Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: Pipelines, Grids, and Solar Farms

The US Department of Energy is planning the country’s largest solar power initiative, while hydrogen and carbon dioxide pipelines spread around the world and ADNOC bets on hydrogen.

Solar Panels in Dim Light
Source: Pixelci/Getty Images

The Department of Energy announced its intention to use 70,000 acres across five states to develop the largest US solar power and other clean energy initiatives. The land, once the site where components for Cold War era atomic bombs were developed, includes parts of Washington, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina, and New Mexico. “These sites are all safe now. They are completely clean and ready for redevelopment,” US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at an event at her department’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

BrightNight Lights Up Kentucky
One of the nation’s largest coal mines in southeastern Kentucky soon will be home to a solar installation capable of producing 800 MW by 2030. BrightNight’s plan for the area, the former Starfire mine, includes solar panel coverage of 7,000 acres, with construction set to begin in 2027. Rivian, an electric vehicle startup, has signed on as BrightNight’s first customer, with a 100 MW power purchase agreement.

FERC Speeds Up Project Development
Proposals to speed up the connection of new power projects to the electric grid were approved by US regulators in late July. More than 2,000 GW of renewable energy is currently waiting to be hooked up to the power grid. “This rule is a major first step in our journey to addressing transmission reform,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Acting Chairman Willie Phillips said in a recent news release. The transmission reform comes as long waits for transmission interconnection are causing growing backlogs of requests from wind and solar energy developers.

Indonesia Sees CCS Development
Pertamina, Indonesia’s state energy company, signed four agreements with Mubadala Energy, Japan Petroleum Exploration Company, the Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security, and POSCO International to study and explore potential developments of carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities in the country, according to Reuters. “Given the urgency of the situation, we need greater vision as well as a greater commitment to innovative, inclusive, and collaborative action, and we need it now,” said Pertamina chief executive Nicke Widywati. The agreements will allow the companies to explore potential collaborations in research and technology development of CCS as well as carbon capture, utilization, and storage in Indonesia.

EPA Focuses on Methane Emissions Reduction
The US government recently announced its intention to provide $1.55 billion in funding to monitor and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector including technical assistance for companies to rein in emissions of the planet-warming greenhouse gas from leaks and daily operations. “The amount of methane emitted from oil and gas operations is enough to fuel millions of homes a year and is a major driver of the climate crisis,” said Joe Goffman at the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. According to Reuters, states will get as much as $350 million through the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to help companies voluntarily identify and permanently reduce methane emissions from low-producing wells.

Wood’s Pipelines Stretch Across US
Wood has announced it will be delivering concept and front-end engineering and design studies for nearly 2,000 miles of onshore low-carbon pipelines in North America, according to a news release from the company. The company announced it will also expand the United States’ network of hydrogen pipelines by a third and will add nearly 1,000 miles to carbon capture pipeline networks across North America.

Spain Set To Receive New Green Hydrogen Project
Fusion Fuel will be teaming up with a Spanish industrial partner to enter into a long-term green hydrogen offtake contract. The partnership centers on a 2.5 MW green hydrogen project in Toledo, Spain, that Fusion Fuel said it plans to develop in 2024. “We are excited to announce this agreement with a fellow pioneering company in the green hydrogen energy transition, in particular, because this project involves the decarbonization of an off-grid project, an application for which our modular technology and decentralized approach is uniquely well-suited. We have highlighted our focus on emergent use-cases for hydrogen, but, for us to move the needle in decarbonization, we also need to address legacy industrial segments as well,” Javier Esteban, CEO of Fusion Fuel Spain said in a statement.

ADNOC Aims for Hydrogen
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced that it has begun construction on the Middle East’s first high-speed hydrogen refueling station. The station, which is being built in the Masdar City community of Abu Dhabi, will create clean hydrogen from water, using an electrolyzer powered by clean grid electricity. “Hydrogen will be a critical fuel for the energy transition, helping to decarbonize economies at scale, and it is a natural extension of our core business,” ADNOC group chief executive Sultan al-Jaber said in a statement.

New Pipeline Set to Connect Greece and Bulgaria
DESFA, a Greece-based gas grid operator, has announced its plan to build hydrogen pipeline valued at $1.12 billion to connect Greece to Bulgaria. The pipeline is planned to extend more than 330 miles and is expected to be part of a European corridor that will tap into large quantities of available solar and wind energy to connect regions with high potential for hydrogen production with central Europe and southern Germany, according to Reuters.

New Solar Panel Facility Brightens Minnesota
Heliene, a Canadian solar panel maker, will expand its US manufacturing operations with the development of a new factory in Minnesota that will produce both modules and cells. The facility is expected to cost an estimated $145 million to construct and is planned to be based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. CEO Martin Pochtaruk said the new facility is expected to have an annual capacity of 1 GW of modules and 1.5 GW of cells.

Giant Wind Turbines Hit Switzerland
Switzerland’s renewable energy just got a huge boost thanks to the addition of six giant wind turbines in the Swiss town of Sainte-Croix on the French border. The turbines, measuring 456 ft from the base to the tip of the blades, were assembled by Germany’s Enercon. They will be operated by Swiss utility Romande Energie and are expected to be able to meet the energy needs of 6,100 households—or the entire energy consumption of Sainte-Croix, including its industries—according to Reuters.

Energy Dome Reaches New Funding Goals
Italian renewable energy storage firm Energy Dome recently announced it raised $60 million in Series B financing. The Milan-based company’s storage system is based on turning CO2 gas into a liquid and vice versa, which it says is cost-effective, according to Reuters. The increase in financing comes from Oman’s sovereign wealth fund and Dutch multinational Vopak.

BOEM Ready for Auction in Gulf of Mexico
The Department of the Interior announced it will hold the first offshore wind energy lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, advancing the Biden/Harris administration’s efforts to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and reach a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will be auctioning off the areas at the end of the month, with the development having the potential to generate approximately 3.7 GW and power almost 1.3 million homes with clean, renewable energy.