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Today the average car runs on fossil fuels, but growing pressure for climate action, falling battery costs, and concerns about air pollution in cities, has given life to the once “over-priced” and neglected electric vehicle. With many new electric vehicles (EV) now out-performing their fossil-powered counterparts’ capabilities on the road, energy planners are looking to bring innovation to the garage — 95% of a car’s time is spent parked. The result is that with careful planning and the right infrastructure in place, parked and plugged-in EVs could be the battery banks of the future, stabilising electric grids powered by wind and solar energy.

EVs at scale can create vast electricity storage capacity, but if everyone simultaneously charges their cars in the morning or evening, electricity networks can become stressed. The timing of charging is therefore critical. ‘Smart charging’, which both charges vehicles and supports the grid, unlocks a virtuous circle in which renewable energy makes transport cleaner and EVs support larger shares of renewables,” says Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre.

Looking at real examples, a new report from IRENA, Innovation Outlook: smart charging for electric vehicles, guides countries on how to exploit the complementarity potential between renewable electricity and EVs. It provides a guideline for policymakers on implementing an energy transition strategy that makes the most out of EVs.

Smart implementation

Smart charging means adapting the charging cycle of EVs to both the conditions of the power system and the needs of vehicle users. By decreasing EV-charging-stress on the grid, smart charging can make electricity systems more flexible for renewable energy integration, and provides a low-carbon electricity option to address the transport sector, all while meeting mobility needs.

The rapid uptake of EVs around the world, means smart charging could save billions of dollars in grid investments needed to meet EV loads in a controlled manner. For example, the distribution system operator in Hamburg — Stromnetz Hamburg — is testing a smart charging system that uses digital technologies that control the charging of vehicles based on systems and customers’ requirements. When fully implemented, this would reduce the need for grid investments in the city due to the load of charging EVs by 90%.

IRENA’s analysis indicates that if most of the passenger vehicles sold from 2040 onwards were electric, more than 1 billion EVs could be on the road by 2050 — up from around 6 million today —dwarfing stationary battery capacity. Projections suggest that in 2050, around 14 TWh of EV batteries could be available to provide grid services, compared to just 9 TWh of stationary batteries.

The implementation of smart charging systems ranges from basic to advanced. The simplest approaches encourage consumers to defer their charging from peak to off-peak periods. More advanced approaches using digital technology, such as direct control mechanisms may in the near future serve the electricity system by delivering close-to real-time energy balancing and ancillary services.

Advanced forms of smart charging

An advanced smart charging approach, called Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), allows EVs not to just withdraw electricity from the grid, but to also inject electricity back to the grid. V2G technology may create a business case for car owners, via aggregators, to provide ancillary services to the grid. However, to be attractive for car owners, smart charging must satisfy the mobility needs, meaning cars should be charged when needed, at the lowest cost, and owners should possibly be remunerated for providing services to the grid. Policy instruments, such as rebates for the installation of smart charging points as well as time-of-use tariffs, may incentivise a wide deployment of smart charging.

We’ve seen this tested in the UK, Netherlands and Denmark. For example, since 2016, Nissan, Enel and Nuvve have partnered and worked on an energy management solution that allows vehicle owners and energy users to operate as individual energy hubs. Their two pilot projects in Denmark and the UK have allowed owners of Nissan EVs to earn money by sending power to the grid through Enel’s bidirectional chargers.

Perfect solution?

While EVs have a lot to offer towards accelerating variable renewable energy deployment, their uptake also brings technical challenges that need to be overcome.

IRENA analysis suggests uncontrolled and simultaneous charging of EVs could significantly increase congestion in power systems and peak load. Resulting in limitations to increase the share of solar PV and wind in power systems, and the need for additional investment costs in electrical infrastructure in form of replacing and additional cables, transformers, switchgears, etc., respectively.

An increase in autonomous and ‘mobility-as-a-service’ driving — i.e. innovations for car-sharing or those that would allow your car to taxi strangers when you are not using it — could disrupt the potential availability of grid-stabilising plugged-in EVs, as batteries will be connected and available to the grid less often.

Impact of charging according to type

It has also become clear that fast and ultra-fast charging are a priority for the mobility sector, however, slow charging is actually better suited for smart charging, as batteries are connected and available to the grid longer. For slow charging, locating charging infrastructure at home and at the workplace is critical, an aspect to be considered during infrastructure planning. Fast and ultra-fast charging may increase the peak demand stress on local grids. Solutions such as battery swapping, charging stations with buffer storage, and night EV fleet charging, might become necessary, in combination with fast and ultra-fast charging, to avoid high infrastructure investments.

Source: IRENA

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For the past few days people from across the solar industry were gathering at Intersolar Europe. Global solar markets have ups and downs, but this year the world’s leading annual solar exhibition are filled with optimism. Speaking at European Solar Development Seminar organized by Growatt, IHS Markit Senior Analyst Susanne von Aichberger said, “From our research and analysis, we believe European solar installations are on the rise. This is good news for the industry.

Overall, European Union is set to reach EU-wide renewable energy target though some member states fail to reach their own 2020 targets, according to Susanne. Encouraged by the solid growth of European solar markets, Growatt has been increasing its investments in the region, hiring more staff and establishing branch office in Rotterdam recently.

At the seminar Growatt Co-founder and Sales Director Frank Qiao unveiled a couple of its next generation PV solutions to the audience. Its latest product developments, MIN 2.5-6k TL-XH and MAX 50-80kTL3 impressed the audience a lot. “At first glance, you’ll find our new generation product models have got appealing designs. But that’s not all. Their powerful functions will make them more attractive”, said Qiao. “MIN has OLED display and touch button and customers will have a better user experience. Its touch button has a longer lifespan and can last over three million clicks. Moreover, it’s storage ready. We are seeing the trend in solar storage and though we have already offered one-stop storage solutions for both retrofitting and newly-built PV systems, our new residential inverter includes this storage ready feature that will help reduce the cost and prepare the system owners for the future of self-consumption and storage.

For commercial and industrial rooftop solar projects, Qiao strongly recommends MAX 50-80kTL3, “At this fair we are receiving a lot of positive feedback for MAX. Many clients think MAX has got many features that will suit their projects, such as 6 MPPTs, anti-PID, AFCI etc. What makes it more special is its quad-core architecture. With dual DSP, CPLD and ARM chips, its capability has been greatly enhanced to handle functions like surge protection, I-V curve scan, fault waveform record, one-click diagnosis and so on.

Growatt has been growing steadily in Europe for the past nine years and with offices established across Europe, new models added into the product lines and more staff joining their team, is looking to grow their sales substantially in coming years.

Source: Growatt

Sistema de conversión de potencia de Ingeteam para un proyecto piloto en Dubái, el primer sistema de almacenamiento de energía en EAU acoplado a una planta fotovoltaica a gran escala / Ingeteam's power conversion system (PCS) for a pilot project in Dubai, the first energy storage system paired with a PV plant at a grid-scale level in the UAE. Foto cortesía de /Photo courtesy of: Ingeteam

In a recently published report, Wood Mackenzie projects solar-plus-storage LCOE for both utility-scale and distributed commercial & industrial (C&I) segments to decline considerably over the next five years. As grid resiliency and renewables intermittency continue to be a challenge in Asia Pacific’s power markets, solar-plus-storage could address these issues particularly as solar and battery costs continue to decline.

According to Wood Mackenzie, unsubsidised utility-scale LCOE for a 4-hour lithium-ion solar-plus-storage will command a cost premium between 48% and 123% over solar LCOE in 2019. This will reduce to between 39% and 121% in 2023. By then, solar-plus-storage costs would already be competitive against gas peakers in all the National Electricity Market (NEM) states of Australia. The country’s utility-scale solar-plus-storage LCOE will hover at about 23% above average wholesale electricity price.

Only Thailand is expected to have a utility-scale solar-plus-storage LCOE below the average wholesale electricity price by 2023. While the country does not have a wholesale electricity market, industrial power price taken as a proxy is higher compared to other wholesale markets and hence shows competitive solar-plus-storage economics.

CAPEX subsidies and additional remuneration through different forms of renewables certificate will be crucial for projects to go-ahead.

In general, Wood Mackenzie expects the average solar-plus-storage LCOE in Asia Pacific to decrease 23% from US$133/MWh this year to US$101/MWh in 2023.

On the distributed C&I solar-plus-storage front, the storage premium over solar LCOE is between 56% and 204% this year. In 2023, the cost premium will narrow to between 47% and 167%. The reason for such wide LCOE range is because there are some mature markets where solar cost is extremely competitive while others are not and some in-between. This is due to a mix of labour/ land/ environment/ civil costs, weighted average cost of capital, and procurement methods (tenders vs feed-in tariffs (FIT)). Also, some markets have very well established supply chains with the availability of storage manufacturing.

Unsubsidised C&I solar-plus-storage is expected to be competitive in Australia, India and the Philippines by 2023.

The residential market also poses a great opportunity for solar-plus-storage. In 2018 with the help of government subsidies, Australia’s New South Wales saw a 76% savings on annual electric bills through solar-plus-storage installations. Another attractive residential solar-plus-storage market is Japan. FIT for 600 MW of solar projects is poised to expire this year. As power prices are set to increase, storage retrofits provide an opportunity for home consumers to avoid high residential prices.

Source: Wood Mackenzie

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Jinkosolar has announced the launching of its Swan bifacial PV module series, which provides a significant enhancement of its industry-leading solar technology and offers the market a mainstream 430 W solar PV module with power gained from the rear side.

Jinkosolar’s Cheetah technology based on 158.75 x 158.75 mm mono wafer provides one of the industry’s most competitive solutions and set the industry pace for big square shape mono wafer era. By leveraging the new capabilities of Cheetah in generation, Jinkosolar Swan bifacial PV module delivers 5-25% more power over its flagship Cheetah module to reach 420-500 W gained from the rear side.

At the same time, its transparent backsheet option design rules are fully compatible with existing conventional installation methods, allowing approximately 20% reduction of labor cost relatd to module installation and 3% of BOS costs, which is translated into higher IRR and lower LCOE. Transparent backsheet option is particularly ideal for regions where labor cost is relatively high.

Swan PV module provides customers with additional generation benefits from rear side while extending the industry-leading power and performance from the Cheetah 158.75” mono series for a broad array of applications, ranging from large scale utility, agriculture complementary project, floating project, canopy, noise-reduction barriers, etc.

Building upon the broad success of our Cheetah premium mono technology, we’re confident that our customers will be able to quickly extract even higher product value from the new Swan bifacial modules. At the era of post subsidy, compared to other available solutions in the market, JinkoSolar’s Swan series offer customers a highly competitive performance-to-cost advantage as well as fast time-to-market with direct migration based on Cheetah technology“, said Kangping Chen, CEO of Jinkosolar.

Source: JinkoSolar

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SolarPower Europe has launched its Global Market Outlook 2019-2023, showing that solar power reached important milestones in 2018, with an even more optimistic picture forecast for the next five years, as SolarPower Europe forecasts 800 GW additions to 1.3 TW total installed capacity by 2023

A total of 102.4 GW of solar power went on the grid around the world last year. That’s still 4% more than the 98.5 GW installed in 2017 and this is in comparison to two very high-growth years: 2017 and 2016, which had growth rates of around 30% and 50% respectively. The main reason for last year’s slower solar market growth was the contraction of the Chinese market, which, at 44.4 GW, shrunk by 16% compared to its record 52.8 GW in 2017. While other leading solar markets also shrank (India, Japan) or stagnated (US) for various reasons, many new and emerging as well as re-emerging markets more than compensated for this slower growth period of the tier 1 group.

In 2018, 11 countries installed more than 1 GW of solar; that’s two more compared to the nine GW-scale solar markets in 2017. SolarPower Europe’s Medium Scenario estimates that the number will significantly increase to 16 countries in 2019.

Europe as a whole added 11.3 GW in 2018, a 21% increase over the 9.3 GW installed the year before mainly because of the EU’s binding national 2020 targets. In 2019, SolarPower Europe’s Medium Scenario sees demand surge by over 80% to 20.4 GW, and an 18% growth to 24.1 GW in 2020, which would be a new installation record, surpassing the 22.5 GW Europe added in 2011.

On a global level, in its Medium Scenario, SolarPower Europe anticipates that around 128 GW of new PV capacity will be installed in 2019, which would translate into a 25% market growth. This will lead to a cumulative installed capacity of 645 GW, which is about 4% higher than assumed in last year’s Global Market Outlook. The solar TW-level will most likely be exceeded in 2022. The 5-year Global Market Outlook expects that global solar power generation capacities will add nearly 800 GW and reach a total solar power generation capacity of 1.3 TW in 2023.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) an average of over 400 GW of renewables have to be installed per year until 2050 to keep temperature rise below 2 °C. In 2018, around 180 GW of renewable power capacity was installed.

Christian Westermeier, President of SolarPower Europe, said: “2018 was a unique year for the entire global solar industry, as we exceeded the magic installation mark of 100 GW per year for the first time, which led the solar power sector to grow to over 500 GW or 0.5 TW. Last year, we again saw strong cost improvements with solar becoming the lowest-cost power generation source in more and more regions. At the same time, new applications have quickly progressed, such as floating solar, while corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements have reached a double-digit GW-level, and a market for merchant solar has emerged in several countries.

Source: SolarPower EWurope

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India has an outstanding solar potential and has become one of the largest emerging PV markets. However, its solar road gets bumpy from time to time. On July 30 last year, Indian government announced a 25% safeguard duty on imported PV modules, which shocked the solar industry. As a result, India had added a solar capacity of 8,263 MW by the end of 2018, down from 9,782 MW added in 2017.

Yet, India’s rooftop solar continues its growth impressively with YoY growth rate at 66 percent. Under these circumstances, brands from China that focuses on rooftop solar are continuing their expansion across India. Growatt, the Global Top 10 Solar Inverter Supplier has been increasing its investment in India.

We’ve been here in India for over eight years. And we’ve seen through years of strong growth an enormous solar potential of Indian rooftop. One key factor is that the commercial and industrial consumers are paying higher grid tariffs and this is a good incentive for them to get PV systems on their roofs. So we are very optimistic about Indian rooftop solar market in the long term.” said Rucas Wang, Growatt Regional Director. Wang, who is very familiar with the local solar community. And he understands the potential and importance of Indian solar market.

Indian solar market is on top of our list for business growth. We started increasing our investments significantly in marketing and staffing last year. Now we have a team of 24 local sales and service engineers. Service offices have been established in eight major cities to provide on-site service across India. A toll-free service hotline has also been set up as well to provide fast response for our customers.

With continuous investments by leading solar companies like Growatt, Indian rooftop sector will probably become increasingly vigorous in coming years. And if policy and financing support comes in, rooftop installations will take off for sure.

Source: Growatt

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The German solar PV industry dominated Germany’s latest solar and onshore wind tender, receiving contracts for the entire 210 MW awarded in the auction, which was heavily oversubscribed.

Germany’s Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, announced on April, 18 the results from this tender, revealing that it had awarded 210 MW of solar contracts to 18 solar power bids. The tender was originally for 200 MW but was significantly oversubscribed, with 719.5 MW of solar projects bidding for contracts. No onshore wind contracts were awarded.

Of the 210 MW of contracts awarded, 59 MW was awarded to both the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg — each with five successful bids — another 48 MW to the state of Schleswig-Holstein with three bids, 33 MW to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with two bids, and 10 MW to the state of Hesse with another three bids.

The average awarded price was 0.0566 €/kWh, with a low bid price of 0.045 €/kWh and a high of 0.061 €/kWh. The prices were up slightly on the November 2018 preliminary rounds of 0.0527 €/kWh, but must also be understood in conjunction with the special tender for solar held last month, which awarded contracts at an average of 0.065 €/kWh.

A separate tender was also held for biomass plants, which awarded 27 MW in a severely undersubscribed auction.

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GoodWe has signed a cooperation agreement with Adler Solar Services GmbH in providing comprehensive after-sales services to GoodWe´s customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland covering 1st level support, 2nd level support and technical field services. Adler Solar is a full-service provider for the solar industry who delivers a broad spectrum of technical solutions and services that guarantee a high-performance level and smooth running of a PV plant throughout its entire life-cycle. Adler Solar serves the complete range of after-sales solutions and defines all interfaces of the process chain according to individual customer requirements. Adler Solar´s existing panel service customers include renowned brands such as REC and Solarwatt.

With over 60 employees across the abovementioned German speaking markets, Adler Solar will conduct on-site repairs and take care of the storage of spare/replacement devices as well as individual inverter components and all the logistics involved.

In addition, Adler Solar experts will also handle the warranty process for GoodWe, while providing additional support services. Further services include the provision of information and support for GoodWe Smart Energy Management System (SEMS). By using this system, Adler Solar can take targeted actions based on GoodWe intelligent alert notification and get in touch with system owners directly, providing proactive responses.

Quality after sales service is GoodWe´s top priority

The agreement was inked by Thomas Haering, Managing Director of GoodWe Europe GmbH, and Gerhard Cunze, Managing Director of Adler Solar Services GmbH.

“GoodWe inverters stand for reliability, high performance and top-notch quality”, says Thomas Haering, Managing Director at GoodWe Europe. “We want to walk on this way by increasing our after-sales support network as one of our top priorities. This is why we are thrilled to work together with an experienced and professional service partner like ADLER Solar to provide our customers the necessary high-respond support they are expecting from a leading inverter manufacturer.

Fast, professional and reliable after-sales and repair services are essential for operators of PV systems. This is the only way to achieve the calculated yields and a stable return on investment. We ensure this with our after-sales solutions and are delighted to support one of the world’s leading inverter manufacturers”, says Gerhard Cunze, Managing Director of Adler Solar.

Source: GoodWe

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Soltec manufactured its first tracker designed for the mounting of bifacial panels in Chile in 2015 and in 2018 opened a bifacial tracking research centre in California. Such commitment is easy to explain: a bifacial solar tracker harvests energy from both its front and rear side, capturing the sunlight reflected on the ground. And under the right conditions, yield will increase by more than 30%.

The standard features of the SF7 solar tracker from Soltec provide bifacial compatibility due to the higher mounting height, a shadow-free backside and wider service aisles between tracker rows. These features mean that the bifacial modules are further off the ground, reducing the intensity of the shading on the tracker itself while enhancing bifacial gain. It also avoids the main disadvantage of most solar trackers: the axis casting shadows on the backside of the bifacial panel.

The double-width aisles between the SF7 tracker rows help increase the capture of the albedo reflected from the ground and from the solar modules of adjacent trackers. Wider aisles also facilitate the passage of array washing and vegetation control vehicles, thereby reducing O&M costs.

The SF7 Bifacial harvests energy from both its front and rear sides, as it captures the sunlight reflected on the ground beneath the solar tracker. Given the right conditions, energy production increases by more than 30%. The solar tracker from Soltec has recently been supplied for a solar project in the Israeli region of Merhavim and Bnei Shimon. The project has a total capacity of 17 MW, of which 2 MW is produced by bifacial modules. The plant is equipped with a total of 534 units of the SF7 Single-Axis Tracker and 64 units of the SF7 Bifacial.

As Emilio Alfonso, commercial vice-president of Soltec for the EMEA region, explains: “the main challenges of this project stem from the extreme weather conditions inherent to a high altitude, desert location. Logistics created challenges when complying with the works schedule, given its location a long way from urban centres and main roads. Fortunately, our experience allows us to successfully work under this type of conditions”.

Pioneers in bifacial tracking

Soltec is a pioneer in bifacial tracking. By 2015 it had already manufactured the first tracker specifically designed to be mounted with bifacial panels for a plant located close to the La Silla European Southern Observatory in Chile. This 1.72 MWp PV plant is for experimental purposes and represents the innovation, research and development invested, making the La Silla solar tracking plant an exceptional project.

Promoted by the Italian developer Enel Green Power, with Soltec responsible for its installation and design, this plant is located on the fringes of the Atacama Desert, in the region of Coquimbo. The site stands at an altitude of 1,800 metres and covers half the energy demand of the European Southern Observatory. Its location is no coincidence for an experimental installation of this type, given that the clean atmosphere of the area facilitates the research work.

The project, which continues to be the only one of its type in the world, incorporates major PV industry innovations. Two different types of trackers have been used for three different types of modules with the aim of analysing both efficiency and productivity. For this, Soltec has specifically designed two different tracker models to maximise the production of the modules used: in the first place, conventional polycrystalline; and secondly, polycrystalline with electronic optimisation which improves efficiency under certain conditions. Lastly, bifacial technology which is the most important type of module at this solar plant.

As a result of this project, Soltec has developed the first solar tracker with bifacial modules specifically designed for industrial plants. This tracker maximises the PV yield of the bifacial module thanks to the fact it makes use of the solar energy reflected on the ground. Bifacial panels have the capacity to harvest this diffuse energy. For conventional modules and optimised modules, Soltec has designed and installed a solar tracker configured with 4 rows of 19 modules in a horizontal layout.

Moreover, the standard design of the solar trackers from Soltec offers one of the highest tolerance levels to gradients on the market: up to 17% in a N-S orientation, thereby minimising earthworks, trench laying and internal roads. The selected configurations create spacious aisles which make O&M work more efficient.

The entire implementation and development of new technologies reflect the research mission of the plant. The project developer, Enel Green Power, decided to use this plant as an experimental field in which to test different technologies under real conditions in order to improve the future of PV production.

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China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has established a team in Spain for its solar string inverter division, Huawei FusionSolar, in a bid to seize opportunities in the country’s growing PV market. Huawei has said that Spain would be the priority market for the business unit, which already has a team of 15 in the sales and pre-sales departments.

Last year, Spain installed 261.7 MW of new PV capacity, a 94% increase compared to the previous year and up by 500% compared to the 2016 installations, Huawei said citing data by the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF). The Spanish PV market could grow up to, or even surpass, EUR 5 billion (USD 5.7bn), the Chinese company added.

In 2018, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm Grupotec selected Huawei as the supplier of string inverters for a series of Spanish solar projects with a combined capacity of 168 MW. Huawei expects to negotiate new contracts in Spain throughout the year eyeing an order volume of more than 3 GW. It also intends to grow its business through government-awarded projects and power purchase agreements (PPAs) with private companies, as well as offer solutions for self-consumption schemes.

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