Renewable energy is the key driver towards Africa’s post-coronavirus economic recovery and boost

Last week, at the 2021 UK African Investment Summit, panellists said that one of the drivers towards African’s post-Covid-19 economic boom and growth recovery is renewable energy. The main theme of the panel was to keep a strong partnership between Africa and the United Kingdom. The panel discussed many things, such as developing sustainable and resilient infrastructure and British innovation and technology to advance Africa’s development. The panel members said that to achieve this investing in large-scale electrification projects is the way to go.

Louis Taylor, the UK Export Finance CEO, said that African countries are moving on well despite the coronavirus pandemic. He added that Africa is full of opportunities, and in its high times, the UK inventors grab them and are part of success of the African story. Taylor said that the UK needs to support African countries since much better compared to these nations. Furthermore, the UK government is still one of the biggest G7 investors in Africa. For example, a £ 1.7 billion guarantee has been offered by the UK Export Finance to support Cairo monorail’s development in Egypt.

International Energy Agency statistics said that more than $100 billion every year is needed to boost Africa’s universal energy access by 2030. 40% of these funds would be used to install wind, solar, and other low-carbon energy production projects. The African Development Bank is one of the leading organizations that have promoted the speed of the continent’s electrification in its fresh agreement on the Energy for Africa initiative. This initiative targets to increase energy access to all Africans.

Wale Shonibare, who works at the bank as the director in charge of Energy Financial Solutions, Policy, and Regulation, said that Africa would greatly benefit from vast expert knowledge of London City the innovative financial solution. Shonibare suggested that structured approaches such as sustainable infrastructure growth and execution of high-scale electrification initiatives will attract UK investors. For instance, the Bank’s Desert to Power Initiative has high chances of attracting UK businesses’ interest.

Nicholas Oliver, the United Kingdom-based NMS Infrastructure Ltd’s Business Development Director, implored investors to join and partner with governments and local companies. He added that this is the best time to make an investment in Africa, saying that there is a great opportunity to invest in climate change as it presents a $3 billion investment by the year 2030. Nicholas ended his statement by asking what an opportunity? Olusola Lawson, who works at the African Infrastructure Investment Managers as the Co-Managing Director, said that electrification is the key for Africa to attain energy transition. Therefore, there is a need to invest in large-scale power plants to get more 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


Details of the agreement between Foxconn Technology and Byton on the Electric Vehicle Market

Foxconn Technology, often referred to as Hon Hai, plans to join the electric car venture. This comes after the iPhone assembler signed a contract with Byton. The Chinese electric vehicle business and the Apple supplier will work with the Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone’s assistance. As of the first quarter of 2022, their target is to begin Byton M-Byte’s mass production. According to a reliable source, Foxconn Technology plans to invest up to $200 million.

The collaboration could be the light at the end of the tunnel for Byton. After all, despite revealing the M-byte car idea, it is yet to produce it several years down the line. Additionally, 2020 was bad for the Chinese company to the extent that all its domestic operations came to a standstill. The corona global pandemic was quite harsh to Byton to the extent that staff had to go for an unpaid leave around July. However, it is important to note that the situation was already bad way before the pandemic. Nevertheless, corona may have made a bad situation worse than before.

Foxconn Technology brings several things on the table. They include supply chain resources, its expertise in operation management and its advanced manufacturing technology. Rumours have it that Byton is not the only company that Foxconn Technology is wooing to collaborate in electric car manufacturing. On the contrary, it is also having the same conversation with other automakers in China.

Investments by tech companies in the likes of car-to-car communication systems, autonomous driving and electric vehicles is not a new thing. However, Foxconn plans to go the extra mile and develop its own self-driving car. Its largest contributor of revenue, precisely half of it, is Apple. The venture into the auto industry would see it have another source of revenue.

At the beginning of 2010, Foxconn had had similar plans. It wanted to collaborate with the Chinese Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The joint venture would revolve around developing and making electric vehicles. However, Hon Hai wouldn’t be part of the assembling process. Later in the year, it had already designed an electric vehicle chassis. Equally important, it developed an open software platform designed to help EVs automakers develop models quickly and effortlessly. As for the software platform, the shipping will begin in April if things go as planned. As of now, Hon Hai is already supplying parts to various giant carmakers, and Tesla is a good example of its customers.

What’s next for the M-Byte SUV remains a mystery, but the future seems to be bright following the collaboration. If such a great idea was to see the light of the day, it could change the electric vehicle industry no doubt. After all, its range of 550 km and the capability of charging up to 80% within 35 minutes is impressive.


New Renewable Energy Deal Boosts Siemens Hold on Renewable Energy Market

Siemens has a 10-year agreement with Aela Energia to handle and manage Aela’s renewable energy venture, the Senvion fleet. The fleet consists of 93 wind turbines from the Sarco and Aurora generation sites in Chile. Sarco wind farms location is situated in the Freirina Municipality, in the Atacama. It currently has a 170 MW operational generating capacity that serves the region with sustainable energy.  Meanwhile, Aela’s is situated near the jurisdiction of Llanquihue in the district of Los Lago. The massive wind farm has an installed production capacity of 129 MW.

This deal counts as the first project from Senvion turbines that will be powered by Siemens Gamesa in Latin America. The project also has an advantage as it can increase Siemens’s work history to reach a total of 299 MW, resultantly confirming the company’s bonafide leader in sustainable energy generation and maintenance services.  Furthermore, the deal enhances Siemens’s reputation as a global multi-brand service provider.

The deal marks Siemens Gamesa’s tenth servicing deal for Senvion in the previous year.  The move further pushes Senvion’s successful contracts to attain its fleets in North America, Australia, Europe, and Latin America to reach a worldwide projected output goal of approx. 1.5GW.  The company also purchased Senvion’s Intellectual Property and European Service properties in January 2020, which placed the company in an exclusive position to offer the highest-grade operations and repair services in and outside Europe.

David Hicke states that the company feels privileged to have been appointed Senvions trusted service partner and the acknowledgment they received from Aela Energia.

He acknowledges the extensive contribution from acquiring Senvion’s intellectual property rights its capacity as a leading provider in Chile’s industry. He further emulates that SGRE strives to offer optimum efficiency to maximize returns on its customers’ investments. The company’s long   presence in Chile since 2013 enabled it to attain a flawless 332 MW wind power generation portfolio installed and supplied throughout Chile.

The company’s growth to become a global powerhouse investor for renewable energy ventures stems from Aela’s joint venture structure between Actis with 60% and Mainstream Renewable Power having 40% shares. Aela received the biggest chunk of contracts granted by the Chilean Government in 2015 to develop the Sacro and Aurora renewable energy ventures. These developments hold a lot of promise for Siemen’s future and the renewable energy industry at large, solidifying the company as a force in renewable energy installation systems.