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News of more partnerships focused on hydrogen emerged this week as the energy sector looks to increase production of less carbon-intense energy resources.
Hydrogen-focused connections included GM partnering with hydrogen specialist Nel ASA of Norway, Cummins partnering with Tata Motors for hydrogen-powered engines and several others targeting projects in Japan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Uganda—to name a few.
On the geothermal front, SLB—formerly known as Schlumberger—is working with the government of Oman to develop geothermal resources in the country, having already mapped out sweet spots for geothermal projects.
Here’s a look at some of this week’s renewable energy news.
Cayuga RNG Selects New York Dairy Farm for Next Project
The Cayuga RNG joint venture (JV) of UGI Energy Services LLC and Global Common Ventures LLC will develop its fifth renewable natural gas (RNG) project at a dairy farm in upstate New York, aiming to produce 35 MMcf of RNG annually, the JV said Nov. 15.
Located in Cortland County, the project will be constructed at New Hope View Farms. Plans are to modify an existing anaerobic biogas facility to generate RNG, according to a news release.
“RNG continues to be a key platform for growth at UGI and we are excited to partner with New Hope to expand our RNG business in New York, where we just celebrated our first project being placed in service last month,” Robert F. Beard, executive vice president of natural gas for UGI, said in the release.
Developers are targeting a second-half 2024 completion with produced RNG delivered to a local natural gas pipeline serving the regional distribution system.
OMV, BASF Part of Consortium Developing SAF Process Technology
Five companies have joined forces to develop a new process technology aimed at producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a 100% drop-in fuel, according to a Nov. 16 news release.
Called Methanol-to-SAF (M2SAF), the project brings together OMV; BASF Process Catalysts; plant engineer and builder Thyssenkrupp Uhde; DDLR, which evaluates synthetic aviation fuels; and the ASG testing laboratory. The 3.1 million EUR project is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
“The development of new production routes for sustainable aviation fuel from CO2 and green hydrogen are crucial for a successful transformation,” OMV Executive Officer Refining Martijn van Koten said in the release.
Starting with sustainably produced methanol from CO₂ and green hydrogen, the production process is expected to generate only minimal additional CO₂ emissions and be easy to integrate into existing production plants, the companies say.
“In addition to catalyst development, process development, plant integration and the design of a demo plant, the project also includes technological-economic and environmental analysis as well as related support for the certification and analysis of the new jet fuels,” the release stated.
SLB, Oman Partner to Develop Potential Geothermal Resources
Energy services company SLB said Nov. 16 it will work with the government of Oman to develop geothermal resources in the country, having already mapped out sweet spots for geothermal projects.
The move comes after more than 7,000 oil, gas and water wells were evaluated as SLB experts assessed surface, subsurface and well data from an Omani data repository using proprietary AI to speed the assessment. Next steps include assessing the economic feasibility of developing potential geothermal resources, SLB said in a news release.
“Geothermal is one of the world’s most promising clean energy resources, and it has a crucial role to play in reaching net-zero targets,” said Gavin Rennick, president of SLB’s New Energy business. “Using digital technology solutions to assess geothermal resource potential can accelerate prospectivity analysis and, ultimately, the delivery and performance of geothermal installations.”
The company is working with Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals and the Oman Investment Authority as the country aims to decarbonize its energy sector and achieve its net-zero goals.
“Building on existing country data and infrastructure, this collaboration will create opportunities by utilizing the latest technologies in the field of geothermal exploration and ramp up activities in Oman’s clean energy stream,” said HE Salim Al Aufi, the Omani minister of energy and minerals.
GM, Nel Team Up to Advance Technologies
Tapping the fuel cell expertise of General Motors (GM) and the deep electrolyzer knowledge of Norwegian hydrogen specialist Nel ASA, the two companies have set out to make renewable hydrogen more cost-competitive by working together.
The companies have entered a joint development agreement with a goal of speeding the industrialization of Nel’s proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEM) platform, according to a Nov. 16 news release. This comes as GM develops and commercializes its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell and Ultium battery technologies. The automaker sees the partnership with Nel as a key step in helping commercialize fuel cell technology.
“Electrolysis is key to creating consistent, clean sources of hydrogen to power fuel cells,” said Charles Freese, executive director of Global HYDROTEC for GM. “Nel has some of the most promising electrolyzer technology to help develop clean hydrogen infrastructure, and we believe our HYDROTEC fuel cell IP can help them get closer to scale.”
GM explained that for the most part a PEM electrolyzer and a fuel cell are based on the same principles.
“A PEM electrolyzer uses electricity and water to produce hydrogen and oxygen, while a fuel cell reverses the process, using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and water,” GM said in the release. “As GM has made major steps and gained expertise with fuel cells, the two companies see substantial synergies by transferring this to Nel’s PEM platform.”
Cummins, Tata Motors Partner for Hydrogen-powered Engines
U.S.-listed Cummins Inc. said on Nov. 14 it has signed an agreement with Indian automaker Tata Motors to develop hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines, fuel cells and battery electric vehicle systems for commercial automobiles in India.
Several automakers, including Tata Motors, are aggressively shifting toward greener forms of energy for their vehicles as they try to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, with India targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.
India will be one of the first markets to receive Cummins’ hydrogen engines, the company said.
Tata, one of India’s largest electric-vehicle makers launched the country’s first sub-$10,000 electric car in September.
Ohmium, NovoHydrogen Collaborate to Advance Hydrogen at NJ Power Plant
Green hydrogen company Ohmium International Inc. said Nov. 16 it will provide PEM electrolyzers to renewable hydrogen project developer NovoHydrogen for a project at a New Jersey Power Plant.
As part of the project, part of the gas used at a peaking power plant will be replaced with 120 megawatts of green hydrogen capacity provided by the electrolyzers.
“The world is moving away from fossil fuels and there is significant infrastructure that can be transitioned to green hydrogen use—from pipelines to power generation,” said Ohmium International CEO Arne Ballantine. “The team at NovoHydrogen is great in the sector and is the perfect collaborator to bring this project to completion.”
Ohmium manufactures interlocking modular PEM electrolyzers that produce high-purity hydrogen, it said.
Global Hydrogen Projects, Initiatives Get Moving
Several hydrogen projects and partnerships have formed across the world, aiming to advance the low carbon-intense energy source.
Japan’s Inpex Corp. said Nov. 15 it will build facilities to produce hydrogen and ammonia using its domestically produced natural gas in Kashiwazaki, northern Japan, in a demonstration project. The company aims to produce 700 tonnes of blue hydrogen a year from 2025 by transporting natural gas from another gas field nearby.
Uganda has signed a memorandum of understanding with French independent power producer HDF Energy to develop a green hydrogen power plant in Uganda, according to a statement issued late Nov. 15.
Korea Electric Power Corp. and other firms are signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to build and operate a green hydrogen and ammonia production plant in Saudi Arabia, three sources said Nov. 17. The plant project, spanning 396,694 square meters in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia to be built in 2025-2029 and operated for 20 years, is expected to produce 1.2 million tonnes of green hydrogen and ammonia annually and worth about $6.5 billion dollars, Yonhap news agency reported, citing industry sources.
Canadian renewable energy company Neogreen Hydrogen and Portuguese developer of photovoltaic solar parks Frequent Summer announced on Nov. 14 plans to invest more than $1.04 billion in a green hydrogen plant in Portugal. The plant will be built in the port city of Sines, 93 miles south of Lisbon, and will include a 500-MW electrolyzer.
Egypt signed eight framework agreements on Nov. 15 to develop green hydrogen and ammonia projects, saying it aimed to become a hub for hydrogen production and win 5% of the global market by 2040.
First Solar Selects Alabama for New Solar Facility
U.S. solar developer First Solar Inc. has selected Alabama as the site for its fourth American photovoltaic solar module manufacturing facility, the company said Nov. 16.
Plans are for a $1.1 billion facility located in Lawrence County to have an annual capacity of 3.5 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) and come online in first-half 2023. The addition will boost First Solar’s American manufacturing footprint to more than 10 GWdc by 2025, creating more than 700 new jobs in Alabama, the company said.
First Solar is also developing a factory in Ohio that is set to go online in first-half 2023, joining two others in that state.
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future,” said First Solar CEO Mark Widmar. “This facility, along with its sister factories in Ohio, will form part of the industrial foundation that helps ensure this transition is powered by American innovation and ingenuity.”
Italy’s Enel to Build Solar PV Cell, Panel Factory in US
Italian utility Enel said on Nov. 17 would build a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell and panel manufacturing facility in the United States in an effort to support the creation of a North-American supply chain.
The factory is expected to initially produce at least 3 GW and scale up to 6 GW of high-performance bifacial PV modules and cells annually, the group said in a statement.
The group said the facility is expected to be among the first to produce solar cells in the United States, where a ban on imports of some Chinese solar materials is creating issues for energy developers.
To support the development of renewable energy, the U.S. administration has passed legislation offering incentives to producers of a wide range of energy materials including solar panels.
“Recent policy tailwinds from the Inflation Reduction Act have served as a catalyst for our solar manufacturing ambitions in the U.S., ushering in a new era of made-in-America energy,” the head of Enel North America Enrico Viale said in a statement.
The new factory will create 1,500 jobs by 2025. The construction of the factory is expected to begin in the first half of 2023 and the first panel will be available to the market by the end of 2024.
Equinor Marks First Power from Hywind Tampen
The Hywind Tampen floating wind farm offshore Norway has started producing power that is being delivered to the Gullfaks A platform in the North Sea, Equinor said Nov. 14.
The project is the first of its kind to power an oil and gas installation. The operator said the wind farm is expected to meet about 35% of the electricity demand of the Gullfaks and Snorre fields, cutting their CO₂ emissions by about 200,000 tonnes annually.
The first of the wind farm’s planned 11 turbines started producing power on Nov. 13, according to Equinor.
“Seven of eleven turbines are scheduled to come on stream during the year. The last four turbines have been assembled this autumn and will be installed on the field during a weather window next year,” Equinor said in a news release. “Even with just seven turbines on stream Hywind Tampen will be the world’s largest floating wind farm with a capacity of 60 MW.”
Once completed, Hywind Tampen will have a capacity of 88 megawatts.
Positioned at water depths between 260 m and 300 m, Hywind Tampen’s turbines are installed on a floating concrete structure with a joint mooring system. Partners are Equinor, Petoro, OMV, Vår Energi, Wintershall Dea and INPEX Idemitsu.
Commonwealth Wind Moves Forward with Mass. Offshore Wind Agreement
Commonwealth Wind said late Nov. 14 it will move forward with a submitted but not yet approved power purchase agreement with Massachusetts electric companies and its 1,232-megawatt offshore wind project.
Commonwealth made its announcement after the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) denied in early November Commonwealth’s motion to suspend its agreement. That motion raised questions about the future of Commonwealth's offshore wind project.
Commonwealth is a unit of Avangrid Inc., which is majority owned by Spanish energy company Iberdrola SA.
“Avangrid believes there is a path forward for this project, and today made a filing ... so that we can continue to engage in ongoing discussion with all parties on these important issues,” Sy Oytan, senior vice president for offshore project management for Avangrid, said in an email.
In October, Commonwealth sought a one-month suspension of the DPU proceedings and said the project “is no longer viable because of recent global commodity price increases” due to “the war in Ukraine, interest rates, supply chain constraints, and persistent inflation.”
Reuters contributed to this article.
Editor’s note: Energy Transition in Motion will not be published next week in recognition of the Thanksgiving holiday.
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