Latest News

International Solar Alliance founding eyes 1,000GW of PV with US$1 trillion funding by 2030

Indian minister of energy R.K. Singh said that ISA has potential to have a huge impact on the future of the planet, with renewable energy now a viable alternative. Credit: Twitter Narendra Modi

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) founding ceremony was held in New Delhi over the weekend, spearheaded by Indian prime minster Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron, with multiple development banks signing significant partnership agreements.

So many heads of state were present at the meeting that a traffic issue was sent to the already bustling Indian capital on Friday morning, warning that jams were expected throughout the weekend as world leaders arrived, with solar as the key talking point.

Macron said that France would commit another €700 million to the new inter-governmental organization and emphasized his country’s commitment to clean energy, according to a Reutersreport.

Meanwhile, Narendra Modi took to Twitter to explain the importance of the ISA on the global stage:


View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

President @EmmanuelMacron and I are honoured to host the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance. This assembly of world leaders in New Delhi will hopefully give a clarion call to action on solar energy and its uses for a better future.


The ISA already has at least 60 signatories, of which 30 have ratified the agreement, having been launched by Modi in partnership with France back in 2015.


Development banks back ISA

At the founding, the world's major development banks also sought to back the initiative. An Indian government release said that the ISA signed joint financial partnership declarations with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Green climate fund (GCF), and the New Development Bank (NDB) during the founding.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have also signed separate joint partnership declarations with the ISA.

In recent months, the ISA had already signed partnerships with the World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The ISA aims to facilitate deployment of over 1,000 GW of solar energy and the mobilising of more than US$1,000 billion into solar energy by the year 2030.

Indian minister of energy R.K. Singh said that ISA has the potential to have a huge impact on the future of the planet, with renewable energy now a viable alternative.

The ISA will support various PV initiatives in countries between the tropics by backing the likes of ADB’s New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to achieve universal access to energy in Africa by 2025. Similarly, AfDB’s transformative ‘Desert to Power’ initiative in the Sahel and Sahara regions of Africa envisages 10GW of solar power generation and providing clean energy to 90 million people. For these projects, the ISA will help mobilise concessional financing.

ADB will provide US$3 billion per year by 2020 for clean energy, including solar energy projects in its developing member countries. ISA and ADB have joined hands for promotion of solar energy in Asia and the Pacific, including solar farms, solar based mini-grids, and transmission systems dedicated for integrating solar energy into the grids.

The New Development Bank (NDB) aims to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS nations and other emerging market economies and developing countries.

“IRENA estimates that solar must account for at least 35% of global power capacity by 2050 to meet the objectives the Paris Agreement on climate,” said IRENA director general Adnan Z. Amin.

EIB and IREDA agree on €150 million loan

EIB and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) have also signed a loan agreement for a second line of credit worth €150 million on a non-sovereign basis here, over the weekend. The line of credit is for a tenure of 15 years including a grace period of three years, and it will be used for financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in India.

R. K. Singh said: “There are villages in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh where you track on foot for three to four days to reach. Our aim is to bring electricity to even these remote places. We have decided to go green, as we have a responsibility to future generations and the planet.”

Credit: Twitter: Narendra Modi

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

President @EmmanuelMacron and I are honoured to host the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance. This assembly of world leaders in New Delhi will hopefully give a clarion call to action on solar energy and its uses for a better future.


The ISA already has at least 60 signatories, of which 30 have ratified the agreement, having been launched by Modi in partnership with France back in 2015.

Ghana to increase solar energy by ten folds in 12 years - President

The President has pledged to increase the contribution of solar energy to the country’s energy-mix from the current 22.5MW to 250MW in the next 12 years.

Despite an abundance of sunshine in Ghana, with many parts of the country enjoying high levels of solar irradiation (5.524 kwh/m2/day), all year round, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that solar energy only contributes 1% to the energy mix, as opposed to 59% from fossil fuels, and 40% from hydro.

“On the basis of my country’s specific needs, Government is keen on developing utility-scale solar energy projects, as well as accelerating the development of mini-grid solutions in off-grid and island communities for lighting, irrigation and other economic activities,” President Akufo-Addo said.

To this end, and in keeping with Ghana’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, the President outlined some solar energy programmes for implementation by 2030, which include the attainment of utility-scale solar electricity from about 22.5 megawatts to 250 megawatts.

Additionally, the President stated that 200,000 solar systems for households, commercial and government facilities in urban and selected non- electrified rural communities will be installed, as well as the establishment of 55 mini-grid electrification systems with an average capacity of 100 kilowatts.


312201873618 166519974410 8416363030465


These systems, he stressed, will be based on solar PV technology, which will be hybridized with other generation options to serve islands and off-grid communities.

The deployment of two million solar lanterns to replace kerosene lanterns, currently being used by our rural non-electrified households, the President assured, will be done.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance, held in New Delhi, the capital of India.

A major strategy to achieving these targets in Ghana, the President told the gathering, is to build the relevant domestic capacity in the manufacture and assembling of solar energy systems and accessories within Ghana.

“This will also help create job opportunities for our vibrant and hardworking youth. Ghana is a haven of peace and security. My government is keen on building the most business-friendly environment for investment, especially for investment in the renewable energy sector,” the President said.

He continued, “Our country is endowed with great potential, where security and the rule of law are upheld, where investments are secure, and, by the end of the year, we are projected to be the fastest growing economy in the world.”

Establishment of ISA
President Akufo-Addo attended the International Solar Alliance Summit at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

The Summit, which was attended by 25 Heads of State and Government, provided a dedicated platform for co-operation amongst solar resource rich countries, aimed at realising “the common goals of increasing the use of solar energy in meeting the energy needs of ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.”

In his remarks, President Akufo-Addo noted that “the establishment of the International Solar Alliance, in our view, is very appropriate in today’s circumstances. That is why Ghana did not hesitate in ratifying the framework agreement of this noteworthy Alliance.”

He was confident that “together, we can ensure the satisfactory performance of the ISA Framework Agreement, and, thereby, make the laudable objectives of the International Solar Alliance reality.”


Five Common Misconceptions about Residential Solar

Generating electricity using solar roof installations may be growing in popularity but some homeowners still need convincing that it’s a clever way to save money on their electricity bills. With so much confusing information available, it can be difficult for potential customers to understand the benefits of making use of this renewable energy source in the home. This is where solar companies need to do a little work.

We all know the arguments in favour of solar installations and can produce stats and data galore to show that renewable energy is now an important part of the energy mix. We can tell customers that solar panels are eligible for grants and financial support, due to their carbon neutral status, and that they can save money by using the energy they produce rather than using power from the National Grid. And, of course, we can spend hours explaining the government’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) Scheme that pays out for energy generated that’s sold back to the grid.

However, while the PV panels themselves are getting cheaper, more efficient and more widespread in their use, many householders are hesitating in installing them in their homes. Why? We take a look at 5 of the main misconceptions around solar installations that need to be debunked, so that customers fully understand why having solar panels on your roof is an excellent way to save them money.

  1.  “There’s just not enough sun in my region”

One of the most common misconceptions is that solar panel installations need direct sunlight and are best located in a sunny climate to be worthwhile. However, contrast that with the fact that Germany, which has a comparable climate to the UK, is the world’s leading solar energy producer and you’ll see that the story doesn’t add up. In fact, a day in May 2017 was a record-breaking solar power day in the UK.

Of course, solar panels are more effective in sunny weather, but PV installations will still produce substantial amounts of energy in overcast weather. A few clouds won’t mean that a home will suddenly have no power, especially since most solar panel systems will be supplementary to existing on-grid power supply.

  1. “Solar panels are expensive”

As with any investment, there is a capital outlay involved. When solar panels for domestic use first came on the market, they were undoubtedly expensive and perhaps understandably considered as a bit of a luxury. However, in recent years, the cost of solar PV installations has come down significantly, while their efficiency has improved substantially, making them a much more attractive investment for homeowners.

The energy generated through the panels is free to use, meaning less reliance on purchasing electricity via the National Grid and lower bills as a result. Add to that the FIT Scheme, allowing homeowners to earn money from the electricity produced at a rate that’s guaranteed for 20 years, and the return on the investment into solar PV suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Using the current FIT rates, solar panels could pay for themselves in just 10 years.

  1. “You can get solar panels for free”

Indeed, this one is true. Through the Rent-A-Roof Scheme, home owners can get PV panels installed for free, including any maintenance costs. The energy generated through the panels is free for them to use. However, at second glance, it may not be quite such a good deal for the property owner – here’s why.

The solar company offering to install free panels is looking for a return on their investment through the FIT scheme. The profits made through the scheme will go to them, not to the owner of the roof. Free solar panels can be a great option for some people – after all, they still get free electricity during daylight hours when the panels are actively producing – but buying the panels outright will be more profitable to the home owner in the longer term, especially since the cost of solar panels is now at an all time low.

  1. “You’re stuck with one energy company”

Not true. Just because electricity is purchased from one particular supplier, it doesn’t mean that you have to sell it to them too. There is no link between the FIT rate and the energy supplier. Every householder is at liberty to switch electricity (and gas) suppliers at any time. Indeed, we are all encouraged to shop around periodically to make sure we get the most competitive rates for the energy that we buy.

Unless the property owner has opted for the Rent-A-Roof Scheme, the solar roof installation belongs to him. It is possible to change the FIT licensee, however, bearing in mind that the FIT rate payable is set by OFGEM, not by individual energy companies, there’s not a great deal of incentive to switch.

  1. “The technology is just not there yet”

Another common assumption is that solar power is a new technology, falling in the same category as the latest smartphones or internet enabled home appliances. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to wait until the technology has matured and becomes reliable before investing a lot of money?

Actually, the first solar installation was in New York City in 1884. The first photovoltaic solar cell was invented in 1953 and soon after used in the space industries. In 1982, the first solar park was built in California, the first foray into commercial applications for PV technology, while grid-connected solar panels have experienced huge growth since the 1990s. Huge strides have been made since, both in terms of efficiency of the panels and the viability of their installation cost. The truth of the matter is that there’s never been a better time to invest in solar technology for our homes.


Irradiance Monitoring for Small Commercial Solar Farms

The role of photovoltaic monitoring systems has never been more important with the number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations rapidly increasing across the globe. Besides large solar power facilities, a sizable proportion of the global photovoltaic output is from small-scale rooftop installations. With this arises the need for a reliable, affordable, and simple-to-use panel monitoring system.

This article discusses the current trends in the adoption of rooftop solar PV systems and the significance of panel monitoring.

Rooftop Solar Installations are the Future

Rooftop solar is on the rise. Although extensive adoption of feed-in tariffs in the early 2000’s fueled early uptake of solar technology by reducing the financial burden to investors, developments in photovoltaics are increasingly producing efficient solar cells at ever lower costs. The rate of solar uptake is increasing faster than for any other energy source. For instance, in 2016, new global solar PV capacity increased by more than 50% and exceeded 74 GW.1

For many consumers, the possibility of generating power from a rooftop solar setup is an increasingly appealing prospect, providing long-term profitability, short-term affordability, and much-needed movement away from fossil fuels. The prospect is particularly attractive to owners of office buildings, warehouses, or flats or blocks with large, unused roof areas. Recently London’s “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper was added to the long list of skyscrapers which make use of their roof space with solar PV. It is now housing a 50 kWp (Kilowatt peak) solar installation, while the average warehouse in the US is estimated to house a few hundred kilowatts of solar capacity on its roof.2,3,4

There is a huge capacity to exploit the existing roof space for solar power: recent estimates from the USA’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory propose that by using rooftop solar installations alone, the US could generate 39% of its current annual electricity consumption, while sunnier states could make 74% of their yearly consumption.5

With the advancement in technology and increased interest, the cost of solar PV technology is falling. For instance, in the UK, the cost of solar PV technology decreased by 70% between 2011 and 2016, and is expected to further decrease by 35% by 2020 [solar roofs guide]. In 2015, Chinese modules sold for less than €0.65 per Watt of capacity, and European PV modules for less than €0.80 per Watt of capacity.6

Why PV Panel Monitoring is Important

Although the costs are lower than ever before, installing a rooftop solar PV system continues to be a considerable investment, and as with any investment, effective monitoring of solar PV systems is vital to their performance.

There are several advantages of solar PV monitoring. Users can maximize the efficiency of their system by measuring the energy production throughout the day- for instance, by timing the use of high-load appliances or machinery to coincide with periods of high solar irradiance. Maximizing the self-use proportion in this way guarantees the best economic outlook as the avoided cost of purchasing electricity from the grid far exceeds the potential earnings from feeding energy into the grid.5

Monitoring can also inform users about the incorrect functioning of cells. For most smaller PV installations, this monitoring is typically done by comparing the output of one PV panel with another. Although this is useful, it doesn’t actually provide information on the level of performance of the solar installation. Some measure of solar irradiance is needed to accurately gauge if the system is functioning optimally .7

This is where the pyranometer comes in – a device which measures solar irradiance. Monitoring solar irradiance (and therefore the solar energy available to a PV installation) offers essential knowledge to make crucial decisions on performance, efficiency, future energy yield, and maintenance. Measurement of the solar energy incident on a PV panel is needed to determine the performance ratio, and thus the return on investment of any solar PV project.8

Affordable Irradiance Monitoring for Small Solar Installations

Although solar irradiance monitoring is common in larger solar PV installations, this usually involves expensive solutions that demand careful calibration. As PV gains popularity, there is an increasing demand for an affordable and user-friendly pyranometer for rooftop installations.

Taking this into account, meteorological instrument manufacturer Kipp & Zonen developed the RT1 rooftop monitoring system. It is designed to easily fit to the corner of any commercial PV panel without screws or tools. This compact device houses electronics and a silicon pyranometer, with a plug-in temperature sensor that can be attached to the back of the PV panel.

The RT1 from Kipp & Zonen

Although, the RT1 is designed to be set up and used as easily as possible, it still provides high levels of accuracy. The device can measure plane-of-array (POA) irradiance from 0 to 2000 W/m2, to within ±1 W/m2. The device can be accurately positioned: as it directly fits onto a panel, it is automatically positioned to measure POA irradiance.

This information allows rooftop solar users to optimize the position of their solar array themselves. The temperature sensor is thermally isolated from the air, and is coupled to the back of the panel using special heat-conducting 3M tape.9


Download the Brochure for More Information

The device is adequately hard-wearing to suit almost any rooftop application: it is built to operate at temperatures as high as 80 °C and as low as -40 °C, and the sensors and cables are waterproof and durable.

Recalibration is not required for 2 years once it is installed; the RT1 also comes with self-adhesive mounting pads and cable ties. All of this results in a user-friendly and inexpensive system for accurate monitoring of rooftop PV system vitals.

References and Further Reading


  1. International Energy Agency – Renewables 2017
  2. EvoEnergy finishes solar power installation on London skyscraper
  3. The Typical Warehouse
  4. BRE National Solar Centre - Solar PV on Commercial Buildings: A guide for owners and developers
  5. Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment, Pieter Gagnon et al, 2016, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  6. WACC the dog: The effect of financing costs on the levelized cost of solar PV power, Janosch Ondraczek et al, 2015, Renewable Energy 75:888-898  
  7. Kipp & Zonen – Solar Irradiance Monitoring in Solar Energy Projects,
  8. Kipp & Zonen Newsletter 43, 2018
  9. Kipp & Zonen RT1


Renault Partners With EEM To Create World¡¯s First ¡°Smart Island¡±

As part of an effort to facilitate a larger energy transition by the government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, the local energy supplier Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira has chosen Groupe Renault to participate in the “Sustainable Porto Santo — Smart Fossil Free Island” project which will turn the Portuguese islands of Madeira archipelago (Madeira and Porto Santo) into “smart islands.”

The Renault news is big, but it is only part of a bigger project which has been in the cards for awhile now as part of the larger 100 Climate Solutions Project Campaign set up in 2016 by R20 — Regions of Climate Action and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. R20 was founded in 2011 by former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, in cooperation with a number of leading Regions, the United Nations, development banks, cleantech companies, academia, and a number of NGO’s, in an effort to support sub-national governments around the world in developing and financing green infrastructure projects.

The Sustainable Porto Santo — Smart Fossil Free Island is one of these 100 Climate Solutions and is focused on the two inhabited Portuguese islands of the Madeira archipelago, Madeira and Porto Santo. Specifically, the project intends (PDF) to increase the current contribution of renewable energy from 15% to 30%, focusing primarily on more solar PV and wind power. The Smart Fossil Free Island also includes extra elements including energy storage systems, electric vehicles and vehicle to grid (V2G, LED lighting with tele management, and building energy efficiency and smart grids.

As announced last week, Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira (EEM) chose Groupe Renault as its partner for electric mobility solutions. Specifically, Renault will participate in developing the world’s first “smart island” which will use electric vehicles, second-life batteries, smart charging and V2G to boost the island’s energy independence. The hope is also that these efforts will boost the production of renewable energy for the islands.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with EEM and Madeira Regional Government today to establish this unprecedented smart electric ecosystem which demonstrates to what extent the electric revolution is changing our everyday lives beyond just transport,” explained Eric Feunteun, Electric Vehicles and New Business Programme Director. “Our aim is to build a model that can be carried over to other islands, eco-districts and cities, while consistently striving to achieve large-scale rollout of electric mobility solutions that are affordable for all.”

Groupe Renault’s involvement will focus on electric vehicles and proven technological solutions. First up, 20 volunteer users on the islands will drive 14 ZOEs and 6 Kangoo Z.E.s for their everyday use. These vehicles will make use of smart charging thanks to 40 connected public and private charging points set up by EEM and Renault.

Secondly, by the end of this year, the vehicles will be able to provide electricity to the grid during peak hours using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging. Finally, Renault will provide second-life batteries from its vehicles to be used to store the fluctuating energy supply produced by the island’s solar and wind farms.




Chile¡¯s energy regulator to use Blockchain

The Chilean National Energy Commission will become the country’s first public entity to adopt such technology, which it will begin to use in March.
Chile's energy regulator aims at using the Blockchain technology also to check how energy data are complying with the country's renewable energy law.
Ímage: Comisión Nacional de Energía de Chile
The executive secretary of the National Energy Commission of Chile, Andrés Romero announced that the regulatory entity will begin to use the Blockchain technology starting from March, through the Open Energy platform (Energía Abierta) to certify the quality and certainty of the open data of the national energy sector. In doing so, It will become the country’s first public entity to make use of Blockchain.
Among the information that the CNE will begin to authenticate on the Blockchain platform there are average market prices, marginal costs, fuel prices and the compliance with renewable energy law.
According to the Romero, this technology will allow the regulatory body to improve the security of the energy data published on the platform, as in a Blockchain-based distributed database it is almost impossible to alter the information. This will ensure that the data has not been modified since its inception without the consent of those involved in the process.
“The National Energy Commission has decided to join this innovative technology and we have decided to use blockchain as a digital notary, which will allow us to certify that the information we provide in the open data portal has not been altered or modified and left unalterable record of its existence, “Romero said.
The executive secretary of the CNE added that “public information is an important input for the decision making of investments and energy projects and many of our users use this information to decide technical, economic and labor aspects. That is why, through the use of this technology, we will raise the levels of trust of our stakeholders, investors and the general public that consumes the data delivered at “.
Chile is currently Latin American largest solar market with around 2 GW of installed PV capacity.

ABB¡¯s PVS-100/120 inverter range reduces PV system capex and opex costs

ABB’s PVS-100/120 string inverters are designed to have cost-effective platforms offering extreme high-power string inverters from 1,000 VDC up to 1,500 VDC, maximizing the return on investment (ROI) for installers and developers. Image: ABB
ABB has introduced a range of cloud connected, three-phase string inverter solutions for cost efficient decentralized photovoltaic systems that are claimed to reduce both upfront capital expenditures (capex) and operational expenditure (opex). ABB’s PVS-100/120 string inverters are designed to have cost-effective platforms offering extreme high-power string inverters from 1,000 VDC up to 1,500 VDC, maximizing the return on investment (ROI) for installers and developers.
PV installers and developers continue to demand cost reductions in both capex and opex to meet the increasing shift to competitive bidding of renewable energy migration. Pressure on reducing the LCOE (Levelized Cost of Electricity) remains a priority.
Overall the new range of PVS-100/120 solar inverters optimizes total cost of ownership, to include a 50% reduction in installation and logistics costs as fewer inverters are required to complete the optimal power block and the PVS-100/120 brings to market a solution which is claimed to have the largest power capacity for 1,000 VDC string inverters. Greater capacity is provided through its Six MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) input configuration, said to be the highest available on the market, which increases PV plant design flexibility while preserving yields in complex installations. The inverters have a quick and improved user experience with fast installation, utilizing the existing module’s mounting structure to install the inverter and therefore saving time and costs on logistics, training and site preparation. Installation is controlled and managed via the ‘Installation Wizard’, installer app and wireless access, thereby reducing installation time and improving overall user experience.
Suitable for both large-scale commercial and industrial ground mounted and rooftop applications.
PVS-100/120 solar inverters have smart product design features that include secure access via a cover key, PV quick connectors and configuration via Wi-Fi to eliminate the risk of water ingress and further reduce the installation time for cabling, fuse and SPD checks. Proactive control and management of the solar plant is provided through ‘ABB Ability’ with remote monitoring capabilities, parameter setting and firmware (FW) updates to improve reliability and operational cost efficiencies with reduced plant complexity. The addition of ‘ABB Ability’ further enables the delivery of monitoring upgrades and top-flight asset management to protect the customers’ investment over the total life of the plant through scalability. Full ‘Sunspec’ compatibility further guarantees integration with third party systems such as dataloggers and/or SCADA systems, amongst others. The all-in-one design with integrated string combiner box solutions with DC disconnect and AC wiring compartment reduces costs as there is no need for a separate DC combiner box.
February 2018 onwards.

The unexpected benefits of replacing tobacco plantations with solar farms

The unexpected benefits of replacing tobacco plantations with solar farms

Time: 2/8/2018 9:04:50 AM                       Publisher: Staff
Although tobacco consumption is the main cause of avoidable deaths worldwide, its cultivation remains the main source of income for many farmers. Now, two researchers from the Michigan Technological University claim that converting tobacco fields to solar farms could be beneficial for two purposes: reducing deaths and helping solar energy fight climate change.
A tobacco plantation in Colombia.
Image: Carlos Espejo,
Researchers at Michigan Technological University suggest that tobacco growers could increase their income by converting their plantations to solar farms.
According to the study “Economic Impact of Substituting Solar Photovoltaic Electric Production for Tobacco Farming”, tobacco cultivation lands provides an interesting opportunity for solar energy development in the U.S., as tobacco consumption in the country is decreasing while demand for land for solar farms is increasing.
North Carolina was chosen for this case study because it hosts several tobacco producers and has large swathes of land and high solar potential.
“Previously, more modest attempts to offset fossil fuels with biofuels required so much land that food crops were offset, raising food prices and increasing hunger throughout the world. We were looking for large areas of land that could be used for solar power that would not increase world hunger,” said the research coordinator Joshua Pearce.
In addition, the research team has stressed that, unlike tobacco plants, solar modules can withstand extreme heat, cold, ice, snow, hail, torrential rain, droughts and other unstable weather conditions.
The researchers conducted an analysis on the economic factors of installed solar farms and their effects on profits, while comparing profits from such a business with gains from growing tobacco. The scheme they used was quite conservative: they applied positive assumptions about the yield and price of tobacco crops, noting that there could also be a decrease in the demand for tobacco since fewer people start smoking and current smokers die. They then analyzed how much the price of electricity could increase each year based on real data.
When making the analysis, the tobacco producers should also calculate the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) for their solar farm and compare it with the price of electricity in their particular location, fee structure and load, as well as other economic factors.
The researchers have concluded that, if each tobacco farm in North Carolina is converted to solar energy production, there is the potential to generate 30 GW, which is equivalent to the state’s maximum summer peak load.
“In the long run, tobacco farmers stand to make more money farming solar rays for energy instead of growing a component of cigarettes,” the research group asserted.
But not only farmers would benefit: if U.S. tobacco plantations would become solar farms, around 480,000 deaths per year of current smokers, and more than 42,000 deaths per year caused by passive smoking, could be avoided.

Source: pv-magazine

Interview: The time has come for a European solar industry policy

In an interview with pv magazine, SolarPower Europe CEO, James Watson explains how the Clean Energy Industrial Forum (CEIF) set up by the EU is paving the way for a resurgence of the European solar industry. Representatives from politics and industry met last Friday in Brussels to discuss how to further proceed.

All segments of the upstream PV business will be included in the new EU industry policy.

Image: SMA Solar Technologies AG

James Watson is the CEO of the European solar association SolarPower Europe

Image: SolarPower Europe

pv magazine: Mr. Watson, what are the main goals of the European Commission’s Clean Energy Industrial Forum?

Watson: The Clean Energy Industrial Forum (CEIF) has been set up by the Commission to develop a strategy to build a supply side policy for European clean energy sectors. The CEIF comprises three pillars: one is on batteries; one on renewables; and one on construction. SolarPower Europe is active in all three areas, as we were instrumental in calling for, and getting the CEIF off the ground.

Who took part in kicking-off the meeting?

In the launch event on Friday there were representatives from the European Investment Bank, Saft, Iberdrola, WindEurope, Norvolt, research institutes and politicians from the European Parliament and national governments – like Bulgaria. All were united in their belief that following the creation of a renewables market, supply side policies are needed to make sure Europe grows manufacturing jobs too.

How will the future framework of the new industrial strategy look, and how this will help solar manufacturing to grow again?

The CEIF is a direct result of the lobbying initiatives of SolarPower Europe over the past 18 months. We began calling for such a forum in light of the failed trade defense policies that had been implemented over the last five years for solar panels. Our view is that an industrial strategy is much more likely to drive investment into the value chain. We launched our taskforce on industrial strategy last September, led by Wacker Chemie, and our input is now being reflected in the European Commission’s CEIF.

Can you provide a few examples?

We believe that different parts of the value chain need to have different policies – there is no one size fits all approach. For example, some products are part of globally commoditized markets – such as panels; whereas others are more specialist, like equipment manufacturing; and finally local-to-local markets like BIPV.

When looking at this complexity, we need to develop policies under an umbrella that support each of these segments, while not harming any other segment of the value chain. This means a range of policy instruments will be needed. One of the most obvious support tools will be access to finance for manufacturers; and public and private banks must be encouraged to support solar industrial developments. This financial support should be legitimized with changes to state aid rules, and the creation of export zones and tax free zones for a limited number of years should be included.

What is also important, in addition to financing?

Beyond finance, we also believe strongly that a quality framework for products should be implemented, such as ecodesign and ecolabel measures, when conducted in an optimal fashion that do not burden the sector unnecessarily. Ideas such as a carbon footprint for solar products could also be considered as this would ensure that we have the most environmentally sound products on the European market. We also believe that the European Commission needs to use its trade power in third countries to push European standards for solar, break down trade defense measures such as the Section 201 case in the U.S. on panels and local content requirements in many markets including India, and use its development finance to encourage more uptake of solar products.

If you combine these three general elements in an industrial strategy this will already be doing a lot for solar industrial development in Europe.

Which parts of the value chain are you specifically thinking of?

The whole value chain must be involved in industrial strategy, which is why we include work streams for operations and maintenance, developers and installers within our industrial strategy taskforce in SolarPower Europe, and the European Commission supports this approach, as they also recognize the need to have a voice from the downstream sector in any industrial policy discussions. This creates a more holistic approach to the industrial strategy and increases the chances for it to be successful. All of the upstream sector will be involved, from raw materials to balance of systems.

What are the first measures the EU Commission is supposed to begin with and why?

The European Commission will develop a position paper focusing on three elements – competitiveness, R&D&I, and trade policy. After this, policy instruments aimed at kick-starting financial support and investment will be brought forward to begin the process of developing an industrial support framework. This is seen as the key issue – at the top end of the TRL to get technologies to scale, and at the low end of the TRL to ensure that we can continue our history of producing innovation in Europe.

What is the time frame for this?

The Commission has a three year plan for the CEIF – year one: development; year two: implementation; and year three: monitoring and evaluation through KPIs – that are being developed with the input of SolarPower Europe.

Do you think the EU Commission will act quickly enough?

We are asking for this whole process to be speeded up – we think that three years is too long. We need action now, especially in areas like BIPV, if we are to have a major breakthrough in that segment. Therefore, we think that the whole process should be set up and in monitoring mode by the time the next Commission takes its seat in Brussels in 18 months.

How do you expect the European PV market to develop in 2018?

Given the improvement from 2016-2017, with a growth of around 20%, we believe that the trend will continue and that we could get close to double digits once again. The full predictions will be published in June in our Global Market Outlook. Of course, this is important for industrial policy – without a market there is no need for supply side policies and thus everything starts with a market for solar in Europe again. Given that we expect growth, the time is right for such an industrial policy and SolarPower Europe are at the forefront of creating one in Europe.


Solar PV now employing 10,000 Australians

Solar is proving a major job creator in Australia, with community PV (pictured) providing additional windfalls.

Image: Lismore City Council

A fast-growing pipeline of PV power plant projects is creating thousands of new jobs. Combined with the rooftop solar segment, there are now over 10,000 Australians working in the solar installation and utility scale project construction industry.

Green Energy Markets (GEM) published the findings today in its Renewable Energy Index – a monthly update funded by GetUp.

In its latest report, GEM found that with 2.273 GW of large scale solar currently being built in Australia, more than 5,456 people are working in the market segment. This is up from 4,440 jobs in December 2017, and 3,225 in December 2016.

January 2018 was the first occasion the large-scale solar segment surpassed rooftop. Remaining relatively flat, 5,337 people were employed full time in supplying and installing systems on Australian homes and businesses. In its report, GEM notes that the job figures for the large scale segment and for 12-month full-time positions – during planning and construction phases of a project.

Solar is also making a sizeable contribution to power generation this summer. GEM has found that on the NEM and SWIS, solar PV has met around 5% of overall power consumption – up from 0.5% in 2010. The contribution made by solar is forecast to increase to 10% by 2020.

“Total power produced by solar nationally over 2020 is likely to be 19,000 gigawatt-hours which is equal to the entire electricity consumption of WA’s main grid,” GEM writes in its latest report.

WA isn’t proving to be a bright spot for large scale solar job creation. While close to 5 GW of renewable projects are currently being built nationally, WA contributes only 37 MW to that number. As a result, just under 100 people are employed in the utility scale renewable sector – almost nothing compared to Queensland with around 6,421, Victoria with almost 5,000 jobs, NSW (3,579), and Tasmania (495).

The statistics for small scale solar was more even across states in January 2018. The Renewable Energy Index finds that NSW and ACT combined saw 4,290 systems installed, followed by Queensland (3,796), Victoria (3,033), SA (1,793), the NT (209) and Tasmania (164).


How drones are playing a role in the power and utility sector

The business case for drones is impressive across the energy sector, but their adoption has been slow to take off. In the first in a series of special PEi articles on drones, four companies explain how they are working within the solar, windpower, T&D and thermal power sectors.


The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, in the energy sector is in its infancy, with many companies still unsure about the value drones could bring to their operations. But this market segment is a fast-growing infant with a potentially bright future: in a recent report, professional services consultancy PwC valued the addressable market of drone-powered solutions in the power and utilities sector at $9.46 billion.

It’s easy to see why when you look at the business case for drones across power generation, transmission and distribution. We spoke with four drone companies working in the energy sector to find out what they do, and how they think their offering can help energy firms. On the surface, these companies all do the same thing: substituting unmanned drone inspection technology for manned aerial, rope-access or on-foot inspections. But each firm is different depending largely on two factors: who their customer base is, and what they do with the data post-flight.

Mantas Vaskela is chief executive of Lithuania-based Laserpas, which uses drones to perform inspections of T&D infrastructure worldwide. He said the business case for drone use is clear “if utilities take time and reliability as a main investment criterion” and if they are willing to move “from time-based decision making to data-based decision making”.

“The way transmission and distribution companies spend their money is not as maximally efficient as it could be, because the majority of what they do and the ways they invest are based on a presumption that the oldest line they have is the worst line they have,” he explains. “I have seen numerous times where a ten-year-old transmission line is in horrible condition and a 40-year-old line is in excellent condition. Even small things like kids peeling off paint can create huge problems.

“With our technology, by doing analysis – thermal, laser, optical, ultraviolet and other kinds – we try to find out if this is truly the case. We can see all the various problems every single component in a line has, which allows us to tell the company This section of even a brand-new line is coming close to failure due to environmental factors.

“By providing this information we can help companies to invest more efficiently and in a way which actually delivers better results. The utility can fix something which is broken, rather than something which is just old.”

Solar inspections

Will Hitchcock is Managing Director at UK-based AboveSurveying, which uses drones to inspect utility-scale solar PV installations. He says drone-based thermographic cameras that can measure heat are the ideal solution to a solar sector problem.

“Before the advent of UAV thermography it was rarely done across more than 10 per cent of a solar site, if that,” he explains, “and it was reduced in scope because of the cost. And if you’re doing it by hand you’re often shading your own image, so if you’re standing in front of the PV array it’s not necessarily going to give you the correct result.

“On a large solar farm, even 5 MW, you will have 26,000+ modules and you’re probably going to have two to three guys doing that work, and you can’t necessarily guarantee the consistency of what they’re doing. You need to do hand-held thermography when the panel is under load, i.e., in the sun, and then the sun is behind you, so you cause a shadow. The drone doesn’t suffer from that as it is high enough away.”

Many issues with solar panels, he says, were “previously undetectable through other inspection monitoring techniques”. Now that more detailed information can be provided, the sector is taking notice.

“The bulk of our work over the last two years has been warranty-based, around payment milestones or technical due diligence,” Hitchcock says. “Really understanding the health of your modules is very important in paying a milestone to a contractor or acquiring a new asset.”

David Williams is Principal Compliance Officer at Texo Drone Survey and Inspection, also based in the UK. His firm works with a variety of customers within the energy industry including onshore and offshore wind, conventional power generation assets and T&D. 

A good example of how drones can add value, he says, would be “a gas turbine site where they need a five-year mandatory inspection on the chimneys. We offer internal inspection drones, which are caged drones for confined spaces where you can’t or wouldn’t want to put a human. Deployment is quicker and there’s no need for scaffolding, rope access or working at height.

“The other thing we have is a UV corona payload which can visualize the corona effect you see on power lines, generators etc,” he adds. “It’s a camera that can inspect the pylons and wires themselves and identify, before they fail, issues to do with the corona effect.

“You’re always going to need guys on a rope for any kind of repair and maintenance,” he cautions, “but certainly there’s a move towards minimizing putting them at risk for inspections, whether visual or otherwise. For example, we’re developing a thickness testing technology and bringing it to market. We use a probe with a gel on it to ensure contact to do ultrasonic thickness testing, so rather than being used for just stand-off visual inspections, we can make full contact. That takes away some of the rope access work and is generally quicker, definitely safer and arguably cheaper.

“The same technology is used by the rope access guys, but we’ve managed to integrate it fully with the drone technology. We have in development an advanced version of that that will look at paint thickness as well, and also alternating current field measurement (ACFM) technology looking at wall fatigue on pylons – that’s another technology that requires contact.”  

And drones can also improvise solutions. Williams adds: “We did some work with a bluechip offshore wind turbine operator and, on the back of their issue, we developed the world’s first supply drop UAV. The company had an issue offshore, and engineers and rope access guys were going up to do maintenance work atop a turbine. You can’t land a drone on a turbine, so we developed a bespoke solution to allow the drone to fly above the operator and deploy. That was client-led; it was a problem they had had in the past.”

Improving efficiency

Harjeet Johal is Vice-President of Energy Infrastructure at US drone solutions firm Measure. He outlines numerous use cases for drones across the power sector, including for utility-scale wind and solar farms, transmission lines, hydropower (using submersible drones) and thermal plant. Drones can improve efficiency, speed, safety and cost from the design, pre-construction and development stages through to commissioning and ongoing maintenance, he says.

The value proposition Johal outlines for utilities covers inspection of power lines, towers and other structures, poles and substations. For example, in inspecting transmission and distribution lines, he says: “Today people use two methods: [manned] helicopters for high voltage lines away from urban areas, and in suburban or urban areas where the voltage tends to be lower, the most common way to inspect is ground patrolling.

“An army of linemen patrol the distribution or transmission lines, walking the line, looking up at the tower and lines for possible defects, and if there is something that needs attention they have to climb up the tower or pole and do a more thorough inspection. This is a dangerous job with hazardous conditions, and they are using their best judgment to evaluate whether the infrastructure of a tower is intact and all components are healthy.

“This is where drones come in handy,” he says. “In inspecting infrastructure, drones could supplement some of the work ground patrolling is being used for today. That could take two forms, either deploying drones on miles and miles of infrastructure, or the drone as part of a toolkit: a linemen pulls up another tool from his truck. Instead of using his eyes to inspect the towers, he could be using a drone to take a few pictures, and instead of using his best judgment he can look at the facts.”  

‘It’s not about the drone’

A common theme among drone surveying firms is that the drone, while it may be the sexiest and most visible part of their offering, is really the least important. These companies would like to be viewed, not as drone-flying outfits, but as data-driven asset management firms, and they all say that how they process and offer the drone-captured data is what differentiates them from each other. As Vaskela puts it in describing Laserpas, “We are a sophisticated asset management company that also does fieldwork”.

“A lot of companies base themselves on the technology – ‘We do drones, we do laser scanning’,” he says. “We are trying to base ourselves on customer problems. Very simply, we want them to ask: ‘How do I know that if I invest some money here it will increase my metrics, achieve better results, pay off better dividends to my shareholders?’.”

However, a fleet of drones does bring in business. “I’ll be very frank,” Vaskela says. “The technology opens a lot of doors because we’re dealing with an engineering industry, and engineers like our technology. Then after the first meeting we usually explain that we are not a single technology driver, we have multiple drivers.

“We are not a company which has a technology looking for a problem, we are a company which knows a problem,” he says. “Long-term, we will operate more as a data processing company than a data collection company, but today we need to do both because nobody else does the data collection how we need it to be done.”

This point is echoed by Williams when describing Texo. He says the firm is “not a UAV company, we’re a precision data acquisition company with world-first survey and inspection sensors”.

“Our creation of digital-twin assets for clients with the ability to overlay thermal or multispectral or hyperspectral visual data, all on a highly accurate laser-sourced point cloud 3D model, is quite unique. But it’s what the client does with the data, and how it can change their spend profile, that makes the difference,” he adds. “We have bespoke software that allows the client to access our data to turn it into actionable data for them. Having an inspection regime that isn’t reactive or fixed on failure can change their CAPEX spend profile based on viable engineering data.

“The technology helps us get through the door for sure, but clients need more than ‘Look at our latest bit of tech’; they’re looking for end-to-end service. No two clients are the same: some have their own engineering software and departments and are looking for an infill of data; a lot would be looking for a full inspection report. We have inspection engineers on our team as well, so if a client wants full service with a signed-off thermographic inspection, we will provide them with that.”

As his background is in the solar sector, Hitchcock says he founded AboveSurveying to “solve a problem in a sector that I understood – how to accurately inspect 100 per cent of the modules across large-scale PV installations – rather than setting up a drone company to do ‘drone stuff’.” But at the same time, he notes that “our business is all about delivering thermography that has only been possible to do because of the drone”.

In the fast-moving solar sector, he says: “Different types of failure mechanisms and degenerative problems with solar panels might not be understood now, but this understanding might materialize in three years’ time. One degenerative problem solar panels can suffer from is PID – potential-induced degradation. The industry is just beginning to understand how it starts, how to tackle it in terms of preventing it from spreading across an array, and how well the panel will recover.

“Within the drone, varying levels of irradiation will show PID in different ways. Understanding and interpreting the irradiation against the amount of hot cells in that pattern is a relatively new thing the sector is getting our heads around. This awareness has been brought about or accelerated by the use of drones doing these inspections. The drone shows it far earlier than any other assessment method.”  

Measure’s Johal says drones “are really just another tool to make business processes more efficient and cost-effective. A drone is a commodity and anyone can buy one, but customizing it to business processes is where the value really is.”

To this end, his firm offers what it calls a ‘drone as a service’ concept, as well as a drone toolkit. “The services aspect pans out in areas where you need more complex inspections or more detailed photos,” Johal says, “and also can be used in instances where the company needs some help post-outage or post-disaster. Toolkits could find use cases in some of these instances, but the low-hanging-fruit business idea is that a lineman can use a drone to make his job easier where inspections are somewhat less complicated.

“The drone’s pictures can potentially be sent back for analysis, but linemen do not typically integrate inspection work with back-end processing. The lineman is not sending 10,000 pictures back to the control room because, if that is the case, you’re going more towards the services aspect.”

Looking to the skies

While the future looks bright for drones in the energy sector, a number of challenges remain. Measure’s Johal says one challenge for drone companies is that the market adoption rate has been slower than expected, with most organizations “currently at the early-adopter stage” and, overall, a reluctance to try new technologies.

“Of course there are companies and entities who quickly realize the value of automating and the economics of upscaling drone operations across their infrastructure,” he says. “Then again, companies would like to see how their peers are doing and learn from their successes or failures. The adoption rate is a challenge, but that is true for any new technology. It is a challenge and an opportunity to educate the industry on the value drones bring to the table and why it’s important to avail themselves of this technology sooner rather than later.”  

While there are not yet international standards or a global drone sector trade body, Texo’s Williams says “a number of industry associations are very keen to help their members understand what they should be looking for when looking to hire drone operator. The engineering training board and CEREA, the construction industry body, are both looking to set up guidelines for their members so they know the questions to ask when hiring an operator. We’re very keen to work with these types of bodies to raise the bar.”

Regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from country to country, are also a challenge. The most significant regulation is the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) rule, which states that a pilot cannot fly a drone beyond where she can see it. The sector is hopeful that this regulation may be relaxed in future, which Johal says would enable drones to compete much more effectively with manned helicopter flights. “The industry is working towards this, but it won’t happen tomorrow,” he says.  

In the UK, within the VLOS is specified as 500 metres away from the pilot and 120 metres from ground level. “Ordinarily, for basic visual inspection or thermographic inspection, that would be sufficient,” says Williams. “That said, there are specific applications where BVLOS is anything beyond 500 metres. For example, for inspection of a wind turbine several km offshore, it is more efficient if we can do that from the shore as opposed to having to do a vessel transfer.

“There is a move towards BVLOS and extended VLOS which would take you up to 1500 metres,” he notes. “The technology is there for that now, and regulators are starting to work closely with operators. Any pushes in regulations led by the offshore industry would work just as well.”

On the business side, Williams says: “I think what’s likely to happen in future, and this is quite a common view I think, is that there will be lot of consolidation in the drone sector. There are 3554 licensed drone operators in the UK, I believe, and 95 per cent of them are ‘one-man bands’. There are a lot of good applications for that entry-level stuff, but there are a lot of them and many are struggling to find enough work. In the next couple of years or so, a lot of operators will move out of the industry and there will be consolidation among the larger companies. In future there could be just a handful of go-to firms for high-end industrial inspection kind of work.”

In terms of technology development, Laserpas’s Vaskela believes that “we will have slightly more developed, better and more automatic solutions”, and that “in the long term drones will become easier to use and much more versatile, and it will be easier to get different kinds of equipment for them.”

AboveSurveying’s Hitchcock says he sees “so much development in drones having a level of intelligence to make their own decisions about what they do, that we could in future foresee a drone that, when it identifies a defect, can go to a lower height to record more detailed imagery before flying on, where at the moment this is done manually in post-processing. This should develop quite quickly over the next couple of years as the industry produces more solutions for this kind of space.” 

And, as these companies have evolved their business models to work with the energy sector as it stands now, how will they fare in an increasingly decentralized energy system? Johal says his firm is already on it.  

“We’re using drones today to inspect distributed generation assets, whether rooftop solar, carports or community-based solar. On the development side, before a rooftop PV system even gets onto the home, the developers want to present a ROI: how many panels will be needed, shading issues from trees, obstructions etc, and the drone value scheme can be used during that phase of the project. Using Google Earth satellite imagery is good enough, but a drone flying a few feet away from the roof will provide much better resolution in terms of not only the layout, but more importantly how aspects related to shading can be captured, improving the business case that developers are presenting.

“Going into the operational phase, a lot of times you’ll see that these assets are leased. The owner is someone else whose job is to maintain and operate the equipment. If, out of 1000 homes, 1500 are equipped with solar PV, a person would need to use a ladder to do inspections and repair work, which can take many may days and can be easily supplemented by just flying drones.”

“But in the US,” he cautions, “the grid is so vast that a jump from an integrated transmission system to a completely decentralized system will not happen overnight. Use cases would evolve on the distribution side, and once they make sense they would roll out onto the transmission side. The need to inspect the transmission and distribution system will not go away with a shift to a more decentralized energy system, and at same time drones do provide value today in inspecting the distributed generation side of the infrastructure.”


Establishing foothold in the Nigerian solar PV market

Solarplaza hosted a webinar on the different characteristics and latest data regarding the solar PV market in Nigeria, named ‘Establishing foothold in the Nigerian solar PV market - Navigating challenges and opportunities with finance specialists.'

On the 1st of February, Solarplaza hosted a webinar on the different characteristics and latest data regarding the solar PV market in Nigeria, named ‘Establishing foothold in the Nigerian solar PV market - Navigating challenges and opportunities with Nigerian finance specialists.’ It was organized in the run-up to the 2-day ‘The Solar Future Nigeria’ conference in Abuja, that will take place on the 15th and 16th of May 2018. Lydia van Os, project manager at Solarplaza, was joined by Abiodun Oni of Stanbic IBTC Bank and Chinua Azubike of Infracredit to give an overview on how to attract investments, gain access to local currency and what the role can be of blended finance, innovative finance instruments and business models, as well as how to mitigate risks. The entire video recording of the webinar and the speakers’ slides can be freely accessed here

Background on the Nigerian Power Sector

Abiodun Oni, Head of Power and Infrastructure at Stanbic IBTC Bank, started the webinar by giving some background information on the current energy situation in Nigeria. He began by discussing the details related to the history and privatization of the Nigerian power sector. For 50 years, there had existed a monopoly in the Nigerian power sector that was primarily controlled by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). However, in 2005, the Nigerian government enacted the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, aimed at unbundling the national power utility company into a series of successor companies. 

In August 2010, a ‘roadmap’ was launched, helping to set new standards for the Nigerian power sector, as well as giving official business guidelines to the investment world. In 2011, a number of key events took place, such as the establishment of a bulk trader to engage in the purchase and resale of electricity. After more or less a year, a new framework for a long term tariff model was established, namely, the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO). This was supposed to capture cost based commercial tariff models planned for over a 15 year period. 

After 2013, the PHCN was successfully decoupled into multiple independent entities: 11  distribution companies, 7 generation companies and only one single transmission infrastructure company that was 100% state-owned. The generation assets were privatized 100%, except for the two hydro assets in the country that were concessionned for 30 years.  In the case of the distribution assets, only 60% was privatized to the private sector, while 40% was retained by the government, which was essentially done in order to keep the possibility of being listed on the Nigerian capital market in the future. 

Fast forward to 2017: the market had gone through a number of challenges, mainly because tariffs were not completely established, as well as various political reasons. Illiquidity had also proven to be a big challenge, accumulating to almost 3 trillion naira since 2013, which translates to around 2.7 billion USD. However, in 2016, the federal government decided to let the World Bank step in to initiate the “Power Sector Recovery Plan” in order to help Nigeria’s privatised electricity market get out of its current difficulties. 

Electricity inefficiencies

Nigeria currently faces a drastic difference between the installed capacity of the country’s grid and the actual electricity that is provided to the end-consumers. According to Oni, the inefficiencies in the power market in Nigeria are the main reason for the gap between electricity generated and electricity distributed. The current installed capacity of the grid is estimated at around 12GW, but the consumers are barely able to get 25% of that. The transmission system itself is significantly weak. However, in the last 12 months lots of investments have been made in the transmission grid and it has now actually surpassed the capacity of the generation and distribution system, exceeding expectations that were previously present in the industry. 

Image 01
Source: Nigeria Energy Power Report 2016

Overall, this does not change the fact that the end users are only able to get roughly 4000 MW of load, which translates to huge losses in the market that are not being recovered, especially since the tariff has technically not yet been approved. A way to combat these losses would be with the use of renewables. However, when the law of privatization was passed, almost no input for renewables was seriously factored into the plan. That only evolved as the challenges of the country’s dependence on gas as a primary source of energy became prevalent. Only then did the government feel the need to include regulation on renewables as a way to diversify its sources of energy.

Source: Business Monitor International 2017

Investors perspective

The eligibility of an asset depends significantly on the scalability of the product or project. Usually off-grid solar PV projects are developed on a small scale, but it’s important to know to which degree. Chinua Azubike, CEO of Infracredit, believes that when it comes to financing, size matters, in terms of liquidity and attractiveness to institutional investors. 

Besides the scale of a project, the next thing to focus on, when assessing the eligibility of an asset, would be the cash flow/product design and the type of payment structure. Azubike stated that, in order for an asset to grow, investors want to see a homogenous cash flow, where there is certainty of a long term, predictable cash flow in terms of payments. Some households/offtakers tend to have short-term offtake contracts, making it even more of a priority for investors to focus on the consistency and stability of those cash flows.
Performance data was also found to be a key factor when assessing an asset, according to Azubike. Given how new this market is, investors want to see the history of how the households and offtakers have consistently been able to make the payments, to allow investors to gauge the level of affordability. There is still some uncertainty regarding the amount of historical data needed in the market to create a high enough comfort level, allowing long term financing to be provided for projects.

Market Opportunity

Besides all of those challenges, the Nigerian market offers significant opportunities for off-grid and mini-grid power, as there is a relatively high level of economic activity, latent demand, and the ability to pay in both rural and urban areas.

Image 03
Source: Rural Electricity Agency (REA)

The Rocky Mountain Institute, in conjunction with the World Bank, released a report in December 2017 on the Nigerian energy sector, showing that the country consumes over 9 billion USD a year in inefficient fuel, used to power homes and businesses. The report also showed that, with the use of renewables, the country would be able to save around 4.4 billion USD per year, which makes it a huge opportunity for market investors.

The biggest area of interest in the Nigerian solar energy sector so far has been the off-grid market. Considering the growth of the solar energy market, it will be interesting to see whether or not this will be mainly driven by corporate offtakers that provide counterparty risks acceptable to financiers, or from a big pool of individual homeowners that may not be able to enter into long term contracts. Oni points out that Commercial and Industrial (C&I) scale projects in Nigeria are the best choice for investors looking for a natural fit for projects that they would like to take to the bond market in the near future.

Key considerations to have with regards to the opportunities in the Nigerian off-grid market involve different elements. One of them is the 15GW of sub generation energy capacity in Nigeria. The bulk of that energy is coming from C&I entities that use diesel generators as primary source of fuel, which is extremely expensive from the operational expenditure side and results in a very limited useful lifespan of the assets. This makes it a compelling opportunity for developers to work on creating structures for future offgrid solar solutions.

When it comes to bankability, the growing pool of local & international developers has made the credibility of developers and the quality of off takers very crucial for establishing successful projects . For the first time in Nigeria, there is access to local currency for long-term funding. Before that, renewables were not competitive because of their high capital expenditure and because project owners could not spread the funding of the asset over the useful life of that asset. Now, it is possible to sign 10 to 25 year deals of long term local currency funding via Debt Capital Markets. Experts believe that, by doing so, it could result in a competitive tariff model for investors. 

One of the key questions right now is: Has any of the 14 PPAs (signed in 2016) reached financial close? The answer to that is unfortunately no, and there are a number of reasons for that. The most critical one is the fact that the market currently has excess energy capacity that is not getting to the end customers, resulting in the bulk trader not being incentivized to close these types of projects. There are also issues with the securitization of the PPAs, which has technically been resolved. However, because of the rise in costs, the regulators have tried to reprice the tariffs, going from 11.25 cents to 7.5 cents, which has been creating quite a challenge for developers. 

When it comes to on-grid PV projects, while the political rationale for it is quite compellent, there are many difficult challenges within the sector, especially with the fact that there is excess load on the market today that is going to waste. When it comes to C&I and off-grid projects, the situation is looking brighter. Rooftop and mini grid projects are being developed at a relatively higher pace, allowing for more stable and predictable costs in the future for end-consumers without having to be subject to market fluctuations. As more companies continue to deliver successful PV projects, solar energy is increasingly becoming more viable in Nigeria. Nonetheless, it still needs to be seen how the Nigerian solar PV market will react to future regulatory changes, and how the decreasing costs of solar and energy storage will affect the economic proposition for solar PV in Nigeria.


Seeking Consensus on the Externalized Costs of Solar Power

What is meant by “externalized costs”?

Externalized costs are real costs that are not quantified within the levelized cost calculations presented in the internalized cost articles. These costs are directly or indirectly paid by various sectors of the economy in forms such as pollution-related health costs, grid integration costs of intermittent renewables, and a reduction in the free services rendered by the biosphere.

Externalized costs of solar power

While solar power has a low environmental impact, it is not quite as low as the $1/MWh calculated for wind power in the previous article. As shown in the review figure below, the environmental impact of PV is generally 3-10 times larger than wind, while CSP has a 2-5 times larger impact. We will therefore assume an externalized environmental cost of $3/MWh for PV and $2/MWh for CSP.

Key: AP = Acidification potential, EP = Eutrophication potential, GWP = Global warming potential, POCP = Photochemical ozone creation potential.

Despite the slightly higher environmental cost relative to wind, the integration costs (see previous article) of solar PV should be lower due to the lower current level of deployment (global solar power output is about a third of wind power output) and the fact that solar output generally matches better with demand.

Balancing costs (shown below) appear to be similar to wind at about €2/MWh.

Grid-related cost estimates for utility-scale solar are not yet available, but should should be similar to the €5/MWh estimate for wind.

At very low market penetrations, the profile costs for solar PV can actually be negative, i.e. produced solar power often displaces expensive electricity from peaker plants. Due to the concentrated nature of solar PV output, however, profile costs quickly rise with increasing penetration. The graph below shows that solar commands a price premium up to a market share of about 3%. Given that PV represents about 1% of global electricity production, it is likely that the average solar profile cost is still negative. Here, we will assume that it cancels out balancing and grid-related costs discussed above, yielding a total integration cost of $0/MWh.

The total solar PV externality should therefore amount to only $3/MWh. This number can also be used for distributed solar PV even though integration costs will be different. In particular, grid related costs may even be negative at very low market shares, although this is not applicable if the grid capacity is already built. However, profile costs will be higher because distributed PV generally does not use utility PV strategies like higher inverter loading ratios, tracking and westward orientation to increase market value. We will therefore assume that lower grid-related costs are cancelled out by higher profile costs for distributed solar. For perspective, the internalized costs of utility and distributed solar PV were estimated as $101/MWh and $214/MWh respectively.

As for CSP with thermal storage, integration costs may actually turn out to be negative. Relative to solar PV, there will not be any balancing costs (CSP with storage is dispatchable) and thermal storage should allow the plant to maintain negative profile costs at higher market shares. We will assume a total externalized cost of -$5/MWh. The internalized cost of CSP was previously estimated as $175/MWh. It should be fair to assume that the externalized costs for solar thermal heating applications like water heaters is zero.


Omaha, Nebraska, plans for community solar


Nebraska is not the first state that many think of when they think of solar. The state is one of only seven that GTM Research and SEIA don’t track in quarterly reports on the U.S. solar market, and Nebraska has no statewide renewable energy mandate or goal.

However, Nebraska is on its way to getting its third community solar project to date through the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). OPPD has presented a rate rider to its board for approval and has laid out basic details of what its community solar program will look like.

This includes a pay-as-you-go option, with the only up-front cost being a deposit that will be refunded if customers stay in through the life of the program. Customers will be eligible to offset 10-50% of their electricity usage with solar from the installation, and together with its wind procurement, customers could elect for a 100% renewable energy option that includes community solar.

It is notable that just because Nebraska has had limited solar deployed to date does not mean that has not put online any renewable energy – far from it. The Great Plains which stretch from Texas across the state into Canada have some of the richest wind resources in North America, and OPPD reports that wind turbines currently supply around 30% of the power it delivers to its customers. The utility further expects this to increase to 50% in the next few years.

Unfortunately, OPPD is estimating that the program would entail a 3-17% increase in the monthly bills of participating customers. The program would add the cost of the solar PPA plus interconnection to its standard retail rate, and then subtract the cost of what OPPD estimates the value of that electricity would be in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) grid.

The addition of the PPA cost to the retail rate – instead of only transmission and distribution costs – is not the most favorable way to calculate a community solar rate for customers. Additionally working against the customer is generally low cost of wholesale electricity in the SPP, which is driven down by plentiful, low-cost wind that is made even cheaper by the federal Production Tax Credit.

Right now many details of the program and the project(s) that will supply it are still being worked out, including the size of the project and where it would be located. However OPPD is already in contact with developers who have requested sites in Bellevue, Fort Calhoun and Gretna.


Why The Cost Of Solar Panels Have Declined

A kilowatt of solar electricity for 3 cents a kilowatt hour by 2030…is this really attainable in the U.S.? According to the SunShot Initiative, a program by the Department of Energy, this goal has “multiple realistic pathways.”

In fact, the initiative has already achieved it’s 2020 utility-scale solar goal of power for $.06 a kilowatt hour recently, three years ahead of schedule.

In a nutshell, the cost of solar energy has plummeted in recent years and is set to continue to drop. In fact, solar energy has already achieved price parity in twenty U.S. states. This would have been unimaginable just a decade ago.

Let’s look under the hood to understand why the cost of solar power has plummeted.

Manufacturing Costs Take a Dive

The cost of solar panels, inverters and solar panel racking systems have declined at a steady pace, resulting in considerable price declines over time. Manufacturing efficiency gains, a drop in polysilicon prices (a material used in PV panels), and competition among manufacturers are largely responsible.

This phenomenon is common with many new products as production increases cause declines in cost.

Solar Efficiency Improvements

As solar panels and components increase solar electricity output, solar energy costs are falling. Now, most solar panels on the market are between 14 and 18 percent efficient, far more efficient than a decade ago.

Panel efficiency gains help reduce some other associated expenses, such as racking, installation, and transportation costs because fewer panels are needed to produce a given amount of energy.

Market Synergy Encourages More Growth

As the cost of solar components falls, more people go solar. As manufacturers make more panels and components, manufacturing processes are improved and streamlined.

In addition, people tend to go solar when their neighbors do. Thus, solar installations encourage greater growth.


Ukraine¡¯s renewable energy outlook under the new electricity market design

Svitlana Teush, PhD, is counsel on Energy, Construction and Infrastructure at Redcliffe Partners law firm.

Redcliffe Partners

In 2017, the new Law of Ukraine, On Electricity Market, was adopted, which improved the outlook for the country’s renewable energy industry and stabilized the legal framework, having enshrined all key components of the support mechanism introduced for power production from renewable energy sources (RES) in 2015, namely:

  • A feed-in tariff (FIT), which is relatively high, compared to that in other countries; for example, currently, for ground-mounted solar power plants put into operation during 2017 – 2019, the FIT pays ca. €15.02 cents/kWh, or ca. €10.18 cents/1 kWh for wind power plants consisting of wind power units with a single installed capacity exceeding 2MW1, fixed until 2030 and referenced to the Euro;
  • “Bonuses” for the use of locally produced equipment applied as a 5% or 10% surcharge to the FIT, depending on the share of such equipment in the composition of a power plant; and
  • The statutory obligation of a single offtaker (currently, State Enterprise, Energorynok, and subsequently, the so-called “guaranteed buyer”, which will replace that) to buy from producers all electricity produced at energy facilities which obtained the FIT during the entire term of validity of the FIT.

This support mechanism, and the guaranteed channels for the sale of the electricity, provide additional security and protection against the market challenges relating to the search for buyers and sale markets, as well as against currency and/or price fluctuations.

A§ã§ãording to the data provided by the Ukraine’s energy regulator, the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission (NEURC), as of January 1, 2018, the cumulative installed capacity of renewables under the FIT (without those plants located in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) totaled 1,374.7 MW, of which solar power plants accounted for ca. 55% (741.9 MW), and wind power plants, ca. 33.8% (465.1 MW).

In 2017 alone, 257 MW of the installed capacity of renewables under the FIT were operational, which is more than double the capacity put into operation in 2016 (ca. 127 MW), and eight times the capacity in 2015 (ca. 30 MW). The solar power plants put into operation in 2017 accounted for ca. 82% of the cumulative capacity of renewables under the FIT, while wind power plants accounted for ca. 10.6% of such cumulative capacity.

The role of RES

Under this law, the role of RES was established and integrated in the design of the new electricity market, aimed at introducing a liberal, open and competitive market in Ukraine in compliance with the Third Energy Package.2

Under this model, a single-buyer wholesale market model will be rejected, and a multi-segmented liberal market will be established in line with the common European pattern, including a day-ahead market, an intra-day market, a balancing market and an ancillary services’ market, as well as a market of bilateral contracts, in line with customary practice across many EU countries.

The Electricity Market Law became effective on June 11, 2017 (except for certain provisions relating to changes in the launch of the new market segments, scheduled for July 1, 2019).3 

There are plans to open the electricity market to international cross-border trade and exchanges; and to continue synchronisation with neighbouring markets and integration of the Ukrainian power system into the European setting.

To this end, in the summer of 2017, Ukraine and Moldova signed agreements regarding the conditions for future interconnection with the electricity transmission system operators of the ENTSO-E Continental Europe Region. In the next five years, the transmission system operators of Ukraine (Ukrenergo) and Moldova (Moldelectrica) should implement a catalogue of measures, including a series of technical requirements to facilitate synchronisation with European power systems.

Responsibility of renewable energy producers for imbalances

Clearly, integration of power from RES in the general power system is associated with challenges and constraints; and raises the need for system balancing and the allocation of responsibility among market participants responsible for the associated costs.

The Electricity Market Law provides for the gradual introduction of RES producers’ responsibility for imbalances. Those producers that want to sell electricity under the FIT should join the so-called “balancing group” led by the offtaker (the guaranteed buyer), with the guaranteed buyer being responsible to the transmission system operator for the settlement of imbalances of such balancing groups.

Producers should pay a certain share of costs incurred by the guaranteed buyer to settle imbalances. From January 1, 2021, producers should pay 10% of the imbalance settlement costs to the guaranteed buyer; this share will increase by 10% each year, until it reaches 100% by 2030. In order to settle imbalances, the transmission system operator will sell electricity on the so-called “balancing market”, which is scheduled to be launched on July 1, 2019.

The responsibility for imbalances will not apply, if a producer does not exceed the permitted volumes of deviations – in their actual hourly volume output – from the hourly schedules. Such tolerance margins (which will not entail responsibility for power producers) are set at 20% for wind power, 10% for solar power, and 5% for hydroelectric power generated by micro, mini and small hydroelectric power stations.

After the share of all market participants producing electricity from RES reaches 5% of the annual energy balance of Ukraine, such permitted deviation will be set at 10% for wind power, and 5% for both solar and hydroelectric power.

Responsibility for imbalances will not have a retroactive effect, and will not apply until December 31, 2029, (the date of expiry of the FIT) to those facilities put into operation before the enactment of the Electricity Market Law. Beginning in 2030, all RES power producers will bear full liability for their imbalances, whatever the date a facility becomes operational.

Recent legal developments around PPAs

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are concluded based on the template form approved by the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission. Although by its legal nature, this form is not mandatory, in practice the offtaker (currently, State Enterprise Energorynok) closely follows this form.

The major criticism around the template form of the PPA has always been that it is not quite bankable and insurable. In 2017, major regulatory changes aimed at resolving this problem began.

On September 14, 2017, the regulator approved amendments to the template form of the PPA, with a view to enhancing its bankability and increasing investment in the industry, which became effective on October 29, 2017. Following the amendments, the PPA should remain valid until January 1, 2030, which corresponds to the term of validity of the FIT.

This was one of the most sought-after amendments. Previously, PPAs were concluded for a one-year term, subject to annual extensions. This practice did not provide sufficient safeguards and comfort to power sellers so as to ensure that the required long-term validity of PPAs would correspond to the term of validity of the FIT.

The amended form expressly allowed PPAs to be concluded before the completion of construction or putting a plant into operation. However, it is not until the occurrence of certain prior conditions that PPAs will enter into force (for example, obtaining a licence for electricity production; granting the FIT to a producer, and the producer joining the Wholesale Electricity Market; obtaining approvals of the technical assignment and design documentation for construction of the automated commercial electricity metering system; etc.).

Not all of the conditions depend solely upon the developer, but may also require decisions of the regulator or third parties. With these “conditions precedent” in place, certain risks persist, which are associated with ambiguity and a lack of guarantee for a producer.

Following the amendments, creditors obtained additional securities relative to a PPA, such as step-in rights. Producers can assign, pledge or otherwise encumber the rights to receivables under a PPA to third-party creditors.

The right for parties to refer PPA disputes to international arbitration was recognized (subject to jurisdictional rules), and the role of extrajudicial dispute settlement remedies – including mediation – was enhanced. It has been expressly established that parties can refer disputes for mediation under the auspices of the Dispute Resolution and Negotiation Centre of the Energy Community Secretariat. Previously, disputes arising out of, or in connection with, the PPA could be brought only before Ukrainian courts.

A major question remains open as to how reorganization of the offtaker and the launch of the new electricity market will affect PPAs. Under the amended PPA template form, parties to a PPA agree that the obligations of State Enterprise Energorynok, regarding the purchase of power, should cease to exist upon the commencement of the new electricity market; and that a new PPA should be entered into between the producer and the guaranteed buyer (the successor to Energorynok) for the remaining term of validity of the FIT.

Such new agreement will be concluded based on a new standard form of the PPA, which will be approved by the regulator following consultations with the Energy Community Secretariat.4

In practice, it can be difficult to enforce such provisions whereby parties commit to enter into a future PPA without knowing all the terms of an agreement beforehand; this notwithstanding that the invariability of the FIT and its validity period are established by law, and a strong argument can be made that they should not be changed in a future form of the PPA.

The assignment should be completed no later than the date of launching the new electricity market (i.e. July 1, 2019). Energorynok will remain jointly liable for the performance of its obligations under the PPA, by the new offtaker, upon such assignment.

On January 9, 2018, the regulator adopted further amendments to the template form of the PPA5, aimed at enhancing the bankability and insurability of PPAs and strengthening protection of producers’ and creditors’ rights in the context of the ongoing reform of the electricity market.

Most of the risks associated with changes in the law or events beyond the control of parties are expressly vested in the offtaker. Direct agreements are allowed, whereby creditors can enter into a PPA without any additional consent of the offtaker in the event of a producer’s default. Producers will have broad rights to terminate and seek reimbursement from the offtaker, including by triggering the change of law clause.

The reimbursement amount is broadly defined to include, amongst other things, the principal and interest on the loan extended by creditors. It is not yet quite clear whether the offtaker will be able to undertake and perform under such obligations.

Some of the amendments may raise competition or state aid concerns, or provide different interpretations as to their exact scope or enforceability, due to the lack of clarity and precision (e.g. references to producer’s profits, direct agreements, procedures of negotiation or “challenging” arbitral awards, etc.).

It remains to be seen whether the new approach, particularly in terms of risk allocation and indemnification of damages, would prove feasible and sustainable, and to what extent that benefits the entire power system.

As a result of a series of the amendments introduced in September 2017 and January 2018, the form of the PPA has improved considerably in terms of its bankability and insurability.

The main question is how the electricity market reform and reorganization of the offtaker will evolve, and what the impact on the renewable energy projects will be. The prevailing understanding is that it is vital to ensure the stability and continuity of offtake of power produced from RES at the FIT, as guaranteed by the law.

There are also other factors affecting RES industry growth. These include limited opportunities for fundraising and the high cost of capital, over regulated and lengthy land allocation procedures, a lack of necessary grid infrastructure, and problems with grid connection.

RES to face a more competitive and diverse future

An indicative trend observed in European and other international markets has been towards the gradual “equalization” of the legal status of different power sources, the reduction or curtailment of state support mechanisms and subsidies for power production from RES, and the introduction of conditions for free market competition for producers of power from different sources.

This is particularly justified in those countries where power production from RES is already achieving a considerable share of total energy production.

Market-based instruments are gaining ground in Europe, such as, for example, “contracts for difference” (CfD). A CfD is a financial, typically long-term, instrument setting a contract price at which parties agree to sell and buy power throughout the term of the agreement (the “strike price”).

Effectively, this is a financial risk management tool ensuring steady, predictable profitability for power producers, as it hedges them against the risks associated with market price fluctuations by fixing the strike price in the contract. This also helps reduce the cost of capital and fosters competition among different power production technologies and sources, as CfDs are normally signed following an auction.

With the introduction of market-based incentives for renewable energy production, more complex, diversified and flexible approaches are being developed in the use of such incentives, or a combination of them. For example, microgeneration sells electricity under a FIT, whereas other types of generation compete at auctions for the award of CfDs. Such auctions can be “technology-neutral”, and not discriminate between bidders or grant any benefits dependent on the type of power production technology or its source.

In Ukraine, there are already proposals to consider new approaches to selling electricity produced from RES, such as power sale auctions, which are increasingly coming into focus, or feed-in premiums. It can be foreseen that incentives for power production from RES will become more diversified in Ukraine in the years to come, and will not be solely limited to a FIT.

The general consensus is that auctions or other novel structures – notwithstanding their being progressive, and matching objective global trends in the development of the renewable energy industry, or corresponding to technology maturity and cost – should be introduced gradually, so as not to undermine the stability, consistency and continuity of the regulatory framework in the country, and prevent any adverse effects on ongoing projects.

[1] The amount of the FIT will be gradually reduced in future, depending on the date of a power plant becoming operational.

[2] Including Directive 2009/72/EC of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity, Regulation 714/2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity, as well as some other core EU electricity acquis. Ukraine undertook to transpose the requirements of the Third Energy Package into its national legislation within the context of its membership of the energy community and association with the EU.

[3] There are already signs suggesting that the market is likely to begin operating later than planned. These concerns around the timely launch of the new market include the transformation and institutional reform of the Regulator, which is ongoing.

[4] As of the writing of this article, it has not been adopted.

[5] As of the writing of this article, this Resolution was awaiting official publication, following which it will become effective.


Svitlana Teush, PhD, is counsel on Energy, Construction and Infrastructure at Redcliffe Partners law firm, an independent law firm, which previously operated as the Kyiv office of international law firm, Clifford Chance. She has practiced law for more than 15 years, supporting projects in the energy, construction and infrastructure sectors. Since the introduction of the FIT in Ukraine in 2009, she has been supporting renewable energy projects undertaken in the country and has advised on the associated issues of land use, construction, grid connection, regulatory licenses and permits, EPC and O&M contracts, as well as the application of the FIT, bonuses and other elements of the state support for renewables. She is a contributing expert of the Ukrainian Wind Energy Association; a member of the Supervisory Board of the Bioenergy Association of Ukraine, as well as a member of the national ICC Commission on Environment and Energy in Ukraine.


PetersenDean partners with LG, SolarEdge for solar plus storage

PetersenDean Roofing and Solar

While starting from a small base, the U.S. residential battery market is continuing to grow, driven by customer desire for energy independence, policies that either support or mandate storage, and ongoing improvements in economics.

And as these systems start to make financial sense for more customers, more large companies are getting in on the game. As the latest, PetersenDean Roofing & Solar has partnered with SolarEdge and LG to provide its integrated solar plus storage offering.

Under the new deal, PetersenDean will offer residential solar plus storage systems that incorporates LG Chem’s 9.8 kilowatt-hour (kWh) Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU) 10H battery system, with the entire solar, storage and consumption system managed by SolarEdge’s StorEdge technology.

This is not the first time that LG Chem and SolarEdge have joined these two product lines, and on its StorEdge pageSolarEdge advertises the combination of the two. Using StorEdge the system can provide backup power during blackouts, which is a key draw of battery technology for many homeowners.

“During the last few years, our customers have been asking us for better home energy storage solutions,” notes Jim Petersen, the CEO of PetersenDean. “While some systems only function when the grid goes down, others only work to help limit grid use in moments when their solar system is not producing the amount of energy needed to power their home.”

“By combining SolarEdge’s StorEdge solution with LG Chem batteries, customers can enjoy both options by managing and monitoring PV and battery status through a single platform.”

This deal comes five months after Texas PV maker Mission Solar Energy announced that it would begin supplying PetersenDean with PV modules, as a replacement for the installer’s previous contract with SolarWorld.


Italy installed 409 MW of new PV in 2017

Last year’s figures, however, still do not include new capacity coming from the revamping and repowering business. For 2018, local renewable energy association, ANIE Rinnovabili expects growth to be stronger.

Italy has a cumulative installed solar PV capacity of around 19.6 GW.

Image: Meeco

Around 409 MW of new PV systems were installed in Italy last year, according to provisional numbers released by the Italian renewable energy association, Anie Rinnovabili, which are based on data provided by the country’s grid operator, Terna.

This result represents an 11% growth compared to 2016, when new additions totaled 369 MW, and an increase of 21% compared to 2015, when newly installed solar capacity was 305 MW.

Last year’s performance was mainly driven by the Italian regulation for self-consumption, the so-called SEU framework, which has been key to Italy’s solar development since the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme, Conto Energía was closed, and by the grid connection of several “grid-parity” ground-mounted PV plants totaling 66 MW, which were built in Montalto di Castro.

Without these new solar facilities, new additions for 2017 would have been at the same level of the previous year.

According to ANIE Rinnovabili, however, these numbers do not include additional capacity registered under the revamping and repowering regulation, which was issued in February 2017.

Particularly for the repowering business, the Italian energy agency, GSE has allocated a 5% capacity increase for PV installations up to 20 kW, and 1% for PV systems with a capacity over 20 kW, with the additional capacity benefitting from the FIT scheme.

At 88.3 MW, the region with the largest share of new solar power in 2017 was Lazio (where the aforementioned grid-parity projects were developed), followed by Lombardia (57.6 MW), Veneto (49.7 MW) and Emilia Romagna (40.4 MW).

According to the president of ANIE Rinnovabili, Alberto Pinori, the 2018 Italian solar market may perform even better, particularly under the super-amortization on investment goods, a measure which was launched by the Italian government under the Industria 4.0 package in late 2016, and is expected to spur further PV development.

The measure facilitates business investments by allowing an extra-amortization on the purchase of certain tangible assets. The increased amortization charge is fixed at 40%. “This measure, which needed to be explained and conveyed to the market, led to the development of some merchant plants carried out by some investment funds,” Pinori stated.

Pinori also said that further growth may be sustained by fiscal breaks for sustainable PV investments. “Finally we expect that the measure of tax deductions for the citizen will continue to achieve results as in the past,” Pinori added.


“Looking ahead over the medium and long term we see good opportunities for photovoltaics in the light of the news on the future Italian decree on renewable sources that we hope will also include the PV in the auction mechanism and also in light of what is emerging in the European Clean Energy Package , which provides for the development of the local energy community and a broader definition of self-consumer,” he concluded.


Solar to lead global renewables growth for next five years ¡ª KPMG

Battery storage has become an important consideration when weighing the pros and cons of a potential investment in renewable-energy projects.

Image: Baywa r.e.

Globally, PV capacity will expand more over the next five years than any other renewable-energy technology, KPMG said in its latest report, Great expectations: Deal making in the renewable energy sector.

The accounting and financial services firm drew its findings from a survey of 200 renewable-energy investors, which was conducted in the third quarter of 2017. It solely spoke to investors that specialize in large-scale PV, thermal solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal projects, as well as onshore and offshore wind installations.

KPMG said it expects solar to outpace other renewable technologies, due to “improvements in technology and lower costs relative to other types of renewables.” PV has grown more than any other renewable-energy sub-sector in recent years, it said, accounting for 47% of all new generating capacity that was added throughout the world in 2016, followed by wind power at 34%, and hydropower at 15.5%.

Battery storage innovation

“But the future of all three depends on innovation in battery storage and energy aggregators, both of which are becoming increasingly important to investors,” KPMG said. “Innovation in secondary technology like storage and energy aggregators is also proving to be important in investment decisions, as they contribute to stability and security of supply.”

Almost all of the survey respondents said battery storage has become an important consideration when weighing the pros and cons of a potential investment in renewable-energy projects. KPMG said that 31% of those who responded believe that battery-backed renewables will start delivering continuous electricity at grid parity within the next five to six years. However, 38% of respondents said that they don’t expect that to happen for another nine to 16 years.

“Large, grid-scale battery systems are vital to the future of renewables,” KPMG said. “There have been remarkable developments in the area of battery storage in recent years.”

Similarly, nearly all of the survey respondents expect more and more investors to aggregate small renewable-energy projects in the years to come, primarily as a means of encouraging investment. In addition, KPMG noted that 74% of respondents believe that hydrogen will play a key role in facilitating renewables deployment in the years to come.

“Demand and supply are monitored and dispatched by the aggregator, so the grid is kept in balance,” the global accounting firm said, noting that solar and wind projects are often built in jurisdictions with “fragile,” overburdened grid infrastructure. “Networks of this kind — known variously as virtual power plants (VPPs) — are built around the latest advances in technology, from the cloud to smart appliances.”

Policy power

About 60% of the respondents to the survey said that they viewed Germany’s policies as the most progressive in the developed world, as they are the most conducive to investment. However, 43% said the U.S. had the least attractive policies among economically advanced countries, from an investment perspective.

“Government policy and financial backing can make markets more appealing… Germany is at the heart of this investor activity, due to its stable regulatory landscape and continuous development plans for renewables,” KPMG said.

Meanwhile, China continues to lure fresh investment purely through “sheer scale,” according to the firm. The country installed 52.83 GW of solar in 2017, pushing its cumulative installed capacity above the 130 GW mark. About 21% of the survey respondents view China as among the best countries in the world for PV investment, KPMG said, pointing to the government’s plans to invest CNY 2.5 trillion($377 billion) in renewables through 2020.

Due to their favourable policies, the survey respondents overwhelmingly expect both Germany and China to see the biggest jump in renewable-energy mergers and acquisitions (M&As) over the coming year. However, KPMG noted that emerging markets are starting to play an increasingly important role in global renewables deployment.

“Institutional investors are focusing on emerging economies including Mexico, India, Vietnam, South Africa and Chile for renewable assets,” the firm added. “Affordable solar energy also offers a potential solution to emerging economies in Africa and elsewhere.”

KPMG concluded that investments in renewable energy will continue to rise throughout the world in the years to come. “From offshore and onshore wind to photovoltaic and thermal solar, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass, more and more investors are entering the renewables arena — including oil and gas companies searching for opportunities.”


India to achieve 175 GW renewable energy ahead of 2022 deadline

NEW DELHI: India would achieve the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacities well before 2022, a senior government official said today.

"India would achieve its target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity well before 2022 for which bidding process would be completed on time and International Solar Alliance (ISA) shall help mobilise sufficient funds for solar energy projects, said New & Renewable Energy Secretary Anand Kumar at a PHDCCI event here today.

Kumar said in the statement issued by industry body that over the years the renewable energy has become cheaper and is set to replace conventional energy, which is a healthy development, and added that India has one of the fastest growing renewable energy programmes in the world.

He stressed that the country would achieve its target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity well before 2022 adding that ISA shall help mobilise sufficient funds for solar energy projects.

"Prime Minister wants India to be an innovation hub for which we have to start thinking and supporting about the new ideas for renewable sources particularly in solar energy with the objective of providing renewable energy to the common man as an affordable pricing," he added.

He said the ISA is an excellent idea which helps million of people to provide universal energy excess.

The ISA is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and to provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. It has the backing of around 121 countries rich in solar energy, the secretary said.


Switch to Mobile Version
Subscribe Newsletter