Solar Latest News Round-Up Issue 39

This issue covers:

10 reasons to test solar PV systems...

The safe operation of solar PV installations under both normal and fault conditions is an essential consideration at the system design stage to ensure that proper energy outputs and safety levels are achieved.

Once in operation, it is important to ensure that the long term performance of the system is not compromised by sub-standard installation or poor maintenance. In this respect, there are some key solar PV system features that rely on adequate and appropriate electrical testing and inspection being undertaken on a regular basis.

We have developed a special infographic to highlight 10 reasons why electrical testing and inspection of solar PV installations is a fundamental requirement for system safety and performance.

PV installation infographic

For the full article visit solar fire affects Sainsbury's supermarket

A report in a UK newspaper, the Birmingham Mail, described how shoppers and staff in a Sainsbury’s supermarket had to abandon their trollies and evacuate the store when a fire broke out on the building’s rooftop solar PV installation.

The news story said that a fire started in two solar panels on the roof of the store which only opened just over a year ago.

The local fire and rescue watch commander said: “We had a call saying solar panels were on fire on the roof and we were met by the full evacuation of 500 customers and 100 staff.

“We made access onto the roof by internal and external means and found a fire in the solar panels and electrical installations which we put out using carbon dioxide and dry powder. We then made sure the site was safe until solar panel engineers attended.”

He said the blaze was not suspicious and is believed to have started in an electrical fault in one of the panels and its associated cabling.

The blaze was extinguished in 10 minutes and the supermarket, which was not damaged was able to reopen soon afterwards. Full story at


Global surge in solar energy storage

The global market for grid-connected residential PV solar installations coupled with energy storage is predicted to grow tenfold to reach more than 900 megawatts (MW) in 2018, up from just 90 MW in 2014, according to new analysis from IHS Technology.

The report forecasts that a number of current market barriers to effective PV storage systems will be overcome in 2015.

In many cases where retail electricity prices are relatively high in comparison to the cost of generating PV, it is more financially attractive to use the electricity produced by a PV system and save money off the electricity bill than it is to sell electricity back to the grid. As the cost of energy storage falls, it is becoming viable to install a battery to store surplus energy, rather than export it to the grid, in order to increase self-consumption.

“The three key variables that determine whether it’s economical to add energy storage to a residential PV system to increase self-consumption are the value of the feed-in tariff, the expense of buying electricity from the grid, and the cost of energy storage products. And all of these metrics are moving in the right direction,” says Sam Wilkinson, HIS research manager for energy storage.

PV markets where self-consumption is particularly attractive include Italy, Germany, the UK and Australia. These countries combined are predicted to account for more than 40 percent of the residential PV energy storage market in 2018, despite representing only 20 percent of total PV installations.

More at


UK PV installs break new records

New solar PV capacity additions in the UK during 2014 have now exceeded 2GW level, a level never reached before.

Two-thirds of this new solar PV capacity has come from large-scale solar PV farms that exceed 5MW in size and around 75% of the 2GW of new capacity comes from ground mounted systems, with only 2% of capacity additions coming on rooftops.

Overall the UK is currently on track to add approximately 2.4-2.5GW of new capacity in 2014, moving the cumulative PV deployed to approximately 5.5GW. By the end of March 2015, this will have exceeded the 7GW mark.

Another trend of the past few months is the increase in 5MW sites – or more specifically, 4.99MW sites. In fact, sites that were previously approved at 6-8MW are likely to become 4.99MW options after 31 March 2015 reflecting the renewables obligation (RO) changes announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Full article


Solar pedal power

What is being described as the world’s first solar cycle path has been opened in the Netherlands.

The so-called "SolaRoad" bike path is made of concrete modules each measuring 2.5 by 3.5 metres (eight by 11 feet), embedded with solar panels covered in tempered glass.

The solar cells currently generate electricity for supply into the country’s national grid, but future plans include using the energy to power street lights.

The SolaRoad will be tested over the next two years on a path that carries around 2,000 cyclists a day, De Wit said.

The aim is to have the solar road concept commercially available on Dutch roads within the next five years as the number of electrically-powered cars and bicycles grows.

The Netherlands has around 140,000 kilometres (87,000 miles) of road, which is much bigger than the total area of rooftops, and 25,000 kilometres of bike paths.

The intention is to extend the concept of surface embedded solar PV panels into roads, eventually leading to the introduction of contactless re-charging directly from the road for EV vehicles.

The Netherlands hopes to triple sustainable energy usage by 2020 and be "energy neutral" by 2050.

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