Energy Global - Summer 2020

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34. Painting a clear picture

02. Comment

Gareth Brown, CEO, Clir Renewables, Canada.

03. Global news

38. The rules of the trading game Anya Nova, Power Ledger, Australia.

42. How to fuel our world

Ramnik Singh, USA, and Thomas Raiser, Switzerland, Sulzer.

Balasubramanian Sambasivam, PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, India, discusses whether India’s electricity system is fully committed to moving towards renewable energy.


48. Out of the woods

arious discourses regarding global warming and climate change have forced countries around the world to concentrate on reducing emissions in several energy intensive sectors. Apart from the transportation and industrial sectors, electricity is the most energy intensive and needs extensive attention to reduce its emissions. This is especially true for electricity generation from fossil fuel energy sources such as coal, lignite, oil, and natural gas which are highly energy intensive and emit considerable amounts of emissions into the environment. To reduce these emissions in the electricity sector, the Indian Government is installing more renewable energy into the country’s electricity generation capacity. However, the question still remains whether India’s electricity system is really turning towards renewable energy sources.

Joey Broda, FortisBC, Canada.

52. The sun shines bright in Sub-Saharan Africa

India’s installed capacity scenario up until the new millennium Figure 1 shows all of India’s installed capacity from 1947 until the beginning of the millennium. At the time of independence, the installed capacity of India was just 1.3 GW. Until 1980 the growth in the electricity sector was very low and only experienced significant growth post 1980, where it increased from 28 GW in 1980 to 105 GW in the year 2002.

Growth of installed capacity in the last decade Figure 2 shows all of India’s installed electricity capacity in the years 2009 and 2019. In 2009, the installed capacity was 159 GW and saw a significant increase over the last decade, where it grew to 369 GW in 2019, meaning the growth in installed capacity more than doubled. Some of the reasons for an increase in installed



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08. An electric debate

Balasubramanian Sambasivam, PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, India.

12. The North Sea pioneers

René Peters, TNO and Chair of the North Sea Energy Program, the Netherlands.

18. Breaking boundaries

Alberto Morandi, USA, and Han Tiebout, the Netherlands, GustoMSC – an NOV company.

24. Protection against the elements Richard Beesley, Trelleborg Applied Technologies, UK.

30. A pool of valuable data

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor, SolarPower Europe.

58. A design heads above the rest Roger Tian and Roberto Murgioni, JinkoSolar, China.

62. Balancing act

Sen Zhang, Wärtsilä Energy Storage and Optimisation, USA.

66. Creating an ebb and flow of energy Sébastien Hita-Perona, General Manager ESS & Microgrids, Saft, France.

70. The lockdown lowdown Jordan Appleson, Hark, UK.

74. Partnerships of power

Paola Zerilli (University of York, UK), Karl-Ludwig Schibel (Climate Alliance, Italy), and Riccardo Coletta (Agency for the Promotion of European Research, Italy), XPRESS Consortium.

Bill Ballew, James Fisher Asset Information Services (AIS), UK.



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hroughout our existence, humans have achieved unimaginable feats in nature in order to thrive and develop. We have extracted oil from deep below the Earth to run our cities, mined precious metals to power our smartphones, covered once-rich terrain with thick tarmac to enable transport routes, and exhausted the oceans of marine life to feed our populations, to name just a few. Current conversation and concern for the environment and the literal future of the world, has never been more on trend. From the large corporations to governments of all levels, the news is frequently highlighting recent moves and strategic plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The latest international names that spring to mind include Apple’s commitment to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030, and BP’s aspirations to develop from a global oil company into an integrated energy company that invests in low carbon technologies. It is not the case that this new decade has suddenly caused the world to now disfavour the pollutant smog in Beijing or the traffic congestion of Los Angeles’ highways, but it is the combination of sharply falling costs and technological advances that are making the present seem the best time to go green. To harness the power of nature involves the acquisition of a free resource, both clean and abundant. The renewable projects being undertaken across the world are implementing remarkable engineering ingenuity, in order to capture and utilise the free resources at hand. Sun Cable is developing an AUS$22 billion solar power project in Australia’s Northern Territory which will deliver green energy to Singapore via a 3700 km electricity cable. Within recent weeks, the Australian government awarded ‘major project status’ to the undertaking, with the goal of fast tracking the project’s construction.

Countries in the Gulf are also ramping up their commitment to renewable energy sources, perhaps attributed to their drive to export larger quantities of their fossil fuel products to international markets (for the revenue stream), and retain the clean energy domestically. One planned solar plant in Abu Dhabi, UAE, hopes to supply enough energy to reduce the city’s carbon dioxide emissions by almost 2.4 million t, which equates to the same value as removing 470 000 cars from the road. This Al Dhafra Solar PV project will reportedly be the world’s largest solar power plant, once completed. An essence of competition is never a bad thing, and some friendly rivalry between countries as they seek to build the largest wind farm or the longest subsea power cable, etc. and race to lead the world as a renewables exporting superpower, can surely only have positive repercussions. However, there is no immediate switch from being reliant on fossil fuels to using solely clean energy. Over the coming years, the energy transition will be at the forefront of government policies and company objectives, as they sprint to meet the commitments of climate change agreements such as the Paris Agreement. In this first issue of Energy Global magazine, our in-depth technical articles cover a spectrum of renewable energies, including a vast hydrogen pilot project in the North Sea, how to create energy from wood waste in Canada, and technologies for storing energy to balance out the variability of renewable power, plus a variety more. Energy Global aims to report on this rapidly evolving industry, covering the ingenious technologies, the political developments, the economic support, and the overall green future that the world seeks. Subscription to this digital magazine is free, and advertising and editorial opportunities are available. For more information, please contact Will Pownall or Lydia Woellwarth.


GLOBAL NEWS Puget Sound Energy and Avangrid Renewables sign PPA

AqualisBraemar awarded construction supervision contract

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., have announced an agreement that will be supplied by a new 200 MW wind farm, enough energy to power over 60 000 homes on an annual basis. The wind farm will be built by Avangrid Renewables in Sherman County, Oregon, US. The Golden Hills Wind Farm will be Avangrid Renewables’ 13th in the Pacific Northwest and an important step toward realising the company’s nearly 19 GW project pipeline. The project will help PSE meet its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while providing additional capacity to serve customers, particularly during winter periods of high electricity demand. This agreement is part of PSE’s commitment to the environment and deep decarbonisation by investing in more wind energy. PSE selected this project as part of the mix to meet the needs identified in its 2018 all source RFP. The addition of the Golden Hills wind project will increase PSE’s owned and contracted wind fleet to over 1150 MW. These wind facilities form a key component in PSE’s clean energy strategy and progress towards Washington State’s clean energy goals. The Golden Hills Wind Farm will be located near the town of Wasco, Oregon, and the turbines will be spread across approximately 28 000 acres of land held by 37 landowners. Avangrid Renewables expects to complete the project by late 2021. The project is expected to deliver substantial economic benefits to the region both during construction and on an ongoing basis once operational.

OuYang Offshore Co. Ltd has awarded AqualisBraemar a construction supervision contract for two new-build selfelevating wind turbine installation vessels to be constructed at the Chinese shipyard Dayang Offshore Equipment Co. Ltd. AqualisBraemar’s on-site team at Jiangsu-based Dayang Offshore Equipment will monitor and supervise the construction of the two wind turbine installation vessels – OuYang 003 and OuYang 004 – to ensure that all work is carried out in accordance with the contract specifications as well as flag and class requirements. The project will be managed from AqualisBraemar’s office in Shanghai, China, which previously held the same role for OuYang 001 and OuYang 002. AqualisBraemar has not disclosed the value of the new contract. Both self-elevating wind turbine installation vessel units are identical, with a length of 75.6 m, a depth of 7 m, 40 m beams, and four hydraulic pin legs. Both units are selfpropelled, with an operational water depth of up to 50 m and accommodation for up to 68 persons. Both units are equipped with one 600 MT leg fitted crane around one of the stern legs, with a lifting height of 140 m from sea level. With the spacious main deck, both units are capable of the lifting installation of 10 MW wind turbines in China. AqualisBraemar and its sister company Offshore Wind Consultants (OWC) are increasingly being asked to support offshore wind projects in Chinese waters. Recently, the companies have been engaged with both the Jiangsu and Guangdong offshore wind projects. AqualisBraemar and OWC are part of Oslo-listed energy consultancy group AqualisBraemar ASA.

Pipeshield International completes delivery for Saint Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm Pipeshield International, a Tekmar Group company, has completed the engineering, manufacturing, and delivery of concrete mattresses to the EPCI joint venture of Eiffage Métal and DEME for Saint Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm, France. Pipeshield International has completed the delivery of 77 concrete mattresses of varying specifications for Saint Nazaire, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in France. Pipeshield worked collaboratively with Eiffage to develop an optimised engineering solution and comprehensive mattress specifications that met the technical requirements of the challenging offshore location.

Jamie Howard, Project Manager at Eiffage said: “Pipeshield not only enabled us to fulfil the ultimate client’s technical requirements but worked with us to initiate solutions which undoubtedly benefitted the project cost and schedule.” Sam Bird, Project Manager at Pipeshield said: “Pipeshield is delighted to have provided Eiffage with a robust protection and stabilisation solution for this prestigious French project. It is also pleasing to see another offshore wind project supported by multiple Tekmar Group companies with our sister company Tekmar Energy delivering CPS for the protection of subsea array cables.”




GLOBAL NEWS Agreement signed for solar project in Southern Alberta RWE Renewables, a subsidiary of RWE Group, and Direct Energy Business, part of Direct Energy, have announced that they have signed a long-term agreement to purchase 25 MW of electrical output and associated capacity from RWE’s Canadian Hull solar plant. The photovoltaic plant, located in Canada in Southern Alberta’s Taber county, started commercial operation recently and will now provide an important part of the electricity that Direct Energy Business needs to supply its Canadian customers with renewable electricity. “This PPA demonstrates Direct Energy’s unique ability to create long-term, 100% renewable energy solutions that combine the strengths of our customers, project developers, and energy retailers alike,” said Lance Henderson, Director, Western Origination, Direct Energy Business. The long-term contract started in August 2020. RWE’s solar farm will supply an annual production of up to 50 000 MWh of carbon-free energy and environmental attributes to Direct Energy; enough green electricity to supply the equivalent of 6500 Canadian homes.

Canadian Solar begins German solar plant construction Canadian Solar Inc. has commenced the construction of the 10 MWp Groß Siemz solar power plant in Germany. The project is located on an 11 hectare area next to the highway A20 Groß Siemz, near the city Schönberg, Northern Germany. Canadian Solar is the turnkey solutions provider for the photovoltaic (PV) plant, responsible for most of the project execution including the design, engineering, procurement and construction, and will be powering the solar plant with over 22 900 pieces of Canadian Solar high-efficiency mono-PERC modules. GS Solar GmbH & Co. KG, the customer and project owner, will connect the plant to the grid in October 2020 and Canadian Solar will provide the operations and maintenance services. Once operational, the PV plant will generate approximately 10 GWh/y of clean and reliable solar energy, enough to meet the needs of over 3000 households. Through the project lifetime, it is expected to displace approximately 90 000 t of CO2 equivalent emissions.



Masdar and EDF Renewables team up EDF Renewables North America and Masdar, a clean energy developer and a subsidiary of Mubadala Investment Company, have announced Masdar’s second strategic investment in the US, in a deal with EDF Renewables North America that will see it acquire a 50% stake in a 1.6 GW clean energy portfolio. Under the terms of the agreement, Masdar has acquired a 50% interest in three utility-scale wind farms in the US in Nebraska and Texas totalling 815 MW, and five photovoltaic (PV) solar projects in California, US – two of which include battery energy storage systems – totalling 689 MW of solar and 75 MW of lithium-ion battery energy storage. In Riverside County, California, the Desert Harvest 1 and Desert Harvest 2 PV projects total 213 MW of solar and 35 MW/140 MWh of battery storage. Also in Riverside County are the 173 MW Maverick 1 and 136 MW Maverick 4 solar PV projects. These four projects are also under construction and slated for commercial operations in 4Q20. The final project in the portfolio is Big Beau, a 166 MW solar PV and 40 MW/160 MWh battery energy storage project, which is in Kern County, California, and will reach commercial operation in 2021. All solar projects utilise horizontal single-axis tracking technology.

THE RENEWABLES REWIND > US DOE announces funding for perovskite solar technologies > Japan invests in wind and solar power plants >>Apex Clean Energy announces sale of White Mesa Wind Follow our website and social media pages for more updates, industry news, and technical articles


GLOBAL NEWS GranBio and NextChem sign partnership to develop cellulosic ethanol-based biofuel GranBio, a Brazilian industrial biotechnology company, and NextChem, Maire Tecnimont’s subsidiary for energy transition, have announced a strategic partnership in the licensing of GranBio 2G Ethanol technology to produce cellulosic ethanol. GranBio’s 2G Ethanol technology converts lignocellulosic, non-food biomass to renewable, low carbon intensity biofuels. NextChem is partnering with GranBio to license this technology worldwide. The alliance combines GranBio’s technology and knowledge in second generation biomass and biofuels with NextChem’s engineering intelligence, EPC capabilities and global presence, to offer integrated services, feasibility studies, integration projects, engineering, and construction of manufacturing plants around the world. The technology developed by GranBio to produce 2G ethanol has already been implemented in its factory in São Miguel dos Campos, Alagoas, Brazil – the first in the southern hemisphere dedicated to cellulosic ethanol. “Some countries already recognise the renewable carbon premium; our flexible method allows the use [of] all types of agricultural waste and energy crops as feedstocks, such as cane straw, miscanthus, and corn stover and even leftover wood such as pine and eucalyptus. With the alliance with NextChem, we have the ambition to conquer a significant share of the available market: we have the security and reliability that our technology is very promising,” said Paulo Nigro, Chief Executive Officer of GranBio.

Repsol begins production of aviation biofuels in Spain Repsol has successfully completed the production of the Spanish market’s first batch of aviation biofuels. The fuel was produced at the company’s Puertollano Industrial Complex in Ciudad Real, Spain, and more batches of aviation biofuel will continue to be manufactured at other facilities of the Group across Spain and through initiatives using biofuels derived from waste at a later time. The first batch consists of 7000 t of aviation fuel made from biomass – equal to the consumption of 100 MadridLos Angeles flights – which passed the demanding tests required by these products. It has a bio content under 5% in order to meet the quality standards established by international specifications, and using it will prevent 400 t of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, which is equal to 40 Madrid-Barcelona flights. In Spain, the Integrated National Climate and Energy Plan acknowledges that biofuels currently represent the most widely available and used renewable technology in transportation. In the aviation sector, the biojet derived from biomass or waste is today the only alternative, and it is included in the list of sustainable fuels. Due to the important role these biofuels play in reducing emissions, Repsol began working on different low-carbon solutions applied to transportation several years ago. Its focus on promoting biofuels, along with renewable generation, synthetic fuels, green hydrogen, self-consumption, and the circular economy, is one of Repsol’s key lines of work to achieve its carbon neutrality target by 2050.

CleanBay Renewables construct an anaerobic digestion plant CleanBay Renewables Inc. (CleanBay), an enviro-tech company focused on the production of greenhouse gas credits, organic fertilizer, and renewable energy, has announced its partnership with Kiewit Corporation, one of North America’s largest construction and engineering companies. Through the partnership, Kiewit will design, engineer, and build CleanBay’s Westover biorefinery which, using anaerobic digestion, will recycle more than 150 000 t of chicken

litter annually and convert it into renewable natural gas, renewable electricity, and a nutrient-rich fertilizer product. CleanBay has a unique environmental, social, and governance profile with its ability to reduce air, soil, and water pollution. Without processing, chicken litter releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 300 times the impact of CO2. Litter can also produce nitrogen and phosphorus run-off, which lead to algae blooms that pollute waterways and create dead zones.




GLOBAL NEWS Funding secured for renewable hydrogen project in Germany

Siemens Energy signs Chinese green hydrogen agreement

The partners of the Westküste 100 project have received funding confirmation from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as the first large-scale hydrogen project in Germany within the Reallabor (real-world laboratory) framework. The purpose of the project is to make industrial processes, aviation, construction, and heating more sustainable in the future. The Westküste 100 project models a regional hydrogen economy on an industrial scale. The conditions on Northern Germany’s west coast are ideal for this – a strong wind energy region meets innovative companies that want to contribute to reaching the crucial climate targets. The project has a total budget of €89 million. The approved funding for the project, which started from 1 August 2020, amounts to €30 million. A total of 10 partners form the consortium: EDF Germany, Holcim Germany, OGE, Ørsted, Raffinerie Heide, Stadtwerke Heide, Thüga, and thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, together with the Region Heide Development Agency and the West Coast University of Applied Sciences. With the grant approval, the Westküste 100 project can now enter its first phase, which includes a number of elements. A newly founded joint venture, H2 Westküste GmbH, intends to build a 30 MW electrolyser that can produce green hydrogen from offshore wind energy and provide information on the plant. Furthermore, pipeline transportation of hydrogen and the use of hydrogen in existing and new infrastructure around Heide will be tested.

Siemens Energy and Beijing Green Hydrogen Technology Development Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Power International Development Ltd, have signed an agreement to provide a hydrogen production system for a hydrogen fuelling station. Located in Yanqing District, Beijing, one of the three main competition areas for a major sporting event in 2022, the green hydrogen production solution provided by Siemens Energy will help guarantee the hydrogen supply for the public transportation during and after the event. The green hydrogen production solution is the first of its kind to be built by Siemens Energy in China. The project is expected to be delivered in May 2021. In September 2019, Siemens signed a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation in green hydrogen development and comprehensive utilisation with State Power Investment Corporation Limited (SPIC), which is the ultimate controlling shareholder of China Power. The hydrogen production project is the result of a close partnership between the two companies. Siemens Energy’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser system, Silyzer 200, can produce high-quality hydrogen on an industrial scale. In addition, the hydrogen production system responds quickly, the start-up time under pressure is less than one min., and it can be directly coupled with renewable energy. In order to meet the customer needs of saving space and being flexible, Siemens Energy has adapted its hydrogen production system into a customised solution, which is also its first skid-mounted MW green hydrogen production system in China.

RWE joins new European Clean Hydrogen Alliance RWE is supporting the newly launched European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (ECH2A). The organisation has ambitious aims on the deployment of hydrogen technologies by 2030; bringing together renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production, demand in industry, mobility and other sectors, as well as hydrogen transmission and distribution. These objectives fit perfectly with RWE’s view of hydrogen as one of the great hopes for the decarbonisation of industry. For this reason, the company will be involved in the alliance, which was established by the EU Commission.



RWE is convinced of the role hydrogen can have in the energy transition. RWE also sees opportunities for the use of hydrogen within its operations, predominantly due to its large portfolio of renewable generation globally which is key in the production of hydrogen. In addition, the company has both the experience and the knowledge to produce hydrogen, as well as the capability to store hydrogen in gas storage which belong to the company. With the alliance, the EU wants to build its global leadership in hydrogen to support the EU’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.


GLOBAL NEWS Modernisation of hydropower plant in Uzbekistan complete

Voith launches a project for intelligent hydropower in Australia

The Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan has announced that a three-year project to modernise the Kadyrinskaya Hydropower Plant (Kadyrinskaya HPP-3) has been completed on time. The modernisation was in co-operation with a Chinese hydropower enterprise and a team of Chinese specialists. The project cost was US$27.6 million, and capital was provided through a US$9.8 million Eximbank loan from the People’s Republic of China and US$17.8 million from Uzbekistan’s own funds. This project is one of several ongoing investment projects to both construct new hydropower plants and modernise existing ones. It is part of Uzbekistan’s ambitious national energy strategy seeking to generate a quarter of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The strategy aims for 3.8 GW of hydro energy, 5 GW of solar energy, and up to 3 GW of wind energy. The project, which commenced in December 2017 following a Presidential Decree, was completed on time despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the last months of the project, employees and contractors worked around the clock under special quarantine conditions. Modernisation of the plant has increased its capacity from 13.23 MW to 15.34 MW, and average annual power output to 124.4 million kWh. The main hydraulic equipment was produced by Dongfang Electric International Corporation, the Chinese state-owned manufacturer of power generating equipment, with assembly and installation executed by highly qualified international and Uzbek specialists.

Recently, Voith and Snowy Hydro agreed to collaborate for the Murray 1 power station and create a smart hydropower plant by installing acoustic sensing equipment to monitor and protect hydropower assets. The project includes Voith’s OnCare.Acoustic system, the IIoT platform OnCumulus data storage, and Digital Health Assessments. Installation of the system commenced in August 2020 with the six-month project. In 2019, Voith Hydro was appointed the electromechanical equipment supplier for Snowy 2.0, a 2000 MW pumped storage hydropower plant. The Murray 1 hydropower plant is located in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The plant was officially opened in 1967 and contains 10 units with a capacity of 950 MW. Voith’s OnCare.Acoustic condition monitoring system helps to detect potentially serious incidents by recording sound anomalies. Plant operators will be informed about suspicious sounds, which are pre-classified in warnings and alarms to secure the reliability, availability, and safety of hydropower plants 24/7. With Digital Health Assessments, Voith experts analyse the power plant’s operation data in Heidenheim, Germany, at the OnPerformance.Lab (OPL). This enables conditionbased decisions to optimise preventive maintenance measures and to detect malfunctions before they occur. Using the OPL Interact communication platform, customers can communicate with the OPL experts and gain further advantage with interactive reporting of the power plant. The project will evaluate the value of Voith’s digital solutions combination in one single power plant.

Powel software used for Italian hydropower Enel Green Power has used Powel’s software to highly automate the planning and dispatching processes for the Valmalenco power plants. The Powel software enables Enel Green Power to react nearly in real-time to balancing orders, relevant changes in the availability of power plants, weather data, and inflow observations for the entire valley. Since 2018, Enel Green Power has productively used Powel’s software in the regional dispatching centre in Sondrio in Northern Italy. Powel’s solutions have been used for the whole business process related to the production planning

and dispatch of the hydropower plants in the Lombardian valley, Valmalenco. These hydropower plants produce approximately 700 GWh/y and are bid to the market as an aggregated production unit. This means that nearly in real-time, Enel Green Power can optimise the overall production schedule of the power plants in the entire valley. Due to their high degree of flexibility, Enel Green Power’s power plants in Valmalenco are of strategic importance in Enel’s overall power plant portfolio in Italy, with an annual production of approximately 60 000 GWh.



Balasubramanian Sambasivam, PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, India, discusses whether India’s electricity system is fully committed to moving towards renewable energy.


arious discourses regarding global warming and climate change have forced countries around the world to concentrate on reducing emissions in several energy intensive sectors. Apart from the transportation and industrial sectors, electricity is the most energy intensive and needs extensive attention to reduce its emissions. This is especially true for electricity generation from fossil fuel energy sources such as coal, lignite, oil, and natural gas which are highly energy intensive and emit considerable quantities of emissions into the environment. To reduce these emissions in the electricity sector, the Indian Government is installing more renewable energy into the country’s electricity generation capacity. However, the question still remains whether India’s electricity system is really turning towards renewable energy sources.

India’s installed capacity scenario up until the new millennium Figure 1 shows all of India’s installed capacity from 1947 until the beginning of the millennium. At the time of independence, the installed capacity of India was just 1.3 GW. Until 1980, the growth in the electricity sector was very low and only experienced significant growth post 1980, where it increased from 28 GW in 1980 to 105 GW in the year 2002.

Growth of installed capacity in the last decade Figure 2 shows all of India’s installed electricity capacity in the years 2009 and 2019. In 2009, the installed capacity was 159 GW and saw a significant increase over the last decade, where it grew to 369 GW in 2019, meaning the growth in installed capacity more than doubled. Some of the reasons for an increase in installed




The role of coal and RES Figure 3 presents the yearly growth of coal and RES in the last decade. In 2009, the installed capacity of coal was 84 GW and increased at a rate of 143% to 205 GW in 2019. As discussed earlier, RES increased at a growth rate of 459% from 15.52 GW to 86.76 GW. However, in the last five years the growth of coal installation has significantly reduced, as seen in Figure 3. Between 2015 and 2019 the growth rate of coal’s installed capacity was 11%, whereas RES increased at a higher rate of 89% in the same time period. Figure 1. All of India’s installed capacity from 1947 - 2002.

The status of renewable energy sources The progression in the installed capacity of RES is presented in Figure 4. The growth in capacity addition of small hydropower and biopower is much less in the discussed time period, whilst the majority of growth is in wind power and solar power. In 2013 the installed capacity of wind power was 21.04 GW, and increased to 37.67 GW in 2019. Solar power in the same time period increased approximately 15 times – from 2.63 GW to 34.41 GW. This can be attributed to the various policies by the government of India promoting the installation of these two abundantly available RES. Figure 2. India’s installed capacity between 2009 - 2010 and 2019 ‑ 2020.

Figure 3. Growth of coal and RES installed capacity.

capacity are the increasing electricity demand and also the necessity to electrify unelectrified parts of India to provide power for all citizens in the country. The major sources of India’s installed electricity capacity are fossil fuels such as coal, gas, diesel, and non-fossil fuels such as nuclear, hydropower (>25 MW), and renewable energy sources (RES). RES include small hydro projects (<25 MW), biomass gasifiers, biomass power, urban and industrial waste power, solar energy, and wind energy. Figure 2 demonstrates that in the time period shown both coal and RES have seen a large jump in terms of installed capacity when compared to the other sources. In 2009, the percentage contribution of coal to India’s installed capacity was 53% (the installed capacity of coal also includes lignite), followed by hydropower (23%), gas (11%), and RES (10%). The installed capacity of RES in 2009 was 15.52 GW and increased by more than five times to 86.76 GW in 2019. In unison with the government of India’s schemes to promote RES, there has been a rapid increase in the installation of RES in the last 10 years.


The continued use of coal Despite this large increase in installed capacity of RES, coal is the major source of power generation in the country. The percentage contribution of coal in installed capacity in 2019 increased to 55% followed by RES (23%), hydropower (12%), and gas (7%). The main reason for this is the addition of highly intermittent solar and wind power into the installed capacity of the electricity system. The generation from solar and wind power are variable across hours, days, and seasons. In a country such as India, the generation of solar power is only possible from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm. During Summer, the generation from solar power is expected to be very high, but in monsoon season the generation will be low. The same is also applicable to wind power. In monsoon season the generation from wind power will be high and in other seasons it may be at a lower level. The efficient operation of the electricity grid requires a firm power generating source, but the power generation from RES is not firm and fluctuates in nature. In contrast, all of the conventional sources (coal, gas, oil, and nuclear) provide firm power for the seamless operation of the electricity grid in matching the supply and demand. Once switched on, the conventional power generation sources (firm power) will generate electricity continuously, subject to the availability of fuel.

The cost of going green Going green requires an equal amount of conventional power plants (in this case, coal) to be added to the electricity system. There is a huge cost involved in this with respect to installation, operation, and maintenance. The focus on becoming more RES friendly means that the country has become more dependent on coal power plants. For example, without RES, the cost of 1 MW of coal consists of its installation, operation and maintenance. In comparison, the cost of 1 MW of RES is the installation, operation, and maintenance cost of 1 MW of RES, as well as the installation, operation, and maintenance costs of 1 MW of coal.

Since the installation of coal power plants has reached saturation in the last few years, and with the government plan to increase its RES capacity to 175 GW, soon India is expected to have an electricity system with a greater percentage of RES in its installed capacity and generation. However, coal will be the major player in the years to come, albeit a smaller percentage. It will take a long time for RES to usurp coal as the major power generating source in the country.

The generation scenario The quantity of electricity generated from non-RES in the year 2014 - 2015 was 1048 billion units, and this figure has gradually increased to 1250 billion units in 2018 - 2019. Similarly, the generation from RES in the year 2014 - 2015 was 62 billion units and this increased by more than double to 127 billion units in 2018 - 2019. Furthermore, with the increase in electricity demand over recent years, the contribution of RES generation has also increased from 5% in 2014 - 2015 to 10% in 2018 - 2019.

sector is turning green; however, the caveat is that more RES installed capacity is added with more back-up conventional power generation capacity. The cost of RES is a higher number of idle coal power plants. Furthermore, for a country such as India, a system that is solely renewable energy is deemed not possible because of the inherent characteristics of RES. India’s expectation should be limited to an increased percentage of generation and a substantial installed capacity of RES. To have an effectively functioning electricity system that meets the increasing demand, the installation of more RES capacity alone is not a solution – there also needs to be an effective management of the demand side of the electricity system. Demand side management offers one such interesting option.

Bibliography • • •

Higher generation but lower PLF Figure 5 shows that the generation from conventional power plants has grown, in addition to the rise in RES generation to meet the increase in demand. Even with an increase in generation from conventional sources, with adequate coal power plant capacity, the majority of them are underutilised. This can be understood from Figure 6 which presents India’s plant load factor (PLF) for coal-based power plants from 2009 - 2010 to 2019 - 2020. PLF is the ratio of average power generated by the plant to the maximum power that could have been generated in a given time. Figure 6 demonstrates that PLF in 2018 - 2019 was 61%, and this is expected to decrease even further with the installation of more RES. One such example is provisional PLF in 2019 - 2020 until February which was just 56.41%. With this reduction in PLF, there are more coal power plants sitting idle without any electricity generation. This will have adverse impacts on the revenue of the power plants and also the equipment’s lifetime. Consequently, this loss in revenue should also be considered for the installation of RES.

Figure 4. Installed capacity of RES.

The future of India’s electricity To cater for the electricity demand, both conventional sources and RES are added to the electricity system. However, the electricity generation from both conventional and RES has increased significantly. India’s goal of going green has been achieved to an extent. More RES capacity is added to the system and there is also an increase in the RES generation percentage in the electricity system; however, there has been no reduction in emissions levels. For example, if there was 120 GW of coal power plants in operation previously, and there is an increase in demand and also an increase in generation, there is still 120 GW or more of coal power plants in operation. The point to be noted here is, even though the PLF has reduced, the generation capacity has increased. Interestingly, some part of increased demand is supplied by RES. However, with an increase in RES, the additional demand (increased demand) needed to be supplied by coal power plants has been reduced and the emissions avoided. India should be striving for a low carbon or reduced carbon electricity system and not a zero carbon electricity system. The country’s electricity

Figure 5. Electricity generation from RES and non-RES.

Figure 6. Coal and lignite based PLF in India.




René Peters, TNO and Chair of the North Sea Energy Program, the Netherlands, sets out the objectives for the PosHYdon pilot project, which will produce offshore green hydrogen to enable the North Sea’s energy transition from oil and gas to renewables.


hen it comes to the future of sustainable energy supply, renewables sectors still only go as far as speaking their good intentions and preparing roadmaps, future visions, and policy ambitions. These are often kept within the boundaries of the individual sectors: wind, gas, solar, and geothermal, with applications in power, industry built environments, mobility, or agriculture. In reality, the energy demand continues to increase and the growth of sustainable energy is barely keeping up. This is happening not only in the areas of the world with large economic growth, such as India, China and Africa, but also in North-West Europe. Price fluctuations due to a mismatch in the supply and demand of electricity will be even more challenging in the future, as countries require more energy and in particular, more electricity. Countries need to ensure the security of supply, however, many citizens do not want a wind turbine in their back yard, and solar parks face the problem of a lack of capacity on the regional grids. So how to move on from here, given the challenges facing renewable electricity? The answer is right next to the Netherlands: unlock the potential of the North Sea. Europe has the ambition of moving towards a climate-neutral energy system that has to be reliable and affordable, and the North Sea will play a key role in achieving this. Reliability and affordability were initially achieved through North Sea oil and gas production, but this is now shifting increasingly towards renewable energy generated from offshore


wind. However, the North Sea offers opportunities not only for large-scale wind energy production but also for hydrogen production and underground CO2 storage. The North Sea is currently the most visible place of the energy transition. Offshore gas will still be an important component over the next few years but will be coming to an end over the next few decades as fields become depleted. At the same time, offshore wind is growing exponentially in all countries surrounding the North Sea. By 2030, offshore wind parks should be able to provide the Netherlands with 11.5 GW of clean but intermittent power. This intermittency is due to the variation of wind speed being too low or too high. There is also

Figure 1. The electrolyser units for hydrogen production will be placed on the top deck of the Q13a-A platform, with crane access.

the question of whether the national grid can handle all of this renewable offshore energy. Although TenneT, the transport system operator for the Netherlands, is working hard to upgrade all infrastructure, the chances are that wind turbines will need to be curtailed around 2030, wasting extensive renewable energy. As standalone sectors, both the electron-based and molecule-based parts of the energy system are facing challenges. It is time to look closer and think smarter by integrating these two sectors. With this line of thinking, existing and producing platforms could be converting the surplus of renewable wind energy into green hydrogen, storing it in depleted gas fields, and transporting it when needed via the existing gas infrastructure to the onshore grid. Trunk pipelines can handle a higher volume of molecules at a lower transportation cost compared to power cables, and they are already in place. For example, a 36 in. trunk pipeline can handle more than 10 GW of pure hydrogen, meaning there is no need for extra cables, extra investments, or to stir up the subsurface with potential damage to the marine ecosystem. This requires working together across sectors towards integrated energy systems, linking the electrons and molecules. The North Sea Energy Program is a platform that brings all players in the offshore North Sea world together to combine knowledge and fast-forward projects through studies, research, pilots, and demos. Wise connections will reduce carbon emissions, reduce costs, make effective use of offshore space, preserve nature, and accelerate the energy transition. Good co-operation and co-ordination will enable opportunities to be seized, put the North Sea on the map as a pioneering region for the European energy transition, and provide an example to other regions of the world.

The pilot project

Figure 2. Schematic explanation of the hydrogen production process from desalinated seawater. Oxygen is safely disposed of.

Figure 3. The green hydrogen produced will be admixed with the oil and gas stream via the existing gas infrastructure.


The key to unlocking the potential of integrating offshore energy systems is the PosHYdon pilot, a pioneering project to create the first offshore green hydrogen production plant in the Dutch sector of the North Sea. Under the scheme, three energy systems will be integrated on one platform: offshore wind, offshore gas, and green hydrogen. The pilot was commissioned by Nexstep, the Dutch Association for Decommissioning and Re-Use, and TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, in close collaboration with the industry. On 4 July 2019, Neptune Energy’s Q13a-A platform was selected as the pilot's location. Neptune’s Q13a-A platform is located near the Dutch coast, 13 km from The Hague. The platform is well-suited for this project. As the first fully electrified offshore oil platform in the Dutch North Sea, it saves approximately 16 500 tpy of CO2 – equivalent to 115 500 flights from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Paris, France. A proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser will be placed within a sea container and installed on the platform. It will convert seawater to demineralised water through reverse osmosis and use green electricity from offshore wind to produce hydrogen. The electrolyser will have a minimum

capacity of 1 MW and produce approximately 200 Nm3/hr of energy can be transported onshore along with natural gas via hydrogen. The hydrogen will be admixed with the hydrocarbon these existing pipelines. stream to shore and the oxygen produced will be safely The Netherlands is therefore in a strong position to lead the disposed of. The pilot will provide the participants with the transition to a hydrogen economy for North-West Europe. By opportunity to develop their experience of producing hydrogen combining hydrogen, offshore natural gas, and offshore wind in an offshore environment, and will create a testing ground for power, the country’s population, the economy, and the energy innovative technologies and integrated systems. transition can be fuelled by supplying stable, affordable, and The PosHYdon pilot is envisioned to perform several test clean energy. The country has the North Sea for the production and demonstration functions as it is the first offshore green of wind and gas, the ports as logistical hubs, industrial clusters hydrogen project, and is therefore generating interest from which are aiming to switch to green molecules, and excellent industries in its outcomes and learnings. It should demonstrate infrastructure for transport and storage which becomes offshore system integration and the multiple use of existing available as the gas fields deplete and are closed down. If infrastructure. It also has the aim of gathering experience with climate ambitions are to be achieved, large-scale hydrogen the production of green hydrogen offshore, thereby de-risking infrastructure is needed imminently. The PosHYdon pilot is an future developments, as well as determining the long-term important step in the right direction. performance of offshore power-to-gas in terms of efficiency, performance degradation, and operational cost. Other areas Future potential and outlook of interest are: to determine the dynamic load response In the long-term, the objective is to scale up the technology of electrolyser technologies; to evaluate the operational, to connect to offshore wind parks situated further afield. inspection, and maintenance requirements of offshore powerThese wind parks are currently under development, with to-gas; to become a test centre for power-to-gas technologies plans beyond 2025. These wind parks will produce up to 1 GW in an offshore environment; and to gain insight into hydrogen each, with individual wind turbines of 12 MW power currently admixing in natural gas streams and its impact on industrial applications. The PEM electrolyser will be operated on an oil production facility for at least one year and the facility will remain in production during the test. Given these key learning points, the Dutch North Sea is the perfect place for this pilot. The North Sea is shallow and there are already many active wind farms, meaning that the Netherlands can harvest large amounts of wind energy for hydrogen generation. It also has an extensive network of gas infrastructure, Figure 4. A schematic of power-to-gas offshore in an existing platform as with the two trunk transport pipelines, NOGAT and a system integration option. Energy generated in the form of electricity is transported over a long distance to shore in the form of hydrogen through Noordgastransport, already capable of transporting existing pipelines. hydrogen and having the capacity to do so. In addition, the trunk lines make it possible to build wind farms further off the coast over 100 km away, as more room is needed to meet the increase in energy demand, not only in the Netherlands, but also internationally. Furthermore, the Dutch government has expressed a strong interest in making offshore wind and hydrogen a cornerstone to the clean energy system of the future for the Netherlands. Last but not least, major global players in offshore energy design, installation, and operation have their base in the Netherlands. This pilot has attracted renowned companies such as Gasunie and Eneco to also join the PosHYdon consortium. Gasunie, which manages and maintains infrastructure for the large-scale transport and storage of gases in the Netherlands and northern Germany, is already working hard to accelerate the energy transition, including several hydrogen pilots on land. The company adds value to the pilot as it has the necessary knowledge and experience with electrolysis in-house. NOGAT B.V. and Noordgastransport B.V., the owners of the respective Figure 5. A scale-up vision for power-to-gas technology offshore as a system integration mechanism. The PosHYdon project focuses on achieving the first step, a large gas transport pipelines in the North Sea, are also pilot facility for offshore hydrogen production. key to the project, as the hydrogen generated by wind



current estimation of reduction of footprint and weight. A prerequisite for this is that oil and gas platforms will have to be electrified in the near future to ensure availability of electricity. It is estimated that 10 ‑ 15 platforms in the Dutch part of the North Sea are suitable for hydrogen production. Their hub function allows for the parallel processing of hydrogen, natural gas, and CO2 storage, which stimulates the energy transition from various perspectives. The next step of scaling up towards 1 GW will probably be developed on dedicated offshore hubs in the form of energy islands or floating hubs such as the North Sea Wind Power Hub. These will be needed to convert the renewable power production from future far away offshore wind parks into a hydrogen stream.

Conclusion The PosHYdon pilot on the Q13a-A platform of Neptune Energy in the Dutch offshore sector will be a first of its kind demonstration of offshore hydrogen production from renewable power. The pilot will be used as a test location and learning environment for the offshore production of hydrogen, the admixing of hydrogen into the hydrocarbon production stream, how it performs under harsh offshore conditions, the economics of offshore installation and operations Figure 6. Neptune Energy’s Q13a-A platform, where the PosHYdon pilot will take place. compared to onshore operation, and the safety and reliability aspects under test in Rotterdam (Haliade-X). As PosHYdon combines of offshore operations in conjunction hydrogen production with traditional oil and gas production, with oil and gas production. there are more possibilities for the co-production of hydrogen A two-year test programme (combined onshore and and oil and gas. offshore) will mimic the dynamic loads of offshore wind or The next phase in the scaling up of offshore hydrogen solar power on the electrolyser, and offshore performance production will be to fit onto an existing offshore installation, will be compared to onshore efficiency and performance in the order of 10 MW – assuming the current footprint and degradation. weight per MW power. It is expected that the industry will drive The pilot will be a first demonstration and a stepping stone the development of electrolysers towards a smaller footprint towards the large-scale conversion of offshore wind power up and weight per MW power, including a CAPEX cost reduction to 1 GW in the next decade, which will be required to absorb from €1 million/MW towards €300 000/MW in 2030. This can the exponential growth of offshore wind power in the energy be achieved by the standardisation and upscaling of the system onshore. electrolyser stack and optimised balance of the plant. PosHYdon aims to enable a cost-effective, balanced, and The maximum size of a power to hydrogen unit on an secure transition for the North Sea from an area of oil and gas existing offshore installation which has stopped the production production towards an area of renewable energy production of oil and gas, may be limited to approximately 250 MW in the for North-West Europe.


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Alberto Morandi, USA, and Han Tiebout, the Netherlands, GustoMSC – an NOV company, discuss how naval architects and marine engineers are leading the way in adapting oil and gas knowledge and technologies for the offshore renewables industry.


he oil and gas sector is struggling with the ‘lower for longer’ – or even ‘lower forever’ – perception of oil and gas prices, while the renewables sector needs to expand fast enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. A highly knowledgeable and skilled workforce struggling with a long downturn is searching for new opportunities. There is real momentum behind breaking the boundaries between the offshore oil and gas and offshore renewables industries and allowing ingenuity to be a game changer. This article discusses the energy transition and how naval architects and marine engineers are addressing the challenges of the offshore renewable energy sector by using skills from the offshore oil and gas sector. There is a narrative where the last oil and gas drilling boom and the present production out of these drilled wells are the final dance before the music stops. Oil demand would peak and then fall because of the rise in renewables and greater efforts to reduce carbon footprints. Either demand for fossil fuels falls due to the transition to a low carbon economy, or governments take more aggressive action against fossil fuels in response to climate change perceptions. The Paris Agreement states that the long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels. It also states that efforts to limit the increase to 1.5˚C should be pursued, as this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. In line with this goal, IEA Sustainable Development, Shell SKY, and Equinor Renewal suggest that oil demand will peak in the 2020s and drop to 70 ‑ 90 million bpd by 2040. Oil and gas investors have shown concern about the risk of their assets being stranded in a transition to a low carbon economy. This trend adds to the cost pressure from the current oversupply, leading energy companies to future-proof oil and gas projects and ensure that their production sits at the low end of the cost curve. Some scenarios imply that by 2040, renewable energy could grow 10-fold or 20-fold relative to current levels. Such a radically steep rate of growth means that renewable energy development must address major challenges in terms of technology, scalability, and finance. In addition, it is noted that in the 20 th Century, the oil and gas industry developed in tandem with the communities around it, but in the 21 st Century, energy projects must insert themselves into communities that are much more developed and




environmentally sensitive. Consequently, renewable energy projects have been slowed due to complex regulatory and permitting regimes. There is a great opportunity for naval architects and marine engineers to confront this challenge and apply their advanced knowledge and technologies developed originally for the offshore oil and gas sector, to the offshore renewable energy sector.

Jack-ups provide a flexible and stable platform not only for these major crane lifts, but also for the transportation of foundation and turbine components between fabrication sites, ports, and wind farm locations. A full-scale offshore wind farm could require the installation of 100 or more turbines in a time scale of months, therefore necessitating far more frequent rig moves than those required for offshore oil and gas drilling. Turbine installations also present unique challenges that Solutions in offshore industries can have implications on hull form, leg structure, jacking Offshore wind reached a significant level of development systems, preloading operations, emplacement and removal in Europe and is expanding in Asia and North America. operations, and severe weather procedures. Increased turbine sizes have played an important part The location of floating wind farms further offshore is in bringing the cost of offshore wind down to more under consideration to capture a greater share of offshore competitive levels. Larger, taller, and heavier turbines wind resources in deeper waters, particularly off the US require the development of supporting structures that West Coast as well as Hawaii, Japan, and Korea. are of cost-effective construction, transportation and Many naval and marine technologies used in the installation, as well as optimised motions and operational offshore oil and gas industry play a key part in developing performance. offshore wind resources at sea. Piled fixed platforms and The latest generation of turbines may require lifting monopiles, gravity-based foundations, jack-ups, Tension and installing foundations weighing up to 2500 t, as well Leg Platforms (TLPs), and moored floaters such as spars as turbine components of up to 1250 t to a height of 150 m. and semi-submersibles, are some examples. Spars and TLPs have good in-place motion capabilities but tend to have higher and more complex installation operations with the associated cost and risk. Semi-submersibles, such as GustoMSC’s Tri-Floater (Figure 1), can provide greater flexibility in assembly, transportation, and installation, and can be designed for efficient motions and performances when afloat. In addition, offshore wind projects require many types of support vessels for cable laying; safety and security; inspection, maintenance and repair (IRM); and crew changes. Hydrogen can also play an important part in accelerating the energy transition. Currently, hydrogen is mainly produced industrially from natural gas, which generates Figure 1. GustoMSC Tri-Floater, a floating offshore wind turbine. significant carbon emissions – grey hydrogen. The hydrogen is split from natural gas and the resulting carbon is released as CO2 into the air. Many industrial processes use grey hydrogen while manufacturing their products. Blue hydrogen can also be produced by stripping hydrogen from natural gas. However, the carbon components are then captured and injected into depleted gas fields or other utilisations of carbon such as in synthetic fuels. Carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) projects have been and continue to be developed in Europe. For instance, in the Northern Lights project in Norway, Equinor is drilling wells not with the aim of finding oil or gas, but to find suitable geological formations for the injection and storage of Figure 2. GustoMSC SC-14000XL jack-up design with a telescopic crane for Shimizu CO2. Another example is the Porthos project in Corporation. the Netherlands whereby the CO2 generated


from onshore industrial plants is collected, comingled, and transported by a subsea pipeline to a depleted offshore gas field for subsequent injection and safe storage. Green hydrogen can be generated by renewable energy sources without producing carbon emissions, but it comes at a higher cost. The electrolysers used offshore to generate the hydrogen from seawater are powered with electricity supplied from offshore wind turbines. The process generates hydrogen and oxygen, the latter which can be released into the air without causing detrimental environmental effects. The electrolysers are installed on existing (and, in the future, on new) offshore oil and gas production platforms. Existing offshore gas export pipelines will transport the hydrogen to the onshore receiving stations. There, the hydrogen can be used threefold: as fuel for transportation, as feedstock for the petrochemical industry, or as fuel for power plants generating electricity.

Naval architects and marine engineers leading the way

Figure 3. OCEAN 1100HE semi-submersible design series.

The most important challenge for renewable projects is to achieve cost levels that are competitive with other utility scale energy sources. Naval architects and marine engineers can help with their experience from the oil and gas industry to make strides to significantly reduce breakeven costs for offshore projects. Areas of interest include: >> Design, digital modelling, and analysis skills applicable to the marine environment: Naval architects digitalised ship design before digitalisation was a trend. High fidelity models are used in design, fabrication, and integrity management, with structural digital twins now enabling real-time stress analysis considering the results of on-board inspections. These emerging technologies give owners and operators a vastly enhanced level of visibility over the condition of their assets, reducing cost and improving safety.

>> Advanced engineering models: The oil and gas industry developed modelling techniques that are of direct relevance to renewable energy. For example, GustoMSC is utilising advanced earthquake analysis methods from the oil and gas industry, such as plastic collapse (pushover) analysis, to address the challenges of the growing offshore wind industry in Japan, as seen in Figure 2. Another increasingly accepted technology is computational fluid dynamics (CFD), replacing or enhancing costly model and prototype testing in the marine environment.

>> Validation of advanced models against field measurements: Extensive measurement campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s supported the development of more sophisticated jack-up structure-soil interaction models that are incorporated into international oil and gas standards today.

Figure 4. Askeladden, a GustoMSC CJ70 drilling jack-up design.

GustoMSC supported several of these initiatives and is executing a major campaign of jack-up performance measurement at the Askeladden jack-up rig in the harsh environments of the North Sea (Figure 4). GustoMSC is also working closely with wind farm installation contractors in acquiring performance data from jack-up units to improve operational efficiency and safety.

>> Development and application of marine industry standards, with an understanding of complex safety regimes and a focus on safety, reliability, and environmental protection: Oil and gas experts working on a voluntary basis in industry committees have driven many technology developments and



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international standards. Joint industry projects (JIPs) have also been key instruments in advancing new ideas. The same template is helping the offshore wind industry.

>> An understanding of complex systems engineering applicable to the different types of marine systems and their interrelation: GustoMSC is studying the design of a semi-submersible rig taking advantage of concepts such as digitalisation, electrification, systems engineering, robotisation, and the reduction of carbon footprints. Many innovative solutions are integrated, such as remotely operated material handling, an unmanned drill floor, digital logistics, reduced manning levels offshore with shore-based monitoring and control, hybrid propulsion, and self-learning power management. The process involves developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for each solution as well as evaluating their technology readiness level (TRL). The most promising solutions are incorporated into GustoMSC’s semi-submersible design portfolio, as shown in Figure 3. Many such solutions will assist the offshore wind industry in improving capital and operational efficiency.

>> Contracting strategies to deliver capital projects in a profitable manner: Projected capital investment in US East Coast offshore wind may exceed US$100 billion in the next 10 years. The delivery of large offshore capital projects in the oil and gas industry involve marine design, shipyard construction, and offshore transportation and installation of major assets. Naval architects and marine engineers bring a wealth of experience and lessons learned from these projects.

>> Synergy of solutions for the marine environment: For example, inter-array and power-to-shore cables present challenges for offshore wind farms that can benefit from oil and gas industry solutions for subsea cables and pipelines. On the other hand, the oil and gas industry may be looking at powering its rigs from the shore, creating an interesting interplay between oil and gas and renewable technologies.

>> Redevelopment of depleted fields: The capture and storage of CO2 offers a business opportunity to redevelop mature and decaying offshore oil and gas fields in areas such as the North Sea. Excess CO2 can also be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The injection of CO2 into producing oil reservoirs is a known technology, especially in onshore oilfields. By having CO2 available at offshore sites, the injection of CO2 in a producing offshore oilfield will enable an increase in the recovery factor of oil from the reservoir, thereby enabling an economic advantage

for the field operator and the countries where these operators are active.

>> Creative work in diverse, multi-cultural, multidiscipline environments: As the offshore wind industry grows from its established base in Europe to other continents, it will benefit from the lessons learned by the diverse oil and gas workforce. This workforce brings the experience of managing large interdisciplinary and complex offshore projects, and working in project teams dispersed across execution centres in different countries and time zones. Successful oil and gas offshore projects require co-operation with a range of technical, behavioural, and business disciplines, not only in the sense of technology and economy but also in the area of health, safety and environment (HSE). In addition, the offshore renewable energy business can benefit from the established international supply chain which has been developed by the oil and gas industry since the 1970s. The 3Ps (people, planet and profit) are essential to guarantee a healthy future for the offshore renewable energy business, not just 2Ps (people and planet). Without developing profitable business, renewable energy business will fail to survive.

Ingenuity Raising the standards of living of a growing population remains the great challenge of our time. The human development index (HDI) is a composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators. It is used to rank countries in terms of human development from zero (completely undeveloped) to one (fully developed). Presently, approximately 20% of the world’s population lives in countries with a HDI better than 0.8, and that percentage is expected to significantly increase by 2040 as many populous nations progress towards a higher HDI. Raising HDI for the poorest nations could mean increasing energy consumption per capita by a factor of five or more. Powering the world towards high development levels in a sustainable way requires a great deal of co-operation, advanced technology, and purposeful innovation. Oil and gas companies and their value chain are transforming themselves into a broader energy ecosystem where oil and gas supply will continue to play an important role and where skills will be transferred to renewable forms of energy. Naval architects and marine engineers are challenged to continue improving the efficiency and safety of the oil and gas industry by developing the rigs and platforms of the future. These initiatives will make their way into the renewables industry and will contribute to improve the profitability of renewable energy projects, while maintaining a sharp focus on personnel safety and environmental protection.



Richard Beesley, Trelleborg Applied Technologies, UK, considers requirements for protecting


g power cables from motions and fatigue when on floating offshore wind structures.


ith the increasing pace of change towards renewable energy sources, offshore wind technology plays a key role globally in supporting this transition to cleaner energy sources. The richest wind energy resources are found offshore, with development of shallow water locations escalating with increasing volume and pace, and the industry moving forward with firm plans to tap into the even greater opportunities in deeper waters through the application and development of floating platform technologies. By 2025, it is anticipated that close to 20 000 turbines with more than 250 offshore substations will have been installed offshore. Even with the development of larger turbines, these quantities are expected to increase by a factor of three or more by 2050, according to IRENA and Rystad Energy. Critical to the successful operation of turbines are the subsea power cables that have the essential function of transmitting generated power from the turbines to the substations (electric hub of the wind farm), and then onward


to shore. Protecting these critical power cables from excessive movement or bending that could potentially cause fatigue damage in this demanding offshore environment is of utmost importance. High voltage power cables are both expensive to install and replace, with replacement costs in the region of millions of Euros, even before factoring in wind turbine downtime and the huge loss of revenue from reduced output.

Figure 1. Monopile with scour protection.

Experience gathered from fixed wind technologies, along with the drive of floating wind into increasingly dynamic environments, has increased focus and highlighted the importance of cable protection. Careful consideration is essential in order to maintain the integrity of the power cables for the life of the field.

Why is cable bend protection needed? Whilst numerous kilometres of power cables are installed on every wind farm, they are vulnerable to damage at a number of critical locations – one of the key ones being the connection points into the turbine or substation foundation. With fixed wind turbine structures, the cable is typically protected through trenching and burial for the majority of its length, with exposure in the approach towards connection points in consideration of the connection arrangement and installation methodology. In some cases, the burial point can typically be as far as 30 m from its connection point, and can be even longer if there has been significant seabed scour around the foundation of the structure. In this exposed area, the cable becomes subject to loads and motion from the surrounding sea conditions. With floating wind platforms, the cable is exposed over longer lengths in the water column between the seabed and the floating foundation of the turbine, and will potentially experience even greater levels of dynamic load and motion. In the exposed areas described, the dynamic forces on the cable produce cyclical motions relative to the foundation. These motions and loads concentrate towards the rigid connection point where the cable experiences a sharp transition in stiffness. As the cables have relatively low stiffness, they are highly susceptible to both over-bending and fatigue damage at this point. To mitigate this, bend protection is needed.

Cable bend protection: key applications The critical locations where dynamic bend protection should be applied to power cables are illustrated in this article.

Fixed offshore wind: Figure 2. Monopile with scour pit.

>> Monopile with scour protection: inside and outside monopile (Figure 1).

>> Monopile with scour pit: inside and outside monopile (Figure 2).

>> J tube with scour protection (Figure 3). >> J tube with scour pit (Figure 5). Floating offshore wind:

>> Topside floating foundation connection (Figure 6). >> Tether clamp transitions (dependent on the level of motion at the tether clamp location) (Figure 6).

Cable bend protection analysis and design

Figure 3. J tube with scour protection.


A cable’s bend protection requirements can be unique to each application. In order to analyse the application and develop a bend protection device that is fit for purpose, the following parameters are critical design considerations:

>> Met ocean data: Detailed information is required in order to determine the design envelope of conditions the cable will be subjected to across all sea states and temperatures. Data analysis will determine the requirements in terms of load ranges, motions, curvatures, and corresponding number of cycles acting on the cable, within the vicinity of the connection point.

>> Temperature: The mechanical performance characteristics of polymer materials used in cable and bend protection device construction can vary with temperature. Therefore, it is important to ascertain the minimum and maximum temperature ranges of the surrounding environment along with the cable operating temperatures, to ensure the mechanical performance variation can be accommodated within the analysis and design.

>> Cable dimensions and weight: These cable parameters determine the nature of reaction against the wave and current dynamic forces, and therefore influence the level of loads and motion on the cable. Outer diameter is also a key consideration in the dimensional fit of any bend protection device.

>> Cable mechanical parameters: The cable’s bend stiffness and minimum bend radius (MBR) characteristics are essential for accurate modelling of cable dynamic motions and assessment of the suitability of any proposed bend protection device. Typically, the cable manufacturer will determine and advise a storage MBR for short-term or static load applications and a larger service MBR, required to be adhered to, to avoid damage under longer term dynamic loads.

is necessary, along with surrounding environmental information, to perform this analysis. In order to evaluate the cable’s bend protection requirements unique to the application, a global finite element analysis (FEA) using Orcaflex modelling software or similar is performed utilising the various data sets collected. This enables the design engineer to set up a boundaryconstrained model, evaluate the loads and motions of the cable towards the connection point, and determine the impact of introducing a bend protection system. This can be an iterative design process that continues until the bend protection device can maintain the cable’s motions and curvatures within allowable design limits for all load cases. The model will analyse the cable with the bend protection device typically under the following main dynamic conditions: ultimate limit state (maximum load, low number of cycles) and fatigue limit state (normal load, high number of cycles). Once a bend protection system is identified that satisfies dynamic performance requirements, the output from the model can be used to proceed to local mechanical design of the bend protection system and its components, and thermal analysis including the cable to verify allowable temperature limits are maintained.

Dynamic cable bend stiffeners For dynamic bend protection applications where the cable is exposed to frequent motion, such as the applications discussed, then a bend stiffener solution is recommended to maintain cable integrity. A bend stiffener comprises of a homogeneous elastomeric cone with geometry and material properties designed to provide a gradual and tailored transition in stiffness from its tip to its base. This is a crucial feature as

>> Cable thermal characteristics: As the bend protection surrounds the cable it can insulate the cable and increase the cable temperature. Thermal analysis is therefore necessary to check that the cable does not exceed its allowable temperature limits. Understanding the cable’s thermal characteristics and temperatures during operation

Figure 4. Trelleborg’s NjordGuard solution attached to a monopile wind turbine with scour protection.



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it removes the previous sharp change in stiffness at the connection point and protects the cable from over-bending and excessive fatigue. The bend stiffener provides continuous support to the cable at the connection point, ensuring the overall curvatures of the cable inside and adjacent to the bend stiffener are significantly reduced when under load. Therefore, for any given load cycle there is significant reduction in the stress range acting on the cable and associated fatigue. This is a key difference in comparison to bend protection devices for static applications such as bend restrictors (vertebrae) and bellmouths. These static devices are designed to protect the cable from over-bending through, in the case of bend restrictors, interlocking vertebrae or, in relation to bellmouths, a radiused flare profile equal or greater than the MBR of the cable. Whilst these bend restrictors and bellmouths prevent infringement of the cable MBR, they do not provide the gradual stiffness transition or continued cable support throughout the full range of cable motions. Therefore, in comparison to a bend stiffener solution, the cable remains exposed to higher stress ranges under dynamic loads, which can result in premature fatigue issues. Trelleborg utilises dynamic bend stiffeners in the fixed wind applications as part of its NjordGuard Cable Protection System and on floating wind applications, often mated to a diverless bend stiffener connector for quick installation. As a bend stiffener needs to provide dynamic cable protection for the life of the field, it is important that the product itself is designed to survive the rigors of both installation and service. Careful consideration needs to be particularly paid to: >> Elastomeric materials selection and qualification: The elastomeric materials selected for the flexible cone naturally are a core part of the bend stiffener functionality. In order to use them effectively it is important that their mechanical, fatigue, and ageing performance characteristics are mapped and qualified over a range of temperatures before applying them into the design of the bend stiffener product. Trelleborg typically recommends working to the established oil and gas industry standard, API 17L.

Summary Utilising a bend stiffener over other bend protection solutions can provide the most appropriate design solution for cable connection points on fixed and floating offshore wind structures where the cable is exposed to dynamic environmental conditions, ensuring continuous protection of the cable from over-bending and fatigue. As applications are often unique in their requirements, careful analysis of the parameters is necessary in order to identify the most appropriate bend protection solution. Selecting the right bend protection solution for both the specific wind turbine and the environment will help prevent cable damage and subsequently reduce operations and maintenance costs by maximising the life of the cable, removing the need to prematurely replace or repair cables in service. By protecting the wind turbine dynamic power cable at its most vulnerable points, the integrity can be maintained for the entire design life expectancy of the field and beyond, supporting the renewables industry with wind turbine expansion into deepwater environments in the pursuit for cleaner energy sources and reducing the effect of climate change.

Figure 5. J tube with scour pit.

>> Insert design: The insert at the base of the stiffener plays the crucial role of effectively transferring the loads from the cable and conical bend stiffener section into the adjacent structure. A combination of 3D FEA modelling of the steel insert and elastomer interface and classical calculations is used to determine a suitable design to withstand maximum design and fatigue loads.

>> Verification testing: It is important that the design is verified through theoretical FEA models and full-scale dynamic and static load testing.

Figure 6. Topside floating foundation connection and tether clamp transitions.




ver the last decade, the realisation of digital twin technology has made it possible to move away from the arena of best-guess simulations that lacked the power to provide the required accuracy of output while still providing enough flexibility in input modalities. In other words, a simulation might be stable with one set of inputs, but change one parameter, and your simulation often crashed and burned. Now, however, there is finally the computing power to begin to sufficiently model outcomes and processes using techniques such as Bayesian statistics (developed by Thomas Bayes in a paper from 1763) that, even five years ago, still ran


multi-core processors ragged. The use of such processes have allowed us to begin to forge proper digital twins that allow us to model the hypothetical, ‘What if?’ driven questions that take us beyond mere simulations. These are the sorts of questions that must be asked if a digital twin is to function adequately as a decision support platform. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the offshore wind industry has been slow to take up digital twin technology, and some of the scepticism is understandable. Questions around how much twinning is too much, and concerns about the legal liabilities behind digital twin output if it, for example, drives a

Bill Balle w, Jame s Fisher applicat A ion of d igital tw sset Information in techn Services ology in the offsh (AIS), UK, consid ore wind e industry. rs the



decision to take action and that action fails, or likewise, if failure results from deciding to take no action, against the recommendation of the digital twin. Costs are also an issue, particularly in an industry that tends to remain comfortable with reactive maintenance models and condition monitoring, and there are no generally accepted, accurate ways of calculating what kind of savings such systems could offer, if it could alter and inform the ‘way we have always done things.’ Indeed, it has taken much learning to make these digital tools, and it will doubtless take much learning before we can use them effectively in driving efficiencies into our practices as well. Currently, digital twin technologies find their use cases across a wide variety of business and industry applications1: >> Manufacturing: Substantial influence on maintenance and product design. >> Industrial IoT: Monitoring, tracking, and controlling of systems. >> Healthcare: Reducing expense and providing tailored support to patients. >> Smart cities: Planning, building, administration of resources, and decreasing environmental impact. >> Automotive: Performance efficiencies, behavioural and functional modelling. >> Retail: Customer experience enhancement, inventory control, and modelling of consumer behaviour. Indeed, just based on the above list, we can, and should, imagine a tremendous number of use cases for digital twinning in offshore wind, both for fixed and floating (FLOW) facilities. Engaging digital twinning is important to offshore wind because of one major aspect that makes offshore wind unique compared to that list: offshore wind operations occur in remote, harsh, risk-laden marine environments. Anything that reduces risk in this type of environment by cutting the need for frequent transit is worth exploring, especially considering the long-term commitments that have been made in offshore wind – normally 25 years for a fixed-foundation farm in the North Sea.

Figure 1. Knowledge management sophistication.


By combining known offshore wind industry pain points with conceptual use cases for digital twins, we can begin to see a number of solutions forming on the horizon, some of which are achievable today with modest cost and effort. Also, if we accept that there are only two fundamental ways of creating more value in offshore wind – making more electricity or spending less money – and it is accepted that the maximum generation capacity is capped by the physical limitations of the farm itself and the conditions in which it operates, cost-savings and efficiencies as primary drivers for the industry should be turned to, specifically for maintaining asset availability. With regard to addressing pain points, this article will briefly examine digital twinning for use in data aggregation, condition monitoring, and driving efficiencies into maintenance regimes using optimisation techniques, as they relate to cost-savings. It is worth mentioning that the planned zero-subsidy transition over the next four years also helps add a sense of urgency to the mix.

Data aggregation and knowledge management In interacting with numerous entities across the offshore wind space on a range of different levels and topics, the one overriding pain point that is repeated in many conversations is ‘just getting all of our information together in one place’ – i.e. data aggregation, then data management going forward once all that data has been aggregated and collated. In offshore wind, this pain point is most acute between phase handovers (i.e. design to construction, construction to commissioning, commissioning to O&M, etc.) and between entity handovers (i.e. designer to constructor to commissioner, between owners, managers, and contractors). The commonality here is simply that any time data or information gets transferred, some portion of it gets lost in the process. In the field of information systems, prevention of this phenomenon is known as knowledge management (KM), because it deals not just with the transfer of raw data, e.g. from sensors, but also all sorts of other documentation such as design drawings, engineering specifications, inspection reports, commissioning certificates, photogrammetry, survey data, etc. The list goes on if the goal is to create a true digital twin for an offshore asset. KM also goes beyond document control, which helps form the structures and substructures of KM by applying consistent nomenclatures, organising premises, version and permissions controls, and so forth. Likewise, KM must also go beyond simple condition monitoring and reactive alarming in terms of a fourth-dimensional element that tracks condition trends over time, eventually feeding predictive

analyses. Indeed, the relationships in the real world that the twin is to represent in the digital world must be understood, and that understanding must be accurate enough so that the twin is consistently useful to us in the role it is intended to be assigned. Ensuring a twin’s usefulness is the product of sophisticated knowledge management that resides well up the data maturity line, which corresponds to the value that can be generated from the data (Figure 1). Thus, as is evident in Figure 1, KM has width, breadth, and depth, based on ideas such as data governance, variety of inputs, and contextualisation of data held. However, it also has a fourth-dimension component, because an organisation’s knowledge must be maintained over time to accommodate change and prevent information loss as the level of sophistication in data use is increased. Once incoming noise has been aggregated and organised in a sensible fashion, that noise has been turned into data. Once the data is organised, that is the creation of information – then analyses can be used to turn information into knowledge. Information is something that value can be created from because actions can often be taken on it – actionable intelligence derived from reactive condition monitoring is a good example – but it is still not enough for a robust digital twin. That fourth dimension is needed from the X-axis to vault us up the Y-axis of sophistication in order to have the ability to engage in hypothetical experimentation, e.g. what adjustments are optimal if I have known degraded fault protection in a number of locations under maxproduction conditions? This upward vault moves us into the area of knowledge transitioning into wisdom, which comes from knowledge organised with experience over time – or in the case of digital twins, machine learning over time to create robust statistical models that can drive the increasingly accurate analyses of hypothetical situations.

Optimisation and cost-savings through digital twins Returning to the initial list of use cases for digital twins in other industries, common threads and their corollaries within offshore wind can be easily found, expressed in abstract terms that extol benefits such as efficiencies, cost-savings, planning, control, etc. However, it is intuitively understood that the majority of the lifecycle of the asset is spent in the O&M phase, being monitored and maintained. These terms must then apply to O&M as well as the preceding phases, in order to realise long-term value creation through savings. Fortunately, all of these threads apply very well to the types of maintenance processes performed in offshore wind, both routine and nonroutine, and for both planning and execution. For routine O&M planning and execution across the asset’s lifecycle, opportunities are evident for digital twin application in much the same light as offshore oil and gas. Twins reduce the number of offshore trips required to plan and execute maintenance campaigns of all sizes and durations, because much of the planning can be undertaken onshore, which in turn helps optimise the number of trips required to execute. Additionally, by folding in data science techniques, there can be better prioritisation of the work-packs in the plan. This

is based on chosen parameters, such as rate of increase in severity of an anomaly, knock-on effects of degradation or failure in a particular area of the asset, or changes to sea states across the farm based on forecasted weather conditions. For all of these examples, a good digital twin would provide, first and foremost, the reduction of risk to personnel and vessel hire expenses by reducing the overall number of trips offshore. Secondly, it would provide the reduction of the risk of downtime by better understanding the consequences of various failure modalities from the modelling of hypothetical scenarios in each phase of life of the asset. For non-routine maintenance and emergency response throughout the lifecycle, a viable digital twin can help companies optimise response plans by allowing them to run any number of hypothetical scenarios in advance, so that James Fisher AIS can model how long it will take, from first alarm to resolution, by modelling the effectiveness of different response plans. Likewise, as the model learns over time through the use of machine learning algorithms, it will be able to aid in statistically pinpointing the location of faults based on changes in sensor input contrasted to the historical baseline ‘behavioural patterns’ of the wind farm collected over time and under various conditions. This type of learning could reduce expensive fault locating activities from potentially days to minutes as the accuracy increases with time. Finally, by integrating packages like SAP and Maximo, the digital twin for the physical offshore asset could easily be tied into a fiscal twin, based on known cost/time/resource input for personnel, plant/equipment, transport, and consumables, as well as to production figures from SCADA and strike price quotes from the market. Applying all of these sources would greatly enhance the cost-savings and provide an additional dimension of decision support during planning and budget allocation projection activities, not just in the O&M phase, but across the lifecycle of the asset.

Case study Currently, James Fisher AIS has numerous projects running in offshore wind, with one client in particular signing onto a pilot project funded by ORE Catapult to create a digital twin of a wind turbine (Vattenfall), to be followed by a second client’s desire to photogrammetrically capture an offshore substation linked to different assets in the North Sea (SSE, Greater Gabbard), both as proofs of concept. Both projects will then have relevant data and information embedded into the spherical photos using the R2S system, then linked into SAP and/or Maximo for planning and logistical consideration. Likewise, selected portions of SCADA can be integrated into the visualisations in order to provide a more comprehensive creation of value from data, both real-time and historicallyanalytically. The R2S system has been used in oil and gas for just over a decade, and is currently maintaining years of asset data across hundreds of offshore assets throughout the world.

References 1.

AUGUSTINE, P., ‘The industry use cases for the Digital Twin idea’, Advances in Computers, Vol. 117, No. 1 (2020), pp. 79-105.




Gareth Brown, CEO, Clir Renewables, Canada, explains how contextualised data can build a true picture of wind turbine performance.


enewable energy has grown significantly over the past few years, and while COVID-19 may lead to a drop in new installations this year, the industry will continue to see record investment over the next decade. The global economic downturn and coinciding oil price war have driven investor interest in more stable assets, which, in conjunction with continued calls from the public and shareholders for greater corporate commitment to sustainability, have led many institutional investors to back renewable energy. However, in order for investment to continue to grow, the renewable energy industry must tackle the assumptions holding wind asset owners back from addressing underperformance. A proportion of turbine output does depend on an uncontrollable natural resource. However, the assumption that a low wind resource makes up the majority of underperformance means that hard-to-find faults or failures with turbine technology are often missed, leading to owners losing out on revenue. Often, by the time that patterns of underperformance are recognised as a technical problem rather than a natural variation of the weather, owners have already lost significant revenue from a fault that could have been easily fixed if identified early. This is not just an issue for a few unlucky asset owners. At present, the majority are missing out on turbine performance because they do not have a clear picture of the true causes of asset underperformance. The industry must set data in its environmental context in order to understand the true causes of turbine underperformance and rectify them.

Putting asset data into context The renewable energy industry collects sufficient data from its projects to identify whether low output is due to natural variations in resource or due to technical faults. However, these data streams are often disparate and disorganised. The wind industry is unique in the sense that in comparison to conventional power plants, the owner cannot accurately measure resource via a controlled intake. In the context of a wind farm, not only is the resource challenging to measure, it is also impacted by geospatial conditions, whether that is forestry, steep slopes,


or water bodies. In addition, turbine SCADA and event data are misaligned by design. However, it is now possible to process data and analyse how different streams interact in a matter of minutes, allowing underperformance to be recognised and loss of revenue to be limited. Clir’s platform utilises an advanced data model to structure available data in a way that enables performance analytics to be conducted quickly and accurately at scale.

However, if SCADA data is analysed correctly, it is possible to easily separate out whether a dip in output is a part of the natural variation in resource or if it is a technical issue. Automating this process using advanced digital tools such as machine learning allows owners to fix small but significant issues before the lost production becomes a burden on their balance sheet.

Finding the needle in a haystack

Poor pitch strategies and yaw misalignment are common causes of turbine underperformance. Angling of the blades or yaw away from the wind direction by as little as 4˚ can reduce AEP by up to 1%. If turbine data is put into the right context, owners can quickly identify whether the nacelle is facing ever so slightly away from the wind direction. Clir worked with a wind farm owner who had identified lower than expected performance across its project but was unsure of the exact cause. After onboarding not only data from every turbine on the wind farm, but also data detailing resource conditions and the surrounding environment, Clir found that one of the turbines had much higher output compared to its neighbours when its nacelle was angled 8˚ away from the direction of the wind. From this, the owner was able to confirm that turbines across the project had been misaligned by 8˚ due to a sensor error. Once repaired, the overall output of the wind farm increased.

While major mechanical failures such as a broken gearbox are easily detectible in traditional data analysis, subtle underperformance can often be missed unless the owners dedicate a significant amount of time looking for ‘needles in a haystack.’ If the owner assesses turbine SCADA data alone to try to identify the source of underperformance, smaller faults are often indistinguishable from dips in output due to a low wind resource. These smaller faults tend to reduce annual energy production (AEP) by 1 - 2% on their own, but if they are consistently missed and allowed to accumulate, asset owners can lose out on hundreds of MWh each year.

Spotting the slightest misalignment

Tracing unnecessary derating

Figure 1. Clir’s interface shows that, for this hypothetical scenario, the wind resource has boosted AEP by 20.2%, while turbine underperformance reduced AEP by 4.5%. Underperformance has prevented the wind farm from taking full advantage of unexpectedly favourable weather conditions.

Unreported derating is another cause of underperformance that can be missed and mistaken for low winds by traditional data analysis methods. While turbines should only be derated under conditions previously agreed by the asset owner, the turbine manufacturer, the grid operator, and the permitting authority, there can be times when derating occurs outside of these parameters and without the owner’s knowledge. This can see the turbine run below rated power despite optimal generating conditions, leaving potential revenue on the table. However, if the owner does not analyse turbine data in the context of its environment, the distinction between a drop in winds and a drop in turbine performance can be lost. For example, Clir analysed the data from a turbine with consistently low output, and after placing it in context of peer turbine data and environmental data, was able to pinpoint that despite optimal conditions, at specific time intervals the turbine’s output would plummet by up to 10%. This pattern of underperformance indicated that the turbine was being derated outside of the terms of the derating agreement. Armed with evidence of misapplied derating, owners can renegotiate derating strategies to ensure that the turbine is only curtailed when absolutely necessary.

Rectifying errors in data collection Figure 2. Static yaw error detected from a client’s turbine data. Power production is maximised when the turbine appears to be 8˚ misaligned with the recorded met mast wind direction, i.e. true wind direction.


Ironically, malfunctioning sensors used for data collection can actually be a cause of underperformance themselves. For example, wind turbines are often programmed to

automatically derate in response to severe weather conditions to protect components. As such, high wind speed can cause low output from wind farms. In some cases, however, these turbines derate despite ideal conditions due to improperly calibrated sensors. For example, if air density sensors are programmed to be too sensitive, the turbine will collect data that triggers derating well below the proper wind speed threshold and see the project miss out on optimal generating conditions. However, by having a true understanding of turbine performance within the context of environmental data, these miscalibrations can be Figure 3. The power curve for this scenario indicates that while the wind farm’s easily spotted and the consequences of incorrect average power production is 3.0 MW, one turbine is being consistently derated to under 2.5 MW. derating due to the miscalibrations can be quantified. Clir worked with a wind farm owner to identify why more than 650 MWh had been lost from the project’s potential output, discovering that this was the result can move past this, asset owners remain at risk of lost revenue of incorrectly calibrated air density sensors. The owner was due to persistent technical underperformance going under the then able to prevent the loss of further output by recalibrating radar. the sensors. However, by applying the latest technology to analyse and interpret not just turbine or panel data, but the environmental Generating a holistic understanding of context in which the asset operates, owners can gain a true asset performance understanding of asset performance. Specifically, whether The wind industry has long struggled with ensuring that output issues are really a result of low resource. is maximised despite the uncontrollable nature of the resource Machine learning allows owners to rapidly analyse realit relies on. The key to this is debunking the assumption that world information, and ultimately can help drive the insights low output is generally down to resource. Unless the industry necessary to manage risk to the full extent.

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Anya Nova, Power Ledger, Australia, considers renewable energy certificates and how implementing blockchain technology could assist with their trade.



ave you heard that if you count every 100% orange juice packet on every supermarket shelf in the world, and then derive the size of the orange grove, you would find that there simply is not enough space on Earth for that many orange

trees? The same question can be asked about renewable energy certificates (RECs). RECs are one of the ways that societies and governments incentivise investment in renewable energy sources. Through compliance programmes, electricity utilities, environmental firms, and aggregators purchase these certificates to reduce their net emissions. These RECs help fuel the growth of the renewable energy sector. It should be the case that the purchase of one REC by a fossil fuel user means that somewhere 1 MWh of clean energy was generated. However, until the introduction of blockchain technology, there was no simple way to verify this. REC schemes are often criticised for being too opaque, difficult to understand and navigate, with too many complexities governing how RECs are verified and trades made.

RECs become a verified digital asset What if every REC could be tokenised using blockchain technology and transparently traded on a 24/7 exchange? Or in other words, how do we support the emerging market for RECs with a robust accounting system? Blockchain technology can clean up the haze and fog to facilitate a clean and transparent market that is driven by verified supply and transparent pricing. With blockchain technology deployed to create unique fingerprints, RECs can be minted, bought and sold with supreme confidence – eliminating costly and time-consuming auditing processes. By checking and guaranteeing the authenticity of an REC, blockchain technology allows renewable energy to be priced securely in real-time. In short, blockchain technology unlocks a new marketplace for trading renewable energy assets in a way that benefits both sides of the trade.

Getting a share of the market for RECs Aside from their conventional use as a compliance tool, RECs are gaining the interest of investors as another way of ‘owning’ renewable energy. Growing numbers of energy (and cryptocurrency) traders are attracted to tokenised RECs to experiment with alternative investments and profit from the sale of energy produced by a wind farm, for example, for the duration of its useful life. While RECs have been around and traded since the early 2000s, it has previously been cost prohibitive (and somewhat unnecessary) to track individual transactions. Regulators are concerned that an REC is retired as a compliance obligation, but not necessarily who bought the REC or where it is from.



Figure 1. A trial between Power Ledger and BCPG in Bangkok’s T77 precinct marked a first for P2P energy trading in Asia.

Blockchain technology, with baked-in provenance, security, tradability, and real-time payments, intends to help make RECs a vibrant, attractive investment opportunity instead of the slow, complex instrument they are now. Automation will replace the current cumbersome process of paperwork and reporting to prove that assets and people have sold a certain amount of clean energy. Automation will also support existing compliance processes, ensuring that RECs cannot be resold after they have been retired or that the same REC cannot be sold twice. More importantly for asset owners, minting tokenised RECs in real-time using data provided by smart meters will also ensure that money is not being left on the table – that is, enough RECs are being claimed by the clean energy generator. Everyone loves getting paid in real-time. Imagine a co-op wind farm selling energy and generating micro-RECs in the process. As these micro-RECs are tokenised and deposited into the co-op blockchain wallet, they can immediately be put on the token market to trade 24/7 and begin generating continuous income – another benefit for renewable energy developers. The immediacy of payment alone can incentivise more people to invest in renewables. Picture entire communities


with household solar participating in a REC market; not a separate scheme for small installations and another scheme for large renewable assets, but the creation of a single, unified scheme for large and small solar farms alike. It is about creating an auditable, transparent marketplace connecting buyers and sellers. Or perhaps some intermediaries, such as REC aggregators that represent both buyers and sellers, will continue to be involved. The automation of their current processes will free them up to provide a premium service to large buyers and sellers, much like the services stockbrokers provide to wealthy individuals who prefer not to place their own buy-and-sell trades and instead trade via a trusted intermediary. In any case, a marketplace for tokenised RECs serves both sides of the market – those who want to place their own buyand-sell orders and those who want to on-board their existing buyers and sellers and offer a premium aggregator service.

So, what is holding up this RECs trading Utopia? Currently, renewable assets must engage an aggregator to handle the entire process of REC sales, though it is the asset owner’s responsibility to ensure all eligibility criteria are met.

While this system works, it is slow, clunky, and has multiple layers of complexity that must be navigated to get to the point of sale. On the supply side, renewable energy assets face a complex compliance battle, only to then wait months to get paid for the RECs they sold. On the demand side, REC buyers say the complexities of the system restrict supply, driving up prices and discouraging them from seeking green alternatives. Both sides complain that the REC purchase process is opaque, prices are unpredictable, and the cost of transacting between buyers and sellers is high. Crucially, cumbersome transacting is a problem worth solving. In the US alone, the REC market is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and growing, which means it is an attractive market for new entrants – provided the cost of compliance Figure 2. Making fossil fuel consumers and producers purchase RECs has does not outweigh the benefits. helped fuel the growth of the renewable energy sector. The groundwork, however, is already being laid. In January, Power Ledger – a transactive energy company enabled by blockchain – partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) to launch an REC marketplace in the US. M-RETS tracks generation from renewable resources across all of North America, serving as a trusted centralised gateway to compliance and voluntary environmental markets to make it easier to track RECs through one system. The partnership with Clearway – a renewable energy developer, owner, and operator – to develop a platform to trade RECs in the US, means buying and selling renewable energy will be streamlined through a real-time online marketplace. Crucially, trading through a blockchain-enabled platform means the costs associated with buying and Figure 3. Some investors view RECs as a stake in a renewable energy source, selling RECs within M-RETS are reduced. This could be a such as a wind farm. game-changer for M-RETS, which is coping with increasing demand for RECs; the registry is now processing upward of 100 million certificates annually. The Southeast Asian model will be largely informed by best More broadly, this highlights the potential of blockchain practice in the North American REC market – demonstrating technology for renewable energy trading in the US, where in at how one region can fast-track an energy trading regime if it least 29 states, electricity companies are required to supply a adopts systems that have proven to work elsewhere. portion of their electricity from renewable sources each year. These projects have shown how an REC marketplace It also shows the importance of government policy in bridges the gap between buyers and sellers by providing an driving growth in renewable energy and learning from other end-to-end solution that tracks REC generation, trading and cases. For example, in Southeast Asia, the future of energy retirement, through one integrated online system. trading is also being determined through a landmark project to create the first REC marketplace in the region. The future of RECs The Thai Digital Energy Development (TDED), together The future of the renewable energy sector will be defined with Power Ledger, are developing a blockchain-based REC by reliable, financially viable power projects supported by marketplace in Thailand, which aims to generate 25% of its consumers. RECs are a vital part of creating this strong electricity from renewable energy sources by 2037. future, encouraging investment in green energy projects The collaboration will see the application of blockchain while providing a financial incentive to switch to renewables. technology at three BCPG Group clean power projects, which However, unless digital technology like blockchain is have been included in a ‘Sandbox Project’ by Thailand’s Office embedded in the market, the growth of RECs will continue to of Energy Regulatory Commission. be choked by inefficiencies. One of the first projects will focus on energy and REC Now, back to those orange trees – if we cannot even management at the 12 MWh Smart Campus at Chiang Mai estimate our orange juice supply correctly, what hope do we University in northern Thailand, with the aim of facilitating have of accurately estimating how many megawatt-hours of further projects throughout the region. clean energy we are generating, buying and selling?



Ramnik Singh, USA, and Thomas Raiser, Switzerl solutions to produce biofuels and bioene


his is a particularly dynamic time for the biofuel and bioenergy sector, as innovative technologies are enabling the use of an ever-growing number of renewable feedstocks. Businesses interested in maximising the benefits of these new opportunities need to select reliable, high-performance separation equipment to optimise their productivity. The advances in processing technology are revealing how biofuels can increasingly be used to support everyday life. It is thanks to these innovations that countries and businesses are able to adopt bio-economic strategies for manufacturing and energy production. In fact, businesses can utilise an


land, Sulzer, look at some of the most effective ergy and the technologies behind them. increasing range of renewable resources, byproducts, and waste from different industries to generate power with a lower environmental impact as well as generate additional revenue streams.

Where it all started The agricultural sector was one of the first to benefit from the production of biofuels. Agrofuels utilise biomass that is usually edible, such as starch-rich or sucrose-rich agricultural crops for bioethanol and oilseed plants for biodiesel. To obtain biodiesel, the plant-based material undergoes transesterification,


esterification, and is then purified. The key stages of bioethanol production, however, are fermentation, sometimes preceded by pre-treatment to make cellulose more accessible, followed by separation – via distillation or rectification – and dehydration. For both types of biofuels, separation is essential to purify the end product and meet biofuel specifications, allowing biorefineries to deliver high-octane bioethanol or biodiesel free of water and other impurities. As a result, using top performance separation processes with state-of-the-art equipment that fully addresses specific plant needs is essential. In contrast to conventional refineries, where the structure of a distillation column and its internals is relatively standardised, the variability in bio-based feedstocks demands that biofuel producers adopt customised distillation set-ups. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses in this sector to choose separation specialists that can clearly identify what the process

requirements are and provide the most suitable system to fulfil them. Full-service providers that can combine separation and heat integration systems, for example, are extremely beneficial, as they can offer seamless and comprehensive solutions while reducing the number of contractors. Firstgeneration biorefineries can benefit from implementing heat recovery and integration practices, as these are particularly effective in reducing energy consumption – and accordingly environmental impact. Furthermore, due to separation specialists such as Sulzer, this first wave of greener fuels and energy was extremely successful. In 2013, approximately 86 million t (circa 95 million t) of first-generation biofuels were consumed globally, including 65 million t (nearly 72 t) of bioethanol.1 At the beginning of 2016, the volume of bioethanol contributed to more than 80% of the 113 billion l of biofuels produced worldwide.2

An evolving industry

Figure 1. Biomass ethanol lifecycle.

Figure 2. Corn crop and grain silos.


Nonetheless, the global production capacity of biofuels could be increased considerably by using lignocellulosic material as feedstock. In particular, a study from 2016 concluded that North American autochthonous herbaceous crops, such as switchgrass, could help the US produce at least 1 billion tpy of biomass that could be used as feedstock for biofuels.3 While this would not be able to replace the entire petroleum consumption of the US, it could allow the country to replace up to 30% with biofuels. This is why second-generation bioethanol plants incorporate the use of plant-based biomass and lignocellulosic residues, such as bagasse. In this way, more businesses can use their resources to deliver green energy and adopt circular bioeconomy approaches. In addition, this expansion in suitable resources can optimise the biofuel/land area ratio, reducing the land demand for crop fuels. Second-generation plants use different methods to convert biomass into biofuels. Pre-treatment is mandatory to break the hemicellulose-lignin complex cross-links and increase the accessibility of cellulose and hemicellulose. Subsequently, biorefineries can adopt various methods to produce bioethanol. The first route, commonly referred to as the biomassto-liquid (BTL) conversion process, subjects the biomass to pyrolysis or gasification to produce synthesis gas (syngas), which is purified. This is then reformed to fuels using either a catalytic process, such as Fischer-Tropsch reactions, or by a biological conversion. The second route is similar to the process used in first-generation plants, as it relies on the transformation of sugar polymers present in biomass, i.e. cellulose and hemicellulose to monomeric sugars. These are fermented using microorganisms and purified. The third route is a combination of the other two methods. A chemical intermediate is produced by a biochemical process, transformed into fuels via pyrolysis and purified. Another possibility is to utilise flue gas, for example, from steel mills, which is converted by micro bacteria into ethanol and then purified in highly heat-integrated distillation and dehydration steps into ethanol fuel.

The challenges of using other types of feedstock Separation plays a key role in second-generation plants too. However, the process requirements and challenges are dissimilar, resulting in differently engineered mass transfer components. While potentially highly beneficial, the production of biofuels from non-edible forest and crop residues presents some key challenges associated with the higher complexity of the feedstock. If these are not properly addressed, second-generation plants could potentially increase their environmental impact and production costs, reducing the advantages of using renewable resources. The sugar-rich crops used in first-generation bioethanol production result in almost no degradation products in the substrate. Therefore, ethanol concentrations above 10% are easily achievable, making the distillation process relatively straightforward and economical. The higher volume of impurities in second-generation feedstocks requires even more efficient high-performance separation solutions to make the process economically and environmentally feasible. To accommodate these needs, columns should feature a high number of theoretical stages while remaining compact in size. In these situations, Sulzer’s AF type trays followed by slit trays are designed with a tray spacing of between 150 ‑ 250 mm, which is half of that generally used. Therefore, it is possible to fit a high number of trays in a limited space, optimising the column’s separation performance. Another particularly effective solution to address this issue in plants using biochemical routes consists of leveraging pervaporation, or vapour permeation. This is a membranebased separation technology that can efficiently replace conventional energy-intensive dehydration processes. Before the pervaporation step, distillation is generally required to remove components with higher boiling points and microbial cells from the fermentation broth. The distillate then enters in contact with one side of the hydrophilic membrane while a vacuum is imposed on the other side. As a result, the bioethanol is retained while water permeates in a vapour phase through the membrane. Another key aspect that should be considered when building separation units for second-generation biorefineries is selecting high-performance mass transfer components that are particularly resistant. These pieces of equipment should be able to withstand the harsher operating conditions caused by the contaminants during the process itself. Robust materials are necessary to protect the separation units from fouling, plugging, and corrosion, maximising the equipment’s service life. In this way, plants can reduce their CAPEX and their OPEX costs, as well as downtime associated with repairs and maintenance, and additionally reduce their overall environmental impact. For high fouling applications, Sulzer’s VG AFTM (V-Grid anti fouling) trays are an example of suitable internals for separation columns in first-generation and second-generation biofuel plants. The outlet weirs are highly resistant and the trays can also be equipped with extra-large fixed valves, which were developed specifically for severe fouling applications.

Figure 3. Distillation tower for bioethanol recovery.

Finally, it is essential for second-generation biorefineries to implement heat-integrated process solutions to reduce their energy consumption, operational expenses, and environmental impact. In this way, plants can deliver highly sustainable biofuels. In fact, an elevated use of resources and energy in biofuel production would compromise the sustainability goals of such processes. More precisely, second-generation biofuel feedstocks typically enter distillation with lower alcohol concentrations, compared to first-generation feedstocks, thereby significantly increasing the specific energy demand. Therefore, it is crucial to minimise energy usage to maintain a low environmental footprint. To achieve this, businesses can utilise heat integration methods, such as multi-effect distillation or compressor/turbo fan technologies.

Third generation and beyond: unlimited possibilities The quest to find new, green feedstocks has not stopped, and third-generation biorefineries are now starting to be developed. These will utilise algae, which can produce biomass faster and require even less land surface than lignocellulosic feedstocks. In particular, microalgae are able to double their biomass in less than 24 hours. This means that plants could benefit from a 49 - 132-fold reduction in the medium culture



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time when shifting from canola or soybean feedstocks.4 While in its early stages of development, it is already clear that third-generation biofuel production, like second-generation solutions, will use a biomass feedstock of high complexity. As a result, it also requires engineered separation equipment, especially in downstream processing, while also presenting new challenges in the initial stages of production. This is also the case for other innovative processes aimed at obtaining fuels from other types of waste streams, such as industrial emissions and non-recyclable plastic. Ultimately, the sky is the limit when developing new biofuel production routes, as long as forward-looking separation specialists are involved to identify and develop suitable purification solutions.

Keeping biofuel plants up-to-date Choosing the right separation equipment to create successful biofuel plants is key, but it is also important to keep them running at peak performance. Continuous support during operation, in the form of servicing, maintenance, and upgrades is therefore crucial for biorefineries. Field specialists that have extensive expertise in separation processes and technologies, such as Sulzer and its Tower Field Service (TFS) branch, can support these activities. In addition to performing regular maintenance, it is important for plants to stay up-to-date with the latest processing technology Figure 4. A key aspect that should be considered when building separation units for second-generation biorefineries is selecting high-performance mass transfer components as biofuel production evolves. For example, that are particularly resistant. as new developments in yeast strains allow plants to increase their bioethanol yields, the separation units need to keep up with these advances to avoid any process bottlenecks. equipment that fully meets specific processing requirements, Biofuel producers can address this issue by expanding their turnkey solutions, and even full plants, as well as continuous distillation columns horizontally or vertically, i.e. expanding support via maintenance services, repairs and upgrades. the column diameter or increasing the number of theoretical Sulzer has extensive experience in delivering customised stages, as well as by altering or replacing the column internals column internals and full plants for separation processes with state-of-the-art solutions. Defining the most suitable in biofuel production, as well as highly effective services for and effective revamp strategy is crucial to completing existing equipment. In addition, the company has supported a appropriate modifications to trays, structured packing, and number of innovative projects aimed at converting waste into liquid distributors in bioethanol plants. By implementing these sustainable energy and fuels. changes, biorefineries can potentially increase their column capacity by over 25%. References 1.

Conclusion As the pool of suitable feedstocks for biofuel production expands, a growing number of businesses can utilise their resources, waste, and byproducts to increase their sustainability and generate additional revenue. To achieve this, it is crucial to collaborate with an industry-leading mass transfer specialist. Businesses can benefit from high-quality

2. 3.


RULLI, M., BELLOMI, D., CAZZOLI, A., et al., ‘The water-land-food nexus of firstgeneration biofuels’, Scientific Reports 6, 22521 (2016). BERTRAND, E., VANDENBERGHE, L.P.S., SOCCOL, C.R., et al., ‘First Generation Bioethanol’ Green Fuels Technology, Springer, Cham (2016).

LEE, D.K., ABERLE, E., ANDERSON, E.K., et al., ‘Biomass production of herbaceous energy crops in the United States: field trial results and yield potential maps from the multiyear regional feedstock partnership’, Global Change Biology Bioenergy, Vol. 10, No. 10 (2018), pp. 698-716. PICAZO-ESPINOSA, R., GONZALEZ-LOPEZ, J., MANZANERA, M., ‘Bioresources for Third-Generation Biofuels’, Biofuel’s Engineering Process Technology, ed. Dos Santos Bernardes, M.A., IntechOpen (2011).



Joey Broda, FortisBC, Canada, looks at how RNG produced from wood wastes could help decarbonise British Columbia’s natural gas grid.


ecarbonisation is one of the foremost scientific and industrial challenges of this era. In some ways, decarbonised energy looks familiar and can be built on the existing backbone of electrical and natural gas infrastructure. However, some parts will be new and unfamiliar. Renewables are a crucial part of a decarbonised energy system, and often these renewable energy systems will be composed of elements unique to their location. The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has a number of local challenges and opportunities distinct from other Canadian and North American regions. While BC already has a largely low-carbon electricity supply, it is a significant producer of natural gas, and has a larger natural gas grid than electricity grid, making it an important region in which to decarbonise natural gas supply. The current primary method of decarbonising natural gas is through producing biomethane from anaerobic digestion. While BC is home to a number of anaerobic digestion operations, its smaller population and fewer agricultural regions limit the ultimate potential of anaerobic digestion. However, there is an opportunity to expand the methods of decarbonising the natural gas supply. BC is a province of river valleys and mountain ranges. Amongst these valleys is a large supply of lumber that contributes an estimated CAN$14 billion to the local economy. BC’s forestry-related activities directly support over 7000 businesses and employ more than 50 000 people, according to Forestry Innovation Investment. The largest source of biomass for energy is the waste from the processing of this lumber and the slash piles of low-value materials. Getting this energy to market where it can be used to offset fossil fuels is a major priority. A promising option for offsetting fossil fuels is to produce biomethane or renewable natural gas (RNG) from wood waste material. The RNG, which is interchangeable with conventional natural gas, can then be injected into the existing natural gas grid, and many existing forestry-based operations are already connected to this natural gas infrastructure.




The challenge is extracting the methane from the wood waste so that it meets the existing strict standards of the natural gas grid. Gasification and pyrolysis technologies that produce syngas (an intermediate gas that cannot be directly injected onto the pipeline) are well established. However, the production of natural gas with a sufficient methane content, greater than 95% by volume, requires the additional steps of cleaning impurities and methanation of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Methanation is an established process, but integrating it with the production of syngas at a commercial scale for a reasonable cost has never been achieved in North America. FortisBC is an energy solutions provider in BC serving approximately 1.2 million customers. The company is the primary natural gas utility in BC, and also offers electricity, propane, and alternative energy solutions to its customers. It has approximately 49 000 km of natural gas infrastructure in place, delivering energy throughout the province – infrastructure that can be used to deliver RNG. FortisBC has recently signed an off-take agreement with REN Energy International, which is working on putting these pieces together at its facility in Fruitvale, BC. This agreement will see FortisBC purchasing approximately 1 million GJ of pipelinequality RNG annually. REN will further develop the applications of this technology first brought forward by GoBiGas Sweden, the world’s first such large-scale plant built. When REN’s facility is operational, it will be the first commercial wood waste-to-RNG facility operating in North America.

The RNG pathway The process being used at REN’s facility will have three high-level stages – gasification, gas cleaning, and methanation. An indirect fluidised bed gasifier will be used to produce syngas in the first stage. Direct combustion is not practical for this application because it would require the stripping of oxygen, nitrogen, and

nitrous oxide later in the process. Instead, unreacted solid material is drawn off into a combustor and burned in the presence of air. This process creates external heat for the reactor. Heat transfer is improved with the continuous circulation of sand, which is heated in the combustor and then circulated into the main gasifier. In the gasifier, heat breaks down the complex organic molecules of the wood into simpler components. Syngas produced from wood waste has a number of impurities, but the most troubling impurities are tar compounds. Tar refers to compounds that usually consist of multiple aromatic rings that arise from molecules, such as lignin, that have not been completely broken down in gasification. They are tricky to work with as they condense at high temperatures and can foul heat exchangers and process piping. Instead, this facility will rely on oil-based stripping. Using oil as a stripping medium allows natural gas cooling and tar stripping to occur at the same time. Using oil for both purposes will protect downstream equipment from tar condensation because the natural gas leaving the oil strippers will already have been cooled below the tar condensation temperature. The saturated oil is recovered using heat to separate the oil from the tars. The oil is then recirculated, while the tars are recycled to the gasifier. The final stage is the generation of methane. This happens in two steps. The first step is increasing the proportion of hydrogen in the gas by using the water-gas shift reaction to produce hydrogen from water and carbon monoxide. After this step, a catalytic Sabatier reactor is used to produce methane. Final polishing steps are required to strip out any remaining carbon dioxide, recycle hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and remove water to meet the RNG specification for pipeline injection. Each of the processes described are not major innovations by themselves. The innovation is connecting these systems together to create a process that is sufficiently responsive to changes in chemical composition and can maintain a robust uptime. The other major change is an order of magnitude increase in plant size compared with typical biogas plants in BC. REN is expected to generate over 1 million GJ/y, with existing facilities ranging from approximately 20 000 - 100 000 GJ/y.

Decarbonisation for utilities and forestry

Figure 1. A biomass crane handling wood waste.

Figure 2. A block flow diagram of the gasification and methanation process.


A demonstrated process of this kind will go a long way in meeting BC’s ambitious goals for decarbonisation, as conventional sources of RNG in BC are limited. A 2016 study by Hallbar, a biogas consulting company, put the technical potential of biogas-derived RNG in BC on the order of 8 ‑ 12 million GJ/y. The addition of wood waste as a feedstock for RNG production increases the technical potential by between 41 - 83 million GJ/y, which brings the total potential to roughly 25 - 47% of a FortisBC customer’s annual usage. This avenue for RNG production, despite its novelty, is the most important for the long-term future of RNG production. The production of RNG is part of the development of a circular economy, creating a number of positive externalities for both the climate and the economy. In this case, the biggest change is in waste management in the forestry industry and with municipal demolition and land clearing (DLC) waste. In the forestry industry, finding end uses for bark and waste

is important for the overall business health of many mills. In the wider context, dealing with slash has been a major issue in BC. Slash piles are expensive to clear and are often dealt with by on-site burning, which causes additional greenhouse gas emissions as well as ultimately wasting energy. For municipalities, especially many smaller municipalities in rural BC, most wood wastes from DLC and other activities are sent to landfills. In landfills, wood slowly breaks down anaerobically to produce methane. The proliferation of facilities that can produce RNG from wood waste will solve this waste management challenge, support the business case for clearing slash and, in many cases, reduce emissions.

size of hydrogen deployments in the intermediate term. Using hydrogen directly for methanation allows for direct injection into pipelines. This increases the size of the electrolyser that can be deployed, reducing the costs with an economy of scale. An on-site electrolyser could draw power from various renewables, off-peak grid power, and the freshet period of hydroelectric production. While not immediately on the cards for wood wasteto-RNG projects, this model allows for a future increase in RNG production at existing facilities by bringing together renewable electricity with biomass energy. It also unlocks the potential of using existing natural gas pipeline networks effectively as a battery for renewable electricity.

Potential for future expansion and integration


The other circular economy possibility opened up by this technology is power-to-natural gas. Stoichiometrically, the ratio of carbon to hydrogen is too high to react all carbon molecules liberated by gasification to methane. As a result, some carbon in the wood is lost to the process producing carbon dioxide. This biogenic carbon dioxide is not a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions but it is a missed opportunity. An exogenous supply of hydrogen could be used to drive a greater fraction of the carbon in the wood to methane, allowing for future increases in RNG production. Currently, natural gas utilities around the continent are discussing what form power-to-natural gas will take. Direct hydrogen use or blending is an option but comes with a number of challenges for utility distribution, which will cap the practical

The transition to a decarbonised energy grid is also the transition to a locally oriented energy grid. In BC, this means integrating the waste and slash from forestry into the energy system. Connecting to the natural gas grid is a promising way to efficiently move this energy but requires the underlying gasification technology to conclude its journey to commercialisation. REN is aiming to complete this journey with a wood waste-to-RNG facility in Fruitvale, BC. The success of this project will be a major milestone in unlocking upwards of 40 million GJ/y of additional RNG from wood waste. Facilities like REN’s could also create an opportunity to produce synthetic methane from surplus electrical power. The first of its kind, this plant carries the key to shaping what an integrated, decarbonised energy system built upon the backbone of existing utility infrastructure will look like in BC.

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Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor, SolarPower Europe, addresses the growth in the global solar industry, focusing in particular on the diversification of demand.



ast year saw solar break records in many different areas. The global solar market returned to a doubledigit growth path, with demand rising by 13% to 116.9 GW. In terms of cost, many awarded solar tariffs in tenders in 2019 were in the US$0.02/kWh range, however, there were also auctions with winners in the US$0.01/kWh range on three continents. A further positive sign for the solar sector was the intensified diversification of

global solar demand: the number of countries that strongly embrace solar has strongly increased. This is reflected in the fact that in 2019, 16 countries installed more than 1 GW of solar, which represents a 45% growth rate compared to the 11 gigawatt-scale solar markets in 2018. In SolarPower Europe’s new Global Market Outlook, which analyses solar installations in 2019 and forecasts capacity for 2020 - 2024, solar’s record-breaking growth


Figure 1. Scatec Solar’s 40 MW Linde solar plant, located in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, generates 90 million kWh annually, enough to cover the electricity needs of approximately 20 000 households. Image courtesy of Scatec Solar.

Figure 2. Solar power plant and Energy Vault gravitational storage in Sudan, powering the GLB Alfalfa Farm.

trajectory is highlighted across many dimensions. At first sight, the most impressive figure to emerge from the study might be that the global solar sector will enter the terawatt level by 2022, only four years after the 0.5 TW level was reached. Further milestones to expect in the next few years include solar reaching 700 GW by the end of 2020, and 1.2 TW by 2023. However, slightly faster growth had already been expected as of last year, before the arrival of COVID-19.

COVID-19’s impact on the global solar sector The Global Market Outlook presents the first results of a worldwide survey conducted in April by the Global Solar


Council on the impacts of COVID-19 on the solar sector. Over 71% of polled solar businesses reported a decline in orders, of which six in 10 said that orders were down by up to 50%, and three in 10 experienced a decline of 50 - 90%. The effect of the pandemic on installation rates varies in different countries and segments, largely depending on how badly the countries suffered from COVID-19, and the response of governments. This year, new solar grid connections are expected to drop for the first time in many years. In SolarPower Europe’s medium scenario, new global installed capacities will decrease by 4% to 112 GW in 2020. Compared to the forecasting in last year’s Global Market Outlook, when SolarPower Europe projected as much as 144 GW of new solar, this represents a loss of 32 GW. Now it is of utmost importance that governments do not disregard renewables and solar power when developing economic stimulus packages. If the world is serious about meeting the Paris Agreement climate targets, solar deployments not only need to get back on their recent growth track, but the installation rate of solar – the lowest-cost and most versatile power generation technology – must increase much faster, in the short-term and mid-term.

Diversification of solar demand around the world In comparison, 2019 was a successful year for solar. Demand grew by 13% to 116.9 GW, and it would have increased further if the world’s largest market, China, had not continued its restructuring efforts, resulting in an even stronger drop in demand than the year before. India, the world’s third largest photovoltaic (PV) market, also declined for multiple reasons. One key takeaway from SolarPower Europe’s report is that global solar demand continues its diversification process.

As the number of countries that strongly embrace solar increases, it reduces the risk that market contractions in major solar countries depress the entire sector. Notable growth regions in 2019 included Europe, which added 22.9 GW – more than twice the capacity of the previous year – and the Middle East and Africa, where tenders primarily helped several countries turn into viable on-grid solar markets. In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, these tenders were frequently and successfully facilitated by developing finance institutions, which is why SolarPower Europe included, with support from GET.invest, a chapter in its report that provides a detailed background on gridconnected solar in that region. To provide better insights into the world’s most promising markets, SolarPower Europe also invited leading national solar associations of gigawatt-scale solar markets – 16 in 2019, up from 11 in 2018 – to contribute an analysis of solar in their country.

Figure 3. Solar electricity generation cost in comparison with other sources 2009 - 2019.

Sub-Saharan Africa achieves gigawatt milestone Ensuring steady access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy is a key milestone for emerging markets when laying the foundations for sustainable development. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the lowest rates of access to electricity in the world – in 2018, only 48% of the population had access to electricity. In fact, the electrification rate is increasing – between 2010 and 2018, it grew by 14%, from 34% to 48%, and five out of 46 Sub-Saharan countries have reached electrification rates above 90% (Seychelles, Mauritius, Cabo Verde, Gabon, and South Africa). However, these numbers show there is still a long way to go to power all people. Low-cost and versatile solar energy is a particularly appropriate solution to speed up that process – from very small solar PV systems to large utility-scale PV power plants. The solar potential in Africa is immense thanks to high solar yield potential (ranging between 1500 kWh/kWp per year to over 2000 kWh/kWp per year) and strong demand. Yet the continent’s installed capacity today (3.8 GW) represents less than 1% of the world’s solar capacity, and less than 3% of Africa’s power generation capacity. In terms of annual market size in 2019, the Sub-Saharan Africa solar market more than doubled, adding nearly 1.3 GW of installations, and thus reaching gigawatt-scale for the first time ever. South Africa dominated 2019, accounting for roughly 40% of all installations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Aside from South Africa, the other three largest markets in 2019 were Namibia, Kenya, and Zambia, with around 100 MW of installations each. SolarPower Europe’s projections show that between 2020 - 2024, the Sub-Saharan Africa solar market will see a significant increase in installed capacity. According to the medium scenario, the region will add 21 GW of solar in this period. Once again, South Africa is expected to remain the largest market in the near future. However, recent political commitments to renewables and attractive regulatory frameworks are expected to catapult a number of smaller markets to become leaders, with annual additions in the hundreds of megawatts – in countries such as Zambia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.

Figure 4. Annual solar PV installed capacity.

Figure 5. Annual solar PV market scenarios 2020 - 2024.

Maturing national and international support instruments enabled the market growth in recent years. Policies and regulations for off-grid solutions have improved faster than those for grid electrification. For rural and isolated communities, off-grid solutions such as mini-grids, solar home systems, and solar lamps have received a considerable level of attention as they allow for basic access to electricity even where there is no grid available. This was also the case many years ago, but what has changed on the commercial side includes the cost of solar equipment, and the business models



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that are now often based on ‘solar as a service’ or ‘payas-you-go’ (PAYG) solutions, which have made solar power affordable to a much larger group of people.

Powering agriculture in Sudan with solar and innovative gravitational storage Utility-scale independent power producer (IPP) projects in Sub-Saharan Africa are often developed through individually negotiated contracts or tenders. These projects are usually completed in the absence of an appropriate regulatory framework, such as a tender scheme, directly between a developer and the public utility or the government. Even though several utility-scale projects in the tens of megawatts have been developed on an individually negotiated basis, there is a trend towards competitive tenders, which can reduce transaction costs significantly. An example of an IPP project in development in SubSaharan Africa is Agri Green Energy’s project, which aims to supply solar power for irrigation purposes to the GLB Alfalfa Farm in Sudan, located approximately 100 km north of Khartoum. Sponsored by the Haggar Group and its technical partners, Photon Energy, a global solar power solutions and service company, and Energy Vault, the creator of a gravity-based energy storage solution, the project centres on a gravitation storage system that consists of two 130 m high towers (each with storage capacity of 30 MWh) with 5000 concrete blocks (2 t each) that will be hoisted up during the day with the PV power, and released at night to generate power. The system allows power generated during the day to be stored around the clock and power the farm according to the scheduled irrigation plans. The planned solar power plant will be a fixed groundmounted installation with capacity of 19 MW, including 2 MW to pump water from the River Nile. It will be equipped with gravitational storage with 60 MWh capacity, which will allow the replacement of a 9 MW diesel generator, even though the existing diesel generators will remain in place as emergency back-up. Also innovative is the financing of the project, which will be structured under a multi-investor blended finance project company (SPV). The financing will be undertaken according to international project finance principles, including customary off-take, project completion, and performance warranties. The total investment in the project is approximately US$34 million, with a 35% equity/65% senior debt ratio. Power costs to the farm are expected to be approximately US$0.14/kWh.

Strong global solar recovery expected with appropriate policy frameworks While SolarPower Europe assumes in its medium scenario a notable 34% growth rate to 150 GW in 2021, which does anticipate significant levels of government recovery support, this capacity would still be 6% short of last year’s 2021 forecast. It will take until 2022 to get back on track, reaching 169 GW. Only in 2024 are the impacts of COVID-19 expected to be fully left behind. So now it is even more important that policymakers provide the appropriate frameworks so that all of society can benefit from cheap, flexible, and clean solar.

Figure 6. Sub-Saharan Africa annual solar PV market scenarios 2020 ‑ 2024.

Figure 7. Sub-Saharan Africa solar PV market shares 2019.

Figure 8. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, is powered by a 7500 m2 rooftop solar system from SMA, with an overall output of 1093.8 kWp, and a daily output of 4495 kWh, which reduces 1610 tpy of carbon emissions. Image courtesy of SMA.

While COVID-19 has taken its toll on solar’s development, the recovery packages are an opportunity to enable this sustainable technology to return even stronger. It is essential to accelerate the deployment of the lowest-cost clean power generation sources – solar and wind – and bolster the relevant infrastructure, such as power grids. But the groundwork must be laid down now, enabling the large-scale production of renewable hydrogen, so as to turn the 2020s into a solar decade, fully unleashing the power of the sun.



Roger Tian and Roberto Murgioni, JinkoSolar, China, analyse the design and application of the latest high-efficiency Tiger PRO module to provide increased power to the photovoltaic industry.



he new Tiger Pro series by JinkoSolar has been the first one to redefine the highest power in the photovoltaic (PV) industry – with 585 W of power on 15 May 2020. Moreover, this emphasises JinkoSolar’s entrance into a new era, with its modules of 500+ Wp. However, JinkoSolar is turning the attention of the industry to the technology rather than the size of the silicon wafers. Meanwhile, the industry has given positive feedback on the system compatibility and system cost reduction of the Tiger Pro series. The design and application advantages of the new Tiger Pro products on the system side are outlined here.

Lower Voc and lower system cost The low Voc and temperature coefficients of the modules can increase the number of modules on the unit group string, and if the DC side capacity of the project is known, the total number of strings in the project can be reduced. It is well known that if the total number of modules in the system is reduced, the corresponding cable costs and mounting system costs will be reduced, as well as the labour costs involved in the project. Especially for large PV projects, the capacity ratio of the whole project can also be improved accordingly. The Voc under standard conditions for JinkoSolar’s new Tiger Pro module is 49.5 V (bifacial). 530 W @ STC = 25˚C, G = 1000 W/m2, AM = 1.5). VDC,MAX N≤ Voc (1 + CT,V (Tlowest - 25) If the lowest temperature of a location ever recorded is 0˚C, using 530 W modules in a 1500 V system on the DC side, the temperature coefficient is -0.28% per ˚C. According to the standard calculation method recommended by IEC62548, each series of components can take up to 28 strings per group. JinkoSolar also use modules from two other manufacturers for comparison. The standard algorithm recommended by IEC is outlined here, where Voc is open circuit voltage under standard conditions, VDC,MAX is system voltage, Tlowest is minimum temperature ever recorded, and CT,V is the temperature coefficient of Voc.

If the calculation method recommended by some inverter vendors is used, the operating temperature of the modules will be higher than the ambient temperature due to the consideration of the heat caused by solar irradiance. Consequently, the temperature correction value of the module’s Voc will be increased, and a single set of strings can connect more modules.

High efficiency The higher efficiency will save the area of the whole PV plant and decrease the land lease fee. In the meantime, a module with JinkoSolar advanced technical innovation aims to bring greater power output which can benefit the project and the clients. For a research project taking place in Vietnam, JinkoSolar used Tiger Pro 530 W modules and found other types of modules to compare the balance of systems (BOS) cost of these different modules. As shown in Table 2, the BOS cost of modules varies by different power levels, and Tiger Pro 530 W modules have been found to perform better in comparison.

Compatibility with trackers Through the deep communication with a tier 1 tracker manufacturer, JinkoSolar informs that the dimension Tiger Pro products are more compatible with the design of the tracking mounting system. In general, the tracking mounting system is composed of foundation, torque tubes and purlin bars, and the cost of the mounting system is mainly composed of these parts. Among the mounting system costs, the torque tubes account for the largest proportion, generally 25 - 35%. Based on the relationship between the torque load and the length of the modules, it can be considered that the torque load is proportional to the square of the length of the component. For Tiger Pro 72 tiling ribbon/transparent backsheet modules, the length and weight of the modules will be smaller than those of other manufacturers in the same industry, due to the use of tiling ribbon and transparent backsheet technology. This results in a reduction of torque tubes costs. This is important because this part has the most significant impact on the total cost. In addition, the load area decreases as the length of the modules is reduced, as well as the



Table 1. IEC standard algorithm vs inverter manufacturer recommended algorithm (calculated when minimum temperature is set to zero) Tiger Pro 530 W

Factory 2 500 W

Factory 3 500 W




Number of components per string (based on IEC standards)




Number of components per string (calculated according to the inverter manufacturer)




Open circuit voltage (V)

Table 2. BOS cost comparison (assuming that the model and cost of the inverters are the same, the first year of the project generates the same amount of electricity) 120 MW Vietnam project

Tiger Pro 530 W

G12 500 W

M6 445 W

Configuration information First year (MWh)

200 200

200 200

200 200

Number of modules per string




Number of inverters




System voltage (V)




Total number of modules

226 416

240 000

266 667

Total number of strings






BOS cost BOS cost (%)


Table 3. Tracker cost comparisons between two modules provided by the mounting system manufacturer (moderate and high wind pressures) Module length (mm)

Number of modules per string





Recommended mounting system layout under moderate high wind pressure

Total power

Cost per watt

Power level

2 × 28 (outside) and 2 × 42 (inside)

44 520



2 × 28 (outside) and 2 × 42 (inside)

44 520



Table 4. Simulation results of both PV plants in Vietnam with different inverters

Component model Number of components Number of inverters Hours of annual power generation

26 A maximum input current inverter

30 A maximum input current inverter

Tiger Pro bifacial 530 W

Tiger Pro bifacial 530 W

16 200

16 200






corresponding wind and snow loads, which indirectly reduces the cost of the fasteners for the mounting system. According to the model provided by the mounting system manufacturer, the cost of a single watt for the mounting system is inversely proportional to the size of power in low wind pressure areas, thus the higher the power of modules, the lower the cost of a single watt for the mounting system. However, in high wind pressure areas, the cost of a single watt for the mounting system is positively related to the length of modules. Comparing Tiger Pro with modules from other manufacturers at the same power – according to the data provided by the tracker mounting system manufacturer – it is evident that although the component panels have the same power, the cost per watt of the mounting system also varies.

High compatibility between bifacial modules and inverters Following multiple experiments, it is known that the shortcircuit current and working current of bifacial modules are much higher than those of mono-facial modules. At present, the maximum input current of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) of mainstream string inverters is 26 A, but when the back gain is more than 30% and the solar irradiance is very good (>1000W/m2), the output current of the modules may be more than 13 A. If one MPPT of the inverter connects two groups of strings, the output of the modules will be lost. To bring higher power generation and lower power cost to clients, JinkoSolar has been in close communication with several mainstream inverter manufacturers to promote the launch of high current inverter products in response to JinkoSolar’s bifacial modules with high performance.

Higher production processes and product quality From the testing in Vietnam, the company received the results seen in Table 4, from which it is clear that the inverters with high input current will be better optimised on the power generation of Tiger Pro products. JinkoSolar’s modules have been rated as highly bankable PV module products in the industry, due to the high standard production process. In today’s 1500 V system era, high-quality module products have lower mismatch rates between groups and modules in long strings, which makes it easier for inverters to track to the maximum power point, especially in power stations that have been running for many years. In summary, JinkoSolar’s Tiger Pro has demonstrated advantages in both cost reduction and compatibility on the system side, and this series of products may become one of the mainstream module selections in the new industry.

Technology components impacting LCOE Along with the subsidy-free grid parity policy’s release of the National Development and Reform Commission and National Energy Administration in China, PV module power is upgrading unremittingly to meet the demand of the era

of subsidy-free grid parity. With rapid technology innovation, the diversity of technology type and the power class of PV module is increasing gradually among manufacturers over time. On 15 May 2020, JinkoSolar launched its latest PV module with 580 W maximum power and 21.21% efficiency. It indicates, to some extent, a rise of competition in the production capacity and performance of PV modules. Most mainstream manufacturers launch their high-efficiency modules one after another. Under this circumstance, more and more investors and EPCs are paying great attention to high-efficiency modules, especially after the release of JinkoSolar’s latest product. Therefore, the topic about how high-efficient modules achieve a lower LCOE in a PV system Figure 1. JinkoSolar’s new Tiger Pro module series. will spark a heated discussion on a wide-range power escalation. From the perspective of a third party, TÜV NORD made a series of analyses and comparisons between the PV module Table 5. Basic information of the site produced by JinkoSolar and two other mainstream products Project site Golmud, Qinghai on the market. In the report, on the assumed condition of Project capacity 120 MW a 120 MW DC-side project, the economic performance of JinkoSolar’s 530W/535 W PV module is compared with others, GPS 94.55˚E 36.26˚N considering the aspects of a technical proposal review and Annual irradiation hours 2195 financial income analysis. Regardless of the first-year power Altitude 2800 m generation gain, final revenue will be evaluated to meet the demand of investors and EPCs. Annual average temperature 6.69˚C To fairly and objectively compare the performance of the three modules applied to the project, TÜV NORD selected and analysed the same project site. The purpose of this was to limit the uncertain factors from the results, under the conditions of the same geographical location, type of power plant, meteorological conditions, on-grid electricity price, and tax policy. For the convenience of comparison, Golmud in Qinghai, China was chosen as the project site. The annual irradiation of this area reaches up to 2195 hours, which belongs to the first-class light area in China. The Figure 2. JinkoSolar power degradation warranty profile. annual temperature is low, with an average of 6.69˚C, and the ground of the PV area is relatively flat. Combined with TÜV NORD’s analogy analysis of Table 6. Comparative LCOE case study analysis existing projects on the market, the initial investment Case 1 Case 2 costs of the three module solutions can be estimated Module model Jinko-530/535 XX-500 and deduced, including the costs of pre-project Module power (W) 530/535 500 development, EPC, and grid connection. Next, by Module efficiency 21.16% / 21.21% 20.90% inputting the Jinko 530/535 W module’s pan-file into the PV Syst software, the first year’s power generation can First year generation (MWh) 264 114 264 114 be calculated through simulation. At the same time, Modules number per string 26 25 to eliminate the loss of the curtailment and achieve a Inverters number 35 35 uniform power generation, the DC/AC ratio is uniformly DC/AC ratio 1.10 1.10 set as 1.10. In addition, it is also assumed that the three Inverter power (kWac) 3125 3125 cases have the same degradation and O&M cost. In Modules number 227 006 240 625 conclusion, the results are as follows (Table 6): under the Strings number 8731 9625 established unified DC capacity, land availability and EPC per watt 4.0073 4.0710 module price, case one of the Jinko 530/535 W module First year OM cost (¥/kW/y) 60.70 60.70 has greater advantages over cases two and three, Total investment (¥) 496 560 340 504 224 143 such as LCOE and IRR. In light of the results from this Equity capital (¥) 148 968 102 151 267 243 evaluation, the Jinko 530/535W module has presented LCOE (¥/kWh) 0.2989 0.3028 market competitive advantages from technical and Equity capital IRR 15.85% 15.39% financial perspectives.

Case 3 XX-450 450 20.70% 264 114 26 35 1.10 3125 267 362 10 284 4.1208 60.70 510 217 017 153 065 105 0.3058 15.04%



Figure 1. A 22 MW energy storage project in Cremzow, Germany, utilises Wärtsilä’s GEMS to meet the operational requirements of the power plant and to provide frequency regulation services to the German primary control reserve market.


nergy storage, which helps manage renewables’ complexity, is itself becoming more complex as systems are able to serve different parties and incentive offerings. For large-scale solar and wind asset owners, utility-scale battery storage can offer heightened returns for these projects, yet for grid operators, battery storage offers much-needed grid stability. However, these value propositions can sometimes come into conflict, for example, when it is more financially valuable for the end customer to hold onto stored energy than supply it to a local grid in demand. Machine learning-enabled optimisation can help a battery system navigate the different energy storage value propositions and


improve energy output for more automated grid management. By applying machine learning, energy storage projects can rely on computer algorithms that establish contextual overrides built on years of experience, human guidance, and forecasted simulations. Machine learning then evaluates how the contextual override performed to improve the algorithm. Machine learning-enabled storage solutions carry a level of intelligence and capability to autonomously operate in ways that humans could not do alone. Energy storage software platforms use artificial intelligence and automated decision-making based on real-time and forecasted data from various

Sen Zhang, Wärtsilä Energy Storage and Optimisation, USA, discusses how the application of machine learning-enabled optimisation to energy storage projects can help batteries balance complicated and fast-changing priorities.


inputs, including device status, weather, grid measurements, and market data.

Machine learning algorithms monitor these changing market conditions set by local operators as another set of inputs. One valuable example of this is frequency regulation The hardware/software convergence on the grid. High power demand or down-ramp supply Hardware is an important element to support software from renewable energy can cause the shortage of electrical operations because the strength and integrity of the energy power supply on the grid, causing its frequency to decrease. storage battery can help the system last longer and handle Conversely, the opposite effects can cause the frequency to complicated and fast-changing priorities. Batteries working increase. Frequency volatilities can damage machinery, create alongside renewable energy plants or supporting the grid are challenges for getting energy to the load centres, and cause endlessly switching between collecting, storing, and delivering brownouts or blackouts. Grid operators rely on a tool called power as the needs of the grid and asset owner fluctuate. frequency regulation that enables energy storage to provide This process of fully charging and discharging a battery is the extra power and inertia needed to get the grid’s frequency referred to as battery cycling and is a delicate dance. Different back to a normal level. Energy storage systems are able to battery chemistries and devices have different operating monitor the electrical quality of the grid and detect frequency limits before they begin to degrade, including the number of anomalies in real-time, as well as respond to any deviations charge cycles a battery can handle in its lifetime, the number with fast powers in both directions to quickly bring the grid it can handle in a day, and the depth of discharge. Pushing the back into balance. battery beyond these limits can shorten the battery’s lifespan. A 22 MW energy storage project connected to wind While commissioning a project, system operators perform farms in Cremzow, Germany, helps balance the German grid endurance testing to ensure that the system can handle the network by providing frequency regulation services through changing priorities and workflows it is designed to undertake. applications including primary control reserve (PCR) and This complements the battery manufacturer’s own endurance reactive power. The Primärregelleistung (PRL) market in testing. Machine learning-enabled software factors these Germany offers the grid fast-acting energy reserves. Whenever nuanced battery limitations into its computations as a first Wärtsilä’s GEMS software platform detects a critical frequency input. anomaly or system imbalance at the Cremzow site, the Once up and running, the software begins to optimise the software automatically triggers the battery system to dispatch system based on the device’s status and capacity. This also energy, delivering it within seconds. The main purpose of PCRs includes understanding the battery’s forecasted capacity. is to ensure the security of supply, and they are particularly For energy storage systems connected to renewable energy helpful in situations such as a power plant outage. Energy projects, the device’s capacity is largely a factor of weather, sources that participate in the PRL market must go through a since future sun and wind resources determine when the stringent qualification process and prove that they can provide battery will charge again. Once the algorithm understands the energy capacity in cases where other sources, such as variable amount of energy it is able to dispatch and when, the system renewable energy, need back-up. While PCRs act as back-up, can then consider other factors such as market signals. reactive power provides more local voltage support. Both applications require the battery to manage a state of charge An ear to the market in order to have capacity to offer. For example, software Grid operators are aware that they must implement measures can enable a contextual override to the batteries’ regular to keep the electrical grid sound if they are going to let more operations to ensure the system maintains the level of reserves renewable energy onto the network. Regions across the world it committed to in the PRL market. are developing many different types of incentives to activate A collaboration with Enel Green Power, ENERTRAG AG, energy storage and flexible energy generations for security Leclanché, and Wärtsilä, the Cremzow project and software and reliability in energy markets. These incentives and power platform also buys and sells energy on the 15 min. market, needs were once static and simple but are now becoming performing energy arbitrage. Energy arbitrage takes increasingly dynamic and subject to near-real-time changes. advantage of differing energy prices by storing energy until later when it is more valuable. It also helps avoid the issue of renewables curtailment, when wind or solar project operators are asked to scale back their output as renewables flood the system at the same time. Energy storage systems are undertaking smarter things Figure 2. Wärtsilä’s energy storage technology integrates with GEMS software to deliver powerful and reliable generation performance. under the umbrella


Figure 3. On the Caribbean island of Bonaire, Wärtsilä’s GEMS integrates and optimises a 6 MW energy storage solution with 13 wind turbines, providing island grid control.

of auto-bidding that are not only helping integrate more renewables but are also doing so in a way in which asset owners benefit from working together with grid operators. Each region has varying types of market bidding incentives. In the US state of California, grid operators procure the majority of their power needs and services on the day-ahead market – which means energy storage batteries bid pricing a day ahead of when the energy is needed or available. In contrast, Australian grid dispatch operators procure the majority of their markets in the real-time markets that operate at 5 min. intervals, and these bids are placed for the whole week.

Improving the algorithm The Caribbean island of Bonaire, part of the Netherlands Antilles, deployed a 6 MW energy storage project equipped with energy management software. The goal was to achieve extensive integration of renewable energy into the total electricity supply and a path to 100% renewable energy in the future. While microgrids on islands provide a simpler set of inputs in comparison to open markets in mainland areas such as Germany and California (US), this means they can also be constrained with less supply available given unexpected changes in customer energy demand. The Bonaire system was turned on in 2019 and has achieved significant wind energy usage improvement throughout the year.

The path to 100% renewables for Bonaire is an iterative process. The system leverages machine learning to better forecast load, based on historic data. It incorporates learnings from the system’s own experiences to better understand more nuanced and less predictable load changes. It then combines that knowledge with real-time data to come up with a forecast every 5 min. for the next 48 hr. The Bonaire system has a very high accuracy for load forecasts over the next 12 hr and more than 90% accuracy for load forecasts the 12 hr after that. For the Bonaire system, machine learning and energy storage are hard at work, not necessarily focused on applications such as energy arbitrage for the best economics, but on how to best harness wind and solar energy output to avoid relying on thermal generation as back-up. Customer-cited energy storage will play a key role as valuable grid assets to help manage the integration of renewables into the grid; however, energy storage projects must be able to manage the complexities of a more agile energy market through the use of smart, advanced computing technologies. The clean energy pioneers of yesterday were focused on steel, building wind turbines and solar panels and installing them across the globe. The energy pioneers of today are focused on software, integrating energy management and machine learning to make renewable energy security and reliability a present reality.



Sébastien Hita-Perona, General Manager ESS & Microgrids, Saft, France, explains how flexibility is an important factor for the energy storage system that the company is delivering for transmission grid operator RTE, as part of the RINGO project.



30.8 MWh energy storage system (ESS) is under construction at the Bellac substation for the French transmission grid operator RTE. The site is one of three being established under the RINGO project, which will test large-scale batteries as a way to relieve congestion on the transmission grid.

Building greater flexibility Managing peaks of generation capacity is becoming a major challenge for transmission grid operators during the energy transition. Society is moving away from centralised thermal power stations with a topdown flow of energy and towards renewable energy that is distributed around the grid. Renewable generation plants are often located towards the edge of the power grid, where the wind and sun resources are rich but the grid is often ‘weak’ and has limited capacity to accommodate the full capacity of wind or solar farms. The traditional approach would be to invest in high voltage transmission lines and new or upgraded substations. However, this option is a costly way to manage peak periods that might last for just a few minutes. Instead, RTE is exploring energy storage as a more flexible alternative.

A market-neutral approach Normally, operators can manage peaks of production with peak shaving. In this mode, an ESS will store energy at times of peak production, when

the market price is low. It will then release it later when demand has picked up and the price is high. However, RTE is a regulated utility and has a mission for public service. Because of this, it may not interfere in competitive electricity markets by affecting the price or availability of energy. Rather than simple peak shaving, RTE developed a new concept for RINGO, where energy storage systems at different sites around France will store and release energy simultaneously. This ensures variable renewables are used to their full potential – in other words, curtailment is avoided. It also overcomes possible bottlenecks in the transmission infrastructure, without affecting the net amount of power on the grid at any time. At an early stage in the RINGO project, Saft provided RTE with advice on the possible functionalities of energy storage and their role on the grid. The goal was to help RTE evaluate an ESS solution that was advanced and forward-looking, while being technically and economically feasible.

Substations Under the RINGO project, RTE has focused on three substations in areas of France that are rich in renewable energy. Due to its public service mission as the French transmission system operator, the company saw an opportunity to develop the country’s energy storage industry and appointed three French businesses or consortia to deliver the new storage facilities.



Saft is working with its project partner Schneider Electric at the Bellac substation in the Haute-Vienne region of western France, which produces a significant amount of solar energy. Saft and Schneider Electric have a long track record of working together in partnership on several R&D demonstrator and commercial projects. These include the VENTEEA project for French distribution operator Enedis, as well as a contract to deliver ESS for two solar plants in Corsica for Langa Group. Schneider is supplying the AC/DC power converters, transformers, and protection and control equipment. Saft is delivering a lithium-ion (Li-ion) ESS based on 2.5 MWh standard, containerised building blocks. Saft’s containers are developed entirely in-house, including thermal management, safety management, and control systems. Saft started work on-site in January 2020, with power-up scheduled for January 2022. The ESS is housed in self-contained 20 ft shipping containers that are fully assembled and tested in Saft’s facility in Bordeaux, France, and will be delivered to site at Bellac ready to plug and play.

Substation locations The second substation receiving an ESS with 10 MW power and 30.2 MWh from Blue Solutions and ENGIE Solutions is located in Ventavon in the Hautes-Alpes region of south-east France, which

is also rich in solar energy. The site is due for commissioning in July 2021. At the final site of Vingeanne in Cote d’Or, eastern France, Nidec ASI is supplying a 12 MW power and 37 MWh energy capacity solution. This region has a high penetration of wind energy and RTE plans to start experimental operations in March 2021. All three consortia worked on similar specifications from RTE, although they were adapted to suit local conditions. RTE wanted to ensure good value for its customers, therefore it put in place highly demanding specifications in terms of functionality and performance guarantees. In addition, it ran a lifecycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of its new facilities from cradle to grave.

Simultaneously storing and releasing energy The RINGO project will establish battery systems that work together to relieve congestion on the grid. To illustrate the need for this approach, consider a typical city with a peak demand of 130 MW. Although this can be matched by the generating capacity of a nearby wind farm, the existing transmission lines are limited to 100 MW. By installing an ESS at either end of this grid bottleneck, the operator can store 30 MW upstream at the same time as releasing 30 MW into the city. Once peak demand has subsided, the upstream ESS can release power down the transmission line to the ESS in the city. However, if a network of ESS substations was deployed, RTE could use them flexibly depending on renewable energy production and demand. For example, at times of high solar production in Haute-Vienne but low wind in Cote d’Or and overcast weather in Hautes-Alpes, the Bellac site could absorb 10 MW while Vingeanne and Ventavon release 2 MW and 8 MW respectively.

The trend towards high energy

Figure 1. The ESS has the flexibility to provide energy over long and short durations.

Figure 2. Saft and Schneider Electric worked together to deliver ESS for two solar plants in Corsica for Langa Group.


The Bellac site is capable of storing up to 30.8 MWh and a power rating of 10 MW. This is equivalent to the production of five wind turbines or the demand from a town of 10 000 people. It is one of the first deployments of Saft’s Intensium® Max 20 High Energy (HE) containerised ESS. This was launched in 2019 to meet the growing demand for solutions to provide energy over long durations, typically several hours. This is an example of how energy storage is changing. The first generation of grid-connected energy storage had the primary role of frequency regulation. This requires a battery to act fast to inject and absorb energy to help the grid operator maintain a stable frequency within closely defined limits. It requires a battery system with high power capability over a short duration, typically of a few seconds. This creates a ‘little and often’ pattern of cycles, which is ideal for preserving long life, as battery life is closely related to the depth of discharge (DOD) and charge cycles. However, the RINGO project and other energy storage applications require greater energy storage capacity over a longer duration. The most energy-intensive example would be power shaping, where an ESS could absorb the entire daytime output of a solar plant and deliver that energy throughout the evening and morning demand peaks in the same way as a baseline power station.

Handling multiple use cases At the Bellac substation, Saft’s engineers sized the ESS to provide 10 MW power for two hours, although it is also capable of delivering up to 20 MW of peak power under alternative future use cases. Within this capacity, the company has taken account of the AC/DC conversion efficiency and included some reserve capacity to allow for the ageing of the battery, as well as for cases when the battery may not be fully charged at the beginning of a duty cycle. With DOD being an important consideration for battery ageing, Saft has designed the system to have a variable DOD from as little as a few percent up to a maximum of 70% of its capacity in a single cycle. It is not as simple as saying that a battery can be specified for deep cycling or has a deep cycling advantage over other batteries of the same type. Therefore, Saft focuses on helping customers such as RTE to optimise the lifetime of batteries in deep cycling applications. This means adopting the best operational strategy to take account of the ageing mechanisms of the electrochemistry. Saft has an advantage in understanding these factors as it develops and manufactures Li-ion cells, modules, and systems using its own chemical blends in various industrial markets. The Bellac site is scheduled for energisation in May 2021 and is due to enter service in October 2021. RTE will test different operational modes over a three-year trial period. During this time, the operator will fine tune the system and gain practical insight. After the experiment ends in 2024/2025, RTE will cede the use of the batteries to third-party investors, who will be able to use them to provide services such as frequency regulation, grid balancing, and energy arbitrage. The system is flexible enough to handle many scenarios, including multiple charge and discharge cycles in a single day over its entire state of charge (SOC). It can also provide a fast changeover from charge to discharge, which is essential for frequency response. During its life, Saft will provide support in the form of extended warranties and uptime guarantees. The company’s team will provide training, spares, monitoring and technical phone support, as well as performing maintenance and repairs independently and in collaboration with RTE’s own maintenance teams.

do not experience ‘SOC drift’, which is a term that describes a discrepancy between the real SOC and the SOC logged by the control system. For this reason, Saft introduced its new CUBE control system, which can manage up to 52 parallel battery strings feeding a single power converter. Even though it is electrically connected to multiple containers, the power converter sees them all as a single battery. The control system can also allow operators to isolate a single string for maintenance while the other strings remain in operation. This provides redundancy and high system availability.

Figure 3. A typical Saft energy storage system.

Flexible architecture The other aspect of flexibility is that the solution at Bellac could be deployed at other RTE sites. It has been designed in three branches, being made up of three transformers, each of which is served by two power converters and four battery containers. Each branch is identical, with the containers housing identical arrangements of battery cells, a battery management system, thermal management, and safety systems. In theory, RTE or another owner could change the configuration or put an ESS on the back of a truck and move it to another site.

Control is the key to scaling up Essentially, operators can use ESS containers as a building block to create large-scale systems of up to 100 MW. However, as systems become more complex, they need sophisticated control systems to ensure optimal charging and balance. This optimises the availability of energy and ensures that all battery strings are maintained at the same SOC and that they

Figure 4. Saft energy storage systems are integrated into standard 20 ft shipping containers. Image courtesy of BELCO.




he UK lockdown has caused drastic chan everyday lives, from the way in which peo work, and even how they consume electr Many had predicted that lockdown re would have caused a rise in energy consumption the vast increase in home workers that are consu separate energy in their homes, compared to a s office. However, recent figures released by the UK Grid demonstrate that daily electricity demand in approximately 10% lower and peak demand is do compared to pre-lockdown figures.1 The UK Natio has associated this drop in demand with the com or vast reduction in production from industrial co such as non-essential manufacturers. Alongside this, the peak demand times have a significantly. Peaks in the morning were normally correlation with people getting up ready for work


nges to ople shop, ricity. egulations n due to uming shared K National n the UK is own by 18% onal Grid mplete halt onsumers,

Jordan Appleson, Hark, UK, explains how the COVID-19 lockdown highlighted the benefits of battery storage and IoT in creating UK grid stability.

altered y in k, but with



Figure 1. A high level of power generation and low demand could overload local energy grids and reduce the resilience of the energy systems to sudden changes in frequency, causing blackouts.

a predominantly home-based workforce, this peak has moved to much later in the day. Many may assume that lower demand would be better for the grid, but it is just as important to monitor lower demand as it is to monitor peaks. A high level of power generation and low demand could overload local energy grids and reduce the resilience of the energy systems to sudden changes in frequency, causing blackouts. As a result, stabilising the grid is more vital than ever.

Balancing supply and demand Battery storage is an integral part of stabilising supply. Batteries are able to store additional generation during lower

demand and release at peak times. They are extremely flexible, providing fast-acting supply and demand balance to the network, which is critical to maintaining consistent frequency for grid stability. Batteries can be connected directly to the National Grid and automatically charged or discharged in response to frequency variations, helping the grid to maintain control. With such drastic changes to peak demand times and consumption dropping below baseload, it is important for the grid to rely on agile technology such as batteries to avoid any dips in voltage and subsequent blackouts. With the cost of energy storage batteries being driven down, it is becoming increasingly more realistic for industries to utilise them. This adoption not only helps balance the supply and demand of the grid but helps businesses become more self-sufficient and manage their own supply with additional monetary benefits. Batteries open up the door to demand side response (DSR), so businesses can also receive payments from the National Grid for participating and helping to stabilise the grid. That is not all; batteries have the potential to save businesses thousands each year on their utility bills.

Smart building deployment

Figure 2. The Bright Building, Manchester Science Park, UK.


Energy consumption in commercial buildings accounts for a huge proportion of the UK’s total consumption. The Bright Building ran by Manchester Science Partnerships is a perfect example of how battery storage provides greater energy control to improve efficiency and a consistent supply of generation. The 70 000 ft2 office hosts tech incubators

from across the region and it has invested in a commercial Tesla battery. Its powerpack system has been installed with four powerpacks and one inverter, making a flexible and scalable battery system with the potential to add up to 16 additional powerpacks. This enables it to store energy to take its building off-grid during peak demand and benefit from DSR. The battery powers the entire building each day during triad periods, saving thousands in utility bills but also taking demand off the National Grid. Alongside this, the Tesla powerpack can ensure a continuous supply of energy in case of a power outage, kicking in in less than one second (a vast improvement over industry norms of 30 min.), so there is no crucial loss of power to the high-tech equipment that is stored inside the building. To improve productivity, Manchester Science Partnerships integrated Internet of Things (IoT) technology throughout the entire building and in the battery itself. Implementing a real-time energy analytics and asset performance IoT platform opens the door to monitoring the stability of the asset and indicates any issues earlier, but also brings in the possibility of automation. The battery can be charged and discharged based on the energy market and provides more visual insight into how it is operating over time, meaning it can be automatically controlled to achieve optimal efficiency. The battery pack is now automatically controlled to be discharged during triad periods (5.00 pm - 8.00 pm), releasing energy back into the grid and avoiding costly triad charges, and then is recharged during off-peak times (2.00 am - 4.00 am). This automated process means Manchester Science Partnerships can simultaneously benefit from DSR and avoid costly energy bills. In the future, The Bright Building could go one step further and become an energy island where they could be entirely selfsufficient without any reliance on the National Grid.

Reactive renewables Over the years, the UK’s power generation mix has become increasingly reliant on renewable sources. According to Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab, between 10 March ‑ 10 April 2020, renewables delivered almost half (46%) of generation – an increase of 8% compared to 2019.2 However, due to the intermittent nature of renewables, they bring with them volatility. Their supply is highly dependent on environmental factors, for example, if it is not windy then wind turbines will not turn. That is why it is integral for wind farms and solar fields to integrate IoT and battery storage to create a more consistent supply of energy. IoT already plays a major role in wind farms and solar fields to enable efficiency and automation. IoT helps connect various elements of power production and consumption to gain visibility and ultimately control over energy flow. Sensor-based technology can look into weather conditions and asset health, each of which can optimise energy generation. For example, sensors can monitor the health of a wind turbine and an IoT platform can highlight when issues occur, so engineers can conduct predictive maintenance to keep wind turbines operating efficiently and ensure they are consistently producing sufficient energy levels.

Figure 3. It is integral for wind farms and solar fields to integrate IoT and battery storage to create a more consistent supply of energy.

The lockdown has called for greater flexibility, and that is where IoT can help the grid cope with the changes in fluctuations. The automation and control capabilities of IoT means wind farms can be powered down quickly to avoid overwhelming the grid, unlike nuclear power reactors that can take hours to shut down safely, forcing the grid into emergency procedures. So, when generation is superseding demand, the supply can automatically be powered down or placed into an off-grid situation to protect the grid from an overflow.

Wind farms Envision Energy, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, has already begun integrating IoT and developing an analytics platform to improve efficiency across all of its turbines. The company’s smart wind farm monitors each asset individually via sensors, examining performance and indicating any issues so that predictive maintenance can be conducted. The integration of this technology has led to the prognostic health management of the turbines, which has increased production by 10% and reduced operating and maintenance costs by 20%. These improvements have led to a more seamless supply of energy. This continuous monitoring also means that accurate power forecasts can be produced and fed back into the grid. If the grid was able to gain more accurate production forecasts from their renewable suppliers, it would be able to manage the energy supply more effectively and predict when dips and spikes may occur. It would use alternative resources or storage capabilities during these dips, helping to maintain a seamless supply to the end consumer overall. Utilising cutting-edge technology like virtual batteries and IoT can create a more fluid energy generation system that is highly reactive and, most importantly, more resilient. With drastic changes to energy consumption and unpredictable times ahead, it is integral to use innovative solutions that will ultimately keep countries running.

References 1.


Reuters, ‘Lockdown knocks UK daily electricity demand by 10% - grid,’ article/uk-britain-energy/lockdown-knocks-uk-daily-electricity-demand-by-10-grididUKKBN21I205 Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab,




he potential of green public procurement (GPP) for facilitating the energy transition from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (RES) is widely acknowledged. It is also evident that the exploitation of this potential is far from being fully developed. In order to overcome this problem, Horizon 2020 project XPRESS is organising co-creation workshops to bring together cities and enterprises across Europe. Public authorities all across Europe consider lowering their greenhouse gas emissions by using RES as a very high priority in their political agendas. More specifically, the 10 000 European local governments that have adhered to the Covenant of Mayors have committed themselves to lowering their CO2 emissions by 40% within the end of the year 2030. Even if municipalities are only responsible for 2 - 3% of emissions in their territories, their climate emergency actions are highly visible, especially those focused on renewable energy solutions. In early March 2020, in its co-creation workshop in Frankfurt/ Main, Germany, the XPRESS project discussed the case of a


tender launched by a provider of green electricity for the Marburg Biedenkopf county in Germany – which comprises 22 small and medium sized towns. “The goal was simple,” says Björn Kajewski, the climate protection and energy manager of the county, “buying reliably certified electricity with zero CO2 emissions would result in boosting the production of renewables while committing to low administrative efforts and costs.” In total, 14 of these local administrations decided to co-operate by launching a public procurement tender, buying 15 500 MWh/y of certified electricity deriving from renewables, avoiding the emission of 8000 tpy of CO2. “The overall administrative effort was reduced by the collaboration across towns, which also allowed smaller towns, who normally would not have been able to manage public procurement on their own, to benefit from taking part in the tender.” In Kajewski’s opinion, the remaining eight towns did not take part in this advantageous tender because of barriers such as demanding tender criteria, long running time for the contracts, and lengthy procedures related

Paola Zerilli (University of York, UK), KarlLudwig Schibel (Climate Alliance, Italy), and Riccardo Coletta (Agency for the Promotion of European Research, Italy), XPRESS Consortium, describe the need for collaboration between public authorities and SMEs to remove the barriers to green public procurement.


to the collaboration among procurement offices across the administrations involved. The example of Marburg county shows that some of the barriers to public procurement are perceived rather than actual. The 14 cities within the Marburg Biedenkopf county agreed to give power of attorney to a single representative, showing actual willingness to co-operate and trust in the procedure. This is trust that can be built and consolidated through the dissemination of good practices. Recently, Mr. Sergio Zabot from Milan Politecnico highlighted the case of the Metropolitan City of Venice which succeeded to aggregate 16 medium and small cities and towns, all signatories of the Covenant of Mayors, to form a critical mass for retrofitting their public lighting and 101 of their public buildings while installing RES technologies. The procedure, performance contracting with guaranteed results, and third-party financing, was carried out by the Metropolitan City of Venice, which took benefit from the technical assistance and financial support provided by the European Investment Bank through the European Local ENergy Assistance (ELENA) programme for the elaboration of the tender, including energy audits and the definition of the economic and financial strategies. The results are remarkable, including 420 m2 of thermal solar collectors in 26 schools, 200 kW photovoltaic panels, 23 heat pumps, together with 42 600 m2 of insulated roofs, ceilings and building envelopes, and 3800 m2 of highly insulated windows. According to Mr. Zabot, expert in public procurement in the energy field in Italy, the case of the Metropolitan City of Venice is not yet common practice in Italy because public procurers are unaware of the substantial technical costs related to these RES projects. These costs can account for 3% of the total cost, simply because of the complexity of technical, economic, and legal issues related to the whole tender process. The ELENA programme – which finances 90% of these costs – has achieved a lot to change this perception, but there is still significant progress needed.

Barriers to green public procurement Useful information on barriers to GPP for both small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and public administrations was collected by the XPRESS team during the first three policy co-creation workshops in Odense, Bratislava, and Braga. In Odense (Denmark), Martin Dietz, Architect of SolarLighting, discussed several barriers that he has experienced with public procurement. Mr. Dietz focused on the concept of risk sharing where local authorities transfer financial and technical risk in procurement directly to the SMEs. Mr. Dietz presented a specific example in explaining this barrier. In a procurement case in the Aarhus Kommune, two schools launched a procurement for solar roof panels where the procurers were not sure whether the roof could support the solar panels. This risk was not accounted for in the tender documents and therefore it was exclusively taken by the SME who won the bid and discovered the problem only after the contract award procedure. When risks are too high, only large firms are able to face them effectively. This is a clear barrier against SME participation in public procurement. Sharing these risks with the public procurers would be a possible way for the SMEs to overcome these barriers. A similar case has been presented in Bratislava (Slovakia) by Mr. Matúš Škvarka from the Association CITY-ENERGO, an energy expert for renewable energy sources.


Mr. Škvarka presented a project for the construction of e-mobility infrastructures in the city of Trnava. He mentioned several problems in the implementation of RES technologies. For example, with solar panels, there was a problem with the structural soundness of the buildings as old roofs would not bear the weight of the panels. The private sector identified several additional barriers to GPP. In Braga (Portugal), Maria Ramalho from Grupo Casais and Catarina Marques, Empresa Ampere Energy do Grupo Casais, pointed out that the information presented in public tenders is often not exhaustive. To mitigate this barrier, Ms. Ramalho proposes a set of possible solutions: >> Centralised information with easy access, and the creation of guidelines for green procurements that include entry criteria and all the useful information for potential tenderers. >> A clear explanation of technical details, including the definition of which materials could be used in the building (recycled materials) and the construction phases. >> State-of-the-art with a correct alignment of energy, tax and financial policies, such as the passive construction principle. According to Mr. Jacob Brandt, from SMV (Denmark), some solutions, mitigation proposals, and actions are currently implemented by local authorities – as presented in the Odense workshop. Only recently, the Copenhagen Municipality had a consultant company telling them that, for the municipality, electric cars are cheaper than ordinary cars. However, on the market, an electric car in Denmark costs approximately 50 000 kr (US$8000) more than a diesel car. The difference could be due to the lower lifecycle costs (LCCs) related to electric vehicles. Unfortunately, for the time being in the EU, a valid calculation method for lifecycle costs is missing. It would be helpful to have a standardised method for computing them. Another potential barrier is the certification requirement and the costs related to the certification in order for SMEs to be able to participate in public procurement. It is very difficult to understand whether SMEs would face recurrent certification costs and whether they would be able to afford them in the long run. During the open discussion in the Odense workshop, it was highlighted that another potential barrier to the participation of SMEs to GPPs is the certification requirements. It is very difficult to understand whether SMEs would face recurrent certification costs and whether they would be able to afford them in the long run. In this article, XPRESS presented only a selection of the most relevant cases and obstacles encountered by European public procurers and SMEs working in the RES sector. Pinning down the most challenging barriers to innovation in RES within public buildings and transportation, and being inspired by success stories in this field, are only the initial steps towards a more sustainable environment which the XPRESS project aims for. The project will continue over the next two years to facilitate the collaboration between public authorities and innovative SMEs and, by doing so, will contribute to the removal of barriers to green public procurement.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 857831.

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