EGEB: Renewables lab partners with Exxon, subsidy-free solar in Germany, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is partnering with ExxonMobil.
  • Germany’s first subsidy-free solar park is set to enter construction this summer.
  • The EIA expects less electricity to be generated from coal once again this summer.
  • A look at how offshore wind giant Ørsted can succeed in the US.

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

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has partnered with oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, of all companies. A $100 million agreement was announced last week, with ExxonMobil funding the partnership with NREL, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and other DOE laboratories over a 10-year span.

The partnership will focus on “developing transformative advanced energy technologies with a focus on reducing emissions.” NREL director Martin Keller said,

“What excites me is that there are different mindsets coming together and, in my view, the breeding ground of tremendous breakthrough ideas.”

ExxonMobil’s commitment is “the largest single external investment in research at NREL in the laboratory’s history.” The company was listed in a recent report as being among those using $1 billion in shareholder funds since the Paris Agreement on “misleading climate-related branding and lobbying.”

Subsidy-Free Solar

BayWa r.e., the renewable energy sector of Germany’s BayWa group, is building Germany’s first subsidy-free solar park, “proving that solar energy can now compete against conventional energy sources in Germany without any financial subsidies.”
The project, Barth V, has a total capacity of 8.8 MW, with its electricity going to an industrial partner through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement. BayWA r.e. will start construction on the park at the beginning of June. Benedikt Ortmann, managing director at BayWa r.e. Solar Projects GmbH, said:
“With our 175-MW solar park Don Rodrigo, which we built in southern Spain at the end of last year, we have already shown that solar power can be generated today more cheaply than conventional power. While experiencing lower irradiation values, we have now proved subsidy-free is possible in Germany too. We are very proud to be ushering in a new and exciting era for renewable energy generation.”

Less Coal

Coal has taken a number of hits in recent weeks, including the expectation that it will be outpaced again by renewable energy in the US this month, and New York state made moves to be coal-free by next year.

There’s more from the US Energy Information Administration, which expects less electricity to come from coal this summer with natural gas and renewables on the rise. The EIA expects coal to generate 25% of electricity this summer, down from 28% last year, and down from 35% in 2015.

Non-hydro renewables should generate 9% of electricity this summer as in 2018 — with hydro included, renewables jump up to 16% expected electricity generation.

Big Breeze

While we’ve written plenty about Ørsted here in EGEB, The New York Times has a profile of what it calls “a little-known Danish company” as it attempts to succeed in the US as it has in Europe.

Ørsted has about 30 percent of the global offshore wind market, but the Times sees a number of different challenges in the American market as the country is just starting to show significant interest in offshore wind:

Entrants into the American market, for instance, will need to formulate bids on projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars, while navigating the regulatory regimes of different states and figuring out how to tap into their often aging power grids. Would-be developers are also being pushed by state governments to help local economies by setting up facilities and using local suppliers, who may lack experience in the new industry.

There are also a number of other challenges for a company looking to venture beyond Europe, including Ørsted bumping into established energy giants that are branching out into the renewables business.

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