Renewable Projects Planned in Australia. CWP Renewables, a company based in Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, on May 28 said it received a $700 million investment from Partners Group, a Switzerland-based private equity firm, to build solar, wind, and battery storage projects in NSW. CWP said the projects—about 400 MW already are under construction—would have total power generation capacity of more than 1,300 MW, helping replace generation from the region’s coal-fired Liddell Power Station owned by AGL Energy. CWP calls its plan the Grassroots Renewable Energy Platform; the company’s CEO, Alex Hewitt, in a statement said, “These projects will help with the transition away from fossil-fueled electricity [in NSW]. Significantly, our portfolio combines the benefits of wind and solar generation with large-scale batteries, allowing morning and evening wind-generation to be combined with daytime solar-generation and battery energy storage. This is the future of large-scale generation in Australia. We can, from this large portfolio, produce 24-7 baseload renewable power at very competitive prices.” AGL has said it plans to close Liddell—a plant with a nameplate capacity of about 2,050 MW, but which was assessed at 1,680 MW in April of this year—in 2022. However, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently told AGL it should keep Liddell open or sell it, amid concerns that continued retirement of baseload generation in the country threatens the reliability of electricity as more intermittent wind and solar power comes online. AGL has said it wants the Liddell site for a battery installation. China’s Alinta Energy in late April offered AGL $189 million for the Liddell plant, sparking more debate about Chinese investment in Australian energy. Alinta in 2017 bought a newer coal-fired plant, Loy Yang B, in Victoria state for about $825 million.
Upgrades Planned for Chilean Plants. France-based utility EDF Group, along with joint venture partner Andes Mining & Energy (AME) of Chile, in May announced completion of a deal to purchase four power plants with total generation capacity of 750 MW from Chilean utility AES Gener. The plants include the 379-MW Nueva Renca natural-gas combined cycle power plant, along with three natural gas-fired peaker units: the 132-MW Los Vientos, 139-MW Santa Lidia, and 100-MW Renca. EDF and AME will jointly own the assets and said they plan efficiency and environmental upgrades to the facilities. Both EDF and AME, who are partners in the 115-MW Santiago Solar power plant, along with the Central el Campesino combined cycle plant and the GNL Penco liquefied natural gas storage and regasification project, have said they want to continue to develop renewable energy projects in Chile as they increase investment in the country. “Chile is one of the key countries where EDF is expanding its business in line with its CAP 2030 strategy, which seeks to triple our business outside of Europe by 2030,” Marianne Laigneau, EDF Group International executive vice president, said in a statement. “With this acquisition, the EDF Group is consolidating its position in Chile and is acquiring flexible assets in order to deliver on the expansion of its solar business, which it has already embarked upon with its partner AME.” The Chilean government has said it wants to develop more power generation from renewable sources, keeping in mind the need for reliable backup peak-demand capacity. The government has said it wants to increase renewables output to 60% of its generation capacity by 2035 and plans to phase out all coal-fired generation by 2050.
Additional Financing Complete for Chilean Solar Plant. Numerous banks and other financial institutions have helped finance more construction of the first concentrated solar power and photovoltaic solar project in Latin America. Chile’s Cerro Dominador, a company owned by investment funds managed by EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG), received $758 million for the project, allowing it to finish construction of the plant, which will have 210 MW of generation capacity. The project will sell most of its electricity under 15-year power purchase agreements. The plant is located in Maria Elena, in an area known as the Antofagasta Region, which has some of the world’s highest solar radiation. Banks involved with the financing include Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, ABN AMRO, Santander, Commerzbank, and BTG Pactual. Reports said other institutions are expected to join the financing group as the project moves forward. EIG began managing the project in late 2016, and 62 MW of production came online in October 2017. Output reached 100 MW in February 2018.
Utility-Scale Solar Plant Completed in Japan. A new 29.2-MW solar power facility in Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture, Japan, was commemorated in late April. It is the largest solar plant built by Kyocera TCL Solar, which has now built 63 solar facilities in Japan with total generation capacity of about 215 MW since the company began business in August 2012. The construction project, which began in September 2015, was managed by Kyocera Corp. and Tokyo Century Corp., who together own Kyocera TCL Solar. The solar plant was built on land originally designed for a golf course and other uses before those projects were abandoned. The plant’s solar array includes 108,504 Kyocera solar modules. Power from the plant will be bought by Chugoku Electric Power, the local utility.
Siemens Will Supply Turbines for CCGT Plant in England. Scottish energy company Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) in May announced it will build a $467 million combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant in Lincolnshire, in northern England. The 840-MW plant, powered by 9000HL Siemens turbines, will be built adjacent to the existing 740-MW Keadby Power Station, a gas-fired facility that was closed in March 2015 due to adverse market conditions, but which reopened in December 2015. The power plant at Keadby was originally a coal-fired facility that came online in 1952 and was closed in 1984. The current Keadby Power Station opened in 1996. SSE did not give a date for when it expects the new plant to be online. The company did not win capacity agreements for the project in a February 2018 auction for supplies in 2021–2022, but in a statement said, “Alongside wholesale market and ancillary services revenues, capacity market payments remain an important aspect of the economics of Keadby 2, and SSE intends to participate in future auctions to secure a capacity market agreement.” SSE said it has budgeted £6 billion (about $7.95 billion) for capital expenditures and investments over the next five years, including £4 billion ($5.3 billion) to upgrade energy infrastructure in Scotland and England, and pay for renewable energy projects, including offshore wind farms. SSE owns the nearby 68-MW Keadby Wind Farm, England’s largest onshore wind farm, which came online in July 2014.
Hydrogen Company Launches Solar-Plus-Storage Project. HDF Energy, a French company that seeks to provide energy storage based on hydrogen, including control management and utility-scale electricity storage, in late May said it will build one of the world’s largest solar-plus-storage power plants, with a goal of having the facility operational in 2020. HDF said electricity will be produced through the combination of a utility-scale photovoltaic plant, mass and long-term energy storage from hydrogen, and short-term storage using batteries. The company said it will develop the project—called the Centrale électrique de l’Ouest guyanais (CEOG)—this year, build the plant in 2019 and 2020 with a 12-month deployment, and operate it for at least 20 years, to 2040. The company said the $90 million facility, which would be located near Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in northwestern French Guiana, would be able to produce 10 MW of power during the day, and another 3 MW at night. HDF said the CEOG, with an equivalent 140 MWh of energy stored, would be the largest project globally storing intermittent renewable energy using hydrogen. It said the current largest storage project, under development by Tesla and Neoen in Australia, has equivalent capacity of 129 MWh. HDF said its technology, consisting of an electrolyzer, storage tanks, and a fuel cell, enables storage of large amounts of energy over a longer time when compared to lithium-ion batteries. The company said its technology separates hydrogen and oxygen from a water molecule through the electrolyzer, and the resultant hydrogen is pressurized and stored in tanks. The stored hydrogen is then combined with oxygen in the fuel cell, producing electricity and steam. ■
—Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor.