Not even a full-scale war is stopping Ukrainian energy company DTEK from completing its 500-megawatt (MW) Tyligulska wind power plant in southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region.
The Russian invasion had brought the project to a temporary halt in 2022, but it is now marking a milestone. The company said on March 10 it is completing construction of the project’s first phase.
“Despite all the challenges of this year of war, DTEK has constructed an additional 114 MW of green power generation for Ukraine,” DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko said in a news release. “It has been a difficult task, but thanks to the high levels professionalism and bravery of the company’s employees, the new wind farm with 19 turbines will start operating this spring.”
Timchenko said the new energy facilities show international partners that they can invest in Ukraine today despite the ongoing war.
The wind power plant is moving Ukraine closer toward its goal of 30 gigawatts (GW) of green energy by 2030, with renewables comprising half of the country’s power generation. Today, Ukraine has an installed renewable energy capacity of about 10 GW, DTEK said.
“The war will not stop us,” said SCM Group shareholder Rinat Akhmetov. “We continue to create jobs, pay taxes, produce coal, generate electricity, restore grids, fight for our energy independence and invest in the future. We will win the war.”
Here’s a look at some of this week’s other renewable energy news.
Amprius Plans 500 MWh Lithium-ion Battery Facility in Colorado
Amprius Technologies Inc. said on March 6 that it has signed a letter of intent for a 775,000-sq ft facility to manufacture lithium batteries in Brighton, Colorado.
Targeted to be operational in 2025, the planned factory will be built in phases—starting with 500 megawatt-hour (MWh) capacity with the potential of up to 5 gigawatt-hours. This capacity increase marks a significant expansion to Amprius’ manufacturing capacity.
“The selection of Colorado for our gigawatt-scale factory marks an important milestone for Amprius,” said Kang Sun, CEO of Amprius Technologies. “Increasing production to meet the substantial market demand for our breakthrough silicon anode lithium-ion technology remains a priority, and we are confident this factory will allow us to scale and effectively serve the electric mobility market.”
The initial phase of 500 MWh capacity will be funded in part by a $50 million cost-sharing grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains. It is expected to create over 330 new jobs and begin operations in 2025.
Finland’s First Geothermal Heating Plant Begins Operations
Operations have kicked off at Finland’s first geothermal heating plant in Varisto, Vantaa, the Finnish technology company Qheat said on March 9.
The plant, built by Qheat for Vantaan Energia, features three heating wells about 800-ft deep. The wells have an annual estimated energy production of 2,600 MWh.
“The geothermal heat wells operate by bringing up water that has been heated in the bedrock to the surface,” Qheat said in a news release. “The heat from this water is then directly transferred to Vantaan Energia’s district heating network. With QHeat’s technology, thermal energy generated in Vantaan Energia’s production can also be stored in the bedrock during the summer, balancing the need for energy production during winter consumption peaks.”
Wien Energie, OMV Pursue Geothermal Energy in Vienna Basin
Austria’s Wien Energie and OMV have partnered to jointly explore geothermal energy opportunities in the greater Vienna region of Europe, OMV said March 8.
The two companies have already gathered data in the Vienna Basin to measure the potential of geothermal energy in the area.
As Austria’s largest regional energy provider, Wien Energie operates heat generation plants in one of the largest district heating networks in Europe. It aims to make district heating generation carbon neutral by 2040.
With OMV, Wien Energie hopes to develop in 2026 the first deep geothermal plant in Aspern, a part of the 22nd district of Vienna. OMV, which is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, will contribute its geology, geophysics, drilling and production technology expertise.
Toyko Gas, H2U Technologies Partner to Lower Electrolyzer Costs
Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. has teamed up with California-based H2U Technologies to develop low-cost electrolyzers, according to a March 9 news release.
As part of the multi-year joint development agreement, the two will look for “novel catalysts and develop techniques to apply those catalysts onto membranes,” leveraging H2U’s proprietary catalyst discovery engine (CDE), the release stated.
“Our CDE is a great opportunity for energy suppliers, renewable hydrogen project developers, and electrolyzer manufacturers, like Tokyo Gas, to discover and develop efficient, active and lower-cost replacements for PGM-based electrocatalysts within a joint development approach,” said H2U Technologies CEO Mark McGough. “The cost of producing green hydrogen today is too high and the reliance on rare and costly catalyst materials is not sustainable.”
The partnership comes as the industry prepares to scale manufacturing of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, with production of low-carbon hydrogen forecast to rise.
“Undertaking electrolyzer catalyst discovery with H2U scientists presents an opportunity to leverage their unique and proprietary CDE with AI/ML [aritificial intelligence/machine learning] capabilities and collaborate to test these low-cost, non-iridium materials in commercially relevant conditions,” Tokyo Gas CEO Hisataka Yakabe said.
HIF Global Taps Siemens for Electrolyzers
Siemens Energy will supply electrolyzers to efuels company HIF Global, allowing the company to gain capacity for the eFuels facility it is developing in Matagorda County, Texas, according to a March 8 news release.
Construction of the facility could start in 2024. FEED is underway for 1.8 GW of Silyzer 300 PEM electrolyzers that will use renewable energy to separate hydrogen from water, resulting in about 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year, according to the release. The hydrogen produced will be used with recycled CO2 to produce carbon-neutral eFuels.
“Hydrogen and power- to-X applications such as eFuels will play a key role in the energy transition,” said Stefano Innocenzi, senior vice president of sustainable energy systems of Siemens Energy. “To ramp up this new industry, we need many projects, including large-scale ones, and investors and off-takers who are willing to make a promise for the future. These agreements give us planning certainty, creating the basis for ramping up the technology and the industry as a whole.”
Hydrogen Production Begins at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station
Hydrogen production has started at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in New York, a first-of-its-kind facility in the U.S. that generates hydrogen from nuclear power.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Constellation’s $14.5 million, cost-sharing project uses the hydrogen produced on-site to help cool the power plant, DOE said on March 7. Prior to the system starting up in February, hydrogen made from fossil fuels was trucked in to the site.
“This accomplishment tangibly demonstrates that our nation’s existing reactor fleet can produce clean hydrogen today,” said Kathryn Huff, DOE assistant secretary for nuclear energy. “DOE is proud to support cost-shared projects like this to deliver affordable clean hydrogen.”
DOE said it supported the construction and installation of a low-temperature electrolysis system that used the facility’s existing hydrogen storage system. Constellation utilized its new Hydrogen Generation System to produce the emissions-free hydrogen.
“Hydrogen will be an indispensable tool in solving the climate crisis, and Nine Mile Point is going to show the world that nuclear power is the most efficient and cost-effective way to make it from a carbon-free resource,” said Joe Dominguez, president and CEO of Constellation. “In partnership with DOE and others, we see this technology creating a pathway to decarbonizing industries that remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels, while creating clean-energy jobs and strengthening domestic energy security.”
Duke Energy Starts Operations at Its Largest Solar Plant in Texas
Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS) said on March 8 it has begun operations at the 250-MW Pisgah Ridge Solar Plant in Navarro County, Texas — the company’s largest solar plant.
Virtual power purchase agreements (VPPA) are in place for more than 90% of the power generated at the facility, said DESS, a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy. These include 15-year VPPAs with Charles River Laboratories International Inc. for 102 MW over the next 15 years and Midwest retailer Meijer for 83 MW. An unnamed company has a third 15-year VPPA agreement, according to a news release.
“We’re excited to continue to grow our Texas solar portfolio,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “This project demonstrates how we can continue to expand our renewable energy resources while providing unique sustainability solutions for commercial customers.”
US Solar Panel Imports From China Grow, Officials Say
U.S. imports of solar panels are finally picking up after months of gridlock stemming from implementation of a new law banning goods made with forced labor, according to two Chinese solar companies.
A White House official confirmed the thaw in shipments at an energy conference on March 6, attributing it to clearer rules around complying with the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act (UFLPA).
The gains are a relief to major Chinese suppliers including Trina Solar and Jinko Solar. The two companies are finally able to import products into the lucrative U.S. market after long delays.
The labor protection law prohibits imports of products made in China’s Xinjiang region, where Chinese authorities are reported to have established labor camps for ethnic Uyghur and other Muslim groups. China denies any abuses.
The movement of panels that have been stuck at the border or awaiting shipment from overseas should help alleviate delays in U.S. solar project development stemming from implementation of the law, which went into effect in June 2022.
Trina Solar. Co. Ltd. told Reuters that more than 900 MW of its solar panels have cleared U.S. customs in the last four months, with less than 1% of those products being detained for examination. That's about enough capacity to power more than 150,000 homes.
Siemens Lands Order for RWE’s Sofia Project Offshore UK
RWE has selected Siemens’ RecyclableBlades for its Sofia wind power project offshore the U.K., marking the first deployment of the 108-m long blades.
Siemens said March 9 that 132 RecyclableBlades will be installed on 44 offshore wind turbines at Sofia project.
The 81-m variant of Siemens’ RecyclableBlades were installed at RWE’s Kaskasi wind farm in the German North Sea.
“Utilizing Siemens Gamesa’s RecyclableBlade technology enables the full reclamation of the blade’s components at the end of the product’s lifespan: the resin, fiberglass and wood, among others, are separated using a mild acid solution,” Siemens said in a news release.
The blades will be manufactured at Siemens Gamesa’s Hull factory.
Equinor, Petrobras Evaluating Offshore Wind Projects
Petrobras and Equinor will assess the feasibility of developing seven wind projects offshore Brazil, having signed a letter of intent.
The projects have the potential to generate up to 14.5 GW, Equinor said on March 6.
The agreement stems from a partnership formed between the two companies in 2018 involving the Aracatu I and II wind farms, on the coastal border between Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.
The latest agreement will assess the technical, economic and environmental feasibility of wind farms Mangara, off Piauí; Ibitucatu, off Ceará; Colibri, on the coastal border between Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará; Atobá and Ibituassu, both offshore Rio Grande do Sul) along with Aracatu I and II.
Hart Energy staff and Reuters contributed to this article.
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