News and Notes

POWER Digest [May 2024]

News briefs from the world’s power industry curated by POWER’s editors.

IRENA: 70% Global Renewable Deployment Led by Asia in 2023. Global renewable deployment over 2023 reached a total capacity of 3,870 GW—a new record in the power sector, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA’s) March 27–released Renewable Capacity Statistics 2024 report.“Renewables accounted for 86% of capacity additions; however, this growth is unevenly distributed across the world, indicating a trend far from the tripling renewable power target by 2030,” the agency said. The report suggests Asia—led by China—drove nearly 70% of that growth. The Middle East also showed significant expansion at a 16.6% increase, and Oceania a 9.4% increase. Comparatively, the G7 countries as a group increased by 7.6%, adding 69.4 GW last year. In 2023, solar photovoltaics surged by 345.5 GW, led by China’s addition of 216.9 GW, while concentrated solar power saw a modest increase of 0.3 GW. Wind energy expanded by 13%, reaching a total capacity of 1,017 GW, with significant contributions from China and the U.S., whereas renewable hydropower grew to 1,270 GW, with notable additions from Australia, China, Colombia, and Nigeria. However, bioenergy and geothermal energy saw slower growth rates, with bioenergy adding 4.4 GW and geothermal 193 MW, while off-grid electricity capacity rose to 12.7 GW, predominantly through off-grid solar reaching 5 GW.

European Firms Launch Industrial-Scale Vanadium Flow Battery Pilot Project. French energy solutions firm ENGIE, technical firm Equans, and Belgian civil engineering company Jan De Nu on March 27 launched a pilot project to test vanadium redox flow batteries on an industrial scale. The project involves an 800-kWh vanadium redox flow battery manufactured by Invinity Energy Systems at a Jan De Nul site in Hofstade, Belgium, that is connected to a 578-kW solar panel installation. The installation is housed in four 20-foot containers, stacked in twos and is managed by an ENGIE energy management system. The firms said they will investigate how these batteries can optimize power management in an industrial environment and how they can represent an added value in the transition toward decarbonization. The firms said vanadium redox batteries are currently mature enough technically and commercially to replace or complement lithium-ion batteries for local energy production on commercial or industrial sites. “Unlike lithium-ion batteries, redox flow batteries have a lifespan of at least 25 years, a capacity that ages very little over time, and a natural storage capacity of several hours,” they noted. “Moreover, they are safer because there is no risk of thermal runaway, and are therefore more suitable for hotter climates, and they can be recycled more easily at the end of their lifecycle.”

World’s Largest Tidal Scheme Begins Formal Planning Process. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, a governmental body that oversees strategic decisions for economic development, transport, and housing in the UK’s Liverpool area, in March voted to pursue a£3.5 billion proposal to build a 700-MW tidal barrage that will link the left and right bank of the River Mersey in Wirral and Liverpool. The project, planned to be operational by 2040, is slated to feature 28 turbines. Liverpool City Region, in December 2022, signed an agreement with South Korea’s state water company, K-water, to explore possibilities for the project. K-water built and operates the 254-MW Sihwa Lake tidal range power plant. Currently the world’s largest tidal barrage, Sihwa Lake has been operational since 2011 and generates 552 GWh of power every year.

ENEC Grid-Connects Barakah 4. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) on March 23 announced its operations and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Co., safely connected the 1.4-GW Unit 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) transmission grid. The unit’s commercial operation will complete the construction of the four-unit APR1400 Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which is located in the Al Dhafra of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the Arabian Gulf. Construction of the 5.6-GW plant commenced in July 2012, and when fully operational, it will supply up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs. “Each unit has been connected to the grid more efficiently than the previous unit, as institutional knowledge and experience are applied to each subsequent unit,” ENEC said. “Unit 3 was delivered four months faster than the Unit 2 schedule and five months faster than the Unit 1 schedule, demonstrating the significant benefit of building multiple units within a phased timeline.” ENEC is now also exploring advancing nuclear technologies, large-scale pressurized water reactors, small modular reactors, and microreactors through its ENEC ADVANCE Program.

Mitsubishi Power Spins Off BESS Business as Independent Company—Prevalon. Mitsubishi Power has spun off its battery energy storage system (BESS) business into a standalone and legally separated company—Prevalon. The strategic shift is the “first step to empower Prevalon to concentrate independently on battery energy storage and positions the company as a catalyst for embracing technological advancements and attracting investments in the rapidly evolving energy transition landscape,” the company said on Feb. 22. Prevalon, which is led by President and CEO Tom Cornell, begins its operations leveraging experience from more than 30 projects, a combined 3 GW of utility-scale BESSs deployed globally. “As the speed of the energy transition increases, it is imperative that advanced technology solutions such as battery energy storage keep pace,” Bill Newsom, Mitsubishi Power Americas president and CEO, said. “With the establishment of Prevalon, we are confident its dedicated focus on battery energy storage solutions and services will unlock more value in this business to keep pace with this hyper-growth battery energy storage market.” The spin-off is an example of “Mitsubishi Power’s commitment to aligning and structuring its businesses in a way that brings more value and targeted expertise to the ever-changing energy transition,” he noted.

Toshiba to Supply Key Equipment for Kenya’s Oklaria Renovation. Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corp. will provide steam turbines and generators for the geothermal power plant equipment renovation of Units 1 through 3 at the aging 45-MW Olkaria I geothermal power plant in Kenya. The renovation is being spearheaded by SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction, an engineering, construction, and procurement (EPC) contractor. Oklaria 1, the oldest geothermal power plant in Kenya, has been in operation since 1981. Toshiba said the new steam turbines and generators, which it will deliver in 2025, will increase the power output of Units 1 through 3 from the current 15 MW to 21 MW each, enabling them to achieve a higher output with less steam. “These points were highly evaluated by KenGen and led to the adoption of the contract,” the company noted. Kenya’s economic growth is spurring demand for power. The government has responded with provisions intended to boost Kenya’s electricity generating capacity from renewable sources. The country aims to transition to 100% green energy by 2030, and many new geothermal power plants are planned to tap into the 9 GW of geothermal potential in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley region.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior editor.

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