Coronavirus outbreak: The legal implications
Companies globally are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, through both the labor market and their supply chain.
As the battery and electric vehicle revolution gains momentum, attention is increasingly turning to the commodity supply chains required for their manufacture. Some manufacturers are looking to invest directly into cobalt and lithium mines to secure supply of crucial commodities such as cobalt and lithium. However, such investments present difficulties, both from a sustainability and ethical perspective, and also from a project and country risk perspective.
Given that approximately 65 per cent of the world’s cobalt production currently comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with some sources estimating that this will increase to as high as 73 per cent by 2023, the industry is heavily dependent on the DRC mining industry. The concerns about child labour issues and unsafe labour conditions in the DRC have been well documented. As a response, the London Metal Exchange proposing the introduction of responsible sourcing standards for all traded metals. The lack of access to responsibly sourced cobalt will render the negotiation of supply contracts all the more important for EV and battery manufacturers, who may wish to retain flexibility to allow them to respond to market conditions.
End users looking to invest directly in the battery supply chain will need to consider the risks associated with doing mining deals in emerging markets and how to mitigate those risks. Some of the key risks include change in law risk, foreign exchange/currency issues and local content requirements (such as the obligation to invest alongside local partners, restrictions on foreign investor ownership, requirements to develop local infrastructure and financial and social obligations to assist local communities). Recent legislative action taken by some governments in Africa, including in the DRC, has seen governments reneging on contractual stabilisation provisions and implementing new legislation which negatively impacts mining companies operating in those nations.
Mitigation options include purchasing of political risk insurance. This may be an expensive option however, and typically policies do not provide blanket cover for adverse changes of law, but rather may cover losses arising from two key areas of change in law risk. Our experience indicates that the involvement of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) as an investor or a lender into a project can be an effective mitigation tool, helping to prevent governments from taking “investor unfriendly” action that would prejudice the interests of the DFI investor. Finally, Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) provide last-resort protection for investors where all other avenues of dispute resolution, political pressure or insurance have been exhausted. Investors should therefore consider structuring their investment through appropriate vehicles in order to gain the benefit of BITs.
Read the full article on our Inside Africa portal.
According to Wood Mackenzie’s Global Energy Storage Outlook 2019, from 2013 to 2018, global energy storage deployment achieved a compound annual growth rate of 74 per cent worldwide. Whilst total global deployment remained relatively small at 7GW/12GWh, 6GWh was delivered in 2018 alone. It is predicted that deployment will reach 63GW/158GWh by 2024, but the compound annual growth rate will slow to 38 per cent. The USA and China are predicted to dominate, with over 54 per cent of deployment between them. Front-of-meter energy storage will also dominate, with projects moving from the ancillary services markets to longer duration applications. The popularity of renewables-plus-storage projects is expected to increase to 2024. It is estimated a total of US$14bn will be invested in energy storage technologies (excluding pumped hydro) in 2024, in a global market worth US$71bn in total system capital expenditure.
A recent report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) suggests that lithium-ion batteries are increasingly becoming a cost-competitive alternative to natural-gas-fired power plants. The report found the benchmark LCOE for utility-scale lithium-ion batteries fell by 35 per cent to US$187, outpacing the decline seen previously for solar PV, and onshore and offshore wind. The report finds that lithium-ion batteries co-located with solar or wind projects are beginning to compete without subsidy with coal and gas-fired generation for the provision of dispatchable power. The article notes that while continuing technology improvements and increasing scale of manufacturing have continued to push down prices, these have been somewhat counterbalanced in the past year or so by a bottleneck in available supply, driven by demand from big projects in the US and South Korea.
In its research paper ‘Hydrogen in the electricity value chain,’ the DNV-GL forecasts that hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy will become a zero-carbon economic energy carrier that can be used for long-term storage and heating applications. This is expected to be driven by three key developments: cost reductions in electrolysers, the increasing availability of low- or zero-cost electricity due to greater penetration of renewables and carbon reduction policies (such as carbon taxes and incentives for low-carbon solutions).
Moxia, a UK-based start-up, has secured £8.6m (US$11.1m) in funding from Honda to support its electric vehicle (EV) expansion, with developments expected later this year. Also involved are investors Itochu Corporation, First Imagine Ventures and Contrarian Ventures. Moxia recently announced plans in the UK for a £40m project that will link 1MW of behind-the-meter batteries in homes, schools and government offices, and a further 1MW of EV batteries. Moxia, Itochu and Tokyo Electric Power Co. unveiled plans in October 2018 for a 35MWh fleet of behind-the-meter batteries in Japan, capable of responding to grid needs, based in 3,500 participating homes that receive special rates to encourage off-peak energy usage.
ZAF, a nickel-zinc flow battery manufacturer, announced plans for a partnership with Aerojet Rocketdyne systems, to work on an energy storage system for space. ZAF will combine its nickel-zinc flow batteries with Aerojet’s battery management system, which enables the end user to control the battery, thereby extending battery life and enhancing reliability.
California-based start-up, Sila Nanotechnologies, won US$170m in funding to commercialize silicon anode materials that will replace graphite in lithium-ion battery anodes. The start-up has claimed that these advanced materials can increase the capacity of a lithium-ion battery to 40 per cent, enabling improved power performance of EVs and consumer electronics. The funding round was led by Daimler AG and 8VC, joining earlier investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Bessemer, Samsung, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners, Changwei Capital, Next47 and Amperex.
A consortium consisting of EDF, Masdar and Green of Africa (a joint venture between three Moroccan groups, namely FinanceCom, Akwa Group and AMHAL) has been selected to construct the 800MW solar complex in Morocco and will be responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of Noor Midelt I multi-technologies solar plant. The Noor Midelt I is a hybrid solar project that will combine concentrated solar power and PV technologies and crucially will be capable of generating and supplying electricity for the Moroccan grid even after sunset for five hours. Power generation is not anticipated until 2022. The project was planned in conjunction with the Moroccan government’s goal to generate 52 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
An agreement was reached by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank and the European Union (EU) to support the program in Gambia, which will ensure that 1,100 rural schools and health centers will benefit from an energy supply using solar and battery technology. In terms of financing arrangements, the EU will provide €106m for this project, whilst the EIB will offer a €65m concessional loan and the World Bank will provide €35.7m. The scheme is to be implemented by NAWEC, the Gambian electricity utility company and is expected to increase the energy supply in the Gambia by 20 per cent once operational.
Rural communities that have otherwise relied on diesel will receive energy from two solar-storage-diesel mini-grids commissioned by Solarcentury. The hybrid power systems at Areza (1.25MW) and Maidma (1MW) took eight months to build, with a combination of solar PV, lithium-ion batteries from Tesla, and backup diesel generators from Caterpillar. The sites, operated by the Eritrean Electricity Company, will provide clean energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to over 40,000 people and businesses. Funding for the project was received from the Eritrean government with support from both the European Union Delegation to the State of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme.
Zola Energy is seeking to “democratize renewable energy globally” by bringing clean energy to remote communities. Zola’s “Infinity” power system combines solar technology and energy storage to replace diesel generators and is being descried as the first “smart” storage product to autonomously manage multiple power sources. The primary focus of Infinity will be on people and businesses based in cities, where there is a power grid, but it only operates for a few hours a day.
Canadian energy storage manufacturer CellCube and renewables firm Pangea Energy have signed an agreement for the construction of a 50MW/200MWh battery storage system in Port Augusta, South Australia. The US$200m project is the latest in a string of wind and solar farms planned for the former coal city. The vanadium redox flow technology storage system will offer grid services such as voltage compensation and reactive power to the Australian market.
Tesla has installed a 7MWh ‘emergency’ railway battery in Osaka, Japan, its largest in Asia to date. The system consists of 42 of Tesla’s Powerpack batteries which, according to Tesla, will safely move a train on the Kintetsu line in the event of a grid outage and will also ‘reduce energy demand on the Osaka grid during peak times.’ This will be Tesla’s fourth-largest battery in the APAC region and will represent one of the first uses of battery storage in the train industry.
NEC Energy Solutions (NEC ES) has continued to expand its market presence after announcing three new energy storage projects across China. NEC’s Chinese distributor, Puxing Energy aims to assist existing Hang-Jin and Feng-Run power plants by providing superior frequency regulation and improving current power plant economics. The CEO of NEC ES says that their global expansion has been accelerated across China as it has one of the fastest growing energy storage markets in the world.
South Australian company, CCT Energy Storage, has created the world’s first operational thermal energy device (TED) which, unlike existing batteries, can charge and discharge at the same time according to its creators. The company claims that the battery has twelve times the storage capacity of traditional lead-acid batteries and up to six times that of lithium-ion batteries. The TED takes any form of electrical energy and converts it to thermal energy using silicon as its ‘phase-change’ material.
Toyota’s Altona manufacturing site will be transformed into an operational hydrogen production and refuelling site following a combined US$5.2m investment from Toyota and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The site will aim to produce 60kg of renewable hydrogen per day which will be supported by onsite solar PV and battery storage. Toyota Australia’s CEO believes that hydrogen production and storage will play a big part in the future, including in Toyota’s EVs.
This article considers Wärtsilä’s acquisition of Greensmith months after it delivered a 20MW system in four months for the Aliso Canyon gas leak response in 2017. The company now sits within the Energy Storage, Solar and Integration division of Wärtsilä and will focus on immediate opportunities as well as markets at or approaching the threshold of 20 per cent solar penetration, at which point curtailment and grid issues create business opportunities for storage. Wärtsilä has also installed three energy storage systems on an offshore construction vessel, the North Sea Shipping AS owned North Sea Giant.
German manufacturer Tesvolt has announced a “multimillion-euro investment” in production lines for Europe’s first lithium-ion storage system. The company is promising fully carbon neutral production of its battery energy storage systems and claims its factory will be supplied purely by solar energy. Other prospective gigafactories include Northvolt in Sweden, a project in Townsville, Australia, Imperium3 in New York, US, and a European project by the TerraE Holdings consortium. Northvolt has raised US$1bn in equity capital from, among others, VW, BMW and Goldman Sachs for the development and production of a gigafactory in Sweden, with a production capacity of 16GWh which will later be expanded to 32GWh. The company recently announced plans for a second gigafactory to be constructed in Germany through a joint venture with VW with initial production capacity is 16GWh, which again may increase to 24GWh in the future.
Russian developer and PV manufacturer Hevel Group is planning to build a 10MW PV plant in the Burzyan district and will issue a tender for a storage partner to provide an 8MWh lithium-ion battery system. The plant will be the largest hybrid solar and energy storage project in the region to date.
London-based storage supplier Moixa plans to set up a mixed-asset virtual power plant which combines PV, battery storage and EVs, and will initially aggregate up to 2MW of capacity. The installation marks the first phase of a three-year, £40m project supported by West Sussex County Council and the Carbon and Energy Fund.
Pivot Power plans to collaborate with manufacturer and system integrator redT on the world’s first grid-scale hybrid battery energy storage project to combine lithium-ion and vanadium technologies. UK Research and Innovation will provide a £10m grant. Pivot is part of a consortium of companies developing a £49m ‘SuperHub’ in Oxford which will incorporate grid-scale batteries, high speed EV chargers and ground source heat pumps for local homes. Details of the other projects which were awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation are available here. The news comes as redT secures £3.2m funding following an emergency fundraising drive in April 2019.
After unveiling plans to build a solar PV farm in the United Nations buffer zone in Cyprus in 2013, the University of Cyprus has now gathered the licences to start building. The first phase of the project will include 5MWp of PV capacity with 2.35MWh of battery storage, as well as using a permissioned blockchain system and utilizing smart contracts to improve efficiency in demand side response settings. The project, which will be Cyprus’s first battery storage system, has received funding from the EIB.
Gore Street Energy Storage Fund is to take a controlling interest in 160MW of storage assets in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland driven in part by the target of 40 per cent renewable energy provision by 2020 set recently in the Irish Republic. Under the deal with Low Carbon, Gore Street has the option to purchase a further 190MW, taking the total to 350MW. £31m has been committed to the deal, and there are plans to raise a further £50m via a share issue. Innogy also has plans to spend approximately €100m constructing three battery plants for storing electricity in the Republic of Ireland in counties Dublin, Meath and Monaghan with a total installed capacity of 100MW.
SaltX and its project partner, Vattenfall, have launched a pilot electrical and heat storage project which uses nanocoated salt. The 0.5MW/10MWh plant is based in Berlin, Germany. For maximum efficiency the system outputs 30 per cent of its stored energy as electrical power and the remainder as heat. The system is different to molten salt storage, as it can cool to zero degrees and then restart the process. SaltX is currently looking for partners to create a commercialized design for testing.
The consortium, called HICC Energy, plans to jointly build solar-plus-storage projects in the UK using Cellcube’s vanadium redox flow batteries and third-party project financing. It expects its first project to go live later this year. As a result of de-rating methodologies used in the Capacity Market, the company believes that combining solar with long duration storage technologies is the most “competitive and commercially attractive solution.”
SUSI Partners, a Swiss fund manager, acquired a 50 per cent interest in a portfolio of distributed battery storage system in Southern California developed by Advanced Microgrid Solutions. The portfolio comprises over 90 lithium-ion battery systems, which will contribute up to 63MW and 340MWh of energy storage capacity. SUSI currently runs a unique energy storage asset fund, which achieved final close in 2018 with €252m. This investment is SUSI’s first US investment.
Ørsted’s Lincoln Clean Energy recently acquired the development business of Coronal Energy, a US-based developer that is focused on utility-scale solar and energy storage projects. The acquisition of Coronal Energy will help to solidify Ørsted’s position as one of the most dynamic and experienced renewable teams in the energy industry.
The joint venture between Convergent and Shell New Energies will capitalize on the energy storage solutions that have been developed and are currently operated by Convergent to enable commercial and industrial customers to reduce their energy bills by decreasing their energy consumption during peak periods on the grid. In comparison to public market forecasts, Convergent’ claims its PEAK IQ™ dispatch algorithm is 25 per cent more accurate at peak prediction and is estimated to be able to save customers up to 40 per cent on their electricity bills. The joint venture’s first two projects are currently under construction at Shell Canada Products facilities in Brockville and Sarnia, Ontario.
FPL plans to build a solar-powered battery system, which is set to be four times the capacity of the largest battery system currently in operation, making it the largest battery system in the world. This planned system is a part of the utility’s modernization plan to fast-track the retirement of two fossil fuel generation units. This system is planned to have 409MW of capacity and is anticipated to be ready to serve customers by end of 2021. By deploying energy from storage during peak demand periods, FPL will be able to offset its need to run other plants during peak hours, and reduce costs overall. Additionally, FPL is planning numerous smaller battery installations across Florida and various other system efficiency upgrades as well.
Honeywell has announced that it will supply Ontario’s biggest battery energy storage system yet, with an anticipated output of up to 8.9MW/18MWh. The system will be hosted at a commercial site, where it will be charged from the grid during off-peak hours and will enable the customer to peak shave and decrease energy supply costs by reducing the portion of energy used onsite that is drawn from the grid.
A partnership of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Magnum Development are to develop a 100MW renewable energy storage project in Utah, US. The project will fuse technology that creates renewable hydrogen and compressed air in a “condominium test bed” covering 50 acres adjacent to existing salt caverns operated by Magnum.
NEC Energy Solutions has commissioned a 2MW/2MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system in Chile for ENGIE Energía Chile. The system will be located in Arica, Northern Chile, and will be connected to an existing substation, providing spinning reserve and other ancillary services to help with the integration of solar and wind projects. The project is the first energy storage system operated by the ENGIE group in the region and the third project in Chile for NEC.
The Dutch Caribbean island of Saba ran on 100 per cent solar for the first time ever this month with the help of a solar-plus-storage microgrid. The system comprises a 2.3MWh battery energy storage system that is capable of replacing conventional diesel generation for up to 10 hours for the island’s 2,000 inhabitants. The local utility expects total diesel fuel savings to be around one million litres per year.
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has submitted an integrated resource plan that calls for division of the utility system into eight minigrids with increased installation of solar PV and 920MW of associated energy storage. The IRP recommends that solicitations for storage be combined with those for PV with the option of bidders providing either or both of these technologies.
The Energy Storage Partnership (ESP) comprises the World Bank Group and 29 further organizations, with the goal of developing energy storage solutions adapted to the requirements of developing nations. The requirements of developing countries have not been fully considered in the current energy storage market to date, despite the huge potential for battery deployment in these countries. The aim of the group will be to foster international focus on issues such as technology research and development, system integration and planning tools, policies, regulations and procurement. By connecting stakeholders and sharing international experiences, ESP hopes to bring new technological and regulatory solutions to developing countries.
Forbes Global Energy Storage team recently released its Global Energy Storage Outlook, which assesses how the market has been developing. In a bid to understand whether storage is a key component of the energy transition, Forbes interviewed members of that team. The article includes details about battery storage technology itself and how it fits into the power system, revenue streams, market developments, and global growth potential. Notably, the Outlook forecasts storage growth of 29 per cent through 2024, taking capacity to 63GW, and a tripling of spend on storage capacity to US$14bn a year.
Norwegian firm Scatec Solar has linked up with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a solar-plus-storage system to one of its humanitarian operations in South Sudan and expressed plans to expand these operations into other emergency zones in the region. The technology being employed involves a 700kW hybrid PV project linked with 1.6MWh of lithium-ion battery storage. This will provide energy to a humanitarian hub which houses around 300 humanitarian workers who provide services to nearly 30,000 internally displaced persons.
India’s Union Cabinet has approved the National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, with a focus on local manufacturing across the whole supply chain for EVs, including battery and cell manufacturing. The mission includes a five-year phased manufacturing program to set up "large-scale, export-competitive integrated batteries and cell manufacturing Giga plants in India."
At a regional level, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) invited bids for 200MW of grid-connected solar projects to be combined with 300MWh of battery energy storage. Based in Andhra Pradesh, the region where similar tenders were cancelled in 2017 - 18, the project will include two separate 100MW PV projects, each with 150MWh of batteries (for details see here). MP Power Management also has invited expressions of interest for 500MW of grid-scale energy storage in the state of Madhya Pradesh. This follows the release of latest figures for the state – as of January 2019, Madhya Pradesh’s total installed power capacity stood at 19,796MW, with only 3,827MW (19.3 per cent) from renewable energy sources (for details see here).
With 90 manufacturers and several gigafactories in the works, China is well positioned to cement its supremacy in EV battery production. The nation currently owns a majority of the global lithium-ion battery production market, with more than 60 per cent of global manufacturing capacity today. The key driver of China’s battery manufacturing ramp-up is a generous subsidy offered by the Chinese government solely to domestic vendors. According to reports, planned battery manufacturing capacity expansion for all battery applications and chemistry types is expected to grow more than 2.5 times by 2026.
The World Bank Group International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has approved US$300m loan that will finance its US$750m China Renewable Energy and Battery Storage Promotion project. The remaining US$450m will come from Chinese commercial Bank, Hua Xia. This follows the Group’s US$1bn investment for the acceleration of energy storage in developing countries. Meanwhile, the Global Environmental Facility and Energy Sector Management Assistance Program will provide financing for technical assistance towards regulatory reforms.
France and Germany have announced they will act in partnership on a project to increase the availability of reliable battery technology for EVs in Europe. Finance ministers confirmed that €5.6 - €6.7bn is expected to be invested, with €4bn of this coming from European private companies in the energy and automotive industries. The aim of the investment is to alleviate the “range anxiety” that has hindered the development of EVsin Europe, and bring their progress more in line with the Asian markets.
Ofgem, regulator for the British power market, is proposing an overhaul of the electricity network charges levied against all asset types under the Targeted Charging review. According to research by Aurora Energy, this new approach will favour low-efficiency gas CCGTs to the detriment of renewables schemes and undermining the economics of smart solutions like battery storage and demand response. The aim of the Targeted Charging review is to create a level-playing field as between different types of generation in the charging system. However the research suggests that the effect of this change would be to raise the network charges for embedded battery storage projects. The proposals come as the UK government proposes 15 per cent tax rise for solar and storage purchases planned to come into effect from October 1, 2019.
Portugal is planning to host an auction for 50 -100MW of dispatchable renewables in 2020, in a bid to attract the best, most innovative technologies in energy storage. This move has closely followed appeals by experts to “urgently” move towards storage technologies in order to ease the annual surplus of 800 - 1,200GWh in renewable production that is expected by 2020.
Standard warranties for lithium-ion batteries covering both performance and defects are two years, but extended warranties can be purchased. A warranty beyond ten years does not make sense because so much of the battery would need to be replaced after year ten. Insurance can also be purchased. Operations and maintenance of batteries is complicated because the operator relies on software to optimize performance. Rates of deterioration of the battery depend on how the battery is used. A group of storage experts and a tax equity veteran talked about these and other subjects at Infocast Storage Week in San Francisco.
Utility Southern California Edison (SCE) recently selected a roster of energy storage projects to supply local capacity needs around the coastal city of Oxnard instead of the 262MW t natural-gas peaker plant it had chosen previously. If regulators give their approval, Strata Solar will build and own a 100MW/400MWh system in Oxnard, and dispatch it on behalf of SCE. This system will tie for largest lithium-ion battery in the world when it comes online in December 2020. The AES Alamitos plant of the same size is due around the same time.
To read previous issues of the Energy storage updater, click here.
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.