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solar PV

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SolarPower Europe presented its latest Global Market Outlook at the SolarPower Summit, showing another growth year for the solar PV industry in 2018. Global solar power installations increased by around 5% to 104.1 GW in 2018, in comparison to 99.1 GW in 2017. The EU-28 grew at a much higher rate, increasing by 36% to 8 GW in 2018, up from 5.9 GW of newly installed capacity in the previous year. Solar installations in Europe as a whole grew by 20% to 11 GW in 2018, up from 9.2 GW in 2017.

SolarPower Europe’s first market estimates show Germany regaining the number one solar spot in Europe after five years, adding nearly 3 GW in 2018, growing around 68% year-on-year. The second largest European market was the previous market leader Turkey, adding approximately 1.6 GW, with the Netherlands coming in for the first time as a top 3 solar market, adding 1.4 GW in 2018. France ranked just behind after adding 0.9 GW year-on-year, ahead of Italy with 0.5 GW.

On a global level, China remained the world’s leading market with 44.1 GW and a share of 42 %. While that is a 16 % decline compared to its record year in 2017, it is much higher than market experts had anticipated after China’s administration announced a reform of its solar subsidy program in May 2018. The top 3 global markets in 2018 alongside China were the US (11.4 GW) and India (8.3 GW).

Source: SolarPower Europe

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Solar PV has experienced exponential growth in recent years, with global installed capacity increasing ten-fold from 2010 to 2017 – annual capacity additions rose from less than 20 GW in 2010 to 40 GW in 2014 and a record-breaking 97 GW in 2017. At the same time, wind power has continued to expand, adding about 50 GW annually over the past five years.

Together, solar PV and wind have the potential to transform electricity worldwide, with significant impacts on the operations of whole systems and the economics of all sources of electricity. But to what degree can we reasonably expect such exponential growth to continue?

China is the engine of solar PV growth

China has been the driving force behind the exponential growth of solar PV, accounting for 75% of global growth in solar PV deployment over the five years leading up to 2017 (though official data indicates that additions declined in China in 2018).

China’s success in this sector has been thanks to a virtuous cycle of strong policy support and falling technology costs. For example, China’s 2020 targets for solar PV have been ratcheted up several times, rising from an initial target of 1.8 GW set in 2008, to 105 GW in the 13th Five-Year Plan set at the end of 2016. Recent discussions are looking to 210 GW or beyond.

Support policies have also played a determining role in other world leaders of solar PV. In the United States, the extension of tax credits in late 2016 gave a significant boost to both solar PV and wind power markets, complementing state-level renewable energy goals that continue to evolve. In the European Union, the renewables target of 27% for 2030 set in 2016 was recently revised up to 32%. In India, implementation measures have been expanding, including in 2016 doubling the amount of land set aside for solar PV deployment.

What would exponential growth mean for annual solar PV deployment?

Driven in part by these strong policies, the solar PV market has grown dramatically, at a rate of 27% annually over the past five years. However continuing at this pace would mean a doubling of annual deployment every three years, passing 200 GW in 2020 and exceeding 2 100 GW in 2030. This would represent a massive scaling up that would go beyond any level of construction seen in the past, at more than 6-times the capacity of all technologies built in 2015. It would also require mobilising a dramatic level of investment.

For now, policy has been the key driver in accelerating deployment, but maintaining this growth rate would far outpace established policy goals. For example, combining the policy ambitions of the US, EU, Japan, China and India would require only about 70 GW of solar PV per year. Even in the case where actions to mitigate climate change and reduce air pollution accelerate, as defined in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), solar PV deployment in these leading regions would rise to about 120 GW per year to 2030, a level well below what is implied by continued exponential growth.

Falling costs will accelerate deployment, right?

In addition to support policies, solar PV growth has been driven by impressive cost reductions, falling by about two-thirds over the past five years with all indications pointing to further reductions in the future. New utility-scale solar PV projects completed in 2017 had average levelised costs of electricity (LCOE) of just over $100 per megawatt-hour (MWh), based on standard financing over 20 years. Best-in-class projects with preferential financing can costs as much as 60% less today and recent auction bids indicate that next wave of leading projects could cost $30 per MWh or less.

However, low costs do not guarantee accelerated deployment, as they are only part the story. In this light, to better assess the relative competitiveness of technologies WEO2018 included a new metric of competitiveness that has been developed over several years, called value-adjusted LCOE (or VALCOE).

VALCOE builds on the foundation of LCOE that incorporates all cost elements, but also adds three categories of value in power systems: energy, flexibility and capacity. Combining these elements provides a stronger basis for comparisons between variable renewables like solar PV and dispatchable.

From this perspective, hourly simulations of electricity demand, supply and electricity prices in China, India, the United States and European Union all point to a more complex picture for the competitiveness for several technologies, including solar PV.

In India for example, the LCOE of new solar PV is projected to drop below that of coal-fired power plants by 2025. But the story is different using VALCOE. As the share of solar PV surpasses 10% in 2030, the value of daytime production drops and the value of flexibility increases. After 2030, even with further cost reductions, solar PV becomes less competitive.

Ultimately, the ability of market forces to drive exponential growth will depend on the profitability of solar PV without government intervention. This calls for a healthy return on investment in the face of market risk, a challenging prospect for solar PV or any power generation technology today, as current market designs rarely monetise all the services provided. Exponential growth also calls for solar PV to outcompete not only alternatives for new investment but also the existing power plants based on costs and value.

For example, recent deployment of onshore wind highlights that falling costs alone may not lead to ever-increasing deployment. In 2017, the LCOE of onshore wind power continued to decline to about $75 per MWh globally, some 30% lower than utility-scale solar PV. However, global capacity additions fell for the second year in a row to 44 GW in 2017, well below the record of 65 GW set in 2015.

The future of solar PV, like so many parts of the energy system, will continue to depend largely on decisions made by governments. With pressing global and local environmental concerns, governments should look to ratchet up ambitions related to all low carbon options, including solar PV and wind power, but also nuclear, carbon capture utilisation and storage, hydro, bioenergy and renewables for heat and transport. Without this boost, the annual market for solar PV may stagnate or decline, an unfortunate fate that has happened to many other promising technologies.

BrentBy Brent Wanner
WEO Energy Analyst
International Energy Agency

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Antonio Rodríguez Osuna, Mayor of Merida, and Luis Cid, OPDEnergy’s CEO, presented the details surrounding the PV plant denominated “La Fernandina”, whose construction shall start in the next few weeks in the municipality of Merida.

The PV plant will occupy an area of 100 hectares nearby the motorway of Alange and achieve a total power capacity of 50 MWp. The construction of La Fernandina will last for 9 months and require a total investment of 30 M€.

When in operation and connected to the grid at the end of 2019, La Fernandina will produce enough renewable energy to supply the equivalent of 26,000 households with electricity. According to parameters estimated and released by the Spanish Office for Climate Change (Oficina Española de Cambio Climático – OECC), such production will contribute to avoid the annual emission of 40,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

During the press conference from the city hall of Merida, the Mayor Antonio Rodríguez Osuna thanked the company for having chosen Mérida “for such important project that supposes a large investment and creation of employment, in addition the activity will generate an important economic return for the city in the future”.

Luis Cid Suárez, the CEO of OPDEnergy, which is specialized developing renewable energy assets in all stages (development, financing, construction and operation & maintenance), has publicly acknowledged the commitment deployed by the local authorities towards the production of renewable energy, “a commitment that made possible the project we are proud to present today”.

According to Cid, the construction of the plant will result in the creation of 200 new jobs at its peak. In addition, during the construction phase, the company will subcontract supporting services from local companies and the local community. In the Spanish Autonomous Community of Extremadura, OPDEnergy developed and built 8 solar photovoltaic plants with a total capacity of 32 MWp throughout its 13 years of activities.

Moreover, the company has projects to develop and invest in 4 new renewable assets in the region, amounting to over 500 MWp of capacity.

300 MWp in Spain in 2019

La Fernandina is one of the seven solar PV assets that OPDEnergy foresees to construct in 2019 in Spain. In total, these assets shall achieve a total capacity of 300 MWp. Therefore, besides the project presented in Merida, the international power company will bring to life 100 MWp in Andalusia – a 50 MWp plant in Puerto Real, Cadiz, and another 50 MWp plant in Alcalá de Guadaira, Sevilla –and 148 MWp in Aragon – through four assets amounting to 61 MWp in Zaragoza and 87 MWp in Teruel.

Outside Spain, the company will develop and construct a substantial amount of renewable energy projects across Mexico, Chile and the US, achieving the construction of a total of 500 MWp by the end of the year. Finally, and in line with its strategic focused on portfolio diversification, the company has under its pipeline the development of 5,000 MW (5 GW).

Source: OPDEnergy

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Renewable energy is the most competitive form of power generation in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, according to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Abundant resources, together with strong enabling frameworks have led to solar PV prices of below 3 cent$/kWh and dispatchable concentrated solar power (CSP) of 7.3 cents$/kWh, which is less than some utilities in the region pay for natural gas.

IRENA’s new ‘Renewable Energy Market Analysis: GCC 2019’, says achieving stated 2030 targets can bring significant economic benefits to the region including the creation of more than 220,000 new jobs whilst saving over 354 mboe in regional power sectors. The targets could reduce the power sector’s CO2 emissions by 136 million tonnes (22 per cent reduction), while cutting water withdrawals in the power sector by 11.5 trillion litres (17 per cent reduction) in 2020.

The findings come as GCC economies seek to diversify their economies against the backdrop of fast-growing domestic energy demand and a desire to safeguard hydrocarbon export revenues for the future.

The GCC is among the most attractive regions in the world to develop large-scale solar and wind energy projects as a result of resource abundance and a favourable policy environment, a fact that is backed up by record low prices,” said IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin. “As a fossil-fuel exporting region, the GCC’s decisive move towards a renewable energy future is a signal to global investors and to the energy community that we are experiencing a step-change in global energy dynamics and a true energy transformation.

The UAE’s commitment to diversifying the energy mix is central to our long-term economic growth and sustainable development objectives,” said H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy. “IRENA’s GCC analysis provides further evidence of the strong socio-economic case for renewable energy deployment, from job creation to emission reductions. As we look to add generation capacity to serve growing populations and expanding economies, renewables will increasingly serve as central pillar of low-carbon development.

At the end of 2017, the region had some 146 GW of installed power capacity, of which renewable energy accounted for 867 MW. Around 68 per cent this capacity was in the UAE. This represents a four-fold increase on capacity in 2014. Following the UAE are Saudi Arabia with 16 per cent and Kuwait with nine per cent of regional capacity.

With renewable energy targets now in place across the region, the GCC is poised for a significant acceleration in renewables deployment as countries pursue national goals. Under current plans, the region will install a total of almost 7 GW new power generation capacity from renewable sources by the early 2020s.

Solar PV dominates the region’s renewables outlook, accounting for three-quarters of the regional project pipeline, CSP and wind accout for 10 per cent and nine per cent respectively. Solar-assisted enhanced oil recovery in Oman is also expected to contribute about 1 GWth in 2019.

Proactive policies are central to accelerating renewable energy deployment, per the report, suggesting that lessons can be drawn from the GCC countries where substantial inroads have been made thanks to firm government commitments and credible, time-bound targets with a clear focus on a supportive business environment for investments.

Source: IRENA

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aventron has signed with Solarpack Corporacion Tecnologica general contractor agreements for the turnkey construction of two PV plants in Spain with a capacity of 50 MW each. Both projects have already passed the required environmental impact assessments and the final building permits are expected at the beginning of 2019. The development partner is the Spanish company Synergia Energy Solutions SL.

The two ground-mounted systems in the Toledo and Murcia regions are among the first major solar projects in Europe to be implemented and operated without subsidies or other direct government support instruments. Each individual park will cover an area of around 90 hectares and is expected to generate around 95 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The total amount of energy generated thus corresponds to the annual requirements of a city with around 55,000 inhabitants.

aventron is currently in advanced negotiations on the power purchase agreements for the energy generated in the projects and is structuring the necessary external financing on this basis. Financial close and start of construction is expected in the second quarter of 2019.

The two solar park projects Bargas and Algibicos are a milestone in the implementation of aventron’s growth strategy. On the one hand, aventron exceeds the short-term target of 500 MW for portfolio expansion earlier than planned and on the other hand, its solar production segment will be substantially strengthened. aventron’s next step is to achieve an installed capacity of 600 MW in its core areas of wind, water and sun by the end of 2020.

Source: aventron

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The municipality of Talaván in Cáceres will be home to one of Spain’s largest solar photovoltaic power plants, and one of the first in the country to be financed outside renewable energy auctions. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is financing this project with a EUR 70m Juncker Plan loan with the aim of helping to combat climate change. When it starts operating in 2020, this new plant will prevent the release of 263 000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere a year by generating electricity using solar energy.

The EIB is granting this EUR 70m in financing to Talasol Solar via a project finance arrangement making it possible to build and operate the new facility. The solar plant will have a capacity of 300 MW.

The project is under development by Ellomay Capital Ltd. and is a major step forward for the renewable energy sector in Spain as it is being financed at market rates. The EIB is providing this loan under the Investment Plan for Europe, known as the Juncker Plan. This increases the EIB Group’s capacity to finance investment projects that, in line with the Plan’s criteria, involve activities which by their structure or nature make it possible to support objectives such as combating climate change and ensuring sustainable economic growth.

The new Talaván solar photovoltaic plant will create new economic opportunities in the Extremadura region. The project will necessitate the employment of 500 people during the implementation phase and 15 on a permanent basis once the plant is operational. It will also help achieve the objectives set by the National Renewable Energy Action Plan, which states that 20% of the energy used in Spain in 2020 must come from renewable sources.

The EIB and climate action

The EU bank is the multilateral institution that provides most finance for climate action worldwide. The EIB dedicates at least 25% of its total activities to this priority, a figure that increases to 35% for developing countries.

Source: EIB

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Foto cortesía: China Solar

The move by China in May this year to slash subsidies for domestic utility-scale solar projects will ultimately benefit developers in the US who rely on imported solar panels to revive projects and jobs, says GlobalData.

Solar power developers in the US have been struggling since early 2018 due to two separate policy decisions announced in the US and China. In January 2018, the US government imposed tariffs of 30% on imports of solar products to safeguard the interests of local manufacturers.

Hit by higher costs of imports, many developers announced cancelation of their projects. Utility-scale solar developers like Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC and Southern Current cancelled or deferred projects worth more than $2.5bn. Some developers even started negotiations to restructure their power purchase agreements due to higher costs resulting from tariffs.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US solar industry employs more than 250,000 people with about 40% in the installation sector and 20% in the manufacturing sector. Since the majority of them were employed by project developers, the industry started witnessing job cuts after the implementation of import tariffs.

On the other hand in May 2018 China, which has been struggling to build infrastructure to link the solar projects to the grid, announced a cut in the feed-in-tariff subsidy to reduce the surge in solar installations. Subsidy cuts in China have resulted in reduced demand for solar products within the country. Local Chinese manufacturers are now looking to export more panels, resulting in an oversupply in the global solar PV module market, which will further reduce the prices.

As a result, developers such as Inovateus Solar have become more optimistic. The company has closed a deal to develop a 6 MW solar PV plant in the city of Pratt, Kansas. Pine Gate Renewables, a North Carolina-based solar installer, has welcomed the move, since the lower prices will help the economics of projects already in the pipeline.

Following the announcement made in China, many developers will revive their hiring plans and the industry will witness an influx of jobs. So the drop in prices globally and in the US will help developers to revive projects and jobs which were put on hold after the import tariffs levied previously.

Source: GlobalData

EDP Renewables, S.A. (“EDPR”), through its subsidiary EDP Renováveis Brasil, S.A. (“EDPR Brasil”), secured a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement to sell the energy set to be produced by the Pereira Barreto solar photovoltaic park. The project, located in the Brazilian State of São Paulo, has a total capacity of 199 MW and the contract is set to enter into force in 2022.

With this contract EDPR enters the Brazilian solar energy market, while reinforcing and diversifying its presence in a market with a low risk profile, through the establishment of long term contracts, attractive renewable resources and with solid prospects in the medium and long term.

Through this partnership, EDPR will have 1 GW of renewable energy projects under construction and development in Brazil, to start operations between 2018 and 2024, all with long-term contracts secured.

“This contract is yet another demonstration of just how important Brazil is for EDP Renewable’s strategy and that of the parent group globally. Our entry into the Brazilian solar energy market is also a commitment to our diversification of energy production technology, without ever forgetting the increasing importance of clean energy. Brazil is a priority market, which is providing us with growth opportunities” said António Mexia, CEO of the EDP Group.

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JinkoSolar, a global leader in the solar PV industry, has announced that it will supply 86 MW of solar PV modules for a PV plant that will be located in the Colombian department of Cesar, northern Colombia.

The project will be composed by 250,000 JinkoSolar monocrystalline standard modules 345 W-1.500 V and will generate an average of 176 GWh of clean energy per year.

We are pleased to work on this remarkable project in Colombia,” commented Alberto Cuter, General Manager LATAM of JinkoSolar. “Actually the Colombian market is mainly depending by hydro power, which could be an issue during dry season. PV solar will be a good solution to integrate the energy matrix of the country. While we are expecting Colombian PV market to grow rapidly, we will continue working closely with local developers to build sustainable partnerships where they will be able to maximize their return on their investment from the superior performance of JinkoSolar’s products.”

Source: JinkoSolar

At Intersolar Europe 2018 Wärtsilä introduces a new hybrid solar PV and storage solution, Wärtsilä Hybrid Solar, integrates solar PV generation and storage to deliver a true renewables as baseload solution that is not only climate-friendly, increases resilience and efficiencies but can be supported by a power producer’s existing grid infrastructure.

The IEA estimates that by 2040, total global generation capacity will increase by 60 percent, and renewable energy sources, like solar, wind and hydro, will make up more than 45 percent of that total. As the world moves towards 100% renewable energy, utilities, independent power producers (IPPs) and other energy providers are motivated to harness its potential.

A critical component in maximising the value of the hybrid solution is the software and controls platform that optimizes its performance. Greensmith Energy, a Wärtsilä company, develops and deploys the GEMS platform, now in its fifth-generation. GEMS enables intelligent energy applications that focus on monitoring and operating energy storage power plants and hybrid power plants formed by energy storage, thermal generation, and renewable sources. GEMS ensures system optimization of both energy storage and generation assets through changes in market conditions and rate structures.

This is just the latest hybrid energy solution offering Wärtsilä has brought to the market. Most recently, Wärtsilä delivered a 15 MW solar PV hybrid power plant – the largest in the world – to Essakane Solar SAS in Burkina Faso, which operates with 55 MW Wärtsilä thermal power plant. The solar PV plant and the engine power plant are now controlled and operated in synchronisation, thus forming the largest engine-solar PV hybrid power plant in Africa. The ability to control and optimise the usage of engines and solar power will enable the mine to decrease its fuel consumption by approximately 6 million litres per year and to reduce its annual CO2 emissions by 18,500 tons.

Source: Wärtsilä

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