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LowCost Electricity

  • New figures show surge in renewable power

    New figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show an increase in the role that renewable energy is playing in powering homes and commercial premises in the United Kingdom.

    The latest figures from the DECC cover the April to June 2015 period and show that during this time, renewable power was used to produce 25.3% of electricity in the United Kingdom; the majority of this was produced from offshore and onshore wind power. This increase represents an 8.6% surge on the figures for the previous year.

    This means that renewable power is now more popular than coal and nuclear as a means of fuel, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change say this upsurge is down to “favourable weather conditions” such as increased wind speeds and sunshine, and a greater capacity for producing wind power.

    Commenting on the increase, Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of Energy UK, said:

    “Renewables have now become Britain’s second largest source of electricity, generating more than a quarter of our needs. The new statistics show that Britain is relying increasingly on dependable renewable sources to keep the country powered up, with onshore and offshore wind playing the leading roles in our clean energy mix.”

    McCaffery added that “we’d welcome clearer signals from Government that it’s backing the installation of vital new projects”.

    New Campaign

    The release of the figures came shortly before a new campaign got underway in opposition to the Government’s plans to cut support for some smaller renewable energy projects such as investment in solar panels and wind turbines.

    The new campaign has been named People Power and hopes to persuade the Government to think again before reducing funding.

    Renewable energy investment cuts

    In recent years there has been a steady increase in renewable energy investment in the UK as the government looks for more sustainable ways to power the country. However, there have been some concerns about continued investment after it was announced earlier in the year that funding for renewable energy subsidies was to be cut.

    In September, the BBC reported the CBI has expressed concerns that the reduction in these energy subsidies could be off-putting to investors, and there are also worries the reduction in funding could lead to job losses in the renewable energy sector.

    Renewable Energy UK says that Government cuts to funding for smaller renewable energy projects would mean it won’t be possible for such schemes to advance.

  • New solar power farm opens in Vale of Glamorgan

    A new solar far has been opened on a former brownfield site in the Vale of Glamorgan. The 20 acre solar farm was launched by the local MP Alun Cairns and it was built by British Gas for use by Associated British Ports.

    Work began on the site in March 2015; the installation of 15,000 solar panels were completed shortly afterwards.

    Commenting on the opening of the new site, MP Alun Cairns said:

    "The new solar farm on Barry Docks is a fantastic example of maximising the use of industrial space, in a very impressive scheme. The energy partnership between ABP and British Gas will allow Barry Dock to become more competitive in the industry, and the project in the Vale of Glamorgan could become an exciting model for other docks and ports around Great Britain.”

    The opening of the new farm is predicted to produce approximately 4.5 megawatts of green power annually for use by ABP’s port operations. The energy that is produced will also be used by 75 tenants of ABP, and surplus energy is to be sold back to the National Grid.

    The new solar farm is set to lead to a significant reduction in the CO2 emissions, reducing them by 2,000 tonnes annually.

    Representatives from both ABP and British Gas were at the site for the opening, and it has recently been announced that the site has already been nominated for the Wales Green Energy award.

    At the launch, Chris Morrison of British Gas reaffirmed the company’s commitment to greener energy and reducing the impact of carbon stating: stating:

    “This solar farm will generate a significant contribution towards that goal.”

    Solar power in the UK

    The drive towards green power has been welcomed by environmental campaign charities. There are now more than 400 wind farms in the UK and the growth has increased rapidly in recent years. A Press Association report featured in the Guardian shows that there are now 650,000 solar installations being used in the UK.

    However, there has been some concern over the government’s on-going commitment to green energy after it was announced by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Amber Rudd, in July that the Government was to reduce its renewable energy subsidies. The decision to cut green energy subsidies was made amid concerns that they were on course to be higher than had been previously predicted.

  • New survey reveals why businesses are reluctant to invest in new energy sources

    Businesses of all sizes are often accused of not doing enough to invest in energy efficiency, however, a new survey from British Gas Energy reveals some of the reasons behind this. Among the biggest concerns were political and regulatory uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the recent election and the potential implications for energy technology investment.

    The opinions were gathered at the Energy Live Future conference in the first week of June. The large organizations present commented on the need to reduce energy costs, but also stressed the problems of convincing company bosses/team leaders to make the necessary investments.

    However, despite these challenges, Gab Barbaro, Managing Director of British Gas Business, has urged business owners to be more proactive when it comes to energy use, saying:

    “My challenge to business leaders is to get smart and be more proactive about their energy use. Businesses must think long-term rather than be swayed by current political or economic uncertainty - there are countless opportunities for organisations to save money on their bills today, by getting to grips with how it’s being used and acting where it’s being wasted.”

    Other barriers to energy efficiency

    Another barrier to the adoption of the latest energy technologies, like smart meters, is that business owners often lack a basic understanding of them, and their advantages.

    And another issue is worries over cyberattacks. Two thirds of companies interviewed by PWC are concerned that the data stored by utility companies from smart meters could be compromised, and these reservations are costing businesses money.

    The increasing cost of energy

    Rising energy bills means companies can spend twice as much on their energy bills, according to the Carbon Trust.

    Although the Carbon Trust’s figures were taken from 2014, spiralling energy costs continue to put a strain on businesses’ finances, and analysts are warning that the UK industry could suffer as a result.

    Cost savings from energy efficiency

    Although there is some resistance to introducing new energy technologies and trends into the workplace, UK-based businesses are being urged to embrace them due to the advantages they offer, such as cost savings.

    It’s estimated that companies that introduce energy saving measures could save up to 20 per cent on their energy costs. And specialist manufacturers who use the most energy, such as the petrochemical, food and beverages and industrial gases sectors, potentially have the most to save by adopting efficiency measures.

  • Price of Hinkley Point C to rise

    Concerns have been raised regarding the rising cost of the Hinkley Point C project, and there’s speculation about delays too.

    Several media sources have reported that the price of the new nuclear plant will rise by a further £1.5 billion. However, the Guardian reports that the developer, EDF, stated the overspend could exceed 2 billion, leading to a total cost of more than £20 billion for the reactor.

    Nevertheless, despite the reported overspend and rumours regarding a delay in the building of the plant, EDF has stated that it still anticipates completing the Somerset-based reactor on schedule by the end of 2025.

    The government also insists that the project is still ‘on track’, and it recently reaffirmed its commitment to the nuclear sector.

    Hinkley C Progress

    Back in March, the French-owned company EDF released details of the progress being made on the ambitious Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which received government approval earlier in 2017.

    In a press release, EDF said there was 1,600 workers on the site daily, work was progressing on the seawall and concrete had been poured ahead of the construction for the power station galleries.

    Speaking at the time, Hinkley Point C Project Director, Philippe Bordarier said:

    “The regulator’s consent for construction of the first safety-related structure at Hinkley Point C shows our commitment to the highest standards of quality and safety. We’re making good progress on many fronts as a result of the successful collaboration between all our teams.”

    Hinkley C Controversy

    Plans for the plant have caused controversy from the outset, with environmental groups and parties being among those vocal in their opposition to it.

    However, others argue the Hinkley C is essential to job creation and say it will kickstart a new generation of nuclear power in the UK.  And as the UK turns its back on fossil fuels like goal, many believe that nuclear power is the way forward for a cleaner, greener.

    Government dedication to nuclear research

    In a statement issued by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, attempted to allay concerns over future collaboration with Joint European Torus (JET), an organisation that plays a vital part in nuclear fusion research.

    Mr Clark stated that “the government is taking every possible step to secure its future and to maintain highly-skilled jobs in the UK.”

    The minister also stated that the government would continue to underwrite JET after the UK officially leaves the European Union.

  • Record levels of investment for European wind farms

    The European offshore wind industry has attracted more than €14 billion worth of investment in the past six months, with the UK being one of the biggest winners, a new report says. The record level of investment comes from 7 projects that have all reached the Final Investment Decision during the first months of 2016.

    The report from WindEurope also indicates energy companies continued commitment to renewable forms of power generation, with companies such as Dong Energy and Siemens continuing to invest.

    According to the report, there are now 82 wind farms across 11 countries with the capacity to produce 11,538 megawatts of power. 114 wind turbines have been grid connected in Europe in the first six months of the year, and work has been carried out on 13 windfarms, including four in the United Kingdom.

    Commenting on the new figures, CEO of WindEurope, Giles Dickson, said:

    “The record investment numbers show a clear industry commitment to offshore wind. We expect installations will pick up significantly in 2017 but there are a lot of challenges out there still on offshore wind. Not least the uncertainty over future volumes and regulation in many key markets for the period after 2020. We’re a long way from being able to say job done on offshore wind.”

    Ministerial Support

    The move toward wind power also has the backing of ministers. Recently, energy ministers from nine European countries met together to discuss what they could do to further enhance cooperation when it comes to offshore wind, and they also made commitments to reduce the costs involved in producing it.

    Hornsea Project One

    One of the biggest projects to receive a Final Investment Decision is the Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm, which is planned for Yorkshire. The site will have the ability to produce 1.2 gigawatts and will power more than 1 million homes, making it the world’s largest wind farm. DONG Energy also has the rights to a further two projects.

    Government Subsidies

    The record investments figures are good news for the UK, especially as the government announced in 2015 that it was to end subsidies for wind farms. This led to some fears that companies would be less willing to invest in this renewable form of energy, but the plans for many more projects show this might not be the case.

    Instead, some energy producers are looking to alternative means of funding wind farms. Earlier this year, Good Energy announced plans for a wind farm in Cornwall, which will give members of the local community the opportunity to invest.

  • RWE rebuilding crucial gas turbine following fault

    Npower has announced that RWE Generation is to rebuild once of its crucial gas turbines from its Great Yarmouth power plant. The turbine measures 10 meters long, 3 meters in diameter and it has a 90 ton rotor. The turbine has been shipped to France where manufacturers GE will begin work on the rotor.

    A team transported the gas turbine to Antwerp via a 46 wheel trailer; it made the final part of the journey on a barge. A team at the Ferrybridge workshop had been working together to repair the damaged turbine after it received significant damage earlier in 2014.

    The turbine, which can power more than a third of a million homes, was damaged earlier this year after a fault occurred in March. The fault was due to one of the turbine blades failing, which in turn caused damage to the compressor blade.

    As a result of the damage to the turbine, the Great Yarmouth power plant was forced to close and it still remains shut. A team has been put in place to ensure that this type of fault doesn’t occur again and they are working on a “cost saving” plan to enable RWE Generation to get the power station working again.

    Commenting in a press release, Kevin Nix, Head of RWE Generation UK, said:

     “It has been a very difficult couple of months and I would like to thank everyone at the power station and RWE Generation Maintenance Outage Support in Ferrybridge who have worked together on finding a cost effective solution.”

    Once the rotor has been fully repaired it will be shipped back to the UK from the GE workshop in France. It is expected that it will be back at the power plant in October and a team from RWE Generation Maintenance Outage Support will work to reinstall it.

    In a press release, Distributed Assets Group Manager Kerry Nesbitt said:

     “We are working hard at a return of the plant to commercial operation on time and on budget for the autumn clock change.”

    The station in Great Yarmouth was first commissioned in 2002 and it can produce 400 megawatts of electricity. Npower says that the plant in Great Yarmouth is one of the country’s most modern power stations. According to the team at Npower, the station has the ability to respond to ever changing energy demands, as well as being energy efficient and flexible.

  • SMEs confirm fall in domestic and export orders

    Figures released by the CBI show a fall in output for small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the UK. The CBI SME trends survey also indicated a fall in export and domestic orders for the last quarter.

    More than 400 small and medium-size companies were interviewed for the survey; the results showed there was a poor performance for output growth, but it is predicted that both domestic orders and output will perform better in the next quarter, and the decline in exports is expected to slow.

    The latest figures also demonstrated that less people were employed in the last three months, and this trend is expected to continue into the new year.

    According to the survey, businesses felt less optimistic about the future and they were less positive over the future for exports in the coming year. In addition, companies will be spending less on both product and process innovation in 2016.

    The figures from the CBI revealed that 26% of SMEs manufacturers had a rise in orders, but 48% reported a fall; these figures are expected to improve slightly in next three months.

    In addition, 25% of companies reported an increase in domestic orders while 36% reported a fall. And the 10% of companies said they had experienced an increase in export orders in the last quarter, while 46% stated export orders had fallen. This is the poorest performance since 2009.

    Other key figures from the survey show 23% of manufacturers say output has increased, while 31% reported a fall, and 22% of companies remain optimistic about their business prospects in the future; 29% say they are less positive

    Moreover, 23% of companies had increased their amount of employees, while 15% of SEMs had employed fewer people in the last quarter.

    Commenting on the new figures Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said:

    “As demand has fallen, especially in the face of a strengthening Pound, our smaller manufacturers have had a tough quarter, with orders and output volumes dropping.

    “Manufacturers expect conditions to stabilise somewhat over the quarter ahead, but remain concerned about the outlook for demand.

    Newton-Smith went on to urge the government to include measures in its Comprehensive Spending Review to help improve skills and innovation in order to improve productivity in the coming year.

    Overall growth

    While the news for SMEs wasn’t overly positive, there was better news for growth overall as newly released figures from the CBI showed growth has increased by 4%, and GDP grew by 0.5% in the last quarter.

  • The end of an era for Didcot A

    The end of an era for the Didcot A cooling towers has been announced. Three of the Didcot A cooling towers have been demolished The Didcot A cooling towers had helped to secure energy supplies in the UK for more than 40 years.

    New gas stations will take over energy production and they aim to provide consumers with low cost electricity. The demolition is part of RWE’s commitment to renewable technologies. RWE says that it has invested more than £6 billion pounds into finding greener technologies and state-of-the-art gas fired power stations.

    A statement from RWE, which is one of Europe’s leading gas and electricity companies, says that the demolition of Didcot A will have minimal impact on Didcot B and the plant at Didcot will continue to play an essential part in power generation, producing enough gas to fuel 1 million homes in the UK.

    Commenting on the demolition of Didcot A, Kevin Nix, Head of RWE Generation UK, said:

    ”Although this is a sad day and the end of an era in many ways, I am very pleased that the technically challenging demolition of the southern cooling towers has been carried out successfully and above all with the safety of all those involved, including the local community, as its highest priority. This is entirely due to months of pre-planning and the professionalism of the specialist teams involved.”

    An expert team is continuing to work at Didcot to oversee the demolition of the rest of the site. The northern cooling towers will also be felled along with other structures from the Didcot power station. The aim is to complete the demolition work by 2016.

    Plans to close the Didcot A were first announced in 2012 and it was finally closed in 2013; decommissioning of Didcot A started last year and took nine months.

    The demolition of Didcot A is a reflection of the changing face of power generation in the UK. In recent years, the government has been urging energy firms to find cleaner, greener forms of energy and to find ways of reducing carbon emissions.

    As part of government plans to find renewable forms of power generation, the government has announced a number of initiatives to encourage energy firms to find greener forms of energy production. The government has invested considerable funds to help drive the UK towards clean energy and it is committed to spending more in the years to come.

  • UK companies express concerns over government energy policy

    A new survey carried out by Npower shows that British businesses lack confidence in the government’s energy policies. Nearly 60% of businesses surveyed felt that the energy policies unveiled by the Government did not reflect industries actual needs.

    A further 62% also expressed doubt over the future energy policies that are planned by the current government. This includes the Governments Electricity Market Reform, which aims to move the United Kingdom towards a lower carbon future.

    According to the survey’s findings, UK companies are not happy for their existing energy bills to increase so that low carbon energy solutions can be funded; more than 80% of those interviewed stated that the cost of energy is the most important issue for their business, while only 41% said that a low carbon future was their priority.

    More than 25% said that they would not welcome their energy bills increasing to help fund lower carbon initiatives, while another 30% stated that it was unlikely that their businesses would be prepared to pay extra for the cost of low carbon solutions.

    Wayne Mitchell, head of industrial and commercial at npower, commented:

    “This survey has revealed just how sceptical businesses are by the effectiveness and impact of energy policies – the very policies that are going to have far-reaching and long-term impacts on their businesses. As political parties consider their energy manifestos, there is a clear case here for Government and the wider energy industry to work together to better educate businesses about the importance of these policy initiatives in securing the UK’s energy future and the competitiveness of UK plc.

    “The cost of energy bills remains the key issue for business leaders. That’s why we are committed to working with businesses across a wide range of sectors to help make their energy budgets as affordable as possible. What we focus on is the long term; we work with our customers to drive down consumption by increasing knowledge of the changing policy landscape and implementing energy solutions.”

    Businesses also raised concerns over the Government’s Contracts for differences Initiative. The initiative pays companies a set amount for implementing the use of low carbon technology, however, the majority of businesses expressed concerns over this when it was revealed that the plan would cost UK companies more in energy bills.

    The survey was conducted at the same time that Npower launched the 20% Imperative that offers advice to businesses on how they can save money on energy bills.

  • UK’s offshore wind energy potential revealed in new report

    A recently-released study has detailed the potential of offshore wind in the United Kingdom. Wind power usage in the country has already reached record levels, and the research has concluded that its use is likely to increase considerably in the years ahead.

    The report is titled Unleashing Europe’s Offshore Wind Potential and it was published by BVG Associates. It estimates that by 2030, offshore wind capacity could be providing a total of 25 gigawatts and powering over 20 million UK homes.

    Commenting on the study, RenewableUK’s Executive Director, Emma Pinchbeck, said:

    “This report shows what our innovative offshore wind industry can deliver in the years ahead, securing economic growth and cheaper electricity. The Government can help us by continuing to hold fiercely competitive auctions for financial support, as well as putting offshore wind at the heart of its upcoming Industrial Strategy. Clear, bold, modern energy policy will attract billions of pounds of investment”.  

    UK among those leading the way

    Although the surge in wind power usage has been relatively recent, it has been used in the United Kingdom for a quarter of a century, when the first ten wind turbines were launched in Delabole, Cornwall.

    Currently, the United Kingdom is among the world’s top ten generators of wind power, and the UK is set for a dramatic increase in wind power due to the investment from companies like Dong Energy.

    Construction is currently underway on the world’s biggest wind farm, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2020; this is just one of the projects that are being planned as the UK’s energy industry and government ministers seek alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Wind power in the winter

    Further research indicates how wind power could be an effective means of energy production in the winter season too.

    The team concluded that wind power could help provide power during the coldest times of the winter, and assist in meeting the higher power demands during those periods.

    The research also indicates that if there was a ‘widespread’ of turbines throughout Great Britain, it would be possible to optimise power supply by taking advantage of the mixed wind patterns that are experienced in the winter.

    The approach could also help to allay some of the worries over energy sustainability as it was found offshore wind power provided a ‘more secure supply’ than onshore power.

    The study was conducted by scientists from the Met Office, the Imperial College London and the University of Reading and it was published in the Environmental Research Letters journal.

  • Valve expo to be held in Abu Dhabi

    Businesses from the power generation, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, food and construction industries are being invited to attend an expo in Abu Dhabi in December. The conference is also open to a wide range of other industries, including the nuclear power sector, agriculture companies and water supply businesses.

    The annual Abu Dhabi expo, which is to be held at the National Exhibition Centre, is considered one of the world’s premier events for professionals in the valves, compressors, pipes and pumps sector.

    The event is predicted to attract approximately 7,000 professionals from more than ten different countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, China and Iraq.

    350 companies are expect to attend the popular event, which is held in collaboration with the UAE Contractors Association, Global Fair International and the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.

    The expo will feature world leaders from the valve industry sector and it provides an opportunity to learn from others’ expertise, and to hear about best practises. Moreover, the expo enables businesses to meet with potential new customers and investors, as well as giving a wider platform for businesses owners to promote their goods.

    In addition, the event will give visitors the chance to see the newest technologies, source new product lines, and the opportunity to meet with a targeted audience,

    Businesses planning to take part in the expo can send exhibits in ahead of the expo; they can be sent in via sea or freight. However, overseas exhibitors are urged to be careful if they are carrying goods as there might be customs fees imposed for doing this, and there are restrictions on carrying foodstuffs.

    In addition, anyone wishing to attend December’s event will need to start planning the visit in plenty of time as a visa might be required. Representatives that want to visit the event will also need to get an invitation from the organisers of the Pumps, Valves, Pipes and Compression Industrial Exhibition as this might help to assist with the visa process.

    The three day expo in Abu Dhabi will run from December 15- 17, 2015.  On Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16th December the event will run from 10.00am through to 6.00pm, and on Thursday the event will run from 10.00am to 2.00pm.

    Last year’s event proved to be a huge success, attracting more than 6,000 people, and plans are already underway for the 2016 event.

  • Wind power could provide half of UK’s energy supply

    The CEO of DONG Energy, Henrik Poulsen, has stated that wind power could supply the majority of the UK’s energy supply in the future. In an article published in the Guardian, Poulsen noted the falling costs of renewable energy and new developments in technology, and says that offshore wind power could create more than half of the UK’s energy.

    DONG Energy has also issued a statement regarding the future of its gas and oil division. The company confirms that it is ‘reviewing strategic options’ regarding its £1.5 billion-pound gas and oil arm.

    The company released the statement following media speculation that the company was making plans to sell its gas and oil business. DONG Energy say that JP Morgan has been ‘engaged’ to carry out a ‘preliminary market assessment’ but the Danish-owned company makes it clear it has not yet decided if it will divest its gas and oil division.

    Support for Renewable Energy

    The comments come at a time when the use of renewable energy is growing from strength to strength. DONG Energy, who are a leader in renewable energy had a record breaking IPO this year, and In 2015, 11 per cent of the UK’s energy supply was produced through wind power, which is the highest figures yet according to Businessgreen.com

    In addition, public support for wind energy continues to grow. Figures from the Department for
    Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy indicate that record levels of people (71 per cent) are now in favour of wind power.

    RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Hugh McNeal, said:

    “It’s great to see public support for onshore wind has reached its highest ever level, at an overwhelming 71%. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power generation available in Britain, so it makes sense to use it to keep people’s electricity bills as low as possible”.

    The Government continues to show its support for renewable energy with the announcement of the new Contracts for Difference auction, which will allow companies to bid for £290 million in renewable electricity contracts.

    Business and Energy Secretary Dick Clark also gave more details of government plans to phase out unabated coal-fired power stations over the next decade and replace them with greener forms of energy.

    The government says the investment in green energy is necessary to secure energy supply and reduce carbon emissions. It has pledged £730 million towards renewable energy projects over the next decade.

  • World’s largest wind farm to go ahead

    The world’s largest wind farm, which is being built by offshore wind power developer Dong Energy, is to progress following a final investment decision, it has been announced.

    Commenting on the news, Brent Cheshire of DONG Energy said:

    "This is a historic milestone for Hornsea Project One as we are now making a firm and final commitment to invest fully in the project.”

    The offshore wind farm will be built 120 kms off the Grimsby coast; it will have the capacity to produce 1.2 gigawatts, and the ability to provide power for more than 1 million homes.

    Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, welcomed the news and stated:

    “Thanks to Government support the UK is the world leader in offshore wind energy and this success story is going from strength to strength. Dong Energy’s investment shows that we are open for business and is a vote of confidence in the UK and in our plan to tackle the legacy of under-investment and build an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century.”

    Planning and Construction

    Nearly 10 years of planning have already gone into the project, and years of development work have been conducted. Once the site has been constructed, it will stretch more than 407 km, the windfarm will be powered by 7 megawatts turbines, and they’ll each measure 190 metres in height.

    UK company Siemens will be responsible for the production of the wind turbines, and it was announced in December 2015 that infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty will have responsibility for constructing the onshore substation.

    Balfour Beatty began work on the construction in January 2016; the £25 million project will include cabling work and local infrastructure to help ensure the project’s success.

    In addition, a high-voltage AC electricity will be built as part of the project; it will take 900 km of cables to enable the power to be fed to the National Grid.

    Job Creation

    The project is good news for employment figures in the North of England as it is estimated the project will create 2000 jobs during the construction phase, and a further 300 positions are expected to be created once the windfarm has been completed; the opening date is schedules for 2020.

    Future Plans

    Future plans from Dong Energy include a Hornsea Projects 2 and 3, which between them could produce an additional 3 gigawatts of power.

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