under fire after its public safety power shutoff last week affected 2 million customers. The utility claims that there were no “catastrophic wildfires” as a result of the event, but California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has called for rebates to be paid to both residential customers and small businesses.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has delayed its proposals to cease future investment in fossil fuels, which were due to cut in on Tuesday. Having handed out $12 billion in loan funding for fossil fuel projects, the proposals would be among the most progressive in the financial sector. Fossil-fuel dependent nations, including Germany, have spoken against the idea, and worries are forming that they may be attempting to “water down” the proposals.

China will scrap subsidies for hydrogen fuel-cell cars at the end of 2020. This is likely to cause problems for Beijing’s effort to have a million hydrogen powered vehicles by 2030.

US based Sempra Energy has agreed to divest its $2.23 billion stakes in Chilean businesses, selling equity to the State Grid International Development. The deal includes a 100% stake in Chilquinta Energia and Tecnored, as well as a 50% stake in Eletrans.

Solar has boomed in Spain in 2019, with over 1.5GW of PV capacity added to the grid so far this year. Subsidies have seen more grid-connections in this period than in the previous 10 years combined.

Vineyard Wind has proposed a set of projects under the name ‘Park City Wind’ to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Following its 2009 solicitation for offshore wind power, bids have been submitted involving a 400 MW farm, with options to add additional projects of 800, 1,000 and 1,200 MW capacity.

The US green economy generates $1.3 trillion a year in sales revenue, creating 9.5 million jobs in the process, according to research from the University College London.

 

Google has pledged another $150 million into renewable energy projects in its manufacturing regions for its products, including Nest. This will provide 10% towards its target of $1.5 billion capital investment in renewables.

EnBE has announced that the 180MW Weesom-Willmersdorf plant, set to be Germany’s largest solar farm, will be subsidy free after its completion at the end of 2020.