Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

14 July 2022

The world of renewables this week

Plug Power will deliver 40-times more electrolyzer capacity in 2022 than in 2021, according to an interview this week with Recharge. Annual shipments are expected to rise from 5 MW in 2021 to 200 MW in 2022, although this remains dwarfed by an order pipeline of 16 GW.

BHP is facing a £5 billion lawsuit, after more than 200,000 Brazilians have joined an effort to sue the company due to a dam collapse in 2015. Judges in the English Court of Appeal overturned an previous decision to not hear the case, which was filed in 2018, and will now address the loss of homes and livelihoods that occurred following the collapse of the Fundao Dam in Brazil.

Octopus Energy has launched an electric vehicle leasing business in Texas, including a smart charging plan. Reduced electricity rates will be made available to customers who enroll their EV and a smart thermostat in its demand response program called Intelligent Octopus.

The EU has decided to keep gas and nuclear power under the umbrella definition needed to receive ‘green funding.’ Having won the vote by 328 to 278, proponents have said that including gas and nuclear in green funding would allow effective near-term decarbonization and a shift away from Russian imports. In reality, all it will see is energy prices continue to rise across the bloc.

GE has scrapped plans to build a wind turbine blade factory in the Teeside region of England, citing a lack of contracted volume in the country. Having failed to secure any contracts for new projects that were victors in the latest CfD round, the company only has one firm UK order for the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank complex in the North Sea, which it in CfD round three. Siemens Gamesa has dominated contract awards on projects in Allocation Round 4 so far.

Rhode Island will procure up to 1 GW of offshore wind capacity, with the potential to meet at least 30% of the state’s estimated 2030 electricity demand.

Germany has announced a cooperation with Namibia for the production and import of green hydrogen, adding to the list of African countries from which it has signed similar agreements. The plan will be to harness ultra-cheap wind and solar power in the region and convert it into green ammonia that can be shipped to Germany, roughly corresponds to Namibia’s current gross national product. The scale of the investment volume could match that of Namibia’s current Gross National Product, according to the German government, which stated that “’Hardly better place on Earth to produce green H2” than in Namibia.

The French government is hoping to fully nationalize EDF, in a bid to gain more control over the European energy crisis. The government already holds a 16% stake in the company but could be forced to pay between $8 billion and $10 billion for the remaining 16%.

Spain’s Enagas will invest €4.76 billion in energy security and decarbonization by 2030, according to strategic plans announced this week. Up to €2.8 billion will be spent on gas infrastructure, renewable hydrogen and biomethane production, while the rest will be spent on projects such as an underwater gas pipeline between Spain and Italy and a gas link between Spain and Portugal.

The European Parliament has voted to set binding targets for the replacement of kerosene with some form of sustainable fuel which is less polluting. It begins with a 2% blend of SAF in kerosene, rising slowly to an 85% blend by 2050. SAF will include both bio-based fuels from recycled waste and later hydrogen-based synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources.

German plug-in vehicles made up 26% of car sales in June, compared to 23.6% year on year, in a car market still down 18% from last year at 224,558 cars for the month. The Fiat 500e was Germany’s best-selling full electric vehicle in June.

Equinor has acquired US based battery storage developer East Point Energy, headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia which has a 4.1 GW pipeline of battery storage projects in the East Coast. Equinor has been late to enter the US energy markets and this looks like a good start. It used the same tactic in the UK buying storage developer Noriker Power in 2021

California’s Mullen Automotive said it has a binding deal with DelPack Logistics, an Amazon Delivery Service Partner, to sell 600 Mullen Class 2 EV cargo vans over the next 18 months. The first 300 are to be delivered by November 2022 and will have 80 kWh battery packs. The Mullen share price did not move on the news.

The US has finally lifted solar tariffs on products made in Canada, which in turn agreed to ban imports to Canada of any solar products built with forced labor.

UK power generator Drax has submitted plans to build what it says is a multi £billion bioenergy carbon capture and storage project at its North Yorkshire power station. Work will start in 2024. Drax has tried to introduce carbon capture to its own generation facilities about 3 times, but has always failed badly. It says this time it will be different, it will pull carbon out of the air, and work will begin in 2024 and it will create tens of thousands of jobs across the North. It says that 8 million tons of CO2 will be removed each year from the atmosphere by two facilities. We rarely accept anything that Drax says it plans as fact, because once the rules on subsidies no longer apply to burning wood waste, it is likely to go bust.

Minesto has commissioned the first 100 kW unit of the Dragon 4 tidal power plant in Denmark’s Faroe Islands, while three entries in the UK’s recent renewable energy auction were tidal power with a combined capacity of 40MW.

India’s Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has ceased issuing new permissions for solar importers to delay payment of the BCD tariff while panels remain in the warehouse, and to avoid paying at all if the panels are re-exported. Furthermore, the Board will be examining already-issued permissions. The BCD tariff is a steep 25% on cells and 40% on modules.

According to the VN Express International, Vietnam’s government could face legal challenge if its Power Development Plan doesn’t include all solar projects which have already been approved: the latest draft has only 8.7 GW of solar, but 11.1 GW has already been approved across various projects. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is reportedly arguing for an upgrade to the solar target.

Portuguese developer EDP plans to develop 16 GW of floating solar, including on rivers and the seas, across South-East Asia by 2030, according to CEO Miguel Stilwell. The company has also acquired a Polish distributed installer, Zielona, which has a 58 MW portfolio of existing projects, with 100 MW to be reached next year by EDP in the country.

According to the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association Silicon Branch, 150,000 tons of new polysilicon production capacity was brought online in Q1 2022, to be followed by 64,000 tons in Q2, 390,000 tons in Q3, and 140,000 tons in Q4. That will bring Chinese polysilicon production capacity from 520,000 tons at the end of 2021, to 1,260,000 tons at the end of 2022. If run at 60% capacity utilization as the facilities ramp up through 2023, that’s enough to make 250 GW of modules, before counting the contribution of factories to be commissioned next year. In 2023, the Association predicts that production capacity will have reached 2.25 million tons, with output at 1.46 million tons, which it says will combine with 100,000 tons of imports to produce 600 GW of photovoltaic products – though that implies grams of polysilicon per Watt falling all the way to 2.4g/W, which seems unrealistic – we expect 2.7g/W, which would produce 533 GW. The Association’s predictions for development of production capacity are based on real announcements and investments, but it is still hard to believe that ramping up will take quite so swiftly.