Renewable energy project monitor

Ian Stokes

Our regular column, written by the Energy Industries Council, reports on project development in the renewable energy marketplace. Here we look at developments in January and February 2013.

This article excerpt is taken from the March/April issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine. To register to receive a digital copy click here.

In January and February, 79 projects were added to EICDataStream across the global renewable energy sector, a marginal decrease of 6% in project numbers on the previous two months. However, the total potential investment value has dropped to US$25.9bn from US$68.2bn in November and December 2012.

EICDataStream tracks over 9890 major projects proposed or under development across the global energy industry. There are currently 1197 active renewables projects and a further 1198 projects proposed for future development in the database.

In January, 53 renewable energy projects were added to the database with a total potential investment value of US$19.9bn. Wind projects retain the largest market share globally of all renewables technologies, accounting for 75% of the total potential investment value of new projects; offshore wind represented 50% of proposed investments and onshore wind accounted for the other 25%. As per the continuing trend, solar projects follow next accounting for 15% of the total investment value of new renewable projects.

Scotland was a hotspot of activity, with 15 projects added to the database with a combined potential investment value of over US$1.6bn, all of which are onshore wind projects. Together the projects have a combined proposed capacity of 817MW.

A new entrant to the market, UK-based developer WilloWind, accounts for four of these projects: the Linfairn and Corwar wind farms in South Ayrshire; the Calla wind farm in South Lanarkshire; and the Mindork wind farm in Dumfries & Galloway. Planning applications have already been submitted for the Calla and Corwar projects, with plans for six 3MW turbines and eight 2MW turbines respectively. Scoping is currently taking place on the other two projects.

The US also saw a significant level of new project activity in January, with seven new projects worth a total potential investment value of US$1.75bn. The majority of these were onshore wind projects with five new projects worth a total potential investment value of US$1.5bn. However, of note is the Obama Administration's move towards building an offshore wind industry in the country, which is translating into some interesting projects for the renewables industry in the US.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is working with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to advance a national strategy for offshore wind research and development. As part of this, the DoE recently awarded a total of US$168mn funding over six years to seven Advanced Technology Demonstration projects, with the goal of achieving cost reductions through new technologies.

One of these is the Dominion Virginia Power-led Offshore Turbine Demonstration Facility project to design, develop, and install two 6MW direct-drive turbines and connect them to the grid. The project team proposes to install two Alstom 6MW turbines 22 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The turbines are mounted on an innovative ‘twisted jacket’, which offers the strength of traditional structures but uses substantially less steel.

US$5bn Fukushima proposal

Elsewhere, the other new renewable projects were distributed fairly evenly in terms of both geography and volumes across the globe. The largest project by value this month is the proposed Offshore Fukushima Wind Farm, at an estimated cost of US$5bn in Japan.

Early this year, Japan's Government put forward plans to build a 1GW wind farm 16km off the coast of Fukushima. Powered by up to 143 floating turbines, the wind farm is scheduled for start-up in 2018. The plans follow a floating turbine demonstration project backed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, that saw a 2MW floating wind turbine, the world's first 66kV floating power substation and undersea cable installed in the same region last year.

Renewable projects are on the increase in Japan as the country battles to replace lost nuclear capacity following the shutdown of nuclear reactors post-Fukushima. In January, two other renewable projects were announced: the Aichi Solar Power Plant (77MW) in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture; and the Aoyama-Kogen Wind Farm expansion (80MW) in the Mie Prefecture. The Aichi Solar Power Plant, jointly operated by Mitsubishi Corp and C-Tech, is set to be one of the largest solar projects in Japan.

Meantime, the Uruguayan Government recently announced ambitious plans to produce 90% of the country's electricity from renewables by 2015, equivalent to over 1GW installed capacity, and this month a further two onshore wind farms have been added to the database with a total installed capacity of 109MW. The Artigas wind farm will see installation of 28 Nordex turbines, while the Minas I wind farm will have 14 Vestas V112 3MW turbines installed on the project.

February announcements

In February, 26 renewable energy projects were added to EICDataStream with a total potential investment value of US$6bn. Onshore wind projects represented the largest share of renewable projects this month, both in terms of volume and value, and there were no new offshore wind projects.

There were 19 new onshore wind projects with a total potential investment value of US$3.8bn, representing 63% of the total potential investment in renewables projects in February. Of the remaining projects, hydroelectric accounted for the larger share with three new projects totalling a potential investment of US$1.4bn.

The hotspots of activity this month were Panama where eight projects (1GW) were added totalling US$2.3bn, Scotland with three projects (198MW) totalling US$401mn, and Chile with two projects (183MW) totalling US$405mn. There were also three projects added in India – a hydroelectric plant, a solar power project and a geothermal power plant – although the capacity of the geothermal plant is yet to be decided.

All eight of the projects in Panama are onshore wind projects, most of which are located in the central Coclé and Veraguas regions. Developers of four of these projects – La Colorada (80MW), El Aguila (200MW), Veraguas I (91MW) and Boquete (100MW) – are currently trying to secure licences from Asep, the Panamanian public services regulator, which is reviewing 13 provisional wind power generation licences. The most advanced of the projects in Panama is the Penonomé wind farm extensions, including the Nuevo Chagres (169MW), Marañón (18MW) and Portobelo (48MW) zones. The plans acquired the relevant approvals from the Panamanian authorities this month.

Developer GDF Suez featured prominently in February's activity, with the developer leading three projects with a potential total installed capacity of 195MW. Two of these are the Calama A and Calama B onshore wind farms in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile, and the other is a pilot tidal project in France.

In Chile E-CL, a subsidiary of GDF Suez, is developing the two Calama wind farms with a total planned capacity of 183MW. Chile's environmental evaluation service (SEA) has approved the Calama A project, which will feature 36 turbines with a capacity of 3MW each, while a regulatory decision on the Calama B project is expected imminently. Both farms propose to connect into Chile's northern SING power grid.

In France, GDF Suez plans to be a frontrunner in developing a marine renewables sector in the country, which has the second largest tidal power potential in Europe after the UK. The Raz Blanchard project, off the coast of Normandy in northern France, is one of two projects proposed by GDF Suez and its partners; the other is the Passage du Fromveur, south of the island of Ouessant off the Finistére coast in Brittany.

The Raz Blanchard site has France's strongest tidal current, alone accounting for 50% of the country's marine potential. In February, GDF Suez signed an industrial agreement with Cofely Endel, Voith Hydro, shipbuilder CMN and ACE to install 3 to 6 HyTide tidal turbines for the generation of up to 12MW electricity. Through the partnership agreement, the partners will collaborate on the construction, assembly and maintenance phases of the project, with installation scheduled for 2016. GDF Suez plans to use the pilot plant to inform the economic and technical viability of the technologies, with construction of a commercial scale plant deploying up to 100 turbines on the cards.

The solar industry in the UK continues to grow, and this month the Port of Milford Haven (PoMH) secured planning permission for its 5MW Liddeston Ridge solar array project, to be installed across 12.3 hectares of land in Hakin, Milford Haven. The project, with an estimated investment of US$12mn, will comprise of 20,000 solar photovoltaic panels, each generating around 250 watts.

The PoMH is currently seeking a contractor to carry out full planning, design, engineering, delivery, installation and commissioning for the PV plant. Construction is scheduled to start April, with grid connection expected in the summer.

The global renewables industry has remained healthy into the new year and this is set to continue. There are also signs that some countries are adding more renewable technologies to their matrices, resulting in new entrants to some technology areas. Despite a quiet month in February for the offshore wind industry, significant moves into this area by the US and Japan, along with developments in the UK's Round 3 programme, are likely to see significant project activity throughout the year and beyond.

About: Ian Stokes is chief executive of the EIC (Energy Industries Council).

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