Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 31

This issue covers:

Your free invitation to Hannover Messe

Seaward Group will be exhibiting at Hannover Messe, Germany on 7-11 April 2014. Come and visit us at: Hall 12 - Stand number E01 where we will be exhibiting a leading range of electrical test and measurement equipment from our Clare, Cropico, Seaward and Solar brands.

You can register for your free visitor pass to the exhibition here.

Please register for your eticket before the show. The eTicket is valid for the entire duration of Hannover Messe 2014 and also gives you free access to public transport to/from the show in the Greater Hannover (GVH) region on the day of attendance.

If you're planning to go, don't forget to drop by our stand: HALL 12, STAND E01.

Global solar PV market review

The latest market report on the global solar PV sector says that the top 10 global PV markets accounted for over 80% of end-market demand in 2013.

However, each of these markets has unique characteristics that drive demand, ranging from individual policy and regulatory structures to differing customer preferences and business models. These factors can lead to dramatically different market sizes and growth rates.

Looking at the growth rates of these countries in 2013, there is a distinct trend that shows the shift of end-market demand away from Europe and towards Asia. In fact, according to the Marketbuzz 2014 report, the three fastest growing markets in 2013 were Japan, China, and Thailand, each more than doubling their end-market demand levels over the previous year.

Conversely, three of the top European markets (Germany, Italy and France) saw end-market levels decline in 2013, with only the United Kingdom showing growth.

China and Japan were the largest markets and grew the most by far in 2013. Not only are these markets projected to continue increasing in 2014, but the shift to Asia will be further aided by growth in the Indian and Thai markets.

In fact only two top-10 markets, Germany and Australia, declined in terms of market size in 2013 and are forecast to continue the decline in 2014. For more details visit www.solarbuzz.com

Market growth in UK anticipated

Market analyst, NPD Solarbuzz, has upgraded its forecast for the UK PV market in 2014. The company is now forecasting 2.5GW of new solar PV in the UK during 2014, having previously put the figure at 2.27GW.

The change is the result of a stronger than expected final quarter in 2013 (Q4 2013), with project developers completing projects ahead of the wisely-predicted seasonal weather chaos of Q1. This is providing increased confidence that ROC-based large-scale projects will be spread out across Q2 to Q4 2014, and not all left to the last minute during Q1 2015.

It also appears that project developers and investors appear comfortable with the ROC change on 1 April 2014 to 1.4ROCs/MWh. ROIs are adequate to secure financing, with investors and politicians alike becoming highly vocal that solar PV is a credible asset class that offers greater long-term returns than cash or bonds, but with a lower risk than equities or property.

NPD Solarbuzz also said that the slowdown in other European markets (in particular Germany) had created extra sales activity in the UK, with extra component (module and inverter) supply and project developer/installer bandwidth available to complete UK projects this year and going forward.

Overall, the report said that the UK is offering growth in residential, commercial rooftop and large-scale ground-mount segments, and it is possibly this combination of application types that makes the country a lower-risk proposition than some other countries seeking to grow PV deployment. Full report at www.solarpowerportal.co.uk

Solarlink PV test kit with datalogging capabilities

The Solarlink PV test kit from Seaward Solar enables contractors to meet international electrical commissioning and system safety requirements quickly, thoroughly and effectively.

The special kit includes all the necessary test equipment and datalogging capabilities needed to perform pre-installation site surveys and measure the electrical safety and performance of PV systems in line with BS EN 62446.

The kit combines the comprehensive electrical commissioning test capabilities of the new PV150 solar installation handheld tester with the advanced Solar Survey 200R multifunction PV survey meter. Special wireless Solarlink connectivity between the two instruments enables real-time irradiance to be displayed and measured at the same time as electrical testing is being undertaken. This means that irradiance, module and ambient temperature can be recorded in real time within the PV150 as the electrical tests are conducted.

When testing is completed, the USB download of time and date stamped test results, irradiance and temperature measurements provides full traceability and speeds up the completion of PV system documentation and customer handover packs.

In addition to solar PV system installation and commissioning, the new Solarlink Test Kit is ideal for conducting site surveys of potential installations, by quickly providing the information needed to calculate estimated annual solar irradiation and system yields of PV and solar thermal systems, as described in SAP 2009, Appendices H and M.

Full details on the comprehensive Seaward Solar range of PV test equipment, accessories and data recording software are available here.

Council relaxes solar PV planning controls

A UK local authority has announced plans to relax planning controls for solar PV farms. Swindon Borough Council has voted through new measures that will allow solar farms to be developed on pre-approved sites under Local Development Orders.

Swindon residents will be able to nominate areas of land suitable for solar farm developments which will then be vetted by the council for suitability. If a site is deemed suitable then the council will designate it as permitted development.

The Council is launching a call for sites to encourage farmers, landowners, and importantly, parish councils and residents to come forward to nominate potential sites for solar farms. The proposed locations will be reviewed and decisions taken to designate them as permitted development for a solar farm – and that will mean that developers will not need a planning application. Developers can go ahead and build within the criteria set for that particular site.

The council is the first in the UK to use local development orders to allow permitted developments for solar farms as part of a strategic approach to the development of more renewable energy projects.

Investment in new solar PV technologies to grow

Analysts at IHS Technology say that next-generation PV technologies such as n-type substrates and diamond wire will become more mainstream in 2014 as solar product manufacturers ramp up their capital expenditure.

In a move that will coincide with the launch of a new spending cycle within solar circles, manufacturers along the PV supply chain will transition from standardized technologies at present to next-generation mechanisms for solar-related mass production in the near future. Capital spending will reach an expected $3.4 billion by year-end, IHS believes, after bottoming out in 2013.

"Innovative technologies will be atop the agendas of major solar manufacturers globally now that supply and demand has come to closer alignment," said IHS solar demand analyst, Jon Campos.

"While most experts thought that overcapacity issues would remain significantly longer, the fundamental assumptions made by IHS were that the industry would move toward market equilibrium behind increasing demand in the emerging markets, and that PV manufacturers would turn to advanced technologies to compete with traditional forms of energy production – assumptions that are now coming to fruition," added Campos.

The findings are announced in an IHS report ‘PV Manufacturing Technology Report – World 2014’ More details at www.ihs.com