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EDF Renewables North America and Enbridge Celebrate Completion of Fox Squirrel Solar Phase 1
May 22, 2024

EDF Renewables North America and Enbridge Celebrate Completion of Fox Squirrel Solar Phase 1

EDF Renewables North America and Enbridge Inc, a leading North American energy infrastructure company (TSX: ENB) (NYSE: ENB), celebrated with more than 100 guests, the completion and start of commercial operation of the 150 MWac Fox Squirrel Solar Phase 1. When all three phases are completed at the end of 2024, the 577 MWac project will be one of the largest utility-scale solar developments east of the Mississippi River.

solar

“The development and operation of Phase 1 marks a significant milestone in our journey to drive Ohio’s renewable energy future,” said Kate O’Hair, Senior Vice President for Onshore Development with EDF Renewables North America. “With Fox Squirrel Solar Phase 1 now supplying renewable power to the PJM grid, this project not only represents a substantial financial commitment but also highlights the remarkable collaboration between our team, the county, and the local community. We take great pride in this collective effort.”

Developed by EDF Renewables and owned in partnership with Enbridge, Fox Squirrel Solar will help meet central Ohio’s increasing demand for power, which is expected to double in the decade leading up to 2028.

During the event, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced it has entered into power purchase agreements for the full generation capacity, which will help contribute to Amazon’s commitment to match all of the electricity used by its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030. The company is currently on a path to meet its goal by 2025. As renewable energy commitments are increasingly embraced by corporations, solar projects like Fox Squirrel will help Ohio realize its goal of continuing to attract business and increasing economic growth in the state.

“Amazon is the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. As part of that journey, we’re proud to enable new solar and wind projects in Ohio that will not only help power our operations, but also provide carbon-free energy to the local communities where our customers, vendors, and employees live and work,” said Kevin Miller, Vice President of Global Data Centers at AWS. “Projects like Fox Squirrel Solar are also helping create jobs, support local businesses, and boost the local tax base, which are all part of Amazon’s commitment to become a more sustainable company.”

“Fox Squirrel Solar is a key part of Enbridge’s commitment to the energy transition, and we are proud to celebrate the grand opening of the project, which expands our longstanding partnership with EDF Renewables in Canada and Europe,” said Tom Carbone, Vice President, Power Business Development, Enbridge. “For more than 70 years, Enbridge has been operating in Ohio and we’re excited about the additional construction, long-term operations and maintenance jobs this project will provide, along with additional local economic benefits. We are also particularly pleased the power generated at Fox Squirrel Solar will support Amazon’s efforts to reach its net-zero targets.”

“Fox Squirrel Solar is a prime example of how we can support Ohio's business energy demands and stabilize our electric energy infrastructure,” said Ohio Chamber President & CEO Steve Stivers. “We are now expecting one of our major utilities to double their need for energy in the next five years, and the only way to keep up with this growth is to actively develop and bring energy projects to market. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce supports an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy development, and we appreciate projects like Fox Squirrel Solar that help to balance our ever-increasing energy demands.”

Nearly 400 men and women in the skilled trades are currently working on the project. During peak construction of Phase 1 that number soared to 650 workers. Blattner is the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor.

“At Blattner, we’re excited about this project and our ongoing partnership with EDF Renewables,” said Chris Hodrick, Senior Vice President, General Manager – Solar and Storage, Blattner. “Working together with EDF Renewables, local policymakers and construction partners, we’ve made a difference for communities in Madison County, an important part of our work to lead America to a clean energy future.”

Pat Hook, Business Manager, IBEW Local 683, said, “IBEW Local 683 has the skilled men and women to build best-in-class solar facilities. We are the trusted workforce of the electrical industry including gas and electric utilities, maintaining power lines, and lighting our homes and businesses. We have worked in coal, natural gas, and nuclear. And now we are electrifying America through solar. Ohio is at the forefront of an energy revolution and Fox Squirrel Solar is a shining example of where we are going.”

“The Ohio Laborers’ District Council is thrilled about our partnership with EDF Renewables and the opportunity to build a solar facility to help power Ohio’s growing energy demands,” commented Ralph Cole, Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of the Ohio Laborers’ District Council. “Laborers in Ohio are building the infrastructure that sustains our way of life, provides good wages and benefits, and contributes to our community’s bottom line. Fox Squirrel Solar is going to create hundreds of jobs, and power the grid with homegrown energy for years to come.”

Scott Stevenson, IUOE Local 18, added, “Ohio Operating Engineers Local 18 is proud to be supporting the skilled labor of the Fox Squirrel Solar Project. The project will provide much needed clean energy and support our energy infrastructure as we rebuild our electric generation fleet in Ohio. Local 18 is a trusted partner with EDF Renewables and we appreciate the opportunity to work on this important project that will benefit our schools, community, and workforce.”

Comprised of 1.4 million panels and 159 inverters in total, Fox Squirrel Solar represents the largest onshore renewable energy project developed by EDF Renewables North America.

EDF Renewables, with its extensive experience and track record of success, is dedicated to providing solutions that help customers achieve their carbon-reduction goals. With over 35 years of experience and 16 gigawatts of wind, solar, and storage projects developed, EDF Renewables is a leading provider of integrated energy solutions, ranging from grid-scale power to electric vehicle charging.

EDF Renewables North America | www.edf-re.com

Enbridge | enbridge.com

Enact Market Intelligence Report Shows Improving ROI on Customer Solar and Storage Projects in 2023
May 22, 2024

Enact Market Intelligence Report Shows Improving ROI on Customer Solar and Storage Projects in 2023

Award-winning solar software platform, Enact Solar has published its 2023 U.S. Solar and Storage Market Intelligence Report, offering an overview of the solar energy landscape in the United States. With California's transition to NEM 3.0, the report highlights an improving return on investment for solar and storage investments, bolstered by declining hardware prices and increasing utility rates. Enact customers are seeing a shorter payback period now, around 5.5 years, when compared to around 7.6 years under NEM 2.0.

This comprehensive report provides invaluable insights into the trends, challenges and advancements shaping the American solar and storage market, underlining the pivotal role of Enact's innovative platform in the clean energy transition. The 2023 report found the Enact platform has proposed over $996 million worth of projects in the U.S. and over $12.8 billion globally, as of December. 31, 2023. The platform has monitored over 110 megawatts of systems.

"The 2023 report indicates that the U.S. residential consumer's transition to solar and storage has become increasingly complex, with a growing number of brand choices, complex NEM rates, and widely varying installer service levels,” said Deep Chakraborty, Enact CEO. "However, as energy consumption patterns rise and solar/storage hardware prices decline, the consumer's ROI is steadily improving."

Highlighted within the report is the notable proliferation of energy storage options, with an over 100% increase in the number of brands proposed on the Enact platform between 2022 and 2023. This surge in options creates heightened complexity for both consumers and installers, emphasizing the need for trusted sources in the industry.

The Enact report underscores the escalating spread in pricing across brands, including in residential sales with storage paired with solar. The average pricing for solar-plus-storage systems was around $3.60/Watt and peak pricing around $5.85/W for residential projects. There was a wide range in residential pricing for solar-only systems, with average pricing at $3.33/W and peak pricing at $5.12/W.

The report compared the average consumer pre-project energy consumption with electric bill values for customers. Enact found a 5% increase in the median bill and a 37.72% higher pre-solar consumption for customers seeking solar and/or storage options in 2023, when compared to 2022. Increasing consumption — along with increasing utility costs and climate change — have increased demand for solar solutions.

The Enact Platform evaluation revealed a significant variance in service levels among installers, emphasizing the critical need for reliable data and guidance in the selection process. As consumers navigate the complexities of transitioning to solar and storage solutions, Enact remains steadfast in its commitment to providing trusted advice and facilitating seamless experiences through its innovative platform.

For more information and to access the full report, please visit Enact's website: https://enact.solar/enact-2023-u-s-solar-and-storage-market-intelligence-report/

Enact Solar | https://enact.solar/ 

Qcells Investments Boost Georgia’s Clean Energy Economy
May 22, 2024

Qcells Investments Boost Georgia’s Clean Energy Economy

Qcells, a trusted provider of complete clean energy solutions and a leader in the residential, commercial and utility solar market segments, released new data showing how its historic investments in solar manufacturing are driving massive economic benefits to Georgia.

According to a Chmura JobsEQ Q4 2023 report, provided by the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development, Qcells’ manufacturing operations in Georgia generate the following potential economic impact annually: 

  • Estimated Direct Jobs in Bartow and Whitfield Counties: 3,800 jobs. 
  • Estimated Total Employment (direct, indirect and induced jobs) in Bartow and Whitfield Counties: 6,755 jobs. 
  • Total potential sales/output created in Bartow and Whitfield Counties: $2,091,896,919 (i.e., more than $2 billion). 

The Chmura JobsEQ sales/output estimate is based on the annual direct, indirect and induced sales generated when new employees become active in the local economy. ‘Indirect’ refers to the jobs created by regional companies supplying goods and services for Qcells’ expansion and new facility. Further, the report defines ‘induced’ as the jobs created, and sales generated when new employees increase business at local establishments. 

These substantial numbers underscore Qcells’ growing footprint in the state of Georgia and strong commitment to U.S. manufacturing. The employment jump and boost in sales were made possible by Qcells’ ambitious $2.5 billion investment in Georgia manufacturing, announced in January 2023, to expand its operations in Dalton and to build a fully integrated solar supply chain to include Cartersville. 

Qcells completed its Dalton factory expansion in October 2023 creating 510 additional clean energy jobs, and just this past month, kicked off solar panel manufacturing at its facility under construction in Cartersville. Once the Cartersville facility is completed, at the end of 2024, Qcells will have launched a full silicon-based solar supply chain with ingot, wafer, cell and finished panel production.

In the state of Georgia alone, Qcells’ full annual solar production capacity is anticipated to reach 8.4 GW annually, nearly 46,000 panels per day, which is enough solar to power nearly 1.3 million homes a year. 

Beyond Georgia, Qcells is onshoring manufacturing by investing in the full solar supply chain. Specifically, Hanwha Solutions, Qcells’ parent company, invested in REC Silicon to help reopen its Moses Lake, Washington, factory and restart polysilicon production. Ultimately, Qcells’ Cartersville facility will take 100% of the polysilicon produced in Moses Lake to produce American-made solar panels. Resuming production at Moses Lake will bring around 270 people back to work in solar manufacturing.

Additionally, Qcells will receive encapsulant film ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), from Hanwha Advanced Materials Georgia (HAGA), co-located in Cartersville and the only company manufacturing EVA at scale in the U.S. The jobs created from this investment will result in around 160 people working in solar manufacturing.

From investing in Northern Georgia to reviving a once dormant Washington state factory, as the data estimates, Qcells’ efforts to onshore the solar manufacturing industry are far reaching.

“From our third Dalton expansion in the last four years to the launch of panel production in Cartersville, it is gratifying to see our $2.5 billion investment in Georgia impacting the local communities in a meaningful way as the region becomes part of Qcells’ U.S. solar manufacturing supply chain.  Not only is the Georgia workforce helping to accelerate the country’s transition to clean energy, it’s benefitting from good paying jobs and adding to the vibrancy of the local economy,” said Danny O’Brien, Qcells’ President of Corporate Affairs. “Last week, the Biden Administration announced actions that signal support for domestic solar manufacturers facing challenging market conditions. We welcome the Biden Administration’s leadership as it is clear policymakers understand the importance of this industry and recognize strong trade and industrial policies are critical to the long-term success of vital factories like ours. We look forward to continued work with federal officials and Governor Kemp in advancing the U.S. clean energy economy.” 

"I am pleased that Qcells has reached this milestone as it follows through on its commitment to build a fully American solar manufacturing supply chain by investing billions of dollars right here in Georgia. American solar manufacturing is at a crucial turning point and scaling rapidly as a result of my Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act. Yet as the United States scales up, China is doing everything it can to undermine our energy independence and American manufacturing of advanced energy technology. In response to my recent call to action, the Biden Administration has taken positive initial steps to strengthen trade enforcement against China’s attempts to destroy U.S. solar manufacturing, but China remains a serious threat to made-in-America solar energy,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

“Qcells made history with their landmark multi-billion dollar investment in Georgia’s clean energy economy. With solar energy production growing across our state, Georgia is continuing to reap the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act,” said U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock. “I am aggressively fighting attempts by our foreign competitors to dominate the solar market, and I am proud to support efforts to ensure Georgia is on the cutting edge of the solar market. I look forward to continuing to partner with Qcells as Georgia becomes the premier destination for America’s clean energy manufacturers.”

“Georgia is proud to congratulate QCells on this milestone and looks forward to the full completion of this expansion that will employ thousands,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “As the No. 1 state for business, our talented workforce, reliable infrastructure, and award-winning state and local economic development teams create an environment where innovative companies like QCells can thrive. That’s why they chose Georgia in 2019 and have continued to expand afterward.”

“The start of solar panel production at Qcells’ Cartersville plant is a win for our state, and a step toward establishing a U.S. made solar supply chain to reduce our reliance on overseas-made products. I’m proud that Q-cells is continuing to invest and expand in Georgia, and look forward to the Cartersville plant being a great source of jobs in our state,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk.

Qcells | https://qcells.com/us/

Metal Roof Solar Project Survives Category 5 Hurricane Winds
May 22, 2024

Metal Roof Solar Project Survives Category 5 Hurricane Winds

Seven months after the devastation of Hurricane Otis to the resort city of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, this category 5 hurricane provided lessons for locals and businesses. The metal roof solar project at Grupo Comercial Chedraui, one of the country’s leading grocery superstore chains operating nearly 350 stores throughout Mexico, sustained severe damage. However, the solar metal roof of its Acapulco store was one of the few that survived the onslaught of wind and rain, attributed to the clamp attachment securing the solar array to the roof, which provided a stronger attachment and may have saved the roof and the entire infrastructure.

roof damage

Just one month before Hurricane Otis made landfall, solar EPC “Energía Real” completed the solar photovoltaic installation of 538 Trina Solar 545W modules for a total installed capacity of 293 kWp, on the store’s KR-18 sheet metal roof. These modules were secured to the roof using S-5!'s PVKIT, the world’s first rail-less system for mounting solar to metal roofs, together with the S-5-MX Mini clamp, two 100 KW Huawei inverters and one 40 KW Huawei inverter providing 240 kWp of installed AC capacity.

The Hurricane

On October 25, 2023, Hurricane Otis made landfall near the port of Acapulco. Its power devastated the coast of Guerrero, with maximum sustained winds of about 270 kilometers per hour, one of the strongest recorded hurricanes to have impacted the Mexican Pacific. 

The intensity that Otis acquired took climate scientists by surprise. The data from the surveillance systems did not anticipate the risk of a destructive force that would trigger the disaster in Acapulco and nearby towns, resulting in human and material losses. 

The Devastation

While most of the surrounding shops, restaurants, hotels and businesses suffered considerable damage from the category 5 hurricane, remarkably and for the most part, the Chedraui store remained intact. In the aftermath of the hurricane, the roofing contractor visited the site to inspect for roof damage. Sections of the roof that were without solar experienced roof blow-off. However, the store’s rooftop solar array secured in place by the PVKITs and MX Mini clamps withstood the devastation.

Metal Roofing in High Wind Conditions

Metal roofing, in particular standing seam metal roofing, is known for its exceptional performance in high-wind conditions, due in part to its attachment methods and interlocking installation where roof panels are overlapped and attached to the structure of the building, reducing the ability of wind to disrupt the panels. Metal roofing lends itself to high-wind areas because it can be engineered easily to withstand nearly any uplift force within the design stage.

Observations

Photos of the site taken post-hurricane clearly indicate the vast majority of roof damage was to areas of the roof without solar installed. This is evident, even in the higher-pressure edge roof zones, where the roofing panels along the edge zones, under the solar modules, were not damaged while the nearby bare roofing was blown off. The logical conclusion is that the solar modules, PVKITs and MX Mini clamps installed over portions of the roof prevented those portions from failing, preserving both the solar modules and the roof.

The MX Mini clamps together with the PVKIT solar mountings by S-5! were installed to secure the solar modules to the metal roof, but the clamps performed a secondary function as wind clamps, often referred to as External Seam Clamps. These external seam clamps measurably increase the roof’s wind uplift resistance capacity, preventing multiple modes of failure, including seam separation and clip disengagement (when used at roof clip locations).

Third-party testing performed in 2013 resulted in a 300% increase in uplift resistance of a metal roof when S-5!’s WindClamps were installed on the roof seams. The MX Mini clamps on the Chedraui grocery store roof acted as external seam clamps during the Acapulco category 5 hurricane. 

Considering how the wind causes uplift forces when approaching and blowing across the solar array installed on the roof, the dynamics of the wind forces shifted from direct pressure on the roof to split pressure on both the roof and the solar modules. The metal roof seams were strengthened from the installation of the clamps to resist uplift pressures on the roof and met the challenge to secure the solar modules to the building, preventing wind uplift forces from tearing them off the building and preserving the roof.

In this scenario, those uplift forces were transferred into the KR-18 roof through the PVKITs and MX Mini clamps, then from the roof panels to the roof clips and into the building structure. Together, these components and connections were strong enough to prevent the modules from disengaging from the roof panels and preventing the roof from pulling off the building’s structure.

Often, there is a concern that a metal roof panel, like the KR-18, is not strong enough to transmit the forces as part of the load path described above, or that the roof clips may be overloaded and fail from these discrete point loads. From observations in this case study, such concerns are not valid. All the components in the load path and all the connections between the components remained intact and connected, keeping the system together and undamaged, including the roof panels and roof clips. The roof below the solar modules clearly was not damaged or torn off.

S-5! | www.s-5.com

QuickBOLT Solar Mounts Now Available on Sunnova Approved Vendor List
May 22, 2024

QuickBOLT Solar Mounts Now Available on Sunnova Approved Vendor List

QuickBOLT, a division of Quickscrews International, is pleased to announce that its proven solar mounts have been added to the Sunnova Energy International Inc. (NYSE: NOVA) Approved Vendor List (AVL). This approval allows Sunnova dealers to access QuickBOLT's innovative and easy-to-install solar mounting solutions.

QuickBOLT is renowned for its thoughtfully designed mounts that solve common installer issues, reduce time on the roof, and eliminate errors, making solar installations faster, safer, and more efficient. As a family-owned business, QuickBOLT prioritizes customer service and solutions-driven product design, addressing the challenges faced by installers with high-quality, problem-solving products.

“We are excited to bring our industry-leading solar mounts to Sunnova dealers,” said Aaron Robbins, Communications Manager of QuickBOLT. “Our inclusion on the Sunnova AVL represents another acknowledgment of the simplicity and reliability of QuickBOLT mounting solutions. It's an important step in our mission to solve problems for solar installers.”

Sunnova Energy International Inc., an industry-leading adaptive energy services company, is focused on making clean energy more accessible, reliable, and affordable for homeowners and businesses. Founded in Houston, Texas, in 2012, Sunnova is committed to pioneering the energy transition through its adaptive energy platform, delivering better energy service at a better price to power energy independence.

QuickBOLT | quickbolt.com

Intersolar & Energy Storage North America Opens Registration for Inaugural Texas Event
May 22, 2024

Intersolar & Energy Storage North America Opens Registration for Inaugural Texas Event

Intersolar & Energy Storage North America (IESNA) registration is now open for its new regional event slated for November 19-20, 2024, at the Austin Marriott Downtown in Austin, Texas.

intersolar

Focused on supporting the product, information, and connection needs of solar + storage professionals doing or seeking business within the state, the inaugural IESNA Texas conference and trade show will feature a curated exhibit hall, educational program, and networking opportunities—delivering a valuable, accessible, and productive experience to all participants. 

“Our goal for IESNA Texas is to help solar + storage professionals find, understand, and accelerate business opportunities in Texas’s clean energy economy,” says Wes Doane, Vice President, Intersolar & Energy Storage North America. “Over the course of one-and-a-half days, attendees will be able to efficiently source solutions from credible companies; gain insights and information on the Texas market; and build meaningful relationships with peers who understand their challenges.” 

Event Highlights
  • 15 conference sessions (with focus areas including Finance, Market Development, and Trends, as well as Policy and Regulations, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, IRA Tax Implications, Workforce, and more) selected by an experienced Conference Committee and association partners, Texas Solar Energy Society and Texas Solar Power Association.
  • Nearly 40 innovative exhibitors, including APsystems, EPC Power, EndurEnergy, Scorpius Tracker, SEG Solar, SkyFri, and more showcasing their solutions within what will be a sold-out exhibit hall.
  • Insightful keynote presentations by clean energy leaders and advocates.
  • Daily networking luncheons to build professional connections and facilitate peer discussion.
  • An open-to-all Happy Hour and Launch Party celebration, featuring live music and refreshments.
Space is Limited: Register Early & Save 

Early Bird registration is now open, with Conference and Exhibit Hall passes available at their lowest rates. Pass quantities are limited: attendees are encouraged to register early to secure their spot. 

  • For information on pass access and pricing, click here
  • To secure your spot at the early bird rate, register here.

Companies interested in exhibiting in Austin are encouraged to contact the Intersolar & Energy Storage North America team.

Intersolar & Energy Storage North America | intersolar.us

Diversified Communications | divcom.com

Center for Rural Affairs Report: Solar Development has Minimal Impact on Ag Land Use
May 22, 2024

Center for Rural Affairs Report: Solar Development has Minimal Impact on Ag Land Use

As renewable energy development grows in rural areas, so do concerns about protecting agricultural land, especially from utility-scale solar projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that by 2050 solar will occupy 10.3 million acres of land nationally, 90% of which will be in rural areas. To address concerns about utility-scale solar systems occupying a large amount of prime farmland, some local and state officials have proposed and even placed restrictions prohibiting it. 

Alex Delworth, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, said the restrictions are concerning. 

“They can be debilitating for solar development, not to mention raise questions about private property rights,” he said. “In one instance, we found a county-level restriction related to prime farmland that eliminated 75% of potentially developable land in the area.”

While utility-scale solar projects can look intimidating amid concerns about taking land out of production, a new report from the Center for Rural Affairs found their overall impact on agricultural land use is minimal.

“Sifting through Solar: Land-Use Concerns on Prime Farmland,” written by Delworth, discusses how restrictions are designed and forecasts solar development’s impact on prime farmland in the Midwest region. 

The DOE predicts that between 210 and 420 GWs of solar projects are needed in the Midwest by 2050 to meet federal decarbonization standards. According to the report, if all of the forecasted solar was built on the region’s prime farmland, it would occupy between 1.45% and 2.9%.

The report also addresses potential short-term impacts in Iowa and Minnesota.

Delworth said if every acre currently proposed for solar development in Iowa was built on the state’s top 14% rated farmland (90 Corn Suitability Rating, or CSR, and above), it would occupy 0.54% of the total acres. Furthermore, the proposed solar would occupy only 0.14% of the top 62% rated farmland (65 CSR and above).

The projected impact in Minnesota is also minimal. According to the report, if the number of acres currently proposed were located on prime farmland, it would cover less than 0.3% of the land.

Delworth hopes local, county, and state officials will consider the report’s findings as they decide the future of solar development in their area.  

“Implementing rules that work with solar development rather than limiting it will open up economic opportunities for rural residents who want to voluntarily lease their land,” Delworth said. Renewable energy projects also generate tax revenue for counties, schools, and emergency services as well as create rural employment opportunities. 

To read and download a copy of “Sifting through Solar: Land-Use Concerns on Prime Farmland,” visit cfra.org/sifting-through-solar.

Center for Rural Affairs | https://www.cfra.org/

Investing in the Future: Mobilizing capital and partnerships for a sustainable energy transition

Alternative Energies Jun 26, 2023

Investing in the Future: Mobilizing capital and partnerships for a sustainable energy transition

Unleashing trillions of dollars for a resilient energy future is within our grasp — if we can successfully navigate investment risk and project uncertainties. The money is there — so where are the projects? A cleaner and more secure energy ....

Lessons Learned: The first case of heavy maintenance on floating wind
Wind Sep 15, 2023
6 min read

Lessons Learned: The first case of heavy maintenance on floating wind

The Kincardine floating wind farm, located off the east coast of Scotland, was a landmark development: the first commercial-scale project of its kind in the UK sector. Therefore, it has been closely watched by the industry throughout its installation. With two of the turbines now having gone through heavy maintenance, it has also provided valuable lessons into the O&M processes of floating wind projects. 

In late May, the second floating wind turbine from the five-turbine development arrived in the port of Massvlakte, Rotterdam, for maintenance. An Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS)

vessel was used to deliver the KIN-02 turbine two weeks after a Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) and AHTS had worked to disconnect the turbine from the wind farm site. The towing vessel became the third vessel used in the operation.

This is not the first turbine disconnected from the site and towed for maintenance. In the summer of 2022, KIN-03 became the world’s first-ever floating wind turbine that required heavy maintenance (i.e. being disconnected and towed for repair). It was also towed from Scotland to Massvlakte. 

Each of these operations has provided valuable lessons for the ever-watchful industry in how to navigate the complexities of heavy maintenance in floating wind as the market segment grows. 

floating yellow

The heavy maintenance process

When one of Kincardine’s five floating 9.5 MW turbines (KIN-03) suffered a technical failure in May 2022, a major technical component needed to be replaced. The heavy maintenance strategy selected by the developer and the offshore contractors consisted in disconnecting and towing the turbine and its floater to Rotterdam for maintenance, followed by a return tow and re-connection. All of the infrastructure, such as crane and tower access, remained at the quay following the construction phase. (Note, the following analysis only covers KIN-03, as details of the second turbine operation are not yet available). 

Comparing the net vessel days for both the maintenance and the installation campaigns at this project highlights how using a dedicated marine spread can positively impact operations. 

For this first-ever operation, a total of 17.2 net vessel days were required during turbine reconnection—only a slight increase on the 14.6 net vessel days that were required for the first hook-up operation performed during the initial installation in 2021. However, it exceeds the average of eight net vessel days during installation. The marine spread used in the heavy maintenance operation differed from that used during installation. Due to this, it did not benefit from the learning curve and experience gained throughout the initial installation, which ultimately led to the lower average vessel days.

The array cable re-connection operation encountered a similar effect. The process was performed by one AHTS that spent 10 net vessel days on the operation. This compares to the installation campaign, where the array cable second-end pull-in lasted a maximum of 23.7 hours using a cable layer.

Overall, the turbine shutdown duration can be broken up as 14 days at the quay for maintenance, 52 days from turbine disconnection to turbine reconnection, and 94 days from disconnection to the end of post-reconnection activities. 

offshore

What developers should keep in mind for heavy maintenance operations

This analysis has uncovered two main lessons developers should consider when planning a floating wind project: the need to identify an appropriate O&M port, and to guarantee that a secure fleet is available. ‍

  • Identification of the O&M port

Floating wind O&M operations require a port with both sufficient room and a deep-water quay. The port must also be equipped with a heavy crane with sufficient tip height to accommodate large floaters and reach turbine elevation. Distance to the wind farm should also be taken into account, as shorter distances will reduce towing time and, therefore, minimize transit and non-productive turbine time. 

During the heavy maintenance period for KIN-03 and KIN-02, the selected quay (which had also been utilized in the initial installation phase of the wind farm project), was already busy as a marshalling area for other North Sea projects. This complicated the schedule significantly, as the availability of the quay and its facilities had to be navigated alongside these other projects. This highlights the importance of abundant quay availability both for installation (long-term planning) and maintenance that may be needed on short notice. ‍

  • A secure fleet

At the time of the first turbine’s maintenance program (June 2022), the North Sea AHTS market was in an exceptional situation: the largest bollard pull AHTS units contracted at over $200,000 a day, the highest rate in over a decade. 

During this time, the spot market was close to selling out due to medium-term commitments, alongside the demand for high bollard pull vessels for the installation phase at a Norwegian floating wind farm project. The Norwegian project required the use of four AHTS above a 200t bollard pull. With spot rates ranging from $63,000 to $210,000 for the vessels contracted for Kincardine’s maintenance, the total cost of the marine spread used in the first repair campaign was more than $4 million.

Developers should therefore consider the need to structure maintenance contracts with AHTS companies, either through frame agreements or long-term charters, to decrease their exposure to spot market day rates as the market tightens in the future.

yellow and blue

While these lessons are relevant for floating wind developers now, new players are looking towards alternative heavy O&M maintenance options for the future. Two crane concepts are especially relevant in this instance. The first method is for a crane to be included in the turbine nacelle to be able to directly lift the component which requires repair from the floater, as is currently seen on onshore turbines. This method is already employed in onshore turbines and could be applicable for offshore. The second method is self-elevating cranes with several such solutions already in development.

The heavy maintenance operations conducted on floating turbines at the Kincardine wind farm have provided invaluable insights for industry players, especially developers. The complex process of disconnecting and towing turbines for repairs highlights the need for meticulous planning and exploration of alternative maintenance strategies, some of which are already in the pipeline. As the industry evolves, careful consideration of ports, and securing fleet contracts, will be crucial in driving efficient and cost-effective O&M practices for the floating wind market. 

 

Sarah McLean is Market Research Analyst at Spinergie, a maritime technology company specializing in emission, vessel performance, and operation optimization.

Spinergie | www.spinergie.com

Sarah Mclean

Choosing the Right Partner Mitigates Project Risk
Alternative Energies Jul 15, 2023
7 min read

Choosing the Right Partner Mitigates Project Risk

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), developers plan to add 54.5 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to the U.S. power grid in 2023. More than half of this capacity will be solar. Wind power and battery storage are expected to account for roughly 11 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

A large percentage of new installations are being developed in areas that are prone to extreme weather events and natural disasters (e.g., Texas and California), including high wind, tornadoes, hail, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, etc. With the frequency and severity of many of these events increasing, project developers, asset owners, and tax equity partners are under growing pressure to better understand and mitigate risk.

chart

Figure 1. The history of billion-dollar disasters in the United States each year from 1980 to 2022 (source: NOAA)

In terms of loss prevention, a Catastrophe (CAT) Modeling Study is the first step to understanding the exposure and potential financial loss from natural hazards or extreme weather events. CAT studies form the foundation for wider risk management strategies, and have significant implications for insurance costs and coverage. 

Despite their importance, developers often view these studies as little more than a formality required for project financing. As a result, they are often conducted late in the development cycle, typically after a site has been selected. However, a strong case can be made for engaging early with an independent third party to perform a more rigorous site-specific technical assessment. Doing so can provide several advantages over traditional assessments conducted by insurance brokerage affiliates, who may not possess the specialty expertise or technical understanding needed to properly apply models or interpret the results they generate. One notable advantage of early-stage catastrophe studies is to help ensure that the range of insurance costs, which can vary from year to year with market forces, are adequately incorporated into the project financial projections. 

The evolving threat of natural disasters

Over the past decade, the financial impact of natural hazard events globally has been almost three trillion dollars. In the U.S. alone, the 10-year average annual cost of natural disaster events exceeding $1 billion increased more than fourfold between the 1980s ($18.4 billion) and the 2010s ($84.5 billion).

forest fire

Investors, insurers, and financiers of renewable projects have taken notice of this trend, and are subsequently adapting their behavior and standards accordingly. In the solar market, for example, insurance premiums increased roughly four-fold from 2019 to 2021. The impetus for this increase can largely be traced back to a severe storm in Texas in 2019, which resulted in an $80 million loss on 13,000 solar panels that were damaged by hail.  

The event awakened the industry to the hazards severe storms present, particularly when it comes to large-scale solar arrays. Since then, the impact of convective weather on existing and planned installations has been more thoroughly evaluated during the underwriting process. However, far less attention has been given to the potential for other natural disasters; events like floods and earthquakes have not yet resulted in large losses and/or claims on renewable projects (including wind farms). The extraordinary and widespread effect of the recent Canadian wildfires may alter this behavior moving forward.

A thorough assessment, starting with a CAT study, is key to quantifying the probability of their occurrence — and estimating potential losses — so that appropriate measures can be taken to mitigate risk. 

All models are not created equal

Industrywide, certain misconceptions persist around the use of CAT models to estimate losses from an extreme weather event or natural disaster. 

submerged cars

Often, the perception is that risk assessors only need a handful of model inputs to arrive at an accurate figure, with the geographic location being the most important variable. While it’s true that many practitioners running models will pre-specify certain project characteristics regardless of the asset’s design (for example, the use of steel moment frames without trackers for all solar arrays in a given region or state), failure to account for even minor details can lead to loss estimates that are off by multiple orders of magnitude. 

The evaluation process has recently become even more complex with the addition of battery energy storage. Relative to standalone solar and wind farms, very little real-world experience and data on the impact of extreme weather events has been accrued on these large-scale storage installations. Such projects require an even greater level of granularity to help ensure that all risks are identified and addressed. 

Even when the most advanced modeling software tools are used (which allow for thousands of lines of inputs), there is still a great deal that is subject to interpretation. If the practitioner does not possess the expertise or technical ability needed to understand the model, the margin for error can increase substantially. Ultimately, this can lead to overpaying for insurance. Worse, you may end up with a policy with insufficient coverage. In both cases, the profitability of the asset is impacted. 

Supplementing CAT studies

In certain instances, it may be necessary to supplement CAT models with an even more detailed analysis of the individual property, equipment, policies, and procedures. In this way, an unbundled risk assessment can be developed that is tailored to the project. Supplemental information (site-specific wind speed studies and hydrological studies, structural assessment, flood maps, etc.) can be considered to adjust vulnerability models.

This provides an added layer of assurance that goes beyond the pre-defined asset descriptions in the software used by traditional studies or assessments. By leveraging expert elicitations, onsite investigations, and rigorous engineering-based methods, it is possible to discretely evaluate asset-specific components as part of the typical financial loss estimate study: this includes Normal Expected Loss (NEL), also known as Scenario Expected Loss (SEL); Probable Maximum Loss (PML), also known as Scenario Upper Loss (SUL); and Probabilistic Loss (PL). 

Understanding the specific vulnerabilities and consequences can afford project stakeholders unique insights into quantifying and prioritizing risks, as well as identifying proper mitigation recommendations. 

Every project is unique

The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters and extreme weather events globally is placing an added burden on the renewable industry, especially when it comes to project risk assessment and mitigation. Insurers have signaled that insurance may no longer be the main basis for transferring risk; traditional risk management, as well as site and technology selection, must be considered by developers, purchasers, and financiers. 

As one of the first steps in understanding exposure and the potential capital loss from a given event, CAT studies are becoming an increasingly important piece of the risk management puzzle. Developers should treat them as such by engaging early in the project lifecycle with an independent third-party practitioner with the specialty knowledge, tools, and expertise to properly interpret models and quantify risk. 

Hazards and potential losses can vary significantly depending on the project design and the specific location. Every asset should be evaluated rigorously and thoroughly to minimize the margin for error, and maximize profitability over its life.

 

Chris LeBoeuf Chris LeBoeuf is Global Head of the Extreme Loads and Structural Risk division of ABS Group, based in San Antonio, Texas. He leads a team of more than 60 engineers and scientists in the US, UK, and Singapore, specializing in management of risks to structures and equipment related to extreme loading events, including wind, flood, seismic and blast. Chris has more than 20 years of professional experience as an engineering consultant, and is a recognized expert in the study of blast effects and blast analysis, as well as design of buildings. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and is a registered Professional Engineer in 12 states.

ABS Group | www.abs-group.com

 

 

Chris LeBoeuf

Achieving Grid Modernization Goals Through Value-based Decision Making
Alternative Energies Sep 01, 2023
4 min read

Achieving Grid Modernization Goals Through Value-based Decision Making

Grid modernization is having a profound impact on the nature and regulation of North American utilities. It represents a significant change to the way energy is managed, distributed, and used—today and in the future. As Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) targets become increasingly important to energy investors and regulators, how can organizations transform their Asset Investment Planning (AIP) processes to overcome challenges and take advantage of emerging opportunities?

copper crane

Grid modernization

The energy transition refers to the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as long-term energy storage such as batteries. The increasing penetration of renewable energy into the energy supply mix and the onset of electrification and improvements in energy storage are key drivers of the energy transition.

Grid modernization is a subset of the energy transition, and refers to changes needed in the electric transmission and distribution (T&D) systems to accommodate these rapid and innovative technological changes. Grid modernization often necessitates the increased application of sensors, computers, and communications to increase the intelligence of the grid and its ability to respond swiftly to external factors. The main goals of the grid are to provide the capacity, reliability, and flexibility needed to adapt to a whole range of new technologies (in the drive to net zero), while maintaining a comparable level of service and cost to the end customer.

Grid modernization projects are driven by both climate resilience through hardening of assets and changes to the T&D network to accommodate climate mitigation strategies. There are 3 broad categories for these types of projects:

  1. Climate Resilience and Infrastructure Hardening
    • These investments cover physical improvements to T&D assets to reduce outages or damage, and enhanced system capabilities in the areas of flood resistance, storm hardening, wildfire risk mitigation, and cyber security.
       
  2. Smart Grid and Distribution System Modernization
    • Projects in this area cover advanced grid technologies that enable two‐way communication, self‐healing, and autonomous restoration (using digital sensors and switches with advanced control and communication technologies). Advanced metering and communication infrastructure are also included in this category.
       
  3. Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Optimization
    • These projects cover grid modifications required to support the integration of resources such as microgrids, distributed solar, wind, and storage (hydrogen, battery), as well as the inclusion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

two circles

Grid modernization is accelerating due to multiple factors, such as decarbonization, electrification, extreme weather, and security threats.

Valuing innovative projects

The changing demands dictated by grid modernization will require organizations to strike the right balance between cost-effectively managing the current business, while investing appropriately to meet future demands. Organizations are already seeing an increase in both the volume and variety of grid modernization projects. This is leading to increased planning complexity, requiring utilities to demonstrate that they are spending their limited budgets and resources to maximize value and drive their ESG and performance targets.

A value-based approach to investment decision making is key to establishing a common basis to evaluate potential investment opportunities and meet the challenges of grid modernization. The key to achieving your organization’s grid modernization goals is building a multi-year plan that breaks the work into executable chunks. This ensures adequate funding and resources are available to carry out the plan in the short-term, resulting in incremental progress toward longer-term objectives. 

With a value-based decision-making approach, organizations can ensure they are making the right grid modernization investments—and justify their plans to internal and external stakeholders.

Align decisions with strategic objectives

 Business leaders must develop frameworks that quantify the financial and non-financial benefits of all proposed investments on a common scale and understand how projects will contribute to their short- and long-term grid modernization initiatives and broader energy transition goals. A value framework also creates a clear line of sight from planned investments to regulatory and corporate targets, allowing organizations to provide transparency into the decision-making methodology—and demonstrate the benefits of their plans to regulators, stakeholders, and customers: 

 

authorRuss is a Director of Product Management, Decision Analytics at Copperleaf. He is an innovative leader with over 20 years of comprehensive business and technical experience in high-tech product development organizations. Russ holds a B.A.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of British Columbia and a Management of Technology MBA from Simon Fraser University.

Copperleaf | www.copperleaf.com

 

 

 

Russ Stothers

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