Friday, February 21, 2014

Secretary Jewell announces two solar projects approved in Nevada

WASHINGTON, USA: As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution, create jobs and move our economy toward clean energy sources, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the approval of two solar energy projects located near the Nevada-California border that are expected to supply 550 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power about 170,000 homes, and support more than 700 jobs through construction and operations.

The approvals bring to 50 the number of utility-scale renewable energy proposals and associated transmission that the Interior Department has approved since 2009, including 27 solar, 11 wind, and 12 geothermal projects.

Together, the projects could support more than 20,000 construction and operations jobs and, when built, generate nearly 14,000 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 4.8 million homes. Thirteen of the projects are already in operation, including the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 377-megawatt solar thermal plant that started commercial operations and delivering power to California’s electric grid last week.

“When President Obama first took office in 2009, there were no solar projects approved on public lands, and no process in place to move forward the hundreds of applications pending from businesses that wanted to harness renewable energy to help power our nation,” said Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. “With today’s milestone of 50 utility-scale renewable energy projects approved on public lands since our standing start in 2009, and with a number of those already producing energy for the nation’s electric grid, our clean energy future is bright.”

The first project is the 300-megawatt Stateline Solar Farm Project, a facility that will be built in San Bernardino County, California, on approximately 1,685 acres of public land located two miles south of the California-Nevada border. Using photovoltaic panels, the facility will generate enough electricity to power approximately 90,000 homes and create an estimated 400 jobs during construction and 12 permanent jobs during operations. The facility will connect to the grid via a 2.7-mile 220-kilovolt transmission line.

The second project is the 250-megawatt Silver State South Solar Project located near Primm, Nevada on approximately 2,400 acres of public land. The facility is expected to power approximately 80,000 homes and will be located adjacent to the 50-megawatt Silver State North Project, the first solar plant on public lands to deliver power to the grid. Silver State South will also use photovoltaic panels and will generate an estimated 300 jobs during construction and 15 permanent operations jobs.

Both projects are proposed by the company First Solar and have commitments from Southern California Edison to purchase the projects’ output for 20 years.

“These solar projects reflect exemplary cooperation between the Bureau of Land Management and other federal, state and local agencies, enabling a thorough environmental review and robust mitigation provisions,” said BLM Principal Deputy director, Neil Kornze. “Secretary Jewell’s commitment to a landscape-level approach represents a responsible balance between the need for renewable energy and our mandate to protect the public’s natural resources.”

First Solar has agreed to undertake significant project design changes and mitigation measures to minimize impacts to wildlife, water, historical, cultural and other resources. For example, the BLM worked on the Stateline proposal to reduce the project’s footprint by more than 20 percent to avoid and minimize project impacts.

In addition, as part of ongoing efforts to protect the threatened Desert Tortoise, the BLM is expanding the nearby Ivanpah Desert Wildlife Management Area by more than 20,000 acres and requiring that the developer achieve 3:1 compensatory mitigation for Desert Tortoise for its 1,685 acres.

For the Silver State South project, the project design was modified to reduce the size of the facility by 100 megawatts. Mitigation measures include soil stabilization to prevent erosion and polluted runoff. In addition, the developer must fund over $3.6 million for Desert Tortoise mitigation and $3.5 million for studies intended to guide future efforts to protect the Desert Tortoise in the project area. The company must also assess the project’s potential adverse impact if archaeological properties at the site are found to be eligible for National Register of Historic Places listing.

“As we implement the President’s Climate Action Plan to generate jobs, cut carbon pollution and move our economy toward clean energy sources, we need to do so in a way that takes the long view and avoids or minimizes conflicts with important natural and cultural resources,” added Jewell. 

SolarWorld AG releases medium-term plan for 2014 to 2016

BONN,GERMANY: The continuing crisis in the solar industry and political developments make it difficult to forecast future business development. Nevertheless, in November 2013 SolarWorld compiled a medium-term plan for the years 2014 to 2016, which was validated by PwC.

As basis of its planning, the Management Board of SolarWorld assumes that during 2014 the solar industry will have reached the final stage of consolidation. Whilst global demand for solar energy products is likely to continue to grow in 2014, prices will probably remain at the current level. SolarWorld expects that market growth will also have an effect on its own sales development.

In line with our sales strategy, in 2014 SolarWorld is planning to increase the share of sales of complete solar systems both in the private household segment as well as in international project business. A prerequisite for implementing these plans is the successful implementation of the approved measures to restructure the financial liabilities and balance sheet by the end of February 2014.

Under these assumptions, the SolarWorld Group is planning to increase shipments of modules and kits in 2014 by at least 40 percent compared with the previous year (548 MW). This rise is intended to be generated in all sales markets. As a result of volume growth and a higher share of the system business, SolarWorld is planning with revenues of over € 680 million for 2014 and an increase to more than € 1 billion in 2016.

The operational restructuring measures shall take effect during the course of 2014. The Management Board is therefore expecting a positive result before interest, taxes and depreciation (EBITDA) in 2014 of more than € 10 million.

On this basis, a positive cash flow from operating activities is also expected. The operating result (EBIT) 2014 is likely to be between € –35 million and € –20 million. For 2015 the SolarWorld Group is expecting a positive operating result as well as further increases in revenues of over 20 percent.

In this context, the Management Board of SolarWorld AG would expressly like to point out that the assumptions and framework conditions used for the corporate planning might be subject to changes.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance lists Vikram Solar as a tier 1 manufacturer

KOLKATA, INDIA & MANNHEIM, GERMANY: module manufacturer Vikram Solar PV Market Outlook 2014 was compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF ) listed in Q1 as a tier 1 manufacturers.

This means that products of Vikram Solar have received a non-recourse financing from banks. In photovoltaic projects, the financing is now one of the biggest hurdles.

Banks make loans usually only for very high-quality projects. To use photovoltaic modules, which are classified as " bankable ", therefore is especially important for project developers and EPCs. The renowned "PV modules Maker tiering system " - Study by Bloomberg subdivided module manufacturer according to their prior bankability in three classes and thus makes the complex market of solar manufacturers, project developers and EPCs transparent.

"Worldwide increases in module prices and the trade disputes with China have meant that buyer now attract suppliers from other countries into consideration. Encourage their banks to consider the due diligence also of suppliers with whom the banks had been nothing to do . Some these providers, including Vikram solar have the due diligence process consisted of three different banks in the past two years and were therefore included in our Tier 1 list," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"Despite the global consolidation of the solar market, there are still many module manufacturers. For customers, it is very difficult to identify from this mass of providers a reliable and trustworthy brand. The classification by Bloomberg is for developers and EPCs a very transparent and efficient way to form an opinion on the quality of module manufacturers," says Gyanesh Chaudhary, MD of Vikram Solar.

"We are proud that we have received by the trust of banks, investors and customers the Tier 1 status," explains Davide Marro, head of Sales and Business Development Europe by Vikram Solar.

"The high quality of our products, we guarantee through numerous rigorous inspection and test procedures. As the only Indian manufacturer we managed to completely prevent the potential -induced degradation of the modules. We have specially developed a proprietary process for the selection of our components. Our modules are certified by TÜV Rheinland as PID - resistant."

The effect of the potential induced degradation (PID) occurs in crystalline silicon cells and can result in a performance loss of up to 60 percent.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sustainable development path for solar PV manufacturers

Jamie Tang, SEMI China

China Photovoltaic Industry Sustainable Development Forum, Huhhot, Inner Mongolia, August 13, 2013, USA: Facing record low module average selling prices (ASPs) and upcoming anti-dumping (AD) duties in August from the European Commission, China’s PV community has to re-think incentive policies, market exploration, business models, cost control and technology innovation.

With large electricity subsidies from government, both PV manufacturing capacity and prices have improved in recent years. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) dropped to US $0.1/kWh in large scale power plants located in northwest China’s abundant sunshine. And it has been widely accepted that the PV market is no longer stimulated by policy, but by commercial interests.

According to present PV electricity subsidy prices, the Chinese government will pay more than US$1Billion, but only for newly installed PV capacity each year. Predicting how and when the feed-in-tariff will be reduced is unclear, but it would be implemented step by step.

More and more upstream PV manufacturers are lining up to develop power plants for higher profit as margins have been reduced in the manufacturing segment of the supply chain. The intent is to be the next First Solar and successfully operate both upstream and downstream business. Potential entrants must pay attention to the rising risk of policy change and cash flow fracturing.

The survival of solar players faced with all these risks and the challenge of sustainable development remains the key objective in the China PV community. In response to this new environment and changing market and policy trends, SEMI China will hold the China Photovoltaic Industry Sustainable Development Forum in Huhhot, Inner Mongolia, on August 13, 2013.

The proper incentive policies for the PV industry and market, mergers and acquisitions, new business models, cost controls and tech innovation will be intensely discussed.  The goal is to collaboratively develop a new model of industry growth and revenue potential as well as restore confidence in the manufacturing sector.

Hohhot is the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in north-central China, and serves as the region's administrative, economic, and cultural center. The region enjoys abundant sunshine with a daily average of 4.7 sunshine peak hours, and is characterized by large areas of desert, low electricity prices (less than 0.38yuan/kWh), abundant coal resources, and a convenient geographic location. All this makes Huhhot the ideal place to develop both PV manufacturing and PV power generation facilities.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Virtual power plants will reach $3.6 billion in annual revenue by 2020

USA: Using software systems, virtual power plants (VPPs) can combine a rich diversity of independent resources into a unified network via sophisticated planning, scheduling, and bidding of distributed energy resource-based services.

Driven by the integration of variable generation resources – especially from wind and solar – a viable VPP market is emerging and will see substantial growth, from a relatively small base, over the next several years. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, annual worldwide revenue from VPPs will grow from less than $1 billion in 2013 to $3.6 billion in 2020, under a base forecast scenario.

Under a more aggressive forecast scenario, VPP vendor revenue could reach $4.3 billion by 2020.

“The growth in distributed, renewable power generation sources requires additional supply and demand flexibility to accommodate fast ramping periods and corresponding supply forecast error,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “VPPs represent an ideal optimization platform for the coming transformation of the power grid.”

Rate-basing utility prerogatives still offer deployment barriers for both VPPs and the complementary market for microgrids. Although recent regulatory reforms are moving in the direction of a greater reliance on distributed energy resources, centralized fossil fuel power plants will still dominate electricity markets for quite some time. Compared to traditional coal and natural gas-fired plants, VPPs offer a low-cost platform to squeeze more value out of existing infrastructure assets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with peaking power plants.

Amtech obtains second high-efficiency N-type solar customer

USA: Amtech Systems Inc., a global supplier of production and automation systems and related supplies for the manufacture of solar cells, semiconductors, and sapphire and silicon wafers, announced its solar subsidiary, Tempress Systems, received a multi-million dollar order (in the low teens) for its advanced diffusion and PECVD equipment to be used in Nexolon USA's facility located in San Antonio, Texas.

The order is for 100MW and is the first phase of a planned 200MW turnkey project executed by the n-PASHA Alliance for Nexolon. Shipment is expected in the first half of fiscal 2014.

The n-PASHA Alliance members consist of Tempress Systems, ECN (Energy Research Centre of The Netherlands), and RENA GmbH. The Alliance was established in 2012 to more effectively offer the n-PASHA technology, an n-type bi-facial cell concept developed by ECN, which yields high cell efficiencies at a competitive cost level to the solar industry.

The n-PASHA cells used for bi-facial modules generate electricity from light coming through both the front and rear side of the panel positioning the solar field to generate 10-20 percent more power at no additional cost. Additionally, the n-type modules do not suffer from LID (light induced degradation) compared to power loss of typically several percentage points for commonly used p-type modules.

SolarEdge co-operates with ReneSola and Via Solis

ISRAEL & GERMANY: The renowned PV manufacturer ReneSola now offers PV modules with embedded power optimization technology from SolarEdge Technologies.

As partner, the Lithuanian module manufacturer Via Solis integrates the SolarEdge power optimizer technology into the prefabricated ReneSola modules, and supervises the distribution of the smart PV modules throughout Europe. The first smart ReneSola PV modules come in wattages of 250 Watt, and will be delivered to first customers at September 2013.

This agreement extends ReneSola’s product range to include smart PV modules. Smart ReneSola PV modules with embedded SolarEdge power optimizer technology offer cost saving installation due to fewer components compared with stand-alone optimization solutions. Via Solis’ one-stop service for both PV and optimizer components ensures fast and flexible deliveries to the customers.

The embedded SolarEdge technology prevents power losses caused by panel mismatch, soiling and partial shading, and thus enable up to 25 percent more power production. The module-level power optimizers also enable per module performance monitoring for cost efficient and advanced maintenance. The unique SafeDC feature of the power optimizers enables automatic DC voltage shutdown, thus ensuring maximum safety for installers, maintenance personnel and firefighters.

Smart modules offer faster ROI
“Our smart ReneSola modules equipped with SolarEdge power optimizer units will provide an even faster ROIs to our customers working with SolarEdge optimization technology. As the product is assembled in Europe by Via Solis, a manufacturer greatly experienced with SolarEdge technology, it will qualify for FIT bonuses for PV components assembled in Europe,” says Florian Dieckmann, marketing manager at ReneSola Europe.

“Thanks to high speed train connections between China and Lithuania, we are also able to fasten the transport of our products in an environmentally friendly way to our partner Via Solis.”

The Lithuanian module manufacturer and provider of PV system solutions has already installed more than 3 MW of PV projects with SolarEdge power optimizers and inverters in Lithuania. “With these new modules we will extend our business throughout Europe,” says Rimvydas Karoblis, CEO of Via Solis. “Together with our partners we offer high quality smart modules.”

“We are very pleased to have convinced another leading international module manufacturer to integrate our power optimizing technology,” says Joachim Nell, GM of SolarEdge, Central Europe. “This underlines the increasing importance of flexible system designs, which take into account mismatching between individual modules and hence deliver a higher energy yield.”