From new battery projects to planned onshore wind farms, companies across the globe are moving forward with plans to help the world transition to cleaner forms of energy.

The week saw U.S. President Joe Biden take steps to open federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for wind development with the designation of two potential wind energy areas—offshore Texas and Louisiana. In other news, Nabors Industries deepened its energy transition investments by pumping $7 million into Natron Energy Inc., a manufacturer of sodium-based battery technology.

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


RWE Progresses Texas Battery Storage Project

RWE Renewables America has completed installing all inverters—two weeks ahead of schedule—at its 30-MW Texas Waves II battery storage facility, the company said July 20.

Construction of the facility, which is co-located at the existing Pyron Wind Farm in Scurry County, Texas, is expected to be online by year-end 2022.

“The project will provide ancillary services to the ERCOT grid as well as participate in the energy market,” RWE Renewables said in the release. “In addition, Texas Waves II has the potential to reduce the cost of energy to consumers by storing energy when it is readily available from renewable resources and discharging when energy would otherwise have to be provided from more expensive fossil fuel generation.”

The project is one of several energy storage projects RWE is pursuing at its wind energy sites. Texas Waves I at RWE’s Pyron and Inadale wind farms in West Texas came online in 2018.

Hart Energy July 2022 - Energy Transition July 22 Roundup - Construction of the Texas Waves II battery storage project by RWE Renewables
Construction of the Texas Waves II battery storage project is expected by year-end 2022. (Source: RWE Renewables)

Envision to Build EV Battery Plant in Spain

Spain has signed a partnership agreement with Chinese green energy company Envision Group to embark on four projects, including a battery plant for electric cars, with 3.8 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in total investment, partly funded by European Union aid.

Jose Dominguez, head of Envision Spain, was quoted in a statement from the Spanish government that the projects would be developed jointly with Spanish renewable power company Acciona Energia, but it did not say what its role would be.

The battery “gigafactory” in Navalmoral de la Mata in the central-western region of Extremadura, will require 2.5 billion euros in investment and could create as many as 3,000 jobs, the statement said.

The Envision partnership agreement also includes a renewable hydrogen plant, costing up to 900 million euros, which will provide energy for a net-zero emissions project, as will a wind energy park with a turbine assembly plant.

Natron Energy Gets $7 Million Boost Thanks to Nabors

Nabors Industries Ltd. has invested $7 million in sodium-ion battery manufacturer Natron Energy as the two companies study using the technology for energy storage in the drilling market.

The investment is the latest in a series of energy transition moves by Nabors.

“As businesses accelerate the electrification of operations, the need for reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy storage solutions is greater than ever before,” Nabors CEO Anthony Petrello said in a July 21 statement. “Natron can provide a safe, cost-effective battery solution for various industrial applications.”

The company’s batteries store sodium ions in electrode materials based on Prussian blue materials, and don’t require certain critical minerals—such as cobalt and lithium— that are in high demand, the release said. The batteries will be manufactured at Natron’s facility in Michigan.


Expro Lands Geothermal Well Services Contact

Ed. Züblin AG and Huisman Geo BV, drilling and geothermal energy specialists, have tapped Houston-based Expro to deliver an integrated well services program for a planned geothermal power plant in Southwest Germany’s Upper Rhine valley.

The contract, which began in June 2022, is for eight wells and a bespoke high-rate surface well test system. The contract, announced in a news release July 22, may be extended.

The project is being developed by Deutsche ErdWärme, Germany’s largest private developer of geothermal energy plants, with Ed. Züblin AG and Huisman Geo taking on drilling and well completion work as a consortium of general contractors.

Hart Energy July 2022 - Energy Transition July 22 Roundup - Drilling for the geothermal power project in southwest Germany by Huisman
Drilling for the geothermal power project in Southwest Germany’s Upper Rhine valley started in May. (Source: Huisman)

Ormat Cranks Up Casa Diablo-IV

Nevada-headquartered Ormat Technolgies Inc. has started commercial operations at the 30-MW Casa Diablo-IV (CD4) geothermal power plant in Mammoth Lakes, California.

As part of a 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA), the facility is providing 7 MW of geothermal power to two Community Choice Aggregators, Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Central Coast Community Energy, according to a news release. The Southern California Public Power Authority is also receiving 16 MW of geothermal power under a 25-year agreement.

“With our 30MW CD4 geothermal power plant and the addition of our 20MW Wister Solar power plant, which started operation last week,” Ormat CEO Doron Blachar said, “our total portfolio has reached 1,163MW and we are on track to reach our goals for 2023.”


Universal Hydrogen Seals Aircraft Conversion Deal

California-headquartered Universal Hydrogen is advancing its mission to put aviation on track to meet Paris Agreement emissions targets with its latest deal with Avmax Aircraft Leasing Inc.

The company said July 19 that the aircraft company placed a firm order to convert 20 regional aircraft to run on green hydrogen. As part of the agreement, Universal will also provide hydrogen fuel to power Avmax’s leased and owned fleets.

“This order is an important step for Canada’s sizable regional aviation market, which is home to the largest turboprop fleet in the world with nearly 300 Dash-8s and 50 ATRs servicing over 120 airports,” said Universal Hydrogen CEO Paul Eremenko. “As air travel volumes return to pre-pandemic levels, expansive nations like Canada are revitalizing regional routes to reconnect communities and spur economic activity. We’re excited to collaborate with Avmax to bring hydrogen to Canadian skies.”

Technip, NPCC Form JV for Hydrogen Projects

Technip Energies and UAE’s National Petroleum Construction Co. have formed a joint venture company to pursue projects and services in blue and green hydrogen along with other related decarbonization projects, the two announced July 19.

The JV, called NT Energies LLC, will target projects in the Middle East and North Africa regions and be headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

Other potential projects in support of the energy transition could focus on waste-to-energy, biorefining and biochemistry, according to the release.

EU Commission Approves Joint Hydrogen Project with 15 EU States

The European Commission has approved a 5.4-billion-euro ($5.42 billion) hydrogen project jointly funded by France, Germany and 13 other EU countries.

Called IPCEI Hy2Tech, the project hopes to attract another 8.8 billion euros in private investments.

The 27-country bloc has in recent years given the green light to jointly funded projects in batteries, microelectronics and infrastructure, labeling such schemes as Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

Thirty-five companies, including Alstom, Ansaldo, Bosch, Daimler, Enel, Fincantieri, Orsted and Plastic Omnium, will take part in 41 projects in the hydrogen project.

The scheme will cover the generation of hydrogen, fuel cells, storage, transportation and distribution of hydrogen and end-user applications, in particular in the mobility sector.

Rolls-Royce, easyJet Target Hydrogen Combustion Engine

Rolls-Royce and Europe’s easyJet have formed a partnership to jointly develop hydrogen combustion engine technology for aircraft, the British manufacturer of cars and aircraft engines said July 19.

As part of the partnership, called H2ZERO, the companies will conduct tests of Rolls-Royce’s AE 2100 engine on the ground in the UK starting this year followed by a ground-test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine at a location to be determined.

News of the planned tests come after the two companies conducted research together last year on market analysis, driving specifications, infrastructure and regulatory requirements that support use of hydrogen in aviation.

Hopes are to eventually take the technology to the sky.

Johnson Matthey Plans Hydrogen Gigafactory

U.K.-headquartered Johnson Matthey said it will build a £80 million (US$96 million) “gigafactory,” supported in part by the U.K. Government through the Automotive Transformation Fund, to scale up production of hydrogen fuel cell components.

The facility, which will be located at an existing site in Royston, U.K., will be able to initially manufacture 3 GW of proton exchange membrane fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles and could be expanded later, the firm said in a news release.

The site is expected to begin operations by first-half 2024.


BlackRock Scoops Up Vanguard Renewables

Asset manager BlackRock Inc. is acquiring Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based company that turns dairy farm and food waste into renewable natural gas (RNG), from Vision Ridge Partners.

Vanguard aims to grow its six farm-powered anaerobic digesters installed across the northeastern U.S., mostly in Massachusetts, to more than 100 by 2026. Dominion Energy is among the company’s existing RNG partners.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported the transaction is valued at $700 million and BlackRock could spend more than $1 billion more in financing the renewable company’s expansion.

Kinder Morgan Acquires RNG Facility

Kinder Morgan Inc. closed July 19 on its $355 million acquisition of three landfill assets from Mas CanAm LLC, the energy infrastructure company said.

The assets include an RNG facility in Arlington, Texas, that is expected to produce 1.4 Bcf of RNG in 2023. The other two assets are medium Btu facilities in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Victoria, Texas.


BrightNight, Cordelio Land PPA in Arizona

Arizona’s Southwest Public Power Agency Inc. (SPPA) has selected the BrightNight-led renewable power JV to deliver 300 MW of solar energy and 600 MWh of battery storage power for what is being called the SPPA’s largest renewable solution to date.

The PPA awarded to BrightNight and its JV partner Cordelio Power will supply power from the Box Canyon project in Pinal County, Arizona. The project, which recently secured the last of its major permits, is slated to begin operations in 2025.

“In addition to providing approximately 1/3 of SPPA’s peak capacity needs and 19-21% of SPPA's energy needs, the Box Canyon project is expected to create more than 200 construction jobs, approximately 5 permanent O&M jobs, and is projected to contribute more than $65M to the K-12 educational trust through lease payments to the State of Arizona,” BrightNight said in a news release.

GAF Energy to Open Texas Manufacturing Plant

U.S. solar company GAF Energy will open a new factory in Texas to produce its residential solar roof shingles domestically rather than in Asia, it said July 19.

The announcement comes amid growing U.S. concerns about the reliance on Chinese-made solar products of an industry considered critical to meeting the nation's climate change goals. In the last two years, panel supplies in the United States have faced major disruptions due to pandemic-related supply chain turmoil, import tariff threats and increased border scrutiny.

GAF Energy said it was building a $100 million facility in Georgetown, Texas, that will bring its domestic production capacity to 300 megawatts annually, up from 50 MW today. The company’s existing facility is in San Jose, California, where it is headquartered.

The new facility will employ 260 people, GAF President Martin DeBono said in an interview, and will start production in the fourth quarter of next year. The company will receive $3.24 million in local incentives.

Hart Energy July 2022 - Energy Transition July 22 Roundup - Siemens Gamesa Sweden Wind Project
Skaftåsen in Sweden is the first project to use the Siemens Gamesa 5.X. (Source: Siemens)


Trio Teams Up for Another Swedish Wind Project

Siemens Gamesa, project developer Arise and investment firm Foresight said July 19 they will work together again to develop the 277-MW Kölvallen project, which is near the Skaftåsen project the consortium is also developing.

Using the Siemens Gamesa 5.X platform, the project will feature 41 units of the SW 6.6-170 model and one SG 6.6-155, respectively sitting on towers of 135 m and 122.5 m, according to a news release. The project, which has a 35-year service contract, will be acquired by Foresight Energy Infrastructure Partners.

The Kölvallen array is set to be installed in early 2025, while the Skaftåsen array—about 15 km away—is currently being installed.

Reuters contributed to this report.