Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 28

This issue covers:

UK solar strike prices revised

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed the revised strike prices for large-scale solar installations.

The new strike prices will be available to developers under the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme from 2015. The revised strike prices for solar until 2019 will decrease from the 2015/2016 level of £120/MWh by £5/MWh to reach £100/MWh by 2018/2019.

For the later years, these prices are actually higher than the Solar Trade Association had requested previously.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the STA said: “We are disappointed with the strike price in the early years as it is far below the levels we asked for. The transition from ROCs to CfDs requires the higher levels we suggested, particularly when this is an untried and new mechanism. The published levels are lower than what is needed, so we now have to focus on fixing the variables in the mechanism to make it work for solar. That will be a significant task.

“What is bizarre, is that DECC has ignored our request for lower strike prices in the later years. We have provided up to date deployment costs, which are far more accurate than DECC’s existing data. Why give us more than we asked for? Is there an underlying concern that we will be the lowest cost low-carbon technology by 2019?” More at www.solarpowerportal.co.uk

Special solar power clamp demo film

An informative short film highlights how a highly versatile new AC/DC clamp meter can be used for effective power measurement and diagnostic testing on solar PV systems.

The demo shows how the high performance Seaward Solar Power Clamp is used to measure DC and AC circuit power, in addition to true RMS voltage and current, harmonic distortion, power factor, resistance & continuity, diode check and capacitance.

The advanced new power meter has been specially designed for use by solar PV installers and technicians to measure the efficiency of PV systems, assess the performance of the inverter and carry out troubleshooting fault testing to ensure that system components are working properly.

For fast and simple power efficiency analysis, the Seaward Power Clamp simply clips over the cable to measure current from the inverter and the supplied in-line connectors can be used to measure the DC voltage whilst the PV modules are connected to the inverter, giving an accurate reading of the power whilst the system is operational.

The new Seaward Power Clamp also has full clamp on multimeter functions and is suitable for use on systems up to 600A AC or DC current and 1000V. The new unit is supplied with test leads and probes and comes in an all-inclusive test kit carrying case. View the demo here

US solar PV pipeline continues to grow

The pipeline of solar PV projects awaiting completion in the USA has grown by 7% during the past 12 months, and now exceeds 43 GW - enough to power more than six million US households.

The figures come from the latest NPD Solarbuzz US Deal Tracker report, which says that, while large projects in excess of 100 megawatts (MW) previously dominated the US PV pipeline, growth is now being driven by smaller projects up to 30 MW in size.

The growing project pipeline remains a key factor in driving the positive outlook for the US PV industry, which is now forecast by to become the third-largest solar PV market globally in 2014, after China and Japan.

“The increase in new solar PV projects being planned or under construction is driving double-digit annual growth forecasts for PV adoption within the United States,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

“Large-scale PV projects exceeding 20 megawatts continue to dominate the pipeline, in terms of installed capacity, stimulated by state-based renewable portfolio mandates. Projects of all sizes have become increasingly viable, due to declines in solar PV system pricing in the past year.”

Developers of solar PV projects in the United States are now being forced to transition more quickly from “pre-planning” and “planning” stages to “under-construction” or “installed” status. This transition is motivated by deadlines to qualify for the full US Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%. More details at www.solarbuzz.com.

Solar PV powered phone charging points

An interesting and innovative solar PV story reaches us from Papua New Guinea, where a network of mobile phone charging stations is being set up throughout rural and remote areas.

Already a pilot project of 30 stations has been launched, with each one comprising a single solar panel and a box containing batteries. Up to 20 phones will be able to be charged simultaneously.

The units will also incorporate an LED light for night-time security. The stations will be operated and maintained by locals as a small business venture and users will pay a small fee to recharge their phones.

The initiative is spearheaded by telecoms company Digicel and is backed by the New Zealand government and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC). If the pilot project is successful, the project will be expanded to 500 sites across Papua New Guinea.

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