30. Select the right battery energy storage
03. Comment 04. A splash of Asian flair
Minh Khoi Le (Norway), Jun Yee Chew (Singapore), Dian Yu (Norway), Pratheeksha R (India), and Ramit Ittan (India), Rystad Energy.
A splash of Asian flair
Mark Patterson, Chairman and Interim CEO of Carbon Neutral Energy (CNE), Scotland.
44. Get ahead of the curve
he global energy transition effort has greatly accelerated since 2020 with more countries setting carbon-neutral targets. In Asia Pacific (APAC), China and Japan – two of the world’s top three economies – agreed to 2060 and 2050 targets, respectively. Renewables in both countries have experienced dramatic growth over the last decade, spearheading technology developments and driving cost reductions. The growth of renewable energy has also been significant in other APAC countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand, where gigawatts of solar, wind, and storage have been installed in recent years. As of mid-2021, Asia (excluding the Indian subcontinent) accounts for 40% of the global installed utility scale renewable capacity. The region continues to witness strong economic growth and hence, rising power demand. Amid a fossil-fuelsdominated power mix, there are plenty of untapped opportunities for renewable energy in APAC. As things stand, APAC and central Asia can expect 40% growth in installed capacity, to approximately 780 GW, by 2025. However, with
Alex Raventos, X1 Wind, Spain.
48. Drivers behind the designs Chris French, freelancer, Wood Thilsted, UK.
10. Hands on management
Annekatrin Dretzke, wpd windmanager, Germany.
16. The freedom to float
Toni Weigl, BayWa r.e. Solar Projects, Germany.
20. Harnessing hydropower's potential
Simon Trace, Energy and Economic Growth (EEG), funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UK.
26. Invest to grow
36. Electric dreams become reality
Valery Godinez and Keith Respet, Sensoria™ by MISTRAS, USA.
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
Dr. Pedro Ramirez, Centrica Business Solutions, UK.
40. The future of wind blade integrity
Minh Khoi Le, Jun Yee Chew, Dian Yu, Pratheeksha R, Ramit Ittan, Rystad Energy, Country, investigate the range of renewables in Asia Pacific, and outline their hugely promising future in the region.
Jeff Damron, Wärtsilä’s Energy Storage Business, USA.
52. A data-driven revolution
Elena Starchenko and Shannon Earl, Fugro, USA.
58. A hub of knowledge Danny Constantis, EM&I, Malta.
62. Overcome the obstacles
Dr. Matthew Goodwin, Waste Knot Energy and European Pellet Council, UK.
66. Greener refineries Keen Hoe Lui, Sulzer, Singapore.
70. Natural sources for natural power Arun Mote, Triveni Turbines, India.
73. Global news
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ON THIS ISSUE'S COVER The future of wind blade integrity management is here, and it is data-driven. Sensoria™ is a 24/7/365 blade monitor that utilises advanced acoustic emission (AE) technology to remotely detect damages and visualise blade integrity, helping organisations to drive operational excellence throughout the wind blade value chain. Read the cover story to learn how Sensoria drives edge-to-edge intelligence. Find out more about Sensoria™ by MISTRAS at: www.sensoriawind.com
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s an industry that is essentially classed as new and fast-paced, when one compares with the more traditional been-aroundforever status of the fossil fuel sector, the innovation and technologies that we are witnessing be created with regards to renewables is phenomenal and rather exhilarating. It is not just the large scale projects that are pumping out prototypes that could change the course of, for instance, tidal energy, but smaller scale ideas are seeping into all aspects of life. Take the band Coldplay. Loved on a global scale, thus able to influence the millions through their opinions, they paused the tour of their recent album as they were concerned about the environmental impact of their concerts. This is an understandable debate for musicians, as their carbon footprint from global tours can be monstrous, from the flights to the energy for lights, the travel emissions from fans arriving at venues, the list goes on. In order to achieve, or at least attempt to achieve, net zero emissions from their tour, Coldplay has come up with several ingenious methods of making the tour more sustainable. One of the ideas, and my personal favourite, is the use of kinetic floors. With thousands of people attending a concert, why not put their movement to use. These floors essentially convert the crowd’s movement to energy, allowing the stadiums to power their lights and more. If Coldplay say “jump”, I guess we do all have to. The band does not just stop there – staging will be partly constructed from bamboo (and recycled post-event), one tree per ticket sold will be planted, portable solar panels will help power the stage production, to name a few bright ideas. The constant influx of news about recent innovations and out-of-the box concepts is definitely driving further developments,
and that is why there is a new and exciting announcement in the sector almost daily (www.energyglobal.com is the place to stay on top of all these updates). Recently, Prince William launched a £50 million competition to find solutions to environmental problems and tackle the climate crisis – named The Earthshot Prize. A host of people entered with some fantastic ideas, and the first winners have been announced, covering everything from regrowing coral reefs to forest protection to food waste policies. One of the recipients of an award went to a joint Thai-GermanItalian team from the company Enapter, for their AEM Electrolyser. This clean technology turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas by splitting water into its constituent elements. With the funding received from Earthshot, Enapter hopes to scale up its technology, hopefully accounting for 10% of the world’s hydrogen generation by 2050. Prince William is known to be a great supporter of the environment and actively supports many projects to reduce climate change, and has expressed his disdain at the billionaires entangled in the space tourism race that has been in the news over recent months. He stated how “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.” He does have a point. One ticket on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space craft was auctioned off and the winning bid was US$28 million. The Earthshot Prize awards funds of £1 million and these ideas could change the world and benefit future generations. If the constant advances in the renewables industry interest you – which I assume is the case if you have read this far into the latest issue of Energy Global – then I do hope you enjoy this copy of the magazine and the breadth of information we have for you.
A splash of Asian flair Minh Khoi Le (Norway), Jun Yee Chew (Singapore), Dian Yu (Norway), Pratheeksha R (India), and Ramit Ittan (India), Rystad Energy, investigate the range of renewables in Asia Pacific, and outline their hugely promising future in the region.
he global energy transition effort has greatly accelerated since 2020 with more countries setting carbon-neutral targets. In Asia Pacific (APAC), China and Japan – two of the world’s top three economies – agreed to 2060 and 2050 targets, respectively. Renewables in both countries have experienced dramatic growth over the last decade, spearheading technology developments and driving cost reductions. The growth of renewable energy has also been significant in other APAC countries including South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand, where gigawatts of solar, wind, and storage have been installed in recent years. As of mid-2021, Asia (excluding the Indian subcontinent) accounts for 40% of the global installed utility scale renewable capacity. The region continues to witness strong economic growth and hence, rising power demand. Amid a fossil-fuels-dominated power mix, there are plenty of untapped opportunities for renewable energy in APAC. As things stand, APAC and central Asia can expect 40% growth in installed capacity, to approximately 780 GW, by 2025. However, with
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
growth come challenges. Policies and market mechanisms will need to adapt to create balance for investors, buyers, and consumers, while maintaining the support level for renewable energy. The feed-in tariff (FiT) for renewable plants has been very successful in many countries, but a move to auctions or certificates can ensure a systematic approach that would increase the competitiveness of renewable energy. While solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind technologies are well-developed in APAC, countries in the region will also need to explore and build capabilities in floating offshore wind, batteries, and green hydrogen.
Southeast Asia Most of Southeast Asia’s renewable energy installed capacity to date has been in Thailand and the Philippines. More recently, Vietnam displayed some record-breaking installations, adding more than 8 GW of large scale solar PV in two years. With other countries in the region looking to start-up and boost their renewable energy sectors, Rystad Energy estimates at least 18.9 GW of solar PV will be installed between 2022 and 2025. The growth will be most noticeable in the Philippines and Malaysia, but Indonesia could also be a key regional player once a good domestic policy supporting renewables is confirmed. Onshore and offshore wind projects are expected to see strong growth in 2021 after many years of muted development. Vietnam will be driving this growth with close to 5 GW, including 1 GW of intertidal offshore projects, due to be online by the end of the country’s FiT incentive in November 2021. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created some delays for the construction of many Vietnamese wind projects. As such, the Global Wind Energy Council – an international trade association for the wind power industry – together with project owners, developers, and equipment suppliers, have asked the Vietnamese
government to postpone the FiT expiry date. This, in turn, triggered the federal government to get in touch with local governments to consider a FiT extension. Rystad Energy expects approximately 16.5 GW of onshore wind to be added between 2021 and 2025 in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines, and 6 GW of offshore wind is estimated to come online in the next five years. To achieve this solar and wind project pipeline, Rystad Energy estimates investments of approximately US$73 billion will be required in the period to 2025. The two largest markets, Vietnam and the Philippines, will account for over 77% of this total. The largest investment, estimated at US$2 billion, is expected to be the Duriangkang Reservoir floating solar farm in Batam, Indonesia, from Singaporebased Sunseap Group – if the development gets the green light. The plant is to be one of the world’s largest floating solar farms with a planned capacity of 2.2 GW. There are a few gigawatt scale offshore wind projects currently being planned in Vietnam and the Philippines, but development will likely start after 2025. In addition, while storage in Southeast Asia has been lagging, battery installations in the Philippines in 2021 as well as planned pumped storage projects in Vietnam are seeing some growth. Rystad Energy estimates another 4.4 GW of storage capacity, coming from both pumped storage and batteries, will be added between 2021 and 2025.
Japan and South Korea aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and are eyeing solar PV and offshore wind. By the end of 1H21, South Korea installed 15 GW of solar PV (including rooftop), 4.4 GW of onshore wind, and 110 MW of offshore wind projects. To support its carbon-neutrality plan, South Korea plans to install over 30 GW of solar PV (including rooftop) and 12 GW of offshore wind by 2030. While large scale projects are the only possible solution to achieve its target, most of the capacity installed in South Korea is down to small scale assets of 3 MW or less. Land constraints as well as environmental permits and connection issues are currently plaguing the development of larger assets. To drive the sector forward, South Korea awarded 2 GW of solar projects in July’s auction, with another 2 GW planned to be auctioned in October 2021. In the July auction, the country awarded – for the first time – 204 MW of projects with a capacity of 20 MW and above. Within the first half of 2021, South Korea also announced plans to develop the world’s largest (8.2 GW) offshore wind complex Figure 1. Renewable energy growth and required investments in Southeast Asia to 2025. off the coast of Sinan, and a
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
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Figure 2. Japan and South Korea energy mix and utility renewables build-up for 2021 - 2025.
Toda Corporation a 16.8 MW floating wind project offshore Goto City, in the Nagasaki Prefecture. Japan awarded over 208 MW in its eighth solar auction in June, with a ninth pending. Japan’s energy transition will be supported by a solar feed-in premium policy expected to be implemented in 2022, which will allow PV developers to receive an additional premium on top of the spot reference price. The hydrogen market is also expected to bloom in Japan as the country’s green growth strategy calls up for 3 million t of hydrogen production capacity to be introduced in 2030. Recently, Hokkaido Electric Power, Green Power Investment, Nippon Steel Engineering, and Air Water announced plans to build a green hydrogen project powered by a 110 MW offshore wind project on the northern island of Hokkaido. The project will produce up to 550 tpy of hydrogen and start operation in 2024.
China In 2021, China’s 14th five-year plan placed renewable energy in a prominent position. Running until 2025, the strategy features targets for regional economic growth and objectives such as making the country greener and more innovative. But for the goals to be met, wind and solar PV projects will need to see a significant boost in installations. China will need 483 GW of wind and 479 GW of solar PV installed by 2025 to meet its goals. However, FiT subsidies for wind power and PV are due to gradually Figure 3. China’s total utility solar and wind installations vs 14th five-year plan target. cease from 2021, creating some additional challenges for the sector. At the beginning of September 2021, China launched a pilot programme called Green Power Trading. According to the 6 GW floating offshore wind farm in Ulsan with a total National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), investment of US$74.5 billion. Both projects are expected users that have demands for green power will directly trade to be completed by 2030. with wind and PV power generating companies under the Renewables currently account for 22% of Japan’s pilot scheme – effectively meaning that China’s renewable total electricity generation. The country’s draft policy, sector has entered the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) released in August 2021, aims to increase the share of era. power generation from renewables from 24% to 36% - 38% The Green Power Trading programme covers both by 2030. Japan’s cumulative installed solar PV capacity power grids operated by State Grid Corporation of China reached approximately 71 GW (mostly rooftop and small (SGCC) and China Southern Power Grid. SGCC manages scale assets) and 4.4 GW of onshore wind at the end of most provinces except Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, June 2021. While some of the mega scale onshore wind Guizhou, and Hainan, which are managed by China projects in Japan include the 100 MW Sumita Tono wind Southern Power Grid. A total of 7.93 TWh of mid- and longproject and the 80 MW Kawanan wind development – term green power contracts have been signed, with 87% expected to start commercial operation in 2021 and 2022, of this total volume traded within the SGCC’s network. This respectively – most of the growth to meet the 2030 target transaction is expected to reduce the burning of standard will be from solar PV and offshore wind. To this end, in coal by 2.43 million t and carbon dioxide emissions by addition to the eight solar PV auctions already awarded, more than 6 million t. The transaction price of the first the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) batch of green electricity is a premium of 30 - 50 ¥/MWh conducted its first offshore wind auction and awarded
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
compared with the local mid- and long-term thermal power transaction price. A total of 259 market entities from 17 provinces participated in the first batch of transactions. Liaoning ranks first in the country with 2.78 TWh traded, averaging 364.45 ¥/MWh, which is a 9% reduction from the previous lowest-FiT for solar at 400 ¥/MWh. Anhui province came in second place with 1.1 TWh and an average price of 404.4 ¥/MWh. China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) sold the most power in this trading with 1.97 TWh, accounting for 25% of the total traded volume. Its buyers included BASF and Shell.
Central Asia Central Asia, led by Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, is on its way to boost installed solar and wind capacity to 8.6 GW by 2025. Most of this capacity will be down to the tenders and auctions across the region, which have seen keen interest and the participation of numerous international renewable energy developers from the Middle East, China, and Europe. Uzbekistan has amassed a renewable energy pipeline of 4.65 GW, planned for installation between 2021 and 2025. The country commissioned its first utility scale solar plant, the 100 MW Nur Navoi solar project, last month. Amid its successful tenders, Uzbekistan’s Energy Ministry also plans to increase the country’s 2030 renewables targets. If this comes into effect, solar PV capacity could reach up to 7 GW and wind power up to 5 GW by the end of the decade.
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, has 1.3 GW of installed utility scale solar and wind power capacity. Based on its current project pipeline, Rystad Energy expects the country to reach a net installed solar PV and wind capacity of 2.77 GW by 2025. Kazakhstan aims to increase the share of energy produced from renewables from 3% in 2020 to 10% by 2030, and 50% by 2050. Outside of conventional solar and wind development, Kazakhstan is starting to emerge in the global green hydrogen hype. German developer Svevind Energy is eyeing the production of green hydrogen in Kazakhstan and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kazakh Invest National Company to develop a vast 45 GW wind and 30 GW solar PV electrolysers, which would produce approximately 3 million tpy of green hydrogen. This is currently one of the largest planned green hydrogen projects in the world. In addition, based on announcements made in the period to 2020, Afghanistan could reach an installed utility scale solar PV and wind energy capacity of 3 GW by the end of the decade. This would set the country on track to meet its 5 GW renewable energy target by 2032. However, due to the current political instability, major delays in the installations of projects and further cancellations are expected. Other countries in the region such as Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, have yet to install any utility solar PV or wind projects and have not set any targets or support policies for renewable energy.
Figure 4. Central Asia’s renewable energy project pipeline by energy sources and assets.
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rrespective of the location of a solar farm – its yield is optimum when all services are well co-ordinated and carried out by experts. That is because solar farm operators have to meet varied requirements – laws, conditions, complex technologies, and input regulations, all must be observed. Commercial and technical farm management, as well as maintenance and repairs from a single source, allow for optimum operation of a solar farm.
Caught in the web of needs What exactly needs to be undertaken to run a solar farm economically over time? What factors need to be kept in mind? What are the risks? Who should take over the varied tasks? Efficient management and a reliable maintenance company are essential here. Once the location and components have been optimally selected during the planning phase of a solar farm, the commercial and technical management teams ensure maximum energy yield in co-operation with a professional maintainer. Transparent communication between the investor and management is essential to make the investment in solar farms successful. Ideally, this task is carried out by key account management, which bundles all technical and commercial information, before processing it and communicating it to the investor.
Technical management – keeping an eye on the solar farm at all times The technical management team takes care of all technical issues. As a result of online monitoring, every occurrence in the solar farm is immediately reflected in the system.
Annekatrin Dretzke, wpd windmanager, Germany, emphasises why using a single source for solar farm management is the best solution for optimum operation.
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
A glance into the control room of wpd windmanager in Bremen, Germany, reveals this: park names and numbers are scrolling across monitors, weather maps are flickering, as well as red, yellow, and green blinking lights – and all this happening round the clock, 365 days a year. The 20 workers in the control room literally have the parks on their screens and can see on the monitor when photovoltaic (PV) systems fail, or yields drop. The workers are the ones who collect data, carry out evaluations, analyse errors, and initiate the necessary corrective measures as quickly as possible. And always in close contact with the technical management team that looks after the solar farms. But there is more to technical management than just this. The technical managers are the ones who perform on-site inspections, who keep an eye on telecommunications and network connections, ensure conformity with countryspecific legal requirements and, upon expiry of the term, arrange for the decommissioning or further operation of the solar farm as the case may be. They are also responsible
Figure 1. The control room at wpd windmanager in Bremen, Germany, is manned round the clock, 365 days a year. Wind and solar farms around the world are monitored from here.
for the commissioning of repair and maintenance services and for monitoring them, regardless of whether these were provided by a regional partner company or by their own field service. The topic of operator responsibility is also relevant in solar farms as operators and managing directors will assume operating responsibility for the farm once it has been commissioned and connected to the power supply network. A professional technical manager such as wpd windmanager takes on the operator’s responsibility for its customers, including all corresponding obligations. Matthias Berrichi, who has been a part of the technical management team for six years and who monitors wind and solar farms, was asked the following question: What special situations and challenges have you faced here in the control room when monitoring solar farms? “Fortunately, we have rarely had special situations. Of course, after certain weather phenomena such as storms, we have to deal with module damage. A few years ago, for example, 50 modules were destroyed by a hailstorm in southern Germany. This led to an even greater economic loss for the operator. In the event of such damage, our technical management team takes over the complete handling, which includes on-site inspection, commissioning of expert opinions, arranging for module replacement, settlement with the insurance company and, of course, the key account management team communicates with the investor. “We experienced a special situation this very spring. During the data analysis of a solar farm, we noticed inconsistencies in the inverter curves. When the data analysis itself did not provide an explanation, we contacted our field team, who drove to the farm to carry out an inspection. On-site, it turned out that several string cables connected to the inverters had been accidentally cut when the green areas of the farm were mowed and so it was operating at a significantly lower level of production. In consultation with the investors, we had the damage repaired by our own specialist staff and, of course, we prepared a loss account for submission to the insurance company. In order to keep the loss of earnings to a minimum, it is very important to have reliable technical managers on-site. Digitisation notwithstanding, it is difficult to clarify certain things adequately when sitting at your desk.”
What is important for the monitoring of solar parks?
Figure 2. Module cleaning on 2-axis solar trackers at a wpd windmanager park in southern Portugal. Photovoltaic systems are constantly exposed to the elements, as well as to pollution. Regular module cleaning helps to avoid so-called hot spots and to ensure long-term yields.
12 ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
A technical manager should inspect the solar park at least once before the start of the contract. Regular inspections are extremely useful to learn about the natural conditions on-site and to integrate this knowledge into the setting of parameters in the remote data monitoring system. The main issue here is whether the solar park is located in the shade of geographical, biological, or structural features such as mountains, trees or tall buildings, including nearby towers and masts. Knowledge gained from the inspection and about the conditions on-site flows into the monitoring software individually so that, for example, snowfall or shadows within a specified tolerance range do not lead to irrelevant error messages. Professional monitoring software is essential, just as is the skill of the technical managers who operate it.
ENERGY GL BAL
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The software used by wpd windmanager for solar park monitoring does not simply send out error messages but, in many cases, also works with data-based and automated error detection, which enables the technical manager to immediately initiate the right steps for the rectification of a problem. This type of systematic approach is a prerequisite for smooth operation and high availability.
The commercial management of solar farms
Figure 3. Module damage after a storm. During Storm Friederike in January 2018, a solar farm in southern Germany was struck by large hailstones.
Figure 4. From snow-covered module rows in Central Europe and cloudless skies on the Iberian Peninsula to cloud cover in Taiwan – a globally active operations manager such as wpd windmanager is keeping a careful watch on everything.
Solar farm operators want one thing above everything else – the operation of their solar farm should pay off in full. The commercial management team creates the framework conditions for this. In this context, financial accounting, contract management, controlling, optimisation of liquidity, insurance concepts, and direct power marketing, as well as the performance ratio, are important core topics. Detailed and transparent reports on farm performance and comprehensive investor support with short communication channels round off the spectrum of commercial management tasks. If relevant information is prepared and communicated transparently, it provides an important decision-making basis for the investor: Which marketing option is ideal for the electricity generated? How do I use the cost-saving potential in the best possible way, for example, when purchasing electricity or for insurance premiums? Till Schorer, Director Sales at wpd windmanager GmbH & Co. KG stated: “Our customers appreciate that we process, bundle, and provide all relevant information for their entire portfolio, regardless of where in the world their wind or solar farms are located.” Here too, an operator benefits from close co-operation between the commercial and technical management teams, as this minimises friction losses and loss of information.
What does an operation manager do if an error is discovered during monitoring? In principle, the monitoring programmes record and communicate all error messages digitally. In addition, large managers such as wpd windmanager check the farm’s performance several times a day using the monitoring portal, which permanently retrieves the current performance data from the farm. If an error occurs, it can be identified based on the error code and a concrete order can be placed directly with the maintenance company via an automated process.
Experience in the industry
Figure 5. Teamwork required: service technicians measuring the string on an outdoor installation.
14 ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
wpd windmanager is a German company specialising in the commercial and technical operations of wind farms and solar projects. Worldwide, wpd windmanager manages 529 wind farms with 2711 wind turbines, 108 solar farms, and a total output of 5849 MW. For over 20 years, funds and national and international investor groups have relied on the company’s know-how. In addition to the core market in Germany, wpd windmanager is active in various other European countries, South America, and Asia. In 2020 alone, additional German
sites have been added in Erkelenz and Bremerhaven as well as in Spain, Sweden, and Chile. Since 2020, wpd windmanager has been certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001.
Maintenance and servicing One of the most convincing sales arguments for solar farms is that the systems, once installed, require hardly any maintenance for many years. This may apply, for example, in comparison with wind turbines. But ‘hardly’ does not mean ‘none at all’. There are several reasons why it is advisable to inspect the components from time to time. First and foremost, solar farm operators need to meet inspection obligations. For example, DIN EN 62446-1 VDE 0126‑23-1 stipulates a DGUV V3 test Figure 6. Solar farm Minturno in the province of Latina, Italy. of the entire system at least once every four years. Solar farm operators must ensure that the work is properly carried out according to these Damage to solar parks – repairs and standards, because ultimately, they are liable. replacements However, the manufacturers of other components, e.g. PV systems are very durable. However, even the individual inverters, also specify maintenance intervals to which they link components are not free from damage or defects. Matthias the warranty periods or yield guarantees of their parts. Berrichi from wpd windmanager’s Solar Competence Centre Regular maintenance is important to ensure a consistently in Erkelenz, Germany, knows that there are many reasons high yield from the farm. If the performance of the solar farm why various types of damage can occur. “First and foremost, drops significantly for no apparent reason, it can be assumed damage can occur due to weather conditions, strong storms, that there is some damage to the system. Then, of course, the or hail. Individual modules can be ripped out of their brackets, maintenance company with its expertise is called in. and glass often breaks if struck by hail. But even mechanical Essentially, it is the same as with any investment: anyone components in tracking systems can be damaged or cables can who pays attention to defects and has them fixed regularly be rendered unsuitable, for example, due to being gnawed at by and in good time will enjoy the investment for a longer time animals.” and generate higher yields. If damage actually occurs, then specialists are required Last but not least, many investors take out insurance on-site, equipped with know-how, safety instructions, against damage caused by overvoltage or storms, for the necessary tools and, ideally, even the spare parts. example. Liability insurance is compulsory because the Thermography devices and drones are also frequently used operator of a plant is responsible for its safety and potential to detect damage. If any damage is found and repaired – for risks. Proof of regular inspection is usually required so that the example, if a module is replaced, the cabling is renewed, or an insurance company will pay in the event of an accident. inverter is replaced – then the technician will consult the control The basic rule is: maintenance work in solar parks must centre. The workers there check whether the error has been be carried out by qualified electricians as there is a risk to successfully resolved and terminate the process. life. The maintenance of a solar park also requires specific weather conditions. Are the modules covered with snow? Is Full commitment there too little solar radiation to take measurements? Or could For a solar farm to run technically at top form and with heavy rain get into electrical components? In such cases, it is optimum efficiency, it first of all needs experts who can recommended that a further maintenance appointment be deliver a comprehensive range of services. arranged. Solar farms are a very important factor in renewable The maintenance itself consists of various inspections. energies and are nowadays of immense economic Starting with module fastenings, frames, and roof importance. Furthermore, they are associated with constructions, and going on to individual modules and cabling requirements and responsibility. An intelligent operating (strings), and to inverters and feed-in points, technicians and service concept, implemented with quality awareness, carefully examine all components and check that they are reliability, and professionalism, is therefore a basic functional. Finally, specialists prepare the measurement prerequisite for fulfilling these tasks. Only in this way does protocol and store all relevant information in the data ecologically responsible action ultimately pay off for all management system. involved.
ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
Figure 1. In 2020, BayWa r.e. completed the largest floatingphotovoltaic (PV) system outside of Asia – the 27.4 MWp Bomhofsplas plant. The plant is located on a quarry pond in Zwolle, in the province of Overijsse, the Netherlands.
Toni Weigl, BayWa r.e. Solar Projects, Germany, highlights the role floating-PV can play in the future to maximise the world’s use of solar energy while diffusing debates around land usage.
s climate targets become more ambitious by the day, diversifying the renewable energy mix is more important than ever. Due to its flexibility and ability to work in a range of environments, solar energy is playing a key role in ramping up these efforts. Ground-mounted solar installations are already well-established and are highly efficient in terms of performance and production costs providing power at lower cost than conventional energies. However, as the world looks to extend the enormous potential of solar energy, floating-photovoltaics (PV) is an exciting solution that must be further used. The World Bank recently estimated that there are 400 000 km2 of man-made reservoirs around the world. If that was to be converted to floating-PV, the space has a theoretical energy production potential on a terawatt scale. A humbler goal shows that in Europe alone, accommodating floating-PV on just 10% of man-made freshwater reservoirs would create approximately 200 GWp. Although these figures show that the known potential for floating-PV adoption is considerable, the unrealised potential of this technology remains vast.
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A snapshot of the European market While floating-PV has been more commonly associated with the Asian solar market, the technology is gaining momentum across Europe as the region races to meet its decarbonisation goals. The technology is becoming an attractive solution for developers who are often faced with land scarcity issues – making it a viable option for high-population density localities without competing against other uses for the land. The Netherlands has taken an early lead in the sector. Due to the falling cost, subsidy schemes, and an increased understanding of the benefits of the application, the market is expected to grow by 2 GW by 2023 in the country. The Netherlands’ sustainable energy subsidy scheme (SDE++) – which replaced the SDE+ last year – is a great example of how subsidies are foundational in the realisation of CO2 reducing technology. Floating-PV is expanding into other European countries, as a technically and economically feasible complement to other PV applications such as standard ground-mounted PV or agri-PV systems. In Germany, special tariffs have been introduced, enabling a specific tender category for technologies such as floating-PV. However, like so many other countries, the project size within these tenders will need to expand in order to unlock its full potential.
Advantages of floating-PV As already touched on, a key benefit of floating-PV technology is that by using unused bodies of water – from disused coal quarries and mineral extraction pits to reservoirs – it can make an important contribution to the green energy revolution while diffusing debates around land usage. Not only does floating-PV save on land space, but the solar panels also naturally aid the reduction of water
Figure 2. Construction of a floating-PV site.
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evaporation. This is particularly important for countries facing water security issues and shortages – it is currently estimated that more water evaporates from reservoirs than is consumed by humans. By absorbing a proportion of the incoming solar radiation, the panels act as a physical barrier for the water and, therefore, play a key role in wide-ranging water conservation strategies. Water quality can also be improved, with the panels discouraging the growth of certain algae. Compared to other renewable energy technologies, floating-PV offers comparatively easy installation and maintenance. The layout of the panels is generally the same as is required for land-based plants, but these modules are mounted on floating platforms – along with the inverters and sometimes the transformers.
Installation costs Getting anchoring and mooring technology right is a critical factor for any floating installation, for costs and risks: due to adverse weather conditions, there have been examples in the past where several systems have been literally blown away because of insufficient anchoring. Providing robust solutions that stand the test of time is clearly important in ensuring the operation is not only uninterrupted but also avoids costly repairs or replacements – because only a long lifetime of the generator leads to the lowest possible electricity cost. Today’s remotely operated GPS tracking and monitoring systems can flag any issues with arrays that experience higher motion than anticipated, as well as alerting operators to any maintenance or operational issues. The small, but growing pool of suppliers and developers are helping to increase uptake and ensure these systems are easy and safe to install and maintain.
Exploring the environmental impact Before the installation of a floating-PV project commences, it is important to understand how it will affect the waterbody. Lately, more research is being carried out in this area. In a first-of-its-kind study, independent research was recently carried out by Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen to assess how floating-PV affects the environment. The studies started at the construction of BayWa r.e’s Bomhofsplas plant in February 2020 in Zwolle, the Netherlands – one of the largest floating-PV farms outside of Asia. The initial results were extremely positive and showed no adverse effects on the surrounding environment at the floating-PV farm. It Figure 3. The 41.1 MWp Sellingen park and 29.8 MWp Uivermeertjes park are has to be mentioned though that those results are only now the two largest floating-PV parks outside of Asia, and combined will generate applicable to BayWa r.e.’s system, which is significantly enough electricity to supply more than 20 000 households. different to other floating types, as the generator has a very small footprint on the water surface. With results being published in MDPI’s peer-reviewed Sustainability journal, effects on ecology, wildlife, and water can be measured, the the study compared different water quality parameters below easier it will be for future installers to demonstrate minimal floating solar panels with a location away from the park, with environmental impact. This will also pave the way for easier, the parameters outlined next. more straightforward permit procedures.
What is next for floating-PV?
The water quality showed no major differences in the measured key water quality parameters below the solar panels, such as conductivity, temperature, or dissolved oxygen. The temperature at the upper layers was only slightly lower under the solar panels, and there were fewer temperature fluctuations detected. The used floating-PV system which allows wind and sunlight to easily reach under the panels was identified to be a possible reason for this. When looking at the site as a whole, the researchers found that the water quality below the floating-PV farm remained at the same good level as the surrounding water surface.
As floating-PV continues to evolve, it will become a technical and economical option that is complementary to ‘standard’ PV systems. As a result of the falling cost and increased understanding of the benefits of the application, the future of floating-PV is bright. The European expansion of floating-PV will serve as an important contribution to the green energy revolution without competing against other uses for land. Ongoing research, such as that carried out by Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen as well as Buro Bakker/ATKB, will be vital in understanding and unlocking the potential of floating-PV technology. Beyond this, floating-PV can create new job opportunities in the renewable industry in everything from business and design to construction and maintenance. Not only does this offer a unique set of skills drastically needed in the industry, but it will also boost local economies and strengthen communities. The priority for the next few years should be to roll out floating-PV at sites where it is already economically feasible to do so. In order to ensure regulatory approvals, it will be important to maintain regular dialogue between all stakeholders in order to encourage knowledge-sharing and best practices. The hope is that the development of tariff systems from country to country will support the growth of the sector, to the point that (in a similar vein to ground-mounted solar) subsidiaries will be less important and projects will become self-sufficient, for example, via participation in the power market through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). For now, it is clear that floating-PV has an exciting role to play in the expanding renewable portfolio alongside other so called ‘double-function-applications’ such as rooftop-PV, agri-PV, or carport-PV. Across various countries and markets, the cost of installations will fall as technology and construction methods mature, expertise increases, and the use of floating-PV becomes more mainstream.
Biodiversity and ecology It was found that the presence of the floating-PV panels leads to less wind activity on the water surface, resulting in less erosion of the banks. Vegetation growth was therefore protected and stimulated. In terms of wildlife, ongoing research is also being carried out to assess the impacts on the fish population at the lake. Bio huts made by Ecoocean have been filled with seashells and submerged beneath the floating-PV panels to potentially encourage marine life and greater biodiversity. Positive effects have been observed after the first year review. The bio huts showed positive evolution prospects (including some fish) for the scientists to analyse further in the coming years.
Continuous multi-year research The initial results of the research carried out on the Bomhofsplas site are positive and serve as a solid foundation in how the company can produce renewable energy while also preserving and improving the conditions for the surrounding environment at floating-PV sites – at least for the chosen technology. However, continuous research into floating-PV is needed to map out a complete picture for the future. The more the
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Figure 1. Water reservoir on a hydroelectric power plant in the Upper Marsyangdi valley, Nepal.
Simon Trace, Energy and Economic Growth (EEG), funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UK, weighs up the hydropower potential of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, looking at the capacity for growth as well as the challenges the industry faces.
flexible, cost-efficient, clean, and low-carbon source of energy, hydropower could be one of the key solutions for improving energy access and meeting growing energy demands across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – especially if the electricity generated is traded between countries in these regions. However, hydropower faces significant challenges, including being particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and being associated
with social and environmental concerns. In some cases, the technology could also potentially be affected by the falling price of solar energy. While hydropower accounts for more than 70% of the world’s installed renewable power generation capacity, across SubSaharan Africa and South Asia there is huge, largely untapped hydropower potential.1 For example, while some countries in Africa are already highly dependent on hydropower for the majority of their energy supplies (it provides 20% of energy generation across the entire Southern Africa region and accounts for over 90% of electricity generation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia), only 7% of Africa’s hydropower potential has actually been developed. The resources yet to be exploited include 28 GW on the River Nile and 13 GW on the Zambezi River. Meanwhile, in South Asia, the hydropower potential of Nepal, Bhutan, and India combined is 150 GW – but only 17% is currently utilised.
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Meeting energy demands In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, hundreds of millions of people still live and work without access to electricity, and energy demands are growing. In Africa, demand for electricity is set to increase from the present level of 115 GW to almost 700 GW in 2040. In South Asia, it is expected to grow at an average rate of 6% per year. Harnessing untapped hydropower resources could be one of the key solutions for meeting energy demands, while also helping to address climate change. Hydropower is generally viewed as a sustainable, clean, low-carbon source of energy. However, concerns have been raised about the impacts of carbon emissions associated with the actual construction of large dams and methane emissions from rotting vegetation in the reservoirs behind newly constructed dams under certain conditions. Nevertheless, hydropower is still generally viewed as contributing positively to low-carbon energy futures. Not only that, but the technology can aid the integration of wind and solar resources into electricity grids. High rates of variable, weather-dependent, renewable generation places additional demands on grids in terms of delivering constant, reliable electricity supplies – but hydropower’s flexibility and reliability (it provides an almost instantly available source of power), coupled with its storage capabilities, can help to balance out intermittency issues. The case for hydropower can become even stronger if countries co-operate in developing infrastructure and/ or share available resources through large scale, crossborder ‘green grids’. These grids are made possible through long-distance, high voltage, direct current, cross-border transmission lines and digitised power management systems to manage the variety of inputs and outputs. Linking resources together offers better utilisation of regional generation capacity and potential, and could create a reliable supply of affordable, clean, secure energy across
large areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, while delivering economic benefits through the trading of electricity between countries.
Regional power trade
For example, the significant hydropower potential in Bhutan and Nepal (more than 100 GW combined) presents an opportunity to use resources more efficiently, meet electricity demands in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) region, and reduce carbon emissions – as explained in an EEG-funded Energy Insight on cross-border electricity trade (CBET).² Nepal’s hydropower capacity is 1.3 GW, and in 2018, virtually all of the country’s electricity was produced by these resources (almost 78% of the population has access to gridconnected electricity, and its consumption is modest). The electricity generation mix of Bhutan is also predominantly based on hydropower. But in Bangladesh, natural gas-fired power plants supply almost 76% of the electricity produced and hydropower supplies 21%. In India, coal accounts for approximately 70% of electricity generation, but the country has one of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy plans.3 The diversified generation mix of the BBIN countries, their complementary energy demand profiles, and the immense hydropower potential in Nepal and Bhutan suggest all four countries would benefit significantly from CBET. In fact, in April 2021, the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), India’s largest power trading platform, announced commencement of CBET on its platform, with Nepal being the first country to start trade in India’s day-ahead electricity market.4 Early indications from an EEG-funded research project, being led by Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe), suggest trade can help Nepal and Bhutan to utilise their hydropower potential.5 For example, in a no-trade case, the installed capacity of Nepal will reach only 15 GW compared to a high-trade case, where it reaches 44 GW (by 2045). Similarly, for Bhutan, under a no-trade case and a high-trade case, the installed capacity reaches 5 GW and 16 GW, respectively. Studies have pointed to positive socioeconomic impacts and substantial economic benefits from CBET. Furthermore, a study conducted using an electricity planning model for CBET in South Asia estimated an 8% reduction in CO2 emissions for the 2015 - 2040 period, associated with the introduction of a regional power sector. The IRADe research project is also investigating the impact of declining renewable energy costs on regional power trade in South Asia. Despite hydropower having attractive levelised costs, the price of renewable energy, Figure 2. Kariba hydroelectric dam in the Kariba Gorge of the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia in Southern Africa. particularly solar, is falling dramatically,
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which could reduce the appetite for the technology. In India, where the solar photovoltaics (PV) potential is approximately 749 GW, the solar PV levelised tariff dropped from INR 12 per unit in 2010 to INR 2.44 per unit in 2018. Hydropower has a levelised tariff of INR 5 per unit (kWh). Therefore, the question of whether hydropower will still have a market in the BBIN region is being analysed. On one hand, lower-cost domestic sources of renewable energy may reduce the need for cross-border power trade. On the other, flexible hydropower capacity may help South Asia’s abundant but variable solar and wind resources to be harnessed more easily in regional power grids. In Africa, electricity is traded between countries across ‘power pools’ (electricity systems and markets shared across economic blocs) and potentially between pools, to help meet domestic demand or sell excess supply. The Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) was the first to be established in 1995, and is now the most advanced power pool on the continent. It is thought the development of hydropower plants on Africa’s transboundary river systems can often improve regional co-ordination and enhance collaboration through
Figure 3. Dam Oudtshoorn, Karoo Western Cape, South Africa.
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the benefit-sharing and distribution of electricity and revenue. The Rusumo Falls project, with shared electricity supplies for Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania, provides a good example of how regional co-operation can lead to regional benefits. Importantly, developing regional grids or power pools can also help mitigate the climate-related risks that hydropower is unfortunately exposed to.
Hydropower and climate change Hydropower is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It is, for example, impacted by variations in rainfall, water availability, and protracted droughts. Reductions in overall rainfall, or changes to rainfall patterns that produce shorter more intense periods of rain followed by longer droughts, can reduce generation potential. Furthermore, extreme rainfall due to climate change can increase erosion and reduce reservoir storage capacity as a result of increased sedimentation. It has been suggested that trading electricity from countries with available hydropower capacity to those where supply is curtailed due to climatic conditions could help
to mitigate risks to electricity supplies; when one basin is experiencing periods of low rainfall, another may not be.1 However, some proposed hydropower developments are geographically concentrated, potentially being exposed to the same climatic conditions, at the same time. For instance, 82% of capacity in Eastern Africa is to be concentrated within the Blue Nile, and 89% of capacity in Southern Africa in the Zambezi – these geographical clusters of proposed dams are exposed to the same climatic system, and thus the same wet and dry periods, which would affect multiple individual dams simultaneously. The Zambezi’s exposure to the impacts of climate change has been highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for almost a decade – it stated that the basin exhibited the worst potential effects of climate change among 11 major African basins. What was not previously identified was the dual exposure of hydropower developments in Eastern and Southern Africa. The effect that climate change can have on hydropower is already being seen. As an example, hydroelectric generation in Zambia has declined in recent years due to droughts and lower rainfall, with the deficit caused being managed through load shedding and the purchase of emergency power and expensive imports.6 And future climatic conditions are likely to be more variable than current or recent ones – but this, and the potential longer-term implications of climate change, are not being adequately considered in the design of many hydropower schemes. This is discussed in detail in an EEGfunded Energy Insight on hydropower in Africa.1 The paper explains that potential impacts are currently estimated through scenarios projected across the expected lifespan of a hydropower dam, which typically ranges from 50 to 100 years. In Africa, the storage capacity and operational flexibility of most hydropower systems have been designed to account for historical patterns of hydrological variability (with contingency measures enabling the mitigation of dry periods). Most early-stage technical assessments, including the World Bank’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, continue to rely on historical hydro-meteorological records. There is a lack of capacity to systematically generate, analyse, and integrate climate projections into longer-term planning and investment decision-making. Technical design modifications to increase the resilience of hydropower dams have generally been made on a case-by-case basis, with no structured guidelines for widespread adoption. Mixed messages from climate projections make it increasingly difficult for decision makers to plan and adapt appropriately. For example, hydropower generation could decline by more than 60% in the Zambezi Basin under the driest climate scenarios, but could increase by up to 25% under the wettest scenarios.
operational management of hydropower schemes, and to place more importance and resources on defining the potential impacts of climate change – before schemes move beyond the preliminary planning stages. Partnerships between governments, energy providers, and regional hydrological/meteorological agencies will be important, as will the sharing of technology and information, such as regional climate models, weather information systems, and climate monitoring networks. Investing in renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar (where appropriate and feasible), can also help to reduce hydropower’s exposure to changing climatic conditions, as well as of course being important for meeting global carbon emission reduction targets.
There is clearly an urgent requirement to effectively generate and integrate climatic projections into investment and decision-making processes for the planning, design, and
Social and environmental concerns Alongside climate change challenges, many major hydropower schemes are also associated with serious social and environmental concerns.1 Upstream of retention dams, the flooding of natural habitats results in loss of biodiversity, with involuntary displacement of people and loss of cultural property. Downstream, a reduction in the hydrological flow can undermine ecosystem services, cause loss of biodiversity, negatively affect water quality, and impact water availability for other sectors. It has been suggested that nature-based solutions (as an alternative to hard infrastructure) can improve water resource management throughout basins and enhance the livelihoods of the people who are dependent upon the ecosystem services it provides – but they have yet to gain political buy-in.1 While hydropower generation has clear benefits for improving energy access and meeting energy demands, especially when the electricity is traded across borders, it is important to consider the challenges it faces. In particular, the potential long-term climate-related risks must be addressed. Hydropower infrastructure has a long lifespan, exposing operations to decades of climatic uncertainty, at a time when accurately forecasting future weather conditions is becoming more difficult. Focusing on the short-term runs the serious risk of designing infrastructure that is not suitable for the climate of the future. To avoid investments being undermined, there is an urgent need to understand how hydropower production can become more adaptable and resilient to climate change.
All information on hydropower/energy in Africa has been taken from the EEG Energy Insight: ‘Will climate change undermine the potential for hydropower in Africa?’, unless otherwise referenced. All information on hydropower/energy in South Asia has been taken from the ‘Crossborder electricity trade in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Region: A costbased market perspective’, unless otherwise referenced.
4. 5. 6.
BROOKS, C., ‘EEG Energy Insight: Will climate change undermine the potential for hydropower in Africa?’, March 2019. THAKUR, J., HESAMZADEH, M.R., WOLAK, F., ‘Cross-border electricity trade in the Bangladesh– Bhutan–India–Nepal (BBIN) Region: A cost-based market perspective’, May 2021. SHARMA, V., ‘India’s wicked problem: how to loosen its grip on coal while not abandoning the millions who depend on it’, July 2021. IEX, ‘IEX pioneers cross border electricity trade in an endeavour towards building an integrated South Asian regional power market’, April 2021. EEG, ‘Interview with Dr Jyoti K Parikh, IRADe’, April 2021. CARDENES, Dr I., COOKE, K., ‘EEG Energy Insight: Electricity in Zambia’, March 2020.
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Jeff Damron, Wärtsilä’s Energy Storage Business, USA, details a pragmatic approach to decarbonisation, and how investing in clean energy today will help alleviate price risks for consumers in the future.
he verdict on the climate crisis is in and, to be frank, it does not look good. As detailed in the recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human related activities have already led to an average global temperature increase of 1.1˚C. With that level of warming, climate change and its related impacts are inevitable for many communities across the globe. The world has seen devastating natural disasters sweep across coastal and inland communities everywhere, from flooding in Europe to wildfires across the western US. In addition, there has also been record breaking heat waves making their way through numerous continents. In fact, according to the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July was the hottest month ever recorded around the world. These natural disasters and rising temperature events are starting to occur more frequently and with greater severity. Significant action needs to be taken now to limit warming to 1.5˚C, stave off the worst of the potential destruction, and save lives. The evidence is clear. To limit many of the climate impacts the world is experiencing daily, countries need to take significant action on emissions in the next five to 10 years. In response to growing pressure to decarbonise, many powerhouse economies around the world have set goals to become net zero near or around mid-century. The industry expects to see these goals become more aggressive at this year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The hope is that at a minimum, all participating countries adopt a net zero goal by 2050. Despite these important commitments, implementation can be challenging. While some countries such as Norway, Iceland, and New Zealand lead the way for renewables penetration, others are still overly reliant on legacy oil, gas, and coal generation. Fortunately, the solutions are already available to help every country, no matter where they currently are along their decarbonisation journey, reach a carbon-free future. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called for US$1.6 trillion in clean electricity to reach net zero by 2050. An investment of this scale would not only mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but also generate revenue and create jobs in the local economies where clean energy projects are deployed. This trend has already been seen in small island communities where large scale renewable energy projects have created grid stability, while
advancing economic development. The list of benefits does not stop there, though. Investing in clean energy today will help alleviate price risks for consumers in the future. Utilities can reduce operating expenses for fuel and ongoing maintenance to keep legacy oil and gas plants running, and shift to a new financial model where capital expenditure is made up-front into predictable, low maintenance, renewable energy assets. By eliminating fuel costs, there is an element of price certainty insulated from the ever-present price swings of legacy fuel costs subject to market conditions. For example, Enel announced a €160 billion 10-year CAPEX budget, almost half of which is allocated for renewables, up from an annual average of €8 billion - €10 billion in the previous five years. Similarly, investment hurdle rates – a measure of risk akin to weighted average cost of capital – for today’s fossil fuel projects are calculated approximately 10 - 20% whereas renewables are in a much safer range of 3 - 5%. Investing in renewable assets is like purchasing ‘unlimited’ power up-front,
Figure 1. In the fast lane towards net zero: building sustainable energy infrastructure with electric vehicles and storage to accelerate the adoption of a clean transport future.
Figure 2. Renewables have become the lowest cost generation source in many global markets, with energy storage adoption as a core flexibility tool (annual forecasted installations tripling between 2020 - 2025 to north of 15 GW. This is driven by several factors stemming from aggressive climate change goals).
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as opposed to betting against fluctuating oil prices and narrowing environmental regulation. Furthermore, technology and operational costs associated with renewables have fallen substantially in recent years. A recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) outlined that the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility scale solar has fallen 82%, onshore wind by 39%, and offshore wind by 29%.
How do utilities and consumers alike start to realise these widespread advantages? Storage is the integral piece of the puzzle. Large scale energy storage is necessary to unlock the world’s renewable future and help us meet our climate associated goals. Today, in markets where high penetration of renewables exists, large scale energy storage projects have already proven their efficacy for meeting energy demand when intermittent renewable resources fluctuate. Storage is being seen to take hold in countries such as the UK, where the government aims to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035. There, energy storage projects such as the 100 MW Pivot Power systems are serving as flexible assets, illuminating the pathway to renewable energy integration at scale, while supporting next generation technologies such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Furthermore, in places such as Australia, where legacy fuel sources remain dominant, storage is helping to jumpstart the country’s investments in renewable energy. Just recently, Wärtsilä, along with independent power producer Zenith Energy, announced a 9.2 MW energy storage project to help power some of the world’s mining operations in Tanami, Australia. Even further, other utilities in Australia have also signalled their commitment to storage, including AGL Energy Ltd, who recently announced a 250 MW/250 MWh battery facility on Torren’s Island. These projects demonstrate storage as a flexible solution for all types of utilities and customers, even in remote, islanded grid situations. Making these investments today will cost significantly less than waiting for more forceful, abrupt, and disorderly policy responses. Analysts predict the inevitable policy landscape where most, if not all major economies institute carbon pricing for the power and industrial sectors by 2030. Factor that on top of the cost of climate adaptation where 100-year floods become the seasonal norm. Given the benefits that renewables present to grid owners and operators paired with the significant costs associated with continuing down the path of legacy generation, it is no longer a matter of if a decarbonised future needs to be invested in, but when. It is now up to utilities and industry alike to usher in this new era of decarbonisation, as will be outlined this autumn in Glasgow, Scotland. Forward-thinking, ambitious leaders are needed to embrace a strategy of front-loading renewable adoption to deploy as quickly as possible. Let the world move from a decade of deliberation into a decade of action. Widespread deployment of renewables and energy storage projects will drive the world into a future less impacted by the climate crisis and full of economic opportunities for communities everywhere.
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Dr. Pedro Ramirez, Centrica Business Solutions, s, UK, explains what to consider when choosing an energy storage solution and how to select the correct battery technology type to meet requirements.
he development of lower-cost, longer-life, and more reliable battery technologies is opening up the opportunities of energy storage to an increasing number of organisations across multiple levels and energy sectors. Battery storage is particularly attractive to energy investors and developers looking to monetise batteries by placing them in energy and grid support markets. Battery storage unlocks a range of economic, social, and environmental benefits, which is the reason why the technology is rapidly spreading and penetrating across multiple energy sectors. Flexibility and charging/discharging capabilities uniquely enable this technology to provide and profit from grid support services and energy markets, and at the same time contribute towards improving sustainability and decarbonisation. Three key benefits of battery storage are:
F Provides fast, reliable, and zero-emissions power: Batteries can instantly be switched on/off, and can quickly change the power output as required, with no carbon emissions. This makes batteries a source of unique flexibility for providing grid support services and contributing to the cost-effective integration of renewables.
F Maximises return on investment by participating in energy and grid support markets: Batteries’ flexibility can be monetised in a number of markets. Organisations can optimise their battery storage usage and generate new revenue streams via commercialising their battery storage in energy and grid support markets. The super-fast response time, high flexibility, and capability of generating and consuming electricity gives battery storage a competitive advantage over other solutions – such as flexible load, diesel generators, etc. On the other hand, the capability of storing energy allows batteries to charge at low-price periods and discharge when prices peak.
F Improves sustainability: Battery storage increases the utilisation of intermittent generation. This not only contributes towards the decarbonisation of the grid but to the cost-effective integration and efficient utilisation of a larger share of renewables onto the grid.
Figure 1. Aerial view of the Roosecote, UK, 49 MW/24.5 MWh lithium-ion BESS.
The basic components of a battery energy storage system A battery energy storage system (BESS) is an electrochemical system capable of storing and discharging electricity by means of reversibly converting chemical energy into electrical energy. A BESS is composed of numerous functional building blocks, all of which are vital for the operation of the system. The basic four building blocks of any BESS are: F Energy storage system (ESS) – the physical energy storage device in which electric energy is stored in a chemical form. The physical energy storage device for lithiumion batteries (LIBs) is formed by hundreds of connected battery cells. In the case of redox flow batteries (RFBs), it is formed by the electrolyte and electrolyte tanks that store energy.
F Battery management system (BMS) – the low-level control and monitoring of the operational state of the physical energy storage device. The BMS ensures that the system at battery module/pack level performs within its operational limits and checks that the power that needs to be charged or discharged from the battery cells/ modules is within the operating range of the current system status. It also continuously monitors battery cells/
modules parameters (voltage, current, temperature) in order to estimate their state-of-health and state-ofcharge for cells balancing purposes.
F Power conditioning system (PCS) – the equipment that enables the battery system to interact (i.e. charge or discharge electric energy) with the grid.
F Energy management system (EMS) – the high-level control that integrates all parts of the BESS and that determines when and at what rate the storage system needs to be charged or discharged – or when it needs to be idle.
Electrochemical batteries Electrochemical batteries are classified into two main groups: F Rechargeable cell-based batteries – composed of one or more electrochemical cells, which are produced in different shapes and sizes depending on their intended application. Common chemistries of rechargeable batteries include lead-acid and lithium-ion. Currently, the most popular chemistries for stationary applications are lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC).
F Flow or RFBs – rechargeable batteries that use liquid electrolytes (usually two, one positively and one negatively charged) for storing energy. The electrolytes are stored in separate tanks and are pumped into the battery’s cell-stack when charging or discharging.
Which battery technology types work best? There are currently two key battery technology options that are commercially proven and can operate at scale to best suit key project requirements and site-specific conditions and limitations. Figure 2. Lithium-ion battery (LIB) cells integration process and key components of a battery system.
Figure 3. Traditional configuration of a liquid electrolytes redox flow BESS.
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Lithium-ion batteries LIBs are a mature and proven technology and by far the most widely used type of battery nowadays. In this battery type, lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode of each battery cell during discharge and back when charging. Key properties of this battery technology are its high energy density, tiny memory effect, and low self-discharge. The basic and smallest building blocks of a LIB system are the battery cells, which store the chemical energy. Cells are aggregated together, i.e. connected in series and in parallel to form a module, pack, or tray, which is normally the smallest interchangeable part of a BESS. Several modules are then aggregated to form a rack or string. Several racks are then connected to get the levels of power and energy capacity required for the BESS. Lithium-ion is the technology that enabled the portable electronics revolution. Today it is the dominant battery technology for powering portable electronics and is increasingly being used to integrate renewables into power systems worldwide. It is also core to the rapidly growing
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Figure 4. External view of the BESS containers of the Gateshead Council 3 MW/3.33 MWh lithium-ion BESS in the UK.
Figure 5. LIB modules and racks inside one of the BESS containers of the Gateshead Council 3 MW/3.33 MWh lithium-ion BESS.
electric vehicles industry. Due to increasing demand from the automotive sector, high manufacturing volumes and continued innovation have translated into significant battery cost decline since 2010, while energy density and battery cycling lifespan continue to improve. One of the drawbacks of lithium-ion technology is that power and energy are tied together in a cell. Therefore, it is not possible to increase one without increasing the other at the same time.
Flow batteries RFBs are a mature energy storage technology developed by NASA in the 1970s and are quickly gaining presence in the market for long-duration applications. This rechargeable battery type separates out its positively and negatively charged liquid electrolyte energy carriers using an ionselective membrane at the cell level (where the electrical energy and chemical energy conversion happens). Charging and discharging conditions allow selected ions to pass through the cell membrane and complete chemical reactions. The electrolytes are stored in separate tanks and
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they are pumped into the battery cell when charging and discharging. The storage capacity of flow batteries can be increased by simply utilising larger storage tanks for the electrolytes. Several chemistries are possible for this type of battery, but vanadium/vanadium is the most popular nowadays. RFB technology offers a similar response time to LIB. It is quickly gaining market presence due to its suitability for long-duration applications, i.e. where energy charging/ discharging is required for more than a couple of hours, involving larger depth-of-discharge cycles. Currently, systems with more than three hours duration are a cost-competitive alternative to LIB systems and offer a much higher level of endurance. As the market share for RFB increases and accelerates, economies of scale are expected to make this technology cost-competitive for applications below three hours duration in the coming years. Compared to LIB, RFB has three essential building blocks at the battery system device level, i.e. the electrolyte and electrolyte tanks, pumps and pipes, and the cell-stack or stack. This is due to the separation of power and energy in this type of battery technology. The electrolyte tanks are the containers in which the positively and negatively charged electrolytes are stored. The volume of electrolytes stored in the tanks defines the energy capacity of the battery. The pumps and pipes are used for pumping the electrolytes into the stack, where the electrochemical reaction takes place. The stack is a collection of cells electrically connected, through which the electrolytes are pumped. Each cell consists of two half-cells (anode and cathode), which are divided by a separator or membrane that chemically and electrically isolates the two sides of the cell. The separator/membrane allows ionic transfer to support the electrochemical reaction on both sides of the cell. The power of an RFB system is defined by the surface area of the electrodes located in the anode and cathode of each cell, which allows the power of the system to be increased without changing its energy capacity. A key characteristic and advantage of RFB technology over LIB is that power and energy are not tied together and can be increased independently. Additionally, the cycling-degradation performance of RFB is much superior to that of popular LIB chemistries, and the electrolytes can be fully re-used at the end of the operational life of the battery, which is typically 20 years for this battery technology. However, RFB has a lower energy density, which translates into systems that are heavier and require a larger footprint.
How do you navigate the complexity around battery types? Choosing the best battery storage solution is complex, but there are three key characteristics that define a battery’s operating capabilities and influence specification. These are: FFBattery chemistry – refers to the technology used for storing energy in the battery. This determines the power and energy density of the battery, and also the operational characteristics and limitations, as well as cycling lifespan.
FFPower – typically measured in kW or MW, refers to the maximum level of electricity that can be discharged at any one moment.
FFEnergy capacity – typically measured in kWh or MWh – refers to the volume of energy the battery can store, thereby determining the duration of discharged power. Battery chemistry, power, and energy capacity determine the main flexibility features of the battery for charging and discharging energy and should be carefully assessed when deciding the most appropriate BESS for an organisation’s needs. The selection process is also dependent on many other factors, such as: >> Cycling operating regime(s), degradation, and lifespan performance. >> System roundtrip efficiency. >> System response time and ramp rates. >> Active and reactive power requirements. >> Available space and battery footprint. >> Warranties and guarantees. >> Site connection capacity and restrictions. >> Operation and maintenance. >> Type and capacity of on-site energy infrastructure. A careful and adequate sizing and specification of the BESS is key for ensuring the battery can be monetised in all relevant energy and grid support markets, and that risks are minimised and return on investment maximised.
Battery storage in action Centrica Business Solutions has extensive experience of designing, building, and operating LIB and RFB projects, including: FFCentrica Business Solutions is using lithium-ion technology in one of the UK’s largest commercial storage facilities of 49 MW/24.5 MWh at the former Roosecote power station in Barrow, UK.
FFA behind-the-meter 3 MW/3.33 MWh LIB system Centrica Business Solutions supplied to Gateshead Council in the UK, which is capable of powering up to 3000 homes for an hour. This system has been commercialised in the dynamic Firm Frequency Response (dFFR) and capacity markets.
FFCentrica Business Solutions is operating a series of LIB assets in the UK and across Europe as part of virtual power plants, using its FlexPondTM optimisation technology. Various consumption and generation assets are aggregated and multiple grid support markets can be accessed, such as fast frequency response services.
FFCentrica Business Solutions partnered with redT (today Invinity Energy Systems) to combine a vanadium/ vanadium RFB with solar photovoltaic at a project in Cornwall, UK. This project, which is part of the Cornwall Local Energy Market Project, is increasing solar utilisation and reducing peak-time electricity costs.
Figure 6. Internal view of the Roosecote 49 MW/24.5 MWh lithium-ion BESS, showing the PLCs that control the charging and discharging of the 63 battery arrays.
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Mark Patterson, Chairman and Interim CEO of Carbon Neutral Energy (CNE), Scotland, addresses a series of questions regarding mobile battery storage solutions, and how these can supply and store green power behind the grid to prevent electricity blackouts.
Q. A recent study commissioned by the EU stated that innovative energy storage solutions will play an important role in ensuring the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid. What size is the market now? With the International Maritime Organization (IMO) setting a mandate for a 40% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 and global governments committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement, clean, renewable energy sources are needed to help create a sustainable society. They must displace our current dependence on more problematic sources of power such as oil and natural gas, where there is increasingly negative sentiment and investment intentions moving more towards clean energy technologies. The trouble with such renewable power sources, such as onshore and offshore wind and solar, is that they might not be produced at the time when most needed – during periods of peak energy demand – and equally be wasted when not fully utilised. Such challenges require a new storage application such as lithium-ion batteries to enable renewable energy generation when required. There is significant demand worldwide for clean portable power and large scale storage solutions. Technology now exists and is proven which has allowed CNE to develop a range of energy storage solutions, giving users a different commercial model to switch to electrification. This also boasts an option to upgrade to use the latest and most cost-effective technology as it emerges, such as hydrogen.
Q. What systems are currently up and running across the UK to address the current inadequacy in the country’s power infrastructure? It is encouraging to know that many of the early challenges faced by the energy storage industry are being overcome and a balance for commerciality vs technology demand is being met. There are several
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projects planned for the UK for energy storage focusing on grid balancing and support of the inefficient grid infrastructure. With the drive in the UK to use only renewable power generation, there is no question that battery storage is hugely important to reaching that goal. Co-location projects will likely be the future and provide the opportunity to build storage infrastructure alongside new renewable generation sites, such as wind and solar farms. While CNE’s biggest competitors are in the more saturated space of grid-based static units, what the company is doing with high energy, robust, mobile solutions is new. It supports industry and society in adapting to the new era of global electrification. Rather than focus attention on large scale storage on-site, instead CNE has the ability and agility to not only store renewable power but to deliver that direct to the end user. This both reduces the strain on the national grid but also optimises power during peak times.
The full range is fitted with the latest tracking technology utilising 4G/5G connectivity and smart analytical software, allowing CNE control rooms to logistically track and monitor the hardware and share daily reports on energy performance and consumption with customers. The company is also developing an innovative commercial software for simpler billing. With a long-term agreement in place for the supply of green wind power for the north east of Scotland and working with several other green power suppliers throughout the UK, CNE can supply power at 30% less than current grid costs, thus allowing customers to re-sell the power to the end user at a reasonable rate.
Q. Using a range of mobile, modular energy storage systems with large capacity battery storage, CNE is aiming to raise £300 million to exploit this opportunity. How is the energy transported from renewable sources to the portable storage systems?
While there are many developing technologies, CNE’s research points to lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO4) as the preferred and best proven technology for energy storage. It is also the best option today in terms of cost, performance, long-term stability, safety, cycle life, and technology maturity. CNE’s range of portable storage solutions allows for future proofing of technology advances and the company will continue to evaluate up-and-coming technologies that could offer improved performance and cost-effectiveness. There are several alternatives, hydrogen being an example, however, CNEs believe these technologies are still years away from commercialisation. Key to the company’s commercial model is offering the units on long-term lease with a management contract for five - 10 years. This helps its customers transition at a lower upfront cost. CNE can then scale up as its customers see the value of battery storage and demand grows.
CNE’s bespoke eGen-4 and eGen-5 mobile units can store power up to 5 MW and the unique design of the smaller static modules allows for robust road or sea transport from renewable power sources, which can also be combined to create mega storage banks. Driven by electric vehicles which are not dissimilar looking to petrol tankers, the large container units can be easily moved and offloaded at site. Providing the time of green power transportation, this will help reduce the grid’s capacity, provide a crucial back-up supply, and support remote location when connecting to the grid can be costly and difficult. The module can be used as the power source on-site or as a delivery unit to support the supply of green power to the eGen range. Due to the unique modular pack arrangement, these can be customised to meet any size of customer power requirements at any location, potentially creating gigawatt storage systems.
Figure 1. CNE has developed a unique solution offering the supply and storage of green electric power, in a mobile and modular format, from 500 kW to gigawatts of storage.
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Q. As the range of battery power capacity is currently from 1 MW to 5 MW, how is battery design keeping pace with different requirements?
Q. CNE is expanding in the US and looking to manufacture its portable power systems in Houston, Texas. Will there be any differences between the technologies required in the UK to those in the US? In February this year, Texas experienced a major power crisis as a result of three severe storms sweeping across the US. It left 0.5 million Texans without power and drew much attention to the state’s lack of preparedness for such extreme weather conditions. Damages from the blackouts were estimated at US$195 billion, making this the costliest disaster in the state’s history. CNE’s battery storage solution can prevent this happening in the future and it is a vital means of balancing the grid. Without storage, power emergencies such as those in Texas could occur again across the globe. With ongoing climate change, these events could become more frequent, so the company believes the time to act is now and is getting into the US market early. CNE’s vision is that its product range will help achieve greater efficiencies and build resilience into the grid. The company is already seeing that the energy transition is accelerating rapidly in the US. The CNE USA products are
developed and manufactured by CNE UK in line with specific Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certifications, with current lead times of between nine and 12 months. The plan is to leverage the business model and easy to install, robust technology to start manufacturing in Houston to better serve the US market. This will undoubtedly provide customer benefits and bring more green sector jobs to the area. The growth opportunities for both its UK and US businesses are endless, as more customers transition to clean, portable, large scale, renewable power storage.
Q. To avoid energy waste and meet stringent climate change targets there is clearly a massive global demand for this type of technology. How far, and in what timeframe, will this need to scale-up to ensure it is a viable and sustainable solution? The time is now as mobile energy storage will play a huge part in the success and efficiency of global electrification. Plans are already well underway to rapidly scale-up the company’s UK and US services within the next two years. For example, UK tax money is being wasted on constraint payments. This is part of a regulatory framework called ‘Connect & Manage’, which was introduced in the UK in 2010 to allow the development of electricity generation projects and their connection to the transmission system. However, as the National Grid is responsible to identify surges and shortages, and to therefore balance supply and demand accordingly, UK wind energy operators have asked to reduce output from generators to avoid damage caused by electricity grid congestion to the system. 2019 was the 10th year in which British wind farm companies have received constraint payments. In the last calendar year alone, more than £135 million has been spent to turn wind turbines off due to grid capacity. This is a very inefficient way of spending UK tax money. With the design of the CNE range and its more astute commercial model, these constraint payments could be re-allocated to storage of renewable energy to bolster efficiency, add capacity, and reduce wastage.
Q. Investment in this technology is obviously vital with CNE aiming to raise £300 million to exploit this opportunity. Looking into the next decade, how far can this capital be used to transform and increase green electrification, reduce carbon emissions, and create jobs? Over the next 10 years, CNE’s plan is to have more than 100 eGen assets within its rental fleet and thereby create more than 200 jobs. In doing so, this will help support the national grid infrastructure and allow for more renewable electricity generation to be installed. For high polluting industries such as the marine sector, where very few ports offer electric power, many vessels run diesel generators while quay side. So, having access to renewable energy and portable power will allow ships to essentially plug in and turn off engines while at port, cutting carbon emissions, reducing fuel and running costs, and saving significant sums of CAPEX due to engine wear and tear.
Figure 2. Bespoke mobile units can be used as the power source on-site or as a delivery unit to support the supply of green power to the eGen range.
Figure 3. The hybrid on and off-grid system is suitable for a variety of different applications with multiple industries such as marine and shipping, oil and gas, renewables, construction, technology, manufacturing, and agriculture.
Likewise, the same scenario is being welcomed by the construction industry where electric, rather than diesel machinery is now more readily available. CNE’s eGen systems offer potential investors with sectorleading return on investment. The strong cash generation can be utilised to continue to build out the company’s fleet of assets and support the energy transition. Green power has made significant strides across the globe. However, it has been the lack of available and flexible storage and power generation solutions at site that is holding back its advance.
Q. As the energy transition takes shape over the next three decades, what further R&D do you see is required to ensure green electricity storage and supply can be future-proofed but adaptable to ensure safety, cost efficiency, and sustainability? There is no doubt, ongoing R&D will be required as technology and applications continue to change, whether this be battery capacity, hydrogen use, and even the design of CNE’s mobile units. Staying ahead of the curve is part of the reason the company has developed this very much in-demand technology, and its innovation will continue to be driven by the customers, and societal and environmental needs for safer and cleaner operations.
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Valery Godinez and Keith Respet, Sensoria™ by MISTRAS, USA, provide an overview of a blade monitor that utilises advanced acoustic emission technology to remotely detect damages and visualise blade integrity.
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s wind turbine blades operate on a daily basis, the threat of unseen and unexpected damage that can seriously impact blade reliability and productivity constantly looms. Particularly with the industry standard of conducting infrequent blade inspections, damage can occur and worsen in between scheduled inspections, leading to unplanned downtime and higher maintenance expenses. Wind farm operators and fleet engineers need blade management solutions that make their operations smarter. Acoustic emission (AE) monitoring technology – such as the tech utilised by Sensoria™, a new 24/7/365 blade monitor developed by MISTRAS Group – provides a resolution; operators and engineers can gain continuous data on their blade’s integrity, while actually extending the intervals between scheduled inspections. The Q&A here helps to explain how remote, AE monitoring technology is changing the face of blade integrity management in the digital age.
Q. To keep equipment operating safely and efficiently, routine inspection is vital. How does acoustic emission testing work, and how is it different than other non-destructive testing methods? AE testing monitors the behaviour of materials performing under stress by ‘listening’ to the sounds of growing cracks, breaking fibres, and other forms of active damage. When damage forms in a material, it makes noise, even if it is too quiet to be heard by the human ear. Small scale damage elicits minor frequencies and releases of energy that are picked up by AE sensors, such as the Sensoria sensors that are installed in turbine blades. AE testing is based on different foundational principles than other non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, such as ultrasonic testing (UT), radiography (RT), or eddy current (EC). In those cases, the detection mechanism is based on interaction with the defect geometry; they introduce some type of energy into the material and look at the interaction between the
energy and the defect, with results in the form of signals or images that showcase the presence of existing defects. In the case of AE, the detection mechanism is based on the defect generating its own signal. Defects in structures (such as turbine blades) act as stress intensifiers; even when the overall load on the structure is below dangerous levels, local stresses at the edges of the defects may raise to dangerous values. Under these conditions, and depending on their type, size, location, loading, and other factors, defects become ‘active’ and produce AE that is picked up by the AE sensors. Another important difference between AE and other NDT methods is that AE sensors can be remote from the damage. While other NDT methods require a sensor to be placed directly on top of a damage to detect it, AE sensors are strategically placed to detect sound waves that travel throughout the materials.
Q. How can the data provided by AE blade monitoring technology generate value for users? Timely and accurate blade integrity data is paramount to maximising performance and effectively and efficiently making decisions on blade health. AE technology in particular has important benefits for the future of wind blade integrity. Tracking transient and dynamic changes in acoustic signatures of wind turbine blades over time is necessary to detect damage and track damage progression. Tracking of acoustic signatures and background noise can be used by asset owners to prioritise inspection and manage asset operations. The data collected continuously by the solution can be used to determine the acoustic response of each blade during operation, identify whether the blade acoustic noise changes over time, and compare them to the acoustic noise produced by the other blades in the turbine.
Q. Why is remote, continuous AE monitoring of wind turbine blades more effective than individual, manual inspections? AE technology is a unique form of NDT that generates several useful benefits for wind turbine operations when used for continuous monitoring. Blades are typically inspected infrequently, with some blades being inspected every few months, while others can go well over a year without undergoing inspection and testing. Since wind turbine blades are such massive at-height structures, it is all but impossible to see the formation of initial active damage from ground level, and even if drones are used for close proximity visual inspection, damage not open to the surface would not be detected. This allows defects to worsen over time and become more severe by the time they are discovered. This can potentially lead to secondary damages, increased maintenance costs, and longer downtime. Damages not open to the surface or located inside the blades can be detected in real-time by AE sensors installed on turbine blades. Rather than scheduling routine inspections, with AE monitoring
technology such as the technology used by Sensoria, wind turbine blade integrity is constantly being monitored, enabling operators to proactively stay aware of true blade integrity. Beyond wind turbine blades, AE technology can also be used to help operators keep tabs on the integrity for other assets throughout a wind farm. Other wind farm assets that AE successfully monitors include: >> Wind turbine hubs. >> Offshore monopiles. >> Wind farm substation transformers. This rapid form of detecting potential damage allows issues to be assessed and if necessary, mitigated more quickly. This allows for the overall reduction of turbine failure and keeps wind operations continuing as expected for successful energy generation.
Q. What are the common defects that are found when inspecting wind turbine blades? When inspecting wind turbines, common defects that are found on blades include: >> Lightning strikes. >> Blade skin ruptures and perforations (including those caused by leading-edge erosion). >> High energy impacts. >> Cracking and delaminations. High energy impacts can occur from weather, wildlife, and other unexpected causes. These impacts can result in sudden and detrimental damage to blades that is not always visible. Lightning strikes are another common type of damage that wind turbines undergo. Turbines are susceptible to lightning strikes due to their height and material. In the most extreme cases, lightning damage can fully damage the entirety of a turbine structure, but in more minor cases, lightning will cause less visible, yet still impactful damage, as the impact can lead to secondary damage if not properly detected and mitigated. Blade skin ruptures and perforations can occur from a multitude of sources, but like many forms of blade damage, they
Figure 1. Defects on blades are sometimes visible but often hidden. MISTRAS uses advanced acoustic emission (AE) technology to proactively detect damages including lightning strikes, skin perforations and ruptures, cracking, and more.
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reduce production and can lead to failure if severe enough. The smoothness and flow of sleek turbine blades is a major aspect of how they properly operate and generate energy. When these pristine skin surfaces are ruptured in any way, operations will be negatively impacted. Cracking and delaminations are some of the most common damages that blades are subjected to. They can occur because of harsh environmental conditions, which introduce abnormal mechanical loads to the blades, or by small manufacturing defects, such as wrinkles over time. When cracking forms on a blade, its structural integrity is negatively affected. Cracks can lead to catastrophic structural failure, and also affect other parts of the turbine.
Q. How is AE data transferred after damages are detected through the monitor? AE sensors are installed on wind turbines – with one sensor installed within each of the three blade bulkheads, and a data acquisition system installed in the turbine hub. The sensors and data acquisition system continuously feed real-time acoustic data to the Sensoria Insights data-driven web application portal via cellular network or Wi-Fi, which makes all current and historical blade integrity data available to site managers, fleet engineers, and operations teams. The Sensoria Insights portal is an important, innovative tool that meets the needs of the digital age. It allows monitoring data to be viewed by operators in real-time, including on mobile devices. In a world where remote work is more common, this feature allows operators to still be ‘in the know’ of turbines while at home or on other sites.
Q. Once defects have been acknowledged, what methods are carried out to reinstate the quality of the turbine blades? Analysis, review, and repair are carried out to reinstate turbine blade quality once defects have been detected. When an instance of damage initially occurs to a wind turbine blade, the programme’s AE sensors will ‘listen’ to this change in structure and send this notification to a key performance indicator (KPI) portal. After damage is detected, users receive real-time mobile alerts to enable immediate action. All blade integrity data – from a single blade to an entire turbine fleet – is stored in the Sensoria Insights data portal, making blade data accessible and actionable from anywhere in the world. The accuracy of the sensors allows the precision down to which blade is damaged to be known. Operators can review this data, assess the severity of the situation, and determine whether immediate action should be taken or if repairs can wait until the next scheduled outage. If immediate action is required, rope access technicians or drone operators investigate the defect to more closely evaluate the severity, and perform the necessary maintenance and repair activities, such as coating, painting, blasting, or other sorts of component replacement and repairs. These activities can be conducted by the site’s on-site operations teams, or via optional Sensoria dispatch services, through which highly-trained and certified professionals can be requested for additional support.
Q. Inspecting blades whilst they are in operation to check for defects and make repairs can help maintain their safety and uptime, but what services can be implemented back in the manufacturing stage to limit such future defects? The manufacturing of blades plays a major role in how much blades can withstand while in commercial use, and how long they will last. Manufacturing flaws in blade components can include surface cracking, incomplete penetration, lack of fusion, porosity, and more. All blade materials and componentry must undergo proper laboratory quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) testing prior to being placed into service, and proper testing can be the difference between blade failure or long-lasting production. Once wind turbine blades are properly manufactured and tested, the transportation process can be important to their health and sustainability. Blade transportation is another area of wind blade integrity management in which an AE monitoring solution such as Sensoria can help operators to find value. Transportation of such large componentry is difficult and expensive and requires co-ordination from many people throughout a wind energy organisation. These stresses are increased when considering the burden that procuring, shipping, and storing spare blades can cause, as site operators often are not aware of the actual conditions of their blades and thus need multiple back-ups available. With the real-time integrity data that monitoring provides, operators, engineers, and procurement and logistics personnel can realise value throughout the wind blade value chain by reducing the need for unnecessary spare parts.
Q. Does the company constantly improve its technology as information from the data is actioned? MISTRAS Group research and development (R&D) teams have a long and proven legacy of working with customers in advancing acoustic emission solutions to solve asset protection problems. For decades, MISTRAS has been a leader in the development and engineering of advanced AE technology. This legacy of R&D using AE is the foundation for the innovative use of Sensoria to enhance wind turbine blade management. Sensoria was created out of a need from wind energy customers for accurate, timely blade integrity data to make their operations smarter. Wind turbine operators now have a trusted and evidence-backed solution to keep turbine blades running effectively.
Q. Why does an integrated approach to blade management work more succinctly for a wind farm operator than using multiple vendors for inspection/repairs/etc.? In today’s digital, fast-paced business world, reducing the number of providers and players for any task, while also generating more intelligent insights throughout the process, is key to generating value. When a separate vendor is utilised for each part of blade management, from inspection, to repairs, to having a software provider for data reporting, lines can get crossed, timelines can
Figure 2. On a turbine, the Sensoria™ AE technology is comprised of one data acquisition installed in the hub and three sensors, with one mounted in each blade bulkhead. The sensors pick up on defects and send real-time updates to the hub for processing.
Figure 3. Unattended sensors, mounted within each blade, detect and locate damage down to a single blade, enabling operators to identify and mitigate damages quicker than with traditional inspection methods.
become extended, paperwork increases, and communication lapses increase, as one wind farm team can only do so much. Having one provider for all aspects of wind turbine blade management ensures that integrity data from a single blade all the way up to an entire global fleet can be housed in a single database, enabling site operators and fleet engineers alike to maximise blade performance. An integrated approach to blade management reduces downtime, increases efficiency, saves money, and creates a more organic working relationship for sustained wind operations.
Conclusion The Sensoria system and the advanced AE technology, detailed web application, and supplementary inspection and maintenance services that comprise the solution are a transformative upgrade for wind turbine blade integrity. The level of insight and transparency into blade operations that is achieved with constant blade monitoring rather than planned inspections helps wind energy organisations achieve operational excellence through blade management.
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loating wind technology enables offshore wind turbine installation in deep waters, unsuitable for bottom-fixed systems, opening up large swathes of the planet’s surface to renewable energy generation. Recent pilot projects have shown potential for similar, or even higher energy yields from floating turbines compared to bottom-fixed projects, as they can be situated in locations with higher wind resource. Recent findings from the Carbon Trust’s Floating Wind joint industry project (JIP) reports predict an estimated 70 GW of floating wind could be installed across the globe by 2040. There is currently approximately 100 MW of floating offshore wind power installed largely in Europe. By the end of 2022, installed capacity could reach 200 - 260 MW. As confidence in the technology grows, larger projects are becoming more commonplace, and while the majority of the earlier ones may be located in Europe, there is also significant attention in the US and Asia, most notably Japan. There is a now a greater number of international floating wind projects in the pipeline than ever before, aiming to pioneer new technologies and designs. These initiatives also aim to demonstrate supporting infrastructure and component technologies, such as mooring systems and dynamic export
and inter-array cables. The results will be essential for securing the future for floating wind across global markets.
A more efficient structural approach to floating wind The PivotBuoy concept was initially developed by X1 Wind CTO and Co-founder Carlos Casanovas in 2012, while studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. He was committed to finding a more efficient structural approach for floating wind than the traditional land-based tower structure – one that would take advantage of the marine environment and reduce the loads on the structure, especially the bending moments at the base of the tower, allowing for a lighter design. The result is an innovative tripod-like platform design that utilises the best features of a semi-submersible – with a low draft – plus a small footprint and the ability to reach deeper waters provided by a tension leg platform (TLP) mooring system. Furthermore, a single point mooring (SPM), called PivotBuoy, enables the structure to weather-vane and work more efficiently in tension and compression. This significantly reduces the amount of steel required. In order to achieve an optimal structural arrangement and improve alignment with
Alex Raventos, X1 Wind, Spain, looks at the latest floating wind platform tests being carried out in the Canary Islands, at a time where floating wind is rapidly moving from the fringes to the mainstream market.
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the wind, this structural configuration favours a downwind turbine. The traditional, industry-wide approach for land-based turbines has developed based on an upwind rotor so as to avoid the tower shadow effect. However, upwind configurations come with a greater risk of tower strikes. This challenge increases as turbine blades get longer. With 100+ m blades becoming more prevalent in offshore environments, these require significant effort to avoid tower strikes by increasing the distance between the blades and tower (overhang margin), applying a tilt and cone angle, and designing costlier pre-bent and stiffer blades. These measures come with an increased complexity, cost, and potential loss of power generation. Using a downwind configuration greatly reduces the risk of tower strikes, opening up the possibility of using lighter, more flexible, and therefore cheaper large scale wind turbine designs. These are key characteristics which will enable the development of future extreme scale downwind structures, with research already being conducted on 200 m blades and 50 MW power ratings.
Investigations into innovative rotor concepts The innovative downwind approach was recently given further credence following an investigation led by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) based in Colorado, US. Its analysis of innovative rotor concepts for the Big Adaptive Rotor (BAR) Project identified the downwind concept as highly efficient in terms of performance. Funded by the US Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, the BAR Project focused on the research and development of innovative technologies, capable of driving a 10% increase in capacity factor over current large land-based rotors. The purpose was threefold. Firstly, to
identify and classify innovative BAR concepts. Secondly, to evaluate the concepts in terms of their potential to impact wind plant levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) and other performance metrics of interest, while identifying science and engineering challenges that would limit the commercialisation of these concepts. Lastly, to quantitatively analyse and compare the BAR concepts. While capitalising on the advantages of the downwind configuration, X1 Wind technology also aims to solve the challenges pointed out in NREL’s BAR Project, notably the elimination of the tower shadow effect as explained in more detail next.
Advanced simulation tests In late 2020, X1 Wind completed advanced CFD simulation of its floating platform, working alongside Germany’s worldrenowned Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES). The study included simulations of X1 Wind’s X30 floater integration with a Vestas V29 turbine to better understand the aerodynamic forces acting on the structure and rotor. Results show significant improvement in velocity deficit compared to downwind turbines using traditional tubular or lattice towers, as well as very low dynamic excitation of rotor blades (3P, 6P) due to the tower shadow effect. This has been achieved by streamlining the shape of the masts and reducing their diameter, which results in much smaller eddies being shed downwind, minimising turbulent inflow into the rotor. In addition, staggering the position of the rotor axis with respect to the mast apex ensures the blades do not fully enter the side mast’s shadow at any given time. Instead, they move in and out of the shadow gradually, spreading out the 3P excitation over a wider rotation angle – thus making it less impulsive, with minimal effect on torque and thrust. These results are expected to be validated with the installation and operation of the PivotBuoy prototype in the next few months.
Key design innovations
Figure 1. Upwind vs downwind orientation of wind turbines.
While X1 Wind’s downwind weather-vaning design captures attention, the unique system also delivers a broader range of benefits. FFPivotBuoy connection system: An innovative, single point, pre-installed mooring system combines an SPM with a small TLP, allowing for a quick connection and disconnection. This allows the platform to be assembled onshore and then towed to site using local vessels instead of heavy lift vessels, which simplifies offshore operations and reduces installation costs.
FFLightweight structure: The combination of the PivotBuoy
Figure 2. The downwind configuration enables a complete redesign of the floating structure, removing the traditional tower and creating a pyramidal platform that is more efficient in the load transmission.
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connection and downwind configuration allows the platform to passively weather-vane and self-orientate. The downwind configuration enables a complete redesign and more efficient load transmission that results in a substantially lighter platform compared to traditional solutions. As a result of the lower weight, inherent stability, and unique mooring system, the platform can be easily assembled onshore and towed to site using local, low-cost vessels. Being lighter also means reduced emissions at
fabrication and transport, which adds up to the reduced environmental footprint of the TLP on the ocean floor when compared to catenary systems.
FFOperations and maintenance: Reliability is a critical issue in offshore operations and the passive systems used within X1 Wind’s platform, such as the self-orientating system, help minimise maintenance requirements. Additionally, the TLP mooring system minimises the motions of the PivotBuoy, reducing fatigue on the dynamic cable as well as facilitating maintenance operations.
2021, project partners supervised the successful assembly and load out of the X30 prototype. This is being followed by port-side testing of subsystems, before the installation and connection via a dynamic cable expected in the autumn. X1 Wind’s approach to mobilising and engaging local supply chains is a key feature of its future fabrication and deployment plan for full scale units. Aside from stimulating local economies and driving job creation, it further reduces transit times, helping reduce costs and carbon emissions for future projects.
FFScalability: X1 Wind’s downwind design allows turbine blades to be lighter, longer, and cheaper as they can bend away from the structure, enabling a more efficient transition up to 15+ MW mega turbines. Additionally, unrestricted by water depth, the system can be costeffectively deployed at depths from 40 m to more than 500 m.
FFEnvironmental impact: The SPM system greatly reduces the platform’s footprint on the seabed, compared to the long spread and drag anchors used in catenary systems. Also, a reduced amount of steel means fewer emissions from manufacturing and enables local manufacturing – by having a low draft – meaning less emissions from transport.
Figure 3. The combination of the PivotBuoy connection and downwind configuration allows the platform to passively weather-vane and selforientate.
Project details X1 Wind is currently leading the ground-breaking PivotBuoy Project with a pan-European consortium including leading companies EDP NEW, DNV, INTECSEA, ESM, and DEGIMA, and world-class research centres WavEC, DTU, and PLOCAN. Supported by €4 million from the European Commission H2020 programme, the pioneering project is aiming to substantially reduce the current LCOE of floating wind. It will achieve this by demonstrating the advantages of the PivotBuoy system, namely a reduced floater weight, a faster and cheaper installation process, and a more reliable operation. Located in the Canary Islands, the PivotBuoy Project will see X1 Wind’s first fully functional prototype exposed to open ocean conditions, to demonstrate the efficiency of its innovative structural design and mooring system. Fitted with a Vestas V29 turbine, the 1:3 scale prototype (X30) will be stationed at a 50 m water depth. The turbine benefits from a re-engineered drivetrain which rotates in the opposite direction in the downwind configuration. Despite the transformation, the rotor will still be spinning clockwise, and the original yaw system will be blocked for operation, since the PivotBuoy system self-aligns with the wind as a result of its weather-vaning ability. This reduces the amount of active systems within the platform, which can bring savings to operation and maintenance during the structure’s lifespan. Construction of the X30 platform was completed in November 2020 by DEGIMA in Santander, Spain, before being shipped in different segments to the Gran Canarias. Structural assembly was managed entirely onshore at Hidramar shipyard, using regular LTM mobile cranes and local equipment. Earlier in
Figure 4. Traditional upwind rotors require overhang margin, tilt angles, rotor coning, or the use of pre-bent blades to avoid tower strikes.
Figure 5. Using a downwind configuration opens up the possibility of using lighter, more flexible, and therefore cheaper large scale wind turbine designs.
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Chris French, freelancer, Wood Thilsted, UK, details the challenges of offshore wind and how foundation design can overcome these hurdles. Figure 1. It has been a long climb for offshore wind, but the industry is now all systems go.
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hese are suddenly very vigorous and positive times for the offshore wind industry. Announcements about new projects abound – almost too fast to totally digest all of the impressive heights and diameters of structures – as well as the all-important energy generation, and job creation. Finally, with the political will to fling the doors wide open for a full scale offshore wind revolution, there is no shortage of those who want to share the industry’s bright new spotlight. But away from the headline figures, what about all the detailed design work that goes into making it happen? Additionally, in this rush to provide utility scale renewable energy, what about those who are trying to make it an affordable, safe, and sustainable way of powering the world? Christian LeBlanc Thilsted, Co-Founder of Wood Thilsted, expresses his thoughts: “Worldwide, we are making numerous key appointments to ensure that we continue to have the
right experts in place. Amid the rush of new projects, making balanced, well-informed decisions for customers is vital for the long-term. Offshore wind is very much part of global net zero targets, but this monumental energy transition must not be ‘at any cost’. The challenges of offshore wind’s levelised cost of energy (LCOE) reduction require a rational, multi-disciplinary approach. Only the highest calibre of engineering will ensure that the right decisions are made and LCOE targets are met.” He added: “Getting the LCOE right means that offshore wind can take its place in history as an industry that, unlike others, did the right thing. So, even though we are all in top gear to meet demand, let us just pause to remember that ‘the end does not always justify the means’. Our ethos at Wood Thilsted is that we want to see a greener and more sustainable future for the world. In offshore wind, this goes hand in hand with achieving LCOE targets, which help prevent increases in energy bills for already
challenged families and communities. We need to keep the debate firmly open about how to best provide that affordable and sustainable way of powering the green world tomorrow.” The UK leads the world in offshore wind. Between 2016 and 2021 over £19 billion has been invested – and with Scottish Power Renewables’ proposed East Anglia Hub of approximately 2690 next-generation turbines potentially generating up to 3.1 GW, there is no shortage of appetite for growth. Across the Atlantic, Vineyard Wind is building the US’s first utility scale offshore wind energy project off the coast of Massachusetts – one that will generate clean, renewable, affordable energy for over 400 000 homes and businesses, while also reducing carbon emissions by over 1.6 million tpy. In what seemed like only moments after President Joe Biden sat at his desk for the first time in the Oval Office, an ambitious goal was announced for the US to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. Hitting this target could trigger more than US$12 billion/y in capital investment, creating over 40 000 jobs,
plus a further 30 000 or more jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity. The power created will meet the demand of more than 10 million US homes for a year. Taiwan has ongoing projects with a combined capacity of 5.5 GW that are due to be completed by 2025, whilst Vietnam is looking to produce over 11 GW of offshore wind energy by 2025. Three fundamental drivers for the design of offshore wind farms have, for a variety of historical reasons, evolved separately; the marine conditions (metocean), the wind conditions (atmosphere, energy production), and soil conditions (seabed and ground properties). This perhaps results from the way energy production grew with the onshore wind industry, whereas soil and metocean evolved with the coastal engineering and offshore world. There are many synergies between soil, metocean, and the wind world, but until now they have been almost distant cousins. It is the core competence of Wood Thilsted to bring these together to create a universal language.
Combined metocean, wind, and soil expertise is paramount Each site is different and presents its own unique challenges, thus having the combined metocean, wind, and soil expertise is paramount. Wood Thilsted takes on technically challenging areas such as those with tropical cyclones and poor soil conditions in Asia, hurricanes in the US, icing in the Baltic, or common worldwide seismic areas. Armed with the right knowledge, it is then possible to finely balance the design of an offshore wind farm to achieve maximum power production at the expense of the least amount of material and resources. So, in achieving global net zero, what are the best foundation designs that offshore wind can offer? Is it a straight choice between monopiles, which currently account for over 80% of installations – or jackets and floating foundations, which according to many, will increase in demand as offshore wind projects move to deeper waters, and the turbines increase in size?
Decreasing the LCOE
Figure 2. For the most efficient use of steel, monopiles are by far the main choice.
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Decreasing the LCOE is the best service that can be provided for the wind industry and the world at large. Offshore wind has plenty of room to improve on this. The choice between monopile, jacket, or floating foundations does depend on the location and its conditions – and as detailed designers, there is never any compromise with safety. The actual amount of steel used for a monopile is about the same as a jacket, but jackets have far more in the way of components,
so are far more complicated, with more welding required, so overall, are more expensive. Over a decade ago, experts were predicting that monopiles would have to be superseded by monopiles for deeper waters and bigger turbines, but that overtake is still to happen. Monopiles continue to prove themselves as superior structures and are very efficient in their use of steel. Importantly, economically, the supply chain is in place, with mass fabrication and the right logistics to move them around. When designing for each site, ideally a custom-made foundation is needed so that an off-the-shelf turbine can be purchased which will fit. In comparison, jackets are more of a jigsaw puzzle. Figure 3. Levelised cost of energy (LCOE) targets can be met using the highest calibre Putting technical terms aside, LeBlanc of engineering. Thilsted explains how “with a monopile, you are, in some respects, carefully ramming just one big piece of steel into the ocean floor.” It is understood that the supply chain needs to keep pace. Previously it has been used to monopiles of 6 - 8 m in diameter, weighing approximately 1000 t. Now, those diameters and weights are going up to 12 m and 3000 t. Talk of ultimate depths is not the ultimate point; it is all about the workable proportions, governed by the loads coming from the turbine. Connection details are also starting to present issues. Current bolt connections are getting so large that they are pushing the envelope on what can be manufactured with the required right tolerances – as a result there are already moves to consider the detail of switching to another type of joint to undertake the job. As much as a monopile might appear simplistic, it is still all in the detail – and that critical combination at the earliest possible stage of wind, soil, and metocean experts working closely with the structural and loads analysis engineers to ensure accuracy. The difference in 0.1% in construction costs or predicted energy output could mean millions of euros/dollars to a client, so Wood Thilsted ensures it travels to the furthest degree to ensure that it optimises effectively. Even with these exceptional feats of engineering, the market-related challenges can still be considerable, including the decreasing margins due to fiercely competitive leasing and auction rounds between developers. However, Figure 4. Detailed design, that brings together all conditions (marine, wind, and soil) is crucial. this is the nature of the game in order to become a mainstream and affordable source of energy. designs that improve power production and require fewer Regulatory certainty, combined with ambitious long-term resources to produce. Before everyone gets carried away in development goals, will no doubt help deliver the best value what to some seems like the next gold rush, it does not hurt to the final energy consumer – and ensure that offshore wind to have some words of caution from within the industry. In can be safe, affordable, and sustainable. helping decarbonise the planet, a solid reputation needs to Wood Thilsted remains fully focused on decreasing the be continued to be built – as a force for good. LCOE for the offshore wind industry through optimised
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Elena Starchenko and Shannon Earl, Fugro, USA, look at how data can aid the offshore wind revolution by maximising efficiencies throughout a project’s life cycle. he offshore wind market is expanding rapidly to meet increased global demand for sustainable energy options. A decade ago, the world’s offshore wind capacity totalled just 4 GW, with installations located mostly in Europe. Today, that figure has grown to 35 GW with projects located on multiple continents and significant new efforts underway in the US and China, the world’s largest energy markets. While impressive, these recent gains are just the start of what could be a real offshore wind revolution. Industry leaders are calling for an exponential increase in offshore wind projects to help reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. With government collaboration and support, it is believed that more than 1000 GW of installed global offshore wind capacity is possible by 2050. Meeting this aggressive target will require highly-advanced, data-driven management processes to build efficiencies throughout the project life cycle.
Information overload “One of the major challenges to the efficient development and operation of offshore wind farms is information overload,” said Jason Smith, Fugro’s Global Director for Geo data Analysis and Geoconsulting. That is because during the early phases of a development, project owners require endless streams of geo data to inform site appraisal, environmental permitting, engineering design, and eventually construction. This includes large volumes of metocean, geophysical, and multichannel seismic data, field and weather reports, in situ and laboratory based soil testing, and integrated analysis and reporting. “Project geo data is collected over a period of years, with deliverables often stored by clients in multiple, siloed systems that lack the connectivity needed to support efficient, informed decision making,” Smith explained. “And once a project progresses from development into operations and maintenance, information about the real-time functionality of the wind farm also becomes relevant, adding an additional layer of complexity to the overall data management requirement.” Operational data come from a variety of sources, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, which function as the ‘nerve centre’ of offshore wind farms, recording turbine activity, energy output, and potential performance issues. “Ideally, the early stage geo data would be tightly integrated with the operational data to improve condition-based and predictive maintenance strategies,” Smith said. “That seldom happens however, given the size and isolation of generated project data.” Smith and his team decided to change that.
Introducing an information management platform Based on decades of experience providing site characterisation and asset integrity services for offshore wind farm projects across the globe, Fugro has developed a cloud-hosted information management platform that allows project owners and their teams to access, visualise, and analyse full life cycle project data in a single interface for fully informed decision making. The solution is called Gaia.Hub.
Gaia.Hub is designed to provide clients with secure, web-based access to full life cycle project data that is both georeferenced and time sequenced. The solution can be accessed through a single sign-on (SSO) webpage and requires no GIS experience or specialised software. “Put simply, Gaia.Hub is a cloud-based information delivery, engagement, and management portal that provides project
stakeholders with a singular source for accessing and organising various steams of integrated, real-time project data. This includes publicly available information and site specific geo data acquired during the development stages of a project, as well as performance data generated during wind farm operations,” Smith explained.
A fully customisable solution Importantly, Gaia.Hub can be implemented at any stage of an offshore wind project and provides the scalability and flexibility to support the entire life cycle. Customisation takes shape through web-based applications that are tailored to meet specific client and project needs. These applications make it possible to track the status of active field programmes, manage project documents, and share large data files. Eventually, as the wind farms become operational, these applications are extended to include realtime operational datastreams, providing operators with a unified display of information for improved asset uptime and reduced costs.
Real-time tracking Figure 1. An offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
Gaia.Live enables real-time tracking of project work scopes, such as geophysical surveys and geotechnical investigations. The interactive application offers the client
Figure 2. Fugro Synergy supporting the Borssele wind farm project in the Netherlands.
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development team a full geospatial overview of acquisition activities, along with fast access to the latest quality controlled geo data. As a result, clients can make quicker decisions about fieldwork results, gain a robust and accelerated understanding of site conditions, and analyse different development scenarios that will further improve operational timelines.
Easy transfer and storage of files Gaia.Books is a client deliverables repository that simplifies the transfer and storage of project files associated with new geo data acquisition, analysis, and reporting. From this application, client teams can access daily progress reports, project management documents, exploration logs, and laboratory testing schedules, reports, and data files. In addition to optimising the deliverables process, Gaia.Books provides a master document register to ensure all parties are accessing the most recent version of any given document. This feature allows continuous documentation and reference for all aspects of the development, for the entire life of the project.
Specialised applications Gaia.Hub also accommodates additional specialised web-based applications, which can be customised to enhance data acquisition and analysis. Examples include those related to real-time datastreams, 3D ground modelling, and cable route optimisation.
Figure 3. Gaia.Hub provides authorised users access to all project geo data and documents from a single website.
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During the life cycle of a wind farm, a number of specific datasets are acquired to determine realtime site conditions. These include metocean datasets from both stationary locations and buoys, environmental (benthic and wildlife) monitoring sensors, and structural and SCADA datasets. In addition to their immediate site assessment value, these time-based datastreams contribute to trending and predictive models. When tied to the wind farm’s underlying geo data in Gaia.Hub, this information can help wind farm owners reduce uncertainty in engineering specifications and aid in operational planning to reduce costs and enhance project safety and efficiency. The metocean component of Gaia.Hub is a good example of how real-time datasets impact the project life cycle. With instant access to wind, wave, current, and meteorological data, project engineers can optimise their wind turbine design, installation, and eventually operations and maintenance. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is another valuable example. This new technology is planned for integration in Gaia.Hub, and will enable project owners to efficiently monitor and model genetic material in the water column to help ensure the least possible impact to the marine ecosystem.
3D ground modelling Constructing a regional ground model is fundamental to designing offshore wind developments, allowing clients to visualise their projects in 3D and conceptualise aspects of their project, such as how geohazards and engineering constraints will impact the planned development. Gaia.Hub incorporates specialised software to develop regional 3D ground models based on geophysical and geotechnical project data. These models contain and display soil layers, properties, features of interest, geologic hazards, and constraints. This helps clients quickly visualise complex and variable foundation conditions across a wind farm site, thus helping accelerate development scenarios and operational timelines.
Figure 4. Geophysical operations dashboard showing project data that was updated as it was collected on a 24-hr schedule.
Cable route optimisation Power cables are a critical yet vulnerable asset of offshore wind farms. Inter-array and export cable distances are getting longer and power loads are growing. Extensive geo data is needed to assess the operational risks and routing constraints for these cables. Such considerations include existing infrastructure, shipwrecks, prohibited areas such as dumping grounds, and unfavourable seafloor conditions including sand banks, steep slopes, and rocky outcrops. The cable route optimisation application in Gaia.Hub incorporates constraints into its primary algorithms for development of least cost routing and burial depth determination. The route optimisation tool is suitable for initial corridor selection and as more site-specific, engineering scale geo data is acquired, the tool can incorporate and analyse the latest information to support routing iterations in an auditable and repeatable manner.
Figure 5. Geotechnical dashboard in Gaia.Hub, providing insight on the seafloor test data captured during an ongoing sampling campaign.
The platform in practice Gaia.Hub site was successfully launched by Fugro earlier this year, and has since been used by numerous project managers, engineers, and scientists. The most comprehensive use case involves a project off the coast of New Jersey, US. The initial contract is for two years and is designed to help the wind developer streamline its early stage decision making and accelerate its overall project schedule. According to the operator, “The comprehensive data solution is advancing the way we work collaboratively and encouraging complete utilisation of the valuable datasets.” Since the initial deployment of Gaia.Hub, several additional operators have adopted the solution in the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions. Gaia.Hub allows for the collection, management, analysis, and integration of varied project information, providing wind farm operators with the basis for data-driven decision making. Its foundational components include a scalable, cloud-centric platform, leveraging best in class solutions for document management, GIS, real-time data processing, and operational technologies. As the global offshore wind market continues to expand, having solutions that support the full project life cycle will be critical to successful operations. Gaia.Hub’s value begins with tools to support early wind farm development and grows to meet operational and maintenance needs, helping clients maximise efficiencies throughout the project life cycle and develop affordable offshore wind energy in a safe and sustainable manner.
Figure 6. Integrated data analysis dashboard in Gaia.Hub, providing an early look at preliminary results from the geotechnical lab testing and ongoing geophysical interpretation for transparency into the ground model development.
Figure 7. As a full life cycle solution, Gaia.Hub integrates all available project data into a 3D digital twin of the offshore wind farm, enabling efficient operations and condition based maintenance.
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Danny Constantis, EM&I, Malta, explains how lessons learned from the oil and gas sector can the floating offshore wind industry.
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help ensure long-term asset management for
s the floating offshore wind sector moves rapidly and globally towards industrialisation and commercialisation, thought is turning to efficient management of the life cycle integrity of floating units. Scale and scope will expand in terms of the size of the floating structure, numbers of structures in a field, depth of water in which station keeping is required, and importantly an increase in the number of jurisdictions which will host floating offshore wind arrays. Prototypes are proving the concepts, but are designed to survive on-station for a relatively short period. The commercial scale will see life of assets of over 20 or 25 years, and the structural integrity must be retained throughout. All of these factors are being considered to ensure common thinking for regulatory frameworks, asset integrity requirements, stakeholder management, and critically, in reducing cost to optimise return on investment. Achieving this will need constructive discussions and collaboration between asset owners, operators, regulators, classification societies, and service providers. Integrity management programmes will have to meet regulatory, class, and environmental requirements, as well as being operationally efficient and low cost. Collaboration through joint industry projects (JIPs) has proven to be an effective way of identifying the key challenges and solutions in a sector – one example being the hull inspection techniques and strategy (HITS) JIP set up by the Global FPSO Research Forum eight years ago. Membership of the JIP cut across all elements of the asset integrity management supply chain from (then) oil majors, with global floating production unit operators, the major classification societies, integrity management service providers, and academia for research and development. The collaboration ensured stepping away from individual, commercial competitive tensions and a rich agreement as to where the sector needed to go in order to remain safe, cost-effective, and relevant. The JIP encouraged the introduction of diverless methods, unmanned tank inspections, and non-intrusive surveys of Ex electrical equipment, which generated a number of quantified benefits: > 50% cost and persons-on-board (POB) reductions. > Reduced carbon footprint.
> > >
Reduced safety risk. Improved integrity assurance. Remote inspection capability.
EM&I is a global provider of innovative asset integrity management services and was a co-founder of the HITS JIP. The EM&I Group has a deep background of experience in the floating oil and gas production sector. In that sector, EM&I-developed technology and techniques have saved money for clients, enhanced data to inform integrity management, and minimised impact on operations, thus reducing indirect cost and, above all, mitigating safety risk. The company recognises that similar positive outcomes can be generated for the floating offshore wind industry through a similar JIP established with operators, regulators, and service providers whose focus will be to identify specific challenges and solutions for the industry. The FloWind JIP has been convened with participation from all the major classification societies – American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Bureau Veritas (BV), Det Norske Veritas (DNV), and Lloyd’s Register (LR) – as well as SBM Offshore representing designers and operators, DEKRA to bring inspection technology insight, Acteon Group, which develops mooring system and station keeping capability, and EM&I for asset integrity management experience. The JIP’s agreed objective is to identify asset integrity challenges and encourage practical solutions for floating offshore wind assets and infrastructure, and the key themes which came from the inaugural meeting included a range of insights.
Regulatory frameworks The floating oil and gas production sector benefits from globallyagreed standards and regulatory framework. Whilst the risks are similar for floating offshore wind, there are significant differences. The JIP recognised that currently, the regulatory framework for the sector is being developed. Progress is being made through prototype stage of designs, and with it comes a greater understanding by the industry stakeholders. Those stakeholders come from a variety of sectors including utilities, oil and gas, marine, and others; all have a view on
regulatory framework requirements, which have different drivers. Ideally, the floating offshore wind sector should aim for international standards on which regulators can rely, as this will also be less expensive for the industry. It is important to differentiate between the regulatory framework – applying project certification, or classification – and the technical standards applicable to the floating offshore wind technology. Technical standards are also clear; they provide the basis for certification and classification. Commercialisation of floating offshore wind will take the debate to the regulatory framework, which is currently not uniform across jurisdictions; sometimes mandatory, and sometimes not, imposed by local, national authorities, or by insurers or other stakeholders, but guidelines explaining the certification and class are clear. The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) has greatly assisted harmonisation of class rules during operations as opposed to the set-up phase
Figure 1. NoMan® optical camera.
in the shipping industry and offshore oil and gas, and a similar requirement exists for floating offshore wind. The JIP will study the various regulatory frameworks based on sector and jurisdiction variations and influence a standard approach to underpin asset integrity through longer life of the commercial arrays and floating structures.
Learning lessons Given the variety of experience coming together in floating offshore wind, it was agreed that the broadest research must be conducted in order to draw on the lessons for asset integrity. This included from the wind energy generation sectors – onshore and fixed offshore – oil and gas, marine, power distribution sectors, as well as working with other JIPs to learn from collaboration elsewhere.
Risk In comparison with the oil and gas sectors where hydrocarbons led to greater risk focus on human and environmental safety, the focus for floating offshore wind asset integrity will be more financial and commercial, and therefore, there will be a greater role and interest in the regulatory frameworks for insurers and investors. Where electricity is generated on floating offshore wind assets, and green hydrogen generated through electrolysis on the asset, that will develop new risk profiles and therefore broaden the interest of a wider stakeholder group. Prototypes are giving valuable lessons about the complexity of the floating assets, with the stresses involved through rotating blades with increasing length, significant and growing height of structures, the relatively small footprint of the floating structure, and the stresses placed on the mooring systems in increasing depth of water. The complexity is increased when several assets are deployed in an array, with the increase in turbulence within that array having an impact on the stresses mentioned above. As the sector develops to commercialisation, there is a requirement to understand this complexity and the impact on asset integrity management through life. The future will be risk- or criticality-based inspection, combined with sensors and routine monitoring, recognising the environmental factors, providing assurance, and contributing to cost reduction.
Working groups Therefore, two working groups are planned initially by the JIP; one for the regulatory frameworks, and the second to review technical integrity.
Integrity management technology
Figure 2. Corrosion mapping from NoMan laser scan.
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Technology and techniques that have been developed with the benefit of guidance and support of participants of the HITS JIP, primarily for the floating oil and gas production sector, can be transferred to floating offshore wind to build on the technical understanding and regulatory frameworks outlined earlier. Remote inspection techniques now support the key direction of the HITS JIP at its inception, specifically: >> The elimination of the requirement for divers for in-water inspection of floating assets and their mooring systems.
>> Minimising the requirement for physical entry into confined spaces, particularly cargo oil or gas tanks, as well as water ballast tanks. Underpinning these developments has been a close working relationship with regulators, particularly class and risk-based engineering and inspection companies. Together these have maintained regulatory and client requirements for inspection and achieving long-term integrity assurance. Some examples of the technologies and techniques that will be drawn across into the floating offshore wind sector are covered next.
Diverless inspection ODIN® diverless in-water inspection has been developed to meet regulatory requirements for the inspection of hulls and associated structures, as well as the full length of mooring systems, from the floating asset to the anchor point. Using specialised integrity class ROVs launched and operated either from the asset itself, or importantly for the floating offshore wind sector, from a support vessel, thus minimises the requirement to board the floating structure. Output from collaboration in the HITS JIP has expanded this requirement from inspection to repair of the underwater structure, which could benefit the floating offshore wind sector, reducing the requirement to disconnect and tow-to-port.
Remote inspection NoMan® remote inspection of confined spaces has been developed to mitigate the significant risk of human entry into cargo oil and gas tanks, as well as water ballast tanks. This also reduces the preparation and system isolation required, and thus minimises down time of a tank enabling focus on the main output of operational availability. NoMan was initially based on high-grade cameras developed for the nuclear industry, enabling both general and close visual remote inspection, to meet the equivalence of the class requirement for a surveyor in the tank. The capability has now developed to include laser scanning which informs 3D models and digital twins, and significantly from an asset integrity standpoint, enables digital comparison with previous inspection, particularly baseline surveys at the fabrication stage. It allows for identification of anomalies such as buckling, distortion, and corrosion mapping. Given the inclusion of void spaces in emerging designs for floating offshore wind assets, whether for ballast or structural integrity, through life there will be a requirement for inspection for structural integrity. NoMan will meet that requirement remotely.
Structural integrity Structural integrity management of floating and other elements, building on a broad understanding of the factors involved; engineering to predict the failure mechanisms and risk- or criticality-based engineering; and monitoring and inspection to provide data for assurance, are all critical for any offshore sector. Drawing on experience of pressure systems and hull integrity management, EM&I has also developed ANALYSE™, a statistical tool which reinforces risk-based inspection techniques and reduces the requirement for physical inspection and measurement, particularly of wall thickness in steel structures.
Figure 3. ANALYSE™ statistical representation of UTMs.
Given the requirement to minimise the need for personnel to be onboard a floating offshore wind structure and the number of similar structures deployed and operating in near-equivalent environmental conditions, ANALYSE will reinforce a cost-effective risk-based approach to inspection for integrity assurance.
Future-proofing Future-proofing will be critical given the design life of the floating structures and their mooring systems, to ensure that physical human intervention can be reduced further for inspection as technology develops. In itself, this requires early collaboration and a mindset of design for inspectability to ensure that early savings are developed and optimised through life.
Conclusion There was broad agreement at the inaugural meeting of the FloWind JIP that collaboration is required to contribute to the debate which will ensure that all the factors at play for long-term asset integrity management are considered. This debate will contribute to making the rapidly growing floating offshore wind sector safe and cost-effective, by drawing on the broad lessons of other sectors to provide asset integrity assurance and enhance the data available to do so. All of this will also lead to minimising the carbon footprint of those charged with providing that assurance. This article has demonstrated the lessons learned from the oil and gas sectors, and how these can be transferred to floating offshore wind to generate an effective structure for asset integrity in good time for such a rapidly developing sector.
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Dr. Matthew Goodwin, Waste Knot Energy and European Pellet Council, UK, analyses the future of renewable fuel sources and looks at the barriers the sector must overcome to allow for innovation.
he demand for alternative and renewable fuel sources continues to grow as governments put in place measures to combat climate change – and choosing which fuel to burn will soon become an even bigger consideration. Regulation, political pressure, changing social values, and carbon tax implications are some of the biggest drivers as high energy users look to alternative fuels to reduce their carbon footprint. Ever since 1990, the EU and UK have introduced a series of measures to help combat climate change and incentivise power stations to ditch coal, coke, and petcoke in favour of alternative fuels. The UK Government sets carbon emissions reduction targets every five years under the Climate Change Act 2008 and they grow ever more ambitious. In fact, in April 2021, it announced radical new commitments to cut emissions by 78% by 2035, bringing the UK more than three quarters of the way to net zero by 2050. The big question, however, is which alternative fuels to choose? Wind power has made a lot of headlines but one of the most embraced options so far is biomass.
Biomass options include: >> Wood pellets. >> Waste wood. >> Virgin wood chip. >> Agrifuels – such as miscanthus and straw. The most recent addition to the renewable energy source list, however, is pellets made from non-recyclable waste, brought to the market by British company Waste Knot Energy. Solid, improved, recovered fuel (SIRF) pellets will be manufactured in Middlesbrough, UK, with other plants due to open over the next few years. The Middlesbrough plant will produce approximately 250 000 tpy of SIRF pellets, with plans for the development of eight plants producing 2 million t over the next five years. These pellets, an innovative fuel for high-energy users, are made from a mix of dry waste materials such as wood, paper, card, and non-chlorinated plastics that are carefully processed to create a clean, highly specified, and consistent alternative fuel. Easily transportable, they are suitable for power generation, steel production, brickmaking, and cement production, and have a biomass content of >55%. Another benefit is that they can be used alongside other fuels, allowing businesses to mix with coal, petcoke, or wood as they travel through their carbon reduction journey.
Figure 1. SIRF pellets are made from non-recyclable waste and are the most recent addition to the renewable energy source list.
Figure 2. Waste Knot Energy’s pellet plant in Middlesbrough, UK.
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Why Renewable Obligation Certificates can be a barrier to fuel innovation There are, however, barriers to this kind of fuel innovation – some of them inadvertent, some political. Environmental permits, for instance, often forbid the burning of waste, which means power plants which currently burn virgin wood or agrifuels feel nervous to upgrade, despite the fact that the emissions from burning SIRF pellets are generally well within permitted emission limits. It is time that governments took a closer look at how these permits work. Environmental permits are less of an issue for those burning waste wood, which already have a permit that allows burning waste, but the other big consideration in the UK is the impact of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). The scheme, launched in 2002, supports approximately 30% of the electricity supplied in the UK and is designed to incentivise uptake of renewable fuels. The certificates are issued to energy generators for each unit of renewable energy they produce and can then be traded at the market rate, generating millions of pounds. The buy-out price for the 2021 - 2022 obligation period is £50.80 per ROC – the amount suppliers will need to pay for each ROC they do not present towards compliance with their 2021 - 2022 obligation. This money is paid into a cash fund which is then recycled back to suppliers who did meet their targets. There is no doubt the scheme has been successful, pushing the UK towards its zero carbon goals, but it has also created behaviour which is unsustainable in the long-term. At present, waste wood and wood pellets are the alternative fuel of choice for many power stations. But the price of wood pellets, which are often imported from North America, is astronomical compared to other fuels and only viable because of ROC payments. So, what happens when the payments disappear? Waste wood, too, is a volatile market, fluctuating violently depending on the state of the construction industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, the price of waste wood in many countries ballooned when construction companies downed tools – but dropped again when the industry recovered. The reality is that the business models of many power stations which burn waste wood or wood pellets depend on ROCs to survive, even though they know the scheme will not last forever. New applications for the scheme were closed in 2017 and with ROCs normally lasting 20 years, that means 2037 is the ultimate end date – and it will be far sooner for some. At that point ROCs, worth millions of pounds a year, will simply fizzle out. As this crossroads draws ever closer, decision makers in the power industry ought to be asking whether they should be burning what they are burning for the long-term. But in many cases they are not – and remain unprepared for what lies ahead. Smaller power plants which have missed out on ROCs are looking at alternative solutions but many others are holding back, afraid to put their incentive payments at risk by looking at other fuels in the meantime. That is not good news for the industry because fuel innovation needs to be encouraged to meet future targets rather than present barriers, however unintentional they may be.
Forest biomass under siege Forest biomass is under fire right now, with environmental groups concerned about whether burning wood is sustainable when so much of the world has suffered from deforestation. This makes it an emotional issue despite arguments that the wood is harvested responsibly with trees replanted. The Netherlands, for instance, has recently pulled back on plans for forest biomass plants and its take on the issue should be a warning to other countries. In a report published by the Socio-Economic Council of the Netherlands in 2020, the advisory board to the Dutch government described forest biomass as an “indispensable resource” for the circular economy and argued that burning it is wasteful. It suggested that sustainably produced biomass is too scarce to keep using it for the production of heat or electricity and also called for the subsidies intended for forest biomass combustion plants to be phased out.
Warning signs from the Netherlands That is an early warning sign for power stations in other areas of the world, including the UK, because if this is the direction of travel, then the lifetime of ROCs in the UK and Renewable Energy Directives (RED) in the EU is limited. In fact, the Dutch government has followed through on these plans. In February 2021 it voted to disallow the issuing of subsidies for 50 planned forest biomass-for-heat plants.
Changes to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive The EU is already reviewing its Renewable Energy Directive and has told energy providers that there will be no support for the production of energy from saw logs, veneer logs, stumps, and roots in the future. The use of quality groundwood for energy is also discouraged. It does, however, support renewable energy with an ambitious target – announced in July 2021 – that at least 32% of energy in the EU should come from renewable sources by 2030. This represents doubling the current renewables share of 19.7% in just a decade. A cross-border pilot project is also being set up to foster regional co-operation on renewables. The future direction is clear. High-energy users should be thinking ahead now to meet those ambitious EU targets, and so the sooner they experiment with alternative fuels and alternative options the better.
The global picture outside of Europe If you look outside of Europe, of course, the picture is different. In many areas of the world, and especially in Asia, the discussion is almost entirely about cost and not about climate change when it comes to energy production – and paradoxically that makes innovative fuels easier to sell in. In countries such as Thailand, embracing alternatives such as burning SIRF pellets instead of coal is a no-brainer. The pellets are far cheaper and have a far lower carbon footprint, especially as they also save waste from going to landfill. Compared with fossil fuels such as coal, which has a carbon footprint of 2223 kg CO2e/t, the huge environmental advantages of this alternative fuel are clear.
Table 1. Carbon footprint of SIRF pellets vs fossil fuels Emissions avoided by not sending to landfill
658.38 kg CO2e/t
SIRF pellet production
128.87 kg CO2e/t
SIRF pellets including avoided landfill emissions
-530 kg CO2e/t
2223 kg CO2e/t
3222 kg CO2e/t
3398 kg CO2e/t
Table 2. Carbon footprint of SIRF pellets vs wood pellets SIRF pellet production
128.87 kg CO2/t
SIRF pellet production, including avoided landfill emissions
-530 kg CO2/t
Wood pellet production
72 kg CO2/t
Wood pellet including transport from US
There is also a growing realisation from the West that countries in Asia, South America, and Africa need help and encouragement if they are to reduce carbon emissions. The British insurer Prudential is currently working with the Asian Development Bank on a scheme to buy out coal-fired power plants in Asia in order to shut them down within 15 years. The programme is known as the Energy Transition Mechanism and is likely to draw in other banks to support it. It remains to be seen whether this approach will work, but the need for countries in Asia to invest in renewable fuel sources will be even stronger if it does.
The benefits of renewable energy pellets As the debate rages over forest biomass, pellets made from non-recyclable waste should be on the agenda. The bottom line is that burning waste means less extraction of damaging fossil fuels, less need to send damaging waste to landfill, and significant reductions in CO2 emissions as a result. It is an innovation which needs nurturing as the future looks to alternative fuels that are affordable, reliable, and costeffective, regardless of government incentives.
Carbon tax benefits Based on a carbon price via the Emissions Trading System of £40/t CO2, SIRF pellets will save the user approximately £41/t in carbon tax compared to burning coal (in addition to energy cost reduction).
Conclusion Ultimately, there is no easy route to overcoming climate change or to solving the world’s energy challenges. However, in order to make a difference, alternative and renewable fuel sources should be embraced – and any barriers which stifle innovation in this field, however unintentional, must be removed.
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y upgrading their existing plants to utilise renewable resources, edible oil refineries can increase the sustainability of their operations while also opening up new commercial opportunities. Selecting the right mass transfer technology, such as advanced purification units, is crucial to creating highly effective processing facilities. These, in turn, enable refineries to thrive in the alternative fuel marketplace, maximising throughput, product quality, and recovery rates. The fast-growing demand for alternative fuels obtained from renewable resources, such as plant-based materials, brings with it key opportunities for established businesses in the vegetable oil, renewable fuel or biofuel sectors. In addition, businesses are able to deliver these products by leveraging their existing infrastructures, kick-starting their entry into a highly profitable market, which was valued at over US$141 billion (nearly £103 billion) in 2020.1,2 One such example is bio-based diesel. The market for this renewable fuel is characterised by robust growth and is forecast to develop at an average annual rate of 4.9% through to 2030, when it will reach a global consumption figure of approximately 63 million t.3 Biodiesel also offers a number of advantages over conventional fuels. For example, it yields 93% more energy than the energy invested in its production.4 It also tends to release limited volumes of air pollutants per net energy gain. When looking at the entire life cycle
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Keen Hoe Lui, Sulzer, Singapore, looks at how to convert existing biodiesel processing facilities to create sustainable and effective green fuel production plants.
assessment (LCA) of this biofuel, it releases just 1.0%, 8.3%, and 13% of the agricultural nitrogen, phosphorus, and pesticide pollutants, respectively, per net energy gain. Relative to the fossil fuels that are displaced by the use of biodiesel, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 41% throughout production and combustion.4
The importance of purified biodiesel Sustainable biodiesel can be obtained by using a wide range of feedstocks, such as algae, animal fats, vegetable oils, or used cooking oil. These contain triglycerides that undergo catalytic esterification which is facilitated by alcohols, alkaline or acid catalysts, or enzymes. The products of this reaction are fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), i.e. biodiesel. However, heavier components (heavies) and impurities, such as sulfur and fatty acids – particularly monoglyceride – are also present in varying degrees. These can influence the properties of the biodiesel produced as well as the performance of the engine using it. Therefore, the FAME need to be purified in order to remove these unwanted chemicals and obtain high-quality fuels. When biodiesel with an elevated purity level is achieved, it has a transparent appearance as well as extremely low cloud and pour points. These features make the product suitable for the most demanding applications, as the fuel can meet even strict winter-grade specifications. This means that it offers a sufficient energy content while
showing a limited tendency to turn into a thickened gel at low temperatures. As a result, users can effectively mix it with conventional diesels to obtain superior fuel blends that can be utilised in colder regions.
Refining process needs Biodiesel producers that want to supply biodiesel to the European and North American markets, where winterised fuel is often necessary, should therefore make sure that their equipment can deliver a high-quality product at competitive prices. More precisely, the facilities must be able to achieve a high separation performance to successfully remove most of the impurities, especially monoglyceride, and meet or be better than current regulations, such as ASTM D6751 for North America and EN 14214 for Europe. At the same time, with separation processes being among the most energy-demanding, it is important for purification equipment to be highly efficient. This is key to maintaining low OPEX and, in turn, offering cost-competitive biodiesel. Furthermore, limiting energy usage also helps to improve the sustainability of refining activities, as this reduces the overall carbon footprint of a facility. On top of these considerations, businesses should select solutions that minimise the CAPEX as well as an expanded manufacturing footprint required to repurpose the plant.
Structuring upgraded columns Ultimately, the solution to address all these challenges lies in selecting a separation technology specialist with an established track record of supporting biofuel production, such as Sulzer Chemtech. In this way, businesses can benefit from proven modifications to create reliable and effective purification systems. The upgrade programme is also likely to include the replacement of column packing and internals to handle different processing conditions and feedstocks. The most effective set-up to obtain high-purity FAME involves high temperatures and vacuum conditions condensed into a single unit, rather than a separation train. This design of purification tower demonstrates optimised performance, removing most of the monoglyceride and sulfur content, reaching levels below 0.2% w/w and 15 ppm respectively. Also, by employing a single purification unit, businesses can limit their equipment footprint as well as CAPEX. Columns operating at high temperature and under vacuum are best equipped with structured packing in their beds. This
consists of parallel corrugated sheets, gauzes or meshes, in most cases made of metal. Arranged in an open honeycomb structure with vertical flow channels, the design offers low resistance to flow but a relatively high surface area to volume ratio. Thus, it is possible to maximise liquid spreading to facilitate mass transfer while minimising liquid hold-up and residence time. Furthermore, since the packing’s open area is nearly as large as the column’s cross-sectional surface, the pressure drop is limited. This choice of packing also proves crucial in the challenging separation of FAME from monoglyceride – substances that have similar boiling points. The removal process of such an impurity requires a high number of theoretical stages that only structured packing can accommodate while offering a limited column size.
Selecting the latest technologies With the design of structured packing continuously evolving, the most effective solution is the latest fourth-generation design, as used in Sulzer Chemtech’s MellapakPlus™. In effect, when compared to third-generation structured packing, this technology can lead to capacity increases of 30 - 50%.5 Even more, MellapakPlus causes a pressure drop that can be up to three times lower than other solutions with similar specific areas and, under the same conditions, the bottom temperature can be safely lowered while achieving similar separation performance.6 Therefore, facilities can benefit from substantial savings in OPEX. In addition to advanced separation components, a specialist such as Sulzer Chemtech can provide further support to help biofuel or biodiesel producers maximise profitability. To enhance FAME recovery rates, it can couple the purification unit with a secondary system, such as rising film evaporators or candle evaporators, where the residue is reprocessed to extract any remaining FAME, maximising yield. Also, the company offers steam regenerators to create low-energy, closed-loop heat recovery systems that can lower energy consumption, the associated costs, and ultimately optimise biodiesel production. By upgrading their existing infrastructures to support more sustainable feedstocks, oil refineries can play a key role in the global transition towards cleaner energy sources. Partnering with a world-leading specialist in separation technology and biodiesel applications, such as Sulzer Chemtech, will ensure that adapted plants benefit from the latest technologies and efficient processes. As a result, biodiesel producers can get ahead of the competition and establish themselves in the biofuel market with high-quality, cost-effective products.
Figure 1. Oil refineries can play a key role in the global transition towards cleaner energy sources.
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PRECEDENCE RESEARCH, 2021, ‘Biofuels Market Size, Share & Growth Analysis Report, By Fuel Type (Biodiesel and Ethanol), By Feedstock (Coarse Grain, Sugar Crop, Vegetable Oil, Jatropha, Molasses) - Global Industry Analysis, Trends, Revenue, Segment Forecasts, Regional Outlook 2021 - 2030’. MARKET RESEARCH FUTURE, 2021, ‘Biofuels Market Research Report: Information, by Fuel Type (Biodiesel and Ethanol), by Feedstock Type (First, Second, and Third Generation), and by Region (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East & Africa, and South America)- Forecast till 2027’. INDEXBOX, 2021, ‘The Global Biodiesel Market Retains Robust Growth Despite the Pandemic and Low Oil Prices.’ Available at: https://www.globaltrademag.com/the-global-biodiesel-marketretains-robust-growth-despite-the-pandemic-and-low-oil-prices/ [Accessed 25 August 2021]. HILL, J., NELSON, E., TILMAN, D., POLASKY, S., and TIFFANY, D., 2006, Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels. Proceedings of the National Academy of sciences, Vol. 103(30), pp.11206-11210. MOSER, F., and KESSLER, A., 2000, ‘MellapakPlus-a new generation of structured packings’, Vakuum in Forschung und Praxis, Vol. 12(2), pp.122-124. SALEM, A., and SHOKRHAR, H., 2008, ‘Effect of Structured Packing Characteristics on Styrene Monomer/Ethylbenzene Distillation Process’, Chemical Engineering & Technology: Industrial Chemistry-Plant Equipment-Process Engineering-Biotechnology, Vol. 31(10), pp.1453-1461.
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70 ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
Arun Mote, Triveni Turbines, India, explains how biomass as a fuel helps to generate power in a sustainable manner.
he global power generation industry has been witnessing a major transformation in recent years, which is expected to also continue going forwards. The rapid depletion of fossil fuel reserves and the subsequent environmental impact caused due to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have brought sustainable energy sources to the forefront. This resulted in a changing energy generation mix and witnessed the shift from conventional energy sources (fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal) to renewable energy sources. Globally, there is an increasing focus on the replacement of existing coal-fired power plants with clean fuel-fired power plants in order to reduce the carbon footprint. In this context, renewable energy plays a vital role in reducing carbon emissions. It is comprised of non-thermal (such as hydro, solar, and wind) and thermal energy sources. In the case of thermal energy sources, bioenergy will remain the prime source of fuel going forward. The bioenergy industry turns many potential feedstocks into solid fuels (biomass or wood pellets, sugarcane residues and palm oil residues, etc.), liquid biofuels (ethanol, etc.), and gaseous fuels (biogas, landfill gas), which are then used to produce electricity, heat, and transport fuels. According to an international report on solid biomass, in early 2020 there were nearly 4200 active biomass-based power plants worldwide, with an installed power generation capacity of approximately 72.5 GW. The installed power generation potential through biomass-based power plants is expected to reach 90.9 GW by the end of 2029, by adding approximately 1250 plants – making the combined total 5450 plants. The drive to utilise locally available agricultural and forest residues has benefitted power generation closer to the point of consumption that has enabled setting up biomass-based independent power plants (IPPs). The IPPs play a major role in generating the power for sale to the grid or to specific customers. For a majority of the IPPs, a feed-in tariff (FiT) or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) provides a long-term price guarantee. Biomass (bagasse and non-bagasse) as fuel helps the CHP/cogeneration system generate power that is sustainable. Industrial use of biomass, particularly from sugar mills, rice mills, and palm oil mills, as well as wood waste from pulp and paper mills, is conducive to the production of power for captive consumption. The pulp and paper industry constantly focuses on improving energy efficiency, which is attained through increased use of non-bagasse based fuel (e.g. wood waste) for power generation, and by appropriate usage of steam. Today, approximately 70% of biomass power is cogenerated with process heat. For example, the heat sources are being used for district heating in European countries and for industrial process heating application globally. Triveni Turbines provides steam turbine solutions that use low-pressure steam generated through extraction turbines for a heating application by producing both heat and electric power (CHP). The cost of power generated through this process is 14 - 15% less when compared to the cost of power generated through IPPs – where the customer generates only electric power. In comparison, solar renewable energy is used as a utility power plant, which means the customer generates effective electric power only during the day. On the other hand, the power that is produced through CHPs benefits the customer throughout the day by addressing the combined heat and power requirements of the plant. To conclude this section, the rapid increase in electricity consumption, along with growing focus on electricity generation through biomass energy sources, is expected to unleash sustainable power generation through a cost-effective approach by combining both heat and power.
Case study – biomass-based power plant in Turkey Challenge Inconsistency in the availability of biomass fuel (forest waste, paddy waste, canola stalk, sunflower stalk, and sweet corn stalk) affects day-to-day operation of the power plant. Due to the variation of fuel input, the boiler load will thus be impacted, which in turn will affect the operation of the steam turbine.
The turbine internals (rotor and blades) and turbine controls have been designed to operate at lower loads with optimum efficiency and less maintenance. The steam turbine generator (STG) was delivered to the biomass-based power plant in Turkey at a record timeline of seven months and erection and commissioning was completed within 35 days during COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
The customer is now able to run the power plant in varied fuel conditions by overloading the STG set wherever possible. To complement this new product portfolio, Triveni’s refurbishment arm – Triveni REFURB – provides an after market solution for the complete range of rotating equipment across the globe. From steam turbines and compressors, to the gas turbine range, the company has adapted itself to ensure that customers find a one stop solution. With rising costs, operating turbines efficiently is a necessity for cost saving and creating a positive carbon footprint. With age, the turbine becomes inefficient and increases the cost of producing power. The Triveni Turbines team works with the customer to understand the current needs and re-designs the existing turbine to meet the new parameters and ensure the turbine is efficient, thus leading to cost savings. The company’s efficient improvement programme was aimed at existing turbines across all brands by retaining the present housing and civil works. The internals including the rotor, stator, bearings, etc., are replaced with a highly-efficient design and upgraded steam flow path to offer customers the following benefits. >> Up to 15% improvement in efficiency. >> Upgraded steam flow path. >> Re-use existing turbine housing and auxiliaries. >> No modification on civil foundation and structures. >> Life extension to over 100 000 hours. >> ROI under two years resulting in increased profitability of operations.
Figure 1. Performance curve indicating actual achieved parameters vs pre modification with a 7.7% efficiency enhancement along with a power upgrade.
Case study – natural degradation of turbines
Figure 2. Biomass-based power plant in Turkey, driven by a 16 MW condensing steam turbine with an inlet steam parameter of 42 bar and 450˚C with 0.1 bar exhaust.
A renowned customer was operating its 8 MW European OEM turbine for more than 15 years, but the turbine had begun to operate inefficiently due to natural degradation. Triveni Turbines reviewed the turbine design and confirmed to the customer that the parameters would be modified as per the current requirements and also ensure availability of 1 MW of extra power. Triveni REFURB provided a solution to route the additional steam to the existing turbine with an upgraded steam flow path design. By only modifying the turbine internals (rotor with highlyefficient blades, diaphragms, bearings, and gear internals) with the new design, the customer could achieve a power enhancement of 9 MW with lower specific steam consumption than the normal running condition. The overall project cost was significantly lower as there was no modification to the civil foundation and also the turbine housing was retained. The turbine was commissioned and handed over. With a 1 MW power addition and process stabilisation, the payback period is less than a year.
A strong future for bioenergy
Figure 3. Newly bladed rotor with upgraded steam flown path placed on the existing housing and foundation.
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In conclusion, bioenergy will remain the prime source of fuel going forward. Biomass (bagasse and non-bagasse) as fuel helps the CHP/cogeneration system generate power that is sustainable. This bodes well for the global power generation industry to captivate on the needs and requirements of both independent and captive power producers, as the demand for biomass power is expected to grow.
GLOBAL NEWS Iberdrola Australia to build Avonlie Solar Farm
R.Power expands into Romanian PV market
Iberdrola Australia has committed to building the Avonlie Solar Farm, a 245 MW(DC) solar project near Narrandera, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, after recently acquiring the project from RES. The project is expected to generate approximately 500 GWh/y of electricity, equivalent to powering more than 80 000 Australian households and avoiding over 157 000 tpy of carbon emissions. Construction work will include the installation of more than 450 000 solar panels and related balance of the plant. Construction is expected to begin in 4Q21, with initial energisation expected before the end of 2022. The project will create more than 230 full-time jobs during construction and many direct and indirect jobs during its estimated operational life of 35 years. As Australia’s ageing and unreliable coal-fired power plants inexorably approach retirement, the National Electricity Market will require significant investment in replacement capacity. Over the last two years, Iberdrola has achieved Final Investment Decision (FID) at the Avonlie Solar Farm in NSW and at the 320 MW Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park in South Australia, and also entered into a user agreement with TransGrid in relation to the 50 MW/75 MWh Wallgrove Grid Battery in NSW. Together, these projects reflect almost AUS$1 billion of capital commitments, adding approximately 600 MW of low-cost, reliable renewable energy capacity to the National Electricity Market.
R.Power, a Polish developer currently developing a portfolio of projects of over 5 GWp, has announced that it has signed a co-operation agreement with one of Romania’s leading developers of solar farms, wind farms, and hydroelectric investments. The companies want to develop a portfolio of photovoltaic (PV) projects with a total capacity of up to 100 MWp. Co-operation between the two companies includes the development of PV farm projects located throughout the entire country. “Romania is an emerging market with a great potential” says Przemek Pieta, Co-founder and CEO of R.Power. “We are negotiating with further developers in the PV sector, and are open to new business opportunities. We want to take advantage of the increasingly friendly legislative environment and support the authorities in achieving their sustainable development goals” he adds. R.Power has secured funds for the acquisition of further projects outside Poland. In June, the company established a programme to issue green bonds with a total nominal value of up to PLN 1 billion (€222 million). Bonds with a total nominal value of PLN 150 million (€33.2 million) were issued under the first series. Some of them will be used for the aforementioned development in Romania. According to the provisions of the European Green Deal, Romania must achieve the target of a 30.7% share of renewable energy in the energy mix by 2030. This means that over the next 10 years the increase in capacity from RES should be approximately 6 GW/y.
Masdar to develop solar projects in Republic of Iraq Masdar has announced that it signed a strategic agreement with the Republic of Iraq to develop five solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the country with a combined capacity of 1 GW. Masdar has signed an implementation agreement with Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity and the National Investment Commission to develop the following projects: a 450 MW plant in the Dhi Qar Governate in southern Iraq; a 100 MW and a 250 MW plant, both located in Ramadi in central Iraq; a 100 MW plant in Mosul in the north; and a 100 MW plant in Amarah in the southeast. In June, Masdar announced the signing of Heads of
Agreement with the Ministry of Electricity and the National Investment Commission to develop projects in Iraq with a minimum total capacity of 2 GW. Iraq, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is looking to increase the percentage of renewables in its total power production capacity to 20 - 25% by the end of this decade to address supply issues and meet climate objectives, which would be equivalent to 10 GW to 12 GW. The country, which this year ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, enjoys some of the most attractive solar irradiation levels in the region.
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GLOBAL NEWS Jan De Nul to use Remazel Engineering S.p.A equipment
Keppel O&M completes work for Ørsted
Jan De Nul Group has selected Remazel S.p.A. for the delivery of a set of cradles, a skidding system, and an upending hinge for its new floating installation vessel, Les Alizés, to handle and install XXI monopiles. The design of this fully automated monopile installation system is tailor-made for Les Alizés and ideally suited to work in challenging weather conditions and harsh sea states. This mission equipment will allow Les Alizés to safely and efficiently install monopiles in offshore conditions. Les Alizés will use the monopile cradles on her deck to store monopiles. The monopile cradles can automatically adjust their supporting diameter. If required, the cradles can also support the tapered section of the monopile. The skidding system is needed to optimise the use of the deck and will enable Les Alizés to transport the monopiles in between the monopile cradles and the upending hinge. The upending hinge can accommodate monopiles weighing over 3000 t. The tub-mounted crane brings the monopile in a vertical position using the upending hinge. Once upended, the monopile is placed into the monopile gripper by the tub-mounted crane. Les Alizés allows the installation of very large components including jackets exceeding 4500 t and monopiles weighing over 3000 t. It is of paramount importance that the installation process for these very large components can be safely executed. The automated working method for the monopile installation system creates a safe environment in which the personnel’s safety is not compromised.
Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (Keppel O&M) has completed the construction of two offshore substations for Ørsted which will be deployed at Taiwan’s Greater Changhua 1 & 2a offshore wind farms. The detailed engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) for the two 600 MW unmanned offshore wind farm substations, which comprise the topside modules and jacket foundations, was completed with a perfect safety record. The topside modules, which have a combined weight of more than 8000 t, are expected to sail away in late October 2021 to be integrated with the jacket foundations on-site standing in the Taiwan Straits. Keppel O&M completed the construction of the jacket foundations earlier in 2Q21 and will be undertaking the integration work for the offshore substations. When operational, the Greater Changhua 1 & 2a will be Taiwan’s first far shore and large scale offshore wind farms. After integration of the topside modules onto the jacket foundations, Keppel O&M will conduct testing of the substation systems within its scope. Expected to withstand the sea and extreme weather conditions at the site, the offshore substations will distribute the energy generated from the offshore wind farm to the onshore substation via subsea cables. The Changhua 1 & 2a offshore wind farms will supply approximately 1 million households in Taiwan with green power. Taiwan recently announced plans to install 15 GW of new capacity in offshore wind between 2026 and 2035.
GE Renewable Energy launches wind turbine blade mould at French factory LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy business, has announced the launch of its second 107 m wind turbine blade mould (production line) at its Cherbourg factory in France, in order to address the industry’s demand for offshore wind turbine blades. The second mould has been through the prototype phase and will now start operations. Additionally, GE Renewable Energy will be further investing in upgrading the plant. The company is planning an extension of the site, with the construction of an additional hall for finishing blades (post-moulding) before they are shipped. The facility has produced one of the world’s first offshore
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wind turbine blades longer than 100 m: a 107 m blade that will be used in the company’s Haliade-X offshore wind turbine. The site is recruiting 200 employees, targeting 800 employees in total. Every new hire goes through an intensive six-week training programme at the factory’s Centre of Excellence to learn wind turbine blade manufacturing processes and develop skills and technical expertise required to produce high-quality wind turbine blades. Following the training, employees receive official certificates recognised in the French industry, as a Qualification Certificate for Metallurgy Operations.
Port Anthony Renewables signs JV for green energy hub Port Anthony Renewables and Singapore’s global gasification technology integrator CAC-H2 have formed a multi-million dollar joint venture to capitalise on the growing global demand for green energy. The AUS$20+ million agreement will see CAC-H2 build and commission a waste wood biomass gasification system to produce carbon negative green hydrogen and ammonia for both domestic use and export internationally. Under the deal, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) has been formed called ‘Hydrogen Plus’. Under the arrangement, PAR will be one of the first in Australia to produce a commercial amount of green hydrogen, representing a significant competitive advantage for the company. The initial target is to produce 3 tpd of green hydrogen for domestic distribution, and to expand the plant’s capacity to be aligned with domestic demand. The joint venture also plans to build out a large scale green ammonia production plant on the Port for export to Asia.
VoltH2 receives permit for new green hydrogen plant VoltH2, a Europe-based developer of green hydrogen production infrastructure projects, has received building and environmental permits for the construction of a large scale green hydrogen plant in the Benelux region. Strategically located in the North Sea Port of Vlissingen, the Netherlands, within an industrial cluster, the site has proximity to existing high-voltage power and gas infrastructure as well as large renewable power producing assets for the supply of green electrons. The 25 MW green hydrogen plant will be able to produce up to 3500 tpy of green hydrogen and will be scalable to 100 MW or 14 000 t. The facility is to be built adjacent to a connection point enabling direct access to the future European Hydrogen Backbone which is the dedicated hydrogen infrastructure traversing Europe. Additionally, VoltH2 is in the advanced stage of permitting for a second green hydrogen plant in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, in joint development with Virya Energy. This site will have an initial capacity of 3500 tpy of hydrogen and will be scalable to 75 MW or 10 500 t. VoltH2 is also actively developing additional sites in Belgium, France, and Germany.
OWPL consortium plan to develop green hydrogen facility Offshore Wind Power Limited (OWPL), the consortium formed by Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, TotalEnergies, and Scottish developer Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG) has announced it is studying the use of offshore wind to power the production of green hydrogen on an industrial scale on the island of Flotta in Orkney, Scotland. The OWPL consortium has submitted a proposal to the Crown Estate Scotland’s offshore wind leasing round (ScotWind) to develop the N1 plan option area west of Orkney. If successful, its proposal – called the West of Orkney wind farm – could deliver renewable power to a green hydrogen production facility at the Flotta Terminal. Plans to power the proposed Flotta Hydrogen Hub are being developed by OWPL in partnership with Flotta Terminal’s owner Repsol Sinopec, and Uniper. The proposal is also supported locally by EMEC Hydrogen who have spearheaded Orkney’s leading position in green hydrogen production. “We believe that green hydrogen could provide a critical alternative route to market for some of Scotland’s largest offshore wind projects and play a significant role in creating wider economic benefits as the North Sea goes through its energy transition. We look forward to working with the Flotta partners to continue to develop this proposal.” said Edward Northam, Head of Green Investment Group Europe.
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ENERGY GLOBAL AUTUMN 2021
GLOBAL NEWS CalWave commissions wave energy project
METI selects MOL wave project for subsidy programme
CalWave successfully commissioned its CalWave x1™ on 16 September 2021 off the coast of San Diego, US. This milestone event marks the beginning of California’s first at-sea, long-duration wave energy pilot operating fully submerged. The CalWave x1 will be tested for six months with the goal of validating the performance and reliability of the system in open ocean. This project is supported by a US Department of Energy award with the goal to demonstrate CalWave’s scalable and patented xWave technology. Several key partners collaborated with CalWave on this project including the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, DNV GL, and UC Berkeley. Operating fully submerged without visual impact, CalWave’s xWave architecture is capable of breaking through the challenges that have held the industry back so far: a technology that achieves high performance while being able to control structural loads in rare but destructive storms on all parts of the system. Following this demonstration, CalWave plans to prepare for deployment of a larger unit at PacWave, one of the first commercial scale, utility grid-connected wave energy test sites in the US rated at 20 MW.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd (MOL) has announced that its proposed wave power project in Mauritius was selected for Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) subsidy programmes. Wave power is one of the ocean’s renewable energies which has not been commercialised to full scale yet, but in some regions of Europe and the US, large scale demonstration tests and commercialisation projects using subsidies are moving forward. Since Mauritius has drawn up a roadmap to raise the percentage of renewable energy to 35% or 40% by 2030, and positions wave power as one of the future power sources, MOL made a proposal to the programme for the contribution to the nation’s environmental strategy. MOL entered into an agreement with Bombora Wave Power Pty Ltd of the UK to evaluate the prospects of the wave energy business in Japan and Asia in January 2021. Both companies are conducting research to identify wave energy potential, using Bombora’s unique mWave™ energy converter and site selection with consideration for the natural environment by using a geographic information system (GIS) in Mauritius.
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