Renewable energy project monitor

Ian Stokes

September/October 2012: Our regular column, written by the Energy Industries Council, reports on project development in the renewable energy marketplace.

This article excerpt is taken from the November/December issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine. To register to receive a digital copy click here.

Some 104 projects across the global renewable energy sector were added to EICDataStream in September and October, indicating consistent new project activity in the sector compared to July and August. However, although project numbers have remained steady, the total potential investment value of US$35.9bn is down by US$26.2bn on the previous two months.

EICDataStream tracks over 9750 major future and active projects across the global energy industry. There are currently 1140 active renewables projects and a further 1166 projects proposed for future development in the database. It should be noted there will always be a proportion of proposed projects that do not gain planning consent and the requisite finance.
Wind dominates

In September, 47 renewable energy projects with a total potential investment value of US$15.3bn were added to the database. Wind projects accounted for 66% of the total potential investment value of new projects, with offshore wind representing 52% of proposed investments and onshore wind accounting for the other 14%. Meantime, solar projects also saw a steady month, representing 16% of the total investment value of new renewable projects.

Europe has been a hotspot of activity for both offshore and onshore wind, with four offshore wind projects announced in France and Germany accounting for 51% of the total potential value of new renewable projects in September. The UK has also seen high levels of activity in the volume of projects. Indeed, some 18 onshore wind and solar projects announced across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The largest project plans announced this month, in terms of both estimated potential investment (US$6.7bn) and planned capacity, are two offshore wind farms in France. The French Government has confirmed that a second offshore wind tender for 1.3GW of development will be announced before the end of the year with two zones to be opened to bids: the Le Treport zone in the English Channel, off the coast of Haute-Normandie (705MW), and another zone near the Isle of Noirmoutier (600MW) in the Atlantic Ocean.

In Germany, two offshore wind farms have been proposed for the Baltic Sea totalling 227MW capacity; the Adlergrund 500 (72MW) wind farm with plans for 20 turbines and the Adlergrund GAP wind farm (155MW) with plans for 31 turbines. Both projects are currently undergoing feasibility studies.

In the UK, seven onshore wind projects totalling 203MW were announced in Scotland, four totalling 37MW in England, and one in Northern Ireland with a capacity of 12.6MW. There were also four solar projects totalling nearly 114MW announced in England, and two totalling 12.5MW in Wales. The largest of all these projects is the 78.3MW Berryburn Onshore Wind Farm in Scotland, with a total potential investment value of US$165mn. The project, under development by Force9 Energy in partnership with Catamount Energy, will comprise 29 turbines located on the Altyre Estate, south of Forres in Morayshire.

Solar and tidal

Meantime, the US accounts for much of the planned investment in solar projects this month, with three projects proposed with a combined potential value of US$1.9bn. SunPower Corp plans to develop the 100MW Henrietta Solar Power Plant in Kings County, California, utilising the SunPower Oasis Power Plant system. This is an innovative modular build of PV solar blocks that are positioned via a management system to track the sun throughout the day, increasing energy capture in order to deliver utility-scale solar power.

Another large project announcement made in September was the US$1.2bn Jindo Tidal Power Plant in the South Jeolla Province of South Korea. The proposed 200MW project will be developed by KEPCO, Korea Midland Power Co and five other companies. The plan comes a month after the Scotland-based European Marine Energy Centre entered into a cooperation agreement with Incheon Metropolitan City in South Korea to provide technical assistance on the design, construction and operation of a tidal test facility. There is growing interest in harnessing tidal energy in South Korea, which has some the most active tidal waters in the world off its western shoreline.

October announcements

In October, 57 renewable energy projects were added to EICDataStream with a total potential investment value of US$20.6bn.

Wind farm projects continue to dominate the scene, accounting for 71% of the total potential investment value this month. Key hotspots of activity are the US and offshore UK, with only six proposed developments together accounting for 60% of the total potential investment value of projects this month.

A significant announcement in October was the next stage in the Hornsea Round 3 Zone offshore wind development, simply referred to as Project Two. The Hornsea Zone is being developed by SMart Wind, a consortium led by Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures, and could produce up to 4GW capacity off the Yorkshire coast. Project Two, which has a potential total investment of US$9.2bn, will have a planned capacity of 1.8GW and follows on from the 1.2GW Project One as part of a phased development programme. Power generated will be transmitted to the grid via a buried HV cable to the Killingholme North substation in the Humber region.

In October, the London Array consortium also submitted proposals for the second phase of its Round 2 offshore wind development in the outer Thames Estuary, while construction of the first phase nears completion. The London Array consortium of DONG Energy, E.ON and Masdar plans to install 240MW in Phase II, a project with a current total potential investment value of US$1.2bn.

Marine rush

There were a number of marine renewable projects proposed this month, which would deploy different emerging technologies within the sector. In the US, the pilot Maine Tidal Energy Project in the Bay of Fundy could produce up to 5MW power from the TidGen Power System when completed. Located between the border of eastern Maine and Canada, the fast-flowing water of the Bay of Fundy is a highly active tidal resource.

The developer ORPC recently submitted proposals for a second phase to install 24 underwater TidGen turbines. Each turbine can generate electricity in water depths of 50ft-100ft with a peak output of 180KW.

In Denmark, a floating wind and wave power plant concept began Phase 3 testing at a test site in Onsevig Harbour, off the north coast of Lolland. The prototype Poseidon P37 Wind and Wave Device transforms wave energy into electricity, while also serving as a floating foundation for offshore wind turbines.

Phase 3 testing intends to jointly produce power to the grid from wave absorption floaters and installed wind turbines. A proposed full-scale project could measure from 80m wide and up to 130m high, dependent on the wind and wave conditions at its chosen location.

The Crown Estate's first Northern Ireland offshore energy leasing round awarded a consortium of DP Marine Energy and DEME Blue Energy development rights for a 100MW tidal project off the north-west coast of Antrim. The preliminary layouts for the Fair Head Tidal Energy Farm project propose 100 three-bladed horizontal axis 1MW Siemens MCT power trains mounted on fixed tower structures, or on floating support structures where the water depth exceeds 40m. The final design and turbine selection will depend on the specific site conditions and location.

Most projects – onshore wind

In terms of project numbers, onshore wind power continues to lead, with 20 projects alone in this sector proposed for the UK in October. E.ON has unveiled plans for three new wind farms in south-west Scotland which represent an estimated US$486mn investment.

The largest of the projects is Lorg, near to New Cumnock in Ayrshire, where there are plans for around 28 turbines with a combined capacity of up to 84MW. The nearby Enoch Hill development will potentially comprise of up to 23 turbines with a combined capacity of up to 69MW.

Lastly, E.ON's third proposed development, Benbrack, will comprise up to 27 turbines with a combined capacity of 81MW between Carsphairn and Dalmellington, also in Ayrshire. E.ON is currently in early engagement with local communities within 15km of the projects.

While the potential investment value of new projects is down in September and October on the previous two months, levels of project activity remain buoyant, particularly across Western Europe.

Both offshore and onshore wind projects continue to dominate the global renewables sector in terms of both investment values and the volume of new projects; this is an ongoing trend that shows no signs of abating.

About: Ian Stokes is chief executive of the EIC (Energy Industries Council).

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