May 21, 2021

National Grid signs JV with RWE to target US offshore wind

Dominic Ellis
4 min
National Grid embarks on joint venture with RWE Renewables to target US offshore wind opportunities

National Grid and RWE Renewables have signed a partnership agreement to develop offshore wind projects jointly in the coastal region of the US Northeast. 

Both companies share a common goal of enabling the clean energy future, and offshore wind will be critical for the USA to reduce emissions, meet climate goals and create jobs. National Grid Ventures, the non-regulated division of National Grid, and RWE will be working together to explore opportunities, including a joint bid in the upcoming New York Bight seabed lease auction.

"We're very pleased to partner with RWE as we take our first steps towards developing offshore wind projects in the Northeast U.S.," said Cordi O'Hara, President of National Grid Ventures. "This partnership further solidifies National Grid's role in advancing a clean, fair and affordable energy future and will also complement our growing onshore renewables business, which includes a strong pipeline of solar, wind and battery storage projects across the country."

National Grid will bring local expertise in the Northeast along with its experience developing large-scale infrastructure projects, including industry-leading subsea cable capabilities from its portfolio of interconnectors that facilitate the transfer of renewable energy between the UK and Europe.

RWE will draw on its experience in global offshore wind project development across the value chain, from project conception to construction and operation. Currently the company is constructing the 857MW offshore wind farm Triton Knoll off the English Coast and the 342MW project Kaskasi off the German island Heligoland. Furthermore, RWE has taken the investment decision for its 1,4GW project Sofia, one of the largest offshore wind farms globally.

Kaskasi, set to provide 400,000 households with green electricity from Q4 2022, will be the first commercial offshore wind farm to use the improved installation method for driving the wind turbine foundations into the seabed to target penetration depth. The innovative vibro pile driving technology significantly speeds up the process of installing the foundations, is gentler in its impact on the structure and produces far less noise.

RWE Renewables has also partnered with Facebook and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to realize a 150MW solar facility in Shelby County, Tennessee. Facebook will use 110MW of the solar energy to support its data center operations in Gallatin, and the broader Tennessee Valley. 

"Our partnership with National Grid represents an exciting milestone for RWE as we further grow our renewable energy business in the U.S.," said Sven Utermöhlen, Chief Operating Officer, Offshore Wind Global for RWE Renewables. "While we are an established presence in the US with our onshore wind, solar and storage activities, this partnership will support RWE's plans to realize a sizeable position in the offshore wind space. We look forward to working with National Grid to advance the clean energy transition in the US."

US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently approved the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project, the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the US (click here). The US East Coast is one of the most promising regions for offshore wind, with more than 1,200 miles of coastline, spanning from Maine to North Carolina, in proximity to areas of high power demand, according to McKinsey.

Renewable electricity is now a major focus for National Grid which has nailed its colours firmly to the electricity mast after buying Western Power Distribution (WPD) for £7.8 billion and selling its majority share in National Grid Gas (click here).

Operating profit was down 5% to £3.3 billion in the year ending March 31, primarily driven by the impact of COVID-19, in results released yesterday.

John Pettigrew, Chief Executive, said: "In the past year we have successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19, delivered over £5 billion of capital investment and achieved a solid underlying financial performance. National Grid has an exciting future, with numerous opportunities in the UK and US to provide energy security and support the delivery of net zero." Nicola Shaw, UK Executive Director, will step down from the Board at the end of the company's AGM on July 26.

National Grid also announced the arrival of ‘Edith’ yesterday, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) weighing around 140 tonnes, at its London Power Tunnels (LPT) New Cross site as part of its £1 billion flagship project to rewire South London. Edith will construct 32.5km of tunnels deep below the streets of  Wimbledon and Crayford. 

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Jun 22, 2021

Next Energy Technologies delivers PV window to Paris partner

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Next Energy Technologies has delivered its energy-generating prototype window wall to Bouygues Construction in Paris

Next Energy Technologies, makers of a proprietary transparent PV coating that transforms commercial windows into energy producing solar panels, has delivered its PV Prototype Window Wall to Bouygues Construction in Paris.

Bouygues is a leading construction firm that specialises in complex commercial projects and the deal comes weeks after Next announced its $13.4 Million Series C round of funding (click here).

The PV Prototype Window Wall was delivered by NEXT in collaboration with its partners, Walters & Wolf, a leading commercial curtainwall manufacturer and glazing subcontractor headquartered in Fremont, California, and commercial glass fabricator, Glassfab Tempering  Services/Solarfab in Tracy, California. 

“NEXT’s technology is both unique and promising. We’re proud to support their collaboration with Bouygues Construction and will continue to work side by side with them in bringing their product to market,” said Nick Kocelj, President of Walters & Wolf.  

“We support NEXT Energy in their focused effort in providing a unique and innovative product to  the architectural market. When presented the opportunity to participate in this project, we were  eager to assist in any way possible”, said Brian Frea, President of Glassfab Tempering Services/ Solarfab. 

NEXT’s proprietary transparent PV coating transforms commercial windows into  energy-producing solar panels by converting unwanted infrared and UV light into electricity. This fully integrated system can help enable buildings to power themselves with their windows which  retain their traditional transparency and performance. 

The prototype installation consists of 10 transparent PV windows that supply electricity to a battery that powers an interactive display as well as auxiliary charging outlets, for phones, tablets and other electronics.

The purpose of this prototype demonstration is to showcase the  power generation functionality, the exceptional transparency and aesthetics, and the seamless  integration of NEXT windows into a standard glazing system designed by Walters & Wolf to  carry the electronics, wiring and hardware that comprise the balance-of-system. This direct integration into traditional commercial window and framing systems effectively extracts costs  typically associated with packaging and installation of solar. 

Installed in a typical commercial high-rise office building, the first generation of Next windows would offset as much as 10-20% of its power needs, and over a 30-year timeframe, such a building would produce about 20 million kWh of clean power, saving an average of $170,000  annually on utility bills and reducing 14,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the equivalent of powering 1,700 homes for an entire year. In the coming years, Next windows will be commercially available for window sizes up to 5 ft. x 10 ft (1.5 x 3 meters).  

Supply Chain solution to the climate crisis 

Next’s PV coatings are applied to commercial windows during the window fabrication  process, integrating with existing manufacturers without disrupting established workflows and  supply chains. This capital-efficient business model reduces risks to customers, removes  barriers to adoption, and accelerates speed to market, all while adding a high-value product to  the market. This direct integration into traditional commercial window and framing systems  effectively extracts costs typically associated with packaging and installation of solar.

"We are excited to be one of the first global construction companies pioneering NEXT's revolutionary transparent solar panel windows. This innovation will allow Bouygues Construction to offer its clients a simple, sustainable, and profitable solution for buildings that are autonomous in the management of their energy," said Christian De Nacquard, R&D and Innovation Director, Bouygues Bâtiment International.

The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, requiring a fundamental transformation of the construction and building sectors, and 100% of new commercial buildings in California will be designed to zero net energy (ZNE) standards by 2030. Globally, buildings generate an estimated 40% of annual GHG emissions.

“Addressing the climate crisis at the corporate level requires creative and cost-effective solutions. Commercial buildings are an excellent example of something that can be re-imagined and improved to reduce carbon emissions and overall impact,” said Daniel Emmett,

“At a more personal level, we’re seeing employees returning to office buildings after more than a year of lockdown vocally prioritise healthy and sustainable work environments as a requirement of in-person work."

In a recent survey, 74% of employees said they would consider changing jobs if their company did not meet their requirements for a healthy and sustainable office environment, added Emmett.

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