ENGIE to buy African off grid solar company Mobisol 

French energy company ENGIE has announced that it will acquire African off-grid solar company Mobisol for an undisclosed fee.

ENGIE is already established in Africa through its subsidiary Fenix International, which it bought in 2017. It provides energy access through solar home systems to 500,000 homes in Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique. It also supplies smart solar mini-grids to rural areas in Africa through its PowerCorner technology.

The deal will allow ENGIE to expand the number of countries in which it operates in Africa from six to nine, as Mobisol operates in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. Mobisol has installed 150,000 solar home systems in these countries, providing energy for over 750,000 people.

ENGIE CEO Isabelle Kocher said: “With the acquisition of Mobisol, ENGIE expands its access to a market of millions who are not connected to the grid and establishes itself as the market leader on the continent.

“Not only do we change people’s lives with clean energy but we trigger economic activities for households and entrepreneurs who generate additional income once they are connected. With ENGIE Power Corner, Fenix, and now Mobisol, we will pave the way for a new generation of affordable energy services, in line with our strategy focused on the acceleration of the zero-carbon transition.”

ENGIE’s share price on the French stock exchange fell minimally from €13.87 to €13.80 a share on the announcement, giving it a market capitalisation value of €33.61bn.


NTPC commissions 660MW power generation plant in India

State-owned Indian power company NTPC has commissioned the country’s first ultra-super-critical unit at Khargone in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

With a capacity of 660MW, the new power unit will have an efficiency of 41.5%, which is 3.3% more than the traditional super-critical units.

With steam parameters of 600°C and 270 kg/cm2 pressure, the new unit has been designed to consume less coal and produce the equivalent of power in comparison to super-critical plants.

NTPC said that the Khargone plant will feature two ultra-super-critical units with 660MW capacity each, thereby bringing the total plant capacity to 1,320MW.

Additionally, the company said that the new plant will have the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by 3.3%.

The required facilities for the sustainable running of the plant, such as fuel handling and transportation systems, are also in place. The company said that the plant is expected to start commercial operations soon.

Through coal, gas, hydro, solar and wind plants, NTPC is meeting about 23% of the power demand in the country.

In April 2019, GE Power installed its first turnkey full flow wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) unit at NTPC’s 500MW super thermal power project site in Vindhyachal, Madhya Pradesh.

For the project, GE Power delivered a WFGD system for the 500MW pulverised coal-fired boiler unit on a full turnkey basis that included designing, engineering, manufacturing, testing, civil works, erection and commissioning.

The installation of FGD will be the first limestone-based WFGD that has been commissioned in an NTPC power plant suitable for continuous operation at the 500MW unit for 100% gas flow. /


Port authority approves Rotterdam offshore wind facilities expansion

/ The Port of Rotterdam Authority has signed an agreement with Sif Holding for the expansion of the company’s offshore wind power generation facilities at the port.

Offshore power firm Sif Holding currently holds 42 hectares (ha) of land at the port on lease. Following the port’s approval, the company will be able to extend its lease by an additional 20ha.

Sif Holding CEO Fred van Beers said: “This 20ha extension perfectly fits our strategy to expand our services to the offshore wind industry with complex marshalling and terminal activities for offshore wind.

“This additional lease agreement is further proof of our belief in the strong bond between the Port of Rotterdam and Sif.

“We foresee a structural demand for these services and are proud to be selected by DEME Offshore, who is our launching customer for these marshalling services when preparing and realising their offshore wind project Borssele 1 and 2.”

Under the new agreement, the port authority has allocated the additional land to the company with a 200m stretch of deep-sea quay for installing the offshore infrastructure.
With this new initiative, the Port of Rotterdam intends to promote the use of renewable energy sources.

The newly allocated site will be used by the company as the logistics hub for handling 94 mono-pile foundations destined for the offshore wind sites Borssele 1 and 2 operated by infrastructure group Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering Offshore (DEME).

The Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO Allard Castelein said: “We are proud of Sif Group’s success in our port. Since the company set up here in 2015, Rotterdam has been able to strengthen its position in the offshore wind segment.

“This expansion will allow a leading player in this market to develop further. It supports our policy to employ our expertise, space and developing the capacity to stimulate the offshore wind segment – and the offshore sector in general – as a key growth market.” /


Queensland approves new $86.2m wind farm

Australia’s Queensland Government has approved a A$128m ($86.2m) wind farm in the South Burnett Regional Council area.

Scheduled to become operational next year, the new wind farm is expected to create 100 new jobs in the region.

Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick said: “The Queensland Government is committed to supporting investment in regional Queensland and renewable energy projects.

“It’s a huge job boost for the area and will help us achieve our renewable energy target.

“This project will deliver 16 new turbines and, coupled with the 123 turbines in nearby Coopers Gap, that’s nearly 140 turbines delivering power to the region.”

With 64MW clean energy generation capacity, the new wind farm will be the second wind farm in the region. In 2017, Coopers Gap was initially approved in the area.

Located in Queensland’s capital city Brisbane, Coopers Gap is said to be the largest onshore wind farm in Australia, with an installed capacity of 453MW.

The energy generated by the site can power 264,000 Australian homes.

Queensland Minister for Energy Dr Anthony Lynham said: “Queensland’s renewable revolution is full steam ahead and we continue to show the way for the rest of the nation.

“This project is one part of over A$1.6bn ($1.07bn) worth of renewable energy investment underway or recently operating in the Darling Downs and South-West regions, creating more than 1,000 jobs in construction and 860MW of renewable generation capacity.” /


Bangladesh to expand renewable energy capacity with World Bank funding

/ The Bangladeshi Government is set to receive a $185m credit from the World Bank to add 310MW of renewable energy generation capacity, as part of an agreement.

World Bank’s financing also includes a $26.38m loan and a $2.87m grant from the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) of the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds (CIFs).

The funds will be provided to the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project, which focuses on the expansion of the utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV), as well as rooftop PV to new markets across the country.

The project will initially involve the development of a 50MW grid-tied solar PV generation plant in the Feni district implemented by the Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh (EGCB).

Economic Relations Division secretary Monowar Ahmed said: “The project will be important for Bangladesh to tap into its potential for renewable energy generation.

“Further, it will help reduce a substantive amount of CO2 emissions per year, which is in line with the country’s nationally determined contribution to the Paris climate agreement.”

The project will also financially support the Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCOL) to manage a renewable energy financing facility for rooftop and utility-scale solar PV.

Furthermore, Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) will be able to identify locations for large-scale projects and promote net metering policy for rooftop PV installations.

World Bank Group Bangladesh and Bhutan acting country director Dandan Chen said: “Since the last decade, the World Bank has helped Bangladesh increase access to electricity in rural areas through renewable energy.

“Now, we are going one step further to help Bangladesh expand renewable energy generation on a larger scale.”

The Scaling-up Renewable Energy Project also aims to raise financing of up to $212m from the private sector, commercial banks and other sources. /


Smarter Grid Solutions expands into Europe following German trial

/ Scottish software company Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) is expanding into Europe following successful trials with a German utility company.

The German trials demonstrated the potential of ‘dynamic curtailment’, which reduces the small amounts of electricity produced by renewable energy generators such as solar parks or wind farms if too much power is pumped into the grid.

According to SGS, this approach can reduce the amount of curtailment required by conventional dispatch methods and double the hosting capacity for renewable energy.

The company is also seeking to provide its Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) to distribution system operators (DSOs) in Europe, with SGS’ software already adding approximately 1.3GW of renewable energy, battery storage and flexibility services to global electricity grids.

Regulatory changes introduced by the EU’s 2016 Clean Energy Package allow this technology to be applied across Europe.

SGS co-founder Alan Gooding said: “The time is right for the move: the need exists, regulation is enabling it, the technology is mature and proven, and, most importantly, we see customer pull.

“Only last week we hosted a European DSO in the UK, running through the use cases that can be supported by our products and how they deliver value to DSOs.”

According to SGS this software can be used to control distributed energy resources that are connected to distribution grids, allowing DSOs to have a greater degree of control and system flexibility. The DERMS could also allow DSOs to reduce requirements for grid upgrades and connection times, making operations more efficient and cost-effective.

This greater system flexibility is important for the development of renewable energy infrastructures, as many renewable energy generators are being connected to distribution networks complicating the systems, with power flowing in both directions on the grid. /


London solar start-up BBOXX closes funding round with $50m investment

/ London-based solar start-up BBOXX has closed a $50m series D funding round, led by Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi.

BBOXX has impacted nearly one million people to date through its installation of 200,000 pay-as-you-go solar home systems, which make use of Internet of Things technology and data through the BBOXX Pulse digital platform to provide utilities at scale.

The company has also replicated this model to provide clean cooking solutions using liquefied petroleum gas, with ambitions to deliver other products and utilities across a number of markets. 

Other participants in the series D funding round include Montreal-based growth equity firm MKB, French multinational ENGIE, Luxembourg-based pioneering impact investor Bamboo Capital Partners and Dutch impact investment fund DOEN Participaties.

The investment is expected to help BBOXX’s growth across Asia and Africa, where it currently operates in 12 countries. BBOXX also expects Mitsubishi’s “deep-rooted sector experience” to help with innovation-led development.

BBOXX CEO and co-founder Mansoor Hamayun said: “The funding is further evidence of Japanese interest in Africa and in PAYG solar energy globally. Mitsubishi Corporation’s extensive reach, sector specific and technological expertise will help us to reach more people without reliable access to modern utilities and services at even greater scale.

“We look forward to this next phase of growth that will help us to transform more lives, unlock potential and grow our already global footprint by opening up new markets and develop further our product range.

“Our Series D round is made up of investors spanning three continents and is a testament to how the global community is embracing sustainability. BBOXX provides the technology and the scalability that makes us a tool for development and brings us closer to meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

This recent investment follows a number of strategic partnerships and deals with BBOXX including a $31m investment from Africa Infrastructure Investment Managers in January 2019, as well as EDF purchasing a 50% stake in BBOXX Togo in 2018. /


Enel Green Power Chile begins construction of 382MW solar plant

/ Enel Green Power’s (EGP) subsidiary Enel Green Power Chile has started the construction of its new 382MW solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in the Atacama region.

The new solar plant, called Campos del Sol will cost $320m and is expected to become operational by the end of 2020.

Once fully operational, the facility is expected to generate approximately 1,160GWh of clean energy per year and will have the capacity to offset nearly 900,000t of carbon emissions.
Enel Green Power head Antonio Cammisecra said: “The start of construction of Campos del Sol marks a major milestone for Enel Green Power in Chile. By breaking ground at the country’s largest solar project, we are reinforcing our commitment to decarbonisation and once again confirming our leading role in the Chilean energy transition.

“The project’s sustainability focus, as well as innovative profile, are aimed at maximising shared returns for the Group and its stakeholders, in line with our strategy based on sustainability and innovation as key drivers for value creation.”

The company noted that the new facility will be equipped with one million bifacial PV panels, which have been designed to capture solar radiation from both sides of the panel.

Additionally, Campos del Sol will be built with advanced machinery, which will be controlled and guided by GPS technology. Worksite activities will be remotely monitored by an autonomous drone, which is expected to improve the plant’s construction process productivity.

Earlier this month its Brazilian subsidiary Enel Green Power Participações began construction on a new 133MW solar farm in São Gonçalo do Gurguéia. /