Latest News

2 May

Ethical Power breaks ground on Conrad Energy’s Herefordshire solar farm

Solar panels. Credit: A_Oup via Shutterstock

Ethical Power has begun work on the Larport Solar Farm in Herefordshire, developed and owned by Conrad Energy. 

The 45MW solar farm is Conrad Energy’s first solar farm project and is due to come online in 2024. Conrad Energy expects the project to provide enough power to support 10,400 homes, and save around 9,432 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, significant renewable power impacts for Herefordshire. 

The project also involves a number of stakeholders, potentially expanding its influence beyond the local area where it will generate power. Conrad Energy has secured an offtake agreement for the green power generated on-site through a power purchase agreement with BNP Paribas, which was announced last month. 

While Conrad Energy owns the project, Ethical Power will monitor the site once operational to ensure it runs efficiently. 

The Larport facility is also notable for its history as a fossil fuel project. Conrad Energy first achieved planning permission for a diesel generator in the area in March 2016, and this project was converted first to a gas facility, and then a solar plant, following feedback from local people. 

The project could help set a precedent for local involvement in power projects, and renewable power projects in particular.

2 May

NTPC and NPCIL to jointly develop nuclear power plants in India

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Indian utility company the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have signed a supplementary joint venture agreement to develop nuclear power facilities in the country. 

They will build the 1.4GW Chutka Madhya Pradesh atomic power project and the Mahi Banswara Rajasthan atomic power project, which has a capacity of 2.8GW. 

They will also develop two pressurised heavy-water reactor facilities, which are part of fleet-mode nuclear projects.

It was signed by NTPC projects director Ujjwal Kanti Bhattacharya and NPCIL projects director Ranjay Sharan in the presence of senior officials including the country’s minister of power, new and renewable energy, RK Singh. 

In October 2022, NTPC and GE Gas Power signed a memorandum of understanding to identify opportunities for hydrogen co-firing in gas turbines. 

The move is initially aimed at cutting emissions at NTPC’s 645MW Kawas combined-cycle gas power plant in Gujarat, with plans to promote the technology in NTPC’s installed units.

2 May

Balmoral unveils scour protection system for offshore wind turbines

Balmoral, a Scottish offshore services provider, has launched HexDefence, a new scour protection system for offshore wind turbines. 

The new product aims to reduce scour around fixed wind turbine foundations, which results in seabed erosion and lowers the strength and stiffness of the foundations. This can cause instability in the turbines’ foundations and damage to the inter-array cables, leading to the failure of the expensive cable network. 

The scour protection system mitigates such consequences and can also defend the seabed around the monopile structure. A regular scour protection system includes the installation of a layer of material around the base of the monopile, which prevents the erosion of sediments. 

Made from rock, concrete or a specially designed geotextile fabric, this layer is placed around the monopile on the seabed.

Balmoral engineering and projects director Fraser Milne stated: “The interlocking panels are generally 10m long and custom-sized to fit varying monopile diameters, and feature integrated lifting and access points."

1 May

Toyota Tsusho closes majority stake purchase in SB Energy

Toyota Tsusho, a division of Japanese group Toyota, has concluded the acquisition of a 85% stake in SoftBank Group’s renewables unit SB Energy. 

SB Energy has now become a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho and rebranded as Terras Energy. SoftBank retains the remaining 15% stake in the business. Terras Energy is expected to become one of Japan’s largest power producers in wind and solar with nearly 4.5GW of capacity. This includes 3.18GW in wind and 1.02GW in solar power. 

The deal, whose financial terms were not shared, was signed in February this year. Its aim was to maximise synergies in renewable energy businesses of both the firms. Toyota Tsusho plans to put Terras Energy’s renewable technologies to use by speeding up the creation of new businesses to promote carbon neutral initiatives and technological advancements in the renewable energy space. 

Alongside this acquisition, Toyota Tsusho and SoftBank plan to work on the development of an electric power supply and demand adjustment with a target to reach carbon neutrality.

28 April

Australia posts record renewable output to start 2023

Australia’s record renewable output in this year’s first quarter pushed down energy costs and drove carbon emissions to record lows, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). 

A new report from AEMO shows that National Electricity Market (NEM) wholesale spot prices averaged $54.9 (A$83) per megawatt hour (MWh) for the March quarter, down from $61.52 (A$93) per MWh and $142.88 (A$216) per MWh in the previous quarters, ending December and September 2022. The percentage of the country’s energy needs met by renewables hit a record 66% in this year’s first quarter, up 4.4% from the previous high. 

Australia also posted record average output of rooftop solar photovoltaic power, totalling approximately 3GW for the March quarter, up 23% from the same period last year. This contributed to the lowest first quarter operational demand in the NEM since 2005. 

Daniel Westerman, AEMO CEO, said: “These insights reinforce that critical transmission investments … are needed to share low-cost, low emission renewable energy with consumers."