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The world of renewables this week

The Mayflower Wind project off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, US, will provide the remaining 804 MW of the state’s 1,600 MW target for offshore wind by 2025. The target, enforced by law, was put in place in 2016, with the state now considering another 1,600 MW procurement.

Arcus Infrastructure Partners will acquire the entirety of UK smart meter provider Foresight Metering Management in a deal worth around £100 million. Foresight Metering provides smart and advanced metering systems under long-term rental agreements, with 400,000 systems installed to date and commitments to install an additional 700,000 in the next 5 years.

The US has reached the 100 GW mark for installed wind power says the American Wind Energy Association, in the strongest third quarter on record for new additions. With 1,927 MW of new capacity added this quarter, the near-term wind pipeline involves a further 46.5 GW. This massive surge in installations comes prior to the deadline for the PTC subsidy, which is currently set to end next year.

TC Energy Corp’s Keystone crude pipeline in North Dakota has been shut off, after spilling 9,120 barrels of oil. Causes of the rupture are currently unknown, but initial estimates indicate the spill as one of the largest onshore in the past decade.

SoftBank’s SB Energy Global arm will purchase 1.7 GW of solar capacity in the US from developer Intersect Power. The deal comes at a time where SoftBank’s ambitions to enter the solar market in Saudi Arabia have been stunted due to the government dropping $200 billion worth of plans.

Analysts group Frost & Sullivan has released research estimating that the collaborative robot market will grow to $4.25 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 65.4%. With increased demand for robotic assembly and quality inspection of offshore energy devices, the group expects that adoption will be increased most within small and medium sized enterprises.

ABS has installed the world’s largest floating wind turbine. The 8.4 MW semi-submersible Type unit is among one of three designed by Principle Power housing, using MHI Vestas turbines, for use off the coast of Portugal.

IHS Markit has predicted that Opex spending for wind energy infrastructure will increase by 50% per year up to 2030, when it will reach $7.5 billion. Notes from the study suggest that the current increase in spending is owing to the race by stakeholders to leverage the soon to expire US PTC tax credit.

Greenhouse gas emissions in Australia have increased by 21.7 million tons since 2011, according to the Australian Institute. Despite attempts to reduce emissions from electricity production through the adoption of renewables, a 10% leap in emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles is reported to have counteracted any progress made.

Australia has met half its electricity demand with renewables for the first time. For a brief period on Wednesday, 50.2% of power to the five states served by the national electricity market, was supplied by renewable sources. That was 23.7% rooftop solar; 15.7% wind; 8.8% large scale solar; 1.9% hydro; with black and brown coal plants supplying the rest.

Alliant Energy will add up to 1 GW of solar generation in Wisconsin by 2023. As part of the ‘Powering What’s Next’ plan, the investor-owned utility will also invest $1.8 billion in network developments through 2020, improving the security and reliability of digital communications.

PG&E has discovered over 100 cases of “damage or hazards” in an inspection of its Californian system following the public safety power shutoff on the 9th of October. The utility has acknowledged dozens of spots which may have ignited a wildfire had the system kept running.

Vineyard Wind is pushing for an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for its delayed 800 MW offshore windfarm. The Massachusetts-based project is to be the largest offshore wind farm in the US upon its intended commissioning in 2022, but has faced delays since the federal government decided to conduct additional “cumulative impact” studies on the full pipeline of projects in the region. With these delays, Vineyard has said that it may be able to install larger rotor blades than initially planned, facilitating increased power output if additional subsidy may be allocated.

Shell and Sumitomo have acquired a 15% stake in African mini-grid firm PowerGen. With seats on the board, both companies aim to expand investments in off-grid energy access. PowerGen has connected 15,000 homes and business to minigrid installations in Africa and will use new funding to spread access to electricity across the continent.

Sweden’s PowerCell has signed a contract with Norwegian Havyard Group to develop a zero-emissions fuel cell system for use in a vessel owned by Havila Kystruten. The one-year contract details the design and technical specifications of a system using 200 kW fuel cell modules with a total power of 3.2 MW.

 

Hungary has launched its first auction for procuring renewable energy generation capacity. Participants have until December 12 to make proposals, with results expected early next year. Two types of project are available for feed-in premium payments, with generation capacity of 300 kW to 1 MW as well as 1 MW to 20 MW.

Pattern Energy has agreed to a takeover proposal from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). Pattern energy is among North America’s largest wind operators, with a portfolio of 28 projects totaling 4.4 GW of capacity. CPPIB is expected to pay $26.75 per share, valuing the company at $2.6 billion ($6.1 billion with debt included). The deal will be completed in mid-2020 subject to shareholder approval.

Bristol City Council, UK, has proposed an inner-city ban of privately-owned diesel vehicles and a wider “clean air zone” to reduce air pollution levels as ordered by the government. The scheme is expected to come into place in 2021. There is current speculation as to whether this proposal will pass through the government due to opposition from drivers in the city.

Volvo has received the largest order for electric buses in Europe, with 157 to be delivered to Transdev from 2020. The electric articulated buses, with 150 seats, will operate on routes in Gothenburg and have been praised for reduced noise and emissions which have been cut by 80%. Volvo also announced this week the start of European sales for two models of electric trucks, for use in urban environments.

UK Export Finance will provide €267 million in project finance guarantees to support the development of offshore wind in Taiwan. This will focus on the construction of the 367 MW Formosa 2 wind farm, which will begin in 2020.

A blade for GE Renewable Energy’s 12 MW Haliade-X offshore wind turbine will be tested at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in Boston, after arriving there this week. The 107 meter blade will undergo fatigue testing to ensure it can last for more than 25 years of operation at sea.

GE Renewable Energy has signed a deal to provide turbines for a 715 MW wind farm in China, setting a new project size record for a non-Chinese OEM in the country’s wind energy market.

Mainstream Renewable Power has finalized debt financing for the first 571 MW of the 1.3 GW Andres Renovables project in Chile. The wind and solar project is expected to cost a total of $1.7 billion and will be completed in three phases named: Condor, Huemel and Copihue.

Preliminary signs have shown the EU member states will call upon the European Investment Bank to stop funding fossil fuel projects, with Reuters reporting on a text which will be discussed by EU diplomats later in the week. The documented is reported to state that the EU “encourages the bank to adopt responsible investment policies and to phase out financing of fossil fuel projects, in particular those using solid fossil fuels, taking into account the sustainable development and energy needs of partner countries”.

Saudi Aramco has joined the World Bank’s initiative to completely eliminate gas flaring by 2030. The oil and gas giant, which started its first initial public offering this week, claim that flaring accounted for less than 1% of its total raw gas production in the first half of 2019.

US’s AES Corporation is entering into a 10-year partnership with Google to accelerate the adoption of clean energy. The strategic alliance will see AES using Googles Cloud technology to provide innovation in the sector and builds upon the previous agreement for AES to provide long-term renewable power to Google’s data center in Chile.

German companies Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management and SAP have launched an AI platform to predict the failure of wind turbines. The cloud-based project uses predictive analytics to provide real-time intelligence to customers, estimating the time at which a fault will occur.

SSE Renewables will be permitted to raise the maximum height of turbine tips from 130 meters to 149.9 meters, after consent from Scottish ministers this week. The 11 turbines in the 38 MW Gordonbush 2 project in the Scottish Highlands will now take advantage of more powerful turbines and greater wind speeds says SSE.

RES has called for feed-in-tariffs for wind projects in Turkey to be extended beyond 2020. The plea claims that the tariff will provide the necessary security for developers and investors in Turkey to maintain the industry’s early momentum. RES has stated that the Turkish market will grow from a current capacity of 7.6 GW to 25 GW by 2030.

Canadian investment firm Inerjys intends invest $76 million into tidal stream energy in the next 10 years, despite the industry’s struggles in commercialization. The intention follows the firm’s funding raising efforts accumulating $760 million, through a wide variety of sources.

Walmart and Tesla have settled a lawsuit, where the latter was accused of negligence in installing solar panels resulting in seven fires at the retailer’s stores. Walmart had sued Tesla for a breach of contract on August 20, wanting solar panels removed from over 240 locations. Undisclosed terms of a settlement were reached on Tuesday in New York Supreme Court, with companies announcing that they are addressing safety concerns and intend to re-energize the inactive rooftop solar systems in the near future.

The White House nomination for one of two vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seems to be boiling down to two opposing candidates. If nominated James Danly, who currently serves as general counsel at FERC, would tip the balance to have three Republican commissioners against one Democrat. Senator Joe Manchin has urged the nomination of Democrat Allison Clements for the seat, to maintain the traditional bipartisan pairs for the agency.

The US Department of Energy has announced selections for $128 million new solar projects. A total of 75 research projects will be funded with the aim of lowering solar electricity costs, boosting manufacturing and making the sector as a whole more resilient to cyberattacks.

New Zealand has passed a law, committing the country to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This aligns the country with pioneering European targets in the fight against climate change. The bill includes a target to reduce biological methane by 10% by 2030 and 47% by 2050.

RWE has entered into a 30-year power purchase agreement with Georgia Power, allowing access to the Broken Spoke Solar plant facility in the Southwest of the state. The 19.5 MW facility is expected to be commissioned by late 2021.

Oil firms which invest in renewables “could benefit more from stable cash flow”, according to credit firm Fitch Ratings. A new report claims that investment in offshore wind will have strong synergies with the oil and gas sector and will allow oil and gas companies to increase business diversification.

Vestas has increased revenue by 30% in the third quarter of 2019, against last years’ figures, with CEO Henrik Andresen claiming “unprecedented high activity levels” in all regions. The company’s interim report also increases a record-high backlog worth €32.8 billion, with a quarterly order intake of 4.7 GW of capacity.

The Climate Policy Initiative has reported that global investment in cutting greenhouse gases fell by 11% in 2018. After hitting a record high of $612 billion in 2017, the report indicates that only $546 billion was invested in 2018, with less finance provided for low-carbon transport and private-sector renewable energy.

BP Ventures is investing €10 million in MaaS Global, to integrate BP’s existing offers and technology with the mobility start-ups mobile application. MaaS’ Whim app currently allows customers to access and connect to a city’s range of transport options on a single platform.

A comprehensive study from the European Environment Agency has indicated that Europe is currently close to ‘on-track’ to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020 but will need to step up efforts if 2030 ambitions are to be met. With emissions collectively down 23.2% since 1990 in 2018, the 20% target set by EU legislation looks very likely to be met, but several member states are not on track to provide the necessary steps for the 40% reduction target for 2030. Current estimates indicate that with current policy, a 30% decrease from 1990 levels is more likely.

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