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EGEB: World’s largest floating solar archipelago, coal takes hits in China and Britain, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • The largest sun-tracking solar archipelago is coming to the Netherlands.
  • China can pursue new coal plants, but there’s little reason to do so.
  • Britain broke its own record for continuous coal-free power.
  • South Korea ups its renewable targets.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

An archipelago of floating solar islands is coming to the Netherlands, and it’s said to be the largest of its kind in the world.

As reported by The Guardian, the 15 islands will be made up of 73,500 solar panels that will track the sun. The archipelago will be placed in the Andijk reservoir in the northern part of the country.

Developers said the first phase of the project will be made up of three islands, and should be finished by November. Floating Solar managing director Arnoud van Druten said,

“The sun-tracking system involves three buoys for anchoring with cable around it, which turns the island and at the same time keeps the island together. It ensures the island is turned towards the sun.”

Little further technical information was given, so we’re not sure what the total capacity will be at this point.

Coal in China

China is trying to shift away from coal with admittedly mixed results thus far. A new report from Bloomberg notes the country will see 10 regions “freed of their overcapacity tag in 2022, clearing a hurdle for them to resume building coal-fired plants.”

That seems ominous, but most of those regions may find coal too expensive to pursue at this point, as the state pushes toward clean energy projects. Morningstar analyst Jennifer Song said,

“The profitability of coal-fired power plants is so low, there’s no incentive for them to build more. China as a whole has set consumption targets for renewable energy sources. We can see those large power groups also have quotas to build more renewable projects.”

The IEA projects China will still be burning half of the world’s coal through 2023. But a new coal boom doesn’t appear to be on the way, as another analyst also noted the needle isn’t moving. In fact, coal stocks fell in Shanghai on Monday.

Coal in Britain

The combination of sunny weather, low energy demand, and solar power has led to Britain breaking its own record for the longest continuous period without generating electricity from coal — a total of 90 consecutive hours, National Grid told the BBC.

The previous record was 76 hours and 10 minutes, and this new record is the longest coal-free period in Britain since the industrial revolution. National Grid director of operations Duncan Burt told BBC Radio the record was “a really big deal.”

Coal currently makes up less than 10% of the country’s energy mix in 2018, and the last of Britain’s coal power plants should be phased out by 2025.

While solar gave Britain a boost, the UK has also gotten plenty of help from wind power recently, setting a record in 2018 and generating more than 35% of electricity during a recent week.

South Korean Renewables

South Korea is planning to boost its share of future renewable energy, up to 35% by 2040, Reuters reports. It doesn’t seem like a terribly ambitious goal —  until you consider the country only gets about 8% of its energy from renewable sources currently.

Park Jae-young, director of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said, “We have decided to increase the share of renewable power to between 30 percent and 35 percent by 2040 to move toward cleaner and safer energy based on an advisory group’s recommendation.”

The report says South Korea plans to cut back on coal, but expand natural gas generation — which doesn’t answer the question of how it plans to reach its new renewable goal.

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