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Asolmex the Mexican Solar PV Power Association, has welcomed the issue of new rulings to regulate the sale of power from Distributed Generation systems on solar roofs. As a result of these measures, the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) is making significant progress in promoting the PV sector in Mexico, which will increase the number of users that currently generate electricity from solar panels from 21,800 to 155,000 by 2020, an increase of more than 500%.

The CRE’s decision democratises the Distributed Generation sector, bringing legal certainty to the use of solar roofs in homes, businesses and industries and this will benefit small-scale users who will now be able to sell their energy surplus to the grid”, confirmed Héctor Olea, Chairman of Asolmex.

 

Roberto Capuano, coordinator of the Distributed Generation Committee at Asolmex, explained that thanks to the new regulations, three key improvements will be achieved compared to the existing scheme. Firstly, the CRE is strengthening the current Net Metering scheme by allowing surplus energy to be sold, whereas previously, after 12 months, any accumulated power in the electrical grid was lost. Now, because of the changes, after one year the surplus energy is paid for by the utility under the Net Metering scheme.

Secondly, residential, commercial and industrial users with demands of under 500 kW are offered a new opportunity as, apart from consuming their own solar power, they can also sell it to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). In the event that users generate more electrical power than they use, they will receive an annual payment for the power injected back into the electrical grid.

DMS_Esquema Asolmex

Lastly, users will be able to sell clean energy certificates (CELs) to cover the minimum percentage of annual power generation from clean sources. As such, utilities and distributors will avoid paying fines for non-compliance with State-imposed guidelines.

The Secretary of Energy (Sener) estimates that the participation of clean energy in power generation will reach 30% by 2021. It is also worth noting that solar power has consolidated as the most competitive technology in Mexico’s electricity market, better priced than natural gas-fired combined-cycle power generation.

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Having completed the promotion, development, construction and start-up phases of the facility at the end of 2016, Elecnor has completed the sale of the 25 MW solar PV farm located in Barcaldine in the state of Queensland. The sale price is AUD 33.4 million (EUR 23.4 million at the current exchange rate).

The buyer is an Australian investment company managed by the British firm Foresight, a leading infrastructure investment and asset manager with some 70 solar PV plants in its portfolio in the UK, southern Europe, Australia and North America. Financing was provided by KDB Infrastructure Investments Asset Management Co. Ltd and Hanwha Energy.

 

The Barcaldine solar plant, which was built within the planned timeframe, is located on a 90 hectare site. The plant’s 79,000 photovoltaic panels generate an estimated annual production of 56,000 MWh, sufficient to meet the consumption requirements of around 5,300 households.

Projects in Australia

This project was Elecnor’s second in Australia. It has previously acted as an EPC company on a 70 MW plant in the state of New South Wales for the Moree Solar Farm Pty Ltd company, part of Fotowatio Renewables Venture (FRV).

It is currently working on the initial development stages of new projects in the sphere of renewable energy, including a new 45 MW solar PV farm in the vicinity of the Barcaldine complex and the promotion of two wind projects in the state of Queensland. It also completed the promotion of the 252 MW Bulgana wind farm in the state of Victoria. This farm was subsequently sold to the Neoen Wind Holdco company, with which Elecnor will partner on development and provide technical assistance.

Source: Elecnor

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Last 26 January, in a meeting of the EU Member States trade experts, the European Commission’s proposal to extend trade measures on solar panels and cells imported from China, Taiwan and Malaysia was defeated. More than half the Member States of the EU voted against extending the measures and instead for the first time in history the proposal of the Commission is subject to an appeal from the Member States. This process, whilst never used before, is likely to put increased pressure on DG Trade to change their position.

Oliver Schaefer, President of SolarPower Europe stated ‘We have been campaigning for the end of these trade measures for the last 18 months, and are pleased that the Member States have sent a strong rebuke to DG Trade for not taking account of the interests of the European solar industry. We hope that the Commission will now review their proposal and through the appeal process substantially revise their approach.’

 

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented ‘We must thank all the European solar associations, who took part in achieving this historic result. This decision of the Member States reminds DG Trade that they must be more considerate of the solar jobs and investments that they have threatened across the EU with a proposal to extend these measures.’

Kristina Thoring, Political Communications Advisor added ‘We will now work with the Member States to find a suitable compromise to remove the measures as soon as possible, so that we can have a dynamic and growing solar sector in Europe once again.’

The European Commission must now consider what changes they need to make to their proposal before facing another vote by the Member States in a couple of weeks.

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Despite the huge success of the latest energy auction in Mexico, the lowest offers achieved a record price of US$36/MWh, including clean energy certificates, the solar industry is looking for solutions that are better than low cost solar collectors, because in many ways, panels have turned into a basic product that is hard to differentiate between the various manufacturers.

First off it is worth asking which technologies dominate the photovoltaic industry landscape. The answer may be risky however there are scientific bases to support it: new solar panels will be more efficient, cheaper and more reliable.

 

A solar panel is an electronic circuit that contains a series of PN (Positive and Negative) junctions or rather it is a series of diodes connected in series and in parallel as required. With experience in the design and construction of semiconductors, it is possible to confirm that the new solar panels will use better technology, materials and more advanced manufacturing processes, a fact that gives a great deal of confidence that this prediction will be met. Read more…

Rogelio F. Nochebuena Tinoco
COO Environmental Services, Baja California

Article published in: FuturENERGY September 2016

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The global solar PV boom currently underway will represent a significant untapped business opportunity as decommissioned solar panels enter the waste stream in the years ahead, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS).

The report, End-of-Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels, is the first-ever projection of PV panel waste volumes to 2050 and highlights that recycling or repurposing solar PV panels at the end of their roughly 30-year lifetime can unlock a large stock of raw materials and other valuable components. It estimates that PV panel waste, comprised mostly of glass, could total 78 million tonnes globally by 2050. If fully injected back into the economy, the value of the recovered material could exceed USD 15 billion by 2050. This potential material influx could produce 2 billion new panels or be sold into global commodity markets, thus increasing the security of future PV supply or other raw material-dependent products.

Global installed PV capacity reached 222 GW at the end of 2015 and is expected to further rise to 4,500 GW by 2050. With this tremendous capacity growth will come an increase in waste associated with the sector,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This brings about new business opportunities to ‘close the loop’ for solar PV panels at the end of their lifetime. To seize these opportunities, however, preparations for the surge in end-of-life material should begin now.

With the right policies and enabling frameworks in place, new industries that recycle and repurpose old solar PV panels will drive considerable economic value creation and will be an important element in the world’s transition to a sustainable energy future,” added Mr. Amin.

The report suggests that addressing growing solar PV waste, and spurring the establishment of an industry to handle it, would require: the adoption of effective, PV-specific waste regulation; the expansion of existing waste management infrastructure to include end-of-life treatment of PV panels, and; the promotion of ongoing innovation in panel waste management.

Experience with electronic waste tells us that developing technological and regulatory systems for efficient, effective and affordable end-of-life management requires long lead times“, said Stefan Nowak, Chairman of IEA-PVPS. “This timely report can be used by public and private sector institutions to anchor the necessary investments in technology and policy research and development and supporting analyses to unlock the significant recoverable value in end-of-life panels.

Responsible life-cycle management is an imperative for all PV technologies – the socio-economic and environmental benefits which can potentially be unlocked through end-of-life processes and policies for this waste stream in the future should be seen as an opportunity today to start extending the photovoltaic value chain,” added Mr. Nowak of IEA-PVPS.

In most countries, PV panels fall under the classification of “general waste” but the European Union (EU) was the first to adopt PV-specific waste regulations, which include PV-specific collection, recovery, and recycling targets. EU’s directive requires all panel producers that supply PV panels to the EU market (wherever they may be based) to finance the costs of collecting and recycling end-of-life PV panels put on the market in Europe.

On 14 June the National Assembly approved a loan amounting to US$33.3m to finance the implementation of the “Project to Develop Renewable Energy in Rural Areas” that will increase the energy offer in 164 rural communities in 15 municipalities in the Autonomous Regions of Northern Caribbean Coast and Southern Coast and in the region of Rio San Juan.

The loan was approved with 67 votes,  funded by Eximbank and will be implemented by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, benefitting over 10,000 dwellings, 164 schools as well as 22 medical centres.

Minister Wálmaro Gutiérrez, chairman of the Commission for Production, Economy and Budget, said that the loan will enable over 62,000 people on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua to benefit from electrical power generated from solar panels.

“These resources are intended to reach communities that, due to their geographical location, cannot be covered by conventional power distribution. The loan is able to guarantee the purchase and supply of solar panels to each and every party involved so that they can illuminate their homes and enjoy energy within their communities” noted the minister.

Meanwhile Minister Loria Raquel Dixon, Second Secretary of the Governing Council of the National Assembly, stated that “this loan is a way to restore the rights of the indigenous and Afro-descendent population that have had no access to electrical power for many years”.

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The Japanese solar market has grown significantly in the past few years as it races to meet the government’s goal of achieving 53 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030. Despite its relatively small landmass, generous government incentives have meant that Japan is among the world’s leaders in terms of total solar energy produced, with a total of 23.3 GW output in 2014. Earlier this year, the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation reported that solar power was set to become profitable, adding Japan to the ranks of G7 economies where the technology has become economically viable. The island nation has even gone so far as to create floating “solar islands” with thousands of water-resistant solar panels and has turned abandoned golf courses into solar power plants.

However, this boom is set to slow unless Japan can address two of the biggest challenges which are currently facing its solar industry: decreasing Feed in Tariffs (FIT) and an aging grid infrastructure. Here we discuss two ways in which Japan can use technology to address these challenges.

1.Increasing energy efficiency to cope with lower Feed in Tariffs

Introduced in July 2012, Japan’s FIT was famously generous and triggered a surge in solar investment in the country. By the end of March 2015, the amount of installed solar power in Japan more than tripled compared to pre-FIT levels. However, 2015 marked the end of those premium rates. In April last year, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) confirmed its decision to cut the country’s solar FIT by 16%, reducing the rate from ¥32 ($0.26) per kWh to ¥27 ($0.22) per kWh. The cuts have been triggered by a maturing market that has seen solar costs for operation and maintenance fall.

As FITs decrease, operators will need to look for new ways to lower costs and increase efficiency. Developments in technology, such as more effective 1.5 kV inverters, will enable the voltage to increase by up to 50% compared to the industry standard 1.0 kV, thus decreasing system losses. Additionally, this 1.5 kV 4MW inverter provides four times the power density of industry standard inverters, enabling four inverters to be replaced by one. This results in OPEX savings of up to 3% and significant CAPEX savings due to the need for fewer inverter stations, therefore generating lower installation and maintenance costs. This 1.5 kV technology is set to transform the cost, scale and efficiency of solar power conversion.

2. Smart plant control systems to cope with an aging grid infrastructuresolar-japan-2

One of the main challenges facing Japan’s solar power industry surrounds its integration with the aging grid infrastructure. Part of the problem lies in the relatively small size of Japan’s power grids and the lack of compatibility between regional power utility grids. Such has been the pace of Japan’s solar PV growth over the past three years that around 17.5 GW of FIT-approved PV projects now risk cancellation due to insufficient grid capacity. Handling the surges in solar power, which result from clear weather, can also be a major challenge for solar power producers and the utilities they supply. In fact, Japanese power companies have cited the volatility of the electricity supply as a reason for refusing to accept new solar power suppliers.

It’s therefore crucial for Japanese suppliers to have the ability to reliably and consistently meet Japan’s strict grid and utility industry standards. In order to do this, consistent power output is essential. Plant control systems, such as GE Power Conversion’s SunIQ, can coordinate all the inverters installed in a solar farm, helping to maximize power and control the power output provided to the grid.

The SunIQ system was developed within the “GE Store”–where GE’s experts around the world connect to share knowledge and ideas across different sectors. It was originally born out of the plant control system used in the wind industry, meaning the system is proven and reliable.

In cloudy conditions, SunIQ can automatically raise the power output of inverters to allow the total power output to remain at the required level. Similarly, it will make sure inverters react in a coordinated way to changing grid conditions such as helping to even out the base load at the peak times. This type of technology enables high-speed integration between the plant control system and inverters, allowing operators to execute commands faster, maximizing the efficiency.

Despite these challenges, the next few years could see a definite, but gradual, shift in Japan’s energy mix, with solar power taking over from fossil fuels and nuclear. This is exemplified by the fact that by March 2016, Japan plans to close 2.4 GW of oil-run power plants. By using technology to overcome the challenges the industry faces, another boom in solar could be just around the corner for Japan.

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JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd., a global leader in the solar PV industry, announced that it has entered into an agreement to supply up to one gigawatt (GW) of solar PV modules to sPower, a leading US independent power producer (IPP) company.

This agreement is JinkoSolar’s largest contract in the United States to date. JinkoSolar will supply over three million of its high efficiency solar PV modules to sPower for use in various projects that are to be built before the end of 2016.

sPower develops solar and wind energy projects across the United States and the UK for several years, including utility-scale solar projects in California. The company recently announced the doubling of its operating portfolio in 2015 to 500 MW and plans to bring an additional 700 MW on line within the next twelve months.

“JinkoSolar is proud to be sPower’s strategic partner, a key player in the US solar development market,” commented Mr. Nigel Cockroft, General Manager of JinkoSolar US. “This agreement is evidence of the reliability of JinkoSolar’s operation and competitiveness of its advanced module technology. This deal affirms that JinkoSolar has quickly become one of the leading solar panel suppliers in the US.”

Trina (TSL: US), the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, and Grenergy (GRE: SM), a leader in the development of solar projects in Latin America, have formalized over the past weeks an agreement aimed at constructing solar photovoltaic projects in Chile, through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This agreement establishes a Joint Venture in which both companies will hold a 50% stake.

With this commitment, Grenergy will consolidate its growth strategy in Chile where the company currently has a strong pipeline of projects under development and construction.

Through this investment agreement, Grenergy will undertake the construction of solar photovoltaic projects in Chile with Trina modules, opening the possibility of collaboration in other Latin American markets. The first step of this partnership which could reach 60MW is intended to begin with the construction of two PMGD projects (Small Means of Distributed Generation) in Chile totaling 6 MW in the first quarter of this year.

Once operational, both parties are intending to sell them to third party investors and replicate this scheme with new solar projects.

Grenergy and Trina are expecting to execute this agreement in January 2016 and start the construction of the first project in the first quarter of 2016.

Grenergy has established itself as a leading developer of projects connected to the Chilean distribution grid (PMGD) with a pipeline of approximately 150MW in various stages of development.

Grenergy currently operates in four countries of Latin America  (Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia) which together with the Spanish market represent a pipeline of project in development  greater than 1 GW.

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The final round of projects awarded by the Department of Energy have turned South Africa into one of the most dynamic markets worldwide, and its local PV energy modules are expected to play a key role in its development. According to Enertis, an international firm specialised in providing consultancy, technical assessment and engineering services to the solar PV energy sector, the South African solar market has become a mature industry, making a robust contribution to the creation of much-needed energy capacity, local employment and a competitive renewable energy environment, thereby attracting investment from major international players.

South Africa’s DoE has recently taken steps to address the energy supply crisis in the country and has boosted the allocation of renewables projects. According to Enertis, in the specific case of solar PV energy, if the first three rounds had resulted in the allocation of 1,484 MW, only a further 813 MW have been selected for round 4. In addition, an accelerated or extraordinary round has been announced which will secure a further 1,800 MW from various technologies ahead of the anticipated round 5.

The evolution of the REIPP Programme has followed a path where projects selected have grown in size (75 MW projects are now the norm whereas almost 50% of the projects in Round 1 ranged from 5 to 20 MW). They have also become very competitive in terms of price and local content. Round 4 prices have reached some of the lowest levels hitherto seen worldwide, and local content values stand at an average of around 64%. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2015

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