US wind installs must quadruple to meet Biden goals; Siemens Gamesa to install first-ever recyclable blades

Our pick of the latest wind power news you need to know.

US annual wind installs must quadruple by 2031 to meet Biden goals

US wind installations must accelerate from 2026 and quadruple from current levels to 50 GW/year from 2031 to meet President Biden's carbon reduction targets, the US Department of Energy (DOE) said in a report published September 8.

Biden aims to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, requiring a rapid acceleration in solar and wind deployment.

The DOE modelled the solar, wind and storage capacity required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by 95% by 2035. The study included the large-scale electrification of end-user sectors.

Solar installations would need to quadruple to around 60 GW/year by the middle of the decade and 70 GW/year in 2031-2035, the DOE said.

US wind installations could dip in the coming years but would need to rise to 17 GW/year in 2026-2030 and 50 GW/year in 2031-2035, it said.

   US annual deployment rates - decarbonisation scenario

                                  (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Department of Energy's Solar Futures Study, September 2021.

By 2035, solar could provide 37%-42% of electricity demand while wind could supply 36%, nuclear 11%-13%, hydroelectric 5%-6% and biopower/geothermal 1%, the DOE said.

Quanta Services buys Blattner to capitalise on US renewables growth

Houston-based energy and telecoms group Quanta Services is to acquire services company Blattner for $2.7 billion, increasing its exposure to the renewable energy sector as the US ramps up decarbonisation efforts.

Minnesota's Blattner supplies engineering, procurement, project management and construction services to wind, solar and storage projects. Blattner has been involved in 49 GW of wind projects, 12 GW of solar and 17 energy storage projects.

President Biden is looking to implement a raft of support measures that accelerate renewable energy deployment in a new $3.5 trillion budget bill. A framework bill has been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives and lawmakers will nail down the full details in the coming weeks.

Siemens Gamesa launches first-ever recyclable turbine blade

Siemens Gamesa has produced what it says are the first recyclable wind turbine blades for commercial use at its manufacturing plant in Aalborg, Denmark.

Destined for offshore wind farms, the blades use a resin with a special chemical structure that allows separation and re-use of blade materials at the end of its lifetime. Siemens Gamesa has signed supply agreements with developers RWE, EDF and WPD Offshore, it said.

Blades are the last main wind turbine component to achieve a cost-efficient recycling value chain and turbine suppliers have been working with industry to improve recycling methods for existing units.

Around 25,000 tonnes of blades will reach the end of their operational life by 2025, mainly in Germany, Spain and Denmark. By 2030, this will double to 52,000 tonnes as assets in Italy, France and Portugal reach end-of-life.

                                 Onshore wind capacity by country, age

                                                                  (Click image to enlarge)

Source: WindEurope, November 2020

In June, Europe's wind industry called on the European Commission (EC) to ban the disposal of decommissioned blades on landfill sites by 2025.

UK to allocate 200 million pounds to offshore wind in December auction

The UK government is to allocate 200 million pounds ($276.6 million) to offshore wind projects in the next contract for difference (CFD) auction in December, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said September 13.

Allocated every two years, CFDs represent a crucial offtake commitment for developers, providing operators with a minimum revenue at an agreed strike price for 15 years. The UK is leading the world on offshore wind capacity and the government aims to quadruple capacity to 40 GW by 2030.

Offshore wind costs have plummeted in recent years. The last UK CFD auction in 2019 awarded 5.5 GW of new offshore wind projects at strike prices of between 39.65 and 41.61 pounds/MWh, around 30% lower than prices awarded in 2017.

                          Europe offshore wind installation forecast

                                                             (Click image to enlarge)

Source: WindEurope, February 2021

In total, the Round 4 auction will allocate 265 million pounds of contracts to renewable energy projects, including a minimum of 24 million pounds for floating wind projects, government documents show. For the first time, floating wind projects will compete separately from more mature fixed-bottom designs.

The UK government aims to install 1 GW of floating wind capacity by 2030 but experts predict very few floating wind projects will be ready in time for the Round 4 auction as it takes years to secure the required planning permission, grid connection agreements and supply chain plans.

The government will also allocate 10 million pounds in the upcoming auction to 5 GW of onshore wind and solar projects. Onshore wind and solar projects are entitled to participate in the auctions for the first time since 2015 and costs have fallen significantly since then.

Onshore wind prices this December are "expected to be low and on a par with the market energy price," Graham Rice, Head of Onshore Sales UK at Siemens Gamesa, said in April.

Scotland to auction offshore wind leases to supply oil and gas platforms

Scotland will launch in early 2022 a new lease auction for offshore wind projects that supply power to oil and gas platforms, Crown Estate Scotland announced September 1.

"This is an exciting development for the offshore wind sector which can play an important role in supporting the decarbonisation of Scotland's oil and gas sector," Crown Estate Scotland said.

The Scottish government plans to implement a new planning process for the selection of the lease areas and opened a public consultation that runs until October 20.

Offshore wind developer Cerulean Winds recently submitted plans to the Scottish government to build 3 GW of floating wind capacity that would power the majority of the UK's oil and gas platforms and produce green hydrogen.

In the largest-ever floating wind project, Cerulean applied for seabed leases west of Shetland and in the Central North Sea and requested a streamlined regulatory process. If approved, the developer aims to reach financial close in Q1 2022 and install around 200 of the latest large-scale turbines in 2024-2026.

The Crown Estate's new auction process will be separate from the ScotWind leasing round held earlier this year for up to 10 GW of offshore wind projects that supply the UK power grid, it said.

ScotWind was the first auction for seabed licences in Scotland in a decade and the auction attracted 74 applications for the 15 available leases. Crown Estate Scotland plans to make initial offers to successful participants in January.

The ScotWind auction offered a total lease area of 8,600 sq km, including zones only suitable for floating wind projects. Crown Estate Scotland hiked the auction price cap by 10 times to 100,000 pounds ($137,900) per square kilometre, after surging demand hiked prices in England and Wales.

Germany awards three offshore projects at zero-subsidy prices

Germany has allocated three offshore wind projects in the North Sea and Baltic Sea at zero-subsidy prices, the national power network agency Bundesnetzagentur said September 9.

Germany's RWE Renewables secured two project licenses for a total capacity of 525 MW while France's EDF secured a licence for 433 MW. The awards include grid connection rights and overtake existing rights held for these areas if they are not exercised by November 2. The projects are expected online in 2026.

"The zero-cent bids make clear bidders' strong interest in the sites despite their comparatively moderate size and the existing rights of subrogation of the former project developers," the network agency said.

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