Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 18

This issue covers:

Report Predicts Growth in US Solar PV

A new report says that the adoption of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in the United States is expected to accelerate during the next decade.

New analysis from Frost and Sullivan´s Analysis of the U.S. Utility-scale Solar Power Market research finds that the market acquired investments of more than $1.91 billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach $20.44 billion in 2016.

The presence of high solar irradiance, along with continuous pressure from the government to implement renewable energy technologies, fuels demand for solar projects. As solar energy competes with conventional forms of electricity generation, the potential market for utility-scale solar power plants in the country is on the rise.

Cumulative PV solar installations in the United States reached 1,855 megawatts (MW), with the utility-scale segment accounting for 32.2 percent. Lower solar module prices have led developers of utility-scale applications, such as the Blythe solar power project in California, to opt for PV technologies over CSP.

Expediting solar installations are renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which mandate electricity supply companies to produce a specified fraction of their electricity from renewable energy sources. A few states require some portion of the RPS to come from solar resources.

Though this has led to higher adoption, investment figures have not gone up, as the average selling price of solar PV modules continues to decline.

Forst and Sullivan’s analysis of the US Utility-scale Solar Power Market is part of the Energy and Power Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes: Analysis of the U.S. Residential Solar Power Market and Annual Global Power and Energy Outlook 2012.

More details at


Steady Growth In UK Solar PV

Solar PV capacity in the UK continued to grow steadily through the first three quarters of 2012, driven by the high uptake of the feed-in tariff, according to government figures.

Statistics from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that total PV capacity in the UK at the end of Q3 2012 stood at almost 1.6GW. This represented 11% of all renewable electricity generation capacity in the UK, and was an increase of 169MW on the previous quarter’s total.

And compared to the same quarter last year, the level of PV capacity in the UK has more than tripled from 489MW. DECC says the increases were due to uptake of the UK´s feed-in tariff.

However, the growth in capacity between Q2 and Q3 2012 was slower than in 2011, increasing only 170MW compared to 277MW in 2011.

The brighter picture was also confirmed by the weekly solar installation figures also released by DECC.

The week ending 2 December saw industry install 1,615 domestic-scale installations, a 42% increase on the 1,137 installations put in place during the last week of November.

With Ofgem also confirming that the feed-in tariff rates will not degress until May 1 2013, the industry has an unparalleled period of certainty in which the market can recover.

More at


PV150 Helps To Boost School’s Green Credentials

Innovative hand held electrical test instrumentation has been used on the installation of a new solar PV system which has been designed to enable a school to reduce its carbon footprint.

Southern Solar, one of the UK’s leading providers of photovoltaic systems, used the new Seaward Solar PV150 tester on the installation of a 37kWp solar PV system at Bartholomew School in Eynsham, near Oxford.

The new system was installed on the roof of the school’s sports hall and is expected to produce most of the energy required by the school during term time, with the electricity being supplied into the National Grid during school holidays.

The new PV150 is a dedicated multi-function electrical tester designed specifically for solar panel installation. It is capable of carrying out all electrical tests required by IEC 62446 on grid connected PV systems and eliminates the need for multiple test instruments for PV panel electrical installation and connection.

With the push of a single button the new combination tester carries out the required sequence of electrical tests in a safe and controlled manner, avoiding the risk of contact with exposed live DC conductors.

Southern Solar is an Oxfordshire County Council approved installer and completed the installation of the seven string Bartholomew School system earlier this year. The panels cover an area of 230m² and are predicted to produce 28,065 kWh of electricity each year, offsetting nearly 15,000kg of CO2 annually.

Jason Fuller, project manager in the Southern Solar Oxford office, said: “Although this was a relatively small project, the ability to complete all the necessary electrical tests with one tester means that jobs can be undertaken quickly and safely.

“Ordinarily we would have had to use at least two test instruments on a job like this, as well as various test leads and connectors which can be cumbersome.

“This time round we took just the PV150. We plugged in the leads, pressed the auto button and a few seconds later we had open circuit voltage, short circuit current, insulation resistance and other system measurements. On larger installations this will make an even bigger difference to the ease and speed of testing.

” The installation of the new solar PV system at Bartholomew School is an important addition to the school’s commitment to renewable energy – both from an operational and an educational perspective.

The school has a strong commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and has already achieved a silver Eco Schools Award, a project that was largely student-led with support from members of staff, raising awareness of recycling and energy usage.


Launch of UK National Solar Centre

UK Energy Minister Greg Barker has officially launched the BRE National Solar Centre (NSC). The NSC will be located in St Austell, Cornwall, and is intended to help industry realise the ambitions laid out for the technology in the recently published renewable roadmap.

Speaking at the launch of the NSC, Barker said: “Solar is an exciting and rapidly growing clean, green source of power and has a valuable part to play in the UK’s energy mix.

"The new Cornwall based National Solar Centre will help drive down costs, improve efficiency, catalyse growth, spur innovation and develop expertise on the ground.

“We have seen dramatic reductions in costs of the technology over the past year and that’s why we have made changes to our incentives under feed-in tariffs and the Renewables Obligation, to help put this industry on a more sustainable footing and ensure solar continues to thrive in the future." The centre is hoping to engage with organisations outside the traditional scope of the industry to try to ensure that solar PV´s potential is better understood.

Nick Tune, Director of the Building Research Establishment, which developed the idea for the centre, said: “We have a real opportunity here to drive the uptake of solar PV. The sector has seen a dramatic reduction in installed costs by up to 50% between 2010-2012.

“The centre will help the sector deliver further reductions so solar PV can become competitive with other low-carbon electricity sources. There are significant opportunities to support the development of building-integrated PV products and the interaction of PV with commercial buildings.

” The BRE National Solar Centre will open in April 2013. More at


More Businesses Look To Solar PV

High tech manufacturers in the UK are considering investing in their own renewable power supplies, particularly solar, to shield themselves from future energy price increases.

A survey of over 400 senior executives in the UK high tech manufacturing sector by multinational GE revealed “high levels of concern” over future UK energy supply, with two thirds of respondents reporting “detrimental” effects on their business from a lack of clarity on energy policy.

The vast majority of survey respondents – 84% - said they were concerned over the future affordability of energy in the UK. Some three in five – 61% - expressed concern over the future security of energy supply in the UK.

As a consequence, almost half – 49% - are considering investing in on-site renewable energy generation or energy efficient technologies. Of this group, 61% said they were considering installing solar power at their business premises.

Nonetheless, according to GE’s bi-annual High Tech Index, which surveyed 405 manufacturers, the sector is “cautiously upbeat” about 2013, with 72% of respondents saying they felt “positive” about their company’s prospects this year, despite the continuing economic gloom. .


Demo Film Highlights Benefits of Fast and Simple PV Power Analysis

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.

Available at, 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.


China Dominates PV Module market

New data illustrates China’s increasing role as an end market for photovoltaic modules. In its latest quarterly report, industry analysts NPD Solarbuzz say that China consumed 33% of global shipments during the last quarter of 2012.

"Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10% of global PV demand," said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. "However, during Q4 2012, a third of all global PV panel shipments ended up in China. This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking centre stage in both the upstream and downstream channels."

The report said that slowing European demand and domestic Chinese policies in support of photovoltaics as the main factors driving the shifting demand. Overall, global photovoltaic demand increased to 8.3 GW in the quarter.

More at

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