News and Notes

POWER Digest [January 2024]

Azerbaijan’s First Utility-Scale Solar Project Online. Officials in Azerbaijan in November announced the country’s first and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant is now operating. The 308-MW Area 60 solar farm is using equipment from Sungrow, including the company’s SG320HX string inverters and medium-voltage (MV) stations. The project was built as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative; Azerbaijan is among the first countries to support China in a buildout of infrastructure to support energy, transportation, logistics, and more. Azerbaijan also is working with China to help diversify the country’s economy by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable energy resources. The country’s Ministry of Energy has a goal of increasing the installed capacity of renewable energy in the nation’s mix to at least 30% by 2030. The Area 60 project is designed in blocks, each with just less than 9 MW of generation capacity. It covers an area of 5.5 million square meters in the Gobustan District, about 37 miles southwest of Baku, the Azerbaijan capital.

EDF CEO Provides Timeline for Reactor Builds. French nuclear operator EDF is preparing to build at least one large nuclear reactor annually beginning in 2030. Luc Remont, the company’s CEO, provided that update during the World Nuclear Exhibition in late November in Paris, France. EDF at present is building six new EPR2 reactors in its home country of France, along with two new EPRs at the Sizewell site in the UK. EDF also is working on projects in Poland, the Czech Republic, and India. “We are counting on an accelerated rate of construction capacity for large reactors to [build on] what we have today, that is to say one or two per decade … and gradually increase to one or even 1.5 per year,” Remont said at the conference, noting the accelerated rate is planned “during the next decade.” Remont said EDF’s plan will rely on “standardization on a large scale,” with new construction focused initially on Europe. He said the company is ready to explore “what the partners we work with want” in terms of technologies and locations.

Wärtsilä Supplying Equipment for Indonesian Power Plants. Technology group Wärtsilä in late November announced it would supply the generating sets for two Indonesian thermal power plants. The order has been placed by KEPCO E&C, a member of the consortium of KEPCO E&C-Adhi Karya, which will build the plants for Indonesian state-owned utility PLN. The equipment will be used at the Sumbawa-2 plant on Sumbawa, an Indonesian island, along with the Tobelo plant in North Maluku province. Each plant will feature three Wärtsilä 31DF dual-fuel engines, with total power generation capacity of 30 MW. The units initially will burn a mix of 35% biofuel and 65% diesel, in line with Indonesia’s biodiesel program. Wärtsilä said the engines will be capable of switching to run on natural gas in the future. The Wärtsilä equipment is scheduled to be delivered during 2024, with the two power plants expected to become fully operational in spring 2025.

Germany Will Finance Projects in Africa. Officials in Germany said the country will provide €4 billion ($4.3 billion) to finance the development of renewable energy in the 13 African countries that are members of the “Compact with Africa” initiative, a program launched by the Group of 20 (G20) organization of countries. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the aim of the investment is “to achieve a climate-friendly energy supply.” Officials involved in the investment include governmental representatives along with executives from the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the African Development Bank. The money will help finance energy infrastructure projects, including hydrogen production, along with solar and hydropower. Officials said Africa is particularly focused on producing hydrogen to help decarbonize maritime transport and heavy industry. The funding also is expected to help support increased access to electricity on the African continent.

Ikea Owner Buys Stake in Swedish Offshore Wind Projects. Ingka Investment, the investment arm of Ikea owner Ingka Group, announced it has agreed to buy a 49% stake in two Baltic Sea offshore wind projects in Sweden from OX2. The deal, unveiled in late November, involves projects that combine offshore wind power generation with hydrogen and e-fuel production. OX2 said it will receive an initial payment of about $22.3 million for the stakes in the Pleione project, located east of the Baltic Sea Island of Gotland, and the Neptunus project southeast of the southern Swedish province of Blekinge. The installations have combined generation capacity of 2.4 GW.

Group Lists 10 Leading Global Solar Developers. France-based TotalEnergies is the leading global solar energy company in terms of installed capacity, according to a December-released report from Mercom Capital Group. The clean energy communications and research firm in its “Annual Global Report,” which looks at installations with more than 1 MW of generation capacity, said six of the top 10 solar power developers are based in Europe, with three in North America, and one in Asia. Developers needed to have projects in at least two countries to be considered for the ranking. TotalEnergies has total capacity of 41.3 GW either operational, under construction, or with a power purchase agreement (PPA) in place. Adani Green Energy, an India-based renewable energy developer, ranked second with 18.1 GW, followed by Canada-based Brookfield Renewable Partners with 18 GW. The top 10 developers accounted for 145 GW of capacity based on the ranking’s criteria, which includes 49.5 GW of projects in operation, 29.1 GW under construction, and 66.2 GW in the PPA-contracted pipeline. Other major developers listed in rankings are Italy’s Enel Green Power; Lightsource bp, based in the UK; U.S.-headquartered AES Renewables; France-based EDF Renewables; Invenergy, based in the U.S.; Spain’s Iberdrola; and Germany’s ib vogt.

Australia Secures Investment in Concentrated Solar Power. EDF Australia in December announced a €10 million ($10.75 million) commitment to Vast Renewables Limited, an Australian renewable energy company focused on concentrated solar power (CSP) energy systems that generate zero-carbon, utility-scale electricity and industrial process heat. The companies said they will partner to develop CSP projects that will further Australia’s transition to cleaner forms of energy. Vast’s proprietary CSP v3.0 technology has received significant support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which announced approval for funding to support the construction of Vast Solar 1 (VS1), a planned 30-MW CSP plant with 288 MWh of thermal storage in Port Augusta, South Australia.VS1 will be co-located with Vast’s planned Solar Methanol 1, a world-first green methanol demonstration plant led by Vast and German integrated energy giant Mabanaft.

UAE-Based Group Invests in UK Renewable Energy Projects. Masdar, based in the United Arab Emirates, announced it would invest more than €11 billion ($11.8 billion) into the UK’s renewable energy sector, including the purchase of a 49% stake in RWE’s 3-GW Dogger Bank South (DBS) offshore wind project. The deal is part of the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership, created to invest in technology, infrastructure, and the energy transition. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024. The DBS offshore wind project, sited about 62 miles off the northeastern coast of England, will be divided into two sites, the DBS East Array and the DBS West Array. Each location will have 1.5 GW of generation capacity, and cover about 193 square miles. Germany-headquartered RWE will have a 51% share in the project and continue to lead the development, construction, and operation of the wind farms. Construction of DBS is expected to begin by year-end 2025. The current timeline calls for the project to be fully commissioned by year-end 2031. Officials said they expect about 800 MW will be available as soon as 2029. RWE has said the company will invest $59.63 billion worldwide in offshore and onshore wind, solar energy, batteries, flexible generation, and hydrogen projects between 2024 and 2030. The company said it expects to have more than 65 GW of renewable energy generation capacity installed by the end of 2030.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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