Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 24

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US solar breaks though 10GW

Solar PV installations in the USA have broken through the 10 GW barrier, following strong market deployment since the start of 2010, according to a report from NPD Solarbuzz. During the first half of this year alone, more than 1.8 GW of new solar PV capacity was installed across the nation.

The report says the USA is the fourth country in the world to reach the 10 GW milestone of installed PV capacity, following Germany, Italy and China.

In fact, solar PV has been one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the USA over the past six years, with a compound annual growth rate of over 50% since 2007, the report adds. NPD Solarbuzz predicts cumulative solar PV installations will increase by an additional 80% over the next 18 months, surpassing 17 GW by the end of 2014.

The report says that the rapid uptake of solar PV in the USA is being driven by dramatic solar system price declines observed since 2011. Average installed system prices have fallen from around $6/W two years ago to approximately $4.25/W for residential installations and $3/W for large utility-scale PV projects today.

More at www.solarbuzz.com.

 

Concern over EU China trade agreement

The European Union (EU) has announced that it has reached a deal with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce over anti-dumping duties imposed on China-sourced solar panels to the enthusiastic reception of practically no one.

However, in response, the Solar Trade Association (STA) has warned that the UK must adjust its solar policy framework to help mitigate the impact of new trade agreement. The STA has warned that the reported deal would leave non-domestic solar ‘out of kilter’ with UK policy framework as the price of solar modules would be ‘fixed by Brussels bureaucrats for 2.5 years’.

Although not finalised, the STA believes that a minimum price of €0.56/W will be implemented alongside a cap of 7GW. The STA has warned that the stated minimum price would severely affect the economics of large-scale solar in the UK.

With support under the Renewable Obligation set to drop to 1.4ROCs next April and non-domestic installations struggling under the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme, the STA has serious concerns that the mooted deal would further curtail the non-domestic market.

Commenting on the deal, STA PV specialist Ray Noble said: “We urge the UK government to amend this proposal by calling for a shorter duration for this deal, fluctuating or lower minimum prices, and allowing for volume growth and cost reductions.

“Otherwise the UK policy framework will be increasingly out of kilter with real world costs. In these circumstances we need the UK government to adjust its solar support framework. Otherwise we will see little solar deployment in the UK, even though large-scale solar is cheaper than other energy sources like offshore wind, biomass CHP, wave and tidal.

“It would make little sense from a public value-for-money perspective for the UK government to allow the solar industry to grind to a halt because of Brussels meddling.”

On the other hand, the domestic market should escape relatively unharmed according to the STA. Due to solar panels making up an increasingly smaller component of installation costs the association is not predicting as big an impact on the sector.

 

Caribbean test for Seaward solar PV instrumentation

Advanced Seaward Solar PV test instrumentation is helping Comet Solar, a successful reseller and installer of solar photovoltaic systems to verify the quality of PV modules and the performance of installations in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.

Comet has been successful in encouraging local hotels, resorts, property owners and businesses to invest in solar systems as a means of helping to offset the effects of the economic downturn on tourism levels and rising energy costs, often with the use of second hand or refurbished panels.

Despite a lack of formal installation standards or regulations, and in the interests of maintaining installation quality, Comet always aims to apply and meet the existing standards of the US NEC code and to perform to the best practices of the industry.

To help achieve this the company has recently invested in a dedicated new Seaward Solar PV150 solar installation test kit, along with a 200R irradiance meter, to enable it to carry out effective quality control and customer reassurance testing on its products and installations.

The Seaward Solar PV150 is a dedicated multi-function PV electrical tester designed specifically for solar panel system installation. It performs open circuit voltage measurements (Voc), short circuit current measurements (Isc), earth continuity, insulation resistance, operating current (via AC/DC current clamp).

The tester has been used successfully to verify the condition of a batch of pre-used PV units that have been re-installed on a 12 kW commercial flat roof top system, as well as on new modules used in the installation of a 500 kW project.

Chris Mason said: “Using the PV150 system on an installation in front of the client gives confidence that the installers are professional and are doing the project properly.

“We invite our customers to witness the commissioning tests with the PV150 so they can see how much work goes into our quality assurance procedures. This is both a marketing tool to enhance word of mouth referrals and protection against liability from call-backs.

“Documenting system performance at commissioning gives us a baseline against which to retest in the case of a complaint or problem, both with customers and manufacturers. For this use alone, the test kit and reporting system is invaluable.”

 

German FIT digression remains unchanged

Germany added some 300 MW of new photovoltaic capacity in June, according to the German Federal Network Agency. As a result, monthly FIT reductions of 1.8% will apply for the months of August, September and October.

The Agency’s PV installations for the month of June showed a newly registered total capacity of 309.24 MW. This brings the total installed PV capacity for the first half of the year in Germany to 1.79 GW. These figures show that the capacity expansion seems to have levelled out and the federal government appears to be on the way to achieve its goal of limiting new annual installation figures in Germany to 2.5GW to 3.5GW.

The Agency will take the newly installed PV systems figures between July 2012 and June 2013 as the basis for further reductions. The period saw nearly 4.99 GW of newly added PV capacity in Germany, causing the further lowering of by 1.8% in August, September and October.

More at www.pv-magazine.com.

 

Market forecasts for solar PV inverters

A market report from IMS Research forecasts that the global PV inverter market will shrink by 5% in 2013 as price pressures counter rising shipping volumes, although a strong rebound is anticipated next year.

Nevertheless, the global PV inverter market will still amount to a healthy US$6.7 billion in 2013, according to the report "The World Market for PV Inverters – 2013 edition."

Shrinking demand from Europe, the Middle East and Africa – which will account for 37 per cent of the global market this year compared to 82% in 2010 – will come as demand rises in China, where inverter prices are at their lowest and are predicted to fall to $0.09 per watt this year.

The report shows revenues falling as shipments increase, mirroring the pattern, if not the scale, of price pressures seen in the solar module market. In addition, the trend for utility scale inverters, which are pound-for-pound cheaper than smaller products, is an aggravating factor.

However, the report, also predicts revenues will rebound strongly next year to rise 11% to $7.3 billion. Also, manufacturers can anticipate more sustainable revenue growth in the USA, where the low-power three-phase string market will double this year to more than $100 million on the back of demand for fast installation, wall mounting and long warranties.

More details on the report at www.imsresearch.com.

 

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