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Dienstag, 31. Januar 2017

Trump’s orders spell winds of change for automakers to renewable energy

Trump’s orders spell winds of change for automakers to renewable energy

It’s been just 11 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated in the US and so far the new president seems set on solidifying the promises he made during his campaign, including some that would impact climate and energy.
The 1,000-mile long wall that Trump intends to build between the US and Mexico would release as much as 1.9m tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if it were to be built out of concrete, according to an estimate from Columbia University. Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday to direct the construction of such a wall and to boost the number of patrol forces along it.
Meanwhile, another executive order signed over the weekend to halt immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries could have an impact on companies from General Electric to General Motors – both of which employ immigrants from the nations affected. “We have many employees from the named countries and we do business all over the region,” said Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, in an internal email. GE is one of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers and in 2015 almost 14% of its revenue came from the Middle East and Africa, according to Bloomberg data. GM, maker of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and Volt plug-in hybrid, has vast manufacturing operations in Michigan – a state with a substantial Muslim population.
Trump is also likely to follow through on his intention to pull the US out of the landmark climate pact signed by more than 190 nations in Paris in December 2015, according to Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team. “President Trump made it clear he would withdraw from the deal,” Ebell said during a press conference in London yesterday. As the world’s richest nation and second largest polluter, US participation in the accord is fundamental to limiting global warming, say climate researchers.
One area that might survive Trump’s protectionist stance is the gas export market between the US and Mexico, according to asset manager ING Groep and Pira Energy Group. Pipeline deliveries of natural gas from the US to Mexico have more than doubled in the past two years, in response to declining oil and gas production in the latter and a supply glut in the former. The market supports jobs in the US and provides Mexico with cheap fuel and so may avert any interventionist measures, say the companies.
In California, large battery storage plants are moving in on the traditional role of natural gas to provide electricity to the grid during peak hours of demand. Three large plants – built by Tesla Motors, AES and Altagas – will go live in southern California this week in order to fill the power glut caused by the natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles, which was subsequently shut down. The leak emitted 109,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere and led to the displacement of thousands of local residents. The battery storage projects have all been completed within six months and will alleviate the risk of winter blackouts.
On the US east coast, the country’s largest offshore wind farm received approval last week, a key milestone on the way to its deployment in waters off Long Island. The 90MW project will generate enough electricity to power 50, 000 homes and is the first step towards New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal to develop 2.4GW of offshore wind by 2030.
In Europe, the offshore wind industry will install more than 3.5GW of capacity this year, according to a forecast by the WindEurope industry group. Germany and the UK will be market leaders – installing more than 1.6GW each, while Belgium will add 165MW and Denmark 23MW. This will add to the continent’s current capacity of 12.6GW of offshore wind.
The market for offshore wind in Polish waters and elsewhere in the Baltic Sea also looks promising, according to a BNEF Research Note that sees a current unfinanced pipeline of as much as 2.5GW. The Baltic region has so far been behind in developing offshore wind due to a lack of supportive policy, low power prices and a ready supply of hydro-electric and nuclear power. Nevertheless, Poland has an auction on the cards for 2017 and at least 200MW of capacity could be commissioned in the country by 2022, the note says.
Taiwan’s market for offshore wind is also heating up following news last week that Dong Energy and Macquarie Capital had both bought stakes in the country’s first commercial-scale offshore project – the 128MW Formosa I wind farm. Macquarie now owns half the project, Dong Energy holds 35% and the initial developer -- Swancor Renewable – holds the remainder. Formosa I is expected to be fully built in 2019, subject to a final investment decision.

Quelle: Bloomberg

Giant wind turbine sets record for wind energy generated in 24 hours

Giant wind turbine sets record for wind energy generated in 24 hours

January 30, 2017
Wind turbine designers have been working on bringing a 10 MW turbine to market for years. They're close. We've seen prototypes and know that it won't be very long before these next generation turbines are producing clean energy around the world.
Proof of that comes from a new world record for wind power generated by a single wind turbine in a 24-hour period. The new V164 9 MW turbine from Danish company MHI Vestas Offshore Wind produced an amazing 216,000 kWh on December 1, 2016. The turbine was installed at a testing site near Østerild, Denmark.
The 9 MW V164 turbine is a tweaked and upgraded version of the 8 MW V164 that was developed in 2012. The V164 has been the most powerful wind turbine to date, holding the previous wind energy generation record before its upgrade. It stands 722 feet high and has blades that are 263 feet long. This giant has a sweep area larger than the London Eye.
Why this constant push towards larger wind turbines? The larger the turbine, the larger the power output, which makes offshore wind farms exponentially more efficient and brings down the cost of installation, maintenance and electricity, too.
The V164 has a 25-year life span and 80 percent of the turbine can be recycled when its job is done. It can produce electricity at minimum wind speeds of 9 mph with the optimal wind speed being between 27 and 56 mph, conditions that are typical in the rough North Sea where the turbine is destined to reside.
The turbine has been selected for the 370 MW Norther offshore wind park off the coast of Zeebrugge, Belgium. The project will generate enough electricity to cover the energy needs of 400,000 Belgian households when it's completed in 2019.

Photovoltaik-Zubau erreicht fast 450 Megawatt im Dezember

Photovoltaik-Zubau erreicht fast 450 Megawatt im Dezember

31. Januar 2017 | Hintergrund, Politik und Gesellschaft, Märkte und Trends, Topnews
Damit bleiben die Einspeisetarife und Erlöse aus der Direktvermarktung für kleine Photovoltaik-Anlagen weiterhin konstant. Der Photovoltaik-Zubau in Deutschland belief sich im vergangenen Jahr auf gut 1500 Megawatt und lag damit etwa auf dem Niveau von 2015.

Im Dezember lag die bei der Bundesnetzagentur gemeldete Leistung neuer Photovoltaik-Anlagen bei leicht über 441 Megawatt. Das Gros leisteten dabei kleinere Photovoltaik-Anlagen. Der Zubauwert der im Anlagenregister enthaltenen Photovoltaik-Freiflächenanlagen habe sich auf 64,57 Megawatt belaufen, so die Bonner Behörde weiter. Diese verteilen sich auf 14 neue Solarparks, die vornehmlich aus den Ausschreibungen stammen und im Laufe des Dezembers realisiert worden sind. Im Melderegister sind dagegen 3565 neue Photovoltaik-Anlagen verzeichnet mit einer Gesamtleistung von 376,45 Megawatt. Tatsächlich im Dezember in Betrieb genommen sind davon 2141 Anlagen mit knapp 334,8 Megawatt.

Für 2016 beträgt der Photovoltaik-Zubau in Deutschland nach den gemeldeten Zahlen der Bundesnetzagentur damit etwa 1524,5 Megawatt. Dies entspricht in etwa der neu installierten Photovoltaik-Leistung von 2014 – liegt dank der Jahresendrallye sogar leicht darüber. Mit dem EEG 2017 ist ein neuer Degressionsmechanismus eingeführt worden. Es soll schneller auf ein Unter- oder Überschreiten des politisch gewollten Zielkorridors von 2,5 Gigawatt Photovoltaik-Zubau jährlich reagiert werden. Im Fall der ersten Festlegung zählten die gemeldeten Zahlen aus dem zweiten Halbjahr 2016. Diese summierten sich auf 1012,6 Megawatt – hochgerechnet auf das Gesamtjahr damit gut zwei Gigawatt. Damit bleiben die Einspeisetarife für Photovoltaik-Anlagen bis 750 Kilowatt Leistung und die Erlösobergrenze bei der Direktvermarktung weiter auf dem Niveau von September 2015. Zuvor war über eine mögliche Erhöhung der Solarförderung spekuliert worden. Mit der starken Nachfrage im Dezember wird diese nun nicht kommen.

Bis Ende April gilt damit weiterhin eine Einspeisevergütung für Anlagen auf Wohngebäuden und Lärmschutzwänden bis 100 Kilowatt je nach Größe zwischen 10,69 und 12,30 Cent pro Kilowattstunde. Die Vergütung für Solarstrom sonstiger Anlagen liegt weiterhin bei 8,51 Cent. Für die Direktvermarktung bleiben die Erlösobergrenzen bis Ende April bei 8,91 bis 12,70 Cent pro Kilowattstunde. (Sandra Enkhardt)

EU Member States' Reject Solar Trade Duties

EU Member States' Reject Solar Trade Duties

1/26/17, 5:15 PM -
Today in a meeting of the EU Member States trade experts, the European Commission's proposal to extend trade measures on solar panels and cells imported from China, Taiwan and Malaysia was defeated. 
The EU member states decided to remove the trade sanctions against Chinese, Taiwanse and Malaysian solar imports - now the Commission has to adapt their proposals.
More than half the Member States of the EU voted against extending the measures and instead for the first time in history the proposal of the Commission is subject to an appeal from the Member States. This process, whilst never used before, is likely to put increased pressure on DG Trade to change their position.

Hope that the Commission will review their proposal

Oliver Schaefer, President of SolarPower Europe stated 'We have been campaigning for the end of these trade measures for the last 18 months, and are pleased that the Member States have sent a strong rebuke to DG Trade for not taking account of the interests of the European solar industry. We hope that the Commission will now review their proposal and through the appeal process substantially revise their approach.'

DG Trade has to considerate solar jobs

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented 'We must thank all the European solar associations, who took part in achieving this historic result. This decision of the Member States reminds DG Trade that they must be more considerate of the solar jobs and investments that they have threatened across the EU with a proposal to extend these measures.'

Solarpower Europe cooperates with Member States

Kristina Thoring, Political Communications Advisor added 'We will now work with the Member States to find a suitable compromise to remove the measures as soon as possible, so that we can have a dynamic and growing solar sector in Europe once again.'
The European Commission must now consider what changes they need to make to their proposal before facing another vote by the Member States in a couple of weeks. (HCN)

Turkey's solar growth continues despite challenging requirements on recent tender'

Turkey's solar growth continues despite challenging requirements on recent tender'

1/26/17, 2:45 PM -
The bureaucratic framework for PV project development in Turkey is challenging according to Lara Hayim, Solar Analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Thus there is only limited interest in a running auction for a 1 GW PV site, she says in an exclusive contribution for pv Europe.
Lara Hayim works as Solar Analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in London.
“Turkey's PV market has grown rapidly in the last couple of years. Latest official figures suggest that the total installed capacity reached 833 MW at the end of 2016 from below 100 MW in 2014. We expect this momentum to build up in 2017 and expect over 1GW of capacity to be connected. It is worth noting that the driver behind this growth is mainly the unlicensed segment which was initially designed to stimulate the sub 1 MW projects built for self-consumption. Despite its purpose, developers have found loopholes through which they can surpass the requirements around maximum capacity and on-site consumption which led to Turkey’s solar boom.

Tightened unlicensed regulations

In response to the flurry of activity in the sub 1 MW segment, the government tightened the unlicensed regulations in March 2016 which will put a dent in the new applications. There is, however, enough stock of approved projects for the boom to continue from this segment for the next couple of years. In the meantime, the government has been trying to gear up the licensed sector to take over the growth of the sector.

High contribution fees for developers

Turkey’s first auction announced in 2013 for 600 MW was over-subscribed 15-fold however only 13 MW of this has been commissioned so far. The rate at which these projects come online have been hampered by the high contribution fees that the developers had to pay which were as high as $1/W in some instances. Many of these projects will be financially unfeasible due to these fees however the recent reduction in module costs might mean that some projects still pull through. Even then, we expect only a small proportion of the 600MW to come online in the next few years.

High investment hurdles

Given the limited success of the first auction, stakes were high for the second one which was announced for a 1 GW site at the end of 2016. This time, the government tried to use investors’ appetite to develop projects in Turkey as a hook to build local PV manufacturing capacity. Amongst others, the conditions include building an R&D centre focusing on PV production technology and a manufacturing facility with 500 MW capacity that covers all stages apart from polysilicon production. These are challenging requirements to meet, especially considering the ceiling price of $ 80/MWh that developers will only be able to claim for 11-12 years. We therefore expect limited interest in the auction and it is unlikely to replicate the record prices we saw in places like Dubai and Chile." (HCN)

Sonnen with new business model - 2,200 kWh yearly for free

Sonnen with new business model - 2,200 kWh yearly for free

1/27/17, 2:40 PM -
Battery manufacturer Sonnen is gradually transforming his business model. In the end, the company plans to offer only service services. That would be a transformation towards a modern energy supplier. The company has now taken another step.
This is the Sonnen community in Berlin-Mitte.
Until now, the use of a house storage was coupled with the presence of a separate photovoltaic system or a different energy source. The community of the 5,000 members of the battery manufacturer Sonnen is now to be expanded: Even people in the city can get some free electricity from the community without their own green electricity system. Prerequisite: You own an apartment, so it is not for the time being tenants. Approximately 16,000 battery storage units from the company Sonnen supply 60,000 people worldwide with green electricity. "By the end of the year the number is to grow to 180,000 people," says Philipp Schröder, Sales Director at Sonnen.

New Sonnenbatterie City

How does the new model work? The new Sonnenbatterie City, for example, is installed directly in the apartment. Residents of the home receive an annual guaranteed electricity supply of 2,200 kilowatt hours for the next ten years. To this end, Sonnen is taking further savings of around 300 kilowatt hours, which are saved by the intelligent energy manager in the battery. "The new battery storage for the city costs 3,999 euros, including VAT," proclaims Schröder. Added to this is a monthly fee of 19.90 euros. The offer is, however, capped to 5,000 units. For each kilowatt hour, which exceeds the free quota, the member costs 23 cents, this price is not guaranteed.

Digitally networked power community

The highlight is that its own photovoltaic system is no longer required for electricity generation - the community takes this task, a digitally networked community of producers and consumers of renewable energies. These include, for example, single-family houses with a solar power system, solar outdoor areas, wind power plants, as well as smaller biogas plants and now also residential owners. The community supplies its members with electricity, surpluses are stored in the battery. If, in return, more is consumed than produced, the household draws the electricity directly from the battery. The Sonnenbox-Flat, an intelligent counter, forms the bridge between the battery and the control room.

2,200 kilowatt hours for free

The battery system from Sonnen also fulfills a second function: it supplies control energy from a pool of thousands of batteries, which are digitally interlinked. This will compensate for fluctuations in the electricity grid. If there is too much electricity in the electricity network, because a storm is causing a lot of wind current, it can absorb excess current. If there is too little current, it can send it back in time. The sale of control energy thus ensures that the members of the community receive yearly 2,200 kilowatt hours of electricity for free. (NHP/HCN)

Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm Will Help Power Amazon Operations

Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm Will Help Power Amazon Operations

Amazon Web Services will purchase power from what will be Virginia’s largest solar farm to power the company’s data centers.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week announced that Community Energy Solar will build the 100-MW project, which will be located in south east Virginia in Southampton County.
“Once complete, the new Southampton facility will be the largest solar farm ever constructed in Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a Jan. 25 statement. “The pace of solar deployment has increased exponentially in recent years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With projects like this, we’re building both the new Virginia economy and a better future for our children.”
Amazon also holds a power purchase agreement for the 80-MW Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East — a Community Energy project — in Accomack County on the Delmarva Peninsula

“Amazon Web Services’ leadership and continued commitment to large scale solar energy is a key catalyst for this exciting new industry in Virginia.” Brent Beerley, executive vice president of Community Energy Solar, said in a statement. “Community Energy Solar is thrilled to join forces again with partners AWS and Dominion for this second project, following the path created with Virginia’s first large-scale solar farm.”
Lead image: The 80-MW Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East. Credit: Community Energy

Solar Outlook 2017: The Global Market Marches On

Solar Outlook 2017: The Global Market Marches On

According to most analysts 2016 will shake out to be a very good year for solar in terms of deployment and expansion. Installed capacity worldwide will most likely top 70 GW.
In 2016 PV module prices dropped again mostly due a glut of Chinese made modules that entered the market unexpectedly. According to a recent U.S. DOE SunShot report, analysts have reported modules quotes between $.40 and $.50 per watt and some in the industry have seen quotes below $.40 for 2017 delivery. 2016 also saw record low tenders for projects in India, Dubai and Chile.
“Solar has moved to a point where its competitive with traditional other power options,” said Brian Carey, US Cleantech Advisory Leader at PwC in an interview.
David Feldman, Senior Financial Analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), said that he wouldn’t be surprised if 2017 was a good year, given the fact that panel prices are dropping so rapidly and people are pushing for aggressive costs.
“I could see that translating into very low system prices,” he said adding “if you think about the fact that solar is locking in electricity for the next 20-30 years it looks very competitive to other sources of generation in the long term.”
Analysts interviewed by Renewable Energy World favored India as the top market for growth in 2017. The U.S. came in second followed by Africa, the Middle East and China and Mexico, which are all viewed a growth markets for 2017. Japan, Germany, Australia, and the UK will likely stay flat or contract in 2017 according to the analysts.
 “The U.S. has moved into one of the top positions in terms of leaders in the industry but there are a lot of other countries that are ahead of the U.S. both in terms of total cumulative installed capacity and also annual installations,” said Feldman.
Growth in India and China is being fueled by the government’s desire to expand solar capacity in the country. In fact, according to SPV Chief Market Research Analyst Paula Mints all solar growth is “either government funded, subsidized, incentivized or mandated.” (See sidebar, Debt-fueled Growth)
“India is government mandated growth and developers are shoving everything they can into the ground,” said Paula Mints, Chief Market Research Analyst with SPV Market Research.
Project Sizes
Looking at the solar market a different way, analysts expect to see utility-scale projects dominate the PV market with the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector coming in at a close second. Uncertainty around net-metering means that sector will grow the least amount, according to analysts. Although residential will still be a growth sector overall.
 “The residential market is the US, EU, Japan, Australia and that’s it,” said Mints, adding “In the U.S. I think that net-metering changes have cast a pall on the residential market so it has slowed significantly.”
NREL’s Feldman agrees. “I think the biggest threat to further solar deployment is at the distributed level and has to do with state laws dealing with net metering,” he said in an interview.
Most analysts aren’t expecting a new or groundbreaking solar technology to hit the market in 2017. Instead module makers are upping their timelines for improved module efficiency to offer advanced technology that can deliver in this low-pricing environment.
“Because of the rapid reduction in pricing, companies have started to significantly push their roadmaps forward, said Feldman. Indeed, First Solar announced in November that it was scrapping production of its Series 5 modules and will spend 2017 focusing on manufacturing the Series 6 – its most efficient module yet.
In addition, in 2017, utilities and companies will continue to explore how they can improve the economics of solar through grid enhancements.
“I don't think it’s going to be next year but in the next 10 years there is going to be an emphasis on demand response/battery management,” said Feldman. He expects to see more integrated technologies that are going to work alongside PV and believes there will be more implementation of these types of solutions globally in 2017.
“It’s not going to take over but it will be a nice new thing that PV can provide,” he said, adding that certain markets with high-penetration of solar such as Europe, Japan, California and Hawaii will more proactively explore these new services that PV could provide.
While in the U.S. the Trump administration will mostly likely undo the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, all signs indicate that most other countries will stand firm in their commitment to it, and that could be a good thing for solar, said Feldman.
“Solar is one of the best options for that for carbon reduction in certain places,” he said.
Even in the U.S. analysts are not overly concerned that a new president could stop the growth of solar at least not for 2017. The Clean Power Plan is one regulation that is on the chopping block but that wasn’t supposed to go into effect until 2020.
“I think the train has already left the station,” said PwC’s Carey, adding “the market is moving forward.”
Could the new administration remove tax favorable clean energy tax credits? Yes, but since they were enacted by congress, it would take another act of congress to undo them, something Feldman doesn’t see likely to happen. In fact, there is some thought that the threat of possible near-term changes to tax credits or depreciation could add some urgency to solar development in the U.S. — that very same urgency that was lessened a bit when the tax credit extension was passed late in 2015.
“One could imagine that it might shorten people’s timelines,” said Feldman.
Corporate Commitments
Carey pointed out two important recent trends that could lead to significant clean energy growth in 2017. The first is that the number of infrastructure firms investing in renewables has increased.  PwC noted that more than more than half of the large infrastructure funds allocated money to renewable energy in Q1 of 2016. He said 69 percent of the funds invested in energy overall and 52 percent invested in renewables.  According to Carey there is more than $100B in money that has been raised but not allocated yet and that is an “all-time high.”
“We can expect to see a lot of that going into renewables,” he said.
The second major trend is corporate commitment to renewable energy. In late 2016, Google announced that it would be powered 100 percent by renewables in 2017. According to the RE100, 82 other companies have made that same commitment so far. These are global companies from Europe, the U.S., India, China, and the UK.

Debt-Fueled Growth
According to Paula Mints, Chief Market Research Analyst with SPV Market Research, if you sit down and think about the way solar is operating, the unprofitability up and down the supply chain, it will make your head explode.
“Nobody is making money,” she said.
Mints is concerned that the solar industry is unsustainable because the whole industry is supported by government incentives or mandates and that is partly to blame for companies underbidding on projects.
“The only way it’s being able to operate this way is because of government funding, which by the way, is the same for conventional energy,” she pointed out in an interview.
Her big concern is what happens when governments decide to step away.
“At some point the Chinese government might just say ‘forget it, that’s it,’” she said, which is what happened when the FIT dropped in China over the summer and module prices began their downward spiral.
“It’s a shame that our expectation about any good is that it is going to get ever cheaper. While it’s true that most goods do become more affordable with time, they have to be affordable with a margin for an industry to be sustainable or you see companies just getting out of the business because it doesn’t pay.”

Yorkshire, England Village Starts Solar Battery Trial

Yorkshire, England Village Starts Solar Battery Trial

There’s been much written about solar PV storage in recent months. Tesla and Elon Musk are working hard to develop it and other renewable companies, including British-born ones, are beginning to follow suit. The equation is fairly simple — if we can store energy for when the sun isn’t shining, then solar becomes a whole lot more viable.
Actually, developing storage devices for electricity has the potential for a much wider impact than just for renewables like solar. It could literally transform the way we manage energy across the world.
Oxspring is a leafy village in the heart of South Yorkshire and it’s now being used for an experiment with homegrown battery technology. Towards the end of January, a row of bungalows with their solar panels will be given storage batteries that have been developed by British energy storage company Moixa.
The company has invested £250,000 (US$313,000) into the project to find out how their batteries perform in unison, in part to counter the increasing problem of pushing power from solar panels to the grid. The introduction of batteries may be used in the future not just to provide independent storage for homeowners but to prevent ‘bottlenecks’ on the power network from independent suppliers.
This development and others in the UK follows on from the rise in sales of Tesla’s Powerwall over the last 12 months and the fact that people are very interested in installing storage technology. There are now over 800,000 solar arrays installed on homes across the UK and the number is increasing despite the cut in Feed in Tariffs at the beginning of last year.
Storage presents a real opportunity for home owners and businesses to get more value out of their solar panels. What is less known is the challenge that increasing solarization is putting on the National Grid. Batteries could also give owners a chance to produce electricity at a time when it is at its cheapest and store it for when it is most expensive.
Power storage doesn’t just have a potential for solar and other renewables that have times when they are not producing electricity. Powervault recently started a trial by installing batteries in 60 homes, using them as a collective to store energy from solar which can then be released at peak periods.
Meanwhile, battery technology continues to develop, and it’s only going to get better. Tesla is currently increasing the capacity of its existing batteries, which means they will be capable of storing more electricity.
Developments in battery technology could have the capacity to totally alter the way we manage our power, and British storage companies are now starting to compete and improve their devices. In the future, every home could have a power storage system whether they have a renewable technology or not. According to Powervault: “National Grid spends about £1bn a year balancing demand and supply of energy. Currently they pay that money largely to big power stations but in the future we’ll move to a scenario where it also goes to a collective of batteries.”
Lead image credit: Elliott Brown | Flickr

Biggest Indian Solar Project Stalls

Biggest Indian Solar Project Stalls

India’s biggest solar power project has stalled as the state which sought bids from generators says it can’t buy the energy at prices it had agreed upon.
Winning developers in India’s Jharkhand state are still waiting to sign power purchase agreements almost a year after the tender. In March, Jharkhand awarded contracts to build 1.2 GW of solar. The state’s power retailer, Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd., was supposed to sign the power purchase agreements in May 2016.
“We have asked for financial assistance of a few hundred crore (a few billion) rupees from the state’s finance department and are awaiting their response," said R.K. Srivastava, chief secretary of the energy department in the state of Jharkhand.
The delay underscores the threat from financially strapped state power retailers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious renewable energy goals. State-owned power retailers in India had combined losses of 3.84 trillion rupees ($57 billion) as of March 2015, according to a report by KPMG.
Jharkhand Bijli’s managing director, Rahul Kumar Purwar, couldn’t be reached for comment.
ReNew Power Ventures Pvt., which is majority owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., scooped up 522 MW in the March auction. ReNew’s other investors include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Global Environment Fund.
Other winners included Suzlon Energy Ltd., OPG Power Ventures Plc, Acme Group, Adani Enterprises Ltd. and SunEdison Inc.
A Suzlon spokesperson was unavailable for comment. An e-mail sent to the Adani Group wasn’t returned. OPG Power executives couldn’t be reached. In an e-mail, ReNew Power executives declined to comment.
Solar Auction
How much of the solar capacity awarded in March’s tender eventually gets built depends on whether the government provides the backing, Srivastava said.
Tariffs awarded in the auction ranged from 5.08 rupees ($0.08) to 7.90 rupees per kilowatt-hour depending on the size of the project, all of which were supposed to become operational between May and November this year.
“There is a huge difference between the average tariff of nearly 4.3 rupees a unit, at which the discom buys power, and the rates quoted for solar energy in the auction last year," Srivastava said in a phone interview, referring to the term used to identify electricity distribution companies in India.
The poor financial health of the country’s power retailers has been identified as one of the biggest hurdles to Modi’s climate pledge to install 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022.
Those losses mean discoms can’t buy more electricity to satisfy expected demand whether clean or conventional, nor can they add more customers. That ultimately leaves latent power demand unmet.
Several domestic and overseas clean-energy companies have said they haven’t received payments for the electricity they generate for more than 10 months, racking up deficits of several hundred million dollars that may put the country’s green power ambitions at risk.
Jharkhand’s state discom has liabilities of 64 billion rupees, according to government data.
As marquee investors find themselves at risk, the central government has asked for a quick resolution of the matter.
The government faces embarrassment should the situation in Jharkhand not be resolved, according to a senior official at the ministry of new and renewable energy who requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak to the media. The ministry has asked the state to resolve the matter, the official added.
©2017 Bloomberg News
Lead image credit: Mountain/Ash | Flickr

The Big $55M Drop-in Military Biofuels Op

The Big $55M Drop-in Military Biofuels Op

In Washington D.C., the Office of the Secretary of Defense announced a $55-million funding opportunity for a 10 million gallon biorefinery capable of producing advanced drop-in bio-equivalent fuels suitable for military use. Proposals may take the form of either brown field expansion/modification of existing pilot-scale facilities, commercial-scale facilities, or new green field construction. Attention will be paid to enhancing merchant supplier capabilities in order to effectively serve the broad Department of Defense (DoD) and non-DoD communities.
This Title III project is aiming at “a complete value chain including feedstock production, chemical conversion and processing, and fuels blending, transportation and logistics.”

The Time and the Money

There will be just the one award, and the expected project would come in at $110 million. There would be up to a $55 million government share plus $55 million recipient share.
Projects will be executed in two phases. The government will provide up to $8 million (plus Recipient share) for phase one. The government will provide up to $47 million (plus Recipient share) for phase two. Selected awardees will be required to share at least 50 percent of the total project cost.
The anticipated period of performance for this award is 66 months total, including 30 months for phase one (planning, preliminary design and financial close), followed by up to 36 months for phase two (construction, commissioning and performance testing).

It’s New Money, Sort Of

Buried on page sixe of the complete solicitation is this gem:

Fiscal year 2013? Fiscal year 2016? What is going on here? Yes, it’s the original $55 million that was held back in case Nature’s Bioreserve was able to put a feasible project together, which doesn’t appear to have happened. As we reported in September 2014, “Nature’s BioReserve was also awarded a phase one grant to complete more extensive engineering and plans in support of a commercial-scale project.” But they just never got to Ready-for-Prime-Time status.
Originally, Nature’s Bioreserve back in the dawn of history, also known as 2010, was a beef tallow biodiesel plant targeted for South Sioux City, Nebraska, with a capacity of up to 60 million gallons — ultimately repurposed conceptually for military biofuels.

Let’s Rewind Briefly

Back in 2014, the DoD awarded $210 million under the Defense Production Act to Emerald Biofuels, Fulcrum BioEnergy and Red Rock Bio towards the construction of biorefineries that produce cost-competitive, drop-in military biofuels. Under the grants, the companies will build biorefineries to produce military spec fuel that is expected to cost the U.S. military, on a weighted average, less than $3.50 per gallon — or cost competitive with petroleum-based fuels, with availability expected as soon as 2016, and have a 50 percent or greater reduction of emissions compared to conventional fuels.
Where are those other three? There’s chat going around in Washington D.C. that Fulcrum is on the verge of closing its long-sought financing. We expect that Red Rock is still on track to close financing this year.  But it is something that the DPA Title III office needs to look into, in terms of how they have structured this approach to defense production. Imagine waiting around for, hmm, atomic weapons in 1945 because the government messed up the structure of the Manhattan Project’s financing. We know it’s tough to finance bioenergy projects, that’s why the DPA Title III Office is involved in the first place — and the cavalry is supposed to get through.
Emerald, we’re not quite so sure of. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen anyone from that project team at an industry gathering. We’ve heard that ultimately that project will a) reach fruition or b) the dollars could be reallocated to another deserving project.

If Cost-competitive, the Government is a Customer

The DoD has indicated “that it intends to purchase biofuel blends that meet approved specifications…[importantly], cost competitiveness of the biofuel with conventional petroleum derived fuels is a primary DoD objective.”

Must Be Blendable

The Air Force, which is overseeing the bid, requires that “the total enterprise envisioned in this effort must include a capability to blend the neat biofuel product with petroleum-based equivalent fuels, if required in order to meet approved certifications and specifications, and thus furnish a ready for use, drop-in biofuel blend. Capabilities and/or facilities to store and transport the resulting product must also be an element of the project.”

Meets Military Specifications

The targeted fuels will be for military operational use, and as such, must be either currently approved/certified or are likely to be approved and certified MILSPEC JP-5, MILSPEC JP-8, approved for U.S. military use ASTM D1655 / D7566 Jet A/A1 and/or MILSPEC F-76 equivalents by the time a commercial-scale IBPE would become operational.

Your Trump Card: Made in the USA (or, psst!, Canada)

As defined in the Defense Production Act of 1950 a domestic production source is: “A business concern that performs in the United States or Canada substantially all of the research and development, engineering, manufacturing, and production activities required of such business concern under a contract with the United States relating to a critical component or a critical technology item.”

The Defense Production Act Backstory

Title III of the Defense Production Act provides unique authorities, under which the government may provide appropriate incentives to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore the productive capacities of domestic production sources for critical components, critical technology items, and industrial resources essential for the execution of the national security strategy of the U.S. The principal objective of all DPA Title III investments is to strengthen and expand these domestic productive capacities and to ensure government access to critical technology items well into the future.

The Dates to Know

The “Intent to Propose”: April 27, 2017.
Proposal Due Date: May 25, 2017.
Anticipated award date: December 4, 2017.
This article was originally published by Biofuels Digest and was republished with permission.
Lead image credit: DVIDSHUB | Flickr