The world of renewables

A UK drone firm called Above Surveying has launched what it calls a knowledge partnership with the University of Essex, to use AI to develop advanced solar inspection services which will automate inspections and reduce human intervention by using computer vision systems.

Azure Power a leading solar producer in India said this week it has added 500 MW of solar power since last year, taking its total to 1,400 MW, one of the largest solar portfolios in India. Azure Power commissioned 250 MWs in the last quarter alone all on utility-scale projects.  Recent deals include a 260 MW project in Gujarat and a 100 MW solar project in Karnataka.

PV installations in the Americas will grow at 5.5% per annum, generating $141.2 billion in annual investment by 2022. This is based on strong regulatory activity in incentives and support mechanisms, in the US, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. The annual installed capacity reached 12.8 GW in 2017, 59 GW in 2018, and will double to 141.3 GW by 2022 says a report from Frost and Sullivan.

Volkswagen plans to front a European Battery Union to accelerate battery research in Europe, and has partnered Swedish battery producer Northvolt. They will look at everything from raw materials to cell manufacturing technology to recycling. Some funding may be added from German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

General Electric says it has sold off 650 MW of energy projects to Enel Green Power North America which had previously been jointly owned between the two. GE sold the assets, with an enterprise value of $900 million, for $256 million. The assets included geothermal, wind and solar facilities. Some critics continue to hound GE for being too opportunistic and only paying renewables lip service.

Renewable Energy Systems (RES) said it has begun construction on the Southern Oak Solar Project in Georgia which will be America’s largest bifacial solar project to date, using LONGi’s panels with peak output of 160 MW for Georgia Power. Bifacial solar modules generate power from both sides of the panels. This allows project owners to make better use of available space by capturing additional solar energy within the same footprint.

European Energy has sold off a 39 MW Wind Farm called Bosco Le Piane in the Basilicata region in southern Italy to a Quercus Renewal energy fund.

The deal was worth €80 million.

NEC Energy said it has completed the installation of the biggest battery storage system in Switzerland the 18 MW peak grid storage solution can output 7.5 MWh and the system is owned and operated by Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich (EKZ). The energy storage system is being used for grid balancing.

Topaz Solar Farms said this week that it has been paid in full for its February 2019 energy deliveries to bankrupt PG&E.

Oxford PV which makes perovskite solar cells, said it has raised £31 million in its Series D funding round with a new investment from China’s Goldwind, and follow up funding from Equinor and Legal & General Capital. The money will let it go from R&D to the commercial phase. Oxford claims its perovskite-on-silicon set a certified world record in energy conversion efficiency.

Canadian storage firm CellCube said it plans to complete a $10 million debenture finance deal, with an over-allotment option of as further $5 million.

The debenture is against Enerox GmbH the Austrian subsidiary of CellCube, for three years, and bears interest at 9% a year, paid semi-annually. It is taking this type of debt because it does not want to dilute shareholders further. CellCube makes vanadium redox flow energy storage technology.

Germany’s Ubitricity has closed a €20 million series C funding deal, and has added Honda as new partner for its lamppost charging technology. The money will allow the company to accelerate growth and existing shareholders EDF and Next47 invested alongside Honda.

Denmark’s Vestas has an order from Foxwell Energy and TCC Green Energy, for a 43 MW Changhua wind park in Taiwan. This win follows a similar deal to an 18 MW project it won last year, seen as a comeback into the Taiwanese market for Vestas.

New Mexico, USA has signed into law an Act to source 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2040 and 100 percent by 2045. New Mexico already has spent $3 billion on Wind energy and employs 3,000 staff to maintain them.

Puerto Rico has approved a bill to set the Island on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050

In Q4 2018 China’s JinkoSolar shipped 3.6 GW of solar panels, a rise of 22.5% over the previous quarter, and up 16% over 2017. But revenues for the year fell by 5.4% $3.64 billion on price erosion. The company said it expects to increase shipments in 2019 to between 14 GW and 15 GW, around would represent around a 30% increase over 2018’s full-year figure. But will revenues actually be up?

Spanish grid operator Red Eléctrica de España said it will spend €3.2 billion over 4 years supporting the country’s transition to renewables, expanding its high-voltage transmission network. It will spend €1.5 billion on integrating renewable capacity plus €908 million for system reliability and security, €434 million for digitalization and technological upgrades and €54 million for power control systems.

French energy and services group Engie has taken a majority stake in a Swiss startup called Tiko. The idea is to aggregated renewables from household and business into some of Europe’s biggest virtual power plants. Tiko was a joint venture between Swisscom and Repower and says it has added 100 MW across Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria. It also has technology to match real-time distributed energy resource (DER) controls to real-time grid commands.