Renewable energy auction fails to deliver new offshore turbines

There were zero bids to establish new wind energy projects off the UK coast in a key government auction this week.

Companies were invited to submit bids to develop renewable energy projects that will supply the UK grid with electricity.

There were successful bids for onshore wind, solar, tidal and geothermal projects. However, there were none for offshore turbines, which are seen as the backbone of the UK’s renewable energy system.

Industry insiders said that the maximum price set by the government was too low and did not reflect the rising costs of building offshore wind farms, including higher steel prices.

There had been hopes that offshore wind in the latest round could have contributed enough electricity to power five million homes.

“Offshore wind is central to our ambitions to decarbonise our electricity supply and our ambition to build 50GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, including up to 5GW of floating wind, remains firm,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Graham Stuart.

“The UK installed 300 new turbines last year and we will work with industry to make sure we retain our global leadership in this vital technology.”

Half of this year’s total capacity was secured by new solar projects, and there were also three winning projects for geothermal for the first time. In total, the 95 new projects are expected to power the equivalent of two million homes.

BP takes 40% stake in Australian renewables project

BP is investing in a solar, wind and green hydrogen project in Western Australia.

The oil giant has agreed to acquire a 40.5% equity stake in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) the Pilbara mining region of Western Australia, and will operate the project.

AREH intends to supply renewable power to local customers and also produce green hydrogen and green ammonia for the domestic Australian market and export to major international users.

According to BP, this project has the potential to be one of the largest renewables and green hydrogen hubs in the world.

AREH is planning to develop 26GW of onshore wind and solar power, equivalent to around a third of Australia’s entire generating capacity.

At full capacity, it could also produce around 1.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen or 9 million tonnes of green ammonia per year.

“We believe AREH can be a cornerstone project for us in helping our local and global customers and partners in meeting their net zero and energy commitments,” said Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, BP’s executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy. “It will also serve as a long-term clean energy security contributor in Asia Pacific, helping countries such as South Korea and Japan to decarbonise.”

BP’s partner shareholders in AREH will be InterContinental Energy (26.4%), CWP Global (17.8%) and Macquarie Capital and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (15.3%).

German renewables group Entrade acquires bio-energy firm Agnion

German renewables specialist The Entrade Group said today it had acquired bio-energy plants operator Agnion Energy Inc from its owners for an undisclosed amount.

Entrade agreed this month to buy the business from venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Wellington Partners, Munich Venture Partners and waste management services provider Waste Management Inc (NYSE:WM).

The vendors’ previous combined investment in the target amounts to EUR35m (USD45m).

Benefits from the acquisition include technology transfer and synergies in wood gasification, the buyer noted.

Agnion, which is headquartered in Pfaffenhofen, Germany and has a branch in Bolzano, Italy, will be integrated into Entrade Energiesysteme AG.

Morgan Stanley unit invests in India’s Continuum Wind Energy

Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, a unit of US investment banking major Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), has agreed to invest INR12bn (USD210m/EUR167m) in Continuum Wind Energy, acquiring a majority stake in the Indian wind power company, the Times of India reported today.

Arvind Bansal, the investment banker who co-founded Continuum and serves as its chief executive, confirmed the deal for the newspaper but would not comment on its financial parameters. The Times of India did not say where it got its information on the size of the investment. Continuum was advised by o3 Capital, the newspaper said, adding that the agreement was signed last week.

Continuum was set up three years ago by Bansal and Vikas Saraf, a director at Indian conglomerate Essar Group. The company was created through the acquisition of the Kutch power generation business of Danish-based wind power giant Vestas Wind Systems A/S (CPH:VWS). Continuum operates 36MW of wind power capacity in Kutch and Sangli and has reached the advanced stage of installing 183 MW, with another 300MW in the pipeline. As Bansal informed the Times of India, the investment from Morgan Stanley will allow Continuum to build large-scale, high-quality wind energy assets that will address the shortage of power in India.

While conventional power production has suffered from domestic coal shortage and costly imports, India’s wind power sector has seen its capacity grow by nearly 30% annually in the past decade. The country ranks at number five globally in terms of installed capacity, boasting around 16,000 MW, the newspaper added.