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Weekend read: Shining magnate

Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is the founder and executive chair of Australian iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group. The company has announced an ambitious $6.2 billion decarbonization strategy and its Fortescue Future Industries subsidiary has rapidly become a global player in green hydrogen, along with a host of other energy transition technologies. Whether it is pushing to decarbonize mining, hashing out headline-making green energy deals, or using the popular “Rick and Morty” cartoon to educate people about the potential of green hydrogen, Fortescue and its shining magnate are talking the talk. But can they walk the walk? Blake Matich reports.
Hydrogen

The Hydrogen Stream: Airbus, Honda bet on hydrogen-powered fuel cells

Airbus sees hydrogen-powered fuel cell engines as a potential solution for its zero-emissions aircraft, which will go service by 2035. Meanwhile, Honda, meanwhile, has announced plans to produce fuel cell electric vehicles in the United States from 2024.
Energy Storage

Chinese PV Industry Brief: DMEGC to build 20 GW TOPCon cell factory

DMEGC has revealed plans to build a 20 GW solar cell factory in Sichuan province, while Daqo said it has secured long-term polysilicon supply agreements with Longi and another undisclosed Chinese company.
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How to protect BESS to increase reliability and maximize return on investments

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Understanding Australia’s tantalizing battery market

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Adiós, PERC; hola, TopCon

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Installations

PV windows cut energy use by 40% in glazed buildings, says NREL

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has shown that perovskite-based thin-film PV, transparent PV, and dynamic PV glazing technologies can reduce the energy use of glazed buildings by around 40% across eight regions in the United States.
Markets & Policy

India surpasses 7 GW of unsubsidized solar capacity

India added 1.9 GW of open-access solar capacity between January and September, up 96% year on year.
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Energy Storage

Romania provides funding for C&I battery storage systems

The Romanian government has allocated EUR 103.5 million ($108.6 million) to support investments in battery energy storage systems and deliver at least 240 MW/480 MWh by 2025.
Installations

Dutch developer secures funds for flexible floating solar pilot in North Sea

Bluewater Energy Services has won a grant from the Dutch government to build a flexible floating solar demonstration project in the North Sea. The system uses flexible thin-film PV modules and flexible floaters that move with the waves.
Installations

Woodside lands agreement for 50 MW first-stage solar project

Woodside Energy has secured an agreement with the traditional owners of land on which it plans to build the first 50 MW stage of a potential 500 MW solar power plant in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Press Releases

Statkraft and Fastweb sign 12-year solar PPA in Italy

Statkraft and Fastweb, one of the leading telecommunications operators in Italy, have signed an exclusive Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the supply of electricity produced by renewable sources. The 12-year agreement covers the output of a photovoltaic plant to be constructed in the region of Lazio, Province of Latina, which will cover 13 per cent of Fastweb's demand.

Octopus Energy acquires renewables developer to boost British solar

Octopus Energy Group’s generation arm announces the acquisition of UK solar developer and asset manager Zestec Renewable Energy to build cheap solar power on British businesses’ roofs, helping to drive down energy bills.

Global energy efficiency progress is accelerating, signalling a potential turning point after years of slow improvement

Government ambition on efficiency has grown in 2022 as fuel prices soared, with many major policies, spending commitments and public campaigns launched.

Plenitude strengthens its presence in Italy and Spain by signing an agreement to acquire 100% of PLT

PLT has a 1. 6 GW renewable capacity portfolio in Italy and Spain and 90,000 retail customers.

Opinion & Analysis

Featured

Big solar already pulling its weight on emission reduction – especially in Chile

Following a disappointing COP27 climate change summit in November, solar industry veteran Philip Wolfe reviews the contribution utility-scale PV is starting to make to emissions reduction.

Perovskites and microgrooves can revolutionize solar

Ambitious targets for solar energy generation present challenges to an industry keen to explore new avenues for solar production. Neil Spann, chief executive of UK thin film solar manufacturer Power Roll, describes a commercial solution to the problems of over reliance on silicon solar modules.

COP27 was a crucial step forward for hydrogen – here’s why

Three import deals signed by the EU at Sharm El Sheikh during this month’s COP27 summit show the European Union is serious about harnessing green hydrogen for its heavy industry, and about distributing the fruits of the energy transition on an equitable basis.

Roadmap to increase solar acceptance

The PV sector has significant implications for the economy, society and the environment. Positive impacts show that PV is a key contributor on the path to sustainability, and that highlighting these benefits could raise social and political acceptance in the transition to sustainable energy.

Tipping point for African C&I solar

With installers who cater to African businesses making the headlines this year, Jasper Graf von Hardenberg – whose C&I solar business was recently bought by Shell – explains here how the story of the continent’s commercial and industrial (C&I) solar segment was far from an overnight success.

It’s time to combat utility opposition to solar

As part of Aurora Solar’s Empower 2022 online solar summit, Bernadette Del Chiaro, from the California Solar & Storage Association, will moderate a talk about electric utilities and how they have abused their monopoly position to discriminate against solar in the US. Here, she gives pv magazine a taste of the presentation.

Covid-19

African PAYG solar companies have hogged 72% of sector’s investment

The first post-pandemic update on the state of the world's off-grid solar industry has painted a picture of domination by European companies, but highlighted the potential for new startups in West Africa and an increasing use of PV as a backup to unreliable grid supplies.

Off-grid solar continues to expand

The off-grid solar sector has shown resilience in the face of pandemic-related challenges, with 70 million people gaining access to electricity from early 2020 to the end of 2021. However, the ability to pay for solar energy kits has taken a hit.

AfDB announces cheap loans to back off-grid solar in Africa

The African Development Bank has announced that European and US donors will provide $20 million of concessional loans to support pay-as-you-go solar companies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Irena gives latest update on stark chances of electricity access for all by 2030

The International Renewable Energy Agency’s latest annual report on the progress towards UN sustainable development goal seven estimates 670 million people will still lack electricity in 2030, and more than 2 billion will be reliant on unhealthy, polluting cooking methods.

Poland prioritizes renewables in pandemic-recovery plans

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.

Irena fleshes out chilling effect of Covid on off-grid solar

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.

Markets & Policy

Featured

Asia takes the lead on floating PV

Floating PV is consolidating as a growth segment for PV demand, mainly driven by supportive policies and incentives extended by governments across the world. A major reason for this push is the limited land availability in many markets. Despite higher equipment prices compared to ground-mounted installations, developers see the opportunity to save on land and O&M costs. The output can also be as much as 30% higher than a ground-mount PV plant, depending on the site and technology used.

France installed 1.71 GW of solar in January-September period

France’s cumulative installed PV capacity reached 15.8 GW at the end of September.

US Customs clears solar panels after holding them over forced labor fears

The US authorities have cleared a significant supply of JinkoSolar modules, made with Wacker polysilicon, for sale in the US market, according to ROTH Capital Partners.

Heat pumps competitive with gas boilers in some markets, says IEA

Th International Energy Agency (IEA) says unsubsidized heat pumps are already competitive with gas boilers in mature markets like the United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and China. It says global sales will soar to record levels by 2030.

Spain provides financial support for 600 MW of utility-scale storage

The Spanish government say it will finance five hybrid battery energy storage projects, with a cumulative installed capacity of at least 600 MW. Each project can secure up to €15 million ($15.68 million) in funding.

EDPR Sunseap testing solar floaters made of recycled plastic

PlasticBean, a manufacturer of recycled plastic pellets, has agreed to work with EDPR Sunseap to use 100% recycled plastic in floating PV solar projects in Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea.

Installations

Featured

Australia builds big

While the first half of 2022 was one of the busiest periods on record for new wind projects in Australia, with more than 2 GW breaking ground, solar got off to a much slower start with construction on 635 MW of new PV projects getting underway. Rystad Energy’s David Dixon attributes this slowdown to high cost and supply chain challenges and a lack of available power purchase agreements.

US solar project generates power for community-owned electricity suppliers

Leeward Renewable Energy has switched on the 100 MW Rabbitbrush solar array in California. It includes a 20 MW/50 MWh battery energy storage system and will sell electricity to two community-owned electricity suppliers under a 15-year power purchase agreement.

Rio Tinto to spend big on solar, storage

Rio Tinto plans to invest $402 million (AUD 600 million) to build two new solar farms and battery energy storage systems in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, as part of its efforts to decarbonize its iron ore operations.

Agrivoltaics to reduce water evaporation

Chinese scientists assessed water evaporation on plots of land covered by two different kinds of agrivoltaic arrays and managed to significantly reduce evaporation in both cases. They looked at the relationship between cumulative surface evaporation and evaporation time.

Novel method to calculate variations in temperature coefficients of solar modules

Brazilian scientists have assessed variations in temperature coefficients in solar modules to determine whether there is a relationship between the dependence of these coefficients and irradiance. They claim their work could be used to improve PV module performance modeling.

Amea Power to add storage to 70 MW of solar in Togo

Dubai-based Amea Power will expand the Mohammed Bin Zayed solar plant in Togo from 50 MW to 70 MW, making it West Africa’s largest project. It will also add a 4 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

Technology

Featured

Copper is the new silver lining

As the PV industry scales to annual terawatt-level production to rapidly curtail the world’s emissions, it will become more challenging to continue the cost reduction trajectory. Increasing module production from current levels of 200 GW to 300 GW to several terawatts each year will consume significantly more material resources than the industry currently uses. This will require consideration of the additional materials to be sourced, writes Alison Lennon, chief scientist at Sundrive Solar and professor at the UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.

Goldi Solar releases 520-550 W line of mono PERC solar panels

India’s Goldi Solar has unveiled the HELOC Pro series of mono PERC solar modules, which are built with PV cells made in India. They are available in mono facial and bifacial variants, with power outputs ranging from 520 W to 550 W.

Hevel Solar unveils 450 W heterojunction solar panel with M6 cells

Russia’s Hevel Solar said its new modules are based on 166 mm x 166 mm half-cut cells. They reportedly have a bifaciality factor of 90% and a temperature coefficient of -0.26% per degree Celsius.

Brazil’s first large-scale battery goes online

Grid operator ISA CTEEP has started commercially operating a large-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) at the Registro substation in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. The 30 MW/60 MWh BESS is expected to provide backup power to the grid during hours of peak demand in summer.

Poweron presents new hybrid inverters for residential solar applications

India’s Poweron has developed wall-mount hybrid solar inverters with nominal power ratings of 3.68 kW, 4.6 kW, and 5 kW. They are compatible with lead-acid and Li-ion batteries.

Luminescent solar concentrators for agrivoltaics, greenhouses

Moroccan researchers have proposed the use of luminescent solar concentrators for power generation in greenhouses and agrivoltaic projects. They say they are capable of producing electricity in low-light illumination and converting ultraviolet light to visible light that could be used for crops.

Manufacturing

Featured

Catalyst for an EU comeback

Plans for Europe’s largest-ever PV cell and module factory are taking shape, with equipment orders placed and a projected start date in mid-2024. Enel Green Power has received €118 million ($116.36 million) in funding from the EU Innovation Fund to support the project, out of a total €600 million investment. The EU is hoping it will catalyze further investment in similar projects, and start a high-tech comeback for European solar manufacturing.

Itochu to start recycling solar modules

Japan’s Itochu has announced a new tie-up with France’s Rosi Solar, which develops tech to recover and recycle high-purity silver, copper and silicon from solar modules.

Kaco unveils string inverters for rooftop solar arrays

Kaco has launched a new line of blueplanet NX3 three-phase string inverters for applications ranging from small residential rooftop arrays to projects on commercial buildings. They have outputs between 3 kW and 33 kW, a maximum efficiency of 98.0%, and a maximum European efficiency of 97.6%.

Chinese PV Industry Brief: TCL Zhonghuan cuts wafer prices by more than 4%

TCL Zhonghuan has announced wafer price cuts, Shenzhen Energy unveiled a plan to build a 2 GW solar-storage project, and the Chinese authorities have announced measures to expedite grid connections for new solar and wind plants.

New manufacturing process for high-quality mono cast ingots

Chinese scientists have made mono cast silicon ingots with high purity and low manufacturing costs. The new method will help industrial casting manufacturers to improve the cost performance of casting ingots.

Soltec, Enel to build new solar tracker factory in Spain

Enel and Soltec have revealed plans to open a new factory on the grounds of a former thermal power plant owned by Enel’s Endesa unit in Teruel, Spain.

Energy Storage

Featured

Cobalt clings on

Cobalt is key for boosting energy density and battery life, but it comes with caveats: expensive, scarce, and linked to unethical mining practices, wild price fluctuations, and a tenuous supply chain. In recent years, battery manufacturers and automakers have intensified efforts to reduce or eliminate cobalt in lithium-ion cathodes. But sometimes, old habits die hard, as pv magazine’s Marija Maisch explains.

Italy hits 959 MW/1,826 MWh of distributed storage capacity

Italy added 303 MW/632 MWh of distributed energy storage capacity in the first nine months of 2022. The segment continues to grow in the country, led by the regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Bslbatt unveils 90-mm-thick battery for residential solar

China’s Bslbatt said its new product has a storage capacity of 5 kWh and a nominal voltage of 51.2 V. It measures 670 mm x 540 mm x 88 mm and is 90 mm thick.

Brick-and-iron heat battery for zero-carbon industrial processes

Bill Gates-backed Rondo Energy has released the “brick toaster” heat battery, which stores renewable energy and dispatches heat and electricity for steel, cement, and chemical production.

Mitsubishi unveils air source heat pump

Mitsubishi has released a cascaded air source heat pump that can produce between 7.8 kW and 640 kW of heat. It is reportedly able to generate hot water at a temperature of up to 70 C without boost heaters.

The Hydrogen Stream: Green hydrogen via ammonia decomposition

South Korean scientists have developed a highly selective palladium composite membrane on porous metal supports to cut the ammonia content of the permeated hydrogen stream. Dutch researchers, meanwhile, have presented two alternatives to this strategy – increasing the thickness of the membrane selective layer, or using a purification unit in the permeate of the membranes.

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