Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 40

This issue covers:

DECC considers UK rooftop FiT change for commercial premises

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has launched a consultation over its plans to allow commercial users to retain their feed-in tariff (FiT) payments if they move premises.

At the moment if a FiT accredited installation is moved if it becomes ineligible for further support. This can act as a significant deterrent to landlords and tenants who cannot guarantee to have the long-term ownership or lease of a building.

The potential change in arrangements has been designed to help allay anxieties commonly expressed by businesses due to the long project lifetime of a typical commercial PV project.

Launching the consultation, Amber Rudd, parliamentary under-secretary of state for energy said: “Around 900 businesses already use solar PV - but I want to see more generating their own electricity. There’s potential for significant growth in this area so it’s vital that we remove the barriers which prevent businesses from benefiting.

“Allowing the panels and the tariff to move with their owner will increase flexibility and make solar PV a much more attractive investment.”

The consultation will run until 5 January 2015 and forms part of the government’s promise to encourage greater take-up of rooftop solar as part of the national Solar Strategy.

More information at www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/.

US solar PV research incentive...

The US Energy Department has set up a new SunShot initiative, making more than $9 million available for solar energy developers.

The funding opportunity targets development projects aimed at improving the reliability and durability of solar photovoltaic technologies.

"Eligible projects will examine the performance of PV modules and develop accelerated tests to better understand how solar modules change over time and achieve improved lifetime performance of the modules," the Energy Department said.

Key focus areas will include using physics and chemistry and advanced data analysis to gain a better understanding of why solar modules fail, developing improved product tests and new rapid testing techniques or instruments.

The total federal funding for this opportunity will be approximately $9.7 million with a minimum 10%-20% required awardee cost share.

More details at www.energy.gov.

...as Topaz comes online

The world’s largest solar power plant has gone online in San Luis Obispo County, California, with enough power to supply 160,000 homes.

Spanning a huge 9.5 square miles (25 square km) - a third of the size of Manhattan – the Topaz Solar Farm consists of nine million solar panels and has a capacity of 550 megawatts.

The scheme is the first 500-plus MW solar farm to come online in the US and at a total of 550 megawatts, it is also the largest solar plant online in the world.

The Topaz Solar Farm is part of an initiative to have a third of California's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. However, its status as the world’s largest solar power farm is likely to be short-lived with the 579MW Solar Star project, also in California, due to be brought on stream next year by developer Sun Power. Details at www.firstsolar.com.

Assessment of solar PV market in China

With the changing emphasis of global solar PV development from Europe to Asia, a new report highlights the key dynamics of China’s solar market.

The ‘Assessment of China's solar PV market 2014-2016' from Smart Research Insights identifies the main trends behind the country’s growth and looks at the growing opportunities available.

China is now the world's largest solar PV market. The country's installed 12 GW of new solar PV power generation capacity in 2013, a sharp rise of 232% over the previous year. In contrast, new solar PV power installed capacity in the same period in Germany fell by 56.5 % to 3.3 GW and in Italy dropped by approximately 55% to 1.6 GW.

Industry experts predict that China will emerge as the leading adopter of solar PV technology globally over the next 35 years. For 2016 the country is targeting 35 GW of solar-power installations, ahead of the United States, India, parts of Asia and the Middle East.

More at www.researchandmarkets.com.

More efficient solar panels

Australian researchers are claiming a new world record in solar PV efficiency with a new method of using commercial solar panels.

A new PV system created by University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers converts 40 percent of solar light into electrical energy, which is a 15 percent increase over regular panels.

Laboratory tests have shown the solar cell method can convert up to 46 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Traditional solar energy production uses one solar cell, which limits the conversion of sunlight to electricity to around 33 percent. The new UNSW technology distributes the sunlight into four different cells, thus boosting the conversion levels.

The breakthrough involved two steps: three solar panels were set to capture energy from sunlight of different wave lengths, and then excess light from the cells is reflected by a mirror and filters, and is directed to a fourth PV panel. Thus, previously spare sunlight is used in the process and contributes to the increased efficiency.

The UNSW solar energy research has been funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Full story at www.newsroom.unsw.edu.au.

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