The wave of massive renewable energy investments continued to build this week as news of more billion-dollar projects emerged.

Tesla Inc. plans to invest more than $3.6 billion to expand its Nevada gigafactory with two new factories. A second major hydrogen plant is in the works for Germany with HH2E sharing ambitions to scale up hydrogen production. Also, GreenGo Energy is pursuing a $8.77 billion project to develop a green energy park.

Big tech companies continued their renewables push with Microsoft Corp. tapping Qcells, the solar division of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Corp., for more than 2.5 gigawatts of solar panels and related services.

Plus, Equinor and BP have submitted a joint bid to expand their Beacon Wind project offshore New York.

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


Tesla Plans $3.6 Billion Expansion at Nevada Gigafactory

Tesla Inc. said on Jan. 24 it will invest more than $3.6 billion to expand its Nevada gigafactory with two new factories.

The expansion plans include a 100-gigawatt hour (GWh) 4680 cell factory, with capacity to produce enough batteries for 1.5 million light-duty vehicles annually.

The expansion also includes Tesla’s first high-volume factory for its fully electric combination truck called Semi. The Semi is an 18-wheeler truck with a 500-mile range, and it consumes less than 2 KWh per mile, according to Tesla.

Combined, the two factories will create 3,000 jobs, the company said.

So far, the Gigafactory Nevada has produced 7.3 billion battery cells,1.5 million battery packs, 
3.6 million drive units and 1 million energy modules as more than 11,000 team members carried out work, the company said.

Gigafactory Nevada
Tesla has announced plans to expand Gigafactory Nevada with two new factories. (Source: Tesla)

ELEO Opens New Battery Facility in Netherlands

The Netherlands-headquartered ELEO has opened its new battery production plant in Helmond, the company said Jan. 26, with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in attendance.

The company expects to produce 10,000 battery packs annually at the factory to help advance the electrification of the industrial sector.

“The opening of the new facility aligns with the beginning of production for ELEO’s new generation of battery systems,” the company said in a news release. “This new generation offers industrial OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] ultimate flexibility, with a scalable approach devised to meet the wide variety of requirements of off-highway applications.”

The production plant spans some 3,000 sq m with room to grow to 9,000 sq m.


Denmark’s GreenGo to Build 4 GW Green Fuel Plant

Danish renewable energy developer GreenGo Energy said on Jan. 24 that it’s cooperating on a $8.77 billion project to develop a green energy park.

The company is cooperating with a local municipality in western Denmark to develop 4 GW of solar and wind energy for green fuel production, helping to cut emissions, it said.

The Megaton project is based in the Ringkobing-Skjern municipality, it said in a statement. Megaton could be operational before 2030 and aims to produce 1 million tonnes of green fuel, such as hydrogen, by converting renewable energy through electrolysis.

The 4 GW will stem from GreenGo’s existing solar and wind projects in the municipality, in addition to 2 GW of offshore wind it plans to develop, although the final placement is yet to be decided, it said.

Combined, these units will produce 11.5 terawatt hours (TWh) of green power annually, corresponding to more than 30% of Denmark’s current total power consumption, the company said. The green fuel production will consume 85% of the expected power generation, it added.

Meanwhile, the project will also provide more than 1 TWh of surplus heat to the district's heating system, with further spare heat and power intended for industries such as greenhouses or vertical farms.

The entire project will create 300 to 500 permanent local jobs, GreenGo added.

Megaton GreenGo
GreenGo aims to produce more than 1 million tons of green fuels annually at the Megaton project. (Source: GreenGo Energy)


Element to Tap Solar for Large Hydrogen Production Plant in California

Houston-based Element Resources plans to build a green hydrogen production facility in California, producing 20,000 tons of renewable hydrogen through the project’s first phase, according to a Jan. 24 news release.

Located in Lancaster, the facility will use solar energy to power Element’s electrolyzers to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen will be used to meet the growing demand for clean mobility fuels.

“The opportunity with the City of Lancaster is nothing less than a world-class green energy center serving the western United States and perhaps reaching into Asian markets as well,” Element Resources CEO Steve Meheen said.

Commercial operations at the facility are scheduled to being in early 2025, according to the release.

The hydrogen facility will be an anchor project in Lancaster’s Eastside Overlay, home to the city’s growing clean energy portfolio.

“Lancaster is building a robust hydrogen production capacity to enable regional decarbonization,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We believe municipalities can lead the fight against climate change from the bottom up by unleashing businesses’ innovative capacities by removing barriers to market.”

Lancaster Clean Energy Center
The Lancaster Clean Energy Center will produce 20,000 tons of renewable hydrogen annually and expand Lancaster’s hydrogen leadership and capacity. (Source: Element Resources)

Hydrogen Firm HH2E to Build Second Major Plant in Germany

Energy firm HH2E plans to build a second major hydrogen production plant in Germany that could be scaled up to more than 1 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and cost more than $1.1 billion, the company said.

The plant is to be built in the German state of Saxony and will be co-funded by HH2E and U.K.-based shareholders Foresight Group and HydrogenOne Capital Growth, and a final investment decision is expected in 2023.

In a first step, around 230 million euros will be spent to build a 100-megawatt (MW) production plant by 2025 to supply chemicals and transport companies, HH2E said, adding this could be scaled up to more than 1 GW by the end of the decade.

The plant will rely on solar parks in the region to convert renewable energy into hydrogen, HH2E said.

Raven SR, H3 Dynamics Partner to Advance Waste-to-Hydrogen Supply

Renewable fuels company Raven SR and H3 Dynamics, a hydrogen aviation technology developer, said they will work together on waste-to-hydrogen energy systems.

The partnership, announced Jan. 24, aims to decarbonize operations at airports, encourage the adoption of hydrogen at airports, according to a news release.

“H3 Dynamics will provide hydrogen power systems to replace conventional fuel and other energy sources at airports, especially in Asia, Europe and the U.S. Raven SR will provide renewable hydrogen production facilities to supply airports,” the release said. “The use of hydrogen to power various ground operations will help reduce emissions at airports.”

Sonatrach, Sasol to Produce Hydrogen in Sicily

Algerian state energy company Sonatrach is teaming up with South Africa’s petrochemical group Sasol on a project in Sicily to produce low carbon hydrogen and synthetic natural gas (syngas), as well as to capture and reuse CO2.

“The ‘low carbon’ hydrogen and syngas, produced with energy from renewable sources, will be used to decarbonize processes at the two production sites and can also be used to meet potential further needs in the area,” the two energy companies said on Jan. 25.

The companies, which both have plants in Sicily, did not mention any financial details in their statement.

The broader aim of the Hybla project, which the companies have just presented to local authorities, is to create a so-called Hydrogen Valley in Sicily, which they said would have the potential to be among the largest in Italy.

The project envisages the production of 7,800 tonnes per year of low carbon hydrogen and 25,000 tonnes per year of low carbon syngas. Under the plan, Sasol Italy and Sonatrach Raffineria Italiana will also be able to capture and reuse CO2, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 tonnes per year, they added.

Cepsa Teams up with Enagas, Alter Enersun for Hydrogen Plant in Spain

Oil company Cepsa said on Jan. 25 it will develop a green hydrogen plant in Huelva in southern Spain with the renewable business of gas grid operator Enagas and green energy company Alter Enersun.

The project is part of Cepsa’s plans to invest $3.3 billion in green hydrogen developments in Huelva and Algeciras, in one of the largest green hydrogen projects in Europe.

The Huelva green hydrogen plant, with electrolysis capacity of 200 MW, will be connected to a solar power plant and located in an area Cepsa calls the southern Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley. The plant will be operational in 2026 and its production will supply Cepsa’s own industrial consumption and will enable the manufacture of advanced biofuels, Cepsa said.

The hydrogen plant will be powered by a photovoltaic facility with a capacity of 200 MW.

The companies did not provide financial details.


Microsoft, Qcells Form Massive Solar Energy Pact

Microsoft Corp. has tapped Qcells, the solar division of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Corp., to supply more than 2.5 GW of solar panels and related services, according to a Jan. 25 news release.

The substantial power procurement deal represents the equivalent of powering more than 400,000 homes, Qcells said in a news release. It also said the “alliance is the first time a company that procures energy is working directly with a solar supplier to adopt clean energy on a big scale.”

The two companies have agreed to work together to develop solar projects as the technology company aims to power 100% of its datacenters, buildings and campuses with renewable energy by 2025.

As part of the partnership, Qcells will also provide solar panels and engineering, procurement and construction services to selected solar projects Microsoft has contracted for through power purchase agreements, according to the news release.

“As one of the world’s largest purchasers of renewable energy, this work will help bring more solar energy to the grid, faster,” said Brad Smith, vice chair and president for Microsoft.

Qcells CEO Justin Lee added that the “first step is only the beginning of a great partnership.”

“We’re striving to build and deliver turnkey clean energy solutions, including those made in America, and this partnership with Microsoft will help accomplish this vision,” Lee said.

Earlier this month, Qcells announced plans to invest more than $2.5 billion to grow its manufacturing capacity in the U.S. The planned supply chain buildout includes a new facility in Georgia designed to manufacture 3.3 GW of solar ingots, wafers, cells and finished panels. The company said it also intends to boost solar panel assembly operations by 2 GW at its existing facility in Dalton, Ga.

Public Power, RWE to Build Five Solar Farms in Greece

Greece’s biggest power utility Public Power Corp. (PPC) and Germany’s RWE have taken a final investment decision to build five solar farms in Greece, the two companies said on Jan. 26.

The farms will cost $196 million and have a total capacity of about 200 MW.

They are expected to be fully operational by the end of the first quarter of 2024, the companies said in a joint statement.

Power produced at the parks, which will be situated within a former open pit coal mine in northern Greece, will be sold to third parties via bilateral power purchase agreements of between 10 and 15 years.

RWE and PPC have set up a joint venture to develop large-scale solar farms in Greece with a total capacity of up to 2 GW.

Enel Green Power Starts Operations at São Gonçalo III Solar Farm in Brazil

Enel Brasil’s renewable generation unit, Enel Green Power Brasil, said Jan. 26 it has begun commercial operations at the 256-MW expansion project at the São Gonçalo solar complex. 

Located in the Brazilian state of Piauí, the São Gonçalo III solar farm lifts the total installed capacity in operation at the solar complex to 864 MW.

The company said São Gonçalo III solar farm will be capable of generating 597 GWh annually. That is equivalent to avoiding the emission of more than 400,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.

ACEN Grows Capacity at Palauig Solar Farm in the Philippines

Ayala Group’s ACEN has started construction of the 300-MW Palauig 2 solar farm in the Philippines, the company said Jan. 24.

The solar farm is expected to produce more than 450 GWh of energy per year.

ERS Energy Pte. Ltd. is serving as the project’s offshore supplier, while Global Electric Power Development Corp. is serving as the onshore construction contractor.

“Palauig 2 Solar is the first of several new plants to commence with major construction works this year,” said Jose Maria Zabaleta, chief development officer of ACEN. “The need to sustain this accelerated pace towards the exponential growth of the renewables space is on top of our agenda.”

Duke Cranks Up Jackpot Solar in Idaho

The 120-MW Jackpot Solar project in Idaho has entered commercial operations, according to Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, calling it the state’s largest solar project to date.

Energy produced at the solar farm will be used by Idaho Power, which has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Duke.

Located on 952 rural acres south of the city of Twin Falls, the plant also marks Duke’s first utility-scale renewable energy project in the state.

“Entering the Idaho solar market with such a major renewable project is very exciting for Duke Energy,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “Jackpot Solar will help strengthen the energy diversity in the state, and bring additional economic benefits to the state and Twin Falls County, while also supporting Idaho Power’s clean energy goals.”

Duke said the plant will generate enough electricity annually to serve the energy needs of about 24,000 homes.


Equinor, BP Bid to Expand Wind Project Offshore New York

Equinor and BP have submitted a joint bid to build a second stage of their Beacon Wind project to supply more offshore wind power to the state of New York, the companies said in a statement late on Jan. 26.

The planned 1,360-MW capacity project, some 60 miles off the eastern tip of Long Island, would be able to power about one million of New York homes.

“Equinor and BP are eager to build on the significant experience gained through our work in New York over the past five years to bring more offshore wind energy to the state,” said Molly Morris, Equinor’s head of wind power in the United States.

Equinor and BP are already developing three offshore wind projects off New York— Empire Wind 1 and 2, and Beacon Wind 1—with a total capacity of 3,300 MW.

The projects should help New York State toward achieving its goal to generate at least 70% of its electricity need from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Eolink, Partners Launch Floating Wind Project in Black Sea 

France-based engineering firm Eolink, working with 15 European renewable energy partners, have kicked off a floating offshore wind project off the Bulgarian coast in the Black Sea.

The group aims to install an Eolink-designed 5-MW floating wind turbine by 2025, the company said in a news release, before scaling up as part of a wider industrialization process. Called BLOW, the project is one of three awarded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program in 2022.

“The objective of this specific project is to demonstrate the competitiveness of floating offshore wind in lower-wind areas with the deployment of a large rotor diameter,” said Eolink CEO Marc Guyot. “Winning this award has allowed us to take one step further towards our ultimate goal: offering a viable energy source that is as low-carbon as possible.”

Eolink said its concept spreads the turbine’s stresses using four steel masts, instead of one, to support the nacelle, improving the weight-to-energy ratio. The company said the concept results in a structure that is more than 30% lighter. The turbine’s longer blades could also enable a 10% increase in energy production, the company said.

Floating Offshore Wind Turbine
Eolink Design: Floating Offshore Wind Turbine. (Source: Eolink)

South Africa’s Sasol Signs 289-MW Wind Power Deals

South African petrochemical firm Sasol said on Jan. 24 it had signed three wind power purchase deals as it shifts toward renewable energy to meet its carbon emissions targets.

Sasol said in a statement that it is partnering with French gas company Air Liquide to source 220 MW of renewable power from two wind energy projects to be developed by Enel Green Power, a unit of Italy-based Enel. The two projects will supply power to Sasol’s Secunda site, where Air Liquide also has oxygen production operations.

The 220 MW wind powered projects are scheduled to be operational in 2025 and are part of a plan to procure 900MW renewable energy for Secunda, Sasol said.

“Sasol and Air Liquide’s efforts to procure a total of 900 MW of renewable energy to decarbonize our respective operations at Secunda is another step towards Sasol’s aim to procure 1,200 MW of renewable energy capacity from independent power producers by 2030," said Priscillah Mabelane, executive vice president of Sasol’s Energy Business.

Sasol also said it has signed a long-term agreement with Msenge Emoyeni Wind Farm in the Eastern Cape for the supply of 69 MW of wind power to its Sasolburg chemicals manufacturing operations, where it plans to produce green hydrogen. The Msenge wind power project is expected to start delivering energy in the first quarter of 2024.

PGS Enters Wind Energy Market with Contract Win

Geophysical company PGS has landed its first ultrahigh-resolution windfarm site characterization project, the Norway-based company said Jan. 25, marking its entry into offshore wind.

The survey will cover two European windfarm sites in development, PGS said in a news release. The company, which said it “aims to develop New Energy into a significant business unit,” plans to mobilize a 3D vessel for the project in early April 2023 and acquire subsurface data using its P-Cable system.

“We believe our geophysical approach to understand the shallow subsurface layers has a proven market fit and is ready to be scaled to increase our market share in the offshore wind segment,” said Berit Osnes, executive vice president of New Energy for PGS. “Carbon storage and offshore wind farms are important components of the transition to a sustainable energy mix.”

Acquisition completion is expected by the end of June.

Portugal to Launch First Offshore Wind Auction, Eyes 10 GW by 2030

Portugal expects to launch its first offshore wind power auction by fourth-quarter 2023, aiming to reach 10 GW of installed capacity by 2030, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Jan. 23.

As a pre-condition to the auction, the government planned to launch a public hearing this week regarding proposals for the delimitation of areas to allow the deployment of wind farms off the country’s Atlantic coast, he said during a state visit to Cape Verde.

“Portugal’s goal is to reach 10 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by the last quarter of this year, we will launch our first offshore wind energy auction,” Costa added.

Portugal has 7.3 GW of hydroelectric capacity and 5.6 GW of onshore wind, which together represent 83% of its total installed capacity. Portugal has a small, 25 MW floating wind project off its Atlantic coast.

The country aims to have 80% of its electricity usage coming from renewable sources by 2026, up from around 60% now, which is already one of the highest ratios in Europe.

Reuters and Hart Energy Staff contributed to this article.