Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: Turbine Troubles, Whistleblowers, and Lagging Progress

Colorado and the Gulf Coast prepare for new facilities; Chile sets out to tackle its carbon dioxide emissions; and Egypt announces plans for the largest wind farm in the world.

Workers standing on wind turbine in rural landscape
Source: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Siemens Announces Major Problems With Wind Turbines
Siemens Energy has announced that quality problems at its wind turbine unit will take years to fix, wiping a third off its market value. Addressing the issues will cost nearly $1.09 billion as the company reported flaws in rotor blades and bearings that could cause damage ranging from small cracks to component failures that would lead to the components needing to be replaced.

University Researchers Tackle Old Turbines
Engineering researchers at the University of Edinburgh have received a grant of more than $138,000 from renewables investor Greencoat UK Wind to develop their innovative wind turbine recycling process. The researchers’ work includes developing a technique to turn old wind turbine blades into powders that could be used to protect engineering and structural components, including new wind turbine blades.

US Seeking Carbon Fraud Whistleblowers
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced it is seeking tips from whistleblowers on potential violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) connected to fraud in carbon markets. “Information from whistleblowers advances the Commission’s enforcement mission and, in turn, further builds integrity and trust in the carbon markets by rooting out fraud and manipulation,” CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam said in a statement.

Report Cites Lack of Progress in Energy Transition
REN21’s release of its Renewables 2023 Global Status Report indicates that, while the share of renewable energy in global power generation hit 30% last year after record growth in solar, progress is lacking when it comes to decarbonizing the heat and fuel sectors. “What we are currently witnessing is a power transition rather than an energy transition, as most policies and regulations have mainly focused on developing renewables in the power sector,” said Rana Adib, REN21’s executive director. “There are 179 countries with renewable power targets—only 46 have renewable heat targets and 49 renewable fuel targets,” she added.

IRENA Calls for Diversified Investments
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released in its 2023 outlook that investment on energy transition is currently too focused on few technologies and countries. They’ve called for higher and more diversified investment both by states and private investors. “Greater volumes of funding need to flow to other energy transition technologies such as biofuels, hydropower, and geothermal energy as well as to sectors beyond power such as heating and transport,” the report said.

Colorado Set To Receive Solar Energy Facility
Indian solar panel maker Vikram Solar recently announced it will invest up to $1.5 billion in the US solar energy supply chain, beginning with a factory in Brighton, Colorado, next year. The newly formed company, VSK Energy, will leverage India’s extensive solar manufacturing knowledge in the US push to build a clean energy manufacturing sector to compete with China, according to Reuters. The $250 million facility will create more than 900 jobs and be capable of producing 2 GW of modules a year initially, with plans to double that amount.

Gulf Coast Region Prepares for Blue Ammonia Facility
Norway’s Yara and BASF have announced a joint venture into developing and building a low-carbon blue ammonia production facility in the US Gulf coast region. A feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of this year for a plant with a total capacity of 1.2 million–1.4 million tons per year.

BlackRock Sets Hefty Fundraising Goal
BlackRock has announced its goal of raising up to $7 billion for its fourth Global Renewable Power Fund. The fund, focused on projects in countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, could invest across wind and solar as well as other clean technologies such as batteries and grid infrastructure. “You have folks now that are really trying to focus their portfolio construction around the different subsectors in infrastructure,” said David Giordano, BlackRock’s global head of climate infrastructure.

Carbon MRV in Agriculture Takes Center Stage
Arable has announced a joint initiative with Shell International Exploration and Production, supported by HabiTerre and Quanterra Systems, to deliver a high-trust, low-cost carbon measurement and verification system that would advance sustainable farming practices, as reported by Business Wire. The project is set to launch in Brazil and is reported to reduce complexity and increase reliability of carbon monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) in agriculture.

Equinor Invests in Renewables …
Equinor is among six European companies investing in projects worth a total of $929.27 million in South Korea, spanning areas such as batteries and renewable energy. Imerys, Umicore, Continental, Nylacast, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners are the remaining investors.

… and Makes Solar Strides in Poland
Equinor’s second Polish solar plant, in Zagórzyca, has started test production. The 60 MW Zagórzyca solar plant is in the Damnica municipality in the north of Poland. “Today, we inaugurate our second solar plant Zagórzyca, doubling our solar capacity in Poland to around 120 MW. Our first solar plant, Stępień, is already in commercial production, and another one, Lipno, will be commissioned in 2024. We are also maturing other opportunities within onshore renewables and battery storage in Poland, in line with our market-driven power producer strategy,” said Olav Kolbeinstveit, senior vice president for onshore and markets within renewables at Equinor.

Plenitude Wraps Up Production of Battery Plant in Italy
Plenitude, the renewable and retail division of energy group Eni, recently announced the completion of its first utility-scale battery plant in Italy. The plant is near the town of Assemini in the south of Sardinia and has an installed capacity of 15 MW and an energy storage capacity of 9 MW-h.

Chile Aims To Tackle Carbon Dioxide Emissions
The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a $400 million loan to develop Chile’s green hydrogen industry, as reported by Reuters. Funding from the loan will go toward financing projects in the industry, developing domestic demand, and training and research. Chile currently holds the highest rate of carbon dioxide emissions per capita among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Egypt Announced as Future Site of Onshore Wind Farm
Madsar, Infinity Power, and Hassan Allam Utilities are teaming up to secure land to build a 10 GW capacity onshore wind farm in Egypt, set to be one of the largest in the world, with a project value of over $10 billion. The wind project is expected to produce 47,790 GW-h of clean energy per year and reduce around 9% of Egypt’s annual carbon emissions by displacing 23.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Japan Looks Toward Energy Transition Expansion
Investment management company Aquila Capital has secured a $21.5 million loan from Japan’s Ashikaga Bank for a solar power project in Japan’s Chiba district. Japan, which aims to have 36–38% of its electricity come from renewable sources by the end of this decade, is relying on the expansion of wind and solar power and battery storage among other things to help reach this goal.

Engie Plans Big To Export to South Korea
Engie, a French energy company, was awarded a land parcel in Oman, according to Reuters. The land parcel is the first step toward its plan to build an integrated renewable ammonia plant and export 1.2 million tons of the green fuel to South Korea by the mid-2030s. The nearly $7 billion project is estimated to produce 5 GW of new wind and solar power, batteries, an electrolyzer producing 200,000 tons of hydrogen each year, and dedicated hydrogen pipelines to bring the gas to an ammonia production plant near the port of Duqm.