Utility company Dominion Energy has proposed developing a dozen solar projects in Virginia, packing enough energy to power nearly 200,000 homes, in a move that would boost its solar output in the state to more than 4.6 gigawatts (GW).

The company said Oct. 4 that it made the request to bring online nearly 800 megawatts (MW) in solar energy as part of its annual clean energy filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC).

“These projects support our ongoing efforts to deliver reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy to our customers,” Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, said in a news release. “They will also bring jobs and economic benefits to communities across the Commonwealth.”

Incentivized by tax credits and direct payments made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, the solar sector is poised to continue on its growth streak.

Solar developers are forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to lead total new utility-scale capacity additions in the U.S. for the second half of 2023. Planned capacity for solar could reach 19.3 GW later this year, accounting for 55% of the total second half of 2023 capacity additions, the EIA said in August.


Forecast Shows Utilities Adding 35.2 GW of Capacity to Power Grids

Six of Dominion’s proposed solar projects would be owned or acquired by the company. These include projects ranging in size from 3 MW to 127 MW in the Virginia counties of Brunswick, Hanover, Henry, Pittsylvania, Powhatan and Richmond, according to the news release. The proposal also includes 13 power purchase agreements.

Dominion said the projects, if approved by the SCC and necessary permits are granted, will support more than 1,600 jobs and generate more than $570 million in economic benefits across Virginia. Construction would be completed between 2024 and 2026, adding about $1.54 to the average residential customer’s monthly bill.


Hystar to Build Electrolyzer Factory in Norway, Eyes Expansion

Hystar AS, an electrolyzer manufacturer and green hydrogen producer, said Oct. 2 it will build a fully automated 4 GW electrolyzer factory in Høvik, Norway.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2024, with deliveries starting in 2025.

The Oslo, Norway-based company also said it will expand to North America next year, where it intends to build a multi-gigawatt factory by 2027, having already engaged in talks with key stakeholders.

“Our Høvik GW factory demonstrates our commitment to rapidly expanding our European operations and meeting the strong demand for our technology across Europe,” Hystar CEO Fredrik Mowill said of the company’s expansion plans. “As we continue to scale up our operations, we are now looking at opportunities beyond Europe—the North American market has created a highly favorable environment for companies like ours to thrive in. We are looking forward to identifying the ideal North American location for Hystar.”

Inpex, Partners Unveil Low-carbon Ammonia Project

Inpex Corp., Air Liquide, LSB Industries and Vopak Moda Houston LLC have teamed up on a low-carbon ammonia production export project on the Houston Ship Channel, according to an Oct. 3 news release.

The companies aim to produce more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum of ammonia by year-end 2027, if the project is approved.

Air Liquide and Inpex would provide low-carbon hydrogen for the project, while LSB and Inpex would collaborate on producing the low-carbon ammonia as well as selling it and finalizing offtake agreements, according to the release. Vopak Moda operates ammonia storage and infrastructure from its large gas carrier at the Houston Ship Channel.

“By harnessing the power of cutting-edge technologies and collaborative partnerships with Air Liquide, LSB and Vopak Moda, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon world, while solidifying our position as a pioneer in energy transformation and a responsible global energy player,” Inpex CEO Takayuki Ueda said in the release

Electric Hydrogen Valued at $1B After Latest Funding Round

Hydrogen technology startup Electric Hydrogen (EH2) was valued at $1 billion after a financing round, a source familiar with the matter said Oct. 3.

Earlier on Oct. 3, the company said it had raised $380 million in an oversubscribed series C financing round led by Fortescue, Fifth Wall and Energy Impact Partners.

The round also included investors BP Ventures, Oman Investment Authority, Temasek, Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund and United Airlines’ Sustainable Flight Fund.

EH2 has raised more than $600 million since it was founded in 2020, with investments from major heavyweights including Amazon and Honeywell.

Green hydrogen is touted as the clean-energy alternative to existing fossil fuels, and top corporates across the world are investing millions in an attempt to decarbonize their operations, fleets and factories.

“We’re here to replace natural gas and coal with renewable green hydrogen. To address the global climate challenge, we need new technologies that help critical industries reduce their emissions,” EH2 CEO and co-founder Raffi Garabedian said.


BP’s Archaea Energy Brings RNG Facility Online in Indiana
The BP Archaea Energy-operated Medora RNG plant is located in Indiana. (Source: BP’s Archaea Energy)

BP’s Archaea Energy Brings RNG Facility Online in Indiana

BP said Oct. 4 it has brought online a renewable natural gas (RNG) plant converting landfill gas, marking the company’s first RNG plant startup since its $4.1 billion acquisition of Archaea Energy in 2022.

Located in Medora, Indiana, next to a landfill owned by Rumpke Waste and Recycling, the plant is capable of processing 3,200 cf of landfill gas per minute into RNG. That’s enough gas to heat more than 13,000 homes annually, BP said.

Gas captured from decomposing waste at the landfill can be transformed into electricity, heat or RNG. The facility’s standardized modular design enables plants to be built on skids with interchangeable parts and quicker than custom built plants, BP said in a news release.

“This is a powerful step forward in our net zero journey to capture landfill emissions and provide customers with lower emission, lower carbon fuel,” Archaea Energy CEO Starlee Sykes said in the release. “Our goal is to safely bring several AMD [Archaea Modular Design] plants online this year. I’m in awe of our team who designed, engineered and built this facility and we can’t wait to bring more online across the U.S.”

With the 2022 acquisition of Houston-based Archaea, BP became the largest producer of RNG in the U.S. At the time, Archaea operated about 50 RNG and landfill gas-to-energy facilities across the U.S. The companies’ combined RNG development pipeline grew to more than 80 projects.

The Medora plant startup comes as BP aims to increase its biogas volumes by about six times to approximately 70,000 boe/d by 2030. The company has identified bioenergy as one of five strategic transition growth engines expected to help deliver about $2 billion EBITDA in 2025 and more than $4 billion in 2030.


Consumer Energy to Transform Former Coal Plant into Solar Site

Michigan-based utility Consumers Energy plans to build an 85-MW solar array at its shuttered Karn coal plants in Michigan’s Bay region, the company said on Oct. 4.

The announcement, which follows the June closure of the Karn 1 and 2 coal plants, comes as the company moves to shut down all of its coal plants by 2025 and scale up renewable projects as part of its Clean Energy Plan.

“Consumers Energy put years of thoughtful work into closing the Karn facilities, and chief among those considerations was how we wanted the site to operate and function after the closure,” David Hicks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of clean energy development, said in a news release. “Based on future use studies and input from local stakeholders, solar emerged as the best option to ensure we continue to be good stewards of the land and to provide valuable tax dollars for the community while still pushing us further toward our sustainability goals.”

The company said it aims to have the solar project operating by 2026. The project is expected to provide enough energy to power about 20,000 homes, Consumers Energy said.

National Grid Renewables Powers Up Yellowbud Solar

Operations have begun at the 274-MW Yellowbud solar project in Ohio, National Grid Renewables said Oct. 3, providing renewable energy to retail giant Amazon as part of a power purchase agreement.

The solar farm is estimated to offset 370,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, which National Grid Renewables said is equivalent to removing about 55,000 cars from roads for a year.

Located in the Ohio counties of Ross and Pickaway, the solar farm will also move Amazon closer to its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

“Amazon is deeply committed to the state of Ohio, where we’re investing in and scaling new renewable energy projects like Yellowbud that will help power our operations with 100% renewable energy, while also bringing new jobs, economic benefits and new sources of clean energy to local communities,” Nat Sahlstrom, head of energy, water and sustainability for Amazon, said in a news release.

Yellowbud is expected to generate an estimated $90 million in direct economic impact during its first 20 years of operations, National Grid Renewables said.

“Yellowbud represents a long-standing commitment to bring renewable energy and economic benefit to Ohio residents,” said Blake Nixon, president of National Grid Renewables. “It’s both rewarding and exciting to see the project reach this pivotal point.”

National Grid Renewables Powers Up Yellowbud Solar
National Grid Renewables’ Amazon Solar Farm Ohio—Yellowbud is located in the Ohio counties of Ross and Pickaway. (Source: National Grid Renewables)

TotalEnergies, Saint-Goban Ink Solar PPA

TotalEnergies and building materials company Saint-Gobain have signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for energy from the Danish Fields Solar farm in Texas, the energy company said Oct. 2.

When the 720-MW solar farm comes online in Wharton County, scheduled for 2024, it will supply 100 MW of solar energy to Saint-Gobain as part of the PPA. The move is expected help offset Saint-Gobain’s North American Scope 2 CO2 emissions from electricity by 90,000 metric tons per year, TotalEnergies said in a news release.

“With this agreement, Saint-Gobain North America will further reduce its CO2 emissions, demonstrating how fast the manufacturing industry can transform when long term solutions are at hand,” Mark Rayfield, CEO of Saint-Gobain North America, said in the release. “This renewable energy project is a new milestone on the way to meeting Saint-Gobain’s commitment to reduce Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions by 33% by 2030—compared to 2017—and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.”

TotalEnergies said the contract includes an upside sharing mechanism, enabling the companies to share any potential upside arising from increased market price during the contract term.

“TotalEnergies’ growing solar power generation portfolio in the U.S. provides concrete solutions enabling our industrial customers to decarbonize their electricity consumption,” said Vincent Stoquart, senior vice president of renewables for TotalEnergies.

Danish Fields will be TotalEnergies’ largest utility-scale operated solar farm in the U.S. The company’s portfolio of solar and wind projects is expected to generate up to 10 GW of renewable power by 2025 and more than 25 GW by 2030.


TotalEnergies, Macquarie’s Corio Bet on US Offshore Wind as Sector Wobbles

A wind energy developer owned by France’s TotalEnergies and a unit of Macquarie said on Oct. 2 it is bidding to build a wind farm off New Jersey’s coast, expressing confidence in the sector after a series of U.S. setbacks.

Spinning power from coastal wind turbines is central to President Joe Biden’s plan to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050, but his installation targets are slipping out of reach due to soaring costs, high interest rates and supply chain delays.

Bucking that trend, developer Attentive Energy has now proposed to build a site with up to 1.3 GW, capable of powering more than 600,000 homes. Corio Generation, a dedicated offshore wind developer owned by the green investment unit of Australian conglomerate Macquarie, joined TotalEnergies in Attentive Energy last month.

“We are confident in the long-term outlook and fundamentals for U.S. offshore wind,” said Corio Generation Chief Executive Jonathan Cole.

Attentive Energy Managing Director Damian Bednarz said he expected to put the multibillion-dollar project into operation in the early 2030s if the bid is successful.

Offshore wind has always been capital intensive, but costs have leapt in recent months and developers are now looking at spending up to $4.2 million per megawatt, implying a site this size could cost as much as $5.6 billion, according to renewable energy researchers at the Brinckmann Group.

Other major developers have painted a gloomy picture recently. Global leader Ørsted said it might abandon U.S. projects, while Equinor, BP, Avangrid and Shell have all cancelled or tried to renegotiate contracts for the first commercial-scale U.S. wind farms.

UAE Opens 104-MW Wind Project Ahead of Climate Summit

The United Arab Emirates launched its first wind project of commercial size, making use of technology to exploit low wind speeds, as it pushes to boost renewables before hosting the COP 28 climate summit next month.

The 103.5-MW project run by renewable energy firm Masdar is set to power more than 23,000 homes a year, the firm said, spanning four locations.

“This project ... will help displace around 120,000 tons of CO2—carbon footprint—annually,” said Mohammad Abdelqader El-Ramahi, Masdar’s chief green hydrogen officer.

“And that would be the equivalent of removing around 26,000 cars from the roads.”

Working with PowerChina and GoldWind International, Masdar said the project’s turbines can exploit low wind speeds at scale, thanks to advances in materials science and aerodynamics that make wind power possible despite the heat and humidity.

Late last year, Masdar became partly owned by three Abu Dhabi state-controlled entities: utility TAQA with a 43% stake, sovereign wealth fund Mubadala holding 33% and state oil giant ADNOC with 24%.

Reuters contributed to this report.