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Mitsubishi gas turbine being developed to burn ammonia commercially by 2025

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Mitsubishi Power is developing a 40-MW gas turbine that would be fueled 100 percent by ammonia.

The Japan-based power equipment giant, which already is hard at work adapting its natural gas-fired turbines to burn hydrogen, now is aiming at another potential carbon-free power resource. The company hopes to guide the ammonia-fired technology toward commercialization by 2025.

If and when achieved, Mitsubishi Power says it would be world’s first commercialized gas turbine to make exclusive use of ammonia as a fuel. The effort was started in response to the ever increasing global move toward carbon-free power generation. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Decarbonization and Hydrogen will be two of the content tracks at POWERGEN International Jan. 26-28 in Dallas. The call for speakers is going out soon).

Ammonia, which is a compound consisting of hydrogen and nitrogen, is a highly efficient hydrogen carrier, and it can also be directly combusted as fuel. In recent years, attention has begun to focus on ammonia from two perspectives: achieving carbon neutrality through transition to a hydrogen society, and minimizing environmental impact caused by existing energy modes.

“Expectations are held that early introduction of ammonia-based power generation equipment at power companies and independent power providers (IPPs) will promote ammonia’s future use as a carbon-free fuel,” the company said in its press release announcing the development project.

A challenge needing to be addressed with direct combustion of ammonia is the production of nitrogen oxide (NOx) caused by oxidation resulting from the combustion of the nitrogen component of the fuel. Mitsubishi Power is aiming to resolve this issue through commercialization of a gas turbine system that combines selective catalytic reduction (SCR) with a newly developed combustor that reduces NOx emissions, for installation in the Company’s H-25 Series gas turbines.

Mitsubishi Power already is underway on projects with utilities such as Entergy and Intermountain Power Agency on hydrogen-fueled power generation projects.

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2020 was a record-setting year for global offshore wind investment

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Global financial investment for offshore wind capacity set records in 2020, according to new research released last month. Data from the Renewables Consulting Group’s (RCG’s) Global Renewable Infrastructure Projects (GRIP) database shows that the total capacity financed for offshore wind last year reached 8,370 megawatts (MW) across the European, Americas and Asia Pacific (excl. China) regions, eclipsing the previous total of 6,438 MW financed in 2018. Global investment for offshore wind also set new highs last year as investment reached USD 30 billion, surpassing the previous high of USD 22 billion set in 2018.

“Global offshore wind continues its extraordinary growth,” explains Maxwell Clarke, an Associate in RCG’s market intelligence team. “Despite the pandemic, 2020 saw more offshore wind capacity financed than any year before. Across global markets, record capacity investments were not only seen in firm commitments to build projects, but also in capacity acquired through mergers and acquisitions.”

Several notable offshore wind projects, such as Dogger Bank A&B, the world’s largest offshore wind project, reached their final investment decisions (FID) in 2020. The FID – the point where major equipment orders are placed, and contracts executed for the engineering, procurement and construction stage – signifies that developers and owners/operators have made a firm commitment to move forward with the project.

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Route to market

Each country where offshore wind projects attained the FID milestone – the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Germany and Taiwan – utilized some type of framework agreement such as the UK’s contracts for differences or the feed-in-tariff model used in Taiwan and China.

“Our analysis demonstrates the importance of markets having a proper route-to-market to push offshore wind projects to completion” notes RCG’s Clarke. “The build out of commercial-scale offshore wind globally remains centered on markets with structured route to market mechanisms reducing investment risk.”

The UK saw more than 3,658 MW in capacity secure investment with 2,950 MW supported by the contracts for difference (CFD) mechanism. In the Netherlands, the centrally planned and developed Hollandse Kust Zuid and Hollandse Kust Noord sites were advanced through the subsidy-free tendering mechanism allocating a combined 2,299 MW in capacity.

In Taiwan, the Changfang and Xaido projects reached FID having signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with an associated feed-in-tariff (FiT) as part of the Zonal Application planning process, allowing 589 MW to move to the pre-construction phase.

In France, the Saint Brieuc and Fecamp projects both reached FID after being awarded FiTs in 2018 (after revisions to the FiT rates previously awarded in 2012). In Germany, Innogy (as part of RWE Renewables) committed to the Kaskasi 2 project in April, after winning the second interim tender for offshore wind in Germany.

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The UK led the way with both CfD subsidy secured and merchant supported projects from the third allocation round (AR3) in 2019 committing to firm investments. The Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo project, initially developed by SSE Renewables, notably reached FID in June with oil and gas major Total partnering them on the project. The CfD awarded for the Seagreen project covers 454 MW of the combined 1,140 MW site, or 39% of the combined capacity for site A and site B.

Seagreen will therefore be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in Europe to be majority-funded without subsidy support. Total’s partnership on the project both raised the necessary capital for the investment decision and de-risked the investment for the project. The French oil major acquired a 51% interest in the project as part of the acquisition.

Elsewhere in the UK, having also secured a route to market in the AR3 CfD auction the Dogger Bank A&B projects reached FID in November. While the project partners Equinor, SSE and Eni have only progressed the first two phases of the three-phase project in 2020, it remains the largest offshore wind capacity investment commitment in the industry’s history. Upon completion of the two sites, forecast for 2025, the A&B development will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. Eni was announced as a project partner following the FID on the projects, securing a 10% interest from Equinor and SSE respectively.

China’s offshore wind market – which is slated to surpass the UK as the leading global market in operational capacity by the end of this year – experienced unprecedented growth and project deployment last year. In 2019 the Chinese market introduced price-based offshore wind tenders and announced that the FiT rate for projects consented in future tenders would be phased out for 2022, requiring bid prices to compete with wholesale market rates from then on. In order to qualify for the soon-to-expire FiT, projects successful in lease auctions since 2019 must commission the site by the end of 2021 resulting in a massive development rush that has seen over 5 GW of new capacity come online in 2020, with over 10 GW at various stages of construction.

“The data clearly demonstrates the importance of markets that feature a clear mechanism to market,” Clarke says. While emerging markets have seen unprecedented growth in 2020, in terms of new project announcements and portfolio development, firm investment to take projects forward still requires a reduction in relative asset risk.

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“The importance of risk-free project development was further highlighted this week with the announcement of winners in the UK’s Round 4 offshore wind lease auction. Although not a firm commitment to construct projects, winning bids submitted by consortium partners of BP and EnBW of £231m per project site illustrates the value of securing a lease area for project development in a low-risk environment with an established route-to-market framework.

“With offshore wind and renewable energy touted by many as a global success story in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and a pillar of future energy generation and economic growth, emerging markets must formalize secure route-to-market mechanisms for real project investment to be realized.”

In 2020 and early 2021, this need for project de-risking has been recognized in Greece, Sweden, Brazil, Romania and Bulgaria, with respective governments openly exploring offshore wind frameworks and incentivizing forward market growth.

Note on China: Comprehensive project detail for offshore wind farms in China has been added to RCG’s proprietary GRIP database in 2020, after expanding its market intelligence capabilities in the sector. Despite signs that China is gradually opening up to international developers and supply chain players, the market remains very isolationist and project details are not made public in a structured format that reciprocates development phases of offshore wind markets in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere in the APAC region.

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Granholm sworn in as 16th Secretary at U.S. Department of Energy

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Jennifer M. Granholm was sworn in Feb. 25 as the 16th Secretary of Energy by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, after a confirmation vote of 64-35 in the U.S. Senate.

Secretary Granholm is only the second woman to lead the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“I am humbled by the faith President Biden has placed in me to lead this incredible team at the Department of Energy,” said Secretary Granholm. “DOE is powered by brilliant scientists, engineers, and energy policy experts who are the very best for the job we’ve been tasked with: to develop and deploy new clean energy technologies that will achieve the Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and secure our nation’s future. I am so ready to work alongside them as we kickstart America’s clean energy revolution, create millions of good-paying union jobs, and deliver benefits to American workers and communities across the nation.”

After her swearing-in ceremony, Secretary Granholm released a video message and blog post explaining how DOE will tackle climate change by deploying clean energy solutions that deliver cheap, abundant and clean power to fuel America’s clean energy revolution.

Previously, Granholm was the first woman elected Governor of Michigan, serving two terms from 2003 to 2011. Facing economic downturns caused by the Great Recession and the meltdown in the automotive and manufacturing sectors, Granholm responded by leading efforts to diversify the state’s economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the manufacturing sector, and add emerging sectors — such as clean energy — to Michigan’s economic portfolio. Today, one-third of all North American electric vehicle battery production takes place in Michigan, it is one of the top five states for clean energy patents, and 126,000 Michiganders were employed in the clean energy sector before COVID-19.

After her time as governor, Granholm joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley as a Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Goldman School of Public Policy, focusing on the intersection of law, clean energy, manufacturing, policy and industry. She also served as an advisor to the Clean Energy Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Granholm was also the first woman elected Attorney General of Michigan, serving from 1998 to 2002. She began her career in public service as a judicial clerk for Michigan’s 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, became a federal prosecutor in Detroit in 1990, and was appointed Wayne County Corporation Counsel in 1994.

Granholm, an immigrant from Canada, is an honors graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Law School.

DOE is tasked with overseeing the U.S. energy supply, maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation, carrying out the environmental clean-up from the Cold War nuclear mission, and running the 17 National Laboratories.

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Clothing retailer signs 13-year renewable energy supply deal with AEP Energy

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The competitive retail wing of American Electric Power has signed a clean energy supply deal with apparel firm Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

AEP Energy will supply the retailer’s corporate headquarters and two distribution centers in New Albany, Ohio with clean energy through an Integrated Renewable Energy (IRE) solution – a long-term, fixed price retail energy option that supports new, locally-sourced wind and solar – for 13 years beginning in 2023.

“We’re proud to partner with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. as they work to reduce their carbon footprint. An integrated renewable energy solution will help them achieve their sustainability goals with energy from regional assets. AEP Energy is honored to support A&F Co.’s ongoing efforts as part of the retailer’s commitment to invest in renewable energy and reduce emissions,” said AEP Energy President Greg Hall.

“The shift to renewable electricity in our New Albany corporate operations will contribute to our recently stated goal of reducing Total Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030,” said Kim Harr, Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s senior director of Sustainability. “This also supports our continued commitment to the environmental principles of the UN Global Compact. Our mission goals align with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals #7 Affordable and Clean Energy and # 13 Climate Action. We thank Worthington Energy Consultants and AEP Energy for their collaboration on this innovative energy solution.”

AEP is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio as are its Energy and Renewables units. AEP Renewables owns wind farms in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas and Colorado.

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Australian brewery reduces carbon footprint with rooftop solar

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Moon Dog Brewing, an independent Australian craft brewery based out of Melbourne, is exploring ways to reduce its carbon footprint and drive environmental sustainability.

To this end, the Moon Dog team selected Energis, a residential and commercial energy solutions company, to design a solar system that would reduce their reliance on using energy from the grid and lower their energy costs. Energis designed, installed and commissioned a 99.85 kW rooftop mounted solar system utilising 317 solar panels powered by FIMER’s PVS-100 inverter.

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Energis selected FIMER’s PVS-100 as they were especially suited for the string sizing and other site-specific requirements for this project.

This follows a general trend spanning the beer industry worldwide, with smaller independent brew pubs and large international beer companies seeing the potential that solar power holds when it comes to offsetting the energy-intensive process of beer-making.

Related: New Twist on Green Beer as Anheuser Busch Commits to 100 Percent Renewables

Budweiser owned by AB InBev, signed the largest ever pan-European solar power deal for its 14 breweries spread across Europe in 2020, along with Heineken’s Sol brand committing to brewing with only 100% solar energy in the same year.

Moon Dog Brewery Solar rooftop captis executive search management consulting leadership board servicesMoon Dog’s solar system inspired them to release a limited-edition beer named “the future is bright”, a solar-powered IPA (India Pale Ale). Credit: Moon Dog

Hot spots such as Australia, Italy, Germany, Singapore, Belgium, the Netherlands and the US are leading the charge when it comes to solarized breweries, and China is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing markets for beer consumption.

“We are proud to have played a key role in helping this brewery reduce their carbon emissions and lower operating costs for years to come,” said Jason Venning, country manager for FIMER, Australia and New Zealand.

“This is a great example of how FIMER’s PVS-100 high-powered string inverter, through its dual-stage topology, enables greater energy production and saves businesses more money over the lifetime of the system, thus enabling a faster return on investment.”

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The addition of Aurora Vision, FIMER’s monitoring solution, allows Karl Van Buuren, Moon Dog co-founder and the rest of the team to monitor the breweries entire solar plant remotely. Van Buuren said: “Our site, like many other food and beverage sites, is power-hungry, we have boilers, chill units, and big packaging lines. Using FIMER’s monitoring solution allows us to see how much our solar is producing, which helps offset the large energy-using equipment on site. We can see what time of day we are generating the most solar energy, together with how much we are producing and consuming on a month-to-month basis.”

Since installation and commissioning, Moon Dog Brewing has generated over 110 MWh, saving approximately 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions each month.

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Xcel Energy – Colorado plans to deliver 80% renewable energy by 2030

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Xcel Energy – Colorado today announced details of its upcoming Clean Energy Plan that will result in an estimated 85% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan will double renewable energy and battery storage on the Xcel Energy Colorado system, providing customers with electricity derived from approximately 80% renewable sources while maintaining affordable and reliable energy service, said Xcel in a press release.

In 2018, Xcel Energy announced its vision of a carbon-free electricity system by 2050. Today’s announcement continues not only the company’s vision to lead the clean energy transition, but also presents a balanced, diversified portfolio of energy sources to maintain reliability and affordability while supporting communities said the company. Highlights of the plan include:

  • Adds approximately 5,500 MW of new wind, solar generation and battery storage;
  • Significantly reduces coal plant operations by 2030 and retires or repowers all remaining coal units by 2040;
  • Building upon successful customer focused energy-efficiency programs, distributed generation opportunities, and demand response options to manage energy load;
  • Ensuring grid stability and reliability with flexible resources capable of operating around renewable resources as well as during times of extreme heat or cold;
  • Creating a workforce and community transition plan, building upon the utility’s experience leading clean energy transitions across its service area; and
  • Evaluating transmission infrastructure in the state to improve the reliability and flexibility of the system and reduce the cost of the renewable energy additions contemplated by this plan.

Xcel Energy – Colorado said its customers’ electricity bills are already among the lowest in the nation, and this balanced energy plan will continue to keep bills low. The plan is estimated to result in customer bill increases at or below the rate of inflation.

No layoffs are anticipated at any of the coal plants affected by the plan. Company and union leaders are partnering to manage this transition through attrition, retirement and retraining of employees.

The plan will go before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission late next month.

“We have a long track record of successfully transitioning our plants to meet future energy needs and look forward to doing so in Colorado, a state with leaders who share our clean energy goals,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO, Xcel Energy. “We are committed to working with our employees and the communities we serve as we make significant strides leading the nation’s and Colorado’s ambitious clean energy transition, while also ensuring reliability and affordability for our customers.”

“Colorado is getting cleaner air, more good jobs, and savings for consumers with more renewable energy,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “This proposal puts reliability and consumer savings as top priorities. This plan doubles wind and solar, advances my administration’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction roadmap and our bold goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040.”

“We’re excited to lead the way in Colorado’s clean energy transformation and reduce carbon emissions approximately 85% by 2030,’’ said Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy – Colorado. “This ambitious agenda delivers clean, reliable, affordable energy for our Colorado customers and communities and brings us closer to our vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.”

“We have a tremendous labor force in the state that is dedicated to providing the power Coloradans need while maintaining a safe, reliable energy grid,” said Rich Meisinger, Business Manager of IBEW Local 111. ‘’We’re committed to keeping our members on the job whether they work for one of the utilities or they work for one of the electrical contractors we represent and look forward to demonstrating the value they can deliver in the future.”

“Many electric utilities have set goals that could put them on a path consistent with the science. Xcel Energy is actually changing their operations and aligning their investments to achieve those goals,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, president, Western Resource Advocates. “What sets Xcel Energy apart is that they continue to be willing to work in partnership to realign their business to develop concrete plans to achieve the ambitious emissions reduction goals from electricity generation that are necessary to address climate change.”

“In our role as a consumer advocate, Energy Outreach Colorado is optimistic about the focus on equity, affordability and the health benefits in Xcel Energy’s Clean Energy Plan for the vulnerable Coloradans that we represent,” said Jennifer Gremmert, executive director, Energy Outreach Colorado. “Now more than ever, we understand the critical nature of affordable, reliable and accessible home energy to ensure that everyone can thrive.”

You can download a factsheet about the plan here.

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EIA: Levelized cost of onshore wind, solar PV dropping below gas-fired and conventional generation by 2026

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Within a decade, if not a few years, the levelized cost of electricity is coming way down for new utility-scale onshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects to levels below all fossil or conventional fuels including combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants, according to new figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA’s newly added table compares revenues to costs for all utility-scale form of power generation in the coming years. Using a forecast from 2023 to 2050, the projection shows the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for CCGT facilities rising from about $35 to more than $40, while solar PV falls from $30 to about $25.

The LCOE for solar PV takes a short-term hit as the solar investment tax credit declines from 30 percent to 10 percent of initial capital cost by 2024. However, the overall trend is less expensive as solar PV capital costs continue to fall, according to the EIA.

All things considered, the estimated capacity-weighted LCOE for new generation resources entering service in 2026 shows onshore wind and standalone solar farms dropping to about $31 and $29 per MWh, respectively. Combined cycle power plants will cost about $34.51 per MWh coming online in 2026, according to the federal forecast.

Combustion turbines will prove much more costly at $199 per MWh, but they are useful in quick-start situations needed to complement and back up areas with high, but intermittent renewables penetration. Offshore wind also is projected to cost about $115 per MWh, and battery storage is pegged to cost about $121 per MWh.

The capacity factor of plants, however, distinctly favors CCGT at 87 percent, while onshore and offshore wind and solar PV are 45 to 30 percent, tops. Capacity factor is the ratio of actual energy produced by over time compared to the energy which could be possible at the continuous maximum rating. Since wind and solar plants can’t run continuously since they are weather dependent, their capacity factor is always lower compared to conventional generation.

Last year, the U.S. generation mix was allocated as such: natural gas, 40 percent, renewables (hydro, wind and solar), 21 percent; nuclear, 19 percent, coal, 19 percent.

By 2050, the EIA’s energy outlook predicted, renewables will account for 42 percent of the generation mix (nearly all of that in wind and solar growth. Gas-fired power will still account for about 36 percent while nuclear and coal will fall to 11 percent each.

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Xcel celebrates milestone as utility is now halfway to 100% carbon free electricity

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For the second year in a row, Xcel Energy has hit a significant milestone in its quest to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. Xcel reported that it broke its own record for a single-year drop in emissions in 2020, cutting carbon emissions company-wide by approximately six million tons, a 12% reduction over 2019 levels.

That’s equivalent to taking nearly 1.2 million cars off the road for a year. In 2019, Xcel Energy achieved a 10% reduction over the previous year.

Since 2005, the company has reduced carbon emissions by 51%, making it one of the leading players in the energy transition, it said.

Xcel Energy’s 2020 carbon reductions outpaced the industry, which is ahead of any other part of the economy. At the end of 2020, it is estimated the U.S. electric power sector had reduced carbon emissions just under 40% from 2005 levels, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“We’re making tremendous progress towards delivering on our clean energy goals,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “Even after factoring in the effect of the global pandemic on our operations, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and are more than halfway to delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to our customers, all while keeping their service reliable and energy bills low.”

Several factors contributed to the 2020 carbon reduction results.

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Xcel Energy continued to significantly increase wind generation on its system, reaching 10,000 MW of wind energy capacity online for customers in the states it serves.

The company added more than 800 MW of new wind projects in late 2019, in addition to bringing nearly 2,200 megawatts of new wind projects online in 2020. By the end of 2021, Xcel Energy estimates that approximately 35% of its energy will be from wind. Through the company’s wind expansion, it has delivered approximately $430 million in fuel savings to its customers from 2017 to 2020.

Thanks to having more wind and solar on its system, the company recorded a 12% reduction in MWh from coal and natural gas generation. To support its growing renewable energy portfolio, it is using cleaner natural gas as backup and pushing the envelope in operating its remaining coal plants to follow the wind and sun.

Xcel Energy’s two nuclear plants in Minnesota had another excellent operating year, providing a steady supply of 100% carbon-free power.

The pandemic also played a role in reducing the company’s electricity sales by an estimated 3% for the year and contributing to lower carbon emissions.

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Isagén in Colombia acquires two small hydro plants from Generadora Luzma

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Colombian power generator Isagén has completed the acquisition of two small hydroelectric plants with a total capacity of 39.8 MW from Generadora Luzma.

In a statement, the Medellín-based firm did not provide details of the transaction but said the Luzma I and Luzma II facilities in northwestern Antioquia department formed part of its clean energy strategy.

“With this decision we continue to strengthen our generation matrix, making it more resilient to climate change and contributing to the country’s energy transition at this key stage of the economy’s reactivation,” the statement read.

Per Generadora Luzma’s website, the plants are under development in the northeast subregion of Antioquia under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Amalfi (between the La Manguita and Salazar villages). They use the waters of the Riachón River, which is part of the Porce River basin for the generation of electricity. Each plant has a capacity of 19.9 MW, and electricity will be distributed through three 110-kV lines.

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Isagén in Colombia acquires two small hydro plants from Generadora Luzma

IsagenHydro

Colombian power generator Isagén has completed the acquisition of two small hydroelectric plants with a total capacity of 39.8 MW from Generadora Luzma.

In a statement, the Medellín-based firm did not provide details of the transaction but said the Luzma I and Luzma II facilities in northwestern Antioquia department formed part of its clean energy strategy.

“With this decision we continue to strengthen our generation matrix, making it more resilient to climate change and contributing to the country’s energy transition at this key stage of the economy’s reactivation,” the statement read.

Per Generadora Luzma’s website, the plants are under development in the northeast subregion of Antioquia under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Amalfi (between the La Manguita and Salazar villages). They use the waters of the Riachón River, which is part of the Porce River basin for the generation of electricity. Each plant has a capacity of 19.9 MW, and electricity will be distributed through three 110-kV lines.