Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 44

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More solar PV growth in 2015 anticipated

IHS forecasts that global solar PV installations will grow by 30 percent in 2015. Among the key findings from the IHS PV Demand Tracker is that global solar PV installations are forecast to reach 57.3GW in 2015, a 30 percent annual increase.

Solar installations are estimated to have reached 44.2GW in 2014 - a 14 percent increase over 2013. Installations are forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.5 percent over the next five years to reach 73GW in 2019.

Around the world, largest absolute growth was recorded in APAC which grew by 5.5GW to reach 26.4GW, accounting for 60 percent of total global demand. European solar demand fell by 30 percent in 2014 to 7.9GW, but is forecast to return to growth in 2015 and reach 9.4GW.

Detailed project analysis revealed that China installed 12.6GW of new solar capacity in 2014. It should be noted that the official estimate from China's NEA of 10.6GW represents the sum of PV projects connected to the grid in AC terms, whilst IHS data shows installations in DC terms. IHS has raised its forecast for China installations in 2015 to 17.3GW.

The report also forecasts that Japan will retain its position as the world's second largest solar market in 2015 and grow by 4 percent to 10.4GW.

The USA installed an estimated 7 GW of new PV capacity in 2014 and is forecast to install more than 9GW in 2015 before peaking in 2016.

Other than the aforementioned countries, the next largest driver of growth is predicted to be the UK. IHS forecasts 3.5GW of installations in 2015, driven largely by the rush to beat the ROC deadline at the end of March.

Longer term, IHS has cut its forecast for global PV installations by 1.5GW in 2018, largely due a 3GW reduction in its outlook for the European market. Despite the reduction, IHS still forecasts more than 50GW of new PV capacity to be installed in Europe over the next five years. Report at technology.ihs.com

PV150 PV Testing Kit

Another Australian solar PV rooftop fire...

The Australian press has reported the latest case of a rooftop solar PV system fire, with an isolator switch fault being blamed for a fire on the roof of a Caloundra home in South Queensland.

The report says smoke started streaming from the solar panels of the house. Nobody was in the house at the time, but firefighters said this was not the first time an isolator had sparked a fire at a Sunshine Coast home.

Conrad Ware of the Caloundra Fire Station said the small fire was sparked from an isolator at the side of the solar panel system on the roof.

"There have been a number of fires in recent months where an isolator has failed. We would certainly encourage people to contact the Electrical Safety Office and also the people who installed their solar panel system to make sure the isolator they have is working properly," he said.

A spokeswoman from the Electrical Safety Office said generally speaking the department will work with the fire and emergency service if electricity was a contributing factor to a fire. "Several DC isolator brands including Avanco, Gen3, SPM, Vower, NHP and Iso Max have been recalled," the spokesman said. "If homeowners are unsure of which DC isolator is installed they are asked to contact their solar installer or a licensed electrical contractor or turn off the system until the isolators can be replaced.”

The ESO further advises that due to solar systems being installed in outdoor locations, and subject to harsh environmental conditions, on-going maintenance and safety checks are needed to ensure optimum performance of a solar system and to ensure no safety issues arise over time. Full story here.

...and another in the UK

A large fire which broke out on Hove Town Hall is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the solar installation on the building’s roof. East Sussex Fire Service was called to Hove Town Hall during the day and managed to bring the fire under control shortly thereafter. No one is believed to have been hurt in the blaze.

The Council said that it believed that the solar PV installation was behind the blaze and has confirmed that it will now check all solar panels across all of its council buildings following the incident.

Commenting on reports that the fire was solar-related, Chris Roberts, the Solar Trade Association’s technical specialist, said: “We understand that the fire on Hove Town Hall today is believed to have been caused by a fault in the solar PV installation. It is important to remember that at present there is no reason to believe that solar installations, when properly installed, present any greater fire risk than any other electrical equipment.

“It is vital that solar PV systems are correctly designed, competently installed and regularly maintained by companies certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

“The Solar Trade Association continues to work closely with the BRE National Solar Centre and MCS to ensure best practice standards for all rooftop installations, and hope to soon launch a 10 Commitments best practice document for commercial solar rooftops in particular.”

Full story at www.solarpowerportal.co.uk.

Bright solar prospects for Oregon and Washington

Growing residential and commercial markets will enable the neighbouring states of Oregon and Washington to make significant new solar installation gains this year.

This is one of the conclusions in the recently-released US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. The two Northwest states are expected to top 200 megawatts (MW) of combined solar electric capacity by the end of 2015 – enough to power nearly 25,000 homes.

The report explains that the biggest solar gains last year in both states came in residential installations, but commercial installations increased, too, with leading companies all making significant investments in solar energy systems. But 2015 promises to be the best year ever for both states when it comes to adding new solar electric capacity.

“In Washington, solar growth this year is projected to triple, while Oregon is expected to more than quadruple.” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “ Today, more and more people, as well as businesses in both states, are choosing to ‘go solar’ as a way to reduce their electricity costs, make America more energy independent, protect our environment and fight climate change. It’s a win-win for both states.”

Nationwide, the US residential market added 1.2 GW of installed capacity in 2014, marking the first time that this growing sector surpassed 1 GW of clean, affordable solar. Residential also continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the USA, with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth. Details at www.seia.org

Apple goes green in China

In its first solar project outside of the USA, Apple has announced a partnership with SunPower to build 40 MW of solar PV projects in China’s western Sichuan province.

Construction of two projects is already underway and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The two 20 MW projects will be co-owned by Apple and Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co., Ltd., SunPower's project development joint venture.

Apple has increased its renewable power projects recently, with three projects in North Carolina and an $850 million deal to purchase power from First Solar's 130-megawatt California Flats Solar Project. SunPower has worked with Apple on six US projects totalling 90 MW in California, Nevada and North Carolina. Full story at www.greentechmedia.com

Intersolar Europe

Seaward Solar will be exhibiting at Intersolar Europe (booth B2.360) on the 10-12th June 2015 at the Messe München Exhibition Centre, Germany. We will be showcasing the full Solar range, including the Solarlink Test Kit, our all in one specialist PV test kit that enables contractors to install new solar PV installations safely, thoroughly and effectively

For all upcoming Seaward Solar events visit our events page