BP Officially Shuts Down Solar Efforts
If "BP" is short for Beyond Petroleum, it will have to change its name to just "P" now after it officially shut down its solar business last month, a key division in its quest to develop cleaner sources of energy. After 40 years, the final decision to shut the door on solar mostly comes from the impossible competition faced from China.
With the growth of Chinese manufacturing, a global surplus of panels and the subsequent collapse in prices, many solar companies have similarly been forced out of business over the last year.
"The continuing global economic challenges have significantly impacted the solar industry, making it difficult to sustain long term returns for the company, despite our best efforts," BP said in an internal letter to staff.
“Over the last six months we have realized that we simply can't make any money from solar,” a spokesman added.
Around 100 staff will be affected internationally and BP's remaining solar interests will be sold, but at least the proceeds will go towards BP's efforts to help recover some of the costs from last year's devastating explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Furthermore, BP says its move away from solar won't necessarily mean a move away from its broader interests in renewable energy. In 2005, the company said it planned on investing $8 billion in alternative energy by 2015. Thus far, $7 billion has been invested in its U.S. wind power portfolio and biofuels business.
So can you blame BP?
Just as important is BP's failure to capitalize on innovative technologies that would have allowed the company to profit in the solar market. Nathan Stoddard, one BP's own researchers, invented a new way to make silicon wafers for solar cells that significantly cut the cost of high efficiency silicon solar panels. The technology was originally developed in 2006, but never fully commercialized.
Instead, the company spent the next three years in a testing phase, showing it off at trade shows, and shut down its manufacturing operations in 2010. The rights were then sold to the Dutch company AMG.
Publicizing the new technology and failing to mass produce the panels allowed others to swoop in and replicate similar concepts elsewhere. Although AMG has resumed development of the technology, the solar market is stalled and its efforts appear to be too little, too late.
Awesense launches digital clean energy marketplace
Awesense has launched what it claims is the only energy-focused repository of solutions built to drive the industry's decarbonization agenda.
The Awesense Marketplace aims to provide a common framework for companies to collaborate towards the future of clean energy and digital transformation, uniting applications, solutions and algorithms to solve energy and grid challenges.
Solutions listed on the marketplace cover a range of cases, and launch companies include Doosan GridTech, Kitu Systems, vadiMAP, LO3 Energy, ENGIN, Utilidata, Clir Renewables, ChargeLab, SensorLink, Exeri, Easy SmartGrid, and Athena Power.
“We are welcoming a new era in the decarbonization of energy systems,” said Mischa Steiner, CEO of Awesense. “The goal of achieving a clean energy future requires collaboration amongst key industry players in the utilities and energy sectors. Sharing resources through the Marketplace means that our customers and partners have a truly seamless approach as we work towards our common goal - ultimately, decarbonizing the world’s energy system.”
Utilities, consulting companies, and other organizations struggle to develop solutions that can be scaled across many jurisdictions due to complex data integration and the lack of a standard, open data model. Using the solutions offered throughout the Marketplace, organizations can rapidly accelerate their transition to a decentralized, decarbonized future and develop solutions that are scalable across industry. The platform will open up new revenue streams in areas such as:
Distributed energy resource integration and control
Electric vehicle charging
Demand response and smart-home management
Intelligent asset management
Advanced distribution system management
The new marketplace builds on Awesense's Digital Energy Platform, a digital twin based energy analytics platform that allows utilities to scale at the same pace as the rapidly changing technology landscape of the energy grid.
Together, the Open Energy Data Model and the Awesense Marketplace removes hurdles around data mapping and transformation, expedites data preparation and refining, and provides a common framework for companies to collaborate.
“The energy-specific data model allows utilities, technology companies, consulting firms, and other vendors to build solutions that can be easily integrated by other energy companies, to make a real impact on the industry as a whole, and develop new revenue streams for their organizations” said Steiner. “We’re looking forward to seeing the Awesense Marketplace grow as more partners committed to energy decarbonization join us.”
There are no simple solutions to putting the world on a sustainable path to net-zero emissions, according to the IEA. Reducing global CO2 emissions will require "a broad range of different technologies working across all sectors of the economy in various combinations and applications." it notes.
Renewable Energy Hub of South Australia formed
Amp Power Australia has established the Renewable Energy Hub of South Australia, a strategic portfolio of large scale integrated Solar PV, Wind and Battery Energy Storage assets located in South Australia. The hub also includes the siting of the Spencer Gulf Hydrogen Energy Ecoplex, forming part of the South Australian Government's Hydrogen Action Plan.
The portfolio, acquired from EPS, includes three large Solar PV projects totalling over 1.3 GW of generation, located at Robertstown (636 MW), Bungama (336MW) and Yoorndoo Ilga (388MW) with a total BESS capacity of up to 540MW across the portfolio.
Amp's expansion in Australia will include the implementation of Amp X, a proprietary digital energy platform 100% owned by Amp, which provides a diverse portfolio of disruptive and interoperable grid edge solutions, and includes a smart transformer, which enables real-time autonomous management and optimised dispatch of all forms of distributed generation and loads across the grid.
Palmetto recently opened its marketplace in Arizona, and is now serving 20 states across the country, claiming its proprietary technology, marketplace business model, and consumer mobile application "are all designed to democratize access to clean energy".