The shift towards relying predominantly on renewable energy sources will necessitate substantial financial backing. This includes expanding established technologies such as solar power and onshore wind, as well as new technologies like offshore wind.
Additionally, there is a need to explore emerging technologies that show promise in enhancing the resilience of global energy systems. It’s crucial to ensure that both developed and emerging markets reap the benefits of investing in renewables.
Thankfully, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) is taking action. Here is an overview of what Canada’s largest pension fund is doing to expand renewable energy.
Wind: The West of Orkney Wind Farm
Scotland has a vast coastline and control over a significant area of seabed, making it a valuable source of wind energy for decarbonization efforts in the UK. The Scottish government is actively promoting the growth of the offshore wind industry to harness this potential, generating clean energy and supporting the local economy.
In January 2022, Scotland awarded leases to 17 offshore wind projects, covering around 7,000 square kilometers of seabed. The high level of interest from investors and developers resulted in the selection of these projects from a pool of 74 applications.
Scotland exceeded its expected capacity by securing a total of 25 gigawatts, surpassing the initial target of 10 gigawatts. A key consideration for applicants was demonstrating how their investments would benefit the local supply chain, create job opportunities, and establish Scotland as a leading center for offshore wind technologies.
Among the chosen projects is the West of Orkney Wind Farm, developed by a consortium consisting of Corio Generation, TotalEnergies, and RIDG. OTPP also entered into a long-term partnership with Corio in 2022, committing up to US $1 billion towards the global development of offshore wind energy.
Solar: Mahindra Susten
Recognizing the significance of reducing emissions and enhancing energy security, India, a substantial coal and oil importer, invested in renewables. Back in 2010, it initiated the National Solar Mission to stimulate the growth of solar power capacity. The program was initially insignificant.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, elected in 2014, further emphasized the expansion of renewable energy. In the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, India pledged that 40% of its power capacity would come from non-fossil fuels by 2030, a target accomplished in 2021, nearly a decade earlier than expected.
India, now the world’s third-largest producer of renewable energy, aims to achieve 500 gigawatts of electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, up from approximately 173 GW in 2022. Seeking international investment, India is open to collaboration in attaining this objective.
In 2022, OTPP acquired a 30% stake in Mahindra Group’s renewables platform, Mahindra Susten. The latter played a pioneering role in India’s solar sector and expanded into independent power production after establishing itself as a turnkey builder of renewable power projects for utility-scale customers.
Up to 2023, Susten’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) division completed 4.2 gigawatts of projects, in addition to operating 1.5 gigawatts of power-generating assets.
Battery Storage: Equis Development
To shift away from fossil fuels, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has outlined a comprehensive plan to increase clean energy generation. The plan involves constructing 10,000 kilometers of new transmission lines to accommodate diverse and scattered renewable power sources. It also includes incorporating firming capacity to maintain system stability during the transition from coal-fired power to weather-dependent sources.
The AEMO has also recognized the urgent need for technologies that effectively manage seasonal variations in solar and wind power output, a particularly crucial requirement in a country where extreme heat and the demand for air conditioning are on the rise.
OTPP, through its investment in Equis Development, is actively supporting Australia’s energy transition. Equis Development is a Singapore-based energy infrastructure developer.
Equis is leading the way in identifying, planning, and developing a portfolio of battery energy storage projects across the country. One of Equis’s notable projects is the Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub near Melbourne, which has been approved by the State of Victoria. Once completed, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub will be the largest battery in Asia, providing energy to over one million households.
Green Hydrogen: The ACES Delta Project
Salt caverns have a long history of serving as underground storage for fossil fuels, such as the well-known example of the U.S. government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. However, an innovative initiative in Utah is now focusing on using these caverns to store large quantities of green hydrogen.
A consortium consisting of Mitsubishi Power Americas and Magnum Development recognized the potential of central Utah’s underground salt domes and abundant solar and wind resources. This led to the launch of the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project. The ACES project aims to utilize renewable energy to power electrolyzers that will separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The produced hydrogen will then be stored in two caverns carved out of the extensive salt dome beneath Delta, Utah. Once completed, ACES Delta will become the world’s largest facility for storing green hydrogen.
In 2022, OTPP invested in ACES Delta, supplemented by a substantial financial support of US $500 million from the U.S. government. The project also benefits from having a significant utility customer, namely the Intermountain Power Agency. The Intermountain Power Agency supplies electricity to various communities across the Western U.S., including six cities in densely populated Southern California.
Alongside the ACES Delta program, the IPA plans to retire its coal-fired power generation units in Delta by 2025 and transition to generating electricity from units that can operate on a combination of natural gas and hydrogen. Ultimately, their aim is to achieve 100% hydrogen-powered electricity generation from ACES Delta.