Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: offshore wind runs into trouble in Europe and America, a deal is reached regarding the Colorado River’s water supply, and more.
More Offshore Wind Trouble
Three troubling stories about offshore wind—two in America, one in Europe.
In Connecticut, the state’s largest offshore wind project—the 800 MW Park City Wind—is foundering.
“Its developer, Avangrid — parent of United Illuminating and the American arm of the massive, multi-national Spanish energy company Iberdrola — is trying to rewrite, renegotiate, rebid or otherwise alter its offshore wind contract with Connecticut, according to industry sources,” reports the Connecticut Mirror. “Avangrid has cited inflation and high interest rates, along with their causes — COVID, supply chain problems and the Russian invasion of Ukraine — as the factors necessitating more revenue to ensure financing to build Park City.”
Park City Wind’s troubles could set back the state’s emissions goals, which mandate a carbon free grid by 2040. It’s unknown if the project’s contract can be renegotiated.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts is applying for $250 million in federal grants to fund transmission lines meant to link offshore wind to the grid.
“The grant request from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources is aimed at the US Department of Energy’s ‘Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program’ — a $10.5 billion, five-year initiative funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Congress passed in 2021,” reports the Boston Globe. “Massachusetts, along with Eversource and National Grid, is applying for up to $250 million to help toward roughly $1 billion in upgrades to those utilities’ systems in and near the South Coast. The rest of the costs would be shouldered by the utilities and their electric ratepayers.“
Massachusetts’s move reveals just how difficult it is for these projects to get the transmission they need. And it also highlights another problem: transmission is as expensive as it is necessary for utility scale renewables. The state applied for these funds after it launched a new round of bidding for offshore wind projects. It hopes that the federal money will lower the bid price.
Lastly, in Norway, Equinor has halted its Trollvind offshore wind project.
“Equinor will postpone a further development of the Trollvind offshore wind initiative indefinitely,” the company said in a statement. “This decision is based on several challenges facing the project, including technology availability, rising cost and a strained timetable to deliver on the original concept. The authorities have been informed about the decision.”
“Translation: they didn’t have their floating foundations figured out,” tweeted energy journalist Angelica Oung. “This is a problem we are going to keep seeing with floating offshore wind.”
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The Great Colorado River Deal
The Colorado river has been depleting for the last two decades. It cuts through seven different states, supplying them with both water and electricity.
“To stabilize it, California, Arizona and Nevada — the three states that make up the system’s ‘Lower Basin’ — reached an agreement with the Biden administration to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water over the next three years, which is 13 percent of these states’ total allocation from the river. One acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons of water,” reports the Washington Post. “In exchange, the Biden administration will compensate the states with about $1.2 billion in federal funds.”
California, which is the primary consumer of water from the Colorado River, has committed to saving 1.6 million acre-feet of water over a span of three years. Nevada has pledged to conserve 285,000 acre-feet of water, while Arizona intends to conserve 1.1 million acre-feet of water.
State and federal officials believe the deal will be enough to stabilize water levels until 2026.
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Major exits from Kenya’s oil project. “French supermajor TotalEnergies and London-listed Africa Oil have decided to withdraw from an oil project in Kenya, leaving Tullow Oil the sole owner of the blocks and potentially further complicating Kenya’s oil dream,” reports Oilprice.com. “The two minority partners of Tullow Oil’s Kenyan subsidiary have informed Tullow of their intention to issue notices of withdrawal from Blocks 10BB, 13T, and 10BA in the South Lokichar Basin project due to ‘differing internal strategic reasons,’ Tullow said in a statement on Tuesday.“
China is gobbling up Australian coal. “Australian coal continues to make inroads among Chinese buyers, adding to pressure on domestic prices, with new shipments climbing to their highest level since Beijing halted imports in the fall of 2020,” reports Bloomberg. “That ban ended at the start of this year and China’s appetite for the high-quality coal supplied by Australia is gaining momentum amid concerns that rising domestic production includes too much lower-grade fuel. Australian cargoes in April of mostly thermal coal for power plants surged 75% from the prior month to 3.89 million tons, according to Chinese customs data.“
Gazprom’s 2022 profits: 📉. “Gazprom's net profit fell more than 40% to 1.226 trillion roubles ($15.77 billion) last year due to a tax hike in the second half of the year, the Russian energy giant said on Tuesday, adding it would not pay a full-year dividend,” reports Reuters. “The West last year introduced a raft of sanctions against Russia and state companies over Moscow's actions in Ukraine. Gazprom's gas exports, a key source of revenue, have not been directly sanctioned, but export volumes almost halved last year to 101 billion cubic metres. Gazprom's shares fell around 4% after the Kremlin-controlled firm said its board had decided not to pay a full-year dividend after allocating a half-year dividend of 1.2 trillion roubles ($15 billion).“
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