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14 November 2019

The world of renewables this week

Bifacial solar modules will temporarily remain exempt from US import tariffs, after Invenergy’s appeal against the government’s decision to reimpose them was granted by a US court. Bifacial solar panels were initially exempted from tariffs imposed in June, due to limited supply in the US, despite some opposition from US-based manufacturers. This was initially overturned in October, with factories opened in the US by First Solar and Hanwha increasing the country’s manufacturing capacity, although Invenergy appealed on the grounds that insufficient notice or comment was given prior to this. Not sure how long this suspension will last.

Better Energy has announced plans to independently add 7 GW of solar capacity to the Danish grid in the next 6 to 8 years.

Fukushima will be the home to a 600 MW wind and solar project worth approximately $2.7 billion, with work set to begin on the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. The project will transmit electricity to the Tokyo and the surrounding area from 2023.

Tesla is estimated to be responsible for 77.7% of US electric vehicles according to monthly reports. This high market share is hardly surprising however, when considering that only two other fully electric vehicles are manufactured in the US: The Chevy Bolt and the Nissan LEAF.

Orsted has completed the Formosa 1 offshore wind farm in Taiwan, marking the start of largescale offshore wind in the Asia-Pacific region. The 128 MW project is the first in a pipeline of a projects in the country, with the Greater Changhua project expected to reach over 2 GW of capacity by 2025, subject to a final investment decision. President Tsai Ing-wen also initiated a policy this week which would add 10GW of offshore capacity between 2026 and 2035.

Engie has announced plans for the largest solar project in its portfolio, with a 225 MW project set for Borden County in the US state of Texas. Operation is expected to begin in the summer of 2020, serving utilities in four municipalities.

Xpeng Motors has announced $400 million in capital funding from Xiaomi Corporation, which will see the latter join Xpeng’s electric vehicle development efforts as a strategic investor. Collaboration is expected to include building a smart mobility ecosystem.

Tesla will build its first European manufacturing facility in Berlin. This will be the fourth “Gigafactory” for the company’s electric vehicles. CEO Elon Musk had previously indicated that Germany would be a prime location for European operations stating that a facility “on the German-French border makes sense, near the Benelux countries.” Musk said the decision not to build the facility in the UK was down to on Brexit turmoil, after previously stating intentions to build there.

The UK telegraph has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take note of the voters that Donald Trump will lose as a result of the trade war with China. With China retaliating by introducing its own tariffs, US-based exporters, including farmers in particular, have lost out significantly from sales. Reaction from this is likely to see Trump lose voters in his reelection campaign next year, with researchers suggesting that the Johnson should be wary not to “tear up the trade system”.

RWE Renewable’s UK windfarms will support E.ON’s drive to 100% renewables, following a PPA which was signed this week. The 2.5-year deal includes the use of power from 20 UK onshore and offshore wind farms, totaling a capacity of 892 MW.

ENEL’s quarterly reports shows adjusted net income to be up by 14.1% in 2019 so far against the previous year as long as you don’t count the impairment it went through for coal fired plants which would take it down 73%.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that it has no plans to finance new coal projects in the future, after refusing to fund a coal-fired power plant project in Kenya. The 1 GW project was initially backed by investors from China and Kenya, with construction set to start in 2015, but will not receive any funding from AFdB due to the risk of future stranded assets. President Akinwumi Adesina has already indicated the bank’s intentions of “getting out of coal”, having previously loaned over €2 billion to coal plant projects in South Africa and Senegal.

JinkoSolar has joined the board of directors at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to promote “The Solar+ Decade”, with the aim of solar providing 20% of US electricity by 2030. The company is one of the largest solar manufacturers in the world, but without US manufacturing facilities has been subject to the 30% trade tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. SEIA President Abby Hopper claimed that the addition of Jinko to the board will “enhance our ability to advocate on behalf of the U.S. solar industry and build a sustainable solar energy future for all Americans.”

Research from the University of Houston claims that a new catalyst has been developed which can split seawater at low voltages. The study, published in Nature Communications, says that the technology requires a current density of 100 mA per square centimeter with a potential difference of around 1.5 V.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its annual World Energy Outlook for 2019. Among key points is criticism of governments for lackluster policy, as both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions look not to peak until post 2040.

German wind turbine specialist Nordex has presented Q3 figures with results in line with expectations, with an 11% rise in revenue to €2.52 billion for 2019. Due to high expenditure however, it has recorded a €76 million net loss, which the company claims is consistent with expectations and guidance.

Longi Solar, Jinko Solar and REC Group appear to have won in a US court case with Hanwha Q Cells and other large international solar manufacturers, regarding attempts to shut the international manufacturers out of the US market. The initial complaint, filed in March by Hanwha, alleged that all three companies were importing PV modules that used patent infringing technology. The court is expected to rule a judgment of non-infringement within the next two weeks according to the US International Trade Commission.

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to increase the country’s offshore wind target by 2030 from 30 GW to 40 GW, if his Conservative Party is re-elected in next month’s general election. This sits 12 GW short of the Labour Party’s ‘People Power Plan’, to install 52 GW in this period.

Californian utility PG&E has raised its offer of compensation to wildfire victims to $13.5 billion. This followed pressure from Governor Gavin Newsom, who asked the bankruptcy court to block the possibility of a smaller settlement. Newsom also re-highlighted the idea of a state-led takeover of PG&E, which filed for bankruptcy in January, with interest growing in California about turning the investor-owned utility into a public entity. PG&E has until June 30 to advance a reorganization plan or it will lose access to a fund designated to help utilities recover from wildfire costs.

Offshore wind leader Orsted has plans plan to build a huge 460 MW solar-plus-storage project in West Texas by mid-2021. Following its acquisition of major onshore wind player Lincoln Clean Energy last year, this project will make Orsted the first developer to own a “full spectrum” of renewable technologies at utility scale in the US, with projects in both onshore and offshore wind as well as PV solar and storage.