More partnerships have formed as companies work to advance renewable energy-focused projects and technology, making major investments.

Brazil’s Unigel this week said it will invest up to $1.5 billion in its complex in the country’s state of Bahia to produce green hydrogen. The solar sector also saw billion-dollar investment news as Zambia’s power utility Zesco inked a deal with United Arab Emirates’ Masdar to develop solar projects worth $2 billion.

Construction has also started on the photovoltaic (PV) Saad Solar PV Project in Saudi Arabia, and Eni SpA’s Plenitude has partnered with Simple Blue Group to develop floating wind projects offshore Italy.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s renewable energy news.


China’s CATL Forms Partnerships to Advance Battery Technology, Safety

Battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) has signed a five-year strategic cooperation agreement with electric vehicle (EV) maker NIO, CATL said on Jan. 18.

The two China-based companies plan to work together to advance technology in new brands, projects and markets, while aiming to improve supply-demand coordination, expand overseas and develop a business model centered on long service life batteries, according to a news release.

CATL also announced this week it has teamed up with UL Solutions to advance battery safety and performance.

“As the key part of the agreement, CATL’s battery laboratory will kick off the process to achieve UL Solutions witness test data program (WTDP) status to test to UL 9540A, the standard for test method for evaluating thermal runaway fire propagation in battery energy storage systems,” CATL said. “Once achieving WTDP designation by UL Solutions, CATL will be entitled to conduct WTDP tests at its test facilities under the supervision of UL Solutions personnel, thus improving the efficiency and shorten time to market for battery products certification and testing.”

Hanwha Group, LG Energy to Collaborate in Battery Business

South Korea-headquartered LG Energy Solution (LGES) said Jan. 16 it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hanwha Group’s U.S. clean energy provider Qcells, Hanwha Corp./ Momentum and Hanwha Aerospace to collaborate on its battery business.

As part of the agreement, LGES will jointly invest in setting up energy storage systems (ESS) battery production lines in the U.S., the company said. The companies also plan to work together to expand battery applications in mobility fields.

“Under the MOU, LGES and Hanwha Group will invest in ESS-exclusive battery production lines and develop technologies for ESS battery solutions,” the release stated.

Collaboration involving automation engineering solutions company Hanwha Corp./ Momentum will center on battery manufacturing equipment, while its work with Hanwha Aerospace will focus on developing special-purpose batteries.

Carmaker Stellantis Strikes Nickel Sulphate Supply Deal with Terrafame

Carmaker Stellantis and Finland’s Terrafame have struck a deal whereby Terrafame will supply Stellantis with nickel sulphate over a five-year period, starting from 2025 onwards, the companies said on Jan. 18.

“This agreement is part of the key raw material sourcing to fit with our electrified vehicle battery pack needs,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in the release.

Stellantis is the world’s third-largest automotive group by sales and includes brands Peugeot, Fiat, Chrysler and Jeep. The company wants 100% of its European passenger car sales and 50% of its U.S. passenger car and light-duty truck sales to be battery-powered EVs by 2030.

The carmaker said the agreement with Terrafame “will cover a significant portion of the needs for sustainable regionally sourced nickel.”

Last week, Stellantis struck a deal with Australian miner Element 25 for the supply of manganese sulphite, the latest in a series of accords for the procurement of raw materials for electric batteries.

Canada Government Approves Lithium Mine Project in Quebec

The Canadian government said on Jan. 16 it approved a lithium mining project in Quebec that would add to Canada’s production of the critical mineral used in clean technology like EV batteries and solar panels.

The James Bay Lithium Mine Project would also create hundreds of local jobs and local economic growth, the Canadian government said in a press release.

The project by Galaxy Lithium (Canada) Inc. would have an estimated mine life of 15 years to 20 years and would produce on average 5,480 tonnes of ore per day. It would include an open-pit mine and concentrator facility, tailings, waste rock, ore and overburden storage areas, as well as related infrastructure, according to the Canadian government.


Stellantis, Vulcan Energy to Develop Renewable Energy Assets in Germany

Automaker Stellantis has teamed up with lithium group Vulcan Energy Resources to develop geothermal energy projects in Germany to help decarbonize production of EVs at Rüsselsheim, the two companies said Jan. 17.

Stellantis’ Rüsselsheim facility is where the world’s third largest carmaker by sales produces its DS 4 and Opel Astra models.

“Stellantis and Vulcan will aim to produce clean electricity and supply it to the grid for both internal and external consumption, in accordance with Germany’s Renewable Energy Act, while also producing heat to be transferred to Stellantis’ manufacturing site, the two firms said in a news release.

Australia-based Vulcan initially will carry out a pre-feasibility study for the development of energy projects. The two firms together will seek public funding opportunities, while Stellantis, which holds an 8% stake in Vulcan, will aim to source funding for 50% of the project's development.

AP Renewables Breaks Ground on Geothermal Plant in the Philippines

(L-R) Tiwi Municipal Mayor Hon. Jamie Villanueva, APRI President and COO Jeffrey Estrella, DOE Assistant Secretary Mario Marasigan, and AP COO for Renewable Energy Generation Alex Coo officially launch the 1.5-hectare facility of the APRI TIwi Binary Plant Site. (Source: AAboitizPower)

Aboitiz Power Corp. subsidiary AP Renewables Inc. (APRI) has started building a 17-megawatt (MW) geothermal power plant in the Philippines’ Tiwi, Albay, the company said Jan. 20.

“The Tiwi Binary Power Plant is a facility designed to extract the recoverable heat from the geothermal brine that is processed in a closed-loop system where no harmful gas or liquid is being emitted nor any waste products are discharged to the atmosphere,” APRI president and COO Jeffrey Estrella said. “The design will produce an additional 17 MW gross generated electricity—an additional source of clean energy to the Luzon Grid.”

The plant is scheduled for completion by year-end 2023.


Brazil’s Unigel to Invest Up to $1.5 Billion in ‘Green Hydrogen’ Production

Brazilian chemical maker Unigel said on Jan. 18 it will invest up to $1.5 billion in its complex in the state of Bahia to produce green hydrogen, the first in the country to do so on an industrial scale.

The plant, located in the city of Camaçari, is expected to have the first of three phases inaugurated by the end of 2023, expanding capacity until it achieves production of 100,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2027 – or 600,000 tonnes ammonia, of one of its derivatives.

The green hydrogen, obtained from the conversion of wind or solar energy, will use electrolyzers to be supplied by Thyssenkrupp Nucera.

Unigel announced its plans to build the factory last July when it said it would make an initial investment of $120 million.

Initially, most of the plant’s production will be exported to regions such as Europe to meet demand for products that reduce or completely eliminate carbon emissions, Unigel president Roberto Noronha Santos told Reuters.

The company is also evaluating options to raise funds for the second and third phases of the project, which may include joint ventures and an initial public offering (IPO), executive director Luiz Felipe Fustaino said.

Dutch Gasunie, Storag Etzel in German Hydrogen Storage Partnership

Dutch gas grid operator Gasunie said on Jan. 17 it would partner with Storag Etzel in a project to store hydrogen in salt caverns.

The companies “aim to enable large scale hydrogen storage in the salt caverns near Etzel, Germany,” Gasunie said in a news release.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the pilot project, which is slated to be completed by 2026, Gasunie said.

GP Joule Selects H2B2 for Electrolyzers for Hydrogen Fuel Stations

GP Joule
H2B2 will provide electrolyzers to GP Joule as the company looks to grow its hydrogen refueling station network. (Source: H2B2)

Renewable energy developer GP Joule has tapped Spain’s H2B2 to provide five 2-MW electrolyzers for green hydrogen projects, according to a Jan. 18 news release.

Germany-based GP Joule plans to use the electrolyzers to power hydrogen refueling stations it plans to install in Germany. Together, the electrolyzers will be able to supply up to 4,300 kg of green hydrogen per day, the release said.

Delivery is set to begin this year with the electrolyzers going into operation in 2024.

“GP Joule is behind one of the biggest boosts of sustainable heavy-duty vehicle mobility after agreeing to purchase a fleet of 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell trucks,” the release stated.


Zambia, UAE to Develop $2 Billion Solar Projects

Zambia’s state-owned power utility Zesco has signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ renewable energy company Masdar to develop solar projects worth $2 billion, the southern African country’s President Hakainde Hichilema said on Jan. 17.

The two companies will form a joint venture to facilitate investment in Zambia’s renewable energy, he said in a statement.

The project will commence immediately, starting with the phased installation of 500 MW.

“Once completed, the projects will result in an additional 2,000 megawatts of electricity in the country within the next few years,” Hichilema said.

Zambia has been rationing electricity supply following a big drop in water levels in lake Kariba, threatening hydropower generation which contributes more than 75% of the country’s power output.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions Acquires Colorado Solar Project

The 175-MW Pike Solar project being developed by JUWI Inc. in Colorado has been acquired by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS), according to a Jan. 18 news release.

The acquisition lifts DESS’ Colorado solar project count to three.

As part of the acquisition, JUWI will be responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project, while DESS will procure the solar modules. Activity is currently centered on civil work and racking installation.

Located near the Colorado Springs city limits, the project will feature more than 414,000 solar panels and produce enough electricity to power about 46,300 homes, the release stated. Colorado Springs Utilities will purchase electricity generated at Pike Solar under a 17-year agreement.

Pike Solar said it expects commercial operations to begin in late 2023.

Jinko Starts Construction of Saad Solar PV Project in Saudi Arabia

Jinko Power Technology Co. Ltd.’s subsidiary Al Ghazala Energy Co. has begun constructing its 300-MW Saad solar PV plant in Saudi Arabia, the company said Jan. 20, having secured financing and approval from the offtaker for the project.

A consortium of three lenders is financing the project, according to a news release.

Elsewedy Electric for Transmission and Distribution of Energy has been selected as the project’s EPC contractor. Its work scope includes project design, supply, construction, warranty, initial operation and maintenance, the release stated.

A 25-year power purchase agreement with Saudi Power Procurement Co. last year.

Commissioning of the project is schedule for fourth-quarter 2024.

Sungrow Seals 500-MW Inverter Distribution Deal

Inverter and energy storage system provider Sungrow has entered a partnership that enables the company to distribute its 500-MW inverters in Brazil, according to a Jan. 20 news release.

As part of the partnership, SOL+ Distribuidora will become a distribution hub for Sungrow in Brazil, making available the entire inverter portfolio for the micro- and mini-distributed generation solar projects.

“The partnership with Sungrow marks the beginning of an important step to facilitate the development of the distributed microgeneration market with premium and cost-effective inverter solutions for resellers and integrators across the country,” said Joaquim Fernandes, business director for SOL+. “We will make more efforts to ensure an increasing number of communities are supplied with clean energy which will also consolidate Sungrow’s leadership in the field of residential inverters up to 10 kW [kilowatts].”

Ethiopia Signs Deal with UAE’s Masdar for 500-MW Solar Plant

United Arab Emirates renewable energy company Masdar and Ethiopia have signed an agreement for the joint development of a solar project with a capacity of 500 MW, Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Jan. 18.

The move could allow Ethiopia to significantly expand its energy capacity and also diversify its energy mix, a key part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's industrialization drive.

At present, Ethiopia has total installed power generating capacity of about 4,898 MW, with 91% of it coming from hydroelectric power, based on data from state-run Ethiopian Electric Power.

“Pleased to see the signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) between the Government of Ethiopia and Masdar to develop two solar photovoltaic plants,” Abiy said in a tweet, adding the two plants would have a combined generation capacity of 500 MW.

Abiy’s did not give details on where the plants would be located, or their cost.


Eni’s Plenitude, Simply Blue Group Partner to Develop Floating Wind

Eni’s renewable energy group Plenitude has teamed up with Ireland-based Simply Blue Group to develop new floating wind projects offshore Italy, according to a Jan. 17 news release.

With a capacity of 1.3 gigawatts (GW), the Messapia project off the Otranto coast will be capable of generating about 3.8 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power annually.

Located off the coast of Crotone, the Krimisa project will have a total capacity of 1.1 GW and will be able to provide annual energy production of up to 3.5 TWh, the release stated.

“With this partnership Plenitude expands its portfolio of floating wind projects in line with its target of reaching 15 GW of renewable capacity by 2030 and reaffirms its commitment to creating an offshore wind supply chain in Italy,” Plenitude CEO Stefano Goberti said. “For Plenitude, offshore wind is a key contributor to the energy transition path and the achievement of our 2040 carbon neutrality targets to provide fully decarbonized energy to our customers."

Together, Eni said the two projects will be able to cover the energy needs corresponding to the electricity consumption of more than 2.5 million households.

UK’s Crown Estate to Lease Seabed Sites for Six Offshore Wind Projects

Britain’s Crown Estate will lease sites for six offshore wind projects capable of generating enough green electricity to power more than seven million homes by 2030 under agreements announced on Jan. 19.

The U.K. is one of the world’s largest offshore wind markets, with more than 10 GW of installed capacity across 38 sites, which it plans to boost to up to 50 GW by the end of the decade.

The six sites being leased will add 8 GW toward that goal, the firm said in a statement.

The Crown Estate, which oversees the British monarch’s public holdings, manages the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland and awards seabed rights for the development of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.

Three of the sites to be leased are located off the coasts of North Wales, Cumbria and Lancashire, and three in the North Sea off the coasts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Germany’s RWE said it was one of the companies that had signed a lease agreement with the Crown Estate. The projects are at a very early development stage, according to RWE.

Denmark’s Ørsted Seeks Permits for 15 GW New Offshore Wind in Sweden

Ørsted has applied for permits to build 15 GW of new Swedish offshore wind capacity, which could be up and running by 2032, helping to lower power prices and foster new green industries, the company said Jan. 16.

These applications come on top of existing plans for 3 GW, bringing Ørsted’s total Swedish portfolio to 18 GW, enough to cover more than half of Sweden’s total electricity consumption, the company said without providing investment figures.

“Sweden needs all the electricity production it can get, and offshore wind is clearly the fastest way to get the volumes needed to reduce electricity prices,” said Jesper Kuhn Olesen, who heads up Ørsted’s offshore wind projects in Sweden.

Currently, Sweden has just 0.2 GW of offshore wind capacity installed, with no farms built since 2013 as focus instead has been placed on onshore development, according to lobby group Wind Europe.

Reuters contributed to this article.