EGP begins construction of two renewable projects in Spain

Italian multinational renewable energy company Enel Green Power (EGP) has started construction of a solar and wind project in Spain.

The solar photovoltaic (PV) project, which will be called Los Naranjos, will be built in the province of Seville.

For this facility, EGP will build nine switching stations, as well as an electric substation and an underground cable network spanning 4.5km.

The 50MW solar PV project will be built with an investment of €28.2m, will be equipped with 128,520 solar PV panels, and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Once operational, the solar project will generate approximately 100GWh of clean energy annually, while offsetting 67,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year.

Los Naranjos will be EGP’s second solar facility in Andalusia after its 50MW Las Corchas PV plant in Carmona. Construction of the €30m Las Corchas’ PV plant began last year.

EGP’s wind power farm, called Los Gigantes, will be built between the towns of Blesa and Moyuela, in the Teruel’s and Zaragoza provinces respectively.

The 21.3MW wind farm will be built with an investment of €20m and will feature six wind turbines, each with a 3.55MW power capacity. The facility is expected to come online by the end of this year.

Once completed, the wind power facility is expected to generate nearly 62GWh of power annually while eliminating 41,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

With the construction of two renewable projects in the country, EGP intends to support Spain’s sustainability objective to produce 74% of electricity through renewable sources by 2030. /


New report highlights fragility of Indian coal sector during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic could help trigger an uptake in renewable power infrastructure and generation in India, according to a new report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The report, ‘Who would still fund a new coal power plant in India?’, draws on a decade of data to highlight a steady decline in new coal projects in India, noting that there was an 80% decline in new thermal power installations in the four years leading up to the 2015-16 financial year, while renewable energy delivered more than two-thirds of India’s new generating capacity in the 2019-20 financial year.

It went on to highlight a disparity between planned and actual spending on new power infrastructure to the tune of $70bn, with the Indian Government planning to install at least 70GW of new coal power plants between 2018 and the 2026-27 financial year, but there are now concerns as to where this funding will come from.

“The pandemic and national lockdown has once again highlighted India’s entirely unrealistic modelling assumptions of coalfired power plants which assumes running at 70-80% capacity utilisation rates, double the actual rates seen in April 2020,” wrote author Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the IEEFA.

“In stark contrast, Indian and international capital is focussed on new, more sustainable and cheaper domestic power opportunities,” he continued. “The $2bn, 2GW solar tender awarded earlier this month at a record low of $33 per megawatt hour provides clear evidence of this.”

This trend has been intensified by the spread of Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown, which has caused energy demand to collapse across the world, and India is no different. While the International Energy Agency has reported a 25% fall in global weekly energy demand, India saw its energy need decline by 26% over just ten days in late March, according to figures from the country’s Power System Operation Corporation.  This collapse was led by a 34% decline in energy need in the country’s western region alone.

This has had a significant impact on Indian coal power generation; in the first 33 days of the 2020-21 financial year, coal-fired power generation fell by 30TWh compared to previous years, raising concerns about the long-term viability of the sector as the world deals with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. /


SCE signs contracts for 770MW of energy storage capacity

/ US-based utility company Southern California Edison (SCE) has signed seven contracts for 770MW of battery-based energy storage capacity to strengthen California’s electric system reliability.

SCE has signed agreements with Southern Power, NextEra Energy Resources, TerraGen Power and LS Power to procure the capacity.

The company has signed three 15-year contracts with NextEra Energy Resources for a total capacity of 460MW. It has signed two 20-year contracts with Southern Power for a total capacity of 160MW.

The other contracts include a ten-year contract with TerraGen Power for 50MW capacity and a 15-year contract term with LS Power for 100MW.

A majority of the energy storage projects will be located adjacent to the solar power plant to charge the battery over the term of the contract.

SCE has signed contracts with Southern Power for its Garland and Tranquillity projects that have a capacity of 88MW and 72MW respectively.

NextEra Energy has been contracted for the Blythe 2, Blythe 3 and McCoy projects with a capacity of 115MW, 115MW and 230MW respectively.

On the other hand, TerraGen Power has signed a contract with SCE for its Sanborn project for a capacity of 50MW while LS Power secured contracts for its Gateway 1-2 project.

SCE Energy procurement and management vice-president William Walsh said: “These new emissions-free projects will help us ensure the reliability of the grid for our customers and integrate an ever-increasing amount of clean renewable energy over the next decade.

“Signing these contracts aligns with SCE’s Pathway 2045 [an analysis of the steps required for California to be carbon neutral by 2045], continues our support of California’s goal to green the state and also encourages clean energy projects of all types, creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”

The projects are expected to further improve California’s grid reliability and also address potential energy shortfalls in the region.

Additionally, the projects are expected to help in integrating renewable clean energy into the grid from intermittent wind and solar resources. /


J-Power USA joins 350MW solar power development project in Texas

J-Power USA Development has signed an agreement to become a partner in the development of a 350MW solar PV project in Texas’s Wharton County.

The project, called Red-Tailed Hawk Solar, is located near to the load centre of Houston, a high-power demand area, and is slated to become operational in 2022.

Before J-Power USA joined the initiative, the project was expected to be developed by AP Solar Holdings, an equally-owned joint venture  of Solar Plus Development and Avondale Solar.

J-Power USA president and CEO Mark Condon said: “We are excited to expand our development capabilities into the renewable energy field.

“J-Power USA’s participation in this project will assist in providing energy to the marketplace in order to meet consumer demand for clean, affordable and reliable power.”

This is J-Power USA’s first renewable project in the US. Overall, the company and its affiliates now have interests in 12 power generating facilities in the country.

AP Solar Holdings CEO Trevor Nash said: “We are very pleased to be working with J-Power USA on the development of Red-Tailed Hawk Solar, and, based on the market dynamics and data that we are seeing, Red-Tailed Hawk Solar will be well-positioned to provide low-cost renewable power to the Houston zone.”

J-Power USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of J-Power North America Holdings, which is itself a unit of Japanese firm Electric Power Development.

Headquartered in the greater Chicago area, J-Power USA focuses on acquiring, developing and operating power generation facilities in North America. /


All On provides Covid-19 power support for African health centres

/ All On, the Nigerian off-grid energy investment company established by Shell, has awarded an emergency relief fund to provide healthcare organisations on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa with reliable power.

Lumos, Africa’s solar system provider, is one of four renewable energy companies selected to receive part of the $500,000 relief fund, as the company is providing solar home systems to critical emergency response centres across Nigeria during the Covid-19 crisis.

The solar systems installed will provide an alternative power solution to health centres and rapid response teams that lack access to reliable electricity. Solar systems will also be used to power basic necessities such as lighting, fans, and computers, ensuring that essential services are able to respond to the crisis, supply testing kits, and deliver urgent medical care.

Doctor Anthony Iwala, social franchise director of Society for Family Health, one of the organisations benefitting from the service, said: “We are pleased to receive this very significant support from Lumos and All On. It is an exemplary intervention that will facilitate the success of the fight against the virus.

“Electricity from their solar systems will ensure staff are properly kitted and able to prepare instruments and medication without compromising infection prevention protocols” he added.

As less than 33% of households and 30% of businesses have reliable access to grid electricity in Nigeria, Lumos, with its 50% share of the solar home system market, can enhance the response of emergency centres, which have seen impeded effectiveness due to lack of power during the outbreak.

Lumos Nigeria CEO Adepeju Adebajo said: “The All On fund is enabling us to react exceptionally quickly. Lumos has the products and the trained staff on the ground to install solar systems, which will allow key workers to test and treat patients with the virus and save lives.” /


IEA: 25% fall in weekly energy demand during Covid-19 pandemic

/ The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a report into the impacts of Covid-19 on global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions, revealing that both metrics are falling at an unprecedented rate.

The report, ‘Global Energy Review 2020’ draws from 100 days of research into the spread of Covid-19 and the responses of countries around the world, to draw ominous conclusions for the energy industry.

Of greatest concern will be the precipitous decline in global energy demand, with countries in full lockdown seeing a 25% decline in energy demand per week. This is in stark contrast to a decline of just 3.8% in the first quarter of the year, as the lockdown enforced in a number of countries, leading to vacant workspaces and empty industrial buildings, has slashed the world’s need for electricity.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol noted that “this is a big shock, when we look at the numbers in our global energy system.”

“We have never seen such a big decline,” he continued, “and this is happening in almost all the countries around the world, especially in electricity generation, but also for the industrial sector. [Demand for] all the fuels are going down.”

He noted that the latest drop in global energy demand is more than seven times larger than the previous significant decline, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and went on to compare the world’s current energy demand to that of a weekend, suggesting that weekly electricity demand is now akin to a week of Sundays.

The prevalence of lockdowns and quarantine measures across the world are key drivers of this trend; while a decline in industrial and commercial energy demand is somewhat offset by an increase in residential energy demand, the shift towards working and studying from home has led to a net fall in energy demand.

“The share of global energy use that was affected by mandatory lockdowns jumped from 5% to more than half of global energy markets,” said Laura Cozzi, chief energy modeler at the IEA and one of the report’s authors. “Today, as we speak, we are right in the middle of the storm, with 50% of global energy use being affected by mandatory lockdowns.

“If we look at the speed at which these shockwaves have come, since the start of the month, this is an unprecedented crisis,” she continued.

However, there were some silver linings to come from the report, with renewable power remaining relatively stable as traditional sources of electricity generation are hit the hardest by the pandemic.

While demand for coal, oil and natural gas were down 8%, 5% and 2% respectively, renewables remained resistant to the crisis, with global use of renewables actually increasing in the first quarter of the year, by 1.5% compared to the first quarter of 2019, and renewable electricity generation increasing by 3% over the period.

This has led the IEA to predict that global use of renewables will increase by 1% over the course of 2020, with projects that operate independently from large, central energy grids, such as small-scale solar panels mounted atop homes and businesses, providing a source of energy independent from traditional grid infrastructure.

Similarly, this fall in demand has led to significant reductions in global carbon dioxide emissions, falling by 5% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The IEA predicts that this trend will continue over the remainder of the year, with 2020 on course for 8% lower emissions than in 2019, the lowest level since 2010, and the largest-ever year-on-year reduction in emissions, six times greater than the decline in emissions following the financial crisis.

Yet these changes may not be sustainable, as Cozzi is wary that a recovery in electricity demand and production could lead to a parallel increase in harmful emissions, back to normal levels.

“We are going to see a very significant amount of reduction [in emissions] of 2.6 gigatons,” she said. “To give you an idea of how much we are talking about, if you look at the historic fall in carbon dioxide emissions post-World War Two [and] multiply that by two, that is the type of decline we have seen. It is huge.

“However, very little of it is structural, as economic activity may resume and we are expecting carbon dioxide emissions to [go] up again.”

The IEA also announced that it would update its figures and predictions on a weekly basis as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, placing the agency at the forefront of climate and energy reporting during the crisis. /


Covid-19 and tax credit withdrawals cause uncertain renewable future

/ US analytics firm S&P Global has announced that the Covid-19 pandemic could have an adverse effect on US renewable power, with federal support for power sources such as wind and solar in the long-term no longer certain.

In a webinar held on Tuesday, the company’s Platts Analytics group reported that renewable energy in the US has not been included in any of the financial stimulus measures implemented in response to the pandemic, and this uncertainty has hampered renewable investments.

“Federal tax credits were extended for 2020, but permitting and other delays create uncertainty around eligibility to receive the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind,” said Platts Analytics. “State mandates along the US East Coast also provide support for offshore wind development, although some of those projects could be delayed due to pandemic-related restrictions.”

According to the Electricity Markets and Policy Group, an independent research group operated by the Berkley Lab, a subsidiary of the Department of Energy, the average spend on utility-scale power purchase agreements in the solar sector has fallen dramatically. The average price of a power purchase agreement in California has fallen from close to $240 per MWh in 2009 to less than $40 per MWh in the state ten years later. In the southwest, this price fell to as low as $20 per MWh in 2019.

However, S&P’s figures buck this trend, with power purchase agreements reaching anything up to $35 per MWh, potentially reversing a trend over the last decade that has seen solar power become a more efficient and, critically, more accessible source of power.

Uncertainty arising during the pandemic is unfortunate timing for US renewables in general, and solar in particular, with the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that has propped up the solar industry set to be withdrawn over the coming years.

The ITC saved individuals and companies 30% of the cost of installation of solar panels in 2016, but this figure is set to fall to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021 and 10% in 2022. Most worryingly, the credit will no longer be available for residential solar power from 2022 onwards.

Compounded with the expiry of the PTC, which has supported other renewable projects such as wind, US renewables face an uncertain future. In 2019, Wood Mackenzie reported that the loss of the PTC could see 6.6GW of wind projects scheduled for competition in 2020 not begin operation until 2021, and that 1.5GW of wind projects would be cancelled outright.  /


No radiation risk from fires at Chernobyl: IAEA report

/ The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not detected any radiation-related risks from the recent fires in the exclusion zone near Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP).

After assessing the data provided by Ukraine, IAEA explained that the levels of radiation in the country were “very small” and not threatening to human health.

IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) head Elena Buglova said: “In addition, these radiation levels fall significantly with increasing distance from the site of the fires.”

Buglova is reported to be in close contact with authorities in Ukraine, where the fire outbreak commenced earlier this month.

IAEA noted that the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) has been regularly providing updates about the fire at the NPP through IAEA’s Unified System for Information Exchange in Incidents and Emergencies (USIE).

The Ukrainian authorities operate a network of radiation monitoring stations across the country and around the Chernobyl NPP.

On 14, 17, 20 and 22 April, SNRIU is said to have provided all the updates on IAEA’s USIE about the measurements of radiation levels in the air.

Earlier this month, SNRIU notified IAEA via USIE that all nuclear and radioactive waste management facilities located in the exclusion zone were safe.

Additionally, the Ukrainian authorities have informed IAEA that this level of radiation in the air will continue to be monitored. /