The U.S. Department of the Interior said the nation has permitted 25 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy projects on public lands, surpassing its 2025 goal as solar, wind and geothermal projects progress alongside generation interconnect (gen-tie) lines connecting projects to the grid.

The milestone, announced April 11, came as the Biden administration pushes forward with efforts to decarbonize the U.S. power grid by 2035 by incorporating more renewable energy into the power mix. The 25 GW of energy permitted is enough to power more than 12 million homes, according to the Interior Department.

“These projects are helping advance the president’s efforts to modernize our electric grid, create good paying jobs and build a clean energy economy that will combat the climate crisis and make our communities more resilient,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on a call with journalists.

She added that many more proposed projects are in the queue and expressed confidence in continuing the momentum.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also announced the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in California are fully operational. Combined, the projects add 465 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the grid.

BLM said it is currently processing permits for an additional 66 utility-scale clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western U.S. The projects are expected to add 32 more GW of renewable energy to the electric grid in the western U.S.

The regulator’s renewable energy rule, which aims to encourage additional development of solar and wind energy on public lands, also has been finalized. The rule will reduce capacity fees for the renewable energy projects by 80% and streamline application review to aid development in priority areas.


DG Fuels Selects Johnson Matthey, BP Technology for SAF Facility

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of April 12, 2024)
Proposed DG Fuels plant in Louisiana (Source: DG Fuels/Johnson Matthey)

DG Fuels, which has proposed building a $4 billion sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility in Louisiana, has selected Fischer Tropsch CANS technology co-developed by Johnson Matthey and BP for the project.

The fuels company plans to convert sugar cane waste into about 600,000 metric tons (mt) of SAF annually. Johnson Matthey and BP’s technologyconverts synthesis gas derived from the sugar cane waste biomass to synthetic crude, according to an April 10 news release. That will be processed to produce synthetic kerosene, which is then blended with conventional jet fuel to make SAF. Johnson Matthey said the plant would mark the largest deployment of the technology.

“The size of this project is truly exciting and would help take the industry closer to wide-scale use of SAF,” said Maurits van Tol, chief executive for catalyst technologies at Johnson Matthey. “DG Fuels has ambitious plans and the fact it has secured agreements with major airlines demonstrates there is appetite in the market.”

Those agreements include deals with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines along with a strategic partnership with Airbus.

DG Fuels anticipates starting production in 2028. The facility would have a capacity of 13,000 bbl/d of SAF, which Johnson said is enough SAF for more than 30,000 transatlantic flights annually.

Strategic Biofuels Secures Investment from Japan-based Consortium

Strategic Biofuels secured an investment commitment from Magnolia Sustainable Energy Partners, a Japan-based investment consortium created by Sumitomo Corp. of Americas and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Corp., according to an April 9 news release.

The biofuels company is developing the Louisiana Green Fuels project, which will produce SAF in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana. The plant will convert forestry waste into SAF. The project also involves capturing and storing CO2 onsite from the project’s power plant and biorefinery, the company said in the release.

Strategic Biofuels said it plans to use the investment to advance the project. In addition to the financial commitment, the company said JX Nippon will contribute its carbon capture and sequestration expertise to the project.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2025.

Chevron, Brightmark JV Opens RNG Facility in Arizona

Brightmark RNG Holdings, a joint venture (JV) between Chevron USA Inc. and Brightmark Fund Holdings, has opened its Eloy Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) center.

Using anaerobic digesters, Eloy RNG will capture methane from dairy operations at the Caballero Dairy farm in Arizona and turn it into pipeline-quality fuel, Brightmark said April 10.

“The Eloy circularity center’s beauty resides in its use of technology based on ambient temperature with the Arizona heat,” said Brightmark LLC CEO Bob Powell. “It presents an excellent opportunity for RNG to be generated in higher amounts, promoting lower-carbon intensity solutions.”

RNG is formed when contaminants such as CO2, water and hydrogen sulfide are removed from methane to elevate the gas into pipeline quality. RNG can be used in the same ways as fossil gas but it has a much lower carbon intensity.

The facility, the JV’s first in southwest U.S., also uses solar heating for farm lagoons. The company said the manure expected to be processed at the circularity center will be equivalent to planting over 37,000 acres of forest annually.

“Moving to a future energy economy with lower carbon intensity requires ambitious goals, continuous innovation and pragmatic solutions,” said Andy Walz, president of Chevron Americas Products. “Continued development in renewable natural gas projects creates new, lower carbon-intensity solutions for transportation, industry and customers.”

Energy storage

Green Li-ion Launches Recycled Battery Materials Plant

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of April 12, 2024)
Battery-grade precursor cathode active material (pCAM) produced by the recycling unit in Atoka, Oklahoma (Source: Business Wire)

Battery recycler Green Li-ion has opened its first commercial-scale plant to produce recycled lithium-ion engineered battery materials, the company said in an April 11 news release.

Located in Atoka, Oklahoma, inside an existing recycling facility, the first-of-its kind plant in North America will process unsorted battery waste, also called black mass, from used lithium-ion batteries to produce battery-grade cathode precursor, lithium and anode materials.

Plans are to initially produce 2 mt of precursor cathode active material at battery grade, which Green Li-ion said is the equivalent of 72,000 smartphone batteries per day — with plans to quadruple this capacity within the coming year.

The company said it is using its patented multi-cathode-producing Green Hydrorejuvenation technology, which eliminates the need to export black mass and sulfates overseas for further processing. The technology, which is being offered to manufacturers via licensing or tolling agreements, is expected to lower costs and emissions.

Stephen Hayward, vice president of operations for Green Li-ion, called the plant “a glimpse into the future of the battery recycling industry in North America.”

“We aim to show original equipment manufacturers, diversified industrials with a battery recycling business unit, and pure-play recyclers how working with Green Li-ion technology can help them capitalize on the trend toward electrification.”

The company plans to quadruple its capacity at the facility within the coming year, according to the release.

California Battery Plant Among World’s Largest as Power Storage Booms

A major battery plant near Los Angeles will be among the largest in the world when it comes online later this year, promising to shore up California’s power grid during the peak summer season and help the state meet ambitious climate goals.

Calpine’s billion-dollar Nova Power Bank, built on the site of a failed gas-fired power plant, will be able to power about 680,000 homes for up to four hours when charged. It could help boost California's renewable power industries which provide more than a third of the state's power needs.

The 680-MW lithium-ion battery bank is big even for California, which boasts about 55% of the nation's power storage capacity, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Calpine will bring online 620 MW of the bank in two phases this year starting in the summer and open the remaining 60 MW in 2025.

Battery projects in the hundreds of megawatts are becoming more common. Such large systems exist or are under development in California, Florida, Australia, the U.K. and China.

Calpine’s new facility is part of a U.S. storage boom centered in California and Texas, two states with large and growing amounts of wind and solar energy. Storing power is considered vital to the expansion of renewable energy because it allows electricity generated when the sun is shining or wind is blowing to be used late in the day when consumers need it most.

California was a pioneer in mandating that its utilities begin procuring energy storage more than a decade ago. The state is expected to need about 50 GW of battery storage to meet its 2045 goal of getting all of its power from carbon-free sources, up from about 7 GW today.

Calpine, best known in the state for its fleet of gas plants, has about 2,000 MW of battery capacity under development.


Amid ‘Battery Arms Race,’ Xerion CEO Talks Tech, Maturing Market, China


Sinopec Completes Drilling of China’s Deepest Geothermal Well

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of April 12, 2024)
Sinopec completes drilling of China’s deepest geothermal exploration well at 5,200 m. (Source: Sinopec)

Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.) completed the drilling of Fushen-1 Well, China’s deepest geothermal exploration well located in Hainan, South China.

Fushen-1, started in August 2023, has a depth of 5,200 meters.

Sinopec said the project has allowed adoption of technologies including the combination of dual-drive drilling and high-pressure injection to reach the temperature limit of hot dry rock under national energy industry standards.

Hot dry rock geothermal resources within the range of 3 km to 10 km underground China, is equivalent to 856 trillion tons of standard coal, according to China’s geological surveys.

Two percent of extracted geothermal heat can reach 2,993 times the energy consumption of China in 2023.

Sinopec plans to carry out extensive research and field tests at Fushen-1 to establish the first platform integrating research, education and experimentation of deep geothermal in South China to help achieve the dual-carbon goal.


RWE, WhiteRock Partner to ‘Supercharge’ US Renewables Growth

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of April 12, 2024)
(Source: RWE)

Renewable energy company RWE Clean Energy has teamed up with specialist developer WhiteRock Renewables to speed up the expansion of RWE’s onshore wind, solar and energy storage pipeline in the U.S.

As part of the partnership, WhiteRock will originate and develop between 4 GW and 5 GW of onshore wind, solar and battery energy storage system projects, RWE said April 9 in a news release. RWE will have the option to acquire the projects once they reach maturity and are ready for a final investment decision.

“RWE is investing billions to expand our U.S. portfolio, which will make up 30% of the company’s global green installed capacity by 2030,” said Hanson Wood, senior vice president of utility-scale development for RWE Clean Energy. “To support our world-class development team in executing towards RWE’s ambitious U.S. growth strategy, we are enlisting WhiteRock—a top-tier developer with a proven track record of delivery and more than 70 years’ combined development experience—to help supercharge our growth trajectory over the next five years.”

RWE Clean Energy’s current net installed capacity in the U.S. is about 9 GW but the company said it aims to increase that to more than 19 GW net by 2030.


Fortescue Opens 2-GW Electrolyzer Manufacturing Facility in Australia

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of April 12, 2024)
Fortescue’s new electrolyzer manufacturing facility is located in the city of Gladstone in Queensland, Australia. (Source: Fortescue)

Australia-headquartered Fortescue has said it opened its electrolyzer manufacturing in Queensland, Australia, with a capacity to produce more than 2 GW of proton exchange membrane stacks annually, the company said April 7.

The electrolyzers were designed by Fortescue teams in Australia and the U.S.

“Not only are we developing a pipeline of green energy projects, we’re also now designing and manufacturing the specialized equipment and technology that will underpin our green hydrogen projects and that of others,” Fortescue Energy CEO Mark Hutchinson said in a news release.

Located in Queensland’s Gladstone, the facility is part of a Green Energy Manufacturing Center being developed by Fortescue. Future phases will include a hydrogen system testing facility and the company’s PEM50 green hydrogen project, which the company said could produce up to 8,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year starting in 2025.

Newfoundland and Labrador Clears World Energy’s Hydrogen Project

Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province approved renewable energy firm World Energy’s hydrogen plant on April 9.

The project, named Nujio’qonik, is a commercial-scale plant for producing green hydrogen and ammonia through clean sources of energy, unlike traditional methods which use fossil fuels.

Bernard Davis, the minister of environment and climate change for the province, said the project has satisfied the requirements of the environmental assessment act.

The project is expected to produce about 250,000 tons of hydrogen per year with the help of more than 3 GW of renewable electricity through wind projects on the west coast of the province.

Fortescue, OCP Group Partner for Green Energy Development

Fortescue will for a joint venture with OCP Group to supply green hydrogen, ammonia and fertilizers to Morocco, Europe and international markets, as the iron ore miner looks to transform itself into a green energy superpower with a global footprint.

Fortescue’s equal partnership with the Moroccan fertilizer producer includes the potential development of manufacturing facilities and a research and development hub in Marrakesh, Morocco.

“The partners’ objective is to supply green hydrogen and ammonia for use both as sources of green energy and in the manufacture of carbon-neutral and customized fertilizers,” Fortescue said on April 8.

The partners have also proposed collaboration of corporate venture capital funds to drive investment in key technology advancements related to green energy production in Morocco.

The JV is subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals, Fortescue said.

Fortescue has significantly stepped up its investment in renewable projects in recent years to cash in on the global transition toward green energy and decarbonization, but at the same time struggled to keep its senior management.

The world’s fourth-largest iron ore miner in 2023 approved an estimated total investment of about $750 million over the next three years for two green energy projects and one green steel project.


Repsol Wraps Up Construction of Gigantic Solar Farm in Texas

Madrid-based Repsol said on April 11 it completed construction of its largest solar farm to date in the U.S.—Frye Solar in Kress, Texas, which is between Amarillo and Lubbock.

With a total installed capacity of 637 MW and 570 MW in operation, the solar project has nearly 1 million solar panels, Repsol said in a news release. About 90% of the output from the solar farm has been allocated as part of a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).

“Repsol views completion of our largest U.S. renewable facility to date as a major milestone that will contribute to our commitment to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050,” said Federico Toro, Repsol’s COO of Low Carbon Generation North America. “Our growth ambition in this country is significant.”

The company has been strengthening its renewable presence in the U.S. since entering the market in 2021 with the purchase of 40% of U.S.-based Hecate Energy, a renewable power developer. About two years later, Repsol acquired the 20,000-MW portfolio of renewable energy developer ConnectGen.

United Power, NextEra Energy Seal PPA for 150 MW of Solar

Colorado electric cooperative United Power Inc. signed a 25-year PPA with NextEra Energy Resources, according to a news release.

The agreement locks in output from NextEra’s South Platte Solar project, which is expected to begin operations in December 2027. The project is designed to generate over 350,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually, the release states. It will add 150 MW of solar energy to United Power’s electricity mix.

South Platte is located in Colorado’s Morgan County, northeast of Denver.

Nexamp Raises $520 Million to Advance Solar, Storage Projects

Community solar developer Nexamp has raised $520 million in its latest funding round, the company said April 10.

The capital raise was led by Manulife Investment Management and existing investors Diamond Generating Corp. and Generate Capital.

“This unprecedented investment reflects swelling confidence in the ability of independent renewable energy providers to reimagine outmoded infrastructure and reshape our grid,” Nexamp CEO Zaid Ashai said in a news release.

The company, which has a portfolio of more than 1.5 GW of generating and in-construction capacity, plans to use the funds to accelerate deployment of its U.S. project pipeline as well as expand and develop partnerships in new and existing markets.

Mytilineos, PPC Partner in $2.1B Deal to Jointly Develop Solar Projects

Greece’s Mytilineos Energy & Metals and PPC Group, an electricity producer and supplier, have agreed to jointly develop and construct 2 GW worth of solar projects in Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Romania, according to an April 11 news release.

The deal is valued at up to €2 billion (US$2.1 billion) and is expected to be carried out during the next three years.

As part of the cooperation framework agreement, Mytilineos will own, develop and construct about 90 solar projects: 500 MW in Bulgaria, 445 MW in Croatia, 503 MW in Italy and 516 MW in Romania, the release said. After construction of the projects is complete and they are connected to the grids, the projects will be acquired by PPC Group. Combined, the projects are expected to provide enough power for about 320,000 homes, displacing an estimated 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.


Avangrid Begins Construction on its First California Solar Farm


Japan to Collaborate with US on Cutting Floating Offshore Wind Costs

Japan agreed to partner with the U.S. to help reduce the cost of floating offshore wind projects, the White House said in a statement released during Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Washington to meet with President Joe Biden.

Under the agreement, Japan and the U.S. would work to accelerate developments in engineering, manufacturing and other areas related to floating wind farms, the statement said. Tokyo would also contribute 120 billion yen (US$784 million) to develop floating wind technology via its Green Innovation Fund.

The U.S. has set a goal of installing 15 GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035—enough to power more than 5 million homes—to help displace fossil fuel for power generation and fight climate change.

The U.S. plan also calls for cutting the cost of floating offshore wind installations operating in deep waters by more than 70% to $45/ MWh over the next decade. Floating wind power installations are typically bigger and costlier than bottom-fixed structures.

Floating offshore wind is relatively new in Japan, where state auctions for offshore wind farms have so far involved only bottom-fixed installations.

Last month, Japanese energy companies including Mitsubishi Corp’s wind power unit, Tokyo Gas and JERA teamed-up to jointly develop floating offshore wind technology to help Japan reach its renewable energy goals.

Hart Energy Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.