By Dominique Cantelme
From the July/August 2021 Issue
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), based on current policy settings and economic trends, electricity generation from renewables, including hydropower, wind and solar PV, is on track to grow by 8 percent in 2021 and by more than 6 percent in 2022. However, renewables will still only be able to meet around half of the projected increase in global electricity demand over these two years.
“Renewable power is growing impressively in many parts of the world, but it still isn’t where it needs to be to put us on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security. “As the economy rebounds after the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in electrical generation from fossil fuels. To shift to a sustainable trajectory, we need to massively step up investment in clean energy technologies—especially renewables and energy efficiency.”
IEA’s Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector is “a comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050, while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access and enabling robust economic growth.”
The IEA says that while global commitments and actions have grown, and continue to do so, it is not enough to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, which will limit the worst effects of climate change. Global warming is already impacting people and ecosystems but the risks at 1.5°C and 2°C are progressively higher.
“To reach net zero emissions by 2050, annual clean energy investment worldwide will need to more than triple by 2030 to around $4 trillion.”
The report sets more than 400 milestones for what needs to be done, and the energy sector—as the major source of global emissions—is cited as the key to success, with nearly three-quarters of global emissions reductions between 2020 and 2025 taking place in the electricity sector. The pathway calls for coal-fired electricity generation to fall by more than 6 percent a year to achieve this goal.
“Electricity generation will need to reach net-zero emissions globally in 2040 and be well on its way to supplying almost half of total energy consumption. This will require huge increases in electricity system flexibility—such as batteries, demand response, hydrogen-based fuels, hydropower and more—to ensure reliable supplies.”
Read on to find some locations taking steps to achieve these massive goals.
CREATING A CLEANER, BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR FLORIDA’S ECONOMY
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is the largest energy company in the U.S. as measured by retail electricity produced and sold, serving more than 5.6 million customer accounts or an estimated more than 11 million people across Florida.
Two decades ago, FPL began to modernize its generation fleet by replacing inefficient oil, natural gas and coal plants with state-of-the-art natural gas units, reducing oil use by 99 percent.
After the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31, 2020, FPL formally closed its last coal-fired plant in Florida. In 2017 FPL purchased the Indiantown Cogeneration plant, located in Martin County, for the sole purpose of shutting it down and saving customers money. The formal retirement marked the end of coal in FPL’s power plant operations.
“While the sun is setting on coal use in Florida, cleaner energy is rising like never before,” said Eric Silagy, FPL president and CEO. “We have built more than 40 solar energy centers throughout the state and we are well on our way to installing more than 30 million solar panels by 2030. And, we are not stopping there. With the construction of the world’s largest solar-powered battery facility and an innovative green hydrogen pilot project, we are leading the state and nation in producing energy that is reliable, affordable and better for our environment.”
In early 2021, FPL began construction of the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery—a 409-MW project in Manatee County, Florida. FPL’s combined 10-year site plan includes a significant increase in battery storage deployment with approximately 700 MW of additional battery storage, for a total of 1,200 MW of battery storage by 2030.
Innovative and bold projects like FPL’s installation of 30 million solar panels by 2030 and the Manatee battery facility are helping to increase the region’s renewable energy production. In June 2021, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a regional nonprofit focused on the transition to clean energy, announced the results of their annual “Solar in the Southeast” report, in which Florida was named the leader for solar in the Southeast U.S.
In 2020, FPL announced it was undertaking a green hydrogen pilot project at the Okeechobee Clean Energy Center (OCEC) in Okeechobee County as part of its pursuit of new ways to further enhance the diversity of clean energy solutions.
Still in its early stages, the project will complement FPL’s ongoing solar and battery storage development efforts and help produce power with lower emissions rates. The pilot project will use a neighboring solar power plant to power an electrolysis system to produce green hydrogen, which will then be blended with natural gas being supplied to the OCEC.
While working to provide more renewable energy to its customers today and for generations to come, FPL remains focused on growing Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2020, the company opened a first-of-its-kind innovation hub called 35 Mules. Named for an important part of NextEra Energy’s humble beginnings in 1925, the incubator provides early-stage startups with financial and marketing mentors, advanced technology solutions, business services and world-class facilities with access to Fortune 200 corporate and technology leaders.
At launch, six startups in the energy, water and energy-adjacent sectors began working with NextEra Energy leaders to help bring their ideas to life faster, smarter and at scale.
“The 35 Mules program gave us exposure to individuals throughout the NextEra organization, who advised and mentored us on everything from honing our value proposition messaging to human resources and hiring to grant and procurement contract negotiations,” said Charles Murray, founder of Switched Source, one of the startups in the program.
Applications are now open for the second cohort of companies to join the 35 Mules innovation hub. Entrepreneurs can apply to join the incubator through August 23, 2021. Visit 35Mules.com for more information and to apply.
This year, Business Facilities named FPL one of the top utilities for economic development. The company understands the importance of increasing renewable energy options for businesses looking to grow in a world with ever-increasing environmental, social and governance expectations.
“Being clean and sustainable is not only the right thing to do, it’s just good business,” said Silagy. “Florida is a more than $1.1 trillion annual economy—the 17th largest in the world. Much of this is driven by tourism, from world-class amusement parks to pristine beaches. I’m a firm believer that if you head to a Florida beach and the water is dirty or the sand is full of trash or tar, it’ll be your last visit. So, sustainability is a huge part of what makes Florida successful.”
When matched with the state’s supportive corporate tax structure, competitive talent pipeline and expansive infrastructure, FPL’s efforts to deliver energy that’s not just clean and reliable, but also affordable, gives the businesses they serve a powerful advantage over the competition.
Visit PoweringFlorida.com to connect with FPL’s economic development team and find out how they can help you find the right location, talent and energy solutions to grow your business.
GREATER ROCHESTER, NY DELIVERS REAL POWER FOR ENERGY INNOVATORS
“Sustainability is profitability.” This was the message to corporate site selectors and economic developers at a recent national conference. The race for a clean energy future is on and placing a premium on regional economies with specialized talent, deep subject-matter expertise and ample infrastructure.
For companies in need of a competitive advantage, the Greater Rochester, NY region is a strategic destination to develop, commercialize, manufacture and distribute clean energy products and technologies. The nine-county region is a smart investment for U.S. energy innovation.
Record results speak for themselves. Since 2020, the Greater Rochester, NY region has secured more than $621 million in new capital investment from three energy innovation companies, including Plug Power Inc., Hyzon Motors and Li-Cycle Technology. These total expenditures include five state-of-the-art facilities that will employ more than 660 workers.
New companies are enriching the region’s energy ecosystem, and competitive rates in real estate, wages and salaries yield significant operational savings. Companies in the Greater Rochester, NY region with at least 50 employees can generate annual profits of $1 million more than the same operation in New York City, Boston, San Francisco or Washington, D.C.
“Among many great options, none could match Rochester in terms of talent, local supplier networks and opportunities to partner with top-tier research institutions,” said Andy Marsh, CEO, Plug Power Inc., a leading provider of fuel cell technologies committing $415 million for two projects in two counties.
Monroe County, NY will be home to the world’s first Gigafactory for Proton Exchange Membrane technology, which will manufacture hydrogen fuel cell stacks and electrolyzers. The fuel cell stacks manufactured by Plug Power are used in hydrogen fuel cell engines for a variety of electric vehicles. The electrolyzers are utilized in the generation of green hydrogen from renewable electricity.
A green hydrogen fuel production facility and electric substation will be constructed at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County, NY. The 1,250-acre mega site, which is located in the New York Power Authority (NYPA) hydropower zone, features low-cost, 100 percent renewable electricity.
The Greater Rochester, NY region is also the U.S. headquarters for Hyzon Motors, which was established by Asia-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. This year, Hyzon Motors announced a 78,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which builds upon its existing R&D operations for next-gen fuel cells heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicles.
“Hyzon Motors is excited to announce our plans to build out a substantial manufacturing facility in the Rochester area, aided by great support from Empire State Development, Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise,” explained Craig Knight, CEO, Hyzon Motors. “Hyzon will be manufacturing industry-leading fuel cell systems that have been proven in heavy trucks deployed internationally, and commissioning zero emission trucks with zero compromise for fleet operators.”
The Greater Rochester, NY region will also play a critical role to foster a more sustainable energy ecosystem. Canadian-based Li-Cycle Technology has committed to two facilities that will recover and process materials from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries. Li-Cycle selected the Greater Rochester, NY region following a comprehensive site search, which prioritized talent, existing infrastructure and available site services, and proximity to battery supply. Their study determined the Greater Rochester, NY region best positions the company to quickly develop its operations by leveraging existing infrastructure and rapidly deliver its services to a growing customer base both inside and outside the U.S.
From scientists to engineers to technicians to operators, the Greater Rochester, NY region features an experienced workforce ready and capable to bring companies’ goods, products and services to new energy markets. This talent pipeline is backed by 19 colleges and universities, top-ranking degrees in STEM programs and the nation’s leader in patent generation per 1,000 workers. The region’s integrated supply chain employs thousands of workers with industry experience spanning electro-mechanical, optics and chemical processes.
“Rochester has the manufacturing capability, testing capability and intellectual horsepower,” said Matt Fronk, past chairman, the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) consortium. NY-BEST operates specialized R&D and commercialization capabilities to advance proprietary technology and ultimately accelerate speed to market.
Rochester Institute of Technology hosts a battery prototyping center as well as the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, which houses several centers of excellence for R&D in targeted areas, including resource recovery, sustainable manufacturing, energy systems and transportation and mobility. The Center for Energy & Environment at University of Rochester conducts scientific research related to carbon-neutral technology and the impact of global climate change.
Other industry resources include robust testing, commercialization and assembly capacity at Eastman Business Park, which is a hot spot for roll-to-roll hub operations used in the design and production of electrodes for battery, fuel cell and other energy storage applications.
“A growing list of companies are tapping into the depth and breadth of skilled talent in the Greater Rochester, NY region to support a broad spectrum of energy innovations from fuel cell development to energy storage and recovery,” said Matt Hurlbutt, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise. “The recent investments in the region underscore the valuable infrastructure and specialized expertise available to energy innovation companies seeking a strategic location for their next facility.”
CANADA DEVELOPS RENEWABLE ENERGY FROM AMMONIA, HYDROGEN
The world is undergoing an unprecedented energy transition and Canada is uniquely positioned to supply clean energy to power the world. Hydrogen and ammonia are two carbon-free fuel sources where Canada has existing and emerging advantages for investors.
Ammonia—a stable, easy to transport carbon-free fuel, with applications as a medium to carry hydrogen—is emerging as a fuel of the future. Canada is already a top-10 global ammonia producer thanks to its well-established hydrogen production capabilities and infrastructure. Alberta is the leading jurisdiction in Canada, producing most of the national total of 3.9 million metric tonnes produced in 2020.
Five emission-reducing uses for ammonia fuel are:
- As an energy storage medium;
- As a zero-carbon fuel in fuel cells;
- To generate electricity for city power grids or in remote locations;
- As a fuel used in district heating
- As an effective energy carrier in sustainable international energy supply chains.
With the added benefits of carbon capture technologies and the country’s abundant renewable energy resources, Canada is the ideal location for investment in ammonia fuel projects. Canada is the 6th largest electricity generator in the world, and supplies 60 percent of its energy through hydroelectricity. Several provinces and territories already can provide clean electricity at an extremely affordable cost.
Canada has committed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, and offers attractive incentives for proponents of zero-emission and carbon-neutral projects. Businesses can fully expense clean energy generation and energy efficiency equipment through a federal tax incentive for clean energy equipment. The federal government also offers companies that operate in Canada funding through the SIF Net-Zero Accelerator, an $8 billion fund intended to expedite decarbonization projects by large emitters, scale-up clean technology and accelerate Canada’s industrial transformation in the energy sector. As well, Canada recently created a $1.5 billion Clean Fuels Fund. By leveraging the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit, foreign companies also gain a combined federal and provincial/territorial tax credit of up to 23.83 percent when conducting R&D in Canada.
HYDROGEN FUEL CAN PIGGY-BACK ON ZERO-CARBON AMMONIA
The uses of ammonia as both a zero-carbon fuel and as an effective energy carrier for hydrogen fuel are its most important advantages. The biggest impediment to global adoption of hydrogen has been its price tag. Ammonia’s chemical composition and its relative ease in transformation make it a stable medium for the transportation and storage of hydrogen. Therefore, ammonia as an energy carrier can overcome the cost barriers to the adoption of hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel technologies are not new, though with renewed attention growing both nationally and on an international stage, there is increased willingness to overcome persistent challenges.
Canada is not only one of the largest hydrogen producers in the world, but domestic and global companies in Canada are developing innovative end-use applications and technologies for industry. In addition to long-term commercialization of consumer fuel cell vehicles, Canada is pursuing development of fuel cell products that can be implemented using existing technology and simpler infrastructure. Long-distance commercial transportation, large-scale building heating and high-heat industries (metals manufacturing) are some of the potential uses—together, these activities comprise roughly 15 percent of global energy consumption.
A number of Canadian-based companies are leaders in hydrogen production and applications, including:
- British Columbia-based Ballard Power Systems has been leading hydrogen fuel cell development for over 40 years;
- Manitoba-based New Flyer is the biggest bus manufacturer in North America and has started making hydrogen-fueled buses;
- Ontario-based Hydrogenics is the worldwide leader in building industrial and commercial hydrogen generation, hydrogen fuel cells and large-scale energy storage solutions;
- U.S.-based Air Products is on the forefront of hydrogen energy technology development, and just announced a billion-dollar investment in Edmonton, Alberta, in June 2021; and
- France-based Air Liquide is actively involved in the energy transition with the supply of hydrogen and related solutions, and is the number one producer of gases derived from air
The 2020 Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, Seizing the Opportunities for Hydrogen: A Call to Action, signals Canada’s intention to pursue hydrogen fuel as a key component of its goal to reach net zero in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The hydrogen strategy for Canada—as well as provincial hydrogen strategies in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario—provide a framework to scale up hydrogen production across the country. Thanks to the infrastructure and expertise within the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub, the Alberta Industrial Heartland is already poised to become the first major hydrogen center in the country, which also makes it an ideal location for any new ammonia fuel projects to be developed.
Canada aims to be one of the top three clean hydrogen producers in the world by 2050. By then, the domestic market for hydrogen and related products in Canada is estimated to be worth up to $50 billion per year.
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