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EGEB: US solar rebound expected, BP emissions, green hydrogen, and more

Today in EGEB, Wood Mackenzie sees a bounce back for the solar industry in 2019. BP and the EDF team up to limit methane leaks following a report critical of the oil giant. Researchers believe green hydrogen could be economically viable by 2035. And GE launches a prototype of its largest onshore wind turbine.

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Energy and research consultancy group Wood Mackenzie foresees a 14 percent growth in U.S. solar installations this year following a 2 percent dip in installations last year. Annual installations in 2018 totaled 10.6 GWdc.

Wood Mackenzie expects more than 12 GW of capacity to be installed this year, with a rebound in utility installations and continued growth in residential solar. Residential grew by 7 percent in 2018, and Wood Mackenzie sees California’s new home solar mandate as signaling “the next phase of solar market adoption.”

Starting next year, new California homes will be required to have solar photovoltaics installed. Wood Mackenzie says long-term forecasts see an additional gigawatt of residential demand each year through 2024. The state is also considering a Solar Bill of Rights, which could make solar more enticing overall. California topped state installation rankings, followed by Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada.

For the sixth straight year, solar was one of the top two sources of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., only trailing natural gas. A recent solar jobs report was also bullish on long-term trends.

BP Emissions Questions

BP, the oil giant which launched a Tesla Powerwall project and invested in electric charging last year, announced a collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund to reduce methane emissions.

The three-year “strategic commitment” is designed to “advance technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions from the global oil and gas supply chain.” EDF will not receive funding from BP, but the two will work on analytical and technical projects with BP offering funding assistance.

BP CEO Bob Dudley also said the oil industry should engage with Green New Deal supporters. Reuters reports that Dudley said in a keynote speech:

“We need to demonstrate that we share the common goal of a low-carbon future and that we are in action toward it.”

The timing is coincidental, if not curious, as a recent report from The Financial Times reveals the company lobbied against U.S. methane rules in recent years. The publication claims to have verified documents which “show a pattern of behavior related to US methane regulation that jars with BP’s calls to cut emissions, and which critics contend will contribute to higher levels of pollution in the future.”

A day before the Environmental Defense Fund announced the partnership with BP, the Financial Times report quoted EDF’s Ben Ratner:

“There has been a disconnect between BP’s global methane positioning and its posture on US methane regulations.”

Green Hydrogen

A study from Norway’s DNV GL finds that hydrogen produced from renewable energy can be economically competitive with natural gas production by 2035.

Green hydrogen will be made feasible by the growth of wind and solar power, according to DNV GL. The group forecasts that solar, wind, and hydropower will account for 80 percent of global electricity production in 2050. The release notes:

“As this capacity increases, opportunities to utilize its low-cost electricity are becoming feasible to avoid curtailment: initially conversion into heat then (daily) battery storage and eventually conversion into green hydrogen.”

The rise of renewables, the penalization of carbon emissions, and a decreasing cost of electrolyses will all be factors in the eventual affordability of using hydrogen as a possible energy carrier in the future, the paper claims.

Towering Turbine

GE Renewable Energy announced it has launched a prototype of its largest onshore wind turbine, the 5.3-158 Cypress wind turbine.

The Cypress platform uses a two-piece blade design which “enables significant Annual Energy Production (AEP) improvements, increased efficiency in serviceability, (and) improved logistics and siting potential.”

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