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Energy

Spain’s plan to switch to renewable energy seems to be overly ambitious

The proposed climate change bill will ensure that Spain suppresses carbon emissions to net-zero by the end of three decades. The bill narrates how the country will solve the global warming problem in thirty years. The approval of this bill by the Spanish Parliament will imply that close to three-quarters of the country’s energy comes from clean energy resources, including solar and wind energy plants.

Moreover, the ban on coal, oil and gasoline will be useful in the time that the country has set in the plan forcing the late adopters of new technology out of the market or adjusting to the new normal in a short time. The new climate change bill agrees with the Paris Climate Agreement, making some people term it the latter’s aggressive replica. Nevertheless, this bill’s implementation will minimize global warming and accelerate the economy’s resuscitation back to life from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ambitious nature of the plans has forced Spain’s government to adjust strategies that force the electricity market to depend on renewable energies fully. Consumers have received a convenient grace period in which they must switch their electricity suppliers to those whose energy comes from renewable energy or eventually go off-grid if their suppliers are overwhelmed and yield to the pressure to switch their sources.

Companies offering green energy have received incentives allowing them to provide renewable energy at affordable prices, with the challenge being the competition among electricity suppliers for this market. Additionally, the sun-tax withdrawal in Spain has allowed homes and businesses to switch to solar photovoltaic panels as their supplier of electricity. Since the country experiences over 300 sunny days each year, it is the best spot for setting up solar energy production farms.

Initially, taxes expended on these resources and the bureaucratic regulations surrounding their installations impeded the exploitation of this energy to benefit the citizens. Consumers and electricity providers are currently cashing into these projects to save up money and upgrade their living standards. Moreover, the new regulations allow the owners or suppliers of solar energy to be paid for the excess energy they retrieve and feed into the national grid. Additionally, the government promised to install not less than 3000 MW of wins solar energy throughout this decade. The CEO of the European Climate Foundation, Laurence Tubiana, emphasized that the transition to clean energy is no joke if Spain has decided to go all out to realize it.

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Space

Loon to be shut down by Google

Google reported on January 21 that it is closing down Loon. This endeavor was seen as complementary and competed with satellite networks to offer wireless connectivity via a balloon. In a blog article, Astro Teller, who serves as the head of X, the Google parent group Alphabet’s advanced ventures or “moonshot factory” branch, stated that Loon would shut down operations within the next few months. As an X member, Google began Loon in the year 2012 and spun it off into an independent business in the year 2018. Unfortunately, considering the team’s pioneering technological successes over the past 9 years,” Teller wrote, “the path to commercial success has proved much slower and riskier than anticipated. So we took the hard decision to shut Loon down.”

In a separate statement, Alastair Westgarth, Loon’s chief executive, gave a similar appraisal. “While we have discovered several potential participants all along the way, we have not found a method to lessen costs enough just to develop a stable, long-term enterprise,” he stated. “I’m depressed today to say that Loon’s going to be winding down.” Using long-duration balloons located in the stratosphere, Loon created technologies to offer wireless services. The balloons were effectively high-altitude cell towers, supplying mobile phones with LTE connectivity. Loon was primarily an experimental project for several years, but it started to shift into more routine activities in the past year.

Loon revealed in July 2020 that it had begun to offer commercial service in areas of Kenya, using roughly 35 balloons to deliver service over an area of almost 50,000 square kilometers.  Loon named its Kenyan deployment “the very first non-emergency utilization of Loon on a massive-scale basis to offer connectivity.” It was not revealed by Alphabet how much it invested in Loon. Loon, which was once spun off, generated $125 million from the SoftBank-backed financing in the year 2019. However, Loon had allegedly wasted the funds and, with its uncertain path to recovery, was unable to obtain sufficient capital. Loon was an instance of HAPS technology for high-altitude platform applications or in the stratosphere or remotely piloted aircraft to provide communications facilities.

Some in the space sector saw HAPS as a satellite rival. These devices provided communications services at reduced latencies and theoretically reduced prices than even the low Earth orbit satellites. Loon saw the system itself as supplementary to both satellites as well as terrestrial networks. In a statement unveiling its operation in Kenya, Westgarth stated, and “We don’t believe we can or should substitute the ground as well as space-based innovations that currently exist.” Together, terrestrial, stratospheric, as well as space-based technology can operate to support multiple areas of the globe and usage cases. The key would be to organize these different solutions so that they have a cohesive connection. Loon has been using satellites for backhaul communications, as do terrestrial network providers.

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Energy

The rapid growth of India in clean energy

As of now, India is leading to global carbon emissions. India’s population is 1.4 billion people, with 65% of this population depending on coal for energy. The country is undergoing a green-energy revolution that exceeds targets, break records, and making clean power a reality to many. Since India heavily relies on the coal industry, few ever thought that the country would exceed two critical adherences to the Paris Agreement.

One of these commitments is that India pledges to increase its clean power generation to 40% by 2030. Today, 38% of total India’s production capacity comes from hydroelectric, renewable, and nuclear sources, allowing the country to be on track to surpass its goals. The second dedication is reducing carbon emissions by 33-35%by 2030. There is the likelihood that by 2030, India would be reducing carbon emissions by 45%, exceeding the Paris target.

India’s fossil-fuel energy production capacity is 230GW, and 205GW comes from coal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to build a new renewable-energy plant in 2015 with a capacity of 175GW by 2022, though many received the announcement with skepticism. Today, the country has installed a renewable power capacity of 89GW and is planning to attain the 175GW target. In 2015, India was producing renewables with a capacity of 35GW.

During the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit, Modi announced a new plan to build renewable energy with a capacity of 450GW by 2030. The motivating factors are the devastating effects of climate change, the deadly pollution in Indian cities, and the high energy imports bill.  There is a great contrast between India and the United States as far as clean energy is concerned, as clean energy initiatives in India are highly politicized. President-Elect Joe Biden has an incredible $2 trillion plan to generate 100% energy from clean sources by 2050.

India has advanced green technology, with wind power, solar power, and energy storage been at the forefront. The progress of these technologies is exponential and has already entered the virtuous cycle. The panel cost was $1000 per watt when Bell Labs built the first solar photovoltaic panel in1954. Since then, the cost per watt has dropped down. For instance, in 2008, the cost per watt was $3.65, and in 2018, the amount had gone down to 40 cents. In 2018, India passed an essential chapter where the cost of solar power becomes cheaper than coal. Many companies are ready to produce renewable power. For example, Greenko will produce 900MW of clean energy from hydroelectric storage and solar panels. Another is ReNew that will supply 300MW of reliable power from battery storage and solar panels.

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Energy

Kia will be rolling out its first purely electric vehicle after making changes

Kia Corporation of the Hyundai Motor Company announced that it would be rolling out its first purely electric vehicle in a series of seven cars that it intends to dispatch in the market in the next six years. Kia rebranded its logo, altering the color and font and plucking out “Motors” from its name. Ho Sung Song’s CEO revealed these changes in a meeting outlining their intention to dispatch over 500000 electric vehicles in the next five years and clock 800000 by the end of the decade. The company has projected a $26 billion budget to manufacture electric cars spread out in the next five years. The company will be utilizing the Hyundai Motors platform to recharge the cars in less than 20 minutes.

Song explained that they are transitioning from the old manufacturing-oriented business structure to the new business trends to remain relevant in this market. He added that they are planning to be competitive in the electric vehicle market that will be visible in South Korea, Europe, and the US with the ongoing changes. Kia is also creating a platform where they can manufacture electric vehicles based on the customers’ customized preferences. One of these models will be in the market before 2025. Kia outlined that the demand could rise for these electric vehicles forcing the logistics and delivery department to upgrade their services to e-commerce and car-sharing services. The company expects this year’s sales to clock 2.92 million electric vehicles, increasing by 12 percent from last year’s values.

Elsewhere, Proterra Inc. signed a particular purpose acquisition contract with ArcLight Clean Transition Corporation to widen its capital base while allowing its shares to be enlisted in the public stock market. This deal will also incorporate investors like Fidelity Management & Research Co., Daimler Trucks, BlackRock, and Franklin Templeton. Additionally, this deal raised the stakes of ArcLight Clean’s shareholders to 78 percent. This move is one of the company’s strategies to raise enough capital to start rivaling mega electric vehicle companies like Tesla that have recorded considerable profits because of their products. Meanwhile, Lucid Motors is also preparing to enter a special purpose acquisition contract to gain tact in this industry. This trend appears to be the appropriate solution to thrive in the market and command a market share that can compete Tesla with Nikola Corporation and Fisker Inc.’s strategy last year.

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Space

NGA needs quicker access to the commercial geospatial data

The private industry is coming up quickly with new goods and services for geospatial intelligence than the federal government can work out how to purchase them. That implies analysts require ways to acquire “at such a moment’s notice” Commercial GEOINT, stated David Gauthier. He works at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a director in charge of both commercial and business activities. NGA provides geospatial intelligence obtained from satellite imagery to U.S. government departments. The National Reconnaissance Office, its sister entity, is responsible for NGA’s imagery procurement.

Most of the market is for photographic images collected in space by electro-optical sensors. Still, researchers gradually see the importance of other intelligence sources, like synthetic aperture radar, which is space-based, that can infiltrate clouds as well as radiofrequency satellites which identify the source of RF signals and geolocate them. These programs are being provided by an increasing variety of businesses in Europe and the United States. Gauthier added NGA is planning to collaborate with “multiple suppliers.” When needs emerge, he said on January 12, on a webinar hosted by the Smallsat Alliance, a space sector association would include an opportunity to achieve “real-time solution matching.”

According to Gauthier, NGA, as well as NRO, are scaling up market analysis to help understand what is available. There is also a necessity for a “very efficient office of procurement services” that will introduce modern technologies to government customers. The intelligence community is increasingly tilting to a ‘commercial first’ mentality, Gauthier added. “We promote this leadership-wide strategy… which basically states that the price of overlooking commercial potentials is far worse compared to the cost of using them.” Congressional panels share that opinion. There are clauses in the 2021 National Defense Authorization legislation that require DoD to be using commercial GEOINT data and services.

The NRO is aiming to broaden the pool of providers of industrial imagery. Several firms, including manufacturers of electro-optical, RF, radar, and hyper-spectral imaging, obtained research contracts. This year, the department said acquisition contracts would be awarded. In addition, NGA has pilot projects underway seeking to establish innovative methods of collaborating with commercial suppliers. He does not elaborate on the NRO procurement choices, Gauthier added. He said that both NGA, as well as NRO, is “dedicated to the commercial constellation procurement capabilities.”

Under the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the Intelligence Community of the United States, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is a military support agency with the core task of gathering, processing, and transmitting geospatial intelligence to support national security.

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Energy

Nxuba Wind Farm is officially commercial, and the operations have already begun

The renewable energy sector in South Africa will never be the same again. The Enel Green Power (EGP) launched a Wind farm that has now commenced its commercial operations. EGP is a subsidiary of Enel Group, a renowned developer and an operator of renewable energy in South Africa. The wind farm, Nxuba Wind Farm, is in the Eastern Cape and has a capacity of 140 MW.

It is a project that cost the company up to €200 million before seeing the light of the day. According to the forecast, it should be generating around 460 GWh every year. Consequently, it will see the emission of carbon dioxide reduce by 460,000 annually. Its operation will be with the help of Eskom, and the power utility has a power supply agreement that will last for two decades with the wind farm. Nxuba Wind Farm will also be a governmental entity under the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

It is important to note that the location is quite strategic, especially since it is a wind farm. After all, the Eastern Cape coastline experience strong wind current. That’s mostly where South Africa borders Lesotho on the western side to Cookhouse. Equally important, it is quite close to significant grid connections hence effortless to integrate the wind energy with the rest of the state’s national electricity grid.

According to Salvatore Bernabei, the CEO of EGP, the company is doing its best not to disappoint South Africa. He said that investing in projects that diversify the energy sources will continue. Equally important, it will ensure that the energy transition is both inclusive and sustainable, and all the stakeholders will have something of great value at the end of the day.

EGP seems to be quite committed since it has other similar ongoing projects. Since the Nxuba Wind Farm is complete, it means one down and eight more to go. At the end of all the installations, the company will have generated a capacity of more than 650 MW. Two of the projects are also in the Eastern Cape, namely Nojoli with 88 MW and Gibson Bay contributing 111 MW.

In Northern Cape, EGP has two solar plants: Upington and Adams capacities of 10MW and 82.5 MW, respectively. Other similar plants are in the Western Cape, including 82.5 MW from Paleishuewel in Western Cape, 66 MW from Tom Burke in Limpopo, and 82.5 MW from Pulida in the Free State. Other projects are yet to commence, but if things go as planned, they will begin before the end of 2021.  They include Soetwater and Karusa of Karoo Hoogland, Eastern Cape’s Oyster Bay, and Northern Cape’s Garob. The capacity will be 140 MW for each of the projects.

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Energy

Turbines are in operation at the Oklahoma wind-solar-storage hybrid facility at the Skeleton Creek

In December, NextEra Energy Resources announced the efficient completion and operation of the wind turbines situated at the Skeleton Creek, a hybrid renewable energy facility that the firm is constructing in Oklahoma, United States. The venture will integrate the built 250 MW of the wind energy power with 250 MW of the solar PV as well as a battery storage system of about 200 MW / 800 MWh (four hour period).

On 19th December, the retail power generation firm had said on Twitter that perhaps the “wind portion… is functioning” as well as that our program’s “solar and the battery power storage modules will start operations as soon as 2023.” During the first three decades of the life of the venture for the wind part of the work, Skeleton Creek is expected to produce US$60 million in landowner payouts as well as US$50 million in the tax collection, with estimates for about US$30 million in the landowner payouts as well as US$65 million in the tax revenue for both the solar and the storage part.

A  PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) was agreed with Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) in summer 2019 for the program’s energy generation as well as the Skeleton Creek is going to be the first-ever wind-solar-storage hybrid power venture situated in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) electric grid and retail market coverage area that covers 14 states in the central United States when finished. Located in 3 Oklahoma counties, such as 90 wind turbines manufactured by the GE firm, the project will follow the design and construction of the state’s initial battery storage project, Rush Springs Storage, by the NextEra Energy Resources in March.

The plant is co-situated with another NextEra wind farm which produces 250MW; although at only 10MW / 20MWh, the Rush Springs battery program is much lower than the Skeleton Creek’s would be (two-hour duration). For both the NextEra Energy Resources as well as Southwest Power Pool leaders, who intend to start new architecture regulations for the energy storage facilities in their coverage area in the year 2021, Rush Springs project acts as a test program for the optimization of the wind energy by making use of batteries and increase of grid stability using the battery storage. These new regulations would provide more guidelines for expanding energy storage centres in the country, stated NextEra Energy Resources. “We have seen how the batteries can support us stabilize the regional energy grid’s traffic, trying to smooth the fluctuations of the renewable resources, including wind.”  In November, Bruce Rew, the Senior Vice president of Operations for the SPP said: “power storage can generate value for utilities as well as other generators, and we are assessing how effectively to get such emerging resources onto the grid.”