The world of renewables this week

Vattenfall in Sweden says it will begin to deploy GE Renewable Energy’s 12-megawatt Haliade-X offshore wind turbine in future projects across Europe, something of a slap in the face for European suppliers Vestas and Siemens Gamesa. The Haliade-X is due for delivery in 2021, and can output up to 67 gigawatt hours a year. Vattenfall has long been a pioneer in offshore wind.

E.ON says its distribution grids in Germany will be ready to support a complete switch to electric cars, according to a joint study by E.ON and Consentec. The study looked at 100% ownership of EVs in the market or

roughly 6.5 million cars. It says it is on track to support this scenario by 2045 with an investment of just €2.5 billion, for some new grid stations and extra power lines. Since E.ON already invests around €1 billion annually on its German grids the €2.5 billion over 25 years seems trivial. E.ON says the amount can be lower if more charging stations are available which charge during the day, rather than at home at night.

A piece in Nature Sustainability this week suggests that the best way to deal with methane in climate change is to turn it into CO2. Strange to replace one greenhouse gas with another, but CO2 retains far less heat than Methane, so it may make sense. The suggesting is we should work on collecting atmospheric methane says author Rob Jackson, a climate and environmental scientist at Stanford University. However since no-one has worked out how to take any chemicals out of the air in a way that’s economically viable, it’s just an idea, and one that is unlikely to be tested in the near future.

NASA says it will do its bit to develop electric aircraft, offering to pay some $6 million dollars over the next three years to the University of Illinois to research the topic. For an industry worth $ billions, which makes up around 17% of greenhouse gasses, this is a pitiful amount which the airline industry should pick up, and spend around 100 times more. The NASA program CHEETA will work on a fuel cell plus with cryogenic liquid hydrogen storage. Early studies on hydrogen as a drop-in fuel replacement for transport aircraft in the early 2000s found it basically worked and was highly efficient, safe, and environmentally clean, but just not economical.

The German Solar Association in conjunction with the Becquerel Institute claims that with the right policies in place, Africa could add 29 GW of solar capacity each year by 2030. To put that in perspective China at its height has only managed less than double that. The report focuses on ten countries only – Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. All of Africa has only installed 5 GW to date. With minor policy changes they say that the market could reach 4 GW to 6 GW in the next few years. In fact the only thing likely to grow faster than solar in Africa, is the continent’s energy demand. What is needed is market access for overseas companies of course, oh yes and a brand new grid for each country.

GE Renewable Energy said at the AWEA Windpower Conference last week that it has secured over 2 GW of onshore wind orders in North America this year, with orders for more than 700 turbines. GE is the largest supplier of wind turbines to the US, but supplied just 3 GW in all of last year and 40 GW cumulatively.

A Chinese solar farm operator called Xinyi Energy has raised $465 million in its IPO on the Hong Kong stock market.

Cadent, a UK gas distributor, has agreed to pay £24 million to customers after a complaint of poor service was upheld by Ofgem, and put a further £20 million into a fund to support vulnerable customers, after it left customer without gas for prolonged periods during 2018, particularly in large multi-dwelling units.

The German federal government plans to spend €40 billion to cushion the economic blow from closing down coal mines in eastern Germany and the Rhineland over the next 20 years. The €40bn will fund the creation of an R&D center, the expansion of motorway and railway links, and the construction a sports arena in Leipzig. Wouldn’t that money bet better spent on renewables, which would bring permanent jobs with them. Germany has agreed to phase out coal by 2038.

Researcher IHS Markit says that there will be no zero-subsidy offshore wind bids in UK contracts awarded under AR3 Contracts for Difference next week, despite that happening in many other European countries. IHS says that wind still needs support to compete in day-ahead wholesale markets because the day ahead wholesale price for electricity may be below the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind. AR3 is expected to acquire 6 GW with between 2 GW and 3.2 GW coming from Wind, says IHS at around £56 per MWh.

Japan’s Orix is expected to exercise its right to match the highest bidder for the 51% of India’s IL&FS Wind Energy that is does not already own. The wind energy business has defaulted on debts of $540 million. Bidding for the 874 MW assets have gone to $680 million which Orix will have to agree to pay to land the prize.

Voltalia in France has entered exclusive discussions to buy Helexia to expand its solar and energy efficiency services. Because Helexia is owned by

the Mulliez family which a major shareholder at Voltalia, the price must be set by an independent expert.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental, and Carbon Engineering, a Canadian carbon capture specialist said they will proceed together designing the world’s largest Direct Air Capture (DAC) and sequestration facility. These have mostly been a spectacular waste of time and lip service to climate change protection, by determined fossil fuel players.

The two say they can capture 500 kilotonnes of CO2 each year, which would be used in Occidental’s enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations and then stored underground permanently. The plant would be located in the Permian Basin in the US south-west. Only an oil company can think it’s a great idea to come up with a process so we can still burn oil, but try to pretend we are doing it in a decarbonized way. Construction begins in 2021, which leaves them a clear conscience until then.

Europe should acquire 20.4GW of solar during 2019 says SolarPower Europe with leading markets being Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Ukraine. This is more than Europe has ever deployed before, even in its heyday of 2011. It says global solar capacity for 2019 should be 128 GW.