Authors Posts by FuturENERGY




China slows a bit, but Europe and India take up the slack

The Global Wind Energy Council has released its annual market statistics. The 2017 market remained above 50 GW, with Europe, India and the offshore sector having record years. Chinese installations were down slightly – ‘only’ 19.5 GW – but the rest of the world made up for most of that. Total installations in 2017 were 52,573 MW, bringing the global total to 539,581 MW.

The numbers show a maturing industry, in transition to a market-based system, competing successfully with heavily subsidized incumbent technologies,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “The transition to fully commercial market-based operation has left policy gaps in some countries, and the global 2017 numbers reflect that, as will installations in 2018.

Wind is the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets; and the emergence of wind/solar hybrids, more sophisticated grid management and increasingly affordable storage begin to paint a picture of what a fully commercial fossil-free power sector will look like.

Prices for both onshore and offshore wind continue to surprise. Markets in such diverse locations as Morocco, India, Mexico and Canada range in the area of $US 0.03/kWh, with a recent Mexican tender coming in with prices below $US 0.02. Meanwhile, offshore wind had its first ‘subsidy-free’ tender in Germany this year, with tenders for more than 1 GW of new offshore capacity receiving no more than the wholesale price of electricity. In Asia, China continues to lead. India had a very strong year, but will be the ‘victim’ of a policy gap in 2018. Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam all continue to show promise, and there are stirrings in the laggard markets in Japan, and particularly in South Korea as a result of policies being enacted by the new government.

Europe had its best year ever, led by more than 6 GW in Germany, a very strong showing in the UK, and a resurgence in the French market. Finland, Belgium, Ireland and Croatia also set new records. Offshore installations of more than 3,000 MW are a harbinger of things to come.

The US had another strong year with 7.1 GW, and a very strong pipeline for the next few years. Direct corporate purchase of renewables plays an increasing role in that market, as the litany of household brand names (Google, Apple, Nike, Facebook, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, etc) signing wind and solar PPAs continues to grow. Canada and Mexico both had modest years in terms of installations, but a new government in Alberta is breathing life into the Canadian market and the solid policy foundation in Mexico will make it a substantial growth market for the coming decade.

In Latin America, Brazil chalked up more than 2 GW, despite political and economic crises which are not yet fully resolved. Uruguay completed its build-out and is nearing the 100% renewable energy target in the power sector. The results of 2016 and 2017’s auctions in Argentina will start to result in strong installation numbers in 2018 and beyond.

There was a lot of activity in Africa and the Middle East, but the only completed projects were in South Africa, where 621 MW of new capacity was added to the grid. Big projects in Kenya and Morocco are awaiting grid connection this year.

The Pacific region remains quiet, and although a lot of new contracts were signed in 2017. Australia, the only active market in the region, put up a modest 245 MW.

The dramatic price drops for wind technology has put a big squeeze on the profits up and down the whole supply chain,” concluded Sawyer. “But we’re fulfilling our promise to provide the largest quantity of carbon-free electricity at the lowest price. Smaller profit margins are a small price to pay for leading the energy revolution.

Source: GWEC

Soltec’s supply record in the country is boosted to 400 MW

Soltec is supplying complete tracker equipment to four solar PV plants located in the outskirts of Copiapó, a city in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. The power capacity of 46 MW is equally distributed among these plants, being each of them 11.5 MW.

The four PV plants, named Malaquita, Cahiyuyo, Valle Solar Este, and Valle Solar Oeste, are being developed by Yingli Solar, one of the world’s largest panel manufacturers and a main player in the solar industry. Yingli Solar procured 1,576 units of Soltec’s horizontal independent-row tracker SF Utility.

With over 400 MW of solar trackers supplied and underway in Chile and more than 2.2 GW in Latin America, Soltec has proven to be a reliable partner in large-scale projects. Soltec’s strong manufacturing and supply capacity enables customer project success,” said José María Celdrán, Soltec’s Regional General Manager for Argentina, Chile, and Peru.

Due to the nature of this project, with trackers being supplied to four different plants, Soltec’s Solhub played an important role. Solhub is the innovative warehousing and logistics system that supplies unitized tracker components onsite just-in-time with no intermediary handling companies, and minimal additional onsite material handling. The stock inventory and shipping activity of five factory warehouse facilities across the globe are synchronized with regional operations and project schedule to provide reliable lead-times and least onsite handling.

We are thrilled to make our debut for Yingli Solar as a tracker manufacturer and supplier,” stated Raúl Morales, CEO of Soltec. “Customers know that our incomparable PV tracking experience in the Atacama Desert makes Soltec a safe bet on partner reliability.

Source: Soltec


On the 8 January preparations started for the installation of one of the tallest wind turbine towers in the world, designed by the Spanish company Nabrawind Technologies (NBTECH), in Eslava (Navarra, Spain). The objective of this project is to use a full-scale prototype to validate a new innovative design and assembly process, which removes the need for large and high cost cranes currently used by the wind power industry.

Once installed, to validate its durability and performance, a fatigue test will be performed on the prototype that will simulate 25 years of real life conditions in only 6 months. “With this test, it will confirm in an accelerated way the performance of the tower in operation. This will improve the reliability of the structure and minimise any technical risks before the first pre-series,” says Ion Arocena, Head of the NBTECH Tower Program. This is achieved by using a novel system that generates loads on the upper part of the tower, by oscillating it in a controlled manner, to simulate in a short time frame real life conditions of a tower in operation.

This test method, never performed to date on a wind turbine tower, was formulated during the NEVA project. The project is a collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Center of Spain (CENER) and financed using FEDER funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

nabra_2A solution to the new challenges in the wind energy sector: the logistics and installation of XXL onshore wind turbines

The main innovative feature of the Nabralift (commercial name for the structure designed by NBTECH) lies in its patented assembly system, a new self-erecting process using hydraulic jacks on the ground. This allows for the tower to be elevated by introducing new modules from below. The tower is composed of smaller elements, which eliminates the need for specialised trucks and cranes. This new system signifies huge advances for the logistics of transport and assembly of the tower.

This isn’t the only innovation patented by this company; they have also developed technical solutions for wind turbine blades under the name of Nabrajoint. “Basically, it consists of a novel joint for a modular blade that will facilitate the transport of large wind turbine blades in two or more sections.” Says Javier Callén, Head of the NBTECH Modular Blade Program.

Significant cost reduction

The Nabralift technology solution offers a significant cost saving compared to conventional towers of up to 15-20% (depending on the height and power output of the wind turbine): firstly, due to the simplicity of transport and logistics as there is no need for specialised lorries or cranes; secondly, due to its construction being 20% lighter than a conventional tower of the same height; lastly, because it is installed on a foundation of three concrete pads, which reduces the consumption of concrete by 30-40% compared to current towers.

Straightforward industrial deployment using proven manufacturing technologies

The wind energy sector is fully globalised, and all markets increasingly demand the latest generation of wind turbines. “Only a few years ago, taller towers were almost exclusively installed in Northern Europe. However, the emergence of the 3 MW+ wind turbines and the saturation of areas of high wind in many countries, means that markets such as Spain, India, Latin America and China are well positioned for our tower technology,” says Eneko Sanz, General Manager of NBTECH.

To meet this demand, NBTECH has designed each part of the tower using conventional manufacturing technologies, straightforward to deploy in any continent, with maximum reliability and low costs.

In the last months NBTECH has closed various agreements to manufacture its tower and blade components to be supplied within Europe, with the objective to deliver the first pre-series in 2019. Deployment in APAC and LATAM is expected soon due to the high level of interest shown by potential clients.

Source: Nabrawind Technologies

Tackling corrosion issues and developing new materials in the wave, tidal and offshore wind sectors across Europe could save up to €84,000 million for developers and create up to € 82,000 million of supply chain opportunities by 2050, according to two new reports.

Commissioned by the NeSSIE project, the reports investigated the economic potential of anticorrosion solutions and the development of new materials in the offshore renewables market.

Corrosion is an important concern for offshore energy developers. All marine structures face corrosion problems impacting on the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs along the global lifecycle. In the case of offshore wind farms, the O&M costs are typically around 15 – 30 per cent of the total lifecycle, with corrosion issues a significant factor in these costs.

The reports found that based on offshore renewable deployment estimations, anti-corrosion solutions and new materials could see potential developers saving over €16,000 million for wave and tidal energy projects in the EU by 2050 and potentially over €68,000 million of savings for offshore wind projects. For the anti-corrosion supply chain, the wave and tidal energy markets could potentially lead to over €25,000 million of projects in the wider EU by 2050 and over €57,000 million for offshore wind projects.

Jan Reid, team leader in the energy and clean technologies team within Scottish Enterprise, said: “This early work is really encouraging. We can see there is a tremendous economic prize for the EU offshore supply chain in tackling this challenge and supporting the EU to decarbonise the energy sector. The key to unlocking this opportunity is developing investable demonstration projects that will prove the technological solutions. Working together with Stakeholders, we at NeSSIE are excited to be involved in the development of anti-corrosion solution demonstration projects.”

The reports contribute to NeSSIE’s overall objective of developing three investable demonstration projects in offshore renewables focused on corrosion and materials. The projects will utilise the existing EU subsea supply chain and their knowledge to develop commercial solutions.


Once more, in Scotland, hydrogen energy has proven to be an effective and clean alternative with the public presentation of the Surf ´n ´ Turf project, and with the Spanish industrial group Calvera as one of its main suppliers. The Surf’ n’ Turf project´s facilities started their operations after an opening ceremony on the 27th of September which was attended by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy of the Scottish Government, Paul Wheelhouse. This project is an innovative initiative seeking to promote the local generation, storage and distribution of hydrogen from renewable sources on the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

Its aim: to locally produce and utilize electric power, with an ensuing reduction in fossil fuel consumption and green-house emissions. For that, a set of facilities for hydrogen production on the isle of Eday from both a marine turbine and electrolyser have been built. Hydrogen is subsequently to be transferred in containers by ferry to the port of Kirkwall, where it will be once again transformed into electric power to supply port buildings and to provide service to moored ships.

The Spanish company Calvera plays a key role in this process that provides a clean and efficient solution for electric power. Thanks to its know-how on high pressure hydrogen storage and transport, Calvera supplied three sets of equipment (truck chassis and tanks) which are essential for the entire operation of hydrogen transport from its energy generation point to end-user location.

International track record

The CALVERA Group boasts a wealth of experience in European hydrogen-related projects. Prior to the Surf ´ n´ Turf project, it took part in the CENIT Sphera project that ended in 2010 and which, under the leadership of Gas Natural and a 30 million euro budget, aimed to develop the comprehensive technology required to introduce hydrogen as a further component into the energy mix. In it, Calvera provided solutions for hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization, with particular attention paid towards renewable hydrogen.

At present Calvera is partner to one of the most ambitious initiatives in Europe to promote hydrogen as an energy carrier: the BIG HIT project (Building Innovative Green Hydrogen Systems in an Isolated Territory: a pilot for Europe). With a budget of approximately 11 million euros, including 5 million euros coming from the European Commission, BIG HIT, involves 12 participants from 6 European countries. It seeks to develop the necessary infrastructure for hydrogen production, storage and distribution for the local supply of power on the Orkneys, -as is the case with the Surf ´n ´ Turf project to which it is heir-, as well as from renewable sources such as wind and tidal power. Thanks to this project, the local grid limitations to produce “green” hydrogen will be overcome by making use of the power surplus gone to waste so far.

Likewise, the Spanish company is involved in The Hydrogen Office project, supplying hydrogen storage equipment and supplying power and heating for a block of buildings in the Scottish town of Methil.

Source: Calvera


With MVDC PLUS (Medium Voltage Direct Current Power Link Universal System), Siemens is introducing a new direct-current transmission system to the market that will be serve as an efficient transmission route in medium-voltage AC grids from 30 to 150 kV. Siemens has developed the transmission system for grid operators who need to enlarge their infrastructure to handle the increasing volumes of power fed into the distribution system from distributed and renewable energy sources and also keep their network stable. Distances of up to 200 km can be bridged with MVDC PLUS. Siemens offers the medium-voltage DC transmission system as a compact system in three variants: for a transmission capacity of approximately 50, 100, and 150 MW at DC transmission voltages of 20 to 50 kV.

This makes MVDC PLUS suitable for connecting small communities in sparsely populated regions to the grid, and for connecting and stabilizing low-power distribution grids regardless of their voltage and frequency. This system enables a regulated power exchange between regional medium-voltage networks and microgrids. It also has greater independence from the high-voltage network. Cables as well as overhead lines can be used for transmission. It’s also possible to use existing routes when it’s necessary to increase power capacity without needing to move up to high-voltage level.


The transmission system also allows operators to set up a power link between islands or offshore platforms and the mainland in order to avoid maintenance measures and costs for a diesel generator backup. For example, the system can be used as a backup solution for medium voltage in the production industry, where it increases the availability of machines and equipment and reduces production losses. As a backup power supply for data centers, MVDC PLUS ensures, for example, classification in a quality stage (“tier”). The medium-voltage DC transmission system is also attractive because of its cost efficiency and the short implementation time for combinations at the local level with different financing models, which are increasing in importance in countries that have a growing proportion of renewable and distributed energy sources.

MVDC technology is based on the HVDC PLUS technology used in the Siemens HVDC transmission system, but is reduced to its basic functions. Like HVDC PLUS, the medium-voltage transmission system operates with voltage-source converters (VSC) in a modular multilevel converter design (MMC) that convert alternating current into direct current and vice versa. The current on the transmission route can flow in both directions. Thanks to the use of insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT), the commutation processes in the converter run independent of the network voltage. Both converter stations can be operated as a static synchronous compensator (statcom). The extra high-speed control and protection intervention capabilities of the converters ensure the stability of the transmission system, which reduces network faults and malfunctions in the three-phase grid. This significantly improves the security of supply for energy suppliers and energy customers alike.

Source: Siemens


During the past two years, the energy storage industry has experienced significant growth in both the more mature early adopter markets and new markets where the technology has just begun to make an impact. In 2015, Navigant Research expected that the top five countries accounted for approximately 66% of global storage deployments that year. Based on new forecasts, it is now anticipated that the top five countries will account for only 57% of the new capacity installed in 2017.

The United States and Germany remain two of the leading utility-scale energy storage markets worldwide, driven by regulations and innovative vendors and project developers. However, over the past year, additional markets in Europe have emerged as some of the most attractive, notably the United Kingdom and Italy. Both countries have begun experiencing grid stability issues caused by a higher penetration of renewables generation, and both recognize the ability of energy storage to solve many of these challenges.


Early adopter utility-scale energy storage markets in Asia Pacific such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea have also seen significant market growth as they push toward ambitious grid modernization goals. Elsewhere in Asia Pacific, the potentially massive markets in China and India are gaining traction as regulations and business models continue evolving. Throughout the rest of the world, new energy storage projects are being announced at an increasing rate, leading to more utilities and regulators waking up to the benefits the technology can provide.

Although many markets have seen slower than expected growth in the past two years, the industry has matured significantly and is expanding to provide new applications in new markets around the world. Storage is now one of the hottest topics in the global electrical industry, and the pace of new projects being commissioned and announced continues to rise. Perhaps the most important trend fueling this growth in the past two years has been the dramatic decrease in the prices for components of energy storage systems (ESSs), mainly lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries.

Navigant Research estimates that the total installed costs for Li-ion ESSs today have fallen approximately 35% from prices seen in late 2015. This rapid decrease in pricing has resulted in Li-ion technology further establishing its dominance in the utility-scale storage market. While there will continue to be competition from various technologies depending on the services a system will provide, the flexibility of Li-ion technology allows it to effectively provide most grid applications. Another key factor in the popularity of Li-ion is the confidence customers have in both the technology and vendors. The strong reputations and balance sheets of leading Li-ion manufacturers allow them to offer attractive warranties and provide customers the assurances they need to make investments in new projects. Additionally, the success of many early storage projects is resulting in increasing interest and investments throughout the industry.

The new report from Navigant Research provides forecasts for utility-scale ESSs deployed in select countries in terms of power capacity (MW), energy capacity (MWh), and revenue generated from the development of new projects in 26 countries globally. Forecasts include the most common technologies for utility-scale energy storage, including electrochemical (batteries) and electromechanical (pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheels, etc.) technologies

According to Navigant Research, global annual utility-scale energy storage power capacity additions are expected to grow from 1,158.8 MW in 2017 to 30,472.5 MW by 2026.

The falling costs for batteries and other components of an ESS are resulting in new cost-effective applications and markets opening. After many years of speculation, the industry is beginning to see stacked revenue streams and applications, making new projects an increasingly economical investment. This transition is being fueled by the advances being made in energy storage software platforms that allow systems to be much more flexible in their operation to provide the most lucrative and beneficial service at a given time.

Source: Navigant Research


LM Wind Power, a GE Renewable Energy business, has announced that it has begun production at a new factory in Bergama, Turkey. The facility, which is located in Bergama Organized Industrial Zone (BOSBI), is expected to manufacture and distribute an annual capacity of 500 MW with the capability to expand to 1.5 GW.

The Bergama facility is the first new blade manufacturing site of LM Wind Power since it became a GE Renewable Energy business earlier this year. It represents a $50 million commitment to Turkey and will create up to 450 additional skilled technical jobs for the region, which range from manufacturing operations, to technical engineering, services, administration and ancillary support.


Blade manufacturing requires a highly technical workforce and comprehensive training is a key component of ramping up a new LM Wind Power plant. The company inaugurated its Center of Excellence training facility in Bergama earlier this year, equipping the employees to apply and deepen their advanced blade manufacturing and industrial skills. The factory will address the needs of the fast-growing Turkish wind industry. Since 2010, annual new wind installations have continued to increase and sustained growth is predicted with a target of 20 GW by 2023.

Source: LM Wind Power

GRI Renewable Industries (GRI), wind industrial división of Corporación Acek, has concluded a Joint Venture agreement with Metalurgia Calviño (CALVIÑO) to initiate the manufacture of wind towers in Argentina in the second semester of 2017.

This new GRI facility will be located in the existing industrial plants in the Industrial Center of CALVIÑO in Florencio Varela, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, allowing a 300 wind towers supply per year for the Argentinian market and creating 350 highly-skilled jobs.


GRI and CALVIÑO are finalizing matters related to technical, financial and legal aspects, in order to start immediately with the industrial activity.

According to Javier Imaz, CEO of GRI: “The alliance between GRI and CALVIÑO will guarantee the supply of wind towers manufactured in Argentina, with the highest international manufacturing quality standards and just-in-time delivery.

Gastón Guarino, President of CALVIÑO, added that: “This Alliance will offer the Argentinian market a solution already proven internationally in different countries. In addition, it will ensure a greater synergy between one of the World’s leading Companies, as it is GRI, with a one the local pioneer Companies in this industry.

Source: GRI Renewable Industries


Optimal Sun, official partner of Alectrics for the Spanish market, will provide operations, maintenance and security services in addition to software ACTIS deployment for Marcegoso Solar ground mount plant, a 2.2 MW solar PV plant located in Villamartín in the province of Cádiz, Spain.

Optimal Sun brings total focus on the care and optimization of solar PV plants in Spain and Spanish speaking markets to owners and operators of commercial and utility scale plants. Its team of operations, maintenance and management experts create value by delivering energy performance optimization.


“The solar market in Spain is developing a much more sophisticated understanding of the need for high quality O&M and asset management services,” said Salvador Andreu, Managing Director for Optimal Sun. “We are pleased to offer such a holistic approach to solar plant performance.”

Alectris delivers asset care innovation for the global solar industry. With its integrated suite of products, services and software, it empower solar operators to increase plant productivity by providing one source for operations, maintenance and management support.

Source: Alectrics