Jun 14, 2021

W3 Energy signs technical operations contract with Luxcara

Wind
Energy
Renewables
Europe
Dominic Ellis
3 min
W3 Energy and Luxcara sign technical operations contract ahead of Global Wind Day tomorrow and new study showing Poland leading Europe's growth

W3 Energy has signed a contract with Luxcara for onsite technical operations management for the Önusberget wind farm, which is Europe's largest single onshore wind farm. 

The wind farm, located outside of Piteå in northern Sweden, plans to have 137 wind turbines on full installation, with an expected capacity of more than 750 MW.

W3 Energy will be responsible for onsite technical operations management and local accounting services as well as operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure and transformer stations.

"This contract strengthens our position as a key player in onsite technical operations management. The Önusberget wind farm is the largest single-site wind power project in Europe and we are proud that Luxcara gives us the trust to support with the operational management of their investment", says W3 Energy's COO André Sjöström.

"The contract with Luxcara is extremely important to us and means that we take a firm grip on our home region. This contract allows us to continue to grow and we plan to continue to recruit in Piteå, Umeå, and Skellefteå."

The new contract with Luxcara means that W3 Energy manages approximately 15% of the renewable energy produced in Sweden and lays the foundation for continuing to build growth in other regions.

"Luxcara is an internationally respected asset manager in renewable energy, with high-quality investment criteria and a strong focus on diversity and sustainability. We share their view on sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental as well as social and ethical aspects", stated W3 Energy's CEO Pär Dunder.

Its past engagement with W3 combined with their track record from other large projects and their local experience were decisive factors for choosing W3 Energy, according to Philip Sander, Managing Director of Luxcara.

Global Wind Day will be held tomorrow (June 15), to promote wind's potential to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise economies and boost jobs and economic growth.

Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60% in three years, according to WindEurope.

Adrian Timbus, ETIPWind Chairman, said: “Wind energy can help electrify 75% of Europe’s energy demand and thereby deliver climate neutrality by 2050. But we must prioritise the development of the necessary technologies: next generation onshore and offshore turbines, electrification solutions for transport and for industry, and electrolysers for renewable hydrogen.”


Poland leads Europe's wind growth

Poland saw Europe's biggest increase in wind turbine energy production between 2000 and 2018, according to a Save on Energy study, and produced the fourteenth highest percentage of electricity by wind power overall in 2018. 

Czechia has seen second highest percentage increase in electricity production generated by wind power. Despite having the second lowest proportion of electricity generated by wind power in 2018, the country previously produced the lowest percentage overall in 2000, so it has still seen a significant increase in wind turbine energy production over the years.

France has the third largest increase in wind turbine energy production throughout the period studied, with electricity production generated by wind power increasing from 0.009% in 2000, to 4.9% in 2018, while neighbouring Belgium experienced the fourth highest increase in wind energy production, with almost 10% of electricity produced being generated by wind power in 2018, compared to 0.02% in 2000.

Although Ukraine boasted the lowest percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines in 2018 (0.7%), the country had the fifth largest percentage increase since 2000, since only 0.003% of electricity production was generated by wind turbines.

By comparison, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain each ranked as having the lowest percentage increases when it came to the percentage of electricity production generated by wind turbines between 2000 and 2018, and they lag considerably behind other European nations.

The EU wants wind to account for 50% of the continent's electricity by 2050. The Romanian Wind Energy Association recently launched a Code of Good Practice for renewable energy.

Top 10 countries in Europe for wind growth

1. Poland
2. Czechia
3. France
4. Belgium
5. Ukraine
6. Turkey
7. Norway
8. Austria
9. UK
10. Finland 

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Jul 28, 2021

Industry movement with heat decarbonisation

Gas
Renewables
Heatnetworks
Decarbonisation
Dominic Ellis
6 min
As SGN and Vital Energi announce 50:50 joint venture, the heat decarbonisation market is seeing some welcome movement

It is estimated that the heat network market requires approximately £30 billion of investment by 2050 to meet the UK Government’s net zero targets, and the decarbonisation of heat has been highlighted as a particular challenge.

The Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget states the UK should target 20% of UK heat demand through low-carbon heat networks by 2050 - but as with most discussions surrounding mass decarbonisation, even reaching that target won't be an easy task. In the UK approximately 40% of energy consumption and 20% of GHG emissions are due to the heating and hot water supply for buildings.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that globally, around half of all energy consumption is used for providing heat, mainly for homes and industry.

Source: Heat Trust

This week saw some positive movement, however, with gas distribution company SGN and UK renewable energy solutions provider Vital Energi announcing a 50:50 joint venture, which will create an Energy Services Company (ESCO) representing utility infrastructure and heat network providers. 

This includes delivery of heat to developments planned by SGN’s property arm, SGN Place, and the local vicinities where there is a demand for low-carbon heat.

The objective is to supply new and existing residential, industrial and commercial facilities and development activity is already underway for two projects in Scotland and the South East, with another 20 in the pipeline. SGN is looking to develop alternative heat solutions alongside its core gas distribution business and expand into the growing district heating market, recognising the future of heat is likely to include a mix of technological solutions and energy sources.

Vital Energi is seeking to expand into asset ownership opportunities to complement its core design, build and operations businesses. The complementary skillsets of both organisations will offer a compelling proposition for developers, commercial and industrial users and public sector bodies seeking low-carbon heat solutions.

SGN’s Director of Commercial Services and Investments Marcus Hunt said: “Heat networks are likely to play an increasing role in the delivery of UK heat in the context of net zero. The creation of this joint venture with market-leading Vital Energi enables us to build a presence in this emerging market, delivering new heat infrastructure and supporting decarbonisation.”

Nick Gosling, Chief Strategy Officer at Vital Energi, said: “Combining the resources, expertise and know-how of both organisations will allow us to play a major role in delivering the UK’s transition to low and zero-carbon heat.”

In March, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) starting collaborating with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) to decarbonise heat and power at Kirkwall Airport through green hydrogen technology. 2G Energy was selected to deliver a CHP plant which generates heat and electricity from 100% hydrogen.

Heat decarbonisation options 

The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) highlights the following options for decarbonising heating. 

Electrification

Use renewable electricity to generate heat in the home. As power sector emissions fall, emissions associated with electric heating are decreasing rapidly.

Low carbon gases

Replace natural gas that most homes use for heating with hydrogen, which releases energy but not carbon dioxide, the only waste product is water. Biomethane is also an option as it produces less carbon than natural gas over a full lifecycle.

For hydrogen to work, the pipes in the national gas grid would need to be replaced and home boilers would need to be adapted or changed. This is possible but could incur considerable cost. 

Biomethane is chemically identical to methane from natural gas, so is suited to existing infrastructure and appliances. It is unlikely, however, that it can be produced in sufficient quantities to replace fossil gas entirely.

Hybrids

A hybrid system combining both electrification and hydrogen is a third option. Here, heat pumps could be used to meet the majority of heat demand, with a (low carbon) gas boiler taking over in extremely cold weather. Advantages of this approach include helping establish a market for heat pumps while hydrogen is developed to displace natural gas in the hybrid system eventually, and the ability to call on hydrogen when heat demand is at its very highest.

Heat networks

Heat networks connect a central heat source to a number of buildings via a series of underground hot water pipes, and are popular in countries such as Denmark, where heat networks supply 63% of households. The Government expects the heat networks market in the UK to grow quickly to supply up to 20% of heat demand over the next decade or so, investing £320 million into its flagship Heat Networks Investment Project to help get this underway.

Heat networks work particularly well in built-up urban areas or industrial clusters where there is a large and concentrated demand for heat. Over time, it is thought that if the central heat source can be low carbon, then there is the opportunity to ensure that multiple homes and buildings are decarbonised at once.

Biomass

Biomass can be used to reduce emissions when used instead of more polluting fuels like oil in off gas grid properties. Support for biomass boilers has been available since 2011 via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), but take-up has been low.

Supply constraints also restrict the role that biomass – burning solid material such as wood – can play. In any case, according to the Committee on Climate Change, this resource may be better used in other sectors of the economy such as construction, where it provides carbon storage without the need for CCS and reduces demand for carbon-intensive materials such as steel and cement.

The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC)'s latest report sets out how rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply, undermining climate mitigation efforts and harming biodiversity, unless alternative zero-carbon options are rapidly scaled-up and use of bioresources carefully prioritised.

"Alternative zero-carbon solutions, such as clean electrification or hydrogen, must be developed rapidly to lessen the need for bio-based solutions," it states.

The overall decarbonisation of industry is another major challenge, especially among four sectors that contribute 45 percent of CO2 emissions: cement, steel, ammonia, and ethylene, according to a McKinsey report. 

The process demands reimagining production processes from scratch and redesigning existing sites with costly rebuilds or retrofits. Furthermore, companies that adopt low-carbon production processes will see a short- to mid-term increase in cost, ultimately placing them at an economic disadvantage in a competitive global commodities market.

Next steps

Ken Hunnisett is Project Director for the Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP)’s delivery partner Triple Point, which is the delivery partner for the government's Heat Network Investment Project, which is responsible for investing up to £320million in strategic, low-carbon heat network projects across England and Wales.

He is calling for the urgent need to invest in the development of new heating infrastructure to support the nation’s decarbonisation effort. So far £165m of HNIP funds have prompted £421m CAPEX, providing more green jobs as the UK economy eases from the lows sustained from the pandemic.  

Decarbonising the UK's heating infrastructure is critical if we are to reach our net-zero goals and it’s crucial that progress is made in this decisive decade, he added. 

"Heat networks are a part of the lowest-cost pathway to decarbonising our homes and workplaces in the future but are also the bit of the jigsaw that we can be putting into place now," he said. "Penetration into the UK market is still low, despite heat representing 37% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, the largest single contributor by some way. Funding needs to be urgently directed towards reducing the environmental impact of the residential sector, particularly given the slow pace of the decline in residential emissions in comparison to those of business and transport."

Currently, just 3% of UK buildings are serviced by heat networks. "Further investment in this industry, using public and private funds, will not only drive wider sustainability targets but will boost the economy by providing more green jobs as the country emerges from the pandemic," he said.

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