Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 29

This issue covers:

Solar PV powers ahead in Australia

The solar PV power installed on Australian rooftops is capable of producing enough energy over the next year to run Melbourne's entire train network for more than a decade, according to the Australian Clean Energy Council.

The latest figures showed more than 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar power had been installed across the country, with almost a third of this coming from Queensland alone. According to the figures, the installed solar power will produce more than 4000 GW-hours over the next 12 months.

 Market analysis released by solar consultancy Sunwiz showed that more than 1.15 million Australian households have installed rooftop solar. Approximately 360,000 Queensland homes now have solar power, with NSW the next best on 252,000.

ACEC chief executive David Green said:"Household solar power gives consumers more control of their power bills by letting them generate their own electricity from the sun. And it helps to reduce the cost of our entire energy system on hot days when people everywhere have turned on their air-conditioners."

Mr Green said working class suburbs and regional areas had led the charge to go solar, rather than the affluent areas of the major cities.

"Some state governments initially provided generous support to encourage people to go solar, but these programs have all been scaled back as the cost of systems has fallen over the last five years," he said.

"Currently the only support comes from the Renewable Energy Target scheme, which helps to make solar power more affordable and reduce its up-front cost for working families."

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New EU guidelines on solar PV support

The European Union has published new guidelines for renewable energy support that will determine how member states can support solar PV deployment.

The new state aid guidelines call for the introduction of ‘feed-in premiums’ which represent a premium paid on top of the market price, designed to “expose renewable energy producers to market prices”. Feed-in premiums will be granted through a lowest-cost-wins auction to encourage competition.

Although member states cannot explicitly pre-define which renewable technologies will receive support under feed-in premiums, they will be able to require a minimum number of different renewable technologies to help ensure targets are met.

For small-scale generators, however, the EU will allow member states to side-step the introduction of feed-in premiums and certificates after it approved aid in the form of feed-in tariff for installations with a generation capacity below 1MW.

The current feed-in tariff and renewable obligation mechanisms in the UK will not be affected by the new guidelines. The EU has confirmed that when a member state has already received confirmation for state aid for a predetermined period, “such aid can be granted under the entire period under the conditions laid down in the scheme at the time of the confirmation”.

In response to the draft guidelines, the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA) questioned the proposed competitive bidding process for feed-in premiums.

It said: “This approach, de facto technology neutral, would only allow the currently cheapest technologies to get qualified for support. This would exclude other technologies that could – if they were developed – become the most cost - effective options in the future.

“The very purpose of state aid is to remove different barriers and to help less competitive technologies develop: a technology neutral approach would simply undermine this objective.”

A consultation will run on the proposed guidelines until 14 February 2014. More at

Strong growth forecast for solar PV

Global solar photovoltaic demand is poised for explosive growth in 2014, and is set to reach 49 gigawatts (GW), up from 36 GW in 2013, according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly.

As the basis for this trend, Q4 2013 solar PV installations are forecast to set another record quarter for the solar PV industry, exceeding the 12 GW mark for the first time ever. Furthermore, demand in Q1 2014 will also achieve record-breaking status, as the strongest first-quarter ever seen by the PV industry.

Over the six-month period from October 2013 to March 2014, the report expects that the solar PV industry will install almost 22 GW, which is greater than all the solar PV installations that occurred between 2005 and 2009, during the previous high-growth phase of the industry that was driven by the European market.

This 22 GW of new demand is equivalent to 120 megawatts (MW) of solar PV installed every day for six months, and equates to one new 5 MW solar farm being completed every hour of the day.

The record solar PV demand in Q4 2013 is heavily weighted towards the three leading countries for end-market demand - China, Japan, and the United States, with two-thirds of all solar panels installed in Q4 being located in these countries.

“The solar PV industry has reached a critical tipping point, with end-market demand hitting record levels almost every quarter,” said Finlay Colville, vice-president at NPD Solarbuzz. “This growth is being driven by leading module suppliers and project developers that returned to profitability during 2013, and which have now established highly-effective global sales and marketing networks.”

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UK large scale solar PV continues to grow

Large-scale solar PV installations in the UK grew by an impressive 600% during 2013, driving the UK to a record 1.45GW of new solar PV capacity added.

Ground-mounted installations accounted for over 90% of new large-scale solar PV added in the UK in 2013, enabling the UK to be ranked in sixth place globally for large-scale solar PV, behind China, the USA, Japan, Germany and India.

In reaching this position, the UK becomes only one of just six countries that had, or approached, a GW-level large scale solar market during 2013.

At the end of 2013, cumulative PV in the UK had exceeded the 3GW level, with the 4GW marker set to be reached by 31 March 2014 after what is expected to be a record-breaking first quarter for the UK PV industry.

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