Poland’s largest power group opts to back wind over nuclear

PGE, Poland’s biggest power group has decided to abandon a role in building the country’s first nuclear power plant and will instead focus investment on offshore wind energy.

Reuters reports state-run refiner PKN Orlen (PKN.WA) could take on PGE’s role, while the latter announces a $10bn offshore wind power project.
Both moves into renewables and nuclear represent a major change in Polish energy policy, diversifying away from the country’s traditional coal-fired power base, in a bid to fill an electricity shortfall and meet EU emission standards.

An unnamed source told the news agency, PGE could not fund both projects and cheap technology had swung the decision in favour of wind. PGE could still play a smaller role in the nuclear project which has been delayed and still needs government approval.

A proposed law is currently before the Polish parliament aiming at facilitating easy construction of wind turbines.

If the law is passed, as expected, several other wind farm projects could also proceed.

Polenergia has said it would like to build a wind farm in the Baltic by 2022. PKN Orlen is also considering building one.

PGE said in March that it wants to build offshore windfarms with a capacity of 2.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Analysts and investors say that offshore wind farms are the easiest and fastest way for Poland to fill the expected capacity gap from coal and reduce CO2 emissions in line with EU’s 2030 targets as Poland seeks improved ties with Brussels.

The decision to open up the offshore power industry could also draw in investors. Statoil said in April it would join Polenergia’s offshore project which has drawn interest from other international wind companies. “

The Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) estimates that offshore windfarms with a total capacity of 6 GW would help create around 77,000 new jobs and add around 60 billion zlotys to economic growth.

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British government denies reports of $18bn nuclear loan to Hitachi

The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has  dismissed newspaper reports from Japan, which claims Prime Minister Theresa May had personally pledged to give UK financial backing to the Wylfa Newydd plant in Anglesey, Wales.

According to Nikkei business daily the British government proposed to arrange all $18.28bn in loans that Hitachi needs to build the nuclear power plant.
Wylfa Newydd plant
The report added that  London has boosted its offer to reduce Hitachi’s financial exposure.

A BEIS spokeswoman said: “We don’t recognise these reports. Nuclear power remains a crucial part of the UK’s energy future but we have always been clear that this must be delivered at the right price for consumers and taxpayers.”

“This principle runs through all our engagement with any new-build developers. These discussions are commercially sensitive and we have no further details at this time.”

Hitachi’s Wylfa Newydd is slated to be the next major nuclear new-build in the UK after the £18bn Hinkley Point C project currently being constructed in Somerset.

In 2015, American engineering giant Bechtel and Japanese firm JGC were chosen by Hitachi’s Wylfa development arm Horizon as the EPC contractor for the scheme. Since then, Hitachi has been locked in discussions with UK government over the level of financial support it is willing to provide.

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Driving blockchain and EVs to the mainstream

Jutta Kleinschmidt founded Green Energy Wallet last year in a bid to invent a blockchain-powered energy trading system.

Although not immediately obvious, it’s a mission inspired by racing cars. Green Energy Wallet is about connecting the electric vehicle and home batteries to a large energy storage system for renewable energies to balance the power grid. So where do race cars come into it?

Kleinschmidt first rose to public prominence when she won the prestigious Paris Dakar rally in 2001 – becoming the first woman to do so. Her passion for all things fast and on four wheels has now manifested in the electric vehicle infrastructure space.

“My first profession was physics engineer. I later went into the auto industry, working for BMW for seven years, before going into professional race car driving. I’m still an engineer in my heart and during my career as a driver I helped all my teams to develop the cars I was driving. I even worked with Volkswagen to develop a car from scratch.”

That appetite for all thing automotive has always found an outlet. Since retiring from the pro circuit she had been in demand as a test driver. When electric cars came into her orbit, it spiked her interest and she found them ‘not as bad’ as had been depicted.

“At the end of day motorsport was always about using the latest technology. You can see developments and enthusiasm around Formula E now among manufacturers, and Formula E is getting bigger and bigger. The bigger car makers such as BMW know if they help develop cars to race electric, they will learn a lot about the battery, about heat parameters, everything. Motorsport is all about trying it – forcing it – until everything explodes. It’s going to the limits.”

“I’m always interested in the new technology. I do a lot of speeches regarding mobility and when this battery-as-storage idea started to be spoken about, I thought it was a good idea. When I researched to see who was doing it, I found that nobody was, and so then started to think about what was necessary to make it happen. That’s why I started the company.”

Formed last September, Green Energy Wallet has since built a team, partnerships and performed extensive market research.

The application being developed is aimed at controlling the charging processes as well as handling the energy trading and billing for all common smart devices. By using blockchain technology, the company says decentralized peer-to-peer energy trading will be possible in the smart grid of the future. 

The provision of the batteries will be compensated by Green Energy Wallet with a token reward programme.  

The application makes it possible to provide low-cost energy storage, realizes profits from energy trading, includes contingencies for emergency backup, uses blockchain technology for decentralized peer-to-peer energy trading, and stabilizes the power grid.Jutta Kleinschmidt founded Green Energy Wallet last year in a bid to invent a blockchain-powered energy trading system.

The technology will also serve to facilitate the integration of vital renewable energy, serve the fast-growing electric vehicle market, increase battery life by managed charging and makes long-term contributions to the environment.

Jutta Kleinschmidt is a speaker at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. Click here for more details.

This article is an extract from a longer feature that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe here to be sure of receiving your issue.


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Why grid resilience is moving behind the meter

In energy terms, flexibility means having the ability to adapt to changes in the electricity system.

For example, during times of peak grid demand, businesses are using battery energy storage systems to reduce their demand on the grid.

This behind-the-meter flexibility enables businesses to avoid peak electricity charges, as well as mitigate against high non-commodity charges, which is especially important for businesses that are high energy consumers.Why grid resilience is moving behind the meter

These non-commodity costs include transmission network use of system (TNUoS or Triads) charges, which are determined by measuring consumption during Triad periods; distribution use of system (DUoS) charges and capacity market service charges. Businesses can reduce these charges by switching from the grid supply to use power stored in on-site batteries at peak times.

In the UK, Battery energy storage systems also give businesses more flexibility to generate income by providing ancillary services to National Grid, such as DSR.

While prices are coming down, batteries are still relatively expensive and prices aren’t falling as fast as many vendors predicted. The main barrier to widespread adoption has been the difficulty in making a decent return on investment from investing in storage. Many investors believe it’s hard to make a business case for using batteries on their own when it depends purely on the revenue from the grid.

By taking a ‘hybrid’ approach and combining an advanced DSR platform technology with battery storage, additional use cases are created, offering a growing number of benefits for industrial energy users. These include the ability to deliver much higher revenue to customers, which significantly improves the return on investment case for battery storage.

There will be a steady growth in energy storage as it’s definitely needed, but it will be driven by fundamental economics and good business models – like the hybrid model with DSR. Today, it costs anywhere from £600k to £800k to install a megawatt battery, and you can’t get contract certainty from National Grid. Without DSR, batteries are a speculative investment with a multi-year payback time.

Many take the attitude that the technologies behind the smart grid aren’t really relevant to them.  However, with National Grid and distribution network operators increasingly providing specifications for failure modes we are seeing more and more forward-thinking businesses take on board the benefits of implementing smart technology for on-site resilience, as well as enabling them to participate in grid balancing schemes through DSR.

Michael Phelan is a speaker at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. Click here for more details.

This article is an extract from a longer feature that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe here to be sure of receiving your issue.

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EXCLUSIVE: Jo-Jo Hubbard explains blockchain

In an exclusive interview, Jo-Jo Hubbard, co-founder and chief operating officer of UK blockchain platform company Electron, explains why the technology is often misunderstood.

“The reason a lot of people don’t understand blockchain comes from the fact that it is usually explained as a particular blockchain.”Jo-Jo Hubbard explains blockchain

She says: “People are making claims like, ‘blockchain is transparent; blockchain is opaque; blockchain is secure; blockchain is not secure; blockchain is fast; blockchain is slow’ – and they all might be true for ‘a blockchain’, but they aren’t really true of blockchain in the abstract.

“Blockchain in the abstract is a technology. Essentially, it’s a protocol, a set of rules, which is enforced across participants in a network. And when all those participants adhere to those rules, they are able to essentially update the status of the network and maintain that network together.

“So in the energy space, blockchain is very exciting in terms of being this co-ordination mechanism.”

She says in an increasingly decentralized energy world, “we need a new co-ordination mechanism that is capable of enforcing a set of rules across all those different assets. And that gives them the ability to access a market in a rules-based, auditable fashion. And that’s why I think the energy industry is getting very excited about this technology.”

She stresses that blockchain in itself is not a business model: “It’s a technology that enables much more granular business models and much more asset participation in the energy industry.

“What’s almost been misleading about recent waves of press coverage, is blockchain does not necessarily enable new business models. Business models like peer-to-peer or vehicle-to-grid are possible with a central intermediary: blockchain allows them to do it without the central intermediary – which can improve the cost efficiency function and also the trust function.”

She highlights decentralized energy as one aspect of the energy industry that is “particularly ripe for co-ordination. Co-ordination across potentially competing, potentially non-competitive parties. And that’s Electron’s core focus – the flexibility markets.

“There’s a really exciting component of the flexibility trade that doesn’t really exist on any of exchange product today.

 “Our application is an enterprise application that is solving a problem that a lot of asset owners or flexibility providers or aggregators want solved and participants on the other side who are buying this flexibility haven’t been allowed to solve themselves.”

“Co-ordination is key to realizing the full value of digitalization. There are three core platforms that need to be co-ordinated and shared. It’s the asset register: what is it; where is it; there’s the trading platform and the rules around how you are allowed to interact; and then there’s the data repository.

“Everything else – all the other competitive business models – can be built on top of that structure, but that infrastructure needs to exist first.”

Hubbard says the key to developing the blockchain platform is “about building something that’s future-proof. We know we need to build an infrastructure that enables greater asset participation in the system. Because that creates more competition, it increases the efficiency of the system, and it also increases the resiliency of the system.”

Jo-Jo Hubbard is a keynote speaker at Electrify Europe in Vienna in June. For more details click here.

This article is an extract from a longer exclusive interview that will appear in PEi magazine later this month. Subscribe here to be sure of receiving your issue.

VIDEO: Jo-Jo Hubbard defines the digitalization of energy



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Deadline for Electrify Europe early bird discount one week away

Electrify Europe, the continent’s largest electricity market hub, promoting collaboration, innovation and business growth for the new digitalized, decarbonized electricity sector, today announces that early bird ticket sales for the event close on 18 May. Those who register before the deadline will save up to €300.

Brought to you by POWER-GEN and DistribuTECH, the leading global series of power generation, transmission and distribution events, Electrify Europe is the first conference to combine knowledge from stakeholders across the entire electricity value network.
Electrify Europe logo

The event includes authoritative conference sessions, technical tours and unrivalled access to senior industry spokespeople. There will be thought provoking keynote and plenary sessions as well as presentation arenas on the show floor addressing E-mobility, Cybersecurity, AI, Blockchain, Demand Side Response and Energy Storage and more.

Over the course of the three-day event, some of the industry’s leading names will present keynote speeches, including:

Laszlo Varro, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency

Steve Martin, Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at GE Power International

Dr. Helmar Rendez, Chairman of the Board at eastern Germany’s largest energy supplier, LEAG

Jo-Jo Hubbard, co-founder and COO of London-based energy tech firm, Electron

Motorsport legend, Jutta Kleinschmidt, is also scheduled to speak at Electrify Europe, participating in multiple sessions and judging the Electrify Innovation Challenge.

Nigel Blackaby, Conference Director at Electrify Europe, says:
“By bringing the best thinkers from across the electricity supply chain together to share their insights, Electrify Europe will develop new ideas and spark the next generation of innovation.

“At this time of unprecedented change in Europe’s power sector, Electrify Europe is a must-attend event. I am truly excited to be part of the platform event addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by the transition to a digitalized and decarbonized power market.”

Electrify Europe will take place in Messe Wien, Vienna between 19-21 June and will be attended by more than 11,000 international visitors, 250 speakers, 70 conference sessions and 400 exhibitors. To register, go to: http://www.electrify-europe.com/en_GB/register.html


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