Abu Dhabi’s Masdar in Scottish wind farm world first

Masdar partnered with Equinor in installing two wind farms off the coast of Britain. (Courtesy of Masdar)
Updated 27 June 2018
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Abu Dhabi’s Masdar in Scottish wind farm world first

PETERHEAD: The two large white boxes hardly look like the height of ground-breaking innovation. But they represent a first for the renewable energy industry in how to deliver clean energy steadily and profitably.
They are also the result of a remarkable partnership that marries expertise from Masdar, in the desert of the UAE, to that of energy giants Equinor from snowy Norway.
Together the two white boxes sitting on a windswept site in north-east Scotland make up Batwind, the world’s first energy storage system directly connected to an off-shore wind farm. On Wednesday, a new chapter in energy history was opened with the inauguration of Batwind.
The battery is linked to Hywind, five turbines floating about 30 kilometers out in the North Sea off Peterhead, a small fishing port an hour north of Aberdeen, the UK’s North Sea oil hub. And in the words of Bader Al-Lamki, Masdar’s executive director of clean energy, it is “a game-changer.”
Using highly sophisticated algorithms incorporating the study of weather forecast and energy usage, Batwind is able to stabilize the release of energy, regulating it so that it is available when demand is high and stored efficiently when it is not needed so much.
Artificial intelligence systems study patterns of usage and market prices to calculate when to sell energy to the national grid at the most profitable rates for the wind farm operators.
Energy prices fluctuate according to demand, from hour to hour down to fractions of a second. When demand is high — in the mornings, for example — the price goes up.
But producing renewable energy from the wind is unpredictable. High production does not necessarily coincide with periods of high demand and without efficient storage, the energy is wasted.
Batwind’s job is to marry regular, stable supply with profitability.
“At the end of the day, we are about selling energy,” said Al-Lamki. “We know how to produce renewable energy. The role has been how to prevent wastage. This storage system can be equally applied to solar power or other forms of renewables and it can be applied anywhere in the world. Batwind is the key to regularizing energy release and making it as competitive as conventional energy made from oil or gas.”
Specially developed software will be able to decide when to dispatch supply and when to rein in production.
“Over time we should develop algorithms to give projections not just for days but for months,” said Sebastian Bringsvaerd, head of Hywind development at Equinor.
Batwind’s battery system has a storage capacity of 1.2 megawatts, equivalent to the battery capacity of more than 1.3 million iPhones.
The cost of renewable energy is going down all the time.
According to a report released last October by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the cost of installing battery storage systems could fall by 66 percent by 2030.
Masdar partnered with Equinor to instal two wind farms off the coast of Britain. The first was Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm in the North Sea off the coast of eastern England. The UAE company has a 25 percent stake in the Hywind turbines, the world’s first floating wind farm.
Battery storage could also provide power to remote areas which are not linked to a national grid. The Batwind team have already had inquiries from the Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland.
“The case for renewable energy has been made,” said Al-Lamki. “Now we have the key to storage. These are exciting times in the energy business and Masdar is in the forefront.”


No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

Updated 21 May 2019
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No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

  • Lebanon’s proposed austerity budget may please international lenders but it could enrage sectors of society
  • Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150 percent of GDP

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s finance minister said on Tuesday there was no need for more talks over the 2019 draft budget, seen as a vital test of the government’s will to reform, although the foreign minister signalled the debate may go on.
The cabinet says the budget will reduce the deficit to 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) from last year’s 11.2%. Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150% of GDP.
“There is no longer need for too much talking or anything that calls for delay. I have presented all the numbers in their final form,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
But Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil suggested the debate may go on, telling reporters: “The budget is done when it’s done.”
While Lebanon has dragged its feet on reforms for years, its sectarian leaders appear more serious this time, warning of a catastrophe if there is no serious action. Their plans have triggered protests and strikes by state workers and army retirees worried about their pensions.
President Michel Aoun on Tuesday repeated his call for Lebanese to sacrifice “a little“: “(If) we want to hold onto all privileges without sacrifice, we will lose them all.”
“We import from abroad, we don’t produce anything ... So what we did was necessary and the citizens won’t realize its importance until after they feel its positive results soon,” Aoun said, noting Lebanon’s $80 billion debt mountain.
A draft of the budget seen by Reuters included a three-year freeze on all forms of hiring and a cap on bonus and overtime benefits.
It also includes a 2% levy on imports including refined oil products and excluding medicine and primary inputs for agriculture and industry, said Youssef Finianos, minister of public works and transport.
“DEVIL IN THE DETAIL“
Marwan Mikhael, head of research at Blominvest Bank, said investors would welcome the additional efforts in the latest draft to cut the deficit.
“There will be some who claim it is not good because they were hit by the decline in spending or increased taxes, but it should be well viewed by the international community,” he said.
Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said: “The numbers will be of some comfort to investors, but the devil will be in the detail.”
“Even if the authorities do manage to rein in the deficit, it probably won’t be enough to stabilize the debt ratio and some form of restructuring looks increasingly likely over the next couple of years,” Tuvey said.
The government said in January it was committed to paying all maturing debt and interest payments on the predetermined dates.
Lebanon’s main expenses are a bloated public sector, interest payments on public debt and transfers to the loss-making power generator, for which a reform plan was approved in April. The state is riddled with corruption and waste.
Serious reforms should help Lebanon tap into some $11 billion of project financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year.
Once approved by cabinet, the draft budget must be debated and passed by parliament. While no specific timetable is in place for those steps, Aoun has previously said he wants the budget approved by parliament by the end of May.
On Monday, veterans fearing cuts to their pensions and benefits burned tires outside the parliament building where the cabinet met. Police used water cannon to drive them back.