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Green Globe: Vattenfall wins world's first zero-subsidy tender for offshore wind

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Vattenfall has said it is investing €1.5 billion in wind power through 2018, part of a strategic plan to further its presence in the renewable energy market.
Associated Press

Vattenfall AB won the Netherlands' first subsidy-free tender for two offshore wind leases — the first such project in the world — earning praise and skepticism from industry players.

The Sweden-based state utility announced on March 19 that it has won the permit to build the twin Hollandse Kust Zuid offshore wind farms, each with 350 MW of capacity. The project, to be completed by 2022 per auction rules, will be the world's first offshore wind farm to be developed and built without a direct subsidy from the government.

The levelized cost of electricity from offshore wind has declined steadily, particularly in more established European markets where the first projects were built more than 20 years ago. According to industry group WindEurope, zero subsidy means the wind farms will sell the electricity wholesale rather than relying on a government-supported revenue-stabilization scheme that guarantees a certain level of return for the project. As part of the tender, the Dutch government will underwrite the transmission lines bringing power from the wind farms to shore, minimizing some of the project risk.

"This news shows zero-subsidy bids are possible for some developers in some markets not least where governments take on and manage a share of the project risk," WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said. "In this instance the Dutch government taking care of the grid connection is a significant factor."

However, the news drew pushback from some renewable energy executives over the feasibility of subsidy-free tenders. During a March 20 panel at the Aurora Spring Forum at Oxford University, Scottish Power chief executive Keith Anderson said the industry "has become obsessed with talking about becoming 'subsidy-free.'"

"Everything has some form of support," he said, according to The Energyst. "If you think we are going build a £2.5 billion offshore wind farm in the U.K. at market risk, you're bonkers."

A British billionaire has received a A$10 million loan from South Australia's government to build the world's most powerful battery. The Australian Financial Review reports that Sanjeev Gupta, the founder of industrial and metals company Liberty House Ltd, will start construction on a battery system sized from 120 MW to 140 MW later this year.

Gupta and his company's battery system would surpass Tesla Inc.'s 100-MW battery system at French developer Neoen S.A.S.'s Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia, which Tesla completed in November 2017. The cost of lithium-ion batteries is expected to fall from $200/KWh to about $100/KWh sometime in the early 2020s, according to a report on battery storage financing from Moody's.

The United Kingdom set a new power record on March 17, when wind turbines delivered 14 GW, or 37% of the U.K.'s electricity.

National Grid PLC confirmed on Twitter that wind generation reached 13.9 GW at 10 a.m. GMT, before hitting 14 GW later that day. According to The Independent, the previous record was 13.6 GW, recorded in January. Iain Staffell, a sustainable energy lecturer at Imperial College London, told The Independent that the increase came from higher wind speeds and a jump in installed capacity.

More than half of the U.K.'s electricity came from low-carbon energy sources for the first time in 2017, according to Carbon Brief.


* Enel SpA said it has started operations of its first solar project in Peru, a 180-MW power plant.

* JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. said the China-based company's plans to invest $50.5 million into a new panel manufacturing factory in Florida could be thwarted if the company does not receive an exemption from President Donald Trump's tariffs on solar panel material imports.

* Nearly three years after its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG is moving full speed ahead in its multi-billion dollar roll-out of electric vehicles.

* Canadian Solar Inc is working on selling assets that were initially designated for a yieldco, the solar panel maker and power plant developer said during its March 19 earnings call.

As of March 21, an Australian dollar equaled 77 U.S. cents, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence country economic data.

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