Tag Archive | "solar energy"

Farmers advised to exercise ‘caution’ when signing up to any solar energy contract

Farmers thinking about the positive effect of solar energy. But according to the Chairman of IFA Renewables, James Murphy,  it says that the farmers have to be careful before signing up any agreement.

Speaking at an IFA seminar on solar energy he said that while there are good reasons to be optimistic about solar energy in Ireland, farmers should exercise caution in signing up to any agreement.

“Signing up to solar PV on your farm can provide an alternative source of income. However, as yet there is no certainty on the REFIT Tariff, grid connection policy or community involvement and until there is, farmers should exercise a cautious approach. All farmers should get legal advice before signing any agreement with solar development companies.”

He advised that the use of exclusivity agreements by solar companies represent a one-way-bet in which farmers take on all of the uncertainty and developers get all the commitments they need, usually at no cost.

Also he added that if a company is genuinely interested in developing on a farmer’s land, there should be no exclusivity agreement and the deal should move straight to option agreement discussions under which farmers should negotiate a guarantee base price.

“If you sign up to a exclusivity agreement with a solar development company, you are giving them a valuable asset but they are committing to nothing. Farmers need to ensure they are well advised and they get a fair deal.”

IFA President Joe Healy called on the Government to provide more certainty on solar energy so that its potential to assist in meeting emissions targets and in improving farm incomes can be realized,

In Ireland are more than 15,000 acres of farmland under some form of solar contract, whereupon Healy said that a number of crucial questions remain to be addresses, especially regarding the feed-in-tariff to be applied to solar generated energy, grid connection, farm scale projects and community participation in solar development projects.

The IFA President said the European Commission will next week set out Ireland’s emission reduction targets to be delivered by the year 2030 for the non-ETS sector. It includes farming and that solar energy has significant mitigation potential that could assist us in reaching those targets.

“The Government must come forward with greater policy certainty to facilitate this, as well as to deliver on our 2020 renewable energy obligations, on which we are currently falling short.”


IFA Renewables – The Irish Farmers’ Association was founded as the NFA on the 6th January, 1955, and celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2015. The country’s largest representative organisation for farmers and primary food producers is based on grass roots organisation and a strong democratic tradition of representation.

IFA has been the farmers’ voice for six decades in every single important decision impacting upon Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. At local, national and EU level, IFA’s active and dedicated voluntary officer structure works with a professional staff to improve farm incomes and address issues across the entire spectrum of food production, constantly adapting to a rapidly changing economic and political environment.

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SolarCity Buys Silevo for $200 Million, Plans GW Factory in NY

 In an effort to further streamline its solar business and lower the overall cost of solar energy, SolarCity announced today that it would acquire high-efficiency cell manufacturer Silevo for $200 million. In an effort to scale up the technology, SolarCity plans to construct a 1-GW manufacturing facility located in Buffalo, New York within the next two years.

The solar leasing company acquired mounting company Zep Solar in late 2013 in an effort to further vertically integrate its business. Now, chairman Elon Musk explained SolarCity’s imminent need for more, and cheaper, solar panel production, which he expects to reach “tens of GW” annually. “We thought that there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand [SolarCity] long-term…[When considering] the rate at which solar power is advancing, the amount of panels that are being made at a large scale today is really not fast enough,” he said during a conference call.

Musk emphasized the need for not only increased panel production, but a focus on advanced panel technology, which is what SolarCity believes that Silveo has to offer. A combination of higher volume and increased efficiency will “have a dramatic impact on solar and in particular be able to have solar power compete on an unsubsidized basis with the fossilized grid,” said Musk. “It is critical that you have high-efficiency solar panels and a total installed cost as low as possible.”

The Technology

After reviewing dozens of companies, SolarCity ultimately decided to pursue Silevo due to its proven technology and manufacturing success. Silevo uses what it calls “triex” technology to create a crystalline-amorphous hybrid cell, which creates a tunneling oxide and amorphous silicon layer. These layers allow increased temperature tolerance and lead to a high efficiency that currently stands at 21 percent, but SolarCity hopes to reach 24 percent within the next couple of years. The manufacturing process also uses copper electrode metallization rather than silver, which leads to lower costs.

Ucilia Wang discuss Silevo’s technology with then-vice president of business development and marketing Chris Beitel at the 2012 PV America Conference.

SolarCity co-founder and chief technology officer Peter Rive explained during the conference call that the Silevo technology compares well to standard cells in the 17-18 percent efficiency range and thin film in the 13-14 percent range. While SolarCity’s goal is to eventually reach 24 percent, Rive also noted that 26.4 percent is possible with ground-mounted and tilted flat roof systems due to the technology’s bifacial nature, which means it can absorb sunlight from both sides of the panel.

Rive explained some of the advantages of higher efficiencies with a common residential rooftop system comparison: “Consider a typical 6-kW system with standard efficiency panels and then picture that same system with 24 percent efficiency tri-cell,” he said. “Currently the system requires 24 panels, but the triex-module will require 18 panels. So it requires less labor, less mounting, less wiring, and so on.”

Big Manufacturing Plans

SolarCity is currently in discussions with the state of New York for its manufacturing facility. According to Rive, its initial target capacity is 1 GW within the next two years, making it one of the single largest solar panel productions in the world, creating thousands of local jobs. Groundbreaking is expected to happen very soon, according to Musk. Silevo currently has a 32-MW factory in China.

When comparing the relative costs of domestic vs overseas manufacturing, said Rive, “we believe that at scale we can achieve a competitive cost domestically as a result of having lower energy costs, avoiding import tariffs, a highly automated manufacturing facility and the fact that the triex cell has less labor content per module due to higher efficiency.”

The Silevo technology can be manufactured with off-the-shelf equipment from the semiconductor and flat-panel display industries and standard wafers, according to Rive. SolarCity also plans to open a research facility in silicon valley to ensure that it meets and even exceeds its efficiency targets.

When all is said and done, SolarCity will be one of the most vertically integrated solar companies in the world, spanning module manufacturing, installation, operations and maintenance, and energy sales. “What I am excited about is when we combine engineers at Silevo, Zep, and SolarCity to tailor manufacturing for all solar panels so they are specifically ready for installation,” said Rive.

Though the company does not have current plans to pursue any of the missing pieces to its vertically integrated puzzle, such as inverters or power optimizers, Musk said that they are open to suggestions and constantly looking to pursue the ultimate goal of the industry — to lower the cost of energy.

“We intend to put a lot of effort R&D on the panel side, into the hardware that we already own, and into inverter and battery technology to provide an overall solution to provide electric power at a price less than fossil fuels that are burdening the grid – that is the key threshold,” said Musk. “The demand grows exponentially as price drops, and it will grow at an enormous pace if we compete with grid electricity with no incentives. That is and has been the goal in order for the world to have sustainable energy.”

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New financing vehicle for Mekong Solar and Wind Energy

Armstrong Asset Management has forged a new partnership agreement with The Blue Circle for wind and solar project financing in the Mekong Region of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. With Armstrong agreeing to commit up to US $40 million in equity to fund the construction of wind and solar projects, it will also take a minority equity stake in The Blue Circle – a vertically integrated renewable energy developer operating in the region.

Currently the developer has a pipeline of over 600 MW of renewable energy projects under evaluation or negotiation in the Mekong Region.

“Having an institutional investor like Armstrong as a shareholder and project equity partner, with their extensive operational experience in Southeast Asia and specialization in renewable energy, will certainly accelerate the growth of The Blue Circle portfolio and strengthen our financing ability” said Olivier Duguet, CEO.

The agreement between the two Singapore based companies means that The Blue Circle will also benefit from Seed Capital Assistance Facility (SCAF) funding , an initiative by UNEP, ADB and GEF designed to help project developers overcome some of the challenges of greenfield project development.

Armstrong closed its Clean Energy Fund when it reached $164 million last November. Prior to the latest deal, it had made two investments from the fund: a capital commitment of up to US $30 million to Annex Power for solar PV and biogas projects in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and an equity stake in Symbior Elements to develop a portfolio of solar generation in Central and Northeast Thailand.

The development follows a recent co-investment deal between Armstrong and Mandiri Investment Management to work together to invest in renewable energy projects in Indonesia, starting with small and micro hydropower developments.

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Martifer Solar completes 11 MW utility-scale PV plant in Ginasservis, France

PV plant will produce sufficient clean energy to power more than 7,400 residents.

For the project, Martifer Solar worked with Eco Delta, an independent developer and operator of wind and solar farms. Remarkably, the project — which is in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France — was built within only 10 weeks.

“The completion of this PV plant is a key indication of Martifer Solar’s success and leadership in mature markets, such as France,” said Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar. “As the market is moving towards a post-Feed-in-Tariff era, we are prepared to advance our business model in order to drive down the LCoE and to match the evolution towards increased national tender processes and self-consumption projects.”

Martifer Solar completed the PV plant on an area of approximately 200,000 m2, using 42,592 modules installed on fixed structures. The 11 MW plant is expected to produce an estimated 17 GWh/year. With this production capacity, the plant will offset 1,345 tons of carbon dioxide on an annual basis. In addition to the significant environmental benefits that the project provides to Ginasservis, it also provided more than 150 jobs throughout the course of construction.

“As the developer, owner and operator of this 11 MW solar PV plant, Eco Delta is happy to contribute to the growth of the French renewable energy market,” said Chantal GASS, CEO of Eco Delta.

Solar presence in France

A recent report from the Ministry of Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development shows that approximately 1% of France’s electricity demand has been met with solar PV. Given the growing electricity rates and the country’s levels of solar irradiance, there is significant room for development in the maturing French PV market.

“We are proud to deliver this 11 MW project to Eco Delta on time and within only 10 weeks, which attests to our reliability and proven capability as a leading EPC player,” said Davide Pacheco, Country Manager of France for Martifer Solar. “This accomplishment contributes to the clear path set by recently appointed French Energy Minister, Mrs. Segolene Royal, promising green growth and added jobs for the country, where solar energy is undoubtedly an affordable and competitive solution when compared to other energy sources.”

Martifer Solar has been present in France since 2009 and has implemented close to 50 MW of solar projects throughout the country. In the most recent report from reputable research firm, iHS, Martifer Solar is the 5th largest integrated European installer and 11th in terms of PV Integrator market share in France.

For Eco Delta, this marks the company’s 15th PV plant.

Martifer Solar was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction and will also manage the subsequent operation and maintenance service for the PV plant.

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Yingli Green Energy plans to participate in Dubai’s 100MW solar park project

Chinese solar panel manufacturer Yingli Green Energy is planning to participate in Dubai’s 100MW solar park project, as part of the company’s expansion plans in the Middle East and Africa in 2014.

The company is looking to expand its business in emerging markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Nigeria and others.

The National cited Yingli Green Energy managing director Dimitirios Bachadakis as saying that the company will bid on Dubai’s independent power plant (IPP) project.

“There is a huge move towards solar energy in Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE to name just a few,” Bachadakis said.

As part of the plan to diversify its energy mix by 2030 in the UAE, the state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has issued a tender for the solar park project, with the deadline on 5 July 2014.

The tender for the solar part forms part of the AED1bn 1,000MW Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project.

Yingli executive director Middle East Evangelos Lianos was quoted by Reuters as saying, “It is either we will partner with other companies together and then will submit our bid, or it might be that our strategy is we will support this project with services to the participating companies.”

Currently, DEWA is negotiating with other partners and governments to equip large-scale solar installations in the region.

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Sunlabob and Relitec partnership aimed at Myanmar’s growing solar market.

Rural off-grid renewables specialist Sunlabob Renewable Energy and sustainable energy firm Relitec have announced a partnership agreement aimed at Myanmar’s growing on-site solar market.

Laos-based Sunlabob and Yangon, Myanmar-based Relitec said they plan to collaborate on addressing Myanmar’s growing demand for renewable energy.

According to estimates, less than 30% of the nation’s 60 million people have access to grid-connected electricity, and only 4% of the rural population has electricity.

Sunlabob offers on- and off-grid products and services ranging from hybrid mini-grids and solar home systems to energy efficiency consulting. Relitec specialises in the engineering, installation, and operation and maintenance of solar projects, and has implemented a number of solar projects in Myanmar.

Andy Schroeter, Sunlabob’s CEO, said, ‘Sunlabob’s experience implementing rural, off-grid renewable energy throughout the developing world will complement Relitec’s on-the-ground knowledge of the local Myanmar market.’

‘Myanmar is just seeing the tip of the iceberg for solar energy’s potential,’ said Than Aye, Relitec’s managing director. ‘We are excited to be well-positioned to meet the upsurge of solar activity.’

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Fernando de Noronha island gets 400 kWp solar photovoltaic plant.

WEG has supplied a complete solar photovoltaic plant for the Energy Company, Pernambuco State (Celpe), part of the Neoenergia group. The plant is installed at the Air Force Command and will supply 4.6% of the total energy consumption of the island, which represents a saving of almost 10% of the annual consumption of diesel.

The new Fernando de Noronha plant is part of the Celpe Energy Efficiency Program regulated by the National Electric Energy Agency (Aneel), which is conducted in partnership with the Air Force Command. The distance from the mainland hinders the use of energy through the network distribution centre, making the sun an attractive energy source in comparison to fossil fuels.

“Some hotels on the island already use solar energy to heat water; however, this is a pioneer project for electricity generation,” said Ana Christina Mascarenhas, the spokeswoman for Neoenergia Energy Efficiency Group. “The installation of a photovoltaic solar power plant, in addition to the benefits to the environment, promotes training in this new technology and helps expand the installation of this system of power generation.”

An additional project to install a second plant that will generate 500 kWp is currently awaiting authorisation from the relevant environmental agencies. As a further element to the project, wider strategies are being defined for the use of renewable energy on the island.

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China PV Exports Rise on Expansion in Emerging Markets

BEIJING — Zhejiang province posted US$340 million in exports of photovoltaic (PV) products for the first quarter of this year, an increase of 18 percent over the same period last year. The rise is primarily attributable to industry expansion into emerging markets. Exports to Japan increased 121 percent year-on-year, while those to ASEAN countries increased 843 percent.

“China’s PV products previously were mainly exported to the U.S. and to European countries, but now exports to emerging markets account for more than 80 percent of the total,” said Shen Fuxin, secretary general of the Zhejiang Solar Energy Industry Association.

Since 2011, EU countries and the U.S. have initiated anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations over PV imports from China. Most recently, the EU imposed definitive measures on Chinese solar panels in the form of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. These duties, ranging from 47.7 percent to 64.9 percent, will be valid for the two years starting 6 December 2013. This lead to dramatic decreases in the level of exports from many Chinese PV companies and was a major factor in Suntech Power’s bankruptcy, a leader in the field.

In order to offset the decrease, the PV industry across Zhejiang province began to expand into new markets while improving product competitiveness through technical innovations.

The more than two years of efforts are paying off. In 2013, the province’s PV industry achieved sales of 70 billion yuan (approx. US$11.2 billion), with Risen Energy, Zhejiang Sunflower Light Energy Science & Technology, ReneSola and JinkoSolar seeing continuous improvement in their competitiveness.

Of the $340 million export number, solar cell exports brought in $290 million, up 23 percent year-on-year, with the top five export destinations being Japan (+121 percent), Taiwan (+31 percent), ASEAN (+823 percent), the U.K. (+497 percent) and South Africa (+600 percent). “Exports to the U.S. and the European continent accounted for only 17 percent of the total,” said Shen.

Solar cell exports via the province’s Ningbo port increased despite the down market, thanks to the expansion efforts. During the first quarter of this year, exports via the port totaled 3.16 million units, valued at 1.67 billion yuan, up 53.7 percent and 13.4 percent from a year earlier, respectively.

Exports to emerging markets demonstrated an outstanding performance, with those to South Korea surging 112 times to 672,000 units, India 58.3 percent to 430,000 units and South Africa 140 times to 396,000 units.

Also dampened by EU tariffs, Ningbo’s solar cell exports to EU countries amounted to only 264,000 units in the first three months of this year, down 74.4 percent over the same period of last year.

While export volume of solar cells increased this year, the average export price dropped 26.2 percent from a year earlier, a source at Ningbo Customs revealed. This was mainly due to the intensifying price war between solar cell makers. It is encouraging that the city of Ningbo has issued new rules whereby the local government provides additional subsidies for qualified PV modules and encourages PV exporters to strengthen development of the domestic market.

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Williamson Tea solar installation is the East Africa’s largest PV plant

The Williamson Tea solar installation, located at its Changoi Tea Farm in Bomet County, Western Kenya, is claimed to be East Africa’s largest PV plant. The innovative solar system is designed to cut Williamson Tea’s energy costs by around 30%, supplying clean solar electricity during the daytime to meet most of the tea processing factory’s energy demand.

Williamson Tea’s system aims to reduce the need for grid electricity and the consumption of diesel when back-up energy production is required. When the national grid is working, Williamson Tea’s solar farm will work in parallel with the grid and reduce the amount of grid electricity imported. Conversely, when the grid is down, the solar power system will work together with the standby diesel generators, significantly reducing the amount of diesel consumed.

“Williamson Tea’s solar farm in Changoi is a shining example of the opportunity for solar in Africa, and indeed the emerging markets, to help meet the increasing energy demands of growing economies,” said Frans van den Heuvel, Solarcentury CEO. “Sustainable energy sources are becoming more critical, especially as the cost of fossil fuel energy continues to rise globally. By choosing solar, Williamson Tea is not only investing in the company’s sustainable future but also local people and the future of the tea farming industry in Kenya.”

Solarcentury, which served as the lead designer, supplier and installer of the unique PV system, is also responsible for the operation and maintenance. Local solar companies East African Solar and Azimuth Power were the developers for Williamson Tea’s solar farm.

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World’s largest photovoltaic plant completed

Abengoa has completed a 206MW solar PV plant, which is claimed to be the world’s largest single-axis photovoltaic plant, in south-east California.

Located in the city of Calexico, the Mount Signal Solar PV plant will supply power to around 72,000 households in San Diego and its surrounding area, preventing the emission of 356,000t of CO2/year into the atmosphere. The company will not retain an interest in the constructed assets.

Under the contract worth $365m, Abengoa was responsible for the engineering, construction and commissioning of the plant for Silver Ridge Power.

The project is spread across 801 hectares and consists of more than three million photovoltaic modules that rotate on a north-south axis tracking the path of the sun.

During the construction process, Abengoa signed agreements with various local firms in order to boost economic development in the region.

At its peak, the project created more than 700 direct jobs in the area, most of which were filled by local residents. The company constructed and commissioned the plant in a record 16 months.

Abengoa is currently carrying out various projects in EE.UU., an area that accounts for 28% of its business. These include Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough plant that has been operating since last year; Mojave, a 280MW solar-thermal plant that will be operating mid of this year; and a new photovoltaic project in California for EDP Renováveis.

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