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Post-COP28: What Now? Waiting for the Sky to Fall?

By Gerard Kreeft

Instead of a narrative from myself I find it best suited to give attention to Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), which has aptly described, in summary fashion, the state of our little planet Earth and provided a sobering roadmap. I have taken the liberty to quote literally CMI’s narrative.

The key is building a Stabilization Triangle (see below).

The Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) is an independent academic research programme that brings together scientists, engineers and policy experts to design safe, effective and affordable carbon mitigation strategies. Sponsored by bp and administered by the High Meadows Environmental Institute, CMI is Princeton university’s largest and most long-term industry partnership. Since its inception, CMI has been committed to the dissemination of its research findings in peer-reviewed academic literature so they may benefit the larger scientific community, government, industry and the general public.

Building the Stabilization Triangle

We already have the technology we need to take the world off the path toward dramatic climate change.

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning are projected to double in the next 50 years (Figure 1), keeping the world on course to more than triple the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration from its pre-industrial level. This path (black line) is predicted to lead to significant global warming by the end of this century, along with decreased crop yields, increased threats to human health, and more frequent extreme weather events.

In contrast, if emissions can be kept flat over the next 50 years (orange line), we can steer a safer course. The flat path, followed by emissions reductions later in the century, is predicted to limit CO2 rise to less than a doubling and skirt the worst predicted consequences of climate change.

Keeping emissions flat for 50 years will require trimming projected carbon output by roughly 8Billion tons per year by 2060, keeping a total of 200Billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere (yellow triangle). We refer to this carbon savings as the stabilization triangle.

To keep pace with global energy needs at the same time, the world must find energy technologies that emit little to no carbon, plus develop the capacity for carbon storage. Many strategies available today can be scaled up to reduce emissions by at least 1Billion tons of carbon per year by 2060. We call this reduction a wedge of the triangle (Figure 2). By embarking on several of these wedge strategies now, the world can take a big bite out of the carbon problem instead of passing the whole job on to future generations.

We Have the Technology

Each of the 15 strategies below has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by at least 1Billion tons per year by 2060, or 1 wedge. A combination of strategies will be needed to build the eight wedges of the stabilization triangle.

EFFICIENCY

  1. Double fuel efficiency of 2Billion cars from 30 to 60 mpg.
  2. Decrease the number of car miles traveled by half.
  3. Use best efficiency practices in all residential and commercial buildings.
  4. Produce current coal-based electricity with twice today’s efficiency.

FUEL SWITCHING

  1. Replace 1400 coal electric plants with natural gas-powered facilities.

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

  1. Capture AND store emissions from 800 coal electric plants.
  2. Produce hydrogen from coal at six times today’s rate AND store the captured CO2.
  3. Capture carbon from 180 coal-to-synfuels plants AND store the CO2.

NUCLEAR

  1. Add double the current global nuclear capacity to replace coal-based electricity.

WIND

  1. Increase wind electricity capacity by 10 times relative to today, for a total of 2Million large windmills.

SOLAR

  1. Install 100 times the current capacity of solar electricity.
  2. Use 40,000 square kilometers of solar panels (or 4 million windmills) to produce hydrogen for fuel cell cars.

BIOMASS FUELS

  1. Increase ethanol production 12 times by creating biomass plantations with area equal to 1/6th of world cropland.

NATURAL SINKS

  1. Eliminate tropical deforestation.
  2. Adopt conservation tillage in all agricultural soils worldwide.

No one strategy will suffice to build the entire stabilization triangle.

New strategies will be needed to address both fuel and electricity needs, and some wedge strategies compete with others to replace emissions from the same source. Still, there is a more than adequate portfolio of tools already available to build the stabilization triangle and control carbon emissions for the next 50 years.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and guest contributor to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 

 

 


AfGIIB, InfraCorp & Solarge Plan ‘Large Scale’ Solar PV Manufacture in Nigeria

A solar PV manufacturing plant, described as one of the first large scale production facilities in the world for lightweight solar panels with ultra-low carbon footprint, is being planned for development in Nigeria.

The 1,000MW capacity project is a collaboration between the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp), a $15Billion government-backed, privately managed infrastructure development, the African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AfGIIB) and Solarge International BV, a European manufacturer of lightweight solar panels.

There were no details on the project site, or timeline, when the plan was unveiled on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties (COP) 28, the climate change conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Nigeria is an unlikely site for a large-scale solar plant manufacturing factory. There is no single solar power plant in the country that has a capacity exceeding 10MW. Indeed, the highest capacity solar plant in the country is the 10MW facility, sited near the Challawa Industrial Estate, in the Kumbotso local government area of Kano state, in the country’s north. It was commissioned in February 2023.

The government, in 2016, signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with 14 independent power producers (IPPs) for the construction of 1, 120MW of total installed grid-connected solar capacity. None of these plants were ever constructed, as disputes over tariff price and guarantees to mitigate developers’ risk drew a wedge between the government and the IPPs.

Even so, there’s a growing number of Standalone Solar Home Systems for Households and Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as Mini-grids for specific, remote localities not connected to the grid.

It is these systems that are expected to provide the initial market for the proposed manufacturing facility.

The three partners: InfraCorp, Solarge and AfGIIB, collectively note that the facility “will play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s commitment to sustainable local manufacturing and critical infrastructure for achieving net-zero emissions and advancing its energy transition plan to cleaner and sustainable energy sources, reducing reliance on traditional fossil fuels”.

The parties also see the plant as an avenue for job creation, acceleration of electrification as well as a growth vehicle for the economy.

“More fundamentally, the project reinforces the drive towards localisation, green manufacturing and import substitution agenda of the country.”, declared Lazarus Angbazo, ICEO nfraCorp.

Nigeria already has a solar panel manufacturing factory. It is a 100MW automated Solar PV manufacturing plant, commissioned by Auxano Solar on September 28, 2023, in Lagos, the country’s commercial hub. Prior to establishing the new facility, Auxano ran a plant with an installed capacity of 10MW in an area called Navy Town, in the west of Lagos. It was the country’s first privately owned, solar PV manufacturing plant.

What the planned project by InfraCorp, Solarge and AfGIIB, is mainly contributing, however, is a combination of scale, capacity increase and the fostering of international relationships.

Jan Vesseur, CEO of Solarge, said the joint efforts “will contribute to the realisation of a sustainable and resilient energy future for the country and strengthen the long-standing bilateral relationship between the Government of Nigeria and the Netherlands.”

 


How will Africa cope in the COP28 Global Poker Game?

By Gerard Kreeft

Two parallel visions have emerged from COP28: John Elkington, co-founder of think-tank Volans, author of 21 books and member of the Neste’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and New Markets has noted …In 15-20 years, I think we will be looking at a totally transformed economic landscape. A huge number of companies will have disappeared – and new ones arrived – it will be a moment of absolute market convulsion.” Voltans on its site gives us a stark choice: “Capitalism’s future is contested in a way it hasn’t been for decades. Our economic system as a whole is confronted by a stark choice: evolve or die.”

Yet a very contrasting vision has emerged from APPO (The African Petroleum Producers Organizations) which  declares the approach adopted by the International Energy Agency as biased and states that it’s a direct hinderance to inclusive economic growth in Africa.

How can these two world views be reconciled?

The Present Situation: Viewed by  John Elkington

Elkington argues that COP 28 marks the halfway point between the 2015 Paris Agreement and 2030, by which point the world’s governments are pursuing efforts to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and well below 2C. They also agreed to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero – the level at which GHGs from human activity can be absorbed naturally – between 2050 and 2100.

COP28 is the first five-yearly Global Stock taking (GST) conducted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which describes it as “like taking inventory. It means looking at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working together to chart a better course forward to accelerate climate action.”

The GST also urges more action on all fronts, noting that the world is not on track to meet the Agreement’s long-term goals. Seventeen key findings include that emissions are rising too fast to meet the 1.5C by 2030 target (they would have to peak within the next two years, but are still climbing) and that reaching net zero by 2050 would require “absolute economy-wide emission reduction targets” at a cost of “trillions of dollars”.

The GST gives us a better sense of the gap between what we should be doing and what we are managing to achieve, Elkington says, but warns that “it won’t be a pretty picture – we are a long way off the targets”.

Note: based on an article by Nick van Mead

Present Situation: Viewed by  the APPO

The APPO  states that the approach adopted by the International Energy Agency is a biased one and a direct hinderance to inclusive economic growth in Africa:

“The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published a report strongly advocating for an end to fossil fuel use and promoting unrealistic and unattainable approaches to achieving net-zero by 2050 as the Conference of the Parties (COP28) is upon us. The report shows a rapid decline in oil demand, urges an immediate transition to renewables, and states that carbon capture is merely an illusion. ..the IEA approach poses detrimental impacts on Africa’s economies, representing a biased perspective that fails to take into account the needs and challenges of the continent.”

“Africa is on the precipice of rapid, economic transformation. The continent holds over 125Billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 620 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, resources which stand to serve as catalysts for industrialization and economic development. These resources can provide the over 600Million people and 900Million people currently without access to electricity and clean cooking solutions, respectively, with affordable energy. Yet, at the same time, the continent faces the worst impacts of climate change and is being told to abandon its oil and gas resources, despite only contributing less than 3% of global greenhouse emissions.”

Who can deny the energy poverty that Africa is suffering?

Yet will oil and gas industry in Africa provide the energy transformation that APPO is promising?

There  is a high need to dispel  a number of illusions that continue to exist. For starters that the oil majors have contributed a net worth to Africa’s economies.  According to Toyin Akinosho, publisher of Africa Oil + Gas Report, African revenues from the oil and gas majors are financing the energy transition in the rest of the world: “. . . the oil majors are funding clean energy from the balance sheet of dirty oil.”

Around 30 percent of TOTALEnergies’ production is in Africa, but less than 0.5 percent of its new energy investment will directly benefit the continent. Yet, according to Akinosho, TOTALEnergies is the best African renewable energy investor out of the majors. These include:

  • ENI: In Egypt, where ENI is a major player, the company has not featured in the country’s relatively aggressive renewable energy plan.
  • BP: The company has pumped over a billion barrels of oil out of Angola in the last twenty years but has excluded Africa from all of its renewable energy plans.
  • Equinor: It pumps 120,000 BOEPD(Barrels of oil equivalent) in Angola but has no plans for renewables.
  • Chevron: Its focus is not so much on investing in stand-alone renewable projects but increasing renewable power in support of its business to lower its carbon intensity.
  • Shell: The company will likely take $7.5Billion out of Nigeria from 2021–2025. Shell has funded some off-grid projects through solar developers in Nigeria, which basically represents Shell’s footprint in Africa.

Nigerian Petroleum Development and Sonangol: Energy Champions?

In the APPO statement reference is made to Angola’s crude oil revenue of $39Billion in 2022 and Nigeria’s revenue of $45Billion. We should not imagine that national oil companies have a better track record. Africa’s two major national oil companies in Sub-Sahara Africa—Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Sonangol (Angola)—have demonstrated little hope of becoming national energy champions.

Take the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the operating subsidiary of the NNPC, which “is a massive incompetent wrecking ball, which has been gifted joint-venture participation in 10 mining leases (OMLs) all of them producing.” The NPDC is seen as a bright star within the NNPC’s portfolio. Why? Because the degree of its performance is in direct proportion with the help it gets from its partnership with other oil majors.

Sonangol, the Angolan state oil company, has had a rocky ride since 2017. In the past, Sonangol had two roles: that of concessionaire, a highly judicious key role that gave it power and legitimacy, and being a state oil company with its responsibilities for exploration and development of the resources. Sonangol was then stripped of its concessionaire role, which was given to the newly created National Agency of Petroleum, Gas, and Biofuels.

In Angola today, power has become diffused. Sonangol has been stripped of its concessionaire role and is loaded with a mountain of debt, and the IOCs have the freedom to explore and market their natural gas. Developing green energy is certainly beyond the competence of Sonangol.

Will Hydrocarbons and CCS stimulate the Transition to Renewables?

APPO argues that IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol  is undermining African future oil and gas production. APPO is referring to  the Net Zero Emissions  2050 Scenario(NZE) which  is a normative scenario that shows a pathway for the global energy sector to achieve net zero CO2 emissions. According to APPO, attacking Africa’s right to developing its oil and gas reserves is a direct threat to developing Africa’s renewables. The argument being that oil and gas will fund the renewables. Yet as we have seen neither the oil majors nor Africa’s two major national state oil companies—NDPC and Sonangol—have proven to be new energy champions.

APPO argues that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an important asset to ensure that Africa’s oil and gas assets can be developed. Yet IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) in a recent bulletin was unusually blunt in assessing CCS projects:

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an expensive and unproven technology that distracts from global decarbonization efforts while allowing the oil and gas industry to conduct business as usual. Even if realized at its full announced potential, CCS will only account for about 2.4% of the world’s carbon mitigation by 2030, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s worth noting that not one single CCS project has ever reached its target CO2 capture rate. An IEEFA study has reviewed the capacity and performance of 13 flagship projects and found that 10 of the 13 failed or underperformed against their designed capacities, mostly by large margins.”

What can Africa Anticipate from COP28?

Between 2020 and 2030, Africa requires upwards of $2.8Trillion to meet its National Development Goals. Where is that funding supposed to come from?  According to Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of APPO, “Africa is not only being stripped of the resources to finance a transition but continues to be disappointed by empty global promises”.

Over the years, we have seen significant financial commitments made by global partners. In 2009, developed nations pledged $100Billion in annual financing for developing countries, and yet, between 2016 and 2019, only $20Billion was provided to Africa. Commitments have shown to fall short of action, and the same can be said for other financial pledges made in the years since”.

Is COP28 proving to be different?

Adnan Doha, partner at Baker McKenzie’s Dubai office recently summarized various commitments to date:

  • In May 2023, the Africa Finance Corporation and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on infrastructure projects that accelerate the energy transition in Africa.
  • In 2022, the G7 countries announced that a $600Billion lending initiative, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Initiative (PGII), would be launched to fund sustainable infrastructure projects in developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa.
  • In 2022, the US announced it was mobilizing $200Billion for developing countries over the next five years as part of the PGII. This funding will be in the form of grants, financing and private sector investments. One of the priority pillars of this funding will be “tackling the climate crisis and bolstering global energy security”. Some deals have already been announced, including a $2Billion solar energy project in Angola.
  • Power Africa, a US government-led programme that focuses on addressing Africa’s access to electrical power, has also provided significant support for the energy transition. In its 2022 annual report, Power Africa noted that one of its achievements had been to successfully deliver first-time and improved electricity access to 37.7Million people in Africa through 7.6Million new on- and off-grid connections to homes and businesses in 2022.
  • In February 2022, the European Commission announced investment funding for Africa worth EUR 150Billion. The funding package is part of the EU Global Gateway Investment Scheme and is said to be in the form of EU combined member funds, member state investments and capital from investment banks.
  • China and Africa have also recently agreed to work together on improving Africa’s capacity for green, low-carbon sustainable development. At the 2021 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, green development was one of nine programs identified as part of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.
  • Many new cross-regional energy transition initiatives have recently been announced. The Africa Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) was launched at COP27 with the goal of substantially expanding Africa’s participation in voluntary carbon markets. The ACMI is aiming for the production of 300Million credits annually in Africa by 2030 and 1.5Billion credits annually by 2050. It noted that these targets would provide much-needed financing for the, energy transition in Africa. Many African countries, including Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Togo, supported the initiative.
  • Egypt launched, under the leadership of its COP 27 presidency, the Africa Just and Affordable Energy Transition Initiative, which will identify local strategies and energy mixes needed to steer African countries away from reliance on fossil fuels. The implementation of a clean energy transition cannot be the same globally. The initiative aims to meet the universal access by 2030 and energy demands of Agenda 2063 for the African continent and, among other means, includes consolidating and facilitating technical and policy support.
  • Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan presented a $18Billion energy transition proposal covering 12 southern African countries that are connected via the Southern African Power Pool. The proposal is to increase renewable energy generation (solar and wind) by around 8.4 GW. The 12 countries are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
  • Multilateral and development finance institutions (DFIs) have been important allies in developing and mobilizing funding in Africa’s renewable energy sector. They have provided funding for projects, but they have also structured successful programs to address potential risks. For example, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), a multi-donor Special Fund managed by the African Development Bank, provides catalytic finance to unlock private sector investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

According to Doha access to power on the continent has been hampered by the lack of access to competitive funding, the dire state of Africa’s utilities infrastructure, and the need for energy policy and legislation to be adapted to boost investment. However, new systems and networks are now being designed around future environmental stressors and energy demands, without having to consider the limitations of old infrastructure.

“New and cost-effective solutions that utilize renewable energy, green hydrogen, battery storage and smart power technologies, as well as the global drive towards a secure energy supply that addresses climate change and stimulates economic growth, are all leading to innovative private equity (PE) and M&A investment opportunities.

However, according to Bloomberg, clean energy investment in Africa is concentrated in a handful of markets: South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya. These countries have been the recipients of three-quarters of all renewable energy asset investments, totaling $46Billion, on the continent since 2010.

It is hoped that the many initiatives that focus on boosting access to renewable energy in Africa will result in a whole-continent approach, switching on access to power for the 43% of the African population who are not yet benefiting from the region’s renewable resources.”

A final note

Africa may long continue to have an abundance of fossil fuels but one should remember that the Stone Age did not end because of a lack of stones.

The final word is best given by John Ellington: “ Capitalism’s future is contested in a way it hasn’t been for decades. Our economic system as a whole is confronted by a stark choice: evolve or die.”

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and guest contributor to IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Greenco Signs PPA with Ilute Power for 25MW Sola PV in Zambia

Africa Greenco Group, Serengeti Energy and Western Solar Power have signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Ilute Solar PV Project in Zambia.

Ilute Solar has been developed by Western Solar Power, a Zambian Renewable Energy Developer, and Serengeti Energy, an African Renewable Energy IPP owned by KfW, STOA, Proparco, Norfund, Swedfund and NDF, following the execution of a System Operations Agreement (SOA) between GreenCo and ZESCO Limited, the Zambian National Power Utility.

Situated in the Sesheke District of Western Province in Zambia, the 25MWac Ilute Solar PV Project is the first of its kind in Africa, GreenCo claims in a press release.

“Leveraging the competitive markets of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the project adopts an innovative private sector and market-based approach to mitigate customer default risk. Unlike the conventional practice of transferring project risk to the government, Ilute Solar will use the vast markets available through SAPP to secure project financing without the need for sovereign guarantees”, GreenCo says.

“The ground-breaking project will serve as a testament to the practicality and success of an open access regime within the Zambian Electricity Supply Industry (ESI), aligning with the legislative amendments of 2019 and will open up new avenues for financing renewable energy projects in Africa”, GreenCo explains.

GreenCo declares that “with a substantial direct foreign investment of $37Million, Ilute introduces distinctive financing structures aimed at diversifying Zambia’s energy sources.

“FMO and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) are the envisaged senior lenders progressing on their due diligence. ZESCO will be paid by GreenCo for providing its sophisticated system operations services, exemplifying a collaborative effort in the renewable energy sector and thus aligning seamlessly with the legislative amendments of 2019, showcasing the feasibility of an open access regime in the Zambian Electricity Supply Industry (ESI). The SOA between GreenCo and ZESCO, further demonstrates a shared goal of enhancing Zambia’s energy sector”, GreenCo adds in the release.

 


A First Hybrid Solar & Battery Plant for Egypt, By Scatec

Scatec has signed an agreement  with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC), to establish a 1,000MW solar and 200-MWh battery storage project in Egypt.

If the project is implemented, it will be Egypt’s first. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the United Nations’s Conference of the Parties (COP) 28 on Climate Change, holding in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Egypt’s cabinet immediately approved the agreement.

A solar and battery storage plant is a rare species; it combines electricity generation with battery storage, generating renewable power when solar energy is at its peak to be stored and later released as required when the sun is down. This makes “hybrid plants ideal for meeting region-wide energy needs during periods of high consumption,” Scatec says in a statement.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) also weighed in by signing a letter of intent to finance the project “at competitive terms”.

Scatec is a Norwegian renewables energy developer with a large project base and pipeline in Africa.

 


TOTAL Takes a Little Share in Ambitious Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project

TOTALEnergies has invested £20Million to acquire a minority stake in Xlinks First Limited, a company founded in 2019 in the United Kingdom, joining fellow investors Octopus Energy and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA).

Xlinks plans to develop a giant renewable project in Morocco (combining solar and wind) to supply green electricity to the United Kingdom through the installation of high-voltage direct current (HDVC) subsea cables, coupled with a large battery energy storage. Upon completion, the project is expected to deliver enough renewable, reliable and affordable electricity to power over 7Million British homes.

“The 20GWh/5GW battery facility will provide confidence that the power generated can be stored and delivered to Britain at the times when it is most needed. This will primarily be provided by Lithium-ion batteries like those used in electric cars, home battery systems and utility scale storage projects throughout the world”, Xlinks notes in a presentation.

“These batteries will also allow Xlinks to install more solar PV systems and wind generation, which will maximise the use of the subsea transmission system. Delivering an average of 20+ hours a day at full power reduces the cost of sending per unit of electricity delivered to Britain. It also provides National Grid with the confidence that the project will be powering Britain even at times of low wind and low solar output across Northern Europe”.

Of TOTAL’s modest investment, Simon Morrish, CEO of Xlinks, said: “We are excited to welcome Europe’s largest energy company to be a part of our ambitious vision to foster long distance power exchanges through this iconic partnership with the UK and Morocco. TOTALEnergies’ investment goes far beyond capital, providing a rare combination of expertise in areas that meet the unique challenges we face. This marks a highly successful end to 2023 and will give us an even greater impetus to achieve our goals as we enter 2024.”

Vincent Stoquart, SVP Renewables at TOTALEnergies, said: “We are delighted to join the Xlinks project and its other investors to support the development of such a pioneering and ambitious endeavor. This innovative project will benefit from our track record in developing large and complex integrated energy projects.”


A Second Life for Solar Modules

Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), headquartered i Baden-Württemberg The RENEW project marks the launch of research into the repair and reuse of photovoltaic (PV) modules by and its partners.

The three-year project is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Its goal is more effective testing with high throughput of used PV modules and to develop new repair options in order to reduce the amount of discarded PV modules.

The project partners are defining new standards for characterising used PV modules, thus opening up a high utilisation potential. Alongside the ZSW, the companies involved are 2nd Life Solar, HaWe Engineering and ELMED. Ing. Mense.

RENEW is the German acronym for the repair (“Reparatur”) and reuse (“Wiederverwendung”) of PV modules. A glimpse into the future reveals that global PV expansion targets will not only require a constant supply of new modules, but also that these be kept in operation for as long as possible, thus increasing sustainability and reducing PV electricity costs.

With rapid technological development of module technology in the last decade alone, new modules are attractive to power plant operators for economic reasons due to their higher output over the same sur-face area.

So called repowering involves dismantling old modules and replacing them with new, more powerful modules, even though these may still be operational.

Extensive experience with field-aged modules at ZSW’s Solab solar laboratory reveals that even after more than two decades of operation, the majority of modules exhibit almost no perfor-mance degradation, particularly at sites with a temperate climate as found in Central Europe. According to the experience of project partner 2nd Life Solar, around 70 percent of all discarded modules remain di-rectly operational. In order to improve these numbers even more, the project is assessing a variety of additional repair solutions as well.

Moreover, according to the waste recycling industry company, 2nd Life Solar GmbH, the amount of old modules that are currently being properly discarded does not correspond to their anticipated amounts, thus raising the question of where these modules will eventually end up as unchecked electrical waste. This is why their research team is placing its focus on the circular economy model. Before a module is recycled, its functionality is checked before it is then reused directly.

The longevity of PV modules, as well as their repair and test capacity after years of use, are the building blocks for future use. Because many manufacturers will no longer available to customers at the end of a module’s service life, the project recognises the great need across the nation for improving Germany’s repair and reuse capacities.

The demand for used modules is high

Research project on the repair and reuse of photovoltaic modules launched at the ZSW

Not just for smartphones, but for photovoltaic modules too:

Maximilian Engel, project coordinator of the RENEW project at ZSW, sums it up: “The market for used modules is rapidly expanding because of the ambitious expansion targets for photovoltaics. We therefore need every module – whether new or used – to remain in operation until the end of its service life. Even if I’m happy about the current high rate of expansion, we mustn’t neglect the need for sustainable resource use. We therefore need to qualify used modules efficiently and thus cost-effectively with a high throughput, and repair these if need be in order to keep them operational”. Not only can they be used in smaller, stand-alone systems and as balcony power plants, it is also possible to equip entire PV parks with used modules thanks to the high quantity of avail-able field-aged modules.

Nationwide scaling planned

One project partner that is already conducting quality checks on used photovoltaic modules and reselling field-aged modules after extensive testing is 2nd Life Solar. The company intends to further expand its concept in order to meet growing demand. Such scaling requires robust process standards for mobile and stationary quality tests. By upscaling the processes, the project partners hope to reduce the amount of un-tested electrical waste transported abroad.

In order to optimise tests, the project team is teaming up with ELMED Dr. Ing. ELMED specialises in testing equipment from the coating indus-try and can therefore conduct tests with minimal material stress on the coating. HaWe Engineering GmbH will apply the project results in various PV systems in a field study in order to facilitate qualification of used modules on site.

Basis is a list of criteria for older PV installations

Project coordinator of RENEW is the ZSW. Its Solab solar laboratory boasts extensive experience with field-aged modules. The tests carried out at ZSW involve the degradation of PV modules, backsheet analysis and material analysis. The project team also draws on the results of a preceding project: analyses of damaged backsheets at the end of the project culminated in a comprehensive list of criteria for evaluating module defects. RENEW will enable the ZSW to enhance the quality of testing old modules and make it scalable – and thus make PV module use even more sustainable.

About ZSW

The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) is one of the leading institutes for applied research into the major issues relating to the energy transition, including photovoltaics, wind energy, battery technology, fuel cells, electrolysis, e-fuels, circular economy, policy advice and the use of AI for process and system optimisation. We work in tandem with industry to pave the way to market for new technologies. The challenge falls to more than 300 employees and around 100 research and student assistants at the ZSW bases in Stuttgart and Ulm. The ZSW also operates a test site for wind energy and another test site for PV systems. The institute is also a member of the Innovationsallianz Baden-Württemberg (innBW), an alliance of 10 applied research institutions.

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Shell on the War Path

By Gerard Kreeft

Do not be surprised if, within the coming period, Shell does a takeover bid on bp.  You may think this far-fetched and that it will have little chance of passing the regulatory hurdles. Yet this could have a surprising outcome: a combined hydrocarbon entity and also a new energy vehicle combining the new energy units of bp and Shell is something the regulators could possibly accept.

It could also bolster Shell’s stock price. This is especially true when you see the stock performance of both Chevron and ExxonMobil, two champions of pumping hydrocarbons. In the meantime, renewables have since 2021 taken a sharp nose dive: dropping some 45 per cent based on the S&P Global Clean Energy Index (from 1994 in February 2021 to 902 in November 2023). Yet what goes down will ultimately come up.

According to a recently published BloombergNEF report, investors have shown increasing interest in the renewable energy sector. In the first half of 2022, green investments totalled $226Billion up 11% year-on-year. In particular, investments in solar projects reached $120Billion (+33%) and wind projects $84Billion (+16%).

That renewables have taken a nose dive can be attributed to a variety of reasons: higher financing costs, red tape and uncertainty in delivery of projects.

bp’s Present Situation

bp’s faltering share price has in the period January 2019-September 2023 remained stagnant: down to $39 in September 2023 from $40 in January 2019.  BP’s recent history is rather checkered:

bp’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico has to 2018 cost the company $65Billion;

The company’s withdrawal from Russia in February 2022, because of the Ukraine conflict, meant the loss of 50% of its global reserves; and

The abrupt resignation of CEO Bernard Looney in September 2023, after he admitted that he had not been “fully transparent” about historical relationships with colleagues.

bp, meanwhile, is promising to spend up to $65Billion on renewables between 2023-2030 and amounting to half of its investments by 2030. Yet the company has written off $540Million of its offshore wind assets in New York. Will BP be able to meet its renewable energy goal given the long-term slump of renewables and BP’s lingering share price?

What bp was Promising Originally?

  • An underlying EBIDA (earnings before interest, depreciation, and amortization) of between 5–6% t per year through to 2025 with returns in the range of 12–14% in 2025.
  • After allowing for the impact of divestments and reflecting the expected share buyback commitment, EBIDA per share was expected to grow by 7–9% per year through to 2025.
  • From 2025 onwards, when its low-carbon projects start to kick in,  an expected growth of between 12–14% to be maintained.
  • Reducing its oil production by 40% by 2030.
  • Its $25Billion divestment would provide the basis for up-scaling its low-carbon business. A pipeline of twenty-five oil and gas projects and an additional eighteen projects in the pipeline were also key factors.
  • Spending $5Billion per year to green itself and by 2030 will have 50 GW of net generating capacity. To date the company has a planned pipeline of 20 GW of green generating capacity.
  • Partnering with 10-15 cities and 3 core industries in decarbonization efforts and doubling customer interactions to 20 million per day, all by 2030.

More recently bp has announced that it is lowering its oil and gas production to be around 2 million b/d of oil equivalent by 25 per cent by 2030,  lower than the 40 per cent originally announced. How this will affect BP’s green vision is difficult to predict. Yet BP’s faltering vision, its downward share price and its low valuation—some $100Billion– makes the company a vulnerable takeover prey.

Look at the competition: Chevron’s share price in the period January 2019-September 2023 has risen 52%, and is valued at $290Billion. ExxonMobil’s share price has, in the same period,  risen 66% and the company is valued at $415Billion. Both companies have just completed major takeovers: Chevron’s takeover of Hess giving it a major stake in Guyana’s oil wealth and ExxonMobil by taking over Pioneer Resources because of its stake in US domestic shale production.

Shell, in the meantime, anxious not to be left behind, is most probably assembling its financial team to assess how best to move forward. The share price has barely moved—it was $61 on January 2019 vs $64 on September 2023. The company’s valuation is now $213Billion. A bp takeover could potentially elevate Shell’s company value to that of Chevron ensuring that the company can maintain its status as a foremost producer of hydrocarbons. What matters to these companies is size.

Will this bolster the Shell share price?

Wael Sewan, Shell’s CEO since January 2023, is a man with a mission.  His chief obsession is to drive up the company share price. Sewan is attempting to change Shell’s narrative: that Shell is in the business of producing hydrocarbons, instead of also selling the illusion that its new energy policy matters.

Prior to Sewan’s leadership Shell had argued that its Upstream pillar ..”delivers the cash and returns needed to fund our shareholder distributions and the transformation of our company, by providing vital supplies of oil and natural gas.”

Yet Sewan is frank enough to demonstrate that this vision was an illusion. Leaning and depending on its upstream portfolio to lead the company to a bright new green future is perhaps central to Shell’s dilemma. Using funding from its upstream division to fund its green energy was in Sewan’s view a non-starter. Perhaps Sewan’s gamble of turning Shell back into an oil company will help its stock price increase in the short-term. Yet in Sewan’s present approach there is no Plan B.

Formulating a Plan B

Shell could well take a page from the TOTALEnergies’ playbook to learn how hydrocarbons can be used as a strategic asset.

TOTAL announced, in the summer of 2020, a $7Billion impairment charge for two Canadian oil sands projects. This might have seemed like an innocuous move, merely an acknowledgement that the projects hadn’t worked out as planned. However, it opened a Pandora’s box that could change the way the industry thinks about its core business model—and point the way toward a new path to financial success in the energy sector.

While it wrote off some weak assets, it also did something else: TotalEnergies began to sketch a blueprint for how to transition an oil company into an energy company.

Patrick Pouyanné, TOTALEnergies’ chairman and CEO, now says that by 2030 the company “will grow by one third, roughly from 3Million BOE/D (Barrels of Oil Equivalent per Day) to 4Million BOE/D, half from LNG, half from electricity, mainly from renewables.” This was the first time that any major energy company translated its renewable energy portfolio into barrels of oil equivalent. So, at the same time that the company has slashed proven oil and gas from its books, it has added renewable power as a new form of reserves.

Each of the oil and gas majors spilled red ink in 2020, and most took significant write-downs, but TOTALEnergies’ oil sands impairments were different. The company wrote off reserves of oil and gas that the company had previously deemed all but certain to be produced.

Proven reserves long stood as the holy of holies for the oil industry’s finances—the key indicator of whether a company was prepared for the future. For decades, investors equated proven reserves with wealth and a harbinger of long-term profits.

Because reserves were so important, the reserve replacement ratio (RRR), the share of a company’s production that it replaced each year with new reserves, became a bellwether for oil company performance. The RRR metric was adopted by both the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. An annual RRR of 100% became the norm.

But TOTALEnergies’ write-offs showed that even proven reserves are no sure thing and that adding reserves doesn’t necessarily mean adding value. The implications are devastating, upending the oil industry’s entire reserve classification system as well as decades of financial analysis.

How did TOTALEnergies reach the conclusion that reserves had no economic value? Simply put, reserves are only reserves if they’re profitable. The prices paid by customers must exceed the cost of production. TotalEnergies’ financial team decided those resources could never be developed at a profit.

The company hasn’t abandoned oil and gas, and its hydrocarbon investments may prove problematic over the long term. However, its renewable investments will add ballast to the company’s balance sheet, keeping it afloat as it carefully chooses investments, including oil and gas projects, with a high economic return.

Meanwhile, competitors that stick to the old business model will have no choice but to continue to develop hydrocarbons—even if their proven reserves ultimately prove to be financial duds.

Shell’s Illusion

Shell’s vision is also a testimony demonstrating how little the Green Alliance—Enel, Engie, Iberdrola, and Ørsted–is understood and viewed. What has set these companies apart is that they have created a huge competitive advantage which will be hard to challenge for newcomers. Moreover, they have moved well beyond simply dabbling in green energy. These companies have become specialists and now moving on to the next level: creating a digital platform on which value does not reside in owning resources but rather in managing data-driven ecosystems. Essentially borrowing a chapter from Uber, which does not own taxis or Booking, which does not own hotels.  Some members of the Green Alliance have established  new goals, such as CO2 neutrality by 2040 instead of 2050 to which Shell is pledged.

Green Assets

Both BP+ Shell have green assets, that if combined in a separate entity, could play a significant role in determining the speed and strategy of rolling out new energy:

Shell’s REFHYNE Project, the Rhineland Refinery in Germany, could  become the precedent that the company needs to ensure it becomes the leading supplier of green hydrogen, where hydrogen production is powered by renewable energy for industrial and transport customers.

Pay attention to Shell’s Pernis refinery in the Netherlands. One of the largest in Europe, Pernis refinery has a 400,000BPSD capacity and a complexity enabling the processing of many different crude types. The site is already deeply integrated with chemicals production and is being transformed into an integrated energy and chemicals park that will deliver low-carbon products.

BP meanwhile is promising to spend up to $65Billion on renewables between 2023-2030 and amounting to half of its investments by 2030. Yet the company has written off $540 million of its offshore wind assets in New York.

The New Energy Players

 The combination of BP+ Shell could be a formidable force at the green poker table perhaps  stimulating a swifter growth with the new energy elite—ENGIE, Enel, E-on, Iberdrola, Ørsted, and Vattenfall—who have pole position in determining the direction of the global renewables market. While implementation of renewable projects is a bit checkered  the plans of the new energy players remain ambitious:

ENGIE: In 2021 the company spent more than $11Billion on investments across a broad swath of sectors, including solar, wind (on and offshore), hydro plants, biogas, and developing gas and power lines, and it will have 50 GW of global renewable capacity installed by 2025.

Enel: The company’s strategic plan outlines total investments of $231Billion by 2030 and tripling renewable capacity to 154 GW.

Ørsted: By 2030, the company will have an installed capacity of 50 GW.

Iberdrola: From 2020–2025, the company will be spending $165Billion on renewable energy and has a pending target of 95 GW of installed wind capacity.

RWE: By 2030, RWE will have 50 GW of installed wind and solar capacity.

Vattenfall: In the Nordic countries, Vattenfall has low emissions, with practically 100% of the electricity produced by renewable hydroelectric power and low-emitting nuclear energy.

Concluding Remarks

Whether bp is a takeover target is beyond dispute. This does perhaps present regulatory hurdles requiring asset disposals. Yet Shell could argue that the UK would be creating a national oil and gas champion and also setting up a new energy champion. While new energy stocks are currently in the doldrums now could be the opportunity to do a deal. What goes down will ultimately come up!

Energy security and new energy two are key themes of the energy transition.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and guest contributor to IEEFA(Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Germany Pledges €4Billion in Africa’s Green Energy

“Produce green hydrogen and you can rely on us as buyers,” the German Chancellor told African leaders.

The government of Germany has pledged to invest 4Billion euros in Africa’s green energy until 2030.

Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor made the announcement at a press conference in Berlin after meeting African leaders and heads of international organisations including the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwumi Adesina, during the G20 Compact with Africa conference.

The Compact with Africa was initiated by Germany in 2017 during its presidency of the G20 to improve conditions for sustainable private sector investment and investment in infrastructure in Africa.

To date, 13 African countries have joined the initiative: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

German companies are involved in a growing number of large-scale green hydrogen projects across Africa and they seem to be far ahead of other European countries in this field. In Namibia, the German energy company Enertrag signed a feasibility and implementation agreement with the government, with production slated to begin in 2027, of a million tons per year of green ammonia, a derivative produced from green hydrogen. In Mauritania, Conjuncta, another German firm, is developing a $34Billion green hydrogen facility alongside UAE’s Masdar and Egypt’s Infinity Power. German companies are also involved in green hydrogen projects in South Africa and Egypt.

Scholz said the conference with African leaders was “the starting signal for stronger, reliable cooperation between Africa and Europe to realise climate-friendly energy supply based on green hydrogen.”

“Produce green hydrogen and you can rely on us as buyers,” the German Chancellor declared.

Chancellor Scholz said African countries should benefit more strongly from their wealth of natural resources and explained that the first step of processing should take place locally, creating jobs and prosperity.

At the meeting, Akinwumi Adesina, Group President, African Development Bank, pushed for stronger partnerships and investment, emphasizing the importance of private sector development in Africa. The continent’s top banker argued that  tackling climate change, Africa’s infrastructure gap, and unlocking industrial manufacturing capacities all require pulling in private sector financing at scale. To achieve this objective, he outlined several actions multilateral institutions must take.

  • “First, we must develop bankable projects and make them available to private investors.”
  • “Second, private sector development strategies must be aligned with the net-zero emission objective, with green investments prioritised.”
  • “Third, we should mitigate global risks and pool resources to optimise investment strategies, including through a platform like the Africa Investment Forum. This is an initiative that the African Development Bank and seven partner organisations created five years ago. It brings together project promoters and private and public financiers to catalyse investments on transformative projects across Africa.”

The G20 Compact with Africa conference discussed several issues around the theme: Strengthening multilateral cooperation and working on a rules-based, fair, international economic and financial system.

Discussions centred around the global economy, current challenges, including high inflation and geopolitical tension; and the need to incentivise investments in global public goods, such as tackling climate change; strengthening trade in a multipolar world; simultaneously combatting labour shortages and unemployment; and strengthening multilateralism.


EnVolt, a Mauritian Renewable Energy Developer, Announces inaugural Green Project Bond

EnVolt has announced the inaugural issue of $11Million Green Project Bonds under its $ 45Million Multicurrency Green Bond programme.

The company is the renewable energy development arm of ENL Group (“ENL”), a diversified investment holding company in Mauritius, is engaged in the construction of 13 solar roof and ground mounted facilities across the island with an aggregate capacity of 14 MWh and an estimated project cost of $15Million.

The issuance represents a major milestone for the Mauritian debt capital markets. It is the first time, in the country, that a renewable energy project is financed by a bond issue. It is also the first Green Project Bond issued under the Green Bond Principles 2021 of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA). In line with the FSC Guidelines and international best practices, ENL’s Green Bond Framework was independently reviewed by Morningstar Sustainalytics. FSD Africa, the UK’s financial sector development organisation, provided technical support on the bond programme, as part of its wider Green Bonds programme.

The bond, which was rated by CARE Ratings Africa, raised fixed rate financing in Mauritian Rupees with a tenor of up to 17 years and attracted a broad investor base comprising banks, asset managers and pension funds. Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Ltd was the largest investor in the bonds.

The construction of 13 solar roof and ground mounted facilities aligns seamlessly with and contributes to the Mauritian government’s ambition to achieve 60% renewable energy production by 2030.

Mauritius’ national strategy includes the production of up to 60% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

“Our green bond program will finance the expansion of our production capacity and enable us to contribute significantly to improve the country’s energy mix and energy security,” says Gilbert Espitalier-Noel, CEO ENL Group.

 

 

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