Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 33

This issue covers:

Seaward Solar at Intersolar Europe

Solar PV electrical test and measurement specialist Seaward Solar (Booth A1.532) will be using Intersolar Europe (4-6 June, Messe München) to showcase its all in one specialist PV test kit that enables contractors to install new solar PV installations safely, thoroughly and effectively.

The Solarlink PV Test Kit includes all the necessary test and datalogging capabilities needed to perform pre-installation site surveys and measure the electrical safety and performance of installed PV systems in line with national and international requirements including IEC 62446.

The advanced kit combines the comprehensive electrical commissioning test capabilities of the new PV150 solar installation handheld tester with the advanced Solar Survey 200R multifunction PV survey meter.

Special wireless Solarlink connectivity between the two instruments enables real-time irradiance to be displayed and measured at the same time as electrical testing is being undertaken. This means that irradiance, module and ambient temperature can be recorded in real time within the PV150 as the electrical tests are conducted.

Once testing is completed, the USB download of time and date stamped test results, irradiance and temperature measurements provides full traceability and speeds up the completion of PV system inspection and test report documentation and client handover packs.

More here,


UK support for large scale solar to be removed

The UK government’s move to curtail support under the renewable obligation for solar farm projects over 5MW from April 2015 is “unjust and unfair”, according to the UK Solar Trade Association’s chief executive Paul Barwell.

The comments come in response to confirmation from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that it is planning to remove support for solar under the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme from 1 April 2015.

In a consultation published recently DECC outlined plans to entirely remove solar support under the Renewable Obligation (RO) for developments over 5MW in 2015/16. The consultation document states that the government “considers it necessary to take action to control the costs of large-scale solar PV to ensure it is affordable in the context of the RO and the EMR.”

The government notes that solar projects over 5MW will be able to apply for support under the Contracts for Difference auctions, which will begin in October 2014.

Reacting to the proposals, Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association said: "The industry will be alarmed by these proposals and surprised to be singled out for harsh treatment.

“It does look like the government is seeking to define the energy mix and hiding behind the false excuse of ‘budget management’. If these proposals go through they will knock the industry’s extraordinary progress back, and actually reduce healthy competition in the renewables sector."

Full story at


Solar PV module shipments continue to grow

The top 20 module suppliers to the solar PV industry are guiding an increase in annual shipments of more than 30% in 2014, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz Module Tracker Quarterly report.

Leading Chinese module suppliers Trina Solar, Canadian Solar, ReneSola, and Jinko Solar are forecasting the most aggressive growth in shipments during 2014, with the upper-end of guidance exceeding 40%.

“The top 20 module suppliers to the PV industry account for two-thirds of global shipments, and they provide the leading indicators of industry growth and pricing trends,” said Ray Lian, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz.

Assuming the leading suppliers achieve the forecasted growth rates, end-market demand in 2014 will approach 50 GW.

Yingli Green Energy is forecasting the highest shipment volume in 2014, with the upper end of shipments at 4.2 GW. This shipment level would result in Yingli Green Energy heading the annual shipment rankings for PV suppliers for the third consecutive year.

Leading Japanese silicon-based PV module suppliers Sharp Solar and Kyocera forecast a 15% increase in shipments in 2014, reflecting continued strength in the Japanese solar PV market. Sharp Solar and Kyocera command strong market shares in their domestic markets. Details at


PV test kits boost Lightsource O&M support

Advanced test instrumentation is helping the UK’s leading developer and operator of commercial solar PV plants ensure that its solar farms continue to operate at maximum performance levels.

Lightsource Renewable Energy has equipped its engineering maintenance teams with Seaward Solarlink PV test kits to enable them to fault check and verify the ongoing power generation efficiency of its 600MWp plus portfolio of solar farms and large-scale rooftop installations in the UK.

The development of large scale solar farms is only undertaken after careful consideration of the costs involved and the potential return on investment provided by ROC, FIT and power purchase agreements. As a result, the day to day maintenance of optimum PV performance from the panels is essential.

Lightsource uses the latest technology to undertake real time data monitoring of the solar power output at all of its locations. Detailed electrical supply information is provided for each solar site, down to individual solar PV string level, to provide the monitoring team with an early indication of any faults, under performance or other potential problems at the installation.

If any problems are identified, the company’s 30 strong operation and maintenance team can then be alerted to enable an on-site assessment to be made and any corrective action taken, with the Seaward Solarlink PV test kit proving to be essential tool in identifying the fault and making the necessary repairs.

The Seaward Solar PV150 is a dedicated multifunction PV electrical tester designed specifically for solar panel systems. 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.

Special wireless Solarlink connectivity between the PV150 and the high performance Solar Survey 200R meter enables real-time irradiance to be displayed and measured at the same time as electrical testing is being undertaken.

It is this all round combined capability that is proving to be essential to the Lightsource engineering team and its work at large scale solar farms around the country.

Richard Ellis, Lightsource O&M Regional manager for Central Region , says: “The test kit has become an essential part of our on-site tool kit, with the multifunction PV150 unit eliminating the need for engineers to carry separate meters for different tasks.

“The ability to take one combined measurement instead of many separate ones greatly improves operator efficiency and accuracy, helping to identify any faults within DC Strings and getting them back on stream quickly and safely - which is the key requirement of our maintenance work.”

In total Lightsource owns and operates nearly 200 solar farms and large-scale roof mounted solar installations, as well as around 130 smaller scale assets on schools and other properties, all supplying clean energy to the National Grid and direct to customers.


Potential solar PV fire safety risk identified in Australia

In Australia it is reported that a Queensland company that sold allegedly faulty circuit breakers that caused at least 70 fires in rooftop solar panel arrays has gone out of business.

Advancetech, based on the Sunshine Coast, went into receivership in early May, only four days after Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie ordered the immediate recall of 27,600 Avanco-branded DC solar power isolators imported and sold by the company.

Installation of rooftop isolators are compulsory in some states, and hundreds of thousands of solar rooftop arrays were installed under state and federal schemes. Most of the Avanco isolators, designed to automatically break the circuit and shut down solar panels if they become overloaded, were sold in Queensland, but some were also sold in other states. The NSW government is expected to issue a press release today advising of the Queensland recall and receivership.

A spokeswoman for NSW Fair Trading said “there have been approximately 57 incidents of varying degrees of severity in Queensland and up to 13 failures in NSW”, and it is understood some of the fires caused wall and ceiling damage.

“Though the recall is a mandatory recall imposed by Queensland it … is considered to have national effect,” she said. “The Queensland Electrical Safety Office … is understood to be investigating options for action against company directors.”

The ESO also issued a recall notice for PvPower-branded DC isolators, sold by DKSH.

Full story at


Report assists biodiversity development on solar farms

New guidance on how to optimise biodiversity on solar farms has been launched by the UK’s BRE National Solar Centre (BRE NSC).

Solar farms typically take up less than 5% of the land they are on leaving huge scope to develop protected habitats to support local wildlife and plantlife. Many species benefit from the diversity of light and shade that the solar arrays provide. The guidance urges solar farms to be considered in the context of existing designated habitats and corridors to help improve the overall network of spaces for wildlife.

Aimed at planners, ecologists, solar PV developers, clients and landowners, it outlines the options for maximizing this potential and explains a very wide range of habitat enhancements, from beetle banks to winter food planting for birds.

Jonny Williams Associate Director of the BRE NSC said; “Solar farms are already the most popular form of local energy development but their potential to protect British wildlife is attracting huge interest. The BRE NSC has been working to define best practice for solar farms and we have developed this specific biodiversity guidance to help conservation groups, communities, solar developers and planners deliver great results for nature.”

Research by the guide’s author Dr Guy Parker shows that solar farms demonstrably increase biodiversity compared to farmed or neglected land. The BRE NSC guide makes clear that monitoring and learning from experience will be essential on solar farms. Full details at

Stay in the know
Sign up to our mailing list today to stay up to date with the latest industry news and information from Seaward.

I'd like to talk to a sales advisor

Our team of sales advisors are on hand to help you with any queries you have about our products.