- First market report from Solar Power Europe
- Edinburgh plans community solar venture
- US projects on track to beat finance deadline
- UK sees renewables rise
- Record breaking Australian solar farm now on stream
The first report of the newly established Solar Power Europe trade body (formerly the EPIA) charts the continuing expansion of global solar PV generating capacity.
The organisation’s Global Market Outlook report says that installed capacity has grown by a factor of 100 in only 14 years and market trends mean that the full competitive potential of solar power is finally being realised.
A record 40GW of solar PV systems were installed globally in 2014, up from 37 GW in 2013. China, Japan and the USA were the three top markets in 2014, but for the first time the UK led the development of solar power in Europe with 2.4GW of new capacity, ahead of France (1.9GW) and France (927MW). Solar PV is now providing more than 7% of the electricity demand in Italy, Germany and Greece and it is anticipated that solar power capacity could grow in Europe by 80% by 2019.
Overall, the report forecasts that global solar PV capacity could reach 540GW in five years’ time.
For a full copy of the report visit www.solarpowereurope.org
Edinburgh Council has announced plans to fit 25 council-owned buildings with solar arrays in what is claimed will be the largest community-owned urban renewable energy project in the UK.
The council has partnered with Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative and Energy4All to rollout the PV installs across chosen schools, leisure and community centres.
The group estimates that the potential solar arrays will help slash the capital’s carbon emissions by around 855 tonnes a year. The electricity generated by the solar panels will be supplied to the host buildings under a reduced cost PPA. Any surplus energy will be exported to the National Grid with profits made from feed-in tariff revenue reinvested into a community benefit fund.
Shares in the community fund will be offered to any organisations or individuals interested in investing the initiative but priority will be given to Edinburgh residents. Investors will receive annual interest that is capped at 5% and increases with RPI.
Edinburgh Council also says that the proposed solar panels will be used as a resource for educational projects with each PV array connected to monitoring devices which will be displayed publicly in the building. The council is currently working on identifying suitable buildings to house solar arrays which will be announced at a later date.
Market analysts IHS say that many PV projects in the USA are on track to be completed and operational before the expiration of the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) on 31 December 2016.
In total, IHS reports that over 32GW of projects over 5MW in size are currently in development or undergoing construction — with the largest amount of installations located in California.
As many companies race against the ITC expiration date, some developers have run into issues, such as facing approval delays, locking in a power off-taker or various conservation and environmental issues.
In its report, HIS says: “Newly proposed projects appear to be primarily located in less contentious areas and developed at sizes that are likely to promote a high potential for success in a short time. Recent project approvals by the Bureau of Land Management encourage installations in designated Solar Energy Zones.”
If the ITC deadline is not extended, the tax credit will drop to 10% in 2017, forcing developers to work at a breakneck pace to connect these projects to the grid ahead of 2017 as reported here.
The generation of renewable electricity in the UK has increased by a fifth spurred on by dramatic increases in solar PV capacity, according to figures published in the Renewable Energy Association’s Annual Review.
The report says that a total of 64,404Gwh of electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2014, compared to 53,667GWh in 2013.
The report also notes that the rise in electricity generation has matched an increase in jobs in the renewable sector, growing by 9% since 2013. The association said that regions such as the East Midlands, North West, London and Scotland had exhibited stronger than average job growth in the period too.
Total investment in the renewable energy sector rose to £40 billion since 2010, with solar the big winner, with increases in solar PV generation capacity representing £4.5 billion of investment in 2014.
Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA, said: “We cannot be complacent. Our analysis shows that, where regulatory and financial support for renewable energy has been stable and sufficient, there has been considerable success, but where there has not, technologies have either stalled or gone backwards.”
The REA notes that the UK still needs a 16% growth rate to meet its EU obligation of generating 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – one of the highest for any EU member state. Full story at www.solarpowerportal.co.uk
Australia’s largest solar PV plan has come on stream with the capability to power the equivalent of 33,000 homes each year.
The new 102MW solar PV in Nyngan, New South Wales, is supplying energy to the National Electricity Market. It is funded by AUS$166.7 million (US$129 million) from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and AUS$64.9 million (US$50 million) from the New South Wales Government.
The project, built in partnership by Australian utility AGL and US thin-film producer First Solar, spans 250 hectares with 1.35 million installed PV modules.
AGL is now conducting final commissioning and testing ahead of the plant being fully operational later this year.
First Solar and AGL are also collaborating on a 53MW Broken Hill solar project, also in New South Wales.