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SSE and Acciona team up for Iberian offshore wind

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 15:54
Acciona and SSE form an alliance to co-develop offshore wind farms off the coasts of Spain and Portugal, and potentially in other markets
Categories: Wind Power

CIP to use offshore wind for 1GW green ammonia plant

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 15:03
Investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Plans to build an offshore wind-powered, 1GW electrolysis plant on the west coast of Denmark
Categories: Wind Power

The lesson of Texas – and a new program states can use to quickly fund the distributed energy storage solution

Renewable Energy News - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 14:00

If we learn anything from the Texas blackouts, and the death and suffering that have resulted, it should be this: distributed resilient solar+storage systems are no longer a luxury – they are an essential tool to protect citizens from power outages, and modernize the grid so outages become less frequent and severe.

The thing is, we should have learned this lesson a long time ago. The wildfire blackouts in California should have taught us. Or the wholesale wrecking of the electric grid by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Or recurring widespread storm-related outages up and down the East Coast, from New Orleans to New Jersey.

Sadly, it seems that each state and region has to learn this lesson separately, the hard way. Sometimes it takes repeated outages, with their associated death and suffering, before the lesson sinks in.

The good news is that a few states and utilities in the Northeast have figured out a way to scale up deployment of behind-the-meter batteries fast, in a way that can make storage accessible even in low-income communities. That’s important because, despite dramatic reductions in battery prices, cost is still a major barrier. The new financing model, called ConnectedSolutions in Massachusetts (where it was first developed with technical support from the Clean Energy Group (CEG)), allows states to offer significant energy storage incentives without establishing new programs or new budgets; and it improves the financeability of battery systems, making it easier to offer these systems in underserved communities.

The program works like this: First, the state incorporates battery storage into its energy efficiency program, making batteries eligible for efficiency incentives. States can do this because while batteries do not reduce net consumption of electricity, they are very useful for reducing peak demand, which increases efficiencies across the grid (and saves ratepayers money).

Once batteries are part of the efficiency program, the program administrators — usually utilities — market them to their customers (or let third-party developers and aggregators do the marketing). Customers can buy a battery using low- or no-cost financing (and sometimes a rebate), install it in their home or business, and then sign a contract with the utility that allows the utility to dispatch the battery during times of regional peak demand, when electricity is very costly. This saves money for the utility, which then pays the customer for the service. With appropriate financing in place, this pay-for-performance model can scale up distributed storage deployment very quickly, creating instant “virtual power plants” that utilities can draw on when demand is highest.

This saves money for ratepayers, while it also helps keep the grid stable. If the grid ever does go down, the battery customers can “island,” using their battery to supply themselves with electricity until the grid is back up and running.

In addition to grid support, it turns out that paying customers for grid services has a lot of other benefits. For one thing, it significantly improves the economics of battery systems. CEG has just published a report showing how ConnectedSolutions improves battery economics for multifamily affordable housing facilities by about 30 percent, on average, in Massachusetts.

But more than that, the ConnectedSolutions program model offers numerous social and policy benefits that should make it attractive to policymakers, utilities and customers alike. A second new report from CEG shows how this simple innovation in battery funding can:

  • Democratize storage ownership by making storage accessible to all regulated utility customers in states that adopt the program (including, with appropriate adders or rebates, low-income customers)
  • Democratize storage benefits by using private battery systems to support the regional electric grid, reducing ratepayer costs
  • Encourage cost-saving system and program standardization by setting state-wide program eligibility standards
  • Expand energy resilience and other benefits by providing a revenue stream for larger batteries than would otherwise be economic for most customers to install
  • Support market diversification by supporting customer- and third-party ownership of battery storage

Most importantly, the ConnectedSolutions model can be adopted by any state that has an energy efficiency program — and most states do. Across the country, more than $6 billion per year is budgeted in state electric efficiency programs. Historically, this money has incentivized basic home and commercial improvements such as weatherstripping, high-efficiency boilers, and lighting upgrades. Now, with the simple inclusion of batteries, these state efficiency budgets can begin to address the bigger picture — how to provide benefits to all ratepayers by bringing down expensive and polluting demand peaks, integrating renewables onto the grid, increasing resiliency and preventing blackouts.

With a new administration in Washington, we should start to see more federal support for state clean energy programs, including for energy storage (our new report addresses that, too). But federal administrations come and go, and the reality is that grid failures can be addressed most directly by state regulators and policymakers. When it comes to protecting citizens’ access to electric power, assuring grid reliability and advancing clean energy policy, states are in the driver’s seat.

That’s why state energy regulators and policymakers need to take a close look at the ConnectedSolutions program, which has already spread from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. A few states may have the deep pockets needed to put millions of dollars into energy storage rebates, like California and New York; but the reality is that most states don’t have the resources to create new, large-scale programs. That’s why letting storage technologies access existing energy efficiency funds is so important — both for getting storage scaled up fast, and for making it available to all the people — not just the wealthiest early adopters.

For more information about the ConnectedSolutions program, download CEG’s new report here, and register to attend our free webinar scheduled for March 12th.

The post The lesson of Texas – and a new program states can use to quickly fund the distributed energy storage solution appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

Customers are driving the push towards renewables and digitalization

Renewable Energy News - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 13:48
Renewable energy is moving into a new stage in its evolution.

By Allen Austin, ABB

Renewables account for more than two thirds of new generating capacity additions in the U.S. This means that renewable energy is claiming an increasing share of the national generation mix. EIA estimates that wind power accounted for 9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2020., surpassing hydropower as the predominant renewable electricity generation source in 2019.

The agency expects wind to make up 31% of the nearly 40GW of new generating capacity in 2021. That’s nearly double the share claimed by new gas-fired generation (16%). Solar comes in first, accounting for 39%, according to EIA.

The industry’s maturation has brought with it a major consolidation in recent years. Vestas acquired half of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ offshore wind business, Siemens acquired Gamesa wind, Centrica acquired Vista Solar, and Tesla acquired Solar City.

In the last few years, ABB has made some consolidation moves of our own. We sold our solar inverter business to Fimer, and we exited the high-voltage T&D business. On the plus side, the acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions in 2019 added critical low- and medium-voltage components and systems. These additions complement our existing renewable portfolio.

For us at ABB, it’s an exciting time. Our customers are pushing us to help them maximize their efficiencies and increase long-term sustainability with digital and cloud-connected technologies.

For example, utilities today are under extreme pressure to provide reliable high-quality power at competitive prices while reducing environmental footprint. Trends towards decentralized power generation from renewable sources further challenge established grid structures and require flexible and intelligent solutions.

Ultimately, it is customers—and their needs—that drive any supplier’s strategy. It’s clear that utilities and others in the renewable space are increasingly focused on technology that can lower costs and reduce risk. Condition monitoring on wind turbines, for example, feeds into predictive maintenance. It also establishes a basis for long-term capex planning by identifying the potential for various types of component failure in the future.

Customers are adopting these digitally-enabled capabilities more widely every day. Technology is no longer just for “early adopters”.

The next step for us now is working with our utility customers to knit together the hardware—low-voltage components in wind turbines, medium-voltage switchgear, energy storage—with cloud-based software and analytics. That means developing the ABB Ability platform that brings those digital capabilities together with the equipment in the field.

As the cost of underlying technologies, like sensors, continues to decline and analytics become more refined, customers have more choices. We expect more products and systems to come to market with connected digital capabilities the norm. In that environment, as technology proliferates, we see domain expertise as the ultimate differentiator.

There’s no substitute for experience, and in upcoming posts, I’ll share some of ours. We’ll explore topics from utilities’ transition to high renewable penetration to the role of energy storage. We are committed to the renewables industry for the long haul. That commitment means being a part of the conversations taking place within the renewables community right now.

Exciting times, and there’s more to come.

About the Author

Allen is the Senior Renewable Energy Market Development Manager at ABB Electrification USA. He began is work with the Renewable Energy market in 2008 with ABB Inc Low Voltage, where he developed and launched the local USA Low Voltage Products division strategy for the solar market. Within two years, he achieved more than 8X growth in solar. Since then, his responsibilities have expanded to all renewables including wind, energy storage and power generation for the Electrification Division-Americas with focus on the USA. Interests include all aspects of renewables, such as OEM’s utilities, developers, EPC’s, contractors, specifiers, distributors and industry associations.  

The post Customers are driving the push towards renewables and digitalization appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

China Three Gorges to buy 400MW wind portfolio in Spain

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 12:16
CTGE agrees to acquire 11 wind farms with a capacity of more than 400MW and a PV plant in Spain from a group of developers led by Corporación Masaveu
Categories: Wind Power

Floating offshore wind could flourish in Asia as costs fall

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 11:27
The capital expenditure needed to pay for floating offshore wind in Asia Pacific could fall by 40% over the next decade, new research shows
Categories: Wind Power

Danish TSO Energinet plans to expand wind flexibility markets

Wind Power Monthly - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 10:15
The transmission system operator claims reducing wind turbines’ output in times of excessive production can be a cost-effective, temporary alternative to grid expansion
Categories: Wind Power

Sunnova secures 85 MW in most recent ISO New England forward capacity auction

Renewable Energy News - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 10:05

Last week, US residential solar and storage installer Sunnova announced it has secured a position of 85 megawatts in the recent ISO-New England Forward Capacity Auction (FCA15). Sunnova’s aggregated residential solar portfolio will offer competitive renewable energy capacity to help meet the region’s future energy needs. The company expects the complete portfolio to begin participating with the FCA15 commitment year beginning June 2024.

Overall, Sunnova’s commitment priced at nearly $3/kW-mo across the region. The company expects the first-year value to be approximately $2 million and the gross value across the term to be approximately $38 million. The final pricing for FCA15 increased from prior years with systems in the surrounding Boston area (Northeast Massachusetts and Boston, Southeast Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) securing $3.98/kW-mo, Connecticut and Western Massachusetts clearing $2.61/kW-mo, and New Hampshire pricing at $2.48/kW-mo.

“Our ability to win capacity in a competitively priced auction with the largest aggregation of distributed renewables to date demonstrates our commitment to leading the energy transition in the region,” said William J. (John) Berger, Chief Executive Officer of Sunnova. “More importantly, Sunnova is looking forward to supporting ISO-NE on its path to a clean resilient grid and providing homeowners with the affordable and reliable energy they deserve.”

“Sunnova’s continued high growth in New England, and our strong dealer relationships allowed us to bid tens of thousands of new rooftop solar services into the auction,” said Michael Grasso, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Sunnova. “The participation of Sunnova’s portfolio secures the long-term involvement of our assets in the New England capacity program.”

The post Sunnova secures 85 MW in most recent ISO New England forward capacity auction appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

Wealthspire Advisors Rolls Out Impact and ESG-Based Investment Portfolios

Global Warming - Tue, 02/23/2021 - 08:00
Approach reflects a holistic decision-making framework for investment in which values, mission, and impact are considered in concert with investment return and risk parameters

GWEC: Nearly 30GW of new wind energy capacity was auctioned in 2020

Renewable Energy News - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 17:56

By Babalwa Bungane

Despite the economic and supply chain impacts felt across the world in 2020 due to COVID-19, the global wind energy industry has continued to power ahead and reach new records.

According to new analysis by GWEC Market Intelligence in its latest Q4 2020 Wind Energy Auction Update, nearly 30GW of new wind power capacity was awarded globally through auctions in the second half of 2020, which is a slight increase compared to the 28GW awarded during H2 2019. This surge in new auctioned capacity is a clear signal that the industry is back on track and committed to building up the global pipeline of wind power projects, notes the report.

While the first half of 2020 saw auctions being postponed or cancelled due COVID-19 restrictions, the sector bounced back with vigour in the second half of the year as key mature and emerging wind markets began overcoming the impacts of COVID-19.

Overall, nearly 35GW of new wind power capacity was auctioned globally in 2020. The update acknowledges that although this is a 26.5% decrease compared to the previous year, 2020 was still the second-highest year on record for auctioned wind capacity.

“Although there were initial concerns from the industry that the COVID-19 pandemic would severely impact the pipeline of wind power projects across the world, the sector’s impressive comeback in Q3 and Q4 2020 has shown that wind power has emerged from the crisis stronger than ever, with 2021 now expected to be a record year for new auctioned capacity,” said Feng Zhao, head of strategy and market intelligence at GWEC.

This influx of auctioned capacity in H2 2020 was led by the world’s largest wind market – China. Although no capacity was awarded in China during the first half of the year, the market recovered formidably, beginning in Q3 2020, awarding nearly 12GW of new wind capacity through auctions. This momentum continued into Q4 2020, with 11GW of new wind power projects approved in the last two months of the year alone.

In total, China accounted for 67% of the global wind power capacity auctioned and awarded in 2020, with subsidy-free onshore wind projects accounting for 96% of the approved capacity in China.

In addition to the remarkable growth in China, there were eight other countries which awarded new wind power capacity in H2 2020, including: India (2.2GW), Germany (1.5GW), Poland (900MW), Netherlands (759MW) Ireland (479MW), Greece (472MW), France (258MW), and Ecuador (110MW).

Other countries such as Brazil, Chile and the US, which either cancelled or postponed their auctions in 2020 due to the crisis, have now rescheduled them to take place in 2021, which will drive the record auction levels.

The full Q4 2020 Wind Energy Auction Update, which includes both analysis and a full database of global wind auctioned capacity, is available exclusively on GWEC’s Members Area.

This article was originally posted on ESI Africa and was republished with permission.

The post GWEC: Nearly 30GW of new wind energy capacity was auctioned in 2020 appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

EDP creates hydrogen and storage divisions

Wind Power Monthly - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 16:12
As part of its decarbonisation efforts, EDP has established two new units to develop green hydrogen and energy storage
Categories: Wind Power

Russia considers scrapping fines amid coronavirus pandemic

Wind Power Monthly - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 15:29
Russia’s energy ministry may allow operators to retain all revenue generated by new wind turbines prior to full commissioning, to allow for delays caused by Covid-19
Categories: Wind Power

I don’t believe renewables are the main cause for Texas blackouts

Renewable Energy News - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 14:06

Record low temperatures, including snow in Texas, have led Texas electric grid operator to ration electricity. Even before the winter event is done, misinformation is spreading that wind turbine blades froze, and hence, renewables are the leading cause for Texas blackouts.

The fact is, due to cold weather, a lot of generators, including nuclear, coal, natural gas, and renewables, had a tough time operating. Texas has many factors, such as wind, solar, energy storage, natural gas pipelines, and transmission lines working in its favor. At the same time, every year, demand is increasing. Hence we can expect multiple factors to cause Texas electric demand challenges. Until we do a root cause analysis, we don’t know which factor or combination of factors caused the most damage.

It is also a fact that the Texas Regional Entity, the regional electric compliance entity arm of North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would jointly work on investigating what went wrong. Yes, Texas electric grid does not fall under FERC jurisdiction. That may or may not have a bearing on this situation because California had brownouts in August 2020 due to high temperatures, and California is under FERC jurisdiction. So, it does not matter whether you are under the federal authority or not.

It is also a fact that we have seen in recent years – wildfires on the west coast during summers, hurricanes, and other natural disasters on the east coast and now record cold temperatures in Texas increase in frequency and magnitude. As a result, there is increased stress on the electric transmission and distribution grid.

As electric consumers have increased demand watching Netflix shows at home, the electric demand has moved from commercial office spaces to residential home office settings. This shift is COVID-19 related and may last for few years because some people like working from home and don’t want to go back to their office cubes. Nothing to do with peak winter conditions in Texas, but the point is electric demand is shifting in front of our eyes.

Another shift in consumer preference central to finger-pointing in this Texas situation is the customer-owned solar generation. Not everyone likes solar, but people who like to generate their electricity – believe in independence from fossil energy and their monopolistic utility. Texas is one of those “de-regulated” states that allow consumers to chose their retail electricity provider. This shift to more distributed energy is also happening well before Texas winter challenges.

So, hold your horses – consider facts before throwing renewables under the bus because consumers are driving the change to solar. The blackouts in Texas may make both Texas and federal energy regulators more aware of what storage can do and how electric storage can help fill the gap when these outages happen in the future again.

The post I don’t believe renewables are the main cause for Texas blackouts appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

Where are we with the safer nuclear option known as nuclear fusion?

Renewable Energy News - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 14:03

The world’s largest experimental nuclear fusion reactor is in development in Provence, southern France. ITER (originally the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject funded and run by seven member entities: the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States; Overall, 35 countries are participating in the project directly or indirectly. The project was initiated in 1988 and is expected to start full deuterium-tritium fusion experiments in 2035. That’s a very long project time. The Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first nuclear weapon lasted for 6 years. One would be correct to assume that it must be a behemoth of a task with far-reaching consequences for humanity. As Matt McGrath rightly titles his BBC article –‘Nuclear fusion is a question of when, not if’, how long will it take us to produce energy using nuclear fusion?


Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun and the stars. Fusion is the fusing of two or more atoms to form different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles. The mass lost in the process is converted to energy. For the nuclei of two atoms to overcome the aversion to one another caused by having the same charge, high temperatures and pressures are required. Temperatures must reach approximately six times those found in the core of the sun. At this heat, the hydrogen is no longer a gas but a plasma, an extremely high-energy state of matter where electrons are stripped from their atoms.


With the money, time, and effort being spent on this project, the question arises if it’s worth it? Can we improve the way by which we produce nuclear energy? The biggest problem with nuclear fission is the storage of dangerous radioactive end products. The storing and reprocessing are further complicated by the long half-life of the radioactive materials in the nuclear waste. For example, some of the components can retain half of their dangerous levels even one million years later after production. Until we find a safe and reliable method, disposal of nuclear wastage is just a dangerous risk we are passing onto our progeny. Even with all the risk measures taken, there is always a risk of accidents with devastating consequences which cannot be predicted.

These points were kept in mind while planning.

From the ITER website:

  • It is absolutely impossible for a Fukushima-type accident to happen at ITER. The fundamental differences in the physics and technology used in fusion reactors make a fission-type nuclear meltdown or a runaway reaction impossible. The fusion process is inherently safe.
  • Even in the event of a cataclysmic breach in the tokamak, the levels of radioactivity outside the ITER enclosure would remain very low. The ITER Preliminary Safety Report presents an analysis of risks that demonstrates that during normal operation, ITER’s radiological impact on the most exposed populations will be one thousand times less than natural background radiation. For postulated “worst-case scenarios,” such as fire in the Tritium Plant, the evacuation of neighboring populations would not be necessary.
  • Fusion reactors, unlike fission reactors, produce no high activity/long life radioactive waste. The “burnt” fuel in a fusion reactor is helium, an inert gas. Because the half-life of most radioisotopes contained in this waste is lower than ten years, within 100 years the radioactivity of the materials will have diminished in such a significant way that the materials can be recycled for use in other fusion plants.


This is not the first time a nuclear fusion reactor is being made. “Fusion machines” were already operating in the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, and Japan by the mid-1950s. A breakthrough occurred in 1968 in the Soviet Union when researchers were able to achieve temperature levels and plasma confinement times — two of the main criteria to achieving fusion — that had never been attained before. The Soviet machine was a doughnut-shaped magnetic confinement device called a tokamak. The Tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion.


Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma that provides the environment in which light elements can fuse and yield energy. The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel. As the plasma particles become energized and collide they also begin to heat up. Auxiliary heating methods help to bring the plasma to fusion temperatures (between 150 and 300 million °C). Particles “energized” to such a degree can overcome their natural electromagnetic repulsion on collision to fuse, releasing huge amounts of energy.

There have been various Tokamaks that have successfully operated but only for short durations, which is the main problem ITER is trying to solve. France holds the record for the longest plasma duration time of any tokamak: 6 minutes and 30 seconds. We are yet to produce a fusion machine that produces as much energy as is required to heat them which is defined by the Q ratio. Plasma energy breakeven (a Q ratio of 1) has never been achieved: the current record for energy release is held by JET, which succeeded in generating 16 MW of fusion power, for 24 MW of power used to heat the plasma (a Q ratio of 0.67). ITER aims to have a Q ratio of 10, which means producing 500 MW of energy for 50 MW of energy consumed which is a very audacious target. But it will not be striving alone in its quest—fusion machines all over the world have re-oriented their scientific programs or modified their technical characteristics to act either partially or totally in support of ITER operation.


The project duration is a very long one. ITER project officially initiated in 1988 with conceptual design activities. Machine assembly was launched on 28 July 2020. The construction of the facility is expected to be completed in 2025 when commissioning of the reactor can commence. ITER’s First Plasma is scheduled for December 2025 and the deuterium-tritium operation is to start in 2035. That will be the first time the machine is powered on and the first act of ITER’s multi-decade operational program.

Decades of fusion research and generations of fusion devices have contributed to the design of ITER. ITER, in its turn, will contribute to the design of the next-generation machine—DEMO—that will bring fusion research to the threshold of a prototype fusion reactor. DEMO is the machine that will address the technological questions of bringing fusion energy to the electricity grid, which is the end goal.

ITER will be the largest of more than 100 fusion reactors built since the 1950s with the total price of constructing and operating the experiment expected to be more than €22 billion as of 2016. It’s a technological marvel no doubt and the achievements will be immense. It definitely will be a historic moment when we finally produce net energy from the fusion process.

The post Where are we with the safer nuclear option known as nuclear fusion? appeared first on Renewable Energy World.

Global offshore wind employment to triple by 2030

Wind Power Monthly - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 13:56
Hundreds of thousands of additional workers will be needed over the next decade to deliver the growth in offshore wind capacity, new analysis suggests
Categories: Wind Power

To maximize emission cuts, this Boston campus gets its power from the Midwest

Renewable Energy News - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:53
Boston University prioritized impact over location in deciding to buy electricity from a South Dakota wind farm.

Boston University has started sourcing all of its electricity from a newly built wind farm in South Dakota, a move intended to maximize the university’s greenhouse gas reductions and hopefully provide a model for how other large institutions can also amplify their climate impact. 

The school will buy enough electricity from the Midwestern turbines to cover its annual consumption of 205 million kilowatt-hours. In the process, it will cut carbon emissions by up to three times as much as if the university had chosen to procure renewable energy closer to home. 

“We were very deliberate about finding the project with the greatest impact we could find,” said Dennis Carlberg, associate vice president for university sustainability.

The process of bringing the wind farm online began in 2015, when Carlberg first proposed the university look into sourcing renewable energy for its power needs. Then, in 2017, the school produced its first climate action plan, which included a pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, in part by buying renewable electricity.

Though renewable energy advocates often promote locally sourced power as the best option, the chair of the university’s climate action task force questioned that conventional wisdom. 

“He kept asking us why doing a project in New England or nearby was so important,” Carlberg said. “He kept saying we should find a project that will have the greatest impact we can have on global greenhouse gas emissions because the climate doesn’t care where our reductions come from.”

About half of the electricity in New England is generated by burning natural gas, which produces less emissions than coal or oil; another 30% comes from nuclear plants. In other parts of the country, coal is a much bigger part of the mix, sometimes fueling more than half the power. Therefore, a kilowatt-hour of renewable energy generated in these regions keeps more emissions out of the atmosphere than one generated on New England’s much cleaner grid. 

The numbers won over the task force, and the university realized it would have to look outside the Northeast to achieve the goal of maximizing emissions reductions. 

Planners also wanted to ensure they were helping to create additional renewable resources, so they committed to supporting a new project rather than buying from an existing development or one that was already in the works. 

So the university put out a call for bids for either solar or wind projects, focusing on four regions with the most emissions-intensive electricity generation. They received 127 proposals, from which they chose 11 for in-depth analysis. Using data from Carnegie Mellon University, they assessed how many pounds of carbon dioxide emissions would be avoided by each potential project. 

The calculations included not just the overall emissions numbers, but also took a nuanced look at when the renewable project would be producing the most power relative to when demand was greatest on the grid. The goal was to choose a development that generated more clean energy when the need for power was greatest, reducing pollution from the dirtiest power plants, which are more likely to operate at times of peak demand. 

“We wanted more power generation when the emissions were greatest,” Carlberg said.

The university’s initial numbers were validated by clean energy data nonprofit WattTime and the South Dakota wind project was selected. WattTime’s analysis found that the chosen development would avoid well more than 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions for every megawatt-hour of energy generated, for a total of more than 307 million pounds of reduced emissions each year, an amount equivalent to the carbon dioxide released by more than 30,000 average cars. 

Construction started in summer 2019, turbines started spinning in November 2020, and the university began buying its power from the development on Dec. 1. 

The wind farm will also be an educational and research tool for university students and faculty. Students from any discipline interested in learning more about wind energy can take an independent study class that will include a week-long trip to visit the wind farm in South Dakota and the turbine production facility in Florida. The first trip had been planned for last year, but was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. The data generated by the installation will also be available to university researchers. 

Boston University’s early and consistent focus on maximizing emissions reductions was “groundbreaking,” said Henry Richardson, an analyst at WattTime. He is, however, seeing growing interest in the strategy from corporate and institutional energy buyers.

“We’re saying don’t by default assume that, from an emissions standpoint, you should do it in the area you’re located in,” Richardson said. “If those actors instead bought [energy] in the dirtiest places, the differential in emissions savings would be massive.” 

Some advocates of local energy, however, are still skeptical about the approach. Smaller-scale renewable projects built close to the energy buyer can help create jobs and boost the local economy, improve air quality, and, depending on the structure of the project, save money for consumers. 

Small installations spread out on the grid can also relieve some of the stress on an aging transmission system, said John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. 

“We also know from experience that these projects can help to defer expansion on the grid,” he said, noting that these delays can reduce the need for costly system upgrades the consumer would end up paying for.

Farrell believes universities and other large energy buyers should consider the full range of potential benefits when making renewable decisions. They should consider it, he said, part of their “moral calling.”

Carlberg acknowledges the advantages local energy can offer, but argues that each institution needs to set its own priorities. In the case of Boston University, cutting emissions came first. 

And Carlberg is eager to share the university’s experience with other large energy buyers considering their renewable energy procurement strategies. 

“We need to do everything we can to help everyone else climb their learning curve and get out there and get renewables,” he said. “We can’t do this alone.”

This article was first published by the Energy News Network and was reprinted with permission.

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Siemens Gamesa secures 448MW French offshore wind order

Wind Power Monthly - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:28
Manufacturer confirms a firm order of 64 SWT-7.0-154 offshore wind turbines from a consortium of EDF Renewables, Enbridge and Wpd
Categories: Wind Power

BayWa acquires Kaiserwetter’s Internet of Things and AI platforms

Wind Power Monthly - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:13
BayWa has enhanced its digital services offering with the acquisition of several platforms and data scientists from Kaiserwetter
Categories: Wind Power

Iberdrola plans first industrial-scale floating offshore wind farm in Spain with an investment of more than €1 billion

Renewable Energy News - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 14:39

Iberdrola is planning what it says will be the first industrial scale floating offshore wind farm in Spain. The 300-MW project will cost more than €1 billion said the company. It will be located off the Spanish coast.

The renewable facility could become a driver of the country’s industrialization and job creation, said Iberdrola, estimating that it would provide more than 2800 jobs per year in research, design and engineering before the wind farm becomes operational in 2026.   

Iberdrola said the project requires the participation of 66 Spanish companies and technology centers, including 52 SMEs.

The project represents an opportunity to develop the country’s supply chain and establish Spain as an international benchmark, said Iberdrola. It has been submitted to the Next Generation EU programme and is aligned with the pillars of the Spanish government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

Project could lead to 2GW of offshore wind

This project would spearhead the development of up to 2,000 MW of potential floating offshore wind projects that Iberdrola has identified off the coasts of Galicia, Andalusia and the Canary Islands.

In addition, the project is one of 150 initiatives submitted by the company to the Next Generation EU programme – in the fields of heat electrification, floating offshore, sustainable mobility, green hydrogen, innovative renewables, smart grids, circular economy and energy storage – that would mobilize investments of €21 billion and involve hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises.

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Government and private funding – we need both for the energy transition

Renewable Energy News - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 13:00

by Jill Feblowitz

These days, companies and governments alike are making commitments to net zero emissions. While commitments are good, making progress requires investment. That means putting money on deploying existing technology in the near term, while continuing to fund innovation to deliver cost-effective approaches in the future. The current picture looks promising, but there is always a chance the momentum will lag.

Deploying Clean Technology

Despite COVID-19 and the economic downturn, clean energy investment did surprisingly well in the United States last year. U.S. companies, households and the government spent $85.3 billion on deployment of low-carbon technology in 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Although there was an overall decline (-11%) from 2019, investment in electric transportation and residential heat pumps saw an uptick. Green bonds, which are primarily asset-linked, grew by 13% to a record $305 billion globally, after a slowdown in the first half of the year.

The federal government plays a significant role in the deployment of clean energy, mainly through policies like tax incentives, rebates and technical assistance. The U.S. Energy Act of 2020 (The Act) which was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, extended existing taxes incentives for solar and wind, a new emphasis on 45Q carbon capture incentives and a new offshore wind credit. 

Even without legislation, the federal government can do a lot with clean energy related procurement. Think procurement of clean energy for federal facilities. Add to that the plans for the entire US federal fleet – over 645,00 vehicles –  to be replaced with electric vehicles made in the US by 2035. Going forward, expect to see more spending on energy efficiency in federal buildings, IT for managing federal facilities energy usage and smart federal buildings.    

Investing in Innovation

To reach decarbonization goals in a cost-effective manner, new technologies and approaches will be needed. That means investment in academic research and startup companies.  Budding companies go through a technological valley of death proving the concept, and a commercial valley of death getting to scale. The path to maturity starts with the concept, and includes prototype/proof of concept, pilot/demonstration, and commercialization. It’s not a straight line as many founders may attest (see Figure1).

All these stages need support. Government funding has traditionally supported R&D, proof of concept and demonstration projects. What’s new with The Act is a focus on commercialization.  The newly created Department of Energy Innovation will support commercialization of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Private investment – think corporations –  plays a role too in R&D as well.  Venture capital and private equity support the later stages.

Figure 1.  Innovation from Concept to Maturity

The Energy Act of 2020 appropriates about $30 billion over 5 years for research and development (R&D), demonstration, and commercialization. There is a caveat, though.  Figure 2 shows what has been appropriated. A subsequent reconciliation process will solidify funding.

Figure 2. Estimated Funded Dedicated to Research, Development, Demonstration and Commercialization Source: Energy Act of 2020, as interpreted by the author.

There is a heavy commitment to carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS); over half of the funding will be dedicated to large scale pilots and demonstration projects. ARPA-E, the energy version of DARPA, will see an increase in funding. The budget was $425 million in FY 2020.  It will go from $435 million in FY2021 to $760 million by FY2025.

Transportation energy R&D is broadly defined as sustainable.  The category calls out fuel cells, but not specifically electric vehicles.  Electrical vehicle infrastructure is hardly mentioned. Less than $300 million is devoted to grid integration of both renewable energy resources and EVs. It’s notable that carbon removal and hard to decarbonize sectors have made their way into the Act. Expect to hear more about these in the future.

As for private investment, tech companies are jumping in big. Amazon’s $2 Climate Pledge Fund aims to invest in companies in multiple industries. To date, most dollars have gone into startups. Breakthrough Energy Ventures just announced a second round of $1 billion in funding. It is not just mission driven. Investor are seeing real returns from investment, especially in valuations of startups in the transportation space. 

A relatively new mechanism,  the SPAC, could boost the sector – or not. SPACs are shell companies listed on exchanges with a mission to buy private companies and convert them into public ones. There were 4 large deals in 2020.  Still, the jury is out on whether SPACs will be a viable path for going public.

Sustaining the Momentum

The trend towards increased investment in clean energy is likely to continue. There is a new emphasis on accountability and climate risk. For many companies that means physical risks and transition risks. Major asset managers like Blackrock are pushing hard. Why should investors back a company with assets that might literally and figuratively be underwater in a few years?  As a result, companies – Xcel Energy is one – are reporting climate-related materials risks under the framework established by the Taskforce on Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) believes that climate change poses systemic risks to financial systems. A recent report mentions a price on carbon and climate risk disclosure for multiple time horizons.

Attitudes on the need for decarbonization have changed.  A study by Yale and the George Mason University found that “66 percent of US voters said that developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority.” That’s quite a shift. The clear skies during COVID, rising temperatures and the increase in extreme weather and wildfires are likely part of change in attitude. Government legislation and regulations are also driving investment by providing incentives; some have set legally binding net zero targets.

Plus, companies like Amazon and Microsoft are taking note. Says Abe Yokell, managing partner and co-founder of Congruent Ventures on The Interchange, July 2020, “….[They] are really interested in skating to where the puck is going. Look out 10 to 15 years. Where is the world going? What’s the price on carbon?  What should they be doing to decarbonize their entire effort?  …They want to be seeking returns, but they also want to be supporting their employees and climate goals…”

Finally, cleantech is now seen as a less risky space, a space where companies are delivering solid returns.  According to BNEF, the NEX, an index of companies active in renewable and low-carbon energy, was up more than 140% last year, easily besting the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

Still, there are a lot of ways that the momentum could be halted or delayed. As for government funding, much will depend on whether clean energy investments will boost economic recovery through business and job creation.  Bipartisan support will determine just what pathways to net zero are funded. The bigger question is whether funds will go to technology advancements in pathways that will meet decarbonization objectives in long term.

About the Author

Jill Feblowitz is a long-time consultant and analyst in the energy industry, focusing on innovation.  As President of Feblowitz Energy Consulting, a Women’s Business Enterprise in MA, Jill’s focus is on climate risk, the energy transition and transportation.  She currently serves on the advisory board for Distributech International conference and Distributech’s INITIATE!, a forum for startups and utility industry innovators.  She holds a B.S. from MIT in urban studies and an electrician’s license from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

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