News and Notes

POWER Digest [October 2023]

Coal-Fired Plants Serving EV Battery Makers Could Get Special Financing. Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK), which supervises and regulates financial services for Indonesia, in early September said it is considering making coal-fired power plants that supply electricity to electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturers eligible for green financing. OJK chief Mahendra Siregar said the country’s “green taxonomy,” a program that defines investments that can be considered environmentally friendly, is being revised to include financial support for early retirement of coal-fired power plants. That revision would match the taxonomy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia. As part of that revision, Siregar said OJK would consider enabling loans to coal-fired power plants used by industries to make what are considered sustainable products. That would include the manufacture of batteries for EVs. Siregar said, “In the end, we need to see the whole result, the end product of the whole supply chain,” as he explained why financial support for coal-fired facilities could warrant consideration as environmentally sound. Indonesian banks continue to finance fossil fuel-related projects, even as other global banks have stopped funding coal-fired power plants. Indonesia is the world’s leading exporter of coal. The country has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, and has said it will increase power generation from renewable resources.

Large ESS Now Operating in Australia. Technology group Wärtsilä has completed construction at the Torrens Island Grid Scale battery energy storage system (ESS) project with AGL Energy Limited, one of Australia’s leading integrated energy companies. The 250-MW/250-MWh ESS installed at Torrens Island in South Australia is the second-largest operational battery in the country. The system will serve electricity customers in southern Australia. “Wärtsilä is partnering with AGL to help balance intermittency of renewables and provide flexible energy capacity, while reducing their operational and lifetime costs,” said Andrew Tang, vice president of Energy Storage and Optimization at Wärtsilä. “This landmark project is helping Australia take a major step towards a 100% renewable grid and its net-zero emissions target.” The Torrens Island system will operate in grid-following mode, and will be able to transition to grid-forming mode—virtual synchronous generation, or VSG—later. Officials said the ability to function in VSG mode will enable fast response times and help future-proof the Torrens Island facility. The ESS will use Wärtsilä’s advanced GEMS Power Plant Controller. The Torrens Island ESS is the latest of Wärtsilä’s projects in Australia. The company has previously supplied a 211-MW balancing power plant—the Barker Inlet Power Station—for AGL. That facility also is on Torrens Island. The company also is supplying a 460-MW ESS in partnership with Origin at the Eraring Power Station in New South Wales.

Construction Begins on Major North Sea Wind Farm. Construction is underway on RWE’s 1.4-GW Sofia offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The company in early September said Sofia, expected to come online in 2026, is part of the massive Dogger Bank wind farm project that when complete will have 4.8 GW of generation capacity. The Leonardo da Vinci, a 170-meter-long shipping vessel built by Prysmian, has begun laying the first sections of high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) export cables. The cables will move electricity from the wind farm to the UK. One end of each of the first two sections of subsea cable is pulled underwater from the Leonardo da Vinci through cable ducts that were installed earlier this year (installation of two remaining 90-kilometer (km) sections of marine export cable is planned for 2024). RWE said the Sofia wind farm represents an investment of about $3.8 billion. The company said Sofia is the company’s largest renewable energy construction project to date, and its furthest-from-shore offshore wind installation. The wind farm on Dogger Bank, located 195 km (121 miles) from the nearest point on the UK’s northeast coast, will send its electricity to a facility in Redcar, Teesside—a distance of 220 km (137 miles). The Sofia farm will feature 100 Siemens Gamesa 14-MW offshore wind turbines, and 44 of the turbines will have recyclable blades.

Nuclear Waste Technology Agreement Reached. Studsvik, a Swedish nuclear technical services provider, and Germany-based radioactive waste specialist Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH (GNS) have agreed to an agreement to implement Studsvik’s inDRUM technology for the German market. The Studsvik technology is designed for the treatment of what are known as “problematic wastes,” such as legacy nuclear waste in aging containers. These include transuranic, or TRU, waste streams that have characteristics that do not meet the criteria for traditional waste disposal. Studsvik has said the technology can be used on low, intermediate, and high-level radioactive wastes. Studsvik’s inDRUM is a batch thermo-chemical system; it treats containerized radioactive wastes by means of in-container thermal treatment to remove the free liquids, destroy organics, and deactivate corrosives and reactive materials from the containers, according to the company. The waste is treated without the need to remove it, or handle or sort it, from the container. The decomposed waste is then an inert, inorganic dry char—much like ash—and its volume is reduced by as much as 90%. Studsvik and GNS said their cooperation aims to “further develop, qualify and implement the Studsvik patented inDRUM technology for the German market.”

Biogas Plants Under Construction in Greece. Weltec Biopower in August said the company is building three biogas plants in Greece along with Tetoros Machinery. Two plants are in the Epirus region—a 1-MW plant in Arta, and a 500-kW plant in Ioannina. A 250-kW plant is being built in Serres, along with upgrades to a 750-kW combined heat-and-power facility. The projects are in primarily rural areas, with feedstock supplied from nearby agricultural farms. Biogas facilities are part of Greece’s strategy to bring more renewable energy resources online. A recent report from DAPEEP SA, the Greek market operator for renewable energy, said new biomass and biogas plants with combined capacity of 7 MW began operating during the first half of 2022. Government officials have said the Greek Energy and Climate Plan has a goal to double the share of renewable energy in electricity generation from 30% in 2021 to 60% in 2030. Weltec Biopower said the company has built 36 biogas plants and other related projects in Greece since 2007.

Hydrogen Fueling Station Sited in New Zealand. Fabrum, a New Zealand-based company that develops zero-emission technologies, was chosen by Japan’s Obayashi Corp. to build a 1-MW electrolyser hydrogen refueling station in Auckland. Fabrum’s facility, a package enabling hydrogen production and dispensing, will feature a unique double pressure system for cars and trucks, which will be a first for New Zealand. The hydrogen production system will utilize Fabrum’s cryogenic technologies alongside a membrane-free electrolyser, or MFE, developed by UK-based CPH2 and made by Fabrum under a manufacturing agreement. The dual pressure dispensing system will enable refueling at 350 bar and 700 bar. Dr. Ojas Mahapatra, CEO of Fabrum, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Obayashi Corporation to deliver this hydrogen project with unique dual pressure technology specifications in New Zealand. This order adds to several other hydrogen refueling projects underway in New Zealand, Australia and worldwide. The significant interest in our proven end-to-end hydrogen production and refueling systems is being driven by increasing efforts to tackle climate change through investments in new technologies to enable decarbonization.”

—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER.

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