Worth Noting – The world in renewables this week

The Danish minister of education has opened a pilot energy storage facility which instead of using molten salt (see earlier story), will use hot stones in much the same way, heated to 600 degrees and insulated. The idea is to build a much bigger version of this pilot as a single facility for total Danish baseload. DTU university says it needs to store a 1.4 GW baseload by 2035, with 300 MWh stored and released on average every  day.

Norway’s Statkraft says it has built a larger virtual power plant in the UK that is already at 1 GW peak, and says it will double this to 2 GW by year end, and also that it is working on an even bigger system for Germany. The VPP is a combination of wind turbines, solar farms, battery storage and gas turbines to create flexible baseload class of powerplant. To do this it has partnered with Energy and Meteo Systems of Germany. Statkraft says its German VPP has now topped 12GW.

Volvo said this week that its margins on electric cars will match those of vehicles with combustion engines by 2025.  Volvo said it is investing about 5% of its revenues, around $1 billion a year, on both driverless and electric cars and will have five new electric car designs in the market during the next few years. The company admitted that currently building electric vehicles was very expensive and that costs on things like batteries will need to come down.

Italian power group Enel this week announced its 2018 results which grew net income by 26.7%. Revenues were up just 1.4% to €75.7 billion with more of it made up of renewables, and some headwinds from exchange rates, particularly in South America. Net income was €4.8 billion and it now carries €41 billion in debt. Enel expects to accelerate North America renewable projects in 2019 and have continued involvement in the digital transformation of grids in Italy and South America. By 2021, it says that 62% of energy generated by the Group will be zero emissions, compared to 50% today.

Shipments of single-axis solar trackers were up 40% during 2018, in excess of 20 GW globally for the first time according to a report from IHS Markit. US shipments were largest, with further gains in Mexico, Australia, Egypt and Spain. The Americas took more than half of all trackers, but growth was fastest in the Middle East and North Africa. PV trackers account for over 25% of global ground-mount installations. NEXTracker was the leader with Array Technologies next, followed by PV Hardware, Arctech Solar, and Soltec and seven PV tracker suppliers exceeded annual shipments of 1 GW in 2018.

The Asian Development Bank says it will invest $50 million in Indian renewable energy producer Avaada Energy, which will use the money to expand its solar energy generation capacity in India. Avaada offers utility-scale, rooftop, and off-grid solar projects and has power purchase agreements for about 1.7 GW. The Indian government wants to increase renewable energy to 40% by 2030.

A report from Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth shows the scandal of 33 major banks providing $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the end of 2015. And of this $600 billion went to 100 companies who are the most aggressive at expanding fossil fuels. It suggests that the major banks are aligned with climate disaster. Banking on Climate Change 2019 is the tenth annual fossil fuel report card and singles out JPMorgan for funding the most fossil fuel extraction. Many of these banks have made promises of investments in sustainability and “clean financing.”

EDP Renewables and Microsoft have signed two 15-year power purchase agreements totaling 125 MW that will bring the Timber Road IV Wind Farm to Ohio’s Paulding County. It will come online during 2019 and will produce enough electricity to power 36,000 average homes. These agreements bring Microsoft’s directly purchased renewable energy portfolio to 1.4 GW and this is its fifth project in the region.