Monthly Non-Fossil Fuels News Commentary: September 2018
Solar installations in India plunged 52 percent to 1,599 MW during the second quarter of 2018, mainly due to uncertainties around trade cases and module price fluctuations, according to Mercom India Research’s ‘Q2 2018 India Solar Market Update’. The installations stood at 3,344 MW during the first quarter. The installations during the quarter under review were down nearly 21 percent in comparison to 2,025 MW installed in the corresponding quarter of 2017. During the second quarter of 2018, large-scale installations totalled 1,184 MW as compared to 2,954 MW in the previous quarter and 1,800 MW in the corresponding quarter of previous year. Also, rooftop installations accounted for 415 MW during the quarter under review as against 390 MW during the previous quarter and 225 MW in second quarter of 2017. Cumulative solar installed capacity totalled 24.6 GW at the end of the second quarter of 2018 with large-scale solar projects accounting for 90 percent and rooftop solar making up the remaining 10 percent.
With just about 7 and 11 GW of renewable energy capacity added in the last two fiscals, the country has a long way to go to meet the Centre’s 2022 target of 225 GW. For this, it must add nearly 40 GW of clean energy every year. Analysis of latest data available with the Central Electricity Authority shows that 20.45% of the total installed capacity of the country is from renewable energy sources. Apart from solar and wind, these also include generation from small hydro projects, biomass, and urban and industrial waste. Further break down of data brings to the fore that total energy generation from renewables was only 8.08% between July 2017 and June 2018. The MNRE reports show that the cumulative installed capacity of renewable energy, including grid-connected and off-grid power (till July 2018), is 72.62 GW. Data mentioned in the 39th report of the standing committee on energy for MNRE shows that in the 2015-16 fiscal, around 7.13 GW of new renewable energy capacity was installed. In the next fiscal, it increased to 11.46 GW.
Solar power agencies of the central and state governments have scrapped bids for projects aggregating 9,000 MW capacity, which will lead to a flat growth in capacity addition next year and delay the goal of achieving 1 GW of solar power capacity by 2022, industry data shows. The cancelled tenders represent half of the 18,000 MW bid out by these agencies till August. The cancellations coincide with the pace of solar capacity addition dropping 52% to 1,599 MW in the April-June period from 3,344 MW in the January-March period of 2018. SECI, the Central agency spearheading the National Solar Mission, and agencies of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka cancelled tenders after failing to attract tariff bids lower ` 2.44/kWh, the lowest discovered during bidding of Rajasthan’s Bhadla solar park project in May 2017. Enthused by the rock-bottom tariff level, SECI introduced reverse bidding with a ceiling of ` 2.50/kWh.
Notwithstanding the negative signals from industry Moody’s has said that the share of renewable energy in the country’s electricity generation mix is likely to rise to around 18 percent by 2022, from 7.8 percent at present, owing to the continuous focus on capacity addition from solar and wind. The Moody’s report said India is taking positive steps to align its power generation mix with its NDC commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. The report said that large companies have also announced plans to make their operations more energy-efficient and source more renewable energy. According to the agency, renewable energy’s share in the electricity generation mix is likely to rise to around 18 per cent by 2022, from close to 7.8 per cent as of March 2018. It said that eventually, the share of fossil fuel-based generation capacity is likely to fall to 50-55 percent by 2022, from 67 percent currently. India is targeting 40 percent of cumulative capacity from non-fossil fuel-based sources by 2030, in line with its NDC commitments, which compares with total non-fossil fuel power generation capacity (including nuclear) of 35 percent as of June.
The Supreme Court ruling allowing the government to implement safeguard duty on imported solar panels and modules may also dampen the growth rate. The Supreme Court ruling set aside an order of the Orissa High Court that stayed the imposition of the levy. The Orissa High Court will continue to hear a petition filed against the safeguard duty, but there will be no stay on imposing it. The Directorate General of Trade Remedies had recommended the safeguard duty on solar panels and modules imported from China and Malaysia in mid-July. It suggested 25% for the first year, 20% for the first six months of the second year and 15% for the remaining six months. The MNRE and solar developers have opposed the safeguard duty, claiming it could potentially put the brakes on India’s programme of setting up 100,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022 because it would lead to higher costs and increased tariffs. India has 23,000 MW of solar capacity.
India has contributed a whopping $1 million for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the imposing United Nations building at the world body’s headquarters. The contribution will help reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, India is the “first responder” to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for climate action.
CGHS in the capital will now be able to install solar panels on the rooftops of their buildings without spending a single penny. This has been made possible through the Mukhyamantri Solar Power Scheme. The scheme is applicable to both group housing societies and independent houses. Housing societies will have to sign a tripartite agreement with Delhi government and the service provider for installation of solar panels under Renewable Energy Service Company model. The installation cost would be borne by the private company. CGHS will be able to utilise the energy produced to light up common areas, run elevators and water pumps, among other activities by paying just ` 1/kWh. Though solar energy generation would cost about ` 3/kWh Delhi government will give a GBI of ` 2/kWh on each unit of electricity consumed by the housing societies. In the case of independent house owners, the installation cost of ` 45,000-55,000 will have to be borne by them. Though the government will not be a part of the agreement signed between the house owner and service provider, it will still provide GBI of ` 2/kWh. Additional energy generated through the solar panels can be sold to the grid.
The West Bengal government is the process of commissioning floating solar power plants by next year. The two plants would come up at Sagardighi and Mukutmanipur with generating capacities of 5 MW and 100 MW respectively. The detailed project report of the projects has been already prepared. In the last seven years, industrial demand had increased 27.22 percent. Talks were on with foreign companies to implement new technology for checking carbon emission from old coal-based power plants like Bandel and to keep it operational for another 25 years.
Hydropower generation company NHPC Ltd will put up a 40 MW solar plant in Odisha with an investment of about ` 1.96 billion. The solar power project will come up on about 180 acres of land in the Ganjam district and NHPC is impressing upon the state’s bulk power purchaser, Gridco, for buying the power produced. NHPC had evinced interest for setting up a 100-200 MW solar project in Odisha for the supply of power to Gridco so that the latter could fulfil its renewable energy purchase obligation with assured power purchase agreement. The central PSU has already commissioned a 50 MW solar project in Tamil Nadu and another 50 MW wind power project in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Odisha plans to develop a solar park with a production capacity of 1,000 MW. But, land availability is the key hurdle as the mega park needs around 5,000 acres of land. The MNRE has allowed the state government to develop a truncated solar park of 400 MW capacity under the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects. The development of the park assumes significance as the state government, in its newly approved Renewable Energy Policy-2016, plans to add 2,200 MW capacity of solar energy by 2022. The state has about 175 MW of installed capacity of solar power.
Independent power producer ACME said it has commissioned its 200 MW solar power plant at Bhadla in Rajasthan. With the commissioning of the Bhadla solar park, it’s total operating capacity in solar power stands at 2,400 MW and the company’s total portfolio of solar projects stands at over 5,500 MW making it the largest solar power portfolio in the country, it said. The company won the contract for developing 200 MW at the Bhadla solar project at a low tariff of ` 2.44 per unit till and it has so far invested ` 980 crore in setting up the plant, it said.
Biofuel authority of Rajasthan, with the help of Indian Railways, is planning to establish a biofuel processing plant in Rajasthan, with ‘buy back assurance’, which means that the processed fuel will be bought by the railways. The plant will have the capacity of eight tonne per day and will cost about ` 50 million. The biofuel authority has decided to tie up with the railways as for many years, the state did not have its own processing unit. Oil extracted from the seeds of Jatropha plant are used for the production of Biofuel. There are more than three crore Jatropha plants cultivated in Rajasthan. It is being cultivated on the wastelands and can survive harsh, rocky terrain. Jatropha is suitable for a desert state like Rajasthan, facing water scarcity.
Gujarat’s 500 MW solar tender results have delivered India’s record low tariff of ` 2.44/kWh and this underpins the country’s transformation to clean energy, US-based IEEFA said. Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd repealed the equivalent auction they held back in March which saw the lowest bid at an unacceptable ` 2.99/kWh. IEEFA notes the huge technology breakthrough potential of the new Pervoskite solar cells combined with bifacial modules, trackers and other innovations together which could see solar reach of up to 40 percent efficiency within a decade from sub-20 percent efficiency delivered by current Indian projects. With gains from production scalability the modules prices are on an accelerated deflation path and this will reflect on ever-lower solar tariffs in India, IEEFA forecasts declines of 10 percent annually for the next five-10 years.
The PSERC has decided to revise the renewable purchase obligations for PSPCL till 2022 by inviting suggestions from stakeholders while formulating the new norms. As per Section 86(1) (e) of the Electricity Act, 2003, the PSERC is to promote co-generation and generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy by providing suitable measures for connectivity with the grid and sale of power to any person. As per the proposal, Punjab is likely to seek 21 percent of its total power consumption from renewable sources by 2022. This would include 10.5 percent from non-solar renewable sources, including wind, biogas, small hydropower stations and 10.5 percent from solar generation. Till last year, the state was sourcing only 4.9 percent of renewable energy to meet the total power demand. As per the data submitted by the PSPCL, it has signed two purchase agreements for the procurement of wind power with the SECI for 150 MW at a rate of ` 2.72/kWh and 200 MW at a rate of ` 2.52/kWh. As per these agreements, the said power is expected to be available in May 2019 and December 2019, respectively. The recent rates of wind power stood at ` 2.51/kWh in the auction and that of solar power is between ` 3.48 to ` 3.55/kWh. The average variable charges of power bought from the independent power producers in the state for 2018-19 has been worked out to be ` 2.45/kWh. The corporation stood to strengthen its financial position with the increase in the renewable sources of energy. The move would also have a positive impact on the carbon footprint in the state.
Trina Solar of China, the largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic panels globally and India’s biggest supplier, launched its Trinahome product as the country’s first solar home kit suitable for use in residences, small and medium enterprises establishments and other places like schools and hospitals. Trinahome is currently being imported from China, the company aims to assemble it locally in the coming months. The kit includes all the required solar rooftop components, includes modules, inverter, grid box and mounting system, and comes with a 25-year module performance warranty. It is available in capacities of 3 kW, 5 kW and 10 kW and has a dedicated app to enable customers to monitor power generation. The price of the home kit would be announced soon. The country’s total solar energy capacity as at the end of July this year, 21.9 GW came from utility sources and only 1.2 GW from rooftop installations. Nearly 90 percent of India’s solar panels are imported, while Indian manufacturers have to depend on accessories from China.
In a major relief to solar rooftop consumers, MERC has rejected the proposal of MSEDCL to levy surcharge (wheeling charge) on solar rooftop prosumers at the rate of ` 1.28/kWh. Installation of solar rooftop system brings them to lower consumption bracket and in subsidized tariff category thereby reducing MSEDCL’s revenue. More and more consumers are becoming subsidized instead of subsidizing. As of now, 65% of residential consumers use less than 100 units per month and hence are subsidized ones. Net metering of solar rooftop power will increase it further. The commission has also rejected MSEDCL’s proposal to levy surcharge on solar roof top prosumers though it has not given any reason for it. MERC has agreed to MSEDCL’s proposal of creating a separate tariff category for electric vehicle charging stations. These stations would be provided supply at high tension level and the tariff would be ` 6/kWh. In addition, time of the day tariff will be applicable to it whereby the stations would get a discount of ` 1.50/kWh at night while the day tariff would attract a surcharge.
Tata Power Company Ltd plans to offer a range of services from advice and financing to installation and maintenance as it strives to increase its share of the market for rooftop solar panels. Tata Power Solar, the renewable energy arm of Mumbai-headquartered Tata Power, is currently India’s biggest rooftop solar panel supplier. But with a market share of just 6 percent, it sees plenty of scope for growth and aims to leverage its position as an integrated solar power company – with a presence in manufacturing, engineering, construction and maintenance – to offer customers an end-to-end service. India has plans to install up to 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, out of which 40 GW is expected to come from rooftop solar panels. So far, however, the pace of rooftop installations has been just around 6 percent of the target, according to government figures. Tata Power Solar is also planning to launch a dealer network to better take on its myriad of competitors, which include Chinese companies.
As a part of its plan to create 2,500 MW solar power capacity, MAHAGENCO has decided to build a 100 MW plant at Chandrapur. It will be the biggest solar plant in Vidarbha. MAHAGENCO said unit 1 and 2 of Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station, of 210 MW capacity, had been scrapped due to pollution problems. The EoI for the Chandrapur plant was floated on 27 August. Pre-bid meeting was held on 7 September and many developers showed interest in the project. MAHAGENCO has a 125 MW plant at Sakri in Dhule district and is setting up a 250 MW plant in Dondaicha, also in Dhule district. In Vidarbha, the second biggest plant of 20 MW capacity is coming up at Gavhankund in Amravati district. MAHAGENCO plans to create 1,500 MW solar capacity for directly supplying to farm pump feeders. Another 1,000 MW will be generated through big solar plants. Of the 1,500 MW, MAHAGENCO has already floated tenders for 550 MW. For the remaining 950 MW, 15 districts have been identified where small plants of total 50 MW capacity will be set up taking the total to 750 MW.
Vikram Solar, Kolkata-based solar energy company, announced it has commissioned a 10 MW solar power project for ONGC in Gujarat. The project will power ONGC’s Dhaej, Gandhar and Hazira plant in Gujarat. The solar plant has been built to meet ONGC’s captive power usage. The solar firm will also provide Operations and Maintenance service to the plant for a period of three years from the date of commissioning. The project is spread across 56 acres of land and the solar plant has 44,144 modules powering the whole unit. The company currently has 750 MW capacity including commissioned and under execution projects.
Clean energy generation firm LGE said it looks to increase its power capacity to 2 GW from existing operational 751 MW and also plans fund infusion of $300 million. The company is expecting to have an installed capacity of above 2 GW by FY2020, it said. The company currently has an operational capacity of 751 MW of wind assets and 400 MW of under construction wind assets. Currently, LGE operates in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat with plans to enter more states immediately. The institutional demand for wind energy is growing and applicable across functions including malls and shopping centres, hospitals and banks among others. In-terms of wind power installed capacity, India is ranked 4th in the World. The wind power generation has significantly increased in the recent years, India is a major player in the global wind energy market. The current total installed wind power capacity is 34.293 GW and is going to expand to 60 GW by FY 2022, it said.
In one of the major green-friendly initiatives, HSL has commenced production from the State’s largest rooftop solar power plant. The plant is built and operated by Clean Max. While there is no investment on the part of HSL, as per the agreement arrived at with Clean Max, the yard has to buy power from it for 25 years. Out of two megawatt capacity, one megawatt production has already started. The full capacity will be generated shortly. HSL is required to buy the generated power from Clean Max at a cost of ₹ 3.93/kWh as against ₹ 5.60/kWh for grid power bought from Eastern Power Distribution Company of AP Ltd.
The Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd would produce electricity from bagasse — leftover sugarcane waste — procured from sugar mills in Bazpur, Nadehi and Kiccha. It was decided at the meeting that the nigam would give power royalty to these sugar mills and would also undertake their modernisation. According to the state government, Bazpur sugar mill would produce 22 MW while Nadehi and Kiccha sugar mills would produce 16 MW of power each.
India has the potential to more than triple its trade with its South Asian neighbours to $62 billion against its actual trade of $19 billion, a World Bank report said. For India, the deeper regional trade and connectivity could reduce the isolation of Northeast India, give Indian firms better access to markets of South and East Asia and allow it to substitute fossil fuels by cleaner hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.
Rest of the World
China will provide more support for its nuclear firms to go overseas and strengthen their position on the international market, according to new draft legislation submitted to the industry for consultation. China aims to bring its total installed nuclear capacity to 58 GW by the end of 2020, up from 37 GW at the end of June this year, but it also has ambitions to dominate the global market and has created a unified third-generation reactor brand known as the “Hualong One” to sell overseas. China has already signed a series of preliminary agreements with countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uganda and Cambodia and it is also undergoing a technical approval process for the Hualong One in Britain. The government published new guidelines aimed at promoting its own technical standards in foreign markets and play a “leading role” in the global nuclear technology standardization process. However, its only overseas nuclear project so far is the Chashma nuclear complex in Pakistan. China’s new draft atomic energy law sets out the government’s responsibilities when it comes to disclosing information about the safety and environmental impact of nuclear power. It also includes clauses calling for the “convergence” of military and civilian research into nuclear energy. China was once regarded as one of the bright spots for the global nuclear sector, but its ambitious domestic reactor building program has slowed considerably, with no new projects approved since 2016. In a bid to guarantee safety in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, China promised to deploy only new and safer reactor technology, including Westinghouse’s AP1000 and the EPR designed by France’s Areva. But the untested models have been repeatedly delayed amid design flaws and huge cost overruns, and Beijing is now expected to struggle to meet its 58 GW target.
French gas and power group Engie warned that the extended outages at its Belgian nuclear plants would push its 2018 net recurring income to the low end of its €2.45 billion-€2.65 billion ($2.9 billion-$3.1 billion) forecast range. It said the longer outages would result in a shortfall of around €250 million in core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and net recurring income. Engie said the availability factor of its Belgian reactors is expected at 52 percent for 2018 and 74 percent for 2019. In the first half of 2018, the Benelux contribution to Engie core earnings nearly halved to €133 million from €242 million. Engie said that following the discovery of problems with the concrete in some of the nuclear plants operated by its Belgian unit Electrabel, it had decided to prolong the outages at its Tihange 2 and 3 reactors. Tihange 2 will now restart on 1 June 2019 instead of 31 October 2018 while Tihange 3 will restart on 2 March 2019 instead of on 30 September 2018. Belgium’s nuclear power regulator said it had detected concrete degradation in two bunkers adjoining Electrabel reactor buildings. Electrabel operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium, four at Doel and three at Tihange, producing about half the country’s electricity.
Russian state atomic energy firm Rosatom would start the construction of two new reactors at the Paks power nuclear plant in Hungary soon. Hungary plans to expand its Paks nuclear power plant and build two Russian VVER 1200 reactors.
Kenya has postponed its plan to build a nuclear power plant by nine years to 2036 in favour renewable energy projects and coal plant. Updated power development plan prepared by the energy ministry and covering the period 2017 to 2037, now show that the earliest the country can build the nuclear plant is 2036 and not 2027 as initially planned. In the revised plan, the first unit is expected to be completed in 2036, followed by another in 2037, making it the last project in the ministry’s 20-year plan for power generation expansion. Initially, Kenya was to construct two nuclear power plants, each with a capacity of 1,000 MW at a total cost of $4.05 billion per plant. However, the new plan is to have each plant with a capacity of 600 MW at a cost of $4.84 billion (Sh484) billion. Kenya was already hunting for a partner to produce nuclear power by 2022 to help match-up rising demand and diversify from hydropower and geothermal. It joins South Africa South Africa, which in August cancelled plans to add 9,600 MW of nuclear power by 2030 and will instead aim to add more capacity in natural gas, wind and other energy sources.
The Energy Ministry of Kenya expects to set up the body to regulate nuclear electricity next year in a move that will concretise plans to build Kenya’s first nuclear power plant by 2027. The KNEB said the bill providing for the set-up of the regulator as well as other institutions that will oversee the country’s nuclear power over the next decade had received approval from the cabinet. The State expects to put up a 1,000 MW plant once plans are finalised. KNEB said the bill would be tabled in the Parliament in the coming weeks and was hopeful that it would go through the House by the end of the year. KNEB has an analysis of the national electricity grid and is currently undertaking studies on possible sites for a nuclear power plant. Among the locations identified for the initial plant include areas around Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana and along the Kenyan coast. Kenya is short of nuclear skills capacity and KNEB has been training some of its personnel in other countries such as South Korea, China and Russia.
Austria plans to appeal against a ruling by Europe’s second-highest court which rejected its objections to Britain’s plans for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, the country’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said. French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corp aim to have the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on line in 2025 with costs for the project seen at 19.6 billion pounds ($25.3 billion). One aspect Vienna objects to is a guaranteed price for electricity from the plant which is higher than market rates. It also opposes state credit guarantees of up to 17 billion pounds being provided for the project. Opposition to nuclear power is widespread in Austria, which built a nuclear reactor but never brought it on line. Voters rejected plans to bring it into operation in a referendum in 1978 and the reactor, at Zwentendorf on the Danube northwest of Vienna, now serves as a training center.
China will speed up efforts to ensure its wind and solar power sectors can compete without subsidies and achieve “grid price parity” with traditional energy sources like coal, according to new draft guidelines issued by the NEA. As it tries to ease its dependence on polluting fossil fuels, China has encouraged renewable manufacturers and developers to drive down costs through technological innovations and economies of scale. The country aims to phase out power generation subsidies, which have become an increasing burden on the state. The guidelines said some regions with cost and market advantages had already “basically achieved price parity” with clean coal-fired power and no longer required subsidies, and others should learn from their experiences. China’s solar sector is still reeling from a decision to cut subsidies and cap new capacity at 30 GW this year, down from a record 53 GW in 2017, with the government concerned about overcapacity and a growing subsidy backlog. According to the NEA, the government owed around 120 billion yuan ($17.46 billion) in subsidies to solar plants by the middle of this year.
Procurement of solar energy by US utilities “exploded” in the first half of 2018, prompting a prominent research group to boost its five-year installation forecast despite the Trump administration’s steep tariffs on imported panels. A record 8.5 GW of utility solar projects were procured in the first six months of this year after President Donald Trump in January announced a 30 percent tariff on panels produced overseas, according to the report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and industry trade group the Solar Energy Industries Association. As a result, the research firm raised its utility-scale solar forecast for 2018 through 2023 by 1.9 GW. The forecast is still 8 percent lower than before the tariffs were announced. Procurement soared in part because the 30 percent tariff was lower than many in the industry had feared. Utilities are eager to get projects going because of a federal solar tax credit that will begin phasing out in 2020. Next year will be the most impacted by the tariffs, Wood Mackenzie said. Developers will begin projects next year to claim the highest level of tax credit but delay buying modules until 2020 because the tariff drops by 5 percent each year. In the first half of the year, the US installed 4.7 GW of solar, accounting for nearly a third of new electricity generating capacity additions. In the second quarter, residential installations were roughly flat with last year at 577 MW, while commercial and industrial installations slid 8 percent to 453 MW.
Total subsidiaries have won tenders for 15 French solar power projects and 5 tenders for small-scale hydropower generation units which will add around 112 MW of capacity to its portfolio, the energy producer said. The solar power projects will produce around 120 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, meeting the requirements of around 45,000 households, Total said. Total is expanding power generation capacity after its $1.7 billion acquisition of alternative electricity provider Direct Energie as it makes a play for the French power market dominated by former state monopoly EDF. In July, it acquired two gas-fired power plants as part of plans to have a global electricity generation capacity of 10 GW by 2023.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced it has signed an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to design a 40 MW solar power plant that will more than double the country’s current solar energy capacity. In Afghanistan, electricity consumption is among the lowest in the world with only about 28 percent of Afghans connected to the grid. The country imports up to 80 percent of its energy and frequent blackouts reaches up to 15 hours a day in some parts of Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan will work with IFC on an initial 40 MW solar plant that will develop a new model for subsequent solar projects, helping the country to reach its 2,000 MW goal. The agreement will see IFC’s public-private partnership advisory experts supporting the government to design and competitively tender the project, helping attract solar companies to develop the solar photovoltaic power plant.
The world’s largest offshore wind farm will open off the northwest coast of England when Danish energy group Orsted unveils the Walney Extension project. The wind farm has a capacity of 659 MW, enough to power almost 600,000 homes, and overtakes the London Array off England’s east coast which has a capacity of 630 MW. Britain is the world’s largest offshore wind market, hosting 36 percent of globally installed offshore wind capacity, data from the Global Wind Energy Council showed. Walney Extension was among the first renewable projects to secure a so-called contract for difference subsidy from the British government in 2014.
Iberdrola SA, the world’s biggest wind power producer, plans to expand its renewable capacity in the US by about 50 percent over four years as part of the Spanish electric utility’s global plan to reduce carbon emissions. The company expects to spend about $15 billion in the US on its transmission and distribution system and increase its renewable generation to around 10,000 MW by the end of 2022. Iberdrola committed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions intensity by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2007 levels and become carbon neutral by 2050. More than half of its 48,800 MW of generation around the world is renewable with the remainder fueled mostly by natural gas, nuclear and coal. The company wants to shut its last two coal plants, which are located in Spain, by 2020. Through its majority-owned Avangrid Inc subsidiary, Iberdrola has over 6,500 MW of renewables in the US. It is the country’s third-biggest wind power provider behind NextEra Energy and Berkshire Hathaway. Iberdrola is developing an offshore wind farm in North Carolina and in other US East Coast states and a $950-million power transmission line to transport up to 1,200 MW of renewable energy from Quebec to New England.
The US EPA published new data detailing how it drastically expanded a biofuels waiver program for oil refiners since President Donald Trump’s administration took office, responding to pressure from the corn lobby to boost transparency over the opaque program. The details published on the EPA’s website showed the agency issued exemptions for 29 small refineries for 2017, freeing them from their requirement under the RFS to blend biofuels into gasoline and diesel, according to agency data. That was up from 19 waivers granted for 2016 and 7 in 2015, the EPA said. The data provides the most complete picture of the EPA’s expansion of the controversial small refinery waiver program to date. The waivers save the oil industry money, but biofuels groups worry they also cut into the nation’s demand for ethanol and other biofuels, and have criticized Trump’s EPA for over using the exemptions. The data showed that the number of gallons exempted from the RFS under the 29 waivers granted in 2017 amounted to $13.62 billion, nearly double the $7.8 billion exempted in 2016. The EPA is still considering five waiver requests for 2017, and has received a total of 11 requests for 2018, all of which are also still pending, according to the data. The RFS requires oil refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels like ethanol into their fuel each year, or purchase credits from those that do.
The European Commission has decided not to impose provisional import tariffs on a flood of low-priced Argentine biodiesel until it gathers more information, although it considers the fuel to be subsidized and a potential threat to local producers. The decision comes as a major blow for European producers of fuels made from vegetable and recycled oil. They have been hit hard since the EU scrapped duties last year in response to a ruling by the World Trade Organisation. The Commission said Argentina provided support to its industry through a set of measures, including export duties on soybeans, a biodiesel feedstock, that depressed prices to an artificially low level to the advantage of the downstream biodiesel industry.
The French government will barely increase spending on renewable energy next year, with a planned rise of 1.3 percent effectively flat after taking inflation into account, France’s ecology ministry draft’s budget showed. Spending on renewables projects will total €7.3 billion ($8.60 billion) next year and will mostly go towards wind and solar projects. France is lagging its European rivals in renewables, and falling behind its long-term target to develop renewables which could help it to curb its dependence on nuclear power that currently accounts for over 75 percent of its needs. Households and businesses face €2.9 billion in additional environmental taxes next year, including €1 billion from scrapping a tax break farmers and construction firms get on heavy vehicles fuel. Meanwhile, the government will increase incentives to help consumers switch to cleaner vehicles.
Nepal’s new government has reversed its predecessor’s decision and has asked China Gezhouba Group Corp to build the nation’s biggest hydropower plant. The $2.5 billion deal with the Gezhouba Group to build the Budhi Gandaki hydroelectric project was scrapped last year by the previous government. Nepal Electricity Authority was to have built it. China and India are both jostling for influence in Nepal by providing aid and investment in infrastructure projects. Nepal’s rivers, cascading from the snow-capped Himalayas, have vast, untapped potential for hydropower generation, but lack of funds has made Nepal lean on neighbour India to meet annual power demand of 1,400 MW.
In the first in a series of corporate announcements ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, one of the world’s largest electronics and entertainment companies Sony Corp announced to join RE100. RE100 is a global corporate leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, bringing together more than 140 multinationals committed to 100 percent renewable power. RE100 members are creating demand for 182.4 terawatt hour of renewable energy per year — more than enough to power a medium sized country, such as Thailand or Poland. Sony Corp, with consolidated sales of $77 billion (FY2017), commits to sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity for its global operations, spanning Europe, North America and Asia. McKinsey and Company, the first management consultancy to globally step up and join RE100, and Royal Bank of Scotland joined RE100, commit to source 100 percent renewable electricity.
California has set a goal of phasing out electricity produced by fossil fuels by 2045 under a new legislation. The renewable energy measure would require California’s utilities to generate 60 percent of their energy from wind, solar and other specific renewable sources by 2030. That’s 10 percent higher than the current mandate. The goal would then be to use only carbon-free sources to generate electricity by 2045. It’s merely a goal, with no mandate or penalty for falling short.
Scientists have developed a semi-artificial photosynthesis system that uses sunlight to produce hydrogen fuel from water. Photosynthesis is the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Oxygen is produced as by-product of photosynthesis when the water absorbed by plants is ‘split’. It is one of the most important reactions on the planet because it is the source of nearly all of the world’s oxygen. Hydrogen which is produced when the water is split could potentially be a green and unlimited source of renewable energy. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom used semi-artificial photosynthesis to explore new ways to produce and store solar energy. They used natural sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using a mixture of biological components and manmade technologies. Artificial photosynthesis has been around for decades but it has not yet been successfully used to create renewable energy because it relies on the use of catalysts, which are often expensive and toxic. Researchers not only improved on the amount of energy produced and stored, they managed to reactivate a process in the algae that has been dormant for millennia. The findings will enable new innovative model systems for solar energy conversion to be developed.
MW: megawatt, GW: gigawatt, MNRE: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, SECI: Solar Energy Corp of India, NDC: Nationally Determined Contribution, CGHS: Cooperative Group Housing Societies, kWh: kilowatt hour, GBI: generation-based incentive, PSU: Public Sector Undertaking, US: United States, IEEFA: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, PSERC: Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, PSPCL: Punjab State Power Corp Ltd, kW: kilowatt, MERC: Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, MSEDCL: Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd, MAHAGENCO: Maharashtra State Power Generation Company, EoI: Expressions of Interest, ONGC: Oil and Natural Gas Corp, LGE: Leap Green Energy, FY: Financial Year, , HSL: Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, KNEB: Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board, NEA: National Energy Administration, IFC: International Finance Corp, EPA: Environmental Protection Agency, RFS: Renewable Fuel Standard, EU: European Union