CPUC approves five new energy storage projects in California

/  US-based California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved five new energy storage projects totalling 83.5MW, as well as one demand response programme equalling 4.5MW.

Announced by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the approval of the energy storage projects will see the addition of Lithium-ion battery storage facilities in San Diego and south Orange counties.

SDG&E president Scott Drury said: “The approval marks yet another milestone in our journey to create a clean energy future for every family and business in southern California. These projects exemplify our commitment to expanding the use of innovative energy solutions such as battery storage and demand response to benefit customers and our communities.”

Other companies that have contracted with SDG&E for the development of these projects include Renewable Energy Systems (RES) America, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Fluence, Powin Energy, and Enel Green Power.

RES America will be engaged in developing a 30MW/120MWh Li-ion battery storage facility in San Diego, California, while Advanced Microgrid Solutions will be involved in the construction of a 4MW/16MWh Li-ion battery storage facility in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Both projects are expected to be completed by December next year.

Fluence will be responsible for constructing 40MW/160MWh Li-ion battery facility in Fallbrook, California, while Powin Energy will build a 6.5MW/26MWh Li-ion battery storage facility in Escondido, California.

Meanwhile, Enel Green Power will build a 3MW/12MWh Li-ion battery storage facility in Poway, California and OhmConnect is providing a demand response programme for the equivalent of 4.5MW. All of these projects are anticipated be completed in 2021.

San Diego Mayor Kevin L Faulconer said: “These innovative projects will create good-paying jobs and help expand the use of renewable energy. I look forward to seeing this project come online next year and continue our collective journey toward a cleaner and greener San Diego.”

By 2030, SDG&E aims to develop or interconnect more than 330MWs of energy storage and thus deliver more renewable power to its customers.  /


US coal and nuclear to receive White House support

/  US President Donald Trump has ordered financially unstable energy facilities to receive government support, following a series of coal and nuclear power plant closures.

In a plan to be overseen by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, measures would include grid operators buying electricity from struggling plants over the next two years, in a plan that relies on the powers given to the executive branch of the grid as part of the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act.

The proposed measure, known as a 202, had already been lobbied to the government by some coal and power companies, while some nuclear plants are seeking bailouts on the basis that they produce a form of clean energy.

Despite the confidential plan being only a draft paper and not publicly released, the White House issued a statement in response to news reports confirming that the US electricity grid is in jeopardy.

Impending fossil-fuel plant closures are causing the “rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix”, said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in the statement, adding that the shutdowns are damaging power grid resilience.

However, energy experts have warned that 202 is only a suitable option in the short term and should not be employed to try to permanently keep such plants afloat. Indeed, the attempt to continue the country’s use of and reliance on fossil fuels has sparked criticism amongst environmental groups, with some saying it is an illegal plan.

Others have raised fears that initiatives such as those already in place in the states of New York and Illinois will be replicated throughout the country.

These see the definition of clean power extended to include nuclear, thus making such plants eligible for subsidies, in a move that has divided green activists, as many support financial aid for renewable sources but argue nuclear does not have the same low-carbon attributes as wind or solar.

A statement issued by PJM Interconnection, the largest grid operator in the country, said there is “no immediate threat” to the system. It also states that there is ‘no need’ for such a move, labelling the federal intervention ‘drastic’ and potentially harmful to markets and ultimately consumers due to the likely side-effect of higher prices.

Conversely, the National Mining Association’s statement on the issue praised Trump’s decision, saying the protection of ‘reliable, affordable energy’ is imperative for the country’s future, and is an important issue to be considered by the administration.

The spate of plant shutdowns is partly due to coal and nuclear plants struggling to compete with natural gas and renewable energies. While greener electricity sources are gaining increasing traction in the country, fossil-fuel based plants are facing slowing demand.  /


UK Government to discuss new nuclear power station in Wales

/  Horizon Nuclear Power (HNP) is set to carry out formal negotiations with the UK Government for the new nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd site on the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales.

Discussions will focus on ensuring Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station represents good value for consumers.

HNP has also applied to the Planning Inspectorate for permission to build its project at Wylfa Newydd. As part of the application, HNP submitted Horizon’s Development Consent Order (DCO), comprising documents and drawings all specifying the nuclear power station and associated work the company wants to develop at the site.

Apart from the DCO, HNP also applied for a marine licence, operations combustion permit, operations water discharge permit and construction water discharge permit from Natural Resources Wales.

Now, the Planning Inspectorate will have 28 days to decide if the DCO meets the standards that will enable it to be accepted for examination.

Horizon Nuclear Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news for Anglesey, the nuclear industry, and Horizon, as well as a clear signal of the government’s commitment to delivering a low carbon future for the UK.

“Building on last year’s regulatory acceptance of our tried and tested reactor technology, it shows real momentum behind the project which will bring huge benefits everywhere from Anglesey to Wales, and the UK and Japan.

“Our focus now is to ensure we continue to deliver on our key project milestones as we move towards construction.”

HNP was established in 2009 for developing new nuclear power stations in the UK. It was acquired by Hitachi in November. The company aims to build new nuclear power generation plant at Wylfa and Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire that will have the capacity to produce at least 5,400MW of energy.

During the construction phase, the power station sites are expected to create employment opportunities and, once operational, up to 850 people will be employed at each station.  /


NV Energy to build 1GW renewable energy resources in US

/  US-based public utility NV Energy has been contracted to build more than 1GW renewable energy resources in Nevada, and is awaiting approval to build 100MW of battery energy capacity in the state.

The utility is planning to build three solar projects in northern Nevada and another three solar projects in southern Nevada. NV Energy plans to file this resource plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN).

NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill said: “The six new projects position NV Energy to keep its commitment to double renewable energy by 2023 and, importantly, by diversifying our state’s electricity generation portfolio, will reduce the costs to serve customers.

“We calculate that the direct investment in Nevada’s economy, which includes the cost of construction, will be greater than $2bn.”

The decision to develop six new solar energy projects and three related battery energy storage resources are said to be the result of competitive solicitation initiated by the company in January this year. All projects are expected to commence operations by the end of 2021.

NV Energy will add the six projects to its existing portfolio of 51 geothermal, solar, hydro, wind, biomass and supported rooftop solar projects.

With the addition of these projects, the company’s total renewable energy portfolio is expected to increase to more than 3.2GW in Nevada.  /


Dutch fishermen to protest wind farm plans

/  Upcoming demonstrations are planned in the Netherlands as fishermen will protest the Dutch government’s decision to construct further wind turbines in the North Sea.

The plans involve the instalment of three windfarms off the Noord-Holland coast and north of the Wadden Islands, sparking anger amongst the fishing community as they claim the turbines will disturb sea life in the area, and cause potentially permanent damage to fish and porpoise populations.

In response to the announcement, fishermen are planning to stage a protest this Saturday, with a number of vessels due to sail into Amsterdam’s central station before their occupants march to the capital’s Damrak canal. Here they are due to scatter bags of fish deemed too small to sell by the EU, which will then be covered in red dye.

The event is being organised by the action group Eendracht Maakt Kracht (EMK) – meaning Unity Brings Strength– which was formed two years ago by fishermen who were dissatisfied with the country’s two main unions.

EMK chairman Job Schot told The Guardian that, “the ramming of seabeds kills everything within 6km”, with the acoustic sound created by turbines “discourag[ing] fish” possibly permanently, and deafening porpoises which then die following their loss of hearing.

Additionally, the group claims that turbines will have taken over a quarter of Dutch fishing waters by 2025, making them inaccessible to larger fishing vessels.

The recent announcement comes in the wake of a spate of turbine construction plans, with five new windfarms recently approved by the Dutch Government which will collectively cost around €20bn (£17.5bn) to build. This is in addition to the much-anticipated island of turbines on Dogger Bank, a patch of fishing waters 78 miles from the east Yorkshire coast, which is used by Dutch, Danish and UK fishermen.

The construction frenzy is primarily driven by the necessity to stop gas extraction from the Groningen fields, located near Slochteren in the north-eastern part of the Netherlands, due to the increased force of earthquakes in the area.

It is also part of the Dutch Government’s attempts to make 40% of the total energy used in the country wind generated by 2030.

Currently, government officials are accused of rushing through wind energy developments without considering or investigating potential consequences on the sea life of the waters chosen.

Indeed, researchers have previously warned that the noise of constructing and operating the turbines, in addition to the electromagnetic fields around the transmission cables, does have an impact on sea life. However, others believe the new constructions will attract new species and could prove beneficial to the area’s ecology.  /


Department of Energy launches two new green initiatives

/  US Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette has announced the launch of two new clean energy initiatives to boost green energy adoption in the US.

At the ninth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM9) in Copenhagen, Denmark last week, Brouillette introduced the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future) and the Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) initiatives.

The NICE Future initiative, to be led by the US, Canada and Japan, is designed to showcase nuclear energy as a reliable and clean source of energy, looking in particular at nuclear-renewable systems. It also aims to draw focus on areas for development in the field, assess potential avenues for applications and to encourage international investment.

Other countries expected to participate in the scheme include South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, Poland, Argentina and Romania.

Similarly, the CCUS initiative will seek to support and accelerate existing CCUS projects such as those undertaken by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the IEA’s Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, Mission Innovation, and the Global CCS Institute.

The US, Saudi Arabia and Norway will lead the project, with international partners including Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and the UK.

Both schemes were initially proposed by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry at the 2017 CEM event in Beijing, China, while Brouillette’s announcement marks their implementation.

Brouillette said the launch “fulfills Secretary Perry’s vision to expand the spectrum of clean energy technologies”, and adds to global efforts to advance green strategies. It also emphasises the benefits of nuclear and carbon capture as technologies that can improve air quality.

Both CCUS and nuclear energy sources are perceived as integral to US plans to lower emissions without sacrificing economic growth or energy security.

Nuclear energy is the world’s second-largest source of low-carbon electricity following hydropower. It currently provides more than a third of global clean electricity and more than half of clean electricity in the US. Additionally, its power plants are the only baseload source of energy in the world that produces no air pollution.

The technologies are predicted to play a key role in global decarbonisation efforts, with nuclear set to make energy-intensive processes such as desalination, hydrogen production and energy storage carbon neutral.

Following the Paris Agreement, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and IEA predicted that CCUS would be essential to limiting global warming to 2˚C.  /


Self-healing cables could save Northern Powergrid £20m

/  Northern Powergrid, alongside Energy Innovation Centre and system developer Gnosys, has announced the success of its newly developed self-healing, fluid-filled power cables.

The new model not only decreases the electricity network’s environmental impact but could also save Northern Powergrid up to £20m over the next five years.

Titled the Fluid Cable Care project, the initiative seeks to tackle the environmental damage caused by fluid leakages from power cables. This is achieved by modifying the cable fluid to seal itself when exposed to air.

The new design uses a mixture of tung oil and metal soaps which cause the liquid to form a strong cohesive mass around the break, similar to blood forming a scab around a wound. The thickened liquid has been dubbed self-healing fluid (SHF).

Stage four of the research process is now complete, having demonstrated that self-healing cables are suitable for use in commercial, large-scale projects. The studies undertaken examined the capabilities of the SHF in batches of 50L, though the real-world deployments will see Northern Powergrid’s use of up to 20,000L.

Northern Powergrid head of innovation Iain Miller said the self-healing cables “have the potential to improve reliability and benefit the local environments”, saving money and time as resources can be spent on parts of the network other than cable repair and replacement.

In its current network, Northern Powergrid has approximately 930km of fluid-filled cables, including 33kV, 66kV and 132kV. The DNO has announced plans to incorporate the new self-healing cables across these sections later this year.

Energy Innovation Centre oversaw the project’s management, while Northern Powergrid and Gnosys carried out the research.

Fluid-filled power cables have been used in the UK’s electricity network since the 1960s. The fluid plays a key part in the insulation as it prevents voids from forming and ensures heat is transferred away from the conductor.

However, over time, the risk of leakages becomes higher, increasing the chance of damage to the cables’ surrounding environment.  /


Erda Energy’s new service will track carbon content of heat

/  Clean energy solutions provider Erda Energy has launched a new service for tracking the carbon content of various heating technologies in the UK. In addition to providing weekly updated analysis, the new service offers regular insight into the carbon content of the main current and future source of space heating using its own and third-party data.

Oxford University Department of Computer Science professor Alex Rogers said: “The calculation of carbon intensity is critical to the debate when it comes to making choices about our future energy mix.

“In power, those calculations are well established, are developing, and are helping to drive carbon reduction. It’s great to see the emergence of these calculations in the heat sector – a sector which desperately needs decarbonisation and clarity on which technologies achieve that.”

According to Erda Energy, calculating the carbon content for heat is more complicated when compared with power generation, as there is no ‘National Grid for Gas’ and neither total demand nor supply can be accurately measured.

In order to address these challenges, the company makes use of live data from its own system, Elexon, and research by the Carbon Trust and Northern Gas Networks.

Coaxial inclined borehole technology is used to connect the energies created in heating and cooling processes in the earth and in turn feeding the information back into a building in real-time, or storing them for later use. The resulting closed loop system provides heating, cooling and storage of energy in a better way.

Erda Energy managing director Kevin Stickney said: “The current low/no-carbon heating debate centres on the hydrogen versus electrification question. It’s an important debate but so far the one that has precious little hard data behind it.

“It’s not easy to do, but this new service is our contribution to a transparent conversation. The simple fact of the matter is, we have existing electric technologies today that offer a credible path to zero-carbon and we can’t afford to wait."  /