Global installed wind capacity hits 539 GW

Additions of 52.6 GW in 2017 took the total capacity of global installed wind turbines to 539 GW by the end of December, according to figures published today.

The statistics from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) reveal that last year’s installations were the third annual largest ever, after the record years of 2015 and 2014.

However, the WWEA points out that the 2017 annual growth rate of only 10.8 per cent is the lowest growth ever since the industrial deployment of wind turbines started at the end of the 20th century. 

In 2017, Denmark set a new world record with 43 per cent of its power coming from wind. An increasing number of countries have now reached a double-digit windpower share, including Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay

China was by far the largest wind market, with an installed capacity of 19 GW last year, slightly less than in 2016, and a cumulative wind capacity of 188 GW.Global installed wind capacity hits 539 GW

The figures show that last year the US added 6.8 GW, Germany 6.1 GW, India 4.6 GW, the UK 3.3 GW and Brazil 2 GW.

However, the WWEA report highlights that some major markets in Europe “faced stagnation”, such as Spain and Portugal. It added that “at the same time, the new installation record in Germany and in some other European markets is rather the result of an anticipated market collapse, due to the switch from feed-in tariffs to auctions, which has been imposed by the European Commission, and creates major difficulties in particular for small and medium-sized investors, including community ownership”. 

WWEA secretary-general Stefan Gsänger said: “The general, robust growth of windpower around the world which goes hand in hand with further geographic diversification is very encouraging. New world regions such as Latin America and Africa are playing an important role in this dynamic development.

“Obviously, many governments have understood that wind power brings great benefits to their societies, as it is emission-free, cheap, domestic and accessible and offers a very attractive pathway to achieving the Paris agreement. However, signs of weakness, in particular in Europe, are a matter of concern. The European Union and its member states should urgently reinforce their efforts to deploy wind power as part of an overall renewable energy strategy and to work out a roadmap for a 100 per cent renewable energy future.” 


Black & Veatch wins UK deal for combined cycle gas turbine plant

US headquartered engineering company Black & Veatch is to lead the development consent order process for a new 900 MW combined cycle gas turbine plant in the UK.

The Wyre Combined Cycle Project, in Fleetwood, England, was awarded to Black & Veatch by China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) and Wyre Power and marks the first collaboration between Black & Veatch and CMEC.

Black & Veatch will provide engineering, environmental and planning services to help CMEC secure the development consent order and allow the project to proceed. 

A development consent order is a statutory instrument granted by the UK Secretary of State to authorise the construction and development of a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’.

The work will be undertaken by Black & Veatch’s Environmental Services and Planning teams, drawing upon their experience from water, flood alleviation and power critical infrastructure projects.

 “This project forms part of our strategic co-operation agreement with China Machinery Engineering Corporation, using our joint skills and experience to develop new build power plants around the world,” said Peter Hughes, director of business development for Europe at Black & Veatch.

“This project will provide the much needed, modern, flexible CCGT generation capacity that the country’s electricity network requires.”

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WSP wins Zambia-DRC interconnector deal

UK engineering consultant WSP has been appointed by the Southern African Power Pool to develop a proposed 330 kV interconnector between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The project has received financial backing from the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the AREP programme.

A strong transmission link will help the DRC and Zambia to improve the security and reliability of the power networks and to foster economic development and regional integration.

The project also aims to support the development of an efficient and competitive regional power market to reduce electricity prices in the region.

The 330 kV transmission line will connect Kolwezi in DRC to the district of Solwezi in Zambia, through the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation network at Lumwana or Kalumbila substation and the future Société Nationale d’Electricité network at Kolwezi NRO substation.

A team of engineers will undertake a three-stage feasibility study to develop options and recommend a preferred solution for the interconnector. Work provided includes initial assessment of the routes and substations, data gathering, financial and economic analysis, detailed route surveys and detailed design and specifications.

All three phases will be completed within an 18-month programme of works finalising in 2019.


Cybersecurity: How utilities can prepare the next generation smart grid

As the convergence of physical and cyber threats continues to grow, companies in the energy sector need to work together to strengthen resilience and bolster response for the next generation smart grid.


Cyber attacks have dominated the headlines and devastated a slew of companies over the past few years – from Equifax to Yahoo, Deloitte to Merck – compromising millions of people’s information and costing billions of dollars in losses to those businesses.

But, of particular concern is the risk of attack on the electric grid, with one report showing that the US grid was being attacked as much as every four days by a cyber or physical attack – that’s nearly 100 times a year. What’s more, every year, the energy sector is among the top three most attacked critical infrastructure sectors in the US.

These repeated security breaches have raised concerns in the industry around the impact of a broader outage. Imagine how onewidespread outage lasting even just a few days could disable everything in our increasingly connected, digital landscape – from traffic lights to cellphones. It could even threaten lives, for example, of patients in hospitals or other healthcare facilities that may have exhausted their backup power supply.

Those risks to the grid are increasinglytop of mind for utility executives around the world. In fact, according to a recent report from Accenture, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of utility executives believe their country faces at least a moderate risk of electricity supply interruption from a cyber attack on electric distribution grids in the next five years. This figure rises to 76 per cent for North American utility executives alone.

And whether it’s interruptions to the power supply from cyberattacks, or a physical threat to the distribution grid, only 6 per cent of utility executives feel extremely well-prepared when it comes to restoring normal grid operations following a cyberattack.

So, how can utilities boost their confidence and ensure their security measures are meeting the needs of the next generation smart grid?

The opportunities and challenges

Advances in information technology and communications, coupled with the explosive growth of the Internet of Things, have come together to give rise to new opportunities for our smarter and more efficient lives. In fact, by 2020 the number of connected devices is expected to reach 24 billion, with the total number of mobile connected devices alonedoubling to 12 billion.Cybersecurity - How utilities can prepare the next generation smart grid

In particular, this convergence is shaping the functionality and promising future of the next generation smart grid. Utilities are benefiting significantly – empowered with real-time data and analytics on the operation of their systems. Customers have realized the opportunities as well, seeing greater visibility into their energy usage, which can help them make more informed choices that will save them money.

Increased connectivity enabled by the smart grid is clearly driving significant benefits for utilities, customers and communities as a whole in the form of improved quality of service and operational efficiencies. But,with these benefits also come increased risks – both from the proliferation of devices and increasingly sophisticated intrusion capabilities.

The size of the smart grid and its increased communication capabilities can make it more prone to cyber attacks. At the same time, utilities requiretechnologies that support an increasing variety of these electrical services and applications.

Yet, many of those technologies – such as 802.15.4g, Zigbee (6LoWPAN), and broadband over Power Line (BPL) – have latency issues, limited scalability, and in some cases low bandwidth and other limitations, making them difficult to monitor and maintain.BPL, for example, has no transformer monitoring capabilities, thus making it difficult for a utility to act upon any real-time diagnostics that might indicate current or near-term failures.

Securing the next generation smart grid

More than four in 10 utility executives claim that cybersecurity risks are not or are only partially integrated into their broader risk management processes.And with the impact of a major energy grid cyber incident on the US economy estimated to be between $243 billion and $1 trillion dollars – the cost of 40–50 major hurricanes – utilities’ focus on grid cybersecurity is of paramount importance.

In fact, just recently, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation notified energy and industrial firms of sophisticated hackers that were attempting to penetrate industrial control systems used by the electrical and nuclear power industry, and other sectors. To maximize the full capability of the grid, utilities must invest in effective response and recovery capabilities, as well as the overall resilience of the grid – and do so now.

A critical piece of this is not only in constructing a stable and reliable communications network, one which providesa wireless, scalable, secure and mesh-enabled environment – but one that also has extensive cybersecurity measures in place that guarantee continuous operations and real-time performance.

In particular, this mesh network must enable us to seamlessly integrate Wi-Fi enabled products and mobile devices – and do so securely through multiple-level security measures. The key to maintaining security and the effectiveness of this approach is ensuring that every new device that connects to the grid is protected – whether it is big or small.

One measure, for example, is to drop the older Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)security protocolsin favor of the more modern, secure Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) password protection, updated to address recent published vulnerabilities such as KRACK and augmented with other security measures such as MAC ID authentication. Another critical security measure is encrypted cloud storage with SSL certificate service access, which effectively secures data and information stored or shared through encryption. This provides both utilities – and customers – with the peace of mind that their data is secure from hacking.

In addition, a Wi-Fi-centric network can help to provide utilities with real-time, actionable data and visibility into their systems and how those systems are operatingthrough the use of cloud-based “big data” analytics platforms. This infrastructure will enable utilities tovisualize overall network health to more quickly identifyproblems for immediate action – whether those problems are from cyber attack, natural disaster or other issues.

For example, if there is a physical attack on a transformer or a reported outage, a utility can see the exact location of the problem in real-time – formerly a manual and time-consumingendeavor. And in doing so, utilitiesmay be empowered withthe insights needed to be more vigilant in specific locations, and prevent those issues from happening again.

Considering these security protocols and others is critical if we are to collectively strengthen the resilience of the smart grid against near future attacks.

Recently, we heard the news of the hacking of a dozen power plants, including the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation – and it’s only a matter of time before there are attempts at more widespread attacks on the grid around the world.

As the convergence of physical and cyber threats continues to grow, we need to work together to strengthen resilience and bolster response for the next generation smart grid.

Scott Foster is Chief Executive of Delta Energy & Communications


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ABB chief positive for 2018 despite profit drop

ABB is forecasting a better year ahead despite posting a dip in its profit and sales for the final quarter of 2017.

The FT reports the Swiss company expects improving global economic conditions to benefit them this year.

Revenues at the Zurich-based company rose 1 per cent to $34.3bn in 2017, it said on Thursday. But orders in the final three months of the year dropped 3 per cent to $8.48bn compared with the same period a year earlier. Full-year operating profits also fell, by 2 per cent to $4.13bn.
Ulrich Spiesshofer
Ulrich Spiesshofer, chief executive, has streamlined ABB to focus on higher growth markets and to cut costs, but has struggled to increase sales. Describing 2017 as a “transition year”, he said the annual results showed “the dampening effect of our massive transformation”.

Orders in the fourth quarter were also hit by lower big orders in its power grids division, following a large deal from India in 2016.

ABB’s products and services are based on automating industries and delivering electricity from power stations to final users, with much of its revenue depending on investment spending by governments and utilities.

Despite the weaker than expected figures, ABB highlighted strong growth in “base orders”, worth less than $15m, as indicating an improvement in its underlying performance. Base orders rose 9 per cent in the fourth quarter, and were up 5 per cent for the full year.

Mr Spiesshofer said “the momentum we have built in 2017 positions us for profitable growth as the global markets are improving. If you look at our markets all around the world, 2018 is really the first year where all of our markets are predicted to be either constant or to grow, which is really positive,” he told the Financial Times.

“The US is really set up to grow in 2018, with the impact of the tax programme.” China’s government spending programme, meanwhile, “suits ABB extremely well”, with investments in renewable energy, long-distance travel, cleaner cities and increased manufacturing productivity.


French government sends strong message on tidal energy intent

Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Sébastien Lecornu, has announced preliminary studies to the launch of a tidal energy tender.

The announcement is an important first step and strong message to the sector, according to Ocean Energy Europe, with a tender for tidal energy seeing France become the global centre of tidal energy manufacturing. 
Ocean Energy Europe
The tides in northern France are among the most powerful in the world. Following a decade of R&D development, tidal energy technology is now ready to use this resource. Tidal farms will generate predictable renewable energy, while creating significant jobs opportunities and local economic activity.

Speaking at the Colloque Annuel of Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables (SER) yesterday, Mr Lecornu announced the launch in 2018 of preliminary studies of tidal zones in Brittany and Normandy. 

Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, welcomed the announcement and called for the launch of a tender for tidal energy as soon as possible.

“The stage is set for France to become the powerhouse of a global tidal energy industry. It has one of the most powerful tidal resources in the world; it has world-leading tidal technology, and it has an existing offshore supply-chain ready for action. A tender for tidal energy will see the first manufacturing plants come to France, creating a strong domestic industry, with significant export opportunities globally.”

“The French Government has clearly recognised this opportunity and it will be up to the sector to demonstrate the readiness of the technology and the progress achieved in the first pilot farms. We look forward to discussing the design of the tender, to ensure fast deployment and best use of public finances”, concluded Mr Gruet.