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3 August 2022

The world of renewables this week

EU gas storage sites have been filled to 67% capacity, as of the 27th of July, according to Energy Monitor, with the highest levels achieved in Portugal (100%), Poland (99%), and Sweden (91%). The target set by the European Commission is to have reached 80% capacity by the start of November, which will still pose significant challenges. Currently, many Eastern European countries have just around half of their capacity filled with natural gas.

California has boosted its offshore wind targets to 5 GW of capacity by 2030, up from a previous target of 3 GW. Announced in the AB 525 by the state’s Energy Commission, the move precedes a new ambition to install 25 GW of capacity – largely of floating wind – by 2045.

Our friends at Recharge this week, published details of the world’s first ship to be powered using a solid form of hydrogen. Neo Orbis will be built in the Netherland and will use sodium borohydride as its fuel once it goes into operation next June. The solid chemical can be mixed with pure water and a stabilizer to form a liquid fuel, which can be used to drive a fuel cell in the presence of a catalyst.

Orsted has opened its first operations facility outside of Europe, having inaugurated its O&M hub in the Taichung Harbor of Taiwan. The facility will support the development of the 2.4 GW Greater Changhua offshore wind farms that the company is currently developing.

Ireland has upped its climate ambition, with a new Climate Action Plan set to be unveiled at the end of the year. The strategy will include an increased target for offshore wind capacity – rising from 5 GW to 7 GW by 2030 – as well as a doubled target for solar power, which will now sit at 5.5 GW. An ambition to develop 2 GW of green hydrogen capacity was also outlined, as part of a broader plan to reduce emissions from the power generation sector by 75% in that timeframe.

Wood Mackenzie has continued to underestimate the growth of the battery storage market – much the same as it has for the solar sector over the past two decades. Predicting 1,182 GWh of capacity across Europe, the US, and China, the report indicates half the capacity forecast by Rethink Energy, and fails to account for the inevitable growth of non-lithium ion batteries.

Meyer Burger, the photovoltaic equipment provider turned heterojunction cell and module manufacturer, has downrated its expected production volumes for 2022 and 2023, citing supply chain constraints of equipment for its under-constructing production lines. The company also states that it not expects all of its 2023 sales to be for the rooftop segment, instead of the previous expectation of 70%.

China’s lithium electrolyte production in the first half of 2022 has risen year-on-year to 290,000 tons. The lithium hexafluorophosphate shortage of H2 2022 has eased as Yongtai Technology has brought new production capacity online. The cost of the material has halved since a spike early this year.

JMK Research predicts that India, which installed 12 GW of solar in FY 2022, will install 20 GW in FY 2023. After that, it may run low on stockpiles of panels imported from China prior to the April 2022 BCD import duty, depending on how well domestic manufacturing develops.

German electronics manufacturer Manz is to exit solar manufacturing entirely, after a ten-year period in which it provided CIGS manufacturing equipment. The decision was prompted by a Chinese customer, Chongqing Shenhua, cancelling its equipment order and failing to pay for all services rendered, leaving Manz $23 million out of pocket and pursuing litigation.

State Grid Corporation of China, which covers most of the country, is aiming to develop 50 GW and 100 GW of pumped hydro storage by 2025 and 2030 respectively, according to its Chairman Xin Baoan. In a letter published by the Chairman, Xin states “The AC-DC hybrid grid will remain dominant through to 2060. At the same time, microgrids, distributed energy, energy storage and local DC grids will develop rapidly, interoperate and coordinate with the grid, and support various new energy sources.” Observing that the “western energy base” – meaning the vast utility-scale wind and solar which is being built in China’s desert periphery – is 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers away from demand centers, the Chairman states that State Grid will invest $355 billion in the power grid during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, which runs from 2021 to 2025.