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photovoltaic systems

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FuturENERGY November 18

With the PV*SOL, T*SOL and GeoT*SOL brands for dynamic simulation, design, yield and profitability forecasts for PV, solar thermal and heat pump systems, Valentin Software GmbH has made a name for itself as a world-leading provider of innovative design software for sustainable energy supply. Its customers include engineers, system designers, architects, installation technicians, trade and manufacturing companies in the field of electrical, heating and building technology.

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The Berlin-based company Valentin Software, which is well-known for its worldwide industry solutions, has adapted its market-leading design and simulation programs PV*SOL and T*SOL to the latest technical developments for 2018 and expanded them for the latest applications. With the updated versions, system designers and operators can design their solar systems according to the latest knowledge, simulate accurate yield calculations under site-specific conditions and thus also perform accurate financial calculations, taking state support measures into account. The company will be presenting its new products to the public in June at the world’s leading trade fair Intersolar Europe in Munich.

PV*SOL 2018 – Design of PV plants with 3D model import

The new version of the design software PV*SOL premium 2018 makes the design of photovoltaic systems even easier and more efficient.

For the input of object data, 3D models in different file formats can now be imported into the software via a new interface. This makes it possible to import realistic and detailed 3D objects created with photos taken from different perspectives (e.g. using a drone). This will add another important tool to the already existing possibility of importing floor plans, cadastral maps and screenshots from web-based satellite maps (e.g. Google Earth) directly into the 3D visualization and thus integrating them to scale into a project.

Flexibility has been significantly increased with regard to the subsequent configuration of the modules, which are automatically placed on an object. The new possibility of polystring configuration allows completely different strings to be connected in parallel or series to an MPP tracker. This is required, for example, to connect an east-west roof parallel to one MPP tracker. Even different modules in a string can now be interconnected, e.g. defective modules that are no longer available which need to be replaced by similar new ones. Modules with different orientations can now also be connected in one string via the integration of power optimizers (e.g. SolarEdge, Tigo). These new functionalities increase the flexibility of the design process enormously and allow even more detailed configuration and simulation of the PV system.

Other useful additions for the optimization of a system are the output of the I-V characteristics for each time step of the simulation, as well as an energy flow diagram representing the overall system including the battery system, consumers and also an electric vehicle.

The further the feed-in tariff decreases, the more important it is to consider the self-consumption of PV electricity for the profitability of a photovoltaic system. Since the self-consumption can be increased by storing the PV power in battery systems, the dimensioning of the battery system is also of great importance.

PV*SOL is a valuable tool for sizing a PV system correctly, as well as for determining profitability. A dimensioning aid for sizing the battery storage carries out the calculation of the battery for the user, thus facilitating project design.

Both PV*SOL and PV*SOL premium are available in German, English, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

T*SOL 2018 – Automatic dimensioning through parameter optimization

The new version T*SOL 2018 allows its users to enter and save complex heat storage parameters themselves. This makes the program even more flexible to use and more precisely observe and work out the economic efficiency that is so important for commercial applications. The automatic parameter optimization function with its economic target variables is ideal for this purpose. These include, for example, the capital value, the return and the heat price. Thus, it is possible to determine the influence of the size of various components of a solar thermal system, e.g. to optimize the size of a storage tank or the number of collectors for their impact on the economic efficiency.

A variety of tools are available for the evaluation of the results. The project report provides detailed simulation outputs, which are recognized by German government funding programs. Furthermore, graphs can be created with a wide range of temperature and energy data for more in-depth analysis. If an energy label is required according to EU directives, you can also create this with T*SOL.

Valentin Software has updated the extensive component databases in the new version and made them easier to use.

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Over the last few years, there has been a marked increase in the number of installations made in desert environments. This is due to the fact that deserts offer vast tracts of land at relatively cheap prices and with a large number of sun hours, making it possible to reduce the cost of solar energy. At the same time, the market-led reduction in PV system costs has led to the use of outdoor solutions that dispense with external housings to protect the inverters and other equipment at the transformer substations (transformers, medium voltage cells, etc.). Therefore, there is a need to guarantee the correct operation of this equipment in these extreme operating conditions yet with no performance losses.

Ingeteam’s two main PV inverters have both been certified to the IEC 60068-2-68 international standard by an external laboratory. This standard establishes the conditions to be met by electronic equipment in order to effectively operate in environments with high concentrations of dust and sand.

The certificate was obtained for Ingeteam’s central inverter which is part of the INGECON SUN PowerMax B series and also for its very latest 100 kW string inverter, which is part of the INGECON SUN 3Play family. In both cases, the tests conducted demonstrated that the ingress of particles inside the equipment was residual and did not affect the normal inverter operation or performance.

In order to conduct the sand and dust tests based on the IEC 60068-2-68 international standard, Ingeteam acquired a climatic chamber for sand and dust tests, certified under the international standard UNE-EN 60068-2-68: 1997. This sealed chamber is able to create a controlled atmosphere with the humidity, wind velocity and sand concentration conditions required by the standard. For this purpose, the chamber is equipped with two particle blowers that continuously blow sand against the inverter and create an atmosphere with a specific concentration of sand and dust in suspension. Furthermore, the sand used is of similar characteristics to that found in a desert, with regard to grain size (between 0.14 and 0.59 millimetres) and composition, with a predominance of quartz, olivine and feldspar, as it is specified in the regulation.

This sand chamber, capable of testing equipment of the dimensions of a central PV inverter, was used to verify the correct operation of the inverters, as well as the efficiency of its “sand trap” system to prevent the ingress of particles into the B series central inverter, while collecting the grains of sand and facilitating their subsequent removal. Moreover, the new inverters feature a system that completely seals the ventilation circuit, for maximum protection against the ingress of particles, which could cause serious technical problems in converters installed in the desert. Therefore, as well as the tests specified in the certification procedure, Ingeteam also subjected its equipment to even more extreme conditions, such as those characteristic of a desert sandstorm, clearly demonstrating that its outdoor equipment is able to withstand situations with a high concentration of particles in the air (100 g/m3) and high wind speed (160 km/h).

Thanks to this achievement, Ingeteam has strengthened the company’s position as a power converter manufacturer specialising in the provision of technical solutions for plants located in hostile environments.

An extraordinary boom in PV installations made 2017 a record year for China’s investment in clean energy. This over-shadowed changes elsewhere, including jumps in investment in Australia and Mexico, and declines in Japan, the U.K. and Germany. Annual figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), based on its world-leading database of projects and deals, show that global investment in renewable energy and energy-smart technologies reached $333.5 billion last year, up 3% from a revised $324.6 billion in 2016, and only 7% short of the record figure of $360.3 billion, reached in 2015. The 2017 total is all the more remarkable when you consider that capital costs for the leading technology – solar – continue to fall sharply. Typical utility-scale PV systems were about 25% cheaper per megawatt last year than they were two years earlier.

Solar investment globally amounted to $160.8 billion in 2017, up 18% on the previous year despite these cost reductions. Just over half of that world total, or $86.5 billion, was spent in China. This was 58% higher than in 2016, with an estimated 53 GW of PV capacity installed – up from 30 GW in 2016.

China installed about 20GW more solar capacity in 2017 than we forecast. This happened for two main reasons: first, despite a growing subsidy burden and worsening power curtailment, China’s regulators, under pressure from the industry, were slow to curb build of utility-scale projects outside allocated government quotas. Developers of these projects are assuming they will be allocated subsidy in future years.

Second, the cost of solar continues to fall in China, and more projects are being deployed on rooftops, in industrial parks or at other distributed locales. These systems are not limited by the government quota. Large energy consumers in China are now installing solar panels to meet their own demand, with a minimal premium subsidy.

Investment by country

Overall, Chinese investment in all the clean energy technologies was $132.6 billion, up 24% setting a new record. The next biggest investing country was the U.S., at $56.9 billion, up 1% on 2016 despite the less friendly tone towards renewables adopted by the Trump administration.

Large wind and solar project financings pushed Australia up 150% to a record $9 billion, and Mexico up 516% to $6.2 billion. On the downside, Japan saw investment decline by 16% in 2017, to $23.4 billion, while Germany slipped 26% to $14.6 billion and the U.K. 56% to $10.3 billion in the face of changes in policy support. Europe as a whole invested $57.4 billion, down 26% year-on-year.

Below are the 2017 totals for other countries investing $1 billion-plus in clean energy:
• India $11 billion, down 20% compared to 2016
• Brazil $6.2 billion, up 10%
• France $5 billion, up 15%
• Sweden $4 billion, up 109%
• Netherlands $3.5 billion, up 30%
• Canada $3.3 billion, up 45%
• South Korea $2.9 billion, up 14%
• Egypt $2.6 billion, up 495%
• Italy $2.5 billion, up 15%
• Turkey $2.3 billion, down 8%
• United Arab Emirates $2.2 billion, up 23-fold
• Norway $2 billion, down 12%
• Argentina $1.8 billion, up 777%
• Switzerland $1.7 billion, down 10%
• Chile $1.5 billion, up 55%
• Austria $1.2 billion, up 4%
• Spain $1.1 billion, up 36%
• Taiwan $1 billion, down 6%
• Indonesia $1 billion, up 71%

Investment by sector

Solar led the way, as mentioned above, attracting $160.8 billion – equivalent to 48% of the global total for all of clean energy investment. The two biggest solar projects of all to get the go-ahead last year were both in the United Arab Emirates: the 1.2 GW Marubeni JinkoSolar and Adwea Sweihan plant, at $899 million, and the 800 MW Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum III installation, at an estimated $968 million.

Wind was the second-biggest sector for investment in 2017, at $107.2 billion. This was down 12% on 2016 levels, but there were record-breaking projects financed both onshore and offshore. Onshore, American Electric Power said it would back the 2GW Oklahoma Wind Catcher project in the U.S., at $2.9 billion excluding transmission. Offshore, Ørsted said it had reached ‘final investment decision’ on the 1.4 GW Hornsea 2 project in the U.K. North Sea, at an estimated $4.8 billion. There were also 13 Chinese offshore wind projects financed last year, with total capacity of 3.7 GW, and estimated investment of $10.8 billion.

The third-biggest sector was energy-smart technologies, where asset finance of smart meters and battery storage, and equity-raising by specialist companies in smart grid, efficiency, storage and electric vehicles, reached $48.8 billion in 2017, up 7% on the previous year and the highest ever.

The remaining sectors lagged far behind, with biomass and waste-to-energy down 36% at $4.7 billion, biofuels down 3% at $2 billion, small hydro 14% lower at $3.4 billion, low-carbon services 4% down at $4.8 billion, geothermal down 34% at $1.6 billion, and marine energy down 14% at just $156 million.

The clean energy investment total excludes hydro-electric projects of more than 50 MW. However, for comparison, final investment decisions in large hydro are likely to have been worth $40-50 billion in 2017.

BNEF’s preliminary estimates are that a record 160GW of clean energy generating capacity (excluding large hydro) were commissioned in 2017, with solar providing 98 GW of that, wind 56 GW, biomass and waste-to-energy 3 GW, small hydro 2.7 GW, geothermal 700 MW and marine less than 10 MW.

Investment by category

Breaking the investment total down by type of deal, the dominant category – as always – was asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects of more than 1MW. This was $216.1 billion in 2017, up fractionally on the previous year. Small-scale projects of less than 1MW (effectively small solar systems) attracted $49.4 billion, up 15% – thanks in large part to the installation rush in China.

Equity-raising by specialist clean energy companies on public markets totaled $8.7 billion in 2017, down 26%. The biggest transactions in this category were a $978 million convertible issue by electric car maker Tesla, and a $545 million placement by Guodian Nanjing Automation, a Chinese technology supplier to generating and transmission plants.

Venture capital and private equity investment in clean energy came to $4.1 billion in 2017, down 38% on the previous year and the lowest figure since 2005. The biggest deals were a $400 million Series A round for Microvast Power System, a Chinese maker of electric vehicle technology, and a $155 million expansion capital round for Greenko Energy Holdings, an Indian wind project developer.

Asset finance of energy-smart technologies was $21.6 billion, up 36% thanks to increased installation of smart meters and lithium-ion batteries for energy storage. Corporate research and development into clean energy rose 11% to $22.1 billion, and government R&D was almost level at $14.5 billion.

Global new investment in clean energy by sector, $ billion

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Note: Clean energy covers renewable energy excluding large hydro, plus energy smart technologies such as efficiency, demand response, storage and electric vehicles. 
BNEF’s annual figures for past years, revised in this round, are $61.7 billion in 2004, $88 billion in 2005, $129.8 billion in 2006, $182.2 billion in 2007, $205.2 billion in 2008, $206.8 billion in 2009, $276.1 billion in 2010, $324 billion in 2011, $290.7 billion in 2012, $268.6 billion in 2013, $321.3 billion in 2014, $360.3 billion in 2015, $324.6 billion in 2016 and $333.5 billion in 2017. 
The 2016 figures reflect a significant revision, due to the arrival of new data on Chinese solar and wind and on global corporate R&D.
<br /><p><strong>Acquisition spending</strong></p><p>The above figures above all concern new investment coming into the clean energy sector. BNEF also measures money changing hands, as organizations purchase and sell clean energy projects and companies, and refinance existing project debt.</p><p>This acquisition activity totaled $127.9 billion in 2017, up 4% on the previous year and the highest ever. Acquisitions and refinancing of renewable energy projects rose 14% to a record $87.2 billion, while corporate M&A involving specialist clean energy companies fell 51% to $17.5 billion. Public market investor exits came to $7.4 billion, down 8%, and private equity buy-outs reached an all-time high of $15.8 billion, up sixfold on the previous year. The largest acquisition transaction of the year was the purchase of a 51% stake in U.S. ‘yieldco’ TerraForm Power by Brookfield Asset Management for $4.7 billion.</p><p><em>Source: BNEF</em></p></div><div class=

Acciona Microenergy Foundation has launched a new programme which consists of providing electricity to isolated communities in the Amazon through home photovoltaic systems, which provide basic energy services to the residents of these settlements without endangering the valuable environmental balance of the Amazon or disrupting their way of life. In the first stage, the Foundation will provide electricity for the first time to approximately 1.000 households in the Peruvian basin of the Napo river, a tributary of the Amazon; the model will subsequently be replicated in other river basins in the region.

Acciona Microenergy Foundation, supported by Peru’s National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development and Technology Innovation (FONDECYT), has installed the first 61 home photovoltaic systems, providing electricity to 325 people in 4 settlements; this enables them to use 3 electric lights and a 12-volt charger for mobile phones, rechargeable flashlights, radios, etc.

The pilot project validated the technical and economic viability of the solution developed by Acciona Microenergy Foundation. This led to the design of a replicable model for providing electricity to settlements that cannot be connected to the electricity grid due to geographical dispersion, relief or the environmental impact that an electricity network would have on sensitive ecosystems, such as the Amazon.

The solution is based on state-of-the-art home photovoltaic systems that are easy to install and maintain (plug&play), based on a pre-pay model designed to ensure the economic sustainability of the programme, as users make a small payment to cover equipment maintenance which is 50% less than their former expenditure on other lighting solutions such as candles and oil lamps.

Acciona Microenergy Foundation engages in awareness-raising and training in the communities where its electric systems are implemented, so that local residents are able to perform basic maintenance and use the equipment efficiently.

 Acciona Microenergy Foundation has begun to expand the project to an additional 350 households in the Napo river basin, in cooperation with the Technical University of Madrid’s Innovation and Technology for Development Centre, the ICAI Engineers Foundation for Development, and the Institute for Research in Technology at the School of Engineering (ICAI) of Comillas Pontifical University of Madrid. The project is co-financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Positive impacts: improvements in sanitation, education and the environment.

The households use the electricity fundamentally to extend study hours (67%) and production activities (43%) and for cooking (21%).

Also, abandoning other lighting sources, such as battery-operated flashlights, oil lamps and candles (which produce a dim light and harmful smoke), reduces the likelihood of developing eye and lung diseases.

There is also the positive environmental impact in such valuable ecosystems, by eliminating the use and uncontrolled disposal of batteries and the emission of polluting gases emissions by replacing diesel-fuelled generators with photovoltaic panels.

Amazonia and electrification: the challenge of respecting the environment and improving living standards

 The Amazon region is an area of high ecological value, covering more than 6.7 million km2 across 9 different countries. The Amazonian communities, mostly indigenous people from different ethnic groups, live in remote and dispersed locations which are accessible only by river, with extreme temperature and rainfall conditions. These circumstances, together with the cost and impact of building and maintaining power distribution networks, make widespread conventional power grids inviable; consequently, there is an indeterminate number of people in Amazonia, estimated at several million, who do not have access to electricity.

Many villages generate electricity with fossil-fuelled generators that pollute the environment and provide no more than 3 hours of electricity per day, as well as being prone to blackouts when funds run out. Others use alternative energy devices such as candles, oil lamps and battery-powered flashlights, radios, etc.

Acciona Microenergy Foundation’s challenge was to develop an electricity supply model based on renewables that could be sustainable in technical and economic terms while also being affordable.

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IBC Solar, a supplier of photovoltaic systems and energy storage, supports its international Premium Partners with new service packages for lithium-ion storage systems. Installers in more than 30 countries are tapping into new business segments with the “Take-Care packages”.

We are an experienced partner with more than 7,000 installed storage systems of all sizes worldwide. Our international customers often express the wish to be supported when initially installing a lithium-ion storage system,” explains Albert Engelbrecht, Director Solutions International at IBC Solar. The company is now accommodating this request with the new service packages. “The “Take-Care packages” help our partners with the planning, installation and maintenance of storage solutions and offer them important added value. The packages make it possible for our partners to implement the systems quickly and reliably and also ensure satisfied customers,” adds Engelbrecht.

 

The customer decides which “Take-Care package” is the right one. Three versions are available “Essential”, “Empowering” and “Ensuring”. The “Essential” basic package is also the basis for the two other packages. It includes an extensive pre-consultation session with technical pre-selection and sizing of the storage system. Fundamental questions about the application and expectations of the system will be resolved. It is important here to determine whether only the self-consumption needs to be increased or whether the storage system should also provide an emergency power supply.

The “Empowering” package involves IBC Solar also providing support with an extensive system design, circuit diagrams and parts lists as well as telephone support to help put the system into operation. The “Ensuring” premium package also includes on-site support with a handover report and an optional workshop for service and maintenance work.

IBC Solar has been active in the photovoltaic and battery storage sector for more than 35 years. The international partners will benefit from the company’s years of experience in the storage segment with the new “Take-Care packages”.

Source: IBC Solar

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SolarPower Europe’s third quarter 2016 PV market update shows 1.56 GW of newly installed capacity in Europe in the months from June to September. That is about 10% less new solar power installed than the 1.73 GW in the same quarter 2015.

In the first 9 months of the year, 5.3 GW of photovoltaic systems were installed in Europe, a decline of 18% over the 6.5 GW in the same period the year before.

 

The main reason for the European market’s decline is the strong demand drop in the UK after slashing feed-in tariffs for smaller installations, and ending its support program for large-scale solar power plants end of the first quarter 2016. While the UK installed 4.1 GW in 2015, the first 9 months of 2016 only saw additions to the grid of around 1.5 GW, with the major part installed in Q1. In a few European markets demand for solar power has improved, but future developments for one of the strongest growth markets, Turkey, is very difficult to predict, due to its political situation and strong protectionist measures.

If the fourth quarter of 2016 develops similar to the previous year, total demand would be around 7.1 GW, which would mean 17% less than the 8.6 GW of new solar power additions than in 2015. SolarPower Europe had forecasted a 7.3 GW market for its medium scenario in its 5-year Global Market Outlook 2016-2020, released in June at Intersolar Europe.

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, says, “In light of the Paris COP21 agreement it is concerning that the European solar market growth is slowing down, especially now that solar has become the lowest-cost power source in many European regions today.While Europe has recently done little to profit from cheap solar energy, the US market celebrates its best solar quarter ever, installing 4.1 GW in Q3 alone, and anticipating a 14.1 GW size for the full year, up 88% from 2015. China might even install around 30 GW of new solar power capacity in 2016, which would be more than what Europe installed in the last 3 years put together.”

Source: SolarPower Europe

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Bad Staffelstein, January 20, 2016 – IBC SOLAR AG, one of the world’s leading photovoltaic (PV) system service providers, is giving farmers the opportunity to switch to a non-toxic, low-cost and reliable water supply: expensive and high-maintenance diesel generators can now be replaced with a PV system linked to the IBC PumpController. This system can be connected via a Siemens frequency converter to existing water pumps. Existing irrigation systems can therefore easily be converted to use a significantly more efficient and lower-cost power supply.

Both the existing pumps and the entire irrigation infrastructure are conserved during the conversion, and only the diesel generator is replaced by a PV system. The IBC PumpController system solution combined with a PV system is structured around concepts of standardisation, modularisation and the global quality promise of IBC SOLAR.

Only standard components are used by IBC SOLAR as they are easy to maintain and replace. The Sinamics S120 frequency converter including Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) from Siemens installed in the IBC PumpController ensures that the maximum output can be taken from the photovoltaic generator.

 Replacing expensive diesel with reliable solar power

The benefits of the solar system solution will be immediately noticeable to farmers who are converting to a solar power supply. Diesel fuel is expensive to purchase and poses risks during transportation and storage. Diesel is also not cost effective as a fuel source because the cost of importing is supported by government subsidies in many countries. Solar energy, on the other hand, is a reliable and low-cost form of power supply in the agricultural sector, especially in areas where demand for water is high.

Furthermore, energy supply and water demand fit together perfectly. Water is typically in need after sunny PumpController-Namibia_bajadays, thus right after water tanks have been filled with the aid of solar power. Once installed, the PV system also only incur minimal maintenance costs.

 Pilot plants with cost recovery within 3 years

A pilot plant on a farm in Namibia has been showing the practical functions of the system solution since June 2015. An IBC SOLAR PV system with a maximum output of 17.7 kWp and an IBC PumpController has permanently replaced an 11 kVA diesel generator. This conversion has made possible the environmentally-friendly and, above all, reliable drip irrigation of arable land, while saving 30 litres of diesel per day. “The investment in the solar-powered pump solution will pay off within 3 years,” explains Dieter Miener, Technical Applications Engineer at IBC SOLAR.

IBC SOLAR will include 10 performance classes ranging between 3 and 90 kW in its portfolio. Due to the positive experiences gained in Namibia and further countries, IBC SOLAR is now offering the system solution in the target markets of Africa and Latin America through its Premium Partners. In addition to its use in agricultural fields, the solution can also be implemented in the fish farming, wastewater treatment or tourism sectors.

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