The world of renewables this week

Research published in Nature Communications from a range of leading international universities has shown a new method of hydrolysis, claiming a more efficient process of obtaining hydrogen from water. By pulsing electric current through a layered catalyst, researchers claim that results have shown double the amount of hydrogen to be produced per millivolt of electricity.

An onshore wind farm, set to be the largest in the US, has gained critical approval from the US Bureau of Land Management. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Project will have a capacity between 2,500 MW and 3,000 MW and has been seeking both state and federal permits since 2008.

Tesla unveiled its latest Solar Roof tile this week, with small modifications from previous models. Founder Elon Musk claims that the price of the system will be lower than the equivalent solar panel and roof combination and that installation can occur in as little as 8 hours.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has finalized contracts with Equinor and Sunrise Wind for the development of an 880 MW offshore project. This deal is the largest procurement for offshore wind in the US and will contribute toward New York’s efforts to have 9,000 MW of offshore wind installed by 2035.

ENGIE has unveiled plans to accelerate the growth of its renewables portfolio, aiming to add 9 GW of new renewables by 2021 through an investment of nearly $3 billion. The ‘Portfolio RE’ plan details a method to help small and midsize customers adopt renewable resources, through five-to-ten-year contracts where customers can purchase energy at fixed prices.

A group of small solar producers has demanded that PG&E follows up its PURPA contracts or pays out up to $600 million in damages. California’s largest utility has filed for bankruptcy and has faced significant backlash after blackouts across the state. The company’s stock also hit a record low this week of $4 per share, with California Governor Gavin Newscom calling for investor Warren Buffet to buy out the company.

Australian energy firm Worley will acquire UK firm 3sun in a £20 million deal to expand the company’s operations into the UK offshore wind marketplace.

Wood Mackenzie has reported that the cost of non-residential storage systems has fallen by 15% in the US since 2014. Estimations suggest that system costs will continue to fall by over 27% by 2024, driving a market growth of up to 1,000%.

RWE Renewables has taken on four offshore wind projects in Poland, with a total capacity of 1.5 GW. The projects are located in the Slupsk bank area of the Baltic sea, with construction set to begin by 2023.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has debunked fears that solar and wind resources are worsening air quality in California, according to a recent report. The group was initially worried that the intermittent turning off and on of gas facilities to compensate for wind and solar caused less efficient operation, but emissions were shown to be lower than when plants were running constantly. This idea was originally flown by Duke Energy, which basically brought it little but ridicule.

Southern Power has acquired the 136 MW Skookumchuck Wind Facility from Renewable Energy Systems (RES). The addition of this Atlanta-based onshore windfarm brings the number of projects owned by the wholesale energy provider to twelve.

EDF has come under fire in an official report presented to the French government, which called for an urgent “plan of action” to address the poor “culture of quality” within the company. The Flaminville nuclear site in northern France, which now faces delays of 10 years at triple the cost, is among a wealth of projects where there has been “an unacceptable lack of rigor” said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in response to the report.

Mexico will miss clean energy targets for 2024 by 35%, according to analyst group Wood Mackenzie. Under changes made by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the fourth clean-energy auction in the country was cancelled along with tenders for major transmission works.

Utility Florida Power & Light has planned the largest community solar program in the US with a 1.5 GW program backed by solar accessibility advocates and retail giants such as Walmart. The program referred to as SolarTogether has been criticized by some due to its highly complex credit mechanism, resulting in speculation that Florida may not be able to complete the project successfully.

UK-based Luminous Energy has started connection works for its 163 MW solar farm in Queensland, Australia. Construction works for the Columboola Solar farm are likely to follow swiftly, with an expected start in early 2020.

Japan’s Mitsui & Co will offload 30% of its interest in a Canadian partnership which owns 679 MW of installed wind and solar assets. The trading firm will sell to portfolio management firm Axium Infrastructure in a deal estimated at $1.46 billion.

NextEnergy will develop 300 MW of solar projects in Italy over the next three years. With land rights in place, the company has set up an internal development team to start construction of the first 80 MW project.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has announced a $20.3 billion plan to rebuild the island’s electric grid, with an additional 1.4 GW of solar generation and 920 MW of storage in place. The US territory’s electric system was destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Iron flow battery startup ESS has raised $30 million of investment from SoftBank and Breakthrough, to take its pilot technology to market. The company has been developing low-cost, nonflammable, long duration flow-batteries since 2011.

ABB has secured contracts to supply DC converter systems in the world’s largest offshore windfarm for long distance transmission. Contracts were awarded by partners Equinor and SSE Renewables to connect offshore windfarms in the Dogger Bank region of the North Sea to the UK transmission network. The deal will see HVDC technology used in the UK offshore wind market for the first time.

Australia’s coalition will provide an additional $1 billion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for the development of power generation, storage and transmission projects.

Iberdrola has achieved a 20% surge in net profit for the 2019 so far, with record investment into renewables and networks. The net profit of the company has risen to €2.5 billion, with a 12% increase in year-on-year earnings to €7.5 billion. 90% of the company’s investments this year have been dedicated to renewables and networks, up 30% from last year, with nearly half designated to new renewables capacity.

Scottish Power’s profits have fallen by 80% since this time last year, after losing 165,000 customers. The Iberdrola subsidiary blamed a significant chunk on exceptionally high energy demand in the previous year, with the ‘beast from the east’ storm.

A member of UAE’s Al Maxrouei Group has filed a lawsuit in the US District court against Eletrobras for failing to follow obligations associated with 694 bearer bonds worth over $5.2 billion. AAE Management for Energy Equipment along with affiliate Eagle Equity Funds claim that Electrobras has refused to convert bonds into shares and that SEC filings have misrepresented the bonds.

Shell and EDP Renewables will collaborate on the 804 MW Mayflower Wind project, after winning rights at Massachusetts’ second offshore wind tender. This is the first project Shell has confirmed for offshore wind in the US. With contracts expected to be finalized in December, the project aims to be operational by 2025.

Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson has denied that the company mislead investors about its impact on climate change. Testifying at a hearing in New York, in the first climate-related lawsuit for a major oil company, Tillerson faced allegations that Exxon caused investors to lose up to $1.6 billion by misrepresenting how it had evaluated the impact of climate regulations on business. Exxon maintains that the claims are false, and politically motivated.

US coal major Murray Energy has filed for bankruptcy this week, despite attempts by US President Donald Trump to save the US coal industry. The announcement on Tuesday makes Murray the eighth coal company to declare bankruptcy in the last year.

Siemens Gamesa has set up €174 million of sustainable foreign exchange hedging contracts with BNP Paribas. Following the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with premium payments going towards financing forestry projects, the deals aim to hedge Siemens exposure to selling offshore wind turbines in Taiwan.

A Bloomberg New Energy Finance report has shown the price of renewables to be maintaining its trend of decline. New solar and onshore wind power plants are now at parity with wholesale prices in many places across the US and Europe, and below the price of coal in China. The report also states expectations that offshore wind will experience the sharpest reduction in costs, with a 32% decline in LCOE in the past year alone.