Clifford Chance advises banks on largest solar power project
International law firm Clifford Chance has advised the lenders on project financing for the world’s largest solar power project – a 2GW solar power plant located in the UAE's Al Dhafra region.
Once constructed, the project will be the largest PV power plant in the world to date. It has been developed by Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) and awarded to a consortium led by EDF Renewables and Jinko Power HK, a subsidiary of Jinko Power Technology Co. Ltd (JinkoPower), who will together hold 40 percent of the project company, with the remaining 60 percent shared between their local partners, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa, 40 percent) and Masdar (20 percent).
In a statement, Clifford Chance said it advised BNP Paribas, MUFG, Standard Chartered Bank, SMBC, Bank of China, CACIB and HSBC.
"The transaction highlights the commitment of international energy developers as well the financial industry to the development of clean power generation. We are pleased to have worked with the banks on this significant step towards the UAE's ambitious renewable energy goals,” said partners Robin Abraham and Richard Parris, who led the Clifford Chance team.
The Al Dhafra plant is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2022 and will power approximately 160,000 households across the UAE and reduce Abu Dhabi’s CO2 emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 470,000 cars from the roads.
Abu Dhabi is already home to the 1.2GW Noor Abu Dhabi plant, currently the world’s largest operational single-project solar PV plant.
The highly competitive procurement process for the project is said to have contributed to the world-record tariff price for solar PV energy offered by EDF Renewables and JinkoPower of US$1.35 cents / kWh on a levelised cost of electricity (LEC) basis, the statement adds.
It points out that the price was subsequently reduced to US$1.32 cents / kWh at closing, primarily because of hedging costs, and is approximately 44 percent lower than the tariff set on the Noor Abu Dhabi project three years ago, an indication of how rapidly renewable energy costs are falling.
Sakuu Corporation creates 3D printer for EV batteries
Sakuu Corporation has announced a new industrial-grade 3D printer for e-mobility batteries which it claims will unlock the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles.
Offering an industrial scale ‘local’ battery production capability, Sakuu believes the technology will provide increased manufacturer and consumer confidence. Sakuu’s Alpha Platform for its initial hardware offering will be available in Q4.
Backed by Japanese automotive parts supplier to major OEMs, Musashi Seimitsu, Sakuu is set to enable fast and high-volume production of 3D printed solid-state batteries (SSBs) that, compared with lithium-ion batteries, have the same capacity yet are half the size and almost a third lighter.
The company’s KeraCel-branded SSBs will also use around 30%-50% fewer materials – which can be sourced locally – to achieve the same energy levels as lithium-ion options, significantly reducing production costs. Sakuu anticipates the 3D printer’s attributes being easily transferable to a host of different applications in other industry sectors.
"For the e-mobility markets specifically, we believe this to be a landmark achievement, and one that could transform consumer adoption of electric vehicles,” said Robert Bagheri, Founder, CEO and chairman, Sakuu Corporation. “SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make. By harnessing the flexibility and efficiency-enhancing capabilities of our unique and scalable AM process, we’re enabling battery manufacturers and EV companies to overcome these fundamental pain points."
The ability to provide on-demand, localised production will create more efficient manufacturing operations and shorter supply chains, he added.
Sakuu will initially focus on the two-, three- and smaller four-wheel electric vehicle market for whom the company’s SSB proposition delivers an obvious and desirable combination of small form factor, low weight and improved capacity benefits. The agility of Sakuu’s AM process also means that customers can easily switch production to different battery types and sizes, as necessary, for example to achieve double the energy in the same space or the same energy in half the space.
Beyond energy storage, Sakuu’s development of print capability opens complex end device markets previously closed off to current 3D printing platforms. These include active components like sensors and electric motors for aerospace and automotive; power banks and heatsinks for consumer electronics; PH, temperature and pressure sensors within IoT; and pathogen detectors and microfluidic devices for medical, to name a few.
"As a cheaper, faster, local, customisable and more sustainable method of producing SSBs – which as a product deliver much higher performance attributes than currently available alternatives – the potential of our new platform offers tremendous opportunities to users within energy, as well as a multitude of other markets," said Bagheri.
Ongoing research and new funding collaborations
Omega Seiki, a part of Anglian Omega Group of companies, has partnered with New York-based company C4V to introduce SSBs for EVs and the renewable sector in India. As part of an MoU, the two companies are also looking at the manufacturing of SSBs in the country, according to reports.
Solid Power, which produces solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, recently announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future EVs. Solid Power plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company's pilot production line in early 2022.
"Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that's why we're investing directly," said Ted Miller, Ford's manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. "By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we'll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes."
A subsidiary of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest private company, Vinfast has signed an MoU with SSB manufacturer ProLogium - which picked up a bronze award at the recent Edison Awards - to accelerate commercialisation of batteries for EVs (click here).
Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is designing an SSB for ultra-high performance EV applications. The ultimate goal is to design a battery "that outperforms internal combustion engines so electrical vehicles accelerate the transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewable energy," according to The Harvard Gazette.
The dramatic increase in EV numbers means that the potential battery market is huge. McKinsey projects that by 2040 battery demand from EVs produced in Europe will reach a total of 1,200GWh per year, which is enough for 80 gigafactories with an average capacity of 15GWh per year.