POWER Digest [January 2020]

Engie Will Close 1 GW of Coal Generation; Adding Solar, Wind. French energy group Engie in mid-December said it will close 1 GW of coal-fired power generation assets in Peru and Chile over the next five years. The company also announced a $1 billion, 1-GW solar and wind development plan for Chile. Engie said it has secured a power purchase agreement for an 18-MW solar farm expected to begin commercial operation in southern France in 2021. The company said it would close several coal-fired units in Chile by 2024, including a 334-MW plant in Mejillones, and four units totaling 440 MW of capacity in Tocopilla. In Peru, Engie said it will shut down the 135-MW Ilo 21 plant by 2022. The coal-fired units are mainly used to power mining activities in northern Chile and Peru. The first two projects—the Capricorn Solar Park and the Calama Wind Site—in the 1-GW solar and wind development in Chile are under construction. Construction of the next project, the Tamaya Solar Park, is expected to begin by the end of March. The first three projects represent about 370 MW of the total 1-GW plan.

Suzukawa Energy Center Converting to Biomass. Japan-based Mitsubishi Corp. in December announced plans to convert the 112-MW Suzukawa Energy Center Ltd. from a coal-fired power plant to a facility burning biomass. The plant is expected to begin producing power from wood pellets in April 2022. Mitsubishi in a statement said it decided to launch the biomass conversion project after securing its wood pellet supply, and completing financing arrangements. Mitsubishi, through wholly owned subsidiary Mitsubishi Corp. Power Ltd., and partners Nippon Paper Industries Co. Ltd. and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc., established the Suzukawa plant September 2013, and the companies immediately began discussions about developing a biomass-fired power generation project. The Suzukawa plant entered commercial operation in September 2016. The facility will retain its existing boiler, designed to burn both coal and biomass, and a new turbine, along with fuel conveyance and fuel storage equipment, will be installed at the plant. Mitsubishi said the Suzukawa conversion from coal to biomass is part of the company’s goal to have renewable energy account for more than 20% of its power generation by 2030.

EDF Renewables, Irish Power Company Announce Offshore Wind Farm. EDF Renewables in December announced construction has commenced on the 450-MW Scottish Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm project. The company also announced a new partnership with Irish electricity company ESB, which is taking a 50% stake in the project. NnG 1 will consist of 54 turbines and be located in the North Sea about 9 miles off the coast of Fife in southeast Scotland. Contractors for the project include Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, which is supplying the wind turbine generators; Saipem, supplier and installer of the turbine foundations; and GE Renewable Energy Grid Solutions, which is supplying two electrical substations and electrical design work. Prysmian SRL is supplying and installing the export cables, both offshore and onshore. Deme Offshore is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the inter-turbine cables with offshore installation; Fred Olsen Windcarrier will provide transportation and installation of the turbines. Onshore construction is underway, and offshore construction will start in June 2020. Full commissioning is expected in 2023.

Norwegian Oil and Gas Company Buys Stake in Polish Wind Project. Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor has acquired a 50% stake in the Bałtyk I offshore wind farm in Poland. Equinor purchased the interest from Polish energy company Polenergia for an undisclosed price. The Bałtyk I is designed with a generation capacity of 1,560 MW. Equinor is now responsible for the construction and operation phases of the project. Equinor and Polenergia each have a 50% interest in all three Bałtyk offshore wind projects. Bałtyk II and III have the potential to have a combined capacity of 1,440 MW when completed between 2025 and 2027. Equinor, historically an oil and gas company, has made several deals in the renewable energy industry in recent years, and joined with United Arab Emirates-based Masdar to share offshore wind data as part of the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult in November 2019. Equinor also has invested $500 million to develop the Hywind Tampen floating offshore wind farm to power its Snorre and Gullfaks offshore oil exploration platforms in the North Sea.

Iberdrola, EIB Backing Projects in Spain, Brazil. The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Spain and Portugal-based energy producer Iberdrola have joined to finance digitalization of electrical networks in Spain, and to support wind energy projects in Brazil. The EIB will provide $489 million for Iberdrola’s power distribution networks in Spain to upgrade infrastructure and prepare for the integration of more renewable power resources on the grid. The announcement came during the United Nations’ COP25 climate talks in Madrid in December. “The byword for this COP is the need to start taking action, and that is what Iberdrola and the EIB are doing today: undertaking specific actions that will help to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C,” Iberdrola President Ignacio Galan said in a statement. The EIB said the deals highlight the bank’s support for a low-carbon economy in Europe. EU regulators have discussed plans for a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. “To fulfill the objectives of the Paris Agreement, we need to mobilize resources on an unprecedented scale, and the EIB is seeking to lead the response to this challenge,” said EIB Vice President Emma Navarro. The EIB will also provide financing for the construction of 15 wind farms that Iberdrola plans to build in northeastern Brazil, through its subsidiary Neoenergia, the company said. The sites will be designed for total installed generation capacity of 520 MW.

KEPCO Extends Blockchain Trading for RECs. The Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), the second-largest power utility in Japan, is extending its trial of a blockchain-powered system for transacting renewable energy credits (RECs). KEPCO is using a blockchain-enabled renewable energy trading platform developed by Australia-based technology firm Power Ledger. Japan is the world’s fifth-largest electricity consumer, and produces about 17.5% of its power from renewable sources. Japan in May 2019 extended its program of what the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry call non-fossil value certificates (NFVs). The NFVs provide energy retailers with proof that the energy under the certificate is generated from renewable energy resources. The certificates also can be used to assess which power plants are contributing the most environmental value in order to encourage investment in green industries. They can be traded, similar to other RECs. The system uses blockchain technology’s immutable and decentralized properties to track certificates across their lifecycle, reducing the potential for duplicate use. Power Ledger generates REC tokens, which are stored in a centralized KEPCO wallet. ■

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).