Coronavirus outbreak: The legal implications
Companies globally are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, through both the labor market and their supply chain.
Hydrogen as an energy vector is back in fashion due to its potential to support the transition to a decarbonized energy system required to meet the emission reduction goals of the Paris Agreement. In its report, “The Future of Hydrogen” published in June 2019, the International Energy Agency (IEA) considers the potential role for hydrogen in energy systems. The IEA reports that the cost of electricity is the single most significant cost in electrolytic hydrogen production. Cheaper, low carbon power sources therefore represent an opportunity. Hydrogen made from renewable or low carbon electricity could help decarbonize those sectors that have been less amenable to electrification, such as transport and heating. Once produced, low-carbon hydrogen can be stored and transported, making it a more flexible energy vector than electricity.
The end uses for hydrogen are multiple and include applications in the industrial sector, transport and heating, as well as in the power sector. Near to medium term opportunities exist for low carbon hydrogen to reduce emissions in the production of ammonia for the fertilizer sector and by blending low carbon hydrogen with methane gas in existing gas networks. Applications also exist in the transport sector, in particular in the heavy-duty road vehicle market segment, although technology cost reductions and the development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure will be important to its adoption at scale. In the power sector, hydrogen could assist in providing energy storage solutions for off-grid electricity systems, and in balancing electricity systems, shifting oversupply of electrical energy temporally and / or geographically. However losses in conversion and re-conversion are a challenge to economic viability, begging the question of whether it is necessary to re-convert hydrogen into electricity to characterise it as energy storage.
Hydrogen prices and technology costs will be important factors in wide-spread adoption. But policy and regulatory intervention is also likely to be required. We consider policy and emerging regulatory frameworks in key markets: the European Union, Japan and Australia.
The European Union (EU) has already started to take steps towards encouraging the deployment of hydrogen. It adopted the Renewable Energy Directive II which provides for the guarantees of origin which are currently in place for renewable electricity to be extended to cover ‘renewable gas’ that will enable hydrogen produced from renewable sources with guarantees of origin to be counted against EU 2030 renewables targets. Electricity Market Design Directive also seeks to take account of sector coupling and permit other end uses of hydrogen produced by electrolysis.
Japan is one of the leading countries for hydrogen deployment, research and development, and has developed a Ministerial Counsel on Renewable Energy, Hydrogen and Related Issues. In December 2017, this counsel unveiled its national “Basic Hydrogen Strategy”, which aims to drive down the cost of hydrogen fuel and related technologies along the entire value chain. A key target is to achieve an 80 percent reduction in the cost of hydrogen production and procurement by around 2050. The Japanese government also stresses that hydrogen must be a carbon-free energy source within similar time-frames. The strategy is in its pilot phase, with a review scheduled in 2020 and the Japanese government hopes to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to showcase the technical performance, marketability and scalability of on-going demonstration projects. Despite this ambition, regulatory barriers to the adoption of hydrogen remain.
The Australian government is also considering its hydrogen strategy. At federal level, a Ministerial forum for the Commonwealth, states and territories and New Zealand has been established (the COAG Energy Council) which is responsible for pursuing priority issues of national significance. The council has recently established the Hydrogen Working Group to develop a national strategy to build a clean, innovative and competitive hydrogen industry and position Australia’s hydrogen industry as a major global player by 2030. In July 2019, the working group released nine issues papers for consultation and subsequently published responses. Norton Rose Fulbright has produced a summary of key observations and recommendations for the National Hydrogen Strategy on the nine areas identified by the COAG Energy Council’s Hydrogen Working. Whilst there are multiple opportunities for hydrogen in Australia (including export to Japan), there are a number of challenges to be addressed including removal of regulatory barriers and regulatory ambiguity (particularly to enable hydrogen to act as both an energy carrier and energy source), and supporting knowledge sharing and community acceptance of hydrogen as an energy source.Read the full article here.
Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund is to invest US$110m in Energy Vault, a Swiss-US. startup that has developed a gravity-based energy storage system. The system is made up of a 35-story crane with six ‘arms’ that will be used to lift and stack concrete bricks, and energy will be discharged by reversing that process (see Energy Vault’s 3D Simulation of the tower in action). A standard array is expected to deliver 4 MW / 35 MWh of storage, which translates to around nine hours of duration, in the US$200 to US$250 per kilowatt-hour range, with room to decline further.
In its annual investment outlook, BloombergNEF forecasts that energy storage deployment will grow rapidly to 1,095 GW / 2,8850 GWh by 2040, up from 9 GW / 17 GWh in 2018, with a dramatic increase in the number of non-pumped hydro energy storage installations by 2040, culminating in nearly 3,000 GWh of deployments. Looking to expected battery demand, BloombergNEF suggests a combined forecast of 4,584 GWh for both electric transportation and stationary energy storage systems by 2040, which will require around US$622bn of investment. The outlook does not cover price guidance in great detail, but does note that there could be a further halving of battery cell cost per kWh by 2030. Lastly, the firm forecasts China and the US will lead the market by 2040, outpacing current market leader South Korea.
RedT has confirmed it has agreed outline terms for a reverse takeover of redox flow battery firm Avalon. The deal valued Avalon at around US$37.5m. When combined, the company plans to seek re-admission to the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and intends to raise at least £24m. It is reported that the combined entity would have operations in North America, Europe and Asia alongside a global sales footprint. Further discussions will take place before an agreement is signed, but the companies have not given a specific timeframe to those discussions.
Tesla has announced the launch of a 3 MWh ‘Megapack’ utility-scale energy storage system, the company’s first product specifically for the utility end of the market, which claims a 60 percent increase in energy density. The company claims the ‘Megapack’ enables the deployment of an emissions-free 250 MW / 1 GW power plant in less than three months. The ‘Megapack’ will be installed at the Moss Landing power project in California.
Greentech Media has published a list of the world’s largest battery storage projects (built or contracted) that form part of the “100-megawatt club”, ranked on MW capacity. The Neoen - Tesla lithium-ion battery installed on at Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia in 2017 is still the largest battery in operation, but this battery will be pushed to eighth place when a number of projects come online in the early 2020s. The project set to be top of the leader board is Florida Power & Light Company’s Manatee Energy Storage, with a capacity of 409 MW / 900 MWh, and in second place Vistra Energy’s 300 MW / 1,200 MWh battery storage system at the Moss Landing power plant in California.
Highview Power has developed CRYOBattery, a modular cryogenic liquid-air energy storage system. At US$140 / MWh for a ten hour, 200 MW / 2GWh system, the technology reportedly reaches a new benchmark for a levelized cost of storage. The system has the ability to provide frequency regulation, voltage support and black start capabilities, and having a small footprint and because it does not use hazardous materials, the technology provider asserts it can be placed almost anywhere.
PowerGen Renewable Energy (PowerGen) has acquired Tanzania-focused mini-grid company Rafiki Power from Germany utility E.On SE. PowerGen will take over Rafiki’s assets, which include eight Tanzanian solar-plus-storage mini-grids that serve 950 customers, as well as a project pipeline, the intellectual property of its software, and staff. E.On SE's decision to sell its East African microgrid business goes against a wider trend of major energy companies investing in smaller off-grid power solutions firms, including in those that target emerging markets.
Federal universities in Nigeria have welcomed the commissioning of the first MW-scale solar hybrid project that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the grid. Under the federal government’s Energizing Education programme, thirty-seven universities and seven teaching hospitals are being equipped with solar power plants, which is thought to include storage.
Plans are underway to build a A$20bn solar and storage facility in Western Australia, which will supply 10 GW of electricity to Singapore through a combination of overhead transmission lines and a high-voltage direct-current submarine cable. The development, known as Sun Cable, will stretch across 15,000 hectares, earning it the title of the largest solar farm in the world. This ground-breaking project will be supported by battery storage to safeguard an interminable supply of power around the clock.
South Australia looks toward renewable energy with its approval of a grid-scale compressed air energy storage system, which will be built by Canadian company Hydrostor. Surplus energy from nearby solar and wind facilities will be used to run compressors, while the underground storage also heats the air. The Angas Zinc Mine site will be repurposed to store the compressed air, with caverns to be dug 240 meters below ground.
India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has issued a request for proposals for gravity storage projects. Gravity storage projects function by converting stored potential energy into kinetic energy and eventually into electricity. At present, India has no major battery-based energy storage projects despite having floated a few large tenders. The country, however, has 2.6 GW of operational and another 3.1 GW of under-construction pumped hydro storage projects, indicating that gravity-based storage projects could be implemented in India.
With about half a million ten-year Japanese feed-in-tariff agreements beginning to expire, demand for small-scale storage projects in Japan is rising. Some companies have already taken note of this opening in the market. CATL is expanding from the automotive industry into the residential storage market in Japan. CATL will supply battery cells to its Japanese partner, renewable energy company Next Energy & Resources, which will then assemble the cells into residential and commercial batteries to be offered on the Japanese market.
Wood Mackenzie’s Europe Residential Energy Storage Outlook 2019 forecasts 6.6 GWh of residential energy storage to be installed across Europe by 2024. Rising electricity prices and continued reduction in system prices for energy storage is likely to fuel demand, however upfront investment remains a financial obstacle.
European energy company, Vattenfall, is combining a 22 MW wind power plant with 38 MW of solar PV at a hybrid project in the Netherlands, integrating the capacity with 12 MWh of batteries from BMW. The project is expected to take around a year with a planned operational date of September 2020. Vattenfall explained that hybrid systems provide less pronounced peaks and they see fewer total times without production. This leads to a more efficient use of the network infrastructure. In addition, the costs for grid connection are significantly reduced compared to stand-alone systems.
Siemens Gamesa is looking to expand into hybrid systems with solar and storage. The company’s chief technology officer noted that, whilst the company remains committed to the wind market, it is interested in other technologies to reduce renewable energy intermittency. Batteries will remain the technology of choice, but it is also investigating thermal storage solutions and a redox flow battery. This is consistent with the wider trend of wind turbine OEMs across the globe in exploring and developing utility-scale wind-plus-storage systems.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Europe is to surpass North America’s lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity by 2023, with nameplate manufacturing capacity expected to reach 198 GWh a year by 2030 (from approximately 18 GWh today). However, by comparison, China is expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 800 GWh by 2023. In Europe, much of the manufacturing capacity planned belongs to Chinese or Asian manufacturers. This has caught the attention of the European Commission, which in a report published in April, warned that dependency on battery cell imports could expose the European automotive sector to high costs.
Gore Street Energy Fund secured £30.9m from a combined fundraising campaign that will enable to expand its energy storage portfolio across Europe, with a focus on Northern Ireland and Ireland. The fund’s portfolio has increased to 189 MW in the UK and Republic of Ireland since its £30.6m initial public offering in May last year, and its assets under management now total £62m. Over the coming months, the company plans to develop 500 MW of storage in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe.
Residential solar and storage provider, Sunrun, intends to deliver power to the utility Hawaiian Electric Company from a virtual power plant made up of 1,000 home rooftop solar and batteries on the island of O’ahu. Sunrun and its software partner Open Access Technology International will earn compensation from Hawaiian Electric for managing and dispatching the networked home solar and battery-stored energy to the grid. The customers on whose premises the systems are installed will be compensated through credits on their electricity bills.
GE Renewable Energy sold an 80 percent stake in its distributed solar and storage solutions business to a fund managed by BlackRock Real Assets. Since 2012, the business has grown to more than 60 employees and has developed 125 projects. BlackRock Real Assets has US$5bn invested in over 250 wind and solar projects totalling more than 5.2 GW of nameplate generation capacity. GE’s focus will remain on wind turbine manufacturing and wind energy services.
US private equity firm, Energy Capital Partners, has acquired energy storage developer Convergent Energy + Power. Founded in 2011, Convergent has raised and deployed more than US$70m of equity and debt financing into over 120 MW / 240 MWh of energy storage projects.
GlidePath Power Solutions acquired a portfolio of 149 MW of wind projects in North Texas. GlidePath plans to add batteries to the wind projects. This would be one of the first battery storage projects in the Southwest Power Pool. Transmission congestion is a primary issue in the Southwest Power Pool and other Texas markets. Project owners can pair wind with storage to make better use of their interconnection at times of low wind generation and look for arbitrage opportunities.
Chile’s solar and storage project known as “Mirror of Tarapacá” could begin next year. The project is being developed by renewable energy company Valhalla in the Atacama desert near the Pacific coast. The project consists of a 561 MW solar PV plant alongside a 300 MW pumped hydro storage system. The overall project is set to cost around US$1.094bn and it is expected to reach financial close and start construction in 2020. The project comes as a result of the effort of a group of Chilean individuals that believe that bulk energy storage is important for the country to become fully renewable.
A 35.6 MW / 44.2 MWh solar-plus-storage facility is to be constructed on the island of St. Kitts and Nevis by Leclanché. The project is expected to provide state-owned utility St Kitts Electric Company with enough base load energy to meet between 25 and 30 percent of the nation’s total power demand under a twenty year power purchase agreement. The facility will be the largest solar and storage facility in the Caribbean according to the Swiss developer.
VDE Renewables’s Jan Geder has published a special report for PV Tech, which analyzes the status and outlook of the bankability and insurability of energy storage. The report details the case for bankable battery energy storage systems, based on the role of storage for the future electrification of developing countries. Technical aspects that influence the financial decision making process for energy storage are discussed, including the cost and safety of lithium-ion batteries. Lastly, the report touches on technical criteria that support bankability and insurability, namely quality insurance, and “best practices”, in design and operation of battery systems.
PV Tech’s special report on energy storage focuses on the obstacles to large-scale deployment of the technology. The report recognises the adoption of storage by utilities in 2019 in a number of jurisdictions. However, regulation, or lack of it, continues to be a “stumbling block” for grid-connected energy storage in a number of jurisdictions. For example in the US jurisdictional issues are posing challenges where dual state and federal regulation has resulted in disputes over jurisdiction, which are delaying the implementation of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 841. The report also highlights the importance of establishing how much storage capacity is needed both in-front and behind the meter.
The safety of energy storage technologies remains under scrutiny following a battery plant explosion in Arizona in April, and it emerged that at least twenty-three plants in South Korea caught fire over the past few years. Such incidents are not confined to the lithium-ion battery industry. It is reported that a hydrogen filling station exploded in Norway in June 2019. Experts note that such incidents are to be expected, as energy storage is still early in its technological maturation, but if controls and measures are not put in place it could hinder the growth of the industry. Others note that incidents represent a small proportion of impacted capacity.
South Africa’s utility, Eskom, is to launch the country’s first large-scale energy storage tender for 360 MW / 1,440 MWh, to be installed by December 2021. The first phase will comprise 200 MW / 800 MWh of capacity to be built by December 2020. The second phase will include a further installation of 160 MW / 640 MWh, and includes 60 MW of solar integrated with the battery storage. The World Bank and a number of other lenders have sourced funding for the venture, repurposing a 2010 loan agreement initially approved for the development of a 100 MW solar power plant. Eskom are waiting for the Department of Public Enterprises to approve the tender, and so have not yet released details of the planned launch date.
Oman’s state-owned Rural Areas Electricity Company (Tanweer) has issued a tender for the development and construction of 11 solar-diesel-storage power projects with a combined capacity of 146 MW. The hybrid plants will be constructed on a build, own, operate and transfer basis with selected projects granted a 15 year power purchase agreement. Tanweer will be responsible for fuel supply and securing land and the developers will arrange plant ownership, construction and financing as well as operations and maintenance and dispatch from the facilities. The generation capacity of the PV sections of the projects is expected to be 48 MW, with a 70 MW diesel component. Tanweer is planning storage elements of 28 MW / 14 MWh.
Matshela Koko has been authorised to develop solar-plus-storage in Zimbabwe, a year after a probe saw him suspended from Eskom. According to the notice issued by Zimbabwe’s energy regulator ZERA, Matshela Energy will build, own and run a 100 MW plant in Gwanda, a two-hour drive north from Zimbabwe’s border with South Africa. The 25-year licence from ZERA, Koko explained on Twitter, also covers the potential roll-out of a 240 MWh battery energy storage system.
The Queensland state government has shortlisted ten projects for the final stage of the Renewables 400 program, a reverse auction for up to 400 MW of renewable energy capacity and up to 100 MW of energy storage. The ten shortlisted projects total more than 2,000 MW of wind, solar and battery storage capacity.
A new report from Navigant Research has analysed the global market for energy storage systems to forecast software vendor revenues and platform access / maintenance fees through to 2028. According to the report, Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the largest regional market for energy storage software platforms. Driven by a rapidly growing battery market, the region is expected to account for US$10.7bn in cumulative software vendor revenue through 2028.
AEMO has released the first of a series of “insights” into its new Integrated System Plan, a blueprint for managing the power grid over the next 20 years as Australia heads towards a 60 percent share in electricity generation for renewables. The draft report highlights the critically important role of shorter duration storage, such as smaller pumped hydro projects and batteries, in both dealing with intraday and overnight needs, and in meeting daily peaks.
AEMC has reduced the national electricity market’s timed intervals for financial settlement from thirty minutes to five minutes. The age-based retirement of existing thermal generation, rapidly developing wind, solar and energy storage technologies, and increasing consumer participation, enabled by these same technologies, has necessitated the need to align financial settlement with operational dispatch.
State owned Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued a public tender for 1,200 MW of renewable energy, with proponents bidding to build, own and operate renewable generating facilities and enter into 25 year power purchase agreements with SECI as offtaker. The project, designed to help alleviate peak customer grid demand, must be capable of dispatching power to the grid for at least six hours each day, mandating the use of energy storage systems. This is the latest in a series of nationwide green initiatives including the National Solar Mission policy and the Lakshadweep tender for a 20 MW floating solar PV / 60 MWh energy storage system.
When the UK National Grid experienced a loss of around 1.5 GW of generation on August 9, 2019, energy storage allowed grid frequency to be restored to its usual operating limits with 3 minutes and 57 seconds – faster than the 11 minutes it took following a similar event a decade ago. While this represents a vast improvement in the resilience of the grid, more than one million customers still experienced power outages, and industry players are now calling for a significant increase in flexible assets to further improve the system’s ability to respond. The final report into the incident has now been published.
Distribution network operator UK Power Networks and its technology provider Piclo completed a new flexibility auction in early July 2019, procuring 18.1 MW of flexibility. Piclo’s platform enables flexibility providers to bid for contracts in areas of network congestion; the platform effectively matches resources such as battery storage and behind-the-meter generation with network bottlenecks, allowing network operators to offset more costly grid reinforcements.
The state of Bavaria in Southern Germany has launched a new subsidy scheme for residential solar-plus-storage as of August 1, 2019. It is hoped that the scheme will delay the need for grid reinforcement by providing homeowners with €500 towards the installation of their own storage system of at least 3 kWh and a further €100 for each additional 1 kWh up to a maximum of €3,200.
The UK’s energy storage industry is currently awaiting Ofgem’s decision following its consultation on a formal definition of “storage” in the UK’s regulatory framework, which closed on July 25, 2019. Lack of clarity on what “storage” entails has historically led to double-charging of storage providers, who are levied as both a demand customer for imports and a generator for exports.
On July 2, 2019, the European Commission announced how it will spend the last €11bn of the EU research and innovation funding program Horizon 2020 in the final year of the program. €132m will support the development and production in Europe of the next generation of batteries, as part of the drive towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
The Department of Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development of the northern Italian region of Lombardy has announced it will award another €4.4m in rebates to support the adoption of storage systems coupled with residential and commercial PV. This follows support of €3m in 2018, €4m in 2017 and €2m in 2016. The scheme funds rebates of up to €3,000 to cover up to half the cost of buying and installing hybrid PV-storage systems with a generation capacity no larger than 20 kW.
On June 24, 2019 the UK government put forward legislation containing a VAT (value-added tax) increase that will see tax on home solar and battery storage systems rise from 5 percent to 20 percent. The legislation is expected to come into force from October 1, 2019. The legislation follows an unsuccessful defense of the discounted rate before the European Commission.
Only one new build battery storage project has won a contract at the June 2019 T-1 Capacity Market auction, with battery storage struggling to compete against other generator types like open-cycle gas turbines. Centrica's 49.99 MW Roosecote battery was the only battery storage project to secure a one-year agreement at its de-rated capacity of 8.733 MW, while open-cycle gas turbine projects alone secured more than 22 per cent of the contracts available. The auction saw a record low clearing price of just £0.77/kW.
Engie Storage is bringing into play an innovative revenue stream for energy storage projects dubbed “wholesale market-value stacking”. Under this new model, the company will design, supply, operate and also pay developers upfront for dispatch rights to use their batteries in the ISO New England wholesale market. This will shift the merchant risk onto Engie and give the developers and their financers an additional source of revenue. Engie has already announced its first project portfolio under this model with the private equity firm Syncarpha Capital.
Where the challenge was once a lack of profitable storage opportunities in the Northeast, now the trick is keeping up. GTM has published a guide relating to the top-line policy developments for solar and storage in the Northeastern states. The article includes details on the new programs and incentives launched in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Notably, the Northeast is redoubling efforts on implementing an aggressive clean energy plan while boosting competitive wholesale markets. However, states such as New Jersey have important challenges ahead to keep up with the incentives and to get projects in motion.
The California Public Utilities Commission intends to direct US$100m in state energy storage incentives for those living in parts of the state with the highest risk of deadly wildfires. This public policy aims to tackle the increasing deadly wildfires fueled by expanding human development, climate change, and in some cases, utility power lines. The resources would be directed through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), the state’s main incentive program for behind-the-meter batteries.
The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved Georgia Power’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, which includes investments to own and operate 80 MW of battery storage and to increase the company’s renewable energy generation 72 percent by 2024.
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Companies globally are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, through both the labor market and their supply chain.
An important decision from 2019 and one that will be of keen interest to UK companies with international operations is the UK Supreme Court judgment in Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc v Lungowe and Others  UKSC 20.