Today investment in renewables projects is no longer looked at as an eccentric thing to do. Increasingly, not investing in such projects is seen as eccentric. Here are a few examples of planned and proposed renewable energy projects in various parts of the world. If these projects prove bankable and are completed, they could provide very competitive sources of electricity for the countries they serve in a sustainable manner.
The TuNur project– 4,000 MW solar – Tunisia
This concentrated solar power project in Tunisia is designed to export power from Tunisia via sub power cables to Europe via Malta and Italy. Nur Energie is promoting it, which is a joint venture between UK-based Nur Energie, which owns 50% and rest owned by investors from Tunisia and Malta. The subsea power cables will deliver electricity from Tunisia to markets in Malta, Italy, and France, from this project. This project uses concentrated solar power technology, and utilises some 10,000 hectares of space, which is about the size of the size of Malta in the Mediterranean. An impact study also predicts that 2,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs could be created. Concentrated solar power technology works by focusing the sun’s rays onto a central tower using a vast array mirrors. Molten salt is then used to store the energy. Once complete it should generate some 9000 GWh per year of low carbon electricity, enough to supply 5 million homes. The project aims to start construction of the first phase at the end of 2019, and aims to begin producing electricity sometime in 2020.
Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) – 6,000 MW solar/wind – Australia
An international consortium of energy companies, which includes Intercontinental Energy, Vestas and CWP Energy Asia, and Macquarie, has agreed to provide development capital to the project. The project promoters has recently presented its plans to export colossal amounts of solar and wind energy from Western Australia to Southeast Asia via Indonesia and Singapore.
This $15 billion scheme is expected to generate up to 11 GW of renewable power once fully completed. Of the 11+ GW power generation capacities, 7.5+ GW of energy will be generated via wind turbines, while 3.5+ GW will be generated using solar PV arrays. 5,000+ MW will be dedicated to large energy users in the Pilbara region, which could include new and expanded mines, downstream mineral processing, and the large-scale production of hydrogen for domestic and export markets. 6,000 MW will be exported to South East Asia through undersea High Voltage DC transmission cables.
This hybrid power project is located in the flat desert lands on the north-west coast of Australia known as Pilbara region. It will be spread over 14,000 square km and comprise approximately 1,200 wind turbines supplied by Vestas, and 10 million solar panels. It is estimated that this amount of power will be enough to supply electricity to more than 7 million households. In 2021, the final investment decision will be made, this will be followed by construction of the first phase starting in 2023 and the first power generation coming on stream in 2024.
Grand Inga Hydroelectric Project– 40,000 MW hydro – DR Congo
The Grand Inga Dam is a proposed hydroelectric dam on the Congo River at Inga Falls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is planned to have close to twice the capacity of the 22,500 MW Three Gorges Dam, which is currently known as the largest energy-generating body ever built. The River Congo is the world’s second largest river in terms of water flow, which due to its location close to the equator provides a good source of potential hydropower.
This $80 billion project is designed by its promoters to meet growing electricity demand in both central and southern Africa.
Of the project’s 4,800 MW, 2,500 MW are earmarked for South Africa, 1,300 MW will support Congo’s mining sector and the remaining 1,000 MW will go toward meeting domestic power demand. Only about 15 percent of Congo’s population has electricity.
However there are doubts about the bankability of such a project for various reasons including the impact of climate change, which is resulting in, reduced rainfall is in the Congo River area. Also, there are ongoing plans in the upriver countries to dam the river’s headwaters, thus cutting the flow of water available to exploit by the Inga project. Also there are doubts about the bankability of the project once complete, given that often such projects completion are often late and over budget. Moreover, increasing competition from new renewable energy projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are reducing the need for such a project.
Gansu Wind Farm Project– 10,000 MW wind – China
The Chinese government in 2008 approved this project, known as the Gansu Wind Farm Project in western Gansu province in China. The site was chosen because of the high winds generated in the region. Construction of this project in the Gobi desert near the Mongolian border, which began in 2009 and is due to be completed in 2020. It consists of several phases and once complete will have a total installed generating capacity of more than 6000 MW.
Already, the first phases make this project the world’s biggest wind farms. The aim of its investors is to grow to 10,000 MW, requiring investments of $16 billion. The first 3,800 MW phase consisted of 20 wind farms of 200MW and 100MW. The second 8,000 MW phase consists of 40 additional 200MW wind farms. However, the almost 7,000 wind turbines that are currently commissioned operate at low capacity.
The project lies some 1000 miles from China’s major coastal cities and due to congestion problems with China’s long distance power grid, and as a result, the project’s wind turbines have to be switched off at times.