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20 July 2022

The world of renewables this week

You would have thought that when Canoo got an order for 4,500 Electric Delivery Vehicles from Walmart that its share price would have moved upwards and it did, but the valuation of Canoo is still only around$1 billion

At an average cost of $35,000, that order is probably worth $160 million or more. These vehicles will be used for Walmart Last Mile Deliveries in its growing eCommerce business. At one stage Canoo had been valued at over $4 billion, until short sellers decided that its SPAC route to public ownership, left unanswered questions. Walmart is supposed to receive first deliveries in 2023. So far Canoo has not shipped any self-driving cars, and last week reported a battery fire in one of its prototypes.

The US Department of Energy says it will give $2.54 billion to help finance six carbon capture and storage demonstration projects at coal- and gas-fired power plants and industrial facilities. It’s such a shame that these will all be a waste of money – since gas and coal plants are already too expensive to run when compared with solar and wind, without additional costs. The DoE will also provide $100 million for designing regional carbon dioxide pipeline systems to transport and deposit CO2 under the sea. Huge waste of money.

Pattern Energy has acquired the well-publicized SunZia Transmission project from SouthWestern Power Group, which consists of a 550-mile bi-directional ± 525 kV HVDC transmission line between central New Mexico and south-central Arizona, able to transport 3,000 MW of renewable energy.  Pattern Energy was previously the buyer for the capacity for its own SunZia Wind project, a 3,000 MW facility in New Mexico and it can now distribute all this energy across all the Western states. The wind farm and transmission collectively will cost around $8 billion and construction will start next year and will create 2,000 jobs during peak construction.

General Motors and travel operator Pilot said in the US this week they will use EVgo technology to build a network of 2,000 electric vehicle charging posts across 500 centers, branded with either one of their brands “Pilot Flying J” or “Ultium Charge 360”. The two companies have not said how much they will spend. The idea is to combine private investment and government grants and the system will output up to 350kW per post. What General Motors is really saying here is that this is how it plans to control some government money on EV charging, to help catch up to Tesla.

News turned up late last week that the largest battery energy storage system (BESS) in the world at Moss Landing made up of 400 MW of capacity over 4 hours to deliver 1,600 MWh, is back online. Vistra turned the second of two installations off in January after two battery overheating incidents. It will now get on with installing further phases, but both the 300 MW phase 1 and the 100 MW phase II systems had sprinkler systems go off, triggered, the company says, not by thermal runaway, but air conditioner bearings. The energy can now be traded on Caiso once again and we look forward to hearing how much profit the systems will make for Vistra. Phase III is another 350MW of capacity and it will keep expanding up until 1600 MW is installed. No single installation of energy storage has ever been the focus of so much attention, and it is said that countless projects were on hold until this one went back online.

First announced back in February, Phillips 66 and Switzerland’s H2 Energy have closed a deal to build a network of 250 hydrogen refueling stations in Germany, Austria and Denmark, by 2026. The two firms will collaborate under a 50-50 joint venture JET H2 Energy with Phillips 66 providing retail experience – it has over 1000 JET branded station across Europe – and H2 Energy bringing the technical know-how.

Chemicals giant Johnson Matthey says it will build a UK based PEM Fuel Cell gigafactory costing £80 million, which will come online in 2024. Funding will come from the £1 billion Automotive Transformations Fund (ATF) for decarbonizing transport.

Clean Power Hydrogen (CPH2), a green hydrogen technology and manufacturing company based in Doncaster, UK seems to be on the brink of commercializing a membrane free electrolyzer (MEF) and has tasked an Irish manufacturer to build 2GW worth of its patented MEFs over the next 20 years. CPH2 revealed very little to the public about the working principles behind this technology but many research papers suggest that its theoretical efficiency is comparable to that of the more popular proton exchange membrane water electrolyzer, but with a lower manufacturing cost.

German HVAC supplier Viessmann has laid foundations for its new heat pump factory in Legnica, Poland, which will cost it €200 million.  Viessmann’s has promised to spend €1 billion on green systems.

NHOA said this week that its first half sales were 10 times this time last year reaching €82 million, especially Energy storage which grew 30X. e-Mobility also grew rapidly reaching 900 charging posts and a pipeline of around 1500 new sites. In July last year NHOA was acquired by TCC, who cut a deal to progress jointly with Stellantis.

Newlight Technologies has selected Black and Veatch to design its first commercial-scale plant in Ohio. Newlight has discovered how to make PHB with a combination of micro-organisms and fermentation. PHB is an energy storage material for living organisms – which is potentially a replacement technology to today’s plastics (polypropylene). The company confusingly calls its “Aircarbon,” and want to make it at a commercial scale. Its customers include Shake Shack, Nike, Target, H&M, Ben & Jerry’s, Sumitomo, US Foods and Sysco.

Three US oil and gas companies Pioneer Natural Resources, Devon Energy and ConocoPhillips have joined the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 Initiative. The idea is to be transparent about methane emissions reporting and encourage progress in reducing those emissions.

US hydrogen truck specialist Nikola has adjourned its Annual Meeting of Stockholders until August 2 to allow stockholders additional time to vote FOR Proposal 2. It needs another 0.5% of voters to back the proposal, which will allow it to issue more shares, to ensure the company has enough cash to run. That’s the second extension. Over 105 million votes have yet to be cast, and the company needs 1.6 million of them.

US storage system manufacturer Powin has raised $135 million in growth equity this week from GIC, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and Trilantic Energy Partners North America and Energy Impact Partners. Powin has delivered 2,500 MW of BESS across 12 US states and eight countries and it has a pipeline of 10,000 MWh over the next two years.

Keppel Infrastructure has signed a license agreement with Norw3ay’s Ocean Sun to use its floating solar membrane-based nearshore floating solar system for an installation in Singapore. The first installation is for 1.5 MW to be deployed near Jurong Island.

A research team in the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory says it has designed a sodium-ion battery that can re-charge more times than previously, if not as often as lithium ion, and points out the technology has no thermal runaway issues. The findings are described in the journal Nature Energy, and involve a new electrolyte, but let’s not get carried away, the change takes it up to 300 re-charges, no more and at present it is only in the lab.

Greece is to launch a 1 GW renewable energy tender in September for solar system over 1 MW and wind systems above 60 kW.

The US state of Mississippi’s Public Service Commission is to adopt new Net Metering and interconnection rules, expanding the “participation cap” for rooftop systems and prioritizing low- and moderate-income customers. The new rules are complex but include a $20 per MWh “adder” for low and moderate-income owners, and a $3,500 lump sum rebate from utilities for any residential customer buying an over-3 kW distributed renewable installation.

The US’ Senator Manchin has reportedly refused to support any new renewable energy spending, which means the nominally Democrat-controlled Senate can’t pass any further tax breaks or incentives for renewables development, and that the renewable energy aspect of Build Back Better policy proposal is definitively dead in the water.

REC Solar has won a grant from the $1.8 billion second Innovation Fund of the EU, for its under development 2 GW heterojunction solar factory to be built in France. The first round of the Innovation Fund assigned $600 million to Enel Green Power’s 3 GW bifacial factory in Catania, Italy.

The US Department of Energy has opened applications for a $2.3 billion grid resilience grant scheme, which will run for five years and is open to states, utilities, Native American tribes, and territories. In the meantime the Bureau of Land Management has approved the 3.2 GW, 500 kV, $400 million, 200-kilometer Ten West transmission line project running from Arizona to California.

China’s National Energy Administration has announced that 30.88 GW of new solar was installed in the country in the first six months of 2022. When compared to 16 GW in the first six months of 2021, and 54.88 GW in all of 2021, this reinforces expectations of 100 GW being installed this year in the country.