Friday, October 31, 2014

Modelling a renewable future

AUSTRALIA: South Australia made headlines around the world when it was announced that the state - 'a place with the population of West Virginia' - had been powered by 100 percent renewable energy for an entire working day.

Commentators took it as a proof that a fully renewable future is possible. South Australia, moving against the wider trends in Australia, is the poster child for that future.

This royalty free feature delves into the effective use of solar power, wind power and other renewable energy using the experiences of South Australia as an example. The long feature can be broken into parts specific to the energy forms.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SolarReserve advances leadership in solar thermal energy

SANTA MONICA, USA: SolarReserve announced its acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne's Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) business.

The acquisition includes intellectual property (IP) rights and patents related to molten salt technology for concentrating solar-thermal power and electricity storage applications, as well as heliostat designs and collector field control systems.

The key personnel at Aerojet Rocketdyne with critical knowledge of this technology are joining SolarReserve along with the technology acquisition. This includes Chief Engineer, George O'Connor, a 35-year veteran at Aerojet Rocketdyne who brings extensive technical leadership experience on the solar programs while at Aerojet Rocketdyne in addition to his expertise on rocket propulsion and advanced power systems.

"The technology acquisition further demonstrates SolarReserve's industry leadership in solar thermal energy storage, and our ongoing commitment to technology innovation and operational excellence through investments in advanced technology research and development," said SolarReserve's CEO Kevin Smith. "With this acquisition and continued advancement on the technology, SolarReserve is well positioned to capture a significant portion of the projected $75 billion CSP market expected to develop through 2025."

"We are excited to have the industry's top solar thermal technology experts join SolarReserve from Aerojet Rocketdyne," Smith added. "The integrated SolarReserve technology organization will further innovate, improve performance and reduce deployment costs of this leading edge technology."

SunEdison and Rajasthan Government sign MoU for 5 GW of solar PV

JAIPUR, & CHENNAI, INDIA: SunEdison Inc., has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Rajasthan Government aimed at developing Rajasthan as the global hub for solar energy.

SunEdison intends to establish 5 GWs of capacity in the form of multiple Mega Solar Projects, with the expected capacity of each Mega Solar project 500 megawatts (MW) or more.

The MoU comes at an opportune time following the new Solar Policy announced by the Government of Rajasthan, which aspires to create 25 GW of solar capacity in the state in the next few years. The MOU was signed by the honorable Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje Scindia.

"Under the dynamic leadership and vision of chief minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, this MOU paves the way for socially and environmentally responsible economic growth and prosperity in the State of Rajasthan," said Pashupathy Gopalan, president, Asia Pacific Operations.

"SunEdison is honored to be able to contribute its world leading technology and deployment capabilities to support the emergence of India as a global solar energy leader under the vision and leadership of the honorable PM Narendra Modi and energy minister, Piyush Goyal."

Gopalan re-iterated SunEdison's commitment to India, saying: "SunEdison is committed to the long term development of India's solar program and supports its quest for energy security. In support of this initiative we are building local and global partnerships to ensure India is at the cutting edge of solar technology and can provide its citizens with clean, reliable, affordable energy solutions."

SunEdison intends to create state-of-the-art solar facilities to generate and supply solar energy to various organizations inside and outside the State of Rajasthan. Those who will receive renewable energy from the solar projects include nodal entities of the Central Government of the Union of India, viz., Solar Energy Corp. of India, NTPC Vidyut Vyaparan Nigam Ltd and Power Trading Corp. SunEdison or SunEdison affiliates, including Yieldcos, are envisioned as the ultimate owner(s) of the solar projects.

The Government of Rajasthan will facilitate the identification of government land suitable for the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects as well as allot land on a long-term lease in accordance with the applicable policies of the state government.

Additionally, the Government of Rajasthan will create and provide the necessary electricity interconnection infrastructure. In order to complete these requirements, the government has tasked the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation with expediting and facilitating the allotment of land and all other requisite permits and approvals for establishment of the solar PV projects.

As a thought leader in the solar industry, SunEdison will also assist in the development of strategies and policies to facilitate the large scale replacement of existing electric and diesel water pumps with solar powered water pumps via innovative financing and business models. In doing so, farmers will be able to increase their incomes by harvesting crops using the sun's energy instead of falling victim to ground water depletion and electricity subsidy issues.

SunEdison already has a strong presence in Rajasthan, with over 50 MW's of large solar generation capacity and more than 1000 solar water pump installations.

Solar glass price plunge to cease as trade sanctions take effect

MUNICH, GERMANY: After falling by about 50 percent from 2009 through 2014, pricing for solar glass is set to commence a rebound starting next year, as anti-dumping duties levied by the European Union go into effect on Chinese suppliers.

Average global pricing for glass used in photovoltaic (PV) solar is expected to fall to $4.60 per square meter this year, down from $10.40 in 2009, according to IHS Technology.

However, pricing will begin to stabilize and begin a long-term increase starting next year. By 2018, solar glass pricing will increase to $5.90 per square meter, up 11 percent from the low point this year, as presented in the attached figure.

“The sharp drop in solar glass prices during the last five years was the result of massive oversupply in the market,” said Karl Melkonyan, solar research analyst at IHS Technology.

“Chinese government subsidies on solar glass caused domestic suppliers to increase production and exports. However, the European Union’s move to impose countervailing duties on solar glass imported from China will limit supply in the market, leading to an expected increase in prices.”

Made in China
In 2010, imports accounted for only 7 percent of total solar glass supply in Europe. This share grew to 30 percent in 2013. For 2014, more than 90 percent of imports will come from China, up from 35 percent in 2010.

This means that in 2014, Chinese manufacturers will account for 27 percent of total solar glass supply in Europe, up from 2.5 percent in 2010.

Encouraged by government subsidies, many Chinese glass manufacturers entered the solar glass segment and started an aggressive pricing strategy in overseas markets, following a similar pattern to China’s participation in the module space. The price undercutting caused a strong oversupply and price collapse in the market.

European backlash
High imports from China led to lost profits and shutdowns of factories for European solar glass producers.

In response, the European Union in May imposed five-year tariffs on solar glass from China. The EU imposed countervailing duties on solar glass imported from China in a range of about 3 to 17 percent, depending on the level of subsidy that a solar glass company received from China.

Glass shippers
IHS estimates the global demand for flat glass—the parent category of solar glass—in 2013 was 47.6 million metric tons. With an estimated 55 percent share, China dominates flat glass supply. Europe follows with a 16 percent share.

The Asia-Pacific region is forecast to remain the largest and fastest-growing market for solar glass during the next five years. However, only a few first-tier suppliers from China will provide what customers consider to be high-end products.

ARC of triumph
In other developments in solar glass, the global market share of anti-reflective coated (ARC) solar glass in 2018 is projected to reach 85 percent.

Anti-reflective coatings increase module power output and lower the cost-per-watt, which is the key value measure for any solar-power-generating system.

After a weak 2012, the fast-recovering PV market has also contributed to a strong demand for solar glass with AR coating, with about 50 percent growth during each of 2013 and 2014.

The “Module Innovations to Create Opportunity for PV Materials Market” report delivers to readers an in-depth look into the competitive landscape of the leading module manufacturing materials, as well as cost trending through 2018. The report investigates current and pioneering developments in glass, backsheet, frames, junction boxes and encapsulants.

Council decision on 2030: Lacking ambition

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: European Heads of State have agreed on a Climate and Energy framework for 2030 that includes a binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 40 percent, a renewables target of at least 27 percent and an energy efficiency target of at least 27 percent.

“The renewables target is a very small step to support the enormous potential that solar and other renewables represent. It is still an important signal of political resolve to overcome the existing market barriers and the adverse national political contexts where some Member States have implemented retroactive measures for renewables,” stated Frauke Thies, EPIA Policy director.

“The ball is now in the Court of the new European Commission to build on this minimum target with a meaningful legislative framework and fair market conditions for renewables. Technologies like solar must be able to realise their full competitive potential and keep Europe on track for the much-needed energy transition,” concluded Thies.

Significant acquisition adds to ContourGlobal’s growing wind and solar operating portfolios

WIEN, AUSTRIA & NEW YORK, USA: ContourGlobal and affiliates of Austria’s Raiffeisen Banking Group announced that they have signed agreements for ContourGlobal to purchase approximately 201 MW of renewable energy operating plants in Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic for an undisclosed sum.

The portfolios acquired include 8 operating wind farms in Austria totaling 161 MW and operating solar sites in the Czech Republic and Slovakia totaling 40 MW. 103 MW was signed and closed October 15, 2014 with RENERGIE (an affiliate of Raiffeisen-Holding NĂ–-Wien) and an additional 98 MW was signed on October 22, 2014 with REE (an affiliate of Raiffeisen-Leasing) and is expected to close before year-end.

The acquisition expands ContourGlobal’s growing portfolio of renewable energy assets, complementing its nearly 1.4 GW portfolio of renewable energy businesses in South America, Europe and Africa.

“We are thrilled to execute this significant transaction, adding to our growing renewable portfolio and continuing our nearly decade long investment in the Central and East European power space,” said Joseph C. Brandt, ContourGlobal’s president and CEO.

“Austria has a very well developed and well-structured market that provides predictable and fair rules for development competition and we look forward to further growth here. Vienna is also a well located hub for our growing Central and Eastern European operations. For nearly ten years Austrian banks and professional service firms have supported our Eastern European operations. We are pleased to announce that we will be locating our European headquarters to Vienna.”

“During the last years REE has developed attractive projects and a sustainable business. We are selling our profitable wind farms and solar plants to ContourGlobal, which is an experienced international power company. ContourGlobal is a sizable company and has the technical know-how to continue the successful operation and development of the assets,” stated Alexander Schmidecker, CEO of Raiffeisen Leasing, with the affiliate Raiffeisen Energy & Environment.

Schmidecker also commented that Raiffeisen Leasing will continue to engage in lease financing transactions for projects in the energy sector.

The acquisition adds to ContourGlobal’s growing presence in Eastern Europe, where it owns power generation facilities in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Southern Co. subsidiary to top 300 MW of total solar generating capacity with acquisition of new California facility

ATLANTA, USA: Southern Co. subsidiary Southern Power announced the acquisition of the 150-megawatt (MW) Solar Gen 2 solar facility in California from First Solar, Inc. As the largest solar facility in the Southern Power portfolio, Solar Gen 2 is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 60,000 average California homes.

"Our strategic renewable development has earned Southern Company a reputation as a national leader in solar," said Southern Co. chairman, president and CEO, Thomas A. Fanning. "Expanding our partnership with First Solar - a global renewable leader - will help us continue to develop a more diverse energy mix for America."

The Solar Gen 2 project spans three sites - each of which is approximately a 50-MW grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system - comprising a combined 1,451 acres of land in Imperial County, California. The project will consist of more than one million thin-film PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.

"We value the strong, successful track record we have with Southern Power," said First Solar CEO, Jim Hughes. "We're pleased to continue that relationship with Solar Gen 2 and we look forward to further opportunities to work together."

The Solar Gen 2 facility is being built and will be operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction of the project began in 2013. Completion of the project is expected to occur later in the fourth quarter 2014. Southern Power will initially own 100 percent of the project, with First Solar agreeing to acquire a minority interest subject to certain terms and upon fulfillment of certain conditions.

Electricity generated by the plant is contracted to serve a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), a subsidiary of Sempra Energy. Headquartered in San Diego, SDG&E provides energy service to 3.4 million people through 1.4 million electric meters and 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.

Southern Power has previously acquired seven solar facilities with Turner Renewable Energy, with Southern Power's ownership of the facilities totaling 262 MW. The acquisition of Solar Gen 2 is expected to increase the total Southern Power-owned solar capacity to 338 MW. The total generation capacity of the eight projects is anticipated to be 441 MW.

The acquisition fits Southern Power's business strategy of growing the wholesale business in targeted markets through acquiring generating assets and building new units, the output of which is significantly covered by long-term contracts.

California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of retail sales by the end of 2020.