Almost half a billion people are served by the off-grid solar industry, and a growing number of these via Pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) asset financing. For many consumers, not only is the solar product their first access to modern energy but it may also be their first access to finance. The impact of this can be huge – the 60 Decibels Energy Benchmark reveals that 92% of consumers report an improvement in quality of life after purchasing their off-grid solar (OGS) product. On the other hand, consumers of OGS are exposed to product, service, and financial risk that companies must mitigate and balance with sustainable growth objectives.
The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout have had a variety of impacts on the clean energy transition, with some sectors being more affected than others. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned of slowed progress towards sustainable energy goals due to Covid-19 and reversed progress in many areas crucial in reaching net zero, such as energy efficiency, clean cooking, or access to electricity. There is one sector, however, that has shown remarkable resilience since the beginning of the pandemic and has been able to maintain, and even accelerate, its rapid growth since 2020: green energy infrastructure.
The world’s energy sector is concentrated in solar, wind, electricity transmission/distribution and hydroelectric power. For example, investment in solar power plants alone is higher than investment in natural gas, coal-fired and nuclear power plants combined. This is encouraging, but another fact is worrying: China’s exports of solar modules to Europe in the first four months of 2022 were 2.5 times higher compared to 2021. In April alone, nearly 8 GW of solar modules worth more than €2 billion were imported from China into Europe.
The war in Ukraine continues to disrupt the global energy sector and, combined with the recent heatwaves affecting Europe, the need to restructure economies is starker than ever. Luckily, there are some countries that have kept working on their energy transition reforms and taking tangible actions towards tackling climate change. Uzbekistan is one of them.
High temperatures can affect different components of PV systems. Inverters can fail, the efficiency of solar modules can decline, and existing cell damage can become worse. However, investors, planners, and operators can adjust to heat waves in a number of different ways.
It should come as no surprise that clean energy spending is a big chunk of Warsaw’s four-year EU grant and loans package, given that the nation’s grid-connected solar capacity rose from 3.99 GW at the end of 2020 to 6.3 GW four months ago, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The clean power numbers published annually by the International Renewable Energy Agency provide a snapshot of the global solar market and, this year, a lot of figures were unchanged from the previous dataset, especially in the off-grid segment.
Covid-19 has left Shunfeng International’s accountants unable to publish its official 2021 numbers on time, but its estimated figures announced a net current liability of almost $155 million and a “capital deficiency” of near $140 million.
Polysilicon maker Xinte is forging ahead with a huge expansion strategy just as solar developers at the opposite end of the industry continue to bleed cash.
Lack of locally-denominated finance, and of sufficiently long-term loans, are well established hurdles to the development of photovoltaics in Africa.
Switzerland’s Meyer Burger is accelerating the expansion of its solar panel production capacity, following the extension of the US solar tax credit for PV manufacturers and an order from developer DE Shaw for 3.75 GW of US-made heterojunction modules.
Solar Philippines, a Manila-based PV module manufacturer and project developer, is looking to secure at least 2,500 hectares of land to expand its 500 MW flagship solar project to 4 GW.
UbiQD, a New Mexico-based nanotechnology developer, has created new transparent solar windows.
Australia’s Magnis Energy Technologies has launched commercial production of full-sized cells at its US factory, with plans to increase production to 38 GWh of battery cell capacity per year by the end of the decade.
US balance-of-system specialist Shoals posted record revenue and gross profit in the second quarter on rising sales of components and strong demand for its combine-as-you-go system.
If the industry has sufficient knowledge and experience to deal with the effects of strong wind, why do trackers still get damaged and destroyed? pv magazine’s Pilar Sanchez Molina looks at a recent example in Spain with PI Berlin’s Asier Ukar.
Investments in renewables are hitting new highs in China, as recurrent Covid-19 outbreaks and a crisis-stricken housing market threaten the world’s second-biggest economy, according to BloombergNEF.
SMA’s Home Solutions segment was particularly badly hit as the PV inverter manufacturer struggled to meet the demand due to the shortage of materials. The sales and results in the first half of 2022 were therefore significantly worse than in 2021. The company now wants to take “a series of measures to improve its long-term ability to deliver.”
The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb Republic has adopted a net metering scheme to facilitate the deployment of 50,000 PV rooftop PV systems on residential and commercial buildings.
SolarApex has built what it calls the world’s largest rooftop PV array. A 140 MW project on a steelmill will help Turkish steelmaker Tosyali to shift its production to carbon-free “green steel.” Chief Marketing Officer Besime Özderici says the project could be an example for other energy-intensive industries.
Researchers in South Korea have reported success in developing large-area, indium tin oxide-free, flexible organic solar cells. Their zinc oxide bilayer-based organic solar cells demonstrated an efficiency of 7.67% for a module area of 528 square centimeters.
Evolar, a Swedish manufacturing startup, has put its perovskite cell technology through industry-standard accelerated reliability testing. It said its results show that the cells would likely remain stable for more than 25 years in the field.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have examined one of the fastest-charging anode materials by using a low-cost, lab-based optical microscopy technique. Their findings showed that particle fracture, which can reduce the storage capacity of a battery, is more common with higher rates of delithiation and in longer particles.
Researchers in China have reported a colorization strategy for solar based on photonic glass. They created solar panels that took on blue, green, and purple hues, while only dropping the efficiency of power generation from 22.6% to 21.5%.
The authorities in China’s Guangdong province have released a 2022-25 plan that foresees the retail price for hydrogen dropping to less than CNY 30/kg ($4.42/kg). Germany and Canada, meanwhile, are set to strengthen their collaboration on hydrogen, and Ford has revealed plans to team up with Southern California Gas for a hydrogen fuel cell electric truck that will be on the road by 2025.
Meyer Burger has announced that it has concluded a binding supply agreement with Norwegian Crystals for silicon wafers to use in heterojunction cell manufacturing. Hydro facilities primarily power the production of the wafers and their precursor materials in Norway. Combined with the shorter distance they’ll have to travel, this adds up to a low carbon footprint.
China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) has announced plans to invest €7.34 billion ($7.6 billion) to build a 100 GWh battery plant in Debrecen, Hungary. It will be the company’s second battery cell manufacturing facility in Europe.
A new report form analysts at IHS Markit notes that the market for module-level power electronics (MLPE) grew by 33% between 2019 and 2021, with around one-third of new residential solar installations now taking advantage of MLPE’s promise of improved safety, energy yield and fault detection. And with smaller, distributed generation systems expected to represent 43% of global PV installations between now and 2025, the opportunity for MLPE will only get larger.
New Mexico-based Array Technologies is keen to emphasize the revenue benefits of buying Spanish rival STI Norland and said US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act would also be good for business.
Huawei Digital Power Technologies, a unit of Chinese multinational tech giant Huawei, recently signed a deal with Ghana-based solar developer Meinergy Technology to build a 1 GW solar plant coupled with 500 MWh of storage in Ghana over the next years. Under the terms of the deal, Huawei will supply solar-plus-storage systems for the project. Meinergy will be responsible for the development and construction of the facility. pv magazine recently spoke about the project with Kevin Wu, CEO of Meinergy, and Peter Acheampong, Deputy Director of Renewables for the Bui Power Authority, which owns the installation.
Researchers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) have developed a broadly applicable and versatile post-electrode-engineering process. It can be applied to a range of conventional anodes to improve their stability.
Hype and hope for solid-state batteries (SSBs) continues to grow as industries from automotive to storage bet big on the technology. Leading battery manufacturers and a roll call of start-ups are jostling to get from lab to fab. The reality of SSBs is in question though. As Marija Maisch reports, the window of opportunity for the decades-old technology to make the next big step toward commercialization is now.
UK researchers have revealed that gaseous hydrogen could cause problems in natural gas pipelines, while electrolyzer manufacturer Nel has announced plans to build a second production line in Norway.
FlexGen, a US-based storage system integrator, has launched a new modular battery solution for the commercial and industrial market. The FlexPod energy storage system combines lithium iron phosphate batteries, a power conversion system, and HVAC in a single container solution, with a range of configurations.
Scientists in Japan have developed black glasses grafted silicon microparticles as a negative electrode material to improve lithium-ion battery performance.