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smart grids

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i-DE, the new branding for Iberdrola’s distribution activity in Spain is extending the possibilities of its smart and digitalised network with investments totalling over 600 M€ during the next ten years aimed at helping the country’s main urban areas to move forward in their transition towards becoming smart cities.


The investments in this project will be mainly earmarked for improved grid developments in order to integrate key energy resources for the development of a smart city, as well as going towards raising the intelligence of the distribution grid by boosting digitalisation and thereby improving the quality of information and service.

Optimunm smart city model for more than 40 spanish cities

i-DE, which is already working on this initiative with a number of Municipal Councils and Autonomous Regions, expects to extend the project to over 40 Spanish towns and cities during 2019, including provincial capitals and cities of over 100,000 inhabitants, in the regions where it operates as distributor.

The work of i-DE, in collaboration with local and regional administrations, is centred on 4 strategic areas for a smart city, from the perspective of the electricity grid, which include electric mobility, grid infrastructures, efficient energy use and raising public awareness: mobility, energy and culture.

Monitoring and assessment of the impact of electric vehicles on the grid
Iberdrola’s distribution arm’s initiatives to promote a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable energy model also favour the integration of the electric vehicle.

i-DE has integrated Electric Mobility Control Centres into its 6 Distribution Control Centres in Spain with which to monitor and assess the impact of electric vehicles on its distribution network.

In line with its smart city strategy, the Electric Mobility Control Centres will allow i-DE to work with Municipal Councils and Autonomous Regions, providing them access to local information about the development of electric vehicles in their communities.

Smart grids and the energy transition
Electricity distribution networks are the circulatory system of the new energy model and the platform necessary for the transition toward a decarbonised economy based on renewable and competitive energy.

The transformation of networks towards a smart, more reliable and safer infrastructure will provide a response to the challenges of this transition towards the electrification of the economy, with a higher presence of renewables, sustainable mobility, smart cities, decentralised consumption (self-generation) and a consumer with greater decision-making capability and connectivity.

Iberdrola has installed almost 11 million smart meters in Spain together with their supporting infrastructure, as well as adapting around 90,000 transformer centres, where remote management, supervision and automation capabilities have been incorporated.

I-DE smart electricity grids
The activities of i-DE – the new name for Iberdrola’s electricity distribution arm – include the planning, construction and maintenance of power lines, substations, transformer centres and other infrastructure, as well as operating the system in a way that efficiently distributes energy among the various agents that produce and consume it.

Global clean energy investment, investment in renewable energy excluding large hydro-electric projects, but including equity-raising by companies in smart grid, digital energy, energy storage and electric vehicles, totaled $332.1 billion in 2018, down 8% on 2017. Last year was the fifth in a row in which investment exceeded the $300 billion mark, according to authoritative figures from BloombergNEF (BNEF).

There were sharp contrasts between clean energy sectors in terms of the change in dollar investment last year. Wind investment rose 3% to $128.6 billion, with offshore wind having its second-highest year. Money committed to smart meter rollouts and electric vehicle company financings also increased.

However, the most striking shifts were in solar. Overall investment in that sector dropped 24% in dollar terms to $130.8 billion, even though there was record new photovoltaic capacity added, breaking 100 GW barrier for the first time. Part of this reduction was due to sharply declining capital costs. BNEF’s global benchmark for the cost of installing a megawatt of photovoltaic capacity fell 12% in 2018 as manufacturers slashed selling prices in the face of a glut of PV modules on the world market.

That surplus was aggravated by a sharp change in policy in China in mid-year. The government acted to cool that country’s solar boom by restricting access for new projects to its feed-in tariff. The result of this, combined with lower unit costs, was that Chinese solar investment plunged 53% to $40.4 billion in 2018.

The biggest solar projects financed included the 800 MW NOORm Midelt PV and solar thermal portfolio in Morocco, at an estimated $2.4 billion, and the 709 MW NLC Tangedco PV plant in India, at a cost of about $500 million. India is one of the countries with the lowest capital costs per megawatt for photovoltaic plants.

Offshore wind was a major recipient of clean energy investment last year, attracting $25.7 billion, up 14% on the previous year. The balance of activity in offshore is tilting. Countries such as the U.K. and Germany pioneered this industry and will remain important, but China is taking over as the biggest market and new locations such as Taiwan and the U.S. East Coast are seeing strong interest from developers. Some of the projects financed were in Europe, led by the 950 MW Moray Firth East array in the North Sea, at an estimated $3.3 billion, but there were also 13 Chinese offshore wind farms starting construction, for a total of some $11.4 billion.

Onshore wind saw $100.8 billion of new asset finance globally last year, up 2%, with the biggest projects reaching go-ahead including the 706 MW Enel Green Power South Africa portfolio, at an estimated $1.4 billion, and the Xcel Rush Creek installation in the U.S., at $1 billion for 600 MW.

Among other renewable energy sectors, investment in biomass and waste-to-energy rose 18% to $6.3 billion, while that in biofuels rallied 47% to $3 billion. Geothermal was up 10% at $1.8 billion, small hydro down 50% at $1.7 billion and marine up 16% at $180 million. Total investment in utility-scale renewable energy projects and small-scale solar systems worldwide was down 13% year-on-year at $256.5 billion, although the gigawatt capacity added increased.

Other categories of investment showed mixed trends in 2018. Corporate research and development spending slipped 6% to $20.9 billion, while government R&D rose 4% to $15 billion. There was a 20% increase in public markets investment in specialist clean energy companies, to $10.5 billion, with the biggest initial public offerings including $1.2 billion for Chinese electric vehicle company NIO, $852 million for Chinese electric car battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology, and $808 million for French solar developer Neoen.

Global venture capital and private equity investment jumped 127% to $9.2 billion, the highest since 2010. The biggest deals were $1.1 billion of expansion capital for U.S. smart window maker View, and $795 million for Chinese electric vehicle firm Youxia Motors. In fact, there were no fewer than eight VC/PE financings of Chinese EV specialist companies in 2018, totaling some $3.3 billion.

Looking at the 2018 clean energy investment numbers by country, China was again the clear leader, but its total of $100.1 billion was down 32% on 2017’s record figure because of the plunge in the value of solar commitments. Once again, the actions of China are playing a major role in the dynamics of the energy transition, helping to drive down solar costs, grow the offshore wind and EV markets and lift venture capital and private equity investment.”

The U.S. was the second-biggest investing country, at $64.2 billion, up 12%. Developers have been rushing to finance wind and solar projects in order to take advantage of tax credit incentives, before these expire early next decade. There has also been a boom, in both the U.S. and Europe, in the construction of projects benefitting from power purchase agreements signed by big corporations such as Facebook and Google.

Europe saw clean energy investment leap 27% to $74.5 billion, helped by the financing of five offshore wind projects in the billion-dollar-plus category. There was also a sharp recovery in the Spanish solar market, helped by heavily reduced costs, and a continuation of the build-out of large wind farms in Sweden and Norway offering low-cost electricity to industrial consumers.

Other countries and territories investing in excess of $2 billion in clean energy in 2018 were:

• Japan at $27.2 billion, down 16%
• India at $11.1 billion, down 21%
• Germany at $10.5 billion, down 32%
• The U.K. at $10.4 billion, up 1%
• Australia at $9.5 billion, up 6%
• Spain at $7.8 billion, up sevenfold
• Netherlands at $5.6 billion, up 60%
• Sweden at $5.5 billion, up 37%
• France at $5.3 billion, up 7%
• South Korea at $5 billion, up 74%
• South Africa at $4.2 billion, up 40-fold
• Mexico at $3.8 billion, down 38%
• Vietnam at $3.3 billion, up 18-fold
• Denmark at $3.2 billion, up fivefold
• Belgium at $2.9 billion, up fourfold
• Italy at $2.8 billion, up 11%
• Morocco at $2.8 billion, up 13-fold
• Taiwan at $2.4 billion, up 134%
• Ukraine at $2.4 billion, up 15-fold
• Canada at $2.2 billion, down 34%
• Turkey at $2.2 billion, down 5%
• Norway at $2 billion, no change

Source: BloombergNEF

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FuturENERGY Dec. 18 - Jan. 2019

New technologies are reaching every sector, and power is no exception. To address this change, power transmission & distribution systems need to optimise the integration of renewables and manage the complex interactions between consumers and generators. This adaptation will require an investment of €7bn to 2035, according to IEA estimates. Given this scenario, smart electrical grids, as well as the development of distributed generation, will play a key role, as they will reduce the costs of this technological shift and increase the reliability of the energy model of the future. Funded by the European Commission and coordinated by CIRCE, the MEAN4SG project, which is training eleven young researchers who are preparing their doctoral theses on smart grids, is being developed within this field.

The integration of increasing shares of renewable energy into electricity grids is getting easier and cheaper. Smart grids, demand response, flexible wind turbines and storage are helping to do this. But we need to upgrade and expand the grid to secure the significant cost savings that an interconnected power market could offer.

If renewables are to meet 35% of Europe’s energy needs by 2030, then investments in electricity grids need to be more strategic. That’s what the Renewables Grid Initiative and WindEurope will tell participants at today’s Grids meet Renewables conference in Brussels.

To deliver an adequate grid in Europe and further reduce system costs, the extension of electricity infrastructure needs to be done in a smarter way. Three things are needed in order to do this.

First, renewable energy producers – including wind – and grid operators need to work together more closely. Defining the future energy landscape requires joint planning on the development of new transmission lines. This should take into consideration the expansion of renewables and the electrification of other sectors, as well as environmental and social impacts. Countries can help facilitate this by detailing the volumes of renewable energy they will deploy post-2020 as part of their National Energy & Climate Plans. This will give much-needed clarity to grid operators on where to invest in additional infrastructure. And will therefore help to avoid grid bottlenecks that we’ve seen on domestic and European level.

Second, to accommodate for increasing electrification in other sectors the EU needs to prioritise electricity grids over gas grids when it’s allocating funds under the Connecting Europe Facility. The electrification of heating, transport and industrial processes is essential for the transition to a low-carbon economy. This needs to come with an extension and upgrade of electricity grids across Europe. Good examples are projects like Biscay Gulf (Spain) and SuedOstLink (Germany) for which EU support was recently announced.

Third, the software of power markets also needs to be fixed. ‘Grid support services’ – whereby renewable generators can ramp up and down supply according to demand – should be increasingly commoditised. New wind power plants are technically able to provide these services and many countries already impose these responsibilities on wind farms. But many markets still do not allow wind power plants to provide and be compensated for these services.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “The energy sector is transforming rapidly. This transformation needs a common vision, shared by both the renewables and grid industries. The investments in new electricity grids are essential to ensure Europe can fully exploit its wind resource. A smarter approach to how we develop the grids will allow wind energy to provide an ever greater part of consumers’ energy needs. This will be key in meeting an ambitious renewables target for 2030.

Renewables Grid Initiative CEO Antonella Battaglini said: “In the next decade, massive growth of renewables as well as related grid development need to be supported. This can only be realised if we at the same time protect nature and involve society in the process. This requires multidisciplinary skills and collaborative processes to properly address peoples’ concerns and desires for a more sustainable and at the same time affordable energy future. Each day we learn how to better integrate renewables and how to deliver better projects on the ground. To continue on this joint path, this learning exercise also needs to continue and be enhanced.

Source: WindEurope

Groupe Renault has announce the creation of Renault Energy Services. The aim of this new subsidiary is to have an active presence in the energy and smart grid sectors, both of which are fundamental to the expansion of e-mobility.

Renault Energy Services will function much like a start-up and its objective is to invest in smart grid-related projects by forging privileged ties with the energy industry’s various stakeholders. Renault Energy Services will focus chiefly on the development of smart charging, vehicle to grid interaction and second-life batteries.

Thanks to its new subsidiary, Groupe Renault intends to make a real contribution to the expansion of smart charging networks which, by facilitating the communication of data, are capable of making real-time adjustments to the supply of electricity for more-efficient management of resources. Renault electric vehicles connected to smart grids will benefit from more economical, lower-carbon electricity. In addition to permitting the development of smart charging, smart grids favour both interaction between electric vehicles and networks (vehicle to grid) and projects involving second-life batteries:

• Smart charging adjusts battery charging rates as a function of customers’ needs and the availability of electricity via the grid. Batteries are charged when supply exceeds demand, notably during renewable energy production peaks and when rates are at their cheapest.
• In vehicle to grid systems, electric vehicles provide electricity to the grid during peak hours. In this way, not only do they benefit from the advantages of smart charging but they also serve as a means to temporarily store energy.
• Even once their life as a power source for electric vehicles is over, EV batteries continue to be capable of storing a significant amount of energy. Renault is able to harness this energy, notably for the purposes of stationary energy storage. By giving batteries a second lease of life, Renault is today in a position where it can cover the full spectrum of energy storage needs, from individual homes to office buildings, factories, schools and apartment blocks, and even the charging of electric vehicles.

Nueva inversión mundial en energía limpia por región, por trimestre en miles de M$. Fuente: Bloomberg New Energy Finance / Global new investment in clean energy by region, by quarter, US$bn. Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Seven giant wind projects, each costing between US$600m and US$4.5bn, and spread between the US, Mexico, the UK, Germany, China and Australia, helped global clean energy investment jump 40% YoY in the third quarter of 2017. The latest authoritative figures from the Bloomberg New Energy Finance database of deals and projects show that the world invested US$66.9bn in clean energy (renewable energy excluding large hydro-electric projects of more than 50 MW; plus energy smart technologies such as smart grid, battery storage and electric vehicles) in Q3 2017, up from US$64.9bn the second quarter of this year and US$47.8bn in Q3 2016.

The numbers for Q3 mean that investment in 2017 to date is running 2% above that in the same period of last year, suggesting that the annual total is likely to finish up close to, or just ahead of, 2016’s figure of US$287.5bn. However 2017 looks highly unlikely to beat the record US$348.5bn reached in 2015.


The stand-out move of Q3 2017 was American Electric Power investing US$4.5bn in Invenergy’s 2 GW Wind Catcher project in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Due to be completed by 2020, the project will have 800 wind turbines, connected to population centres via a 350-mile high-voltage power line. AEP still needs to secure some regulatory approvals, but construction has started and BNEF is treating the project as financed.

The other top asset finance transactions of the quarter were Dong Energy’s (that is changing its name to Ørsted) decision to proceed with the 1.4 GW Hornsea 2 offshore wind farm in the UK North Sea, at an estimated US$3.7bn by the time it is completed in 2022-2023; and Northland Power’s financing of the 252 MW Deutsche Bucht array in German waters, at US$1.6bn.

After those came two Chinese offshore wind farms (Guohua Dongtai and Zhoushan Putuo) totalling 552 MW and an estimated US$2.1bn; the Zuma Reynosa III onshore wind farm in Mexico, at 424 MW and an estimated US$657m; and the 450 MW Coopers Gap onshore wind project in Queensland, Australia at US$631m. The biggest solar project financing was an estimated US$460m for First Solar’s 381 MW California Flats PV park in the US.

Breaking the Q3 2017 figures down by type of investment, asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as those above, jumped 72% globally compared to the same quarter of last year, reaching US$54.3bn. Small-scale project investment (solar systems of less than 1 MW) amounted to US$10.8bn in the latest quarter, up 9%.

The two other areas of investment that BNEF tracks quarterly are venture capital and private equity investment in specialist clean energy companies, as well as equity-raising on public markets by quoted companies in the sector. Both these areas saw subdued activity in Q3.

VC/PE funding was only US$662m in Q3, down 79% from a very strong equivalent period a year earlier. Q3 2017 was the weakest quarter for this type of investment since 2005. The only deal to break three-figure millions was a US$109m private equity expansion capital round for Indian solar project developer Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions.

Public markets investment was also subdued, down 63% year-on-year at US$1.4bn, its lowest quarter since Q1 2016. The biggest equity raisings were by Chinese company Beijing Shouhang Resources Saving, to fund activity in solar thermal generation (a US$675m private placement), and a US$314m initial public offering by Greencoat Renewables, a Dublin-based investment company targeting operating-stage wind projects in Ireland and the rest of the euro area.

Taking every investment category together (asset finance, small-scale projects, VC/PE, public markets, and an adjustment for re-invested equity), country-level results for Q3 included:

• China: $23.8bn, up 35% compared to Q2 2016, down 8% on Q2 2017.
• US: $14.8bn, up 45% YoY, up 8% QoQ.
• Europe: $11.6bn, up 43% YoY, up 45% QoQ.
• Germany: $2.4bn, down 5% YoY, down 26% QoQ.
• Japan: $2.2bn, down 32% YoY, down 17% QoQ.
• India: $1.1bn, down 49% YoY, down 60% QoQ.
• Brazil: $1.7bn, up 32% YoY, down 4% QoQ.
• Mexico: $2.8bn, from almost nothing a year earlier, up 84% QoQ.
• Australia: $1.8bn, up 388% YoY, down 10% QoQ.
• Turkey: $796m, from almost nothing a year earlier, up 312% on Q2 2017.
• France: $631m, up 109% YoY, down 21% QoQ.
• South Korea: $593m, up 143% YoY and up 85% on Q2 2017.
• Argentina: $1.2bn, from almost nothing in Q3 2016 and up 151% on Q2 2017.
• UK: $4.6bn, up 57% YoY, up tenfold QoQ.
• Chile: $1bn, up 134% YoY, up 306% QoQ.

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A new report published the World Economic Forum and Bain & Company, The Future of Electricity: New Technologies Transforming the Grid Edge, concludes that the adoption of new grid edge connected smart technologies in OECD countries could generate over US$2.4 trillion of value for society and the electricity sector over the next 10 years, stemming from new jobs and from the reduction in carbon emissions arising from the increased efficiency of the overall system.

The report describes the main changes facing the electricity sector, given the impact of technology and innovation on traditional models, from power generation to “behind the meter” energy management. Its conclusions particularly point to three trends that are converging to bring about these changes in the sector: electrification, decentralisation and digitilisation. These trends are currently found in grid edge connected smart technologies such as: distributed storage, distributed generation, smart meters, smart apparatus and EVs, all of which are impacting on the electrical system.


The rapid fall in the costs of these technologies is driving their adoption by customers. Smart meters, connected devices and grid sensors will enhance grid management efficiency and, more importantly, will make real time information available to customers as regards the supply and demand of energy throughout the system. The anticipated increase in the uptake of electric vehicles could offer the grid greater flexibility in the form of storage, but could also lead to problems of congestion, for example, if a large number of EVs want to charge up in a specific geographical area at the same time.

These technologies could improve the electric infrastructure utilisation rate. The electrical system was constructed to cover the maximum demand, meaning that a significant proportion of the infrastructure is inactive most of the time. In the USA, the average utilisation rate in 2015 of the majority of the power generation infrastructure was under 55%. A 10% reduction in peak demand could create up to US$80bn of value by increasing the overall utilisation rate of the infrastructure.

The deployment of these technologies will place the customer at the centre of the electrical system. With correct pricing and market design, customers could generate their own electricity, store it and then consume it during a cheaper time slot or sell it back to the grid. A system of this type can even permit decentralised “peer-to-peer” transactions.

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Jofemar Energy, the division of Corporación Jofemar specialised in energy efficiency and storage, brought its Flow Grid project to a close last February with the presentation of the first version of their Zn-Br flow batteries. And it did so with promising results. The first versions have been designed, developed and tested at Jofemar’s facilities in Peralta, incorporating the latest improvements obtained including the use of nanotechnologies and the specific development of the main components for the electrochemical pairing. An output of 10 and 60 kWh, respectively, was achieved for operation in residential environments and smart grid integration.

The flow batteries are an electrochemical storage technology in a demo phase that is gradually approaching commercial phase. One of its distinguishing features is that this type of batteries can convert and store electrical energy as chemical energy and invert the process in a controlled way when required or necessary. This technology works as a result of the oxidation/reduction reaction produced by applying or taking an electric current from the two chemical species that oxidise and reduce, respectively, forming the REDOX system in a flow cell. These chemical species are called electrolytes. They are stored in external tanks and then pumped to the cell where the electrochemical reactions take place.

The main advantages of this technology are that they offer a high level of energy storage capacity for stationary, low cost and long lifetime applications. Compared to other technologies, they can also be fully discharged with no memory effect and without damaging the battery status so that its performance remains unaffected. Another factor to take into account is that the raw material is waterbased, which means no risk of flammability or explosion. In addition, its availability is far higher than that of other chemicals. The maintenance cost is low and is designed using highly available, low cost and recyclable materials. Moreover, the materials are environmentally-friendly thereby resulting in green, efficient technology. Read more…

Beatriz Ruiz
Technology Director, Jofemar Energy

Article published in: FuturENERGY April 2016

La Unión Europea ha financiado con 17 M€ esta iniciativa que agrupa a 25 socios de 13 países para hacer frente a la estabilidad, calidad y control de la red eléctrica europea.

25 consortium partners from 13 European countries, including twelve transmission system operators (TSO), as well as universities and research institutions, jointly launched the MIGRATE project in Brussels on 20 January. The project name is derived from the research topic “Massive InteGRATion of power Electronic devices”. The aim is to devise various approaches to solving key technical issues relating to grid stability, supply quality, and control and security of supply that arise owing to the challenge posed by the ever-increasing use of renewable energy feed-in sources. The project, which is designed to run for four years, is receiving funding of roughly 17 million euros from the EU, and it forms part of the EU’s “Horizon 2020” framework programme for research and innovation.

“The question that has to be examined is: how much power electronics can the grid cope with?”, said Mariana Stantcheva, the European Commission’s INEA Project Officer, at the kick-off meeting in Brussels.
This is because, in future, the European integrated network will at certain points in time face new challenges at various locations due to the large amounts of electricity fed into it from wind and solar sources. Both electricity production on the one hand – due to the increasing share of renewable energy – but also consumption on the other hand – owing to the implementation of energy efficiency systems, for example – will increasingly be linked to the electricity grid through power electronics.
These effects are posing technical challenges, particularly for grid operators in relation to grid management. This is due to the fact that a power station generator, for instance, lacks the inertia that is needed to guarantee the necessary frequency stability at 50 Hertz.

In Brussels, MIGRATE project manager Andreas Menze from TenneT TSO presented the main focuses of the investigations which are becoming essential in light of the major CO2 reductions in the energy system of the future:

• Maximisation of the amount of Renewable Energy Sources installed in the system while keeping the system stable
• Anticipation of future potential problems and challenges
• Clarification of the need of new control/protection schemes and possibly new connection rules to the grid

These issues are broken down into eight work packages and shared out between different workgroups. A key aim is to develop and validate technology-based solutions in the context of a pan-European electricity system, which is subject to a rapid increase in power electronics, both in relation to generation and consumption.

This overarching goal is split into two components combining two time horizons:
In the short to medium term, incremental technology-based solutions are needed to operate the existing electric HVAC system configuration with a growing penetration of PE-connected generation and consumption, based on novel methods and tools.

In the long term, breakthrough technology-based solutions are needed to manage a transition towards an HVAC electric system where all generation and consumption is connected via 100% PE, based on innovative control algorithms together with new grid connection standards.

The workgroups meet regularly to share their work results. The next meeting of the Executive Board, on which all the TSOs involved in the project are represented, will be held in the summer so that the initial results of the investigations can be presented and the next steps to be taken can be agreed.

In the meantime, it is not only the consortium partners who will actively work on their assigned tasks – other transmission system operators and research groups outside the project organisation can provide their input into the subject matter if they wish to do so. A so-called reference group will shortly be set up for this purpose, which is intended as a platform for inputting and sharing ideas. Any parties that are interested in the project can get in touch with the coordinator, TenneT, by sending an email to: migrate@tennet.eu.

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Wemworld is taking part in a project to supply electrical and control systems for a new PV plant in South Africa and continues to develop tools for smart grids and energy efficiency.

Wemworld is an international engineering company that produces monitoring, remote control and performance analysis systems for energy production plants. It has taken part in a project to supply electrical and control systems for a new 70 MW PV plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

This is the first power plant connected to the electrical system to have respected the South African Grid Code that aims to balance the grid at the same time as reducing its carbon footprint. Over two kilometres long and with a surface area of 200 hectares, it represents a clear example of South Africa’s commitment to renewable energy and to solar PV in particular. Read more…

Fulvio Ferrari, Giovanni Rossi
Founding Partners Wemworld Web Energy Management

Article published in: FuturENERGY May 2015

SAJ Electric