09 March, 2018

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Study urges caution around over-optimistic model predictions for renewable energy

A recent study by researchers at Imperial College London urges caution around over-optimistic models predicting the entire power system could run on renewables by 2050. These models do not often consider real-world challenges such as the importance of back-up, balancing services, and storage capacity in 100% intermittent renewable scenarios.

The Swedish state-owned utility company Vattenfall has announced plans to invest up to €100 million in solar plant developments over the next two years. The majority of the investment will be into utility-scale plants where existing infrastructure is present, such as the hybrid project at Parc Cynog wind farm in Wales.

Northern Powergrid has launched an initiative to utilise UK smart metering information to reduce losses and carbon emissions across its network. It is hoped the near-real-time data will help identify specific high loss areas that will benefit from targeted network reinforcement. However, ownership of and access to UK smart meter data is still unclear.

Energy supplier SmartestEnergy has contracted Origami Energy to manage its clients’ energy assets and consumption. The contract will allow SmartestEnergy to offer real-time flexible energy management services to realise the value of flexibility in customer consumption and generation. This move comes amid the recent Capacity Market results and its collapsing clearing price, which some commentators have argued is evidence of a higher value for flexibility in the market.

Microsoft has signed a PPA with Singapore’s largest clean energy provider Sunseap to acquire 100% of electricity generated from a 60MW solar portfolio that spans hundreds of rooftops across Singapore. It is Microsoft’s first clean energy deal in Asia and follows two big European deals signed last year in Ireland and the Netherlands.

GE Renewable Energy has unveiled the world’s largest offshore wind turbine. The Haliade-X is a 12MW turbine with a 220-metre rotor, capable of producing 45% more energy than any other offshore wind turbine currently available. The turbine will be capable of generating up to 67GWh annually, enough to power around 16,000 European households, and at 260 metres tall it is nearly twice the height of the London Eye.

Electric vehicles

An opinion piece in Forbes argues China is headed to become the first all-electric vehicle ecosystem, showing how the country continues to set new records for EV manufacturing and sales in addition to public charge point installations. China accounted for 5% of the global production of commercial EVs in 2017, including the conversion of Shenzhen’s entire bus fleet to battery EVs. China also lead the way in public charge point installations with 214,000 in place by the end of 2017.

The Indian government is promoting clean transportation through a pilot study of EV charge points located at Indian Railway stations in New Delhi. If the pilot study is successful, the model could be replicated across the country’s 7,000 stations, linking with the railway company’s plans to install up to 5GW of solar power.

UK company Pod Point has launched a 150kW ready rapid charger in anticipation of a new wave of electric vehicles with larger batteries and the need for faster charging. The charging technology has a modular design to allow units to expand from 50kW charging to 150kW+ at a later date, avoiding costly infrastructure upgrades.

Women in energy

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, GTM Research published an article written by members of its Grid Edge team, which is more than 50% female, on efforts to promote equality and diversity in the energy industry. The piece argues that different viewpoints across varying gender, race, and ethnicity identities will help propel grid modernization forward.

IEA Senior Energy Analyst Cecilia Tam published a commentary on the importance of gender diversity in the energy sector for the clean energy transition. Gender diversity is particularly important in the energy sector, which remains one of the least gender diverse, given the role that women play as drivers of innovative and inclusive solutions. To encourage more women to pursue careers in clean energy, the IEA recently established a new Fellowship programme to support the agency’s gender diversity strategy and its Clean Energy, Education and Empowerment Technology Collaboration Programme’s (C3E) activities.

Key business figures, including Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport and former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, have called for greater representation of women across the green energy sector, contributing to a new book which argues why tackling climate change and gender equality go hand in hand.

RenewableUK has pledged to ensure at least 30% of speakers, panellists, and chairs at its events are women. The trade association also announced plans to launch a crowd-sourced database of women working in the energy sector, named the Switch List. This tool compliments existing work around gender issues in energy, such as research by the campaign group POWERful Women, which has shown that 46% of the top 80 companies across the energy sector have all-male boards.