Top News

US imports of Chinese solar climbed sharply in Q4

1,200%. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, that’s how high imports of Chinese modules rose in the fourth quarter last year, in a desperate attempt to stockpile sufficient numbers before tariffs choked off international supplies.
Installations

Solar Frontier posts $73 million operating loss in 2017

Japanese thin film PV manufacturer, Solar Frontier has posted an operating loss of JPY 7.8 billion (US$73.2 million) for 2017, as it continues to rejig its business strategy and consolidate production in Japan.

Installations

Germany starts first mixed wind-solar auction

Bids for solar PV ground-mounted projects and wind farms on land can be submitted to the Federal Network Agency by April 3. Overall, the German government will allocate around 200 MW of capacity in the tender.

Manufacturing

Russian companies plan vertically-integrated monocrystalline module factory

The manufacturing facility is planned to be built in Russia’s Astrakhan region thanks to an investment of 1.5 billion RUB (around US$26.5 million).

Highlights

The future looks bright for solar energy development in Mexico

Mexico is set to become the largest solar PV market in Latin America, with around 2 GW of installs expected annually. Political and regulatory uncertainty do not appear to be affecting investor interest, with more opportunities than challenges present. pv magazine attended GTM Research’s Solar Summit Mexico last week to report on the latest developments in the Mexican market.

Installations

Portuguese grid operator to invest €70 million to accommodate more solar

Overall, the grid improvement is expected to enable at least 800 MW of new solar PV plants to come online in the south of the country.

Installations

Enel switches on 103 MW solar plant in the Brazilian state of Bahia

The $110 million project is expected to generate 220 GWh per year.

Installations

Belgium plans big off-shore solar projects in the North Sea

A few days after the first grid-connected off-shore solar PV project was announced in the Netherlands, the Belgian government has unveiled plans to make the North Sea a solar energy hub.

Markets & Policy

Featured

Tracking disruptive technologies

China road trip, pt III: 2017 was a big year for China’s PV industry, with the 50 GW+ installation figure exceeding expectations. Against such a backdrop of growth, excitement for pv magazine’s third China road trip grew as we finalized details to visit key suppliers and see firsthand what developments might be in store for this year. Taking in n-type cells and modules, bifacial double glass modules and trackers developed specifically for such technology, this was Eckhart K. Gouras’ journey.

US regulators open markets to energy storage

As the conclusion of a 15-month rule-making, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will require grid operators to value the contributions of energy storage, and begins a process to look at how aggregated distributed energy resources can compete in wholesale markets.

Sonnedix PV portfolio grows 46.7 MW with acquisition of 12 Spanish plants

The 46.7 MW worth of acquisitions will make the firm one of the largest in Spain, with Sonnedix now operating a worldwide capacity of 703 MW.

Vattenfall signs 3 PPAs for 38 MW of PV in the Netherlands

The Swedish power company has signed three private power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar PV power plants totaling 38 MW in the city of Uden.

EDF 2017 financials squeezed as utility accelerates transition from nuclear to renewables

Despite hitting annual sales targets, revenue slips following fall in nuclear and hydropower prices in French utility’s key markets. New Solar Plan forms backdrop of renewable energy transition, company says.

Indian government makes surprising u-turn on electric vehicle policy

Minister for road transport, Nitin Gadkari drops plans to introduce national policy to support growth of electric vehicles in surprising reversal on earlier ambitions.

Installations

Featured

Adapt and integrate

Mounting and BIPV: Solar mounting systems are being used in new and unusual ways for building-integrated photovoltaic projects, ranging from rooftop to wall and to awning installations. As the market slowly moves from select government buildings, educational campuses and corporate flagships to the mainstream commercial segment, the mounting systems required for BIPV will become more standardized, more readily adaptable, and less expensive, manufacturers say.

The weekend read: Tracker market is adapting to bifacial module technology

Solar tracker makers are bringing specially designed models to the market in order to embrace the coming wave of bifacial panels. While bifacial panels may capture up to 10% more light than monofacial panels, single-axis trackers typically add 25% to that bifacial gain, resulting in a roughly estimated 12.5% gain from the two technologies combined, compared with fixed installs using monofacial panels.

Chinese companies lead global solar developer rankings

State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) and GCL New Energy have taken the top spots for installed capacity, but Canadian Solar and First Solar are showing impressive pipelines.

Japan to install up to 7 GW in 2018 despite cancellation of 14.6 GW of approved capacity — report

Japan will likely install 6 GW to 7.5 GW (DC) of solar in 2018, from about 7 GW in 2017, despite government efforts to cancel approvals for projects that were registered under the country’s old feed-in tariff (FIT) program, according to a new report.

Spain’s Balearic Islands proposes ambitious 100% renewable energy law

Blasting the Spanish Government for its lack of renewables action, the Balearic Government has today issued an ambitious Climate Change Law designed to kick start a renewable energy transition on the four islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Overall, it aims to cover 100% of energy demand with renewables by 2050. 230 MW of solar PV are alerady in the pipeline.

Cleantech Solar awarded 27 MW of rooftop solar across three Asian countries

The leading solutions provider for corporate customers in Asia has inked long-term PPAs with three different firms, effectively augmenting its current portfolio that has been expanding since last November.

Technology

Featured

Made in Germany

PV equipment supply: While the bulk of the world’s solar module manufacturing is now located in China, supply of production tools has remained largely the remit of European, and particularly German, engineering companies. pv magazine investigates whether this dominance can continue as China’s equipment providers begin to step up their game.

Aurora Solar Tech infrared tool upgraded for HJT cell measurement

The Canadian firm’s Decima Gemini infrared measurement technology has been updated to measure performance and characteristics of transparent conductive oxide layers key in heterojunction cell technology.

Trina Solar hits new efficiency record for IBC cell

Trina Solar has set a new record of 25.04% total area efficiency for an n-type interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cell. The record has been independently verified by Japan Electric Safety and Environmental Technology Laboratory.

US researchers develop new redox flow compound

A team of scientists from the U.S. University of Rochester has developed a compound, which it says could double the effectiveness of redox flow batteries, and “transform the energy storage landscape”.

Aging tests for perovskite, dye-sensitized solar cells must improve, research says

Finnish scientists have found that only one third of tests reported the intensities of visible and UV light, humidity and temperature adequately.

The unexpected benefits of replacing tobacco plantations with solar farms

Although tobacco consumption is the key cause of avoidable deaths worldwide, its cultivation remains the main source of income for many farmers. Now, two researchers from the Michigan Technological University claim that converting tobacco fields to solar farms could be beneficial for two purposes: reducing deaths and helping solar energy fight climate change.

Manufacturing

Featured

An arm and a leg

Robotics in PV: The momentum of China’s solar growth appears unstoppable, driving the hunger for faster, qualitative automated solutions for the domestic PV manufacturing industry. Thus, most new solar manufacturing facilities or production upgrades are equipped with nearly fully automated lines.

India: Topaz Solar plans 1.2 GW solar module, 500 MW cell manufacturing fab

As a first phase, Topaz Solar Private Limited has said it will set up a 500 MW solar PV module manufacturing facility in India’s northeastern state of Odisha. Production begin is aimed for 2019. It will seek to increase this capacity by another 700 MW, and add 500 MW of cell manufacturing under a second phase.

Northvolt battery project approved for EIB loan that could reach €52.5m

The Swedish storage developer will receive the loan funds via the European Commission’s InnovFin fund, which is part of the Energy Demo Projects facility.

Enphase and Panasonic announce AC module partnership

Company confirms Panasonic’s HIT modules to be fitted with Enphase Energy’s new IQ7X Microinverter as part of the partnership, while Enphase’s new IQ7X microinverter due to be released in May in North America, Enphase confirms.

Teamtechnik receives stringer order for HJT module line

German PV equipment manufacturer, teamtechnik today announced that it has received an order for its TT1400 ECA stringer from an Italian PV manufacturer. The tool will be integrated into a line producing high efficiency heterojunction PV modules.

REC Group selects Meyer Burger’s SmartWire technology for Singapore fab

Switzerland’s Meyer Burger to deliver and install its SmartWire Connection Technology at REC Group’s production facility in Singapore at the start of Q2, company confirms.

Energy Storage

Featured

South Australia’s big battery delivers

Utility-scale storage: The 100 MW Hornsdale Power Reserve was delivered by Tesla in under 100 days – a good thing as the company would’ve picked up the tab if it had failed to do so. But the project is also delivering grid services and demonstrating arbitrage trading at a pace and scale that is changing minds about the potential of utility-scale storage and the role of synchronous generation on Australia’s National Electricity Market.

Global storage growth of 4.6% in 2017 reflects patchy state of sector, finds BNEF

Despite hitting a record 1.17 GW of new grid-scale storage capacity in 2017, growth was a mere 4.6% on 2016 having surged 61% the year prior. Industry’s reliance on policy support means foundations for growth remain uneven, report finds. Average costs, however, fell by 24% last year.

IEEFA identifies nine markets pushing boundaries of variable renewables integration

Latest report by IEEFA showcases nine case studies among the world’s leading states by wind and solar market share, which can serve as an example for other countries on their energy transition pathways.

Siemens to work with DEWA on Dubai’s first solar hydrogen electrolysis plant

The German multinational signs memorandum of understanding with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to build pilot the facility at the vast 1 GW Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

China to achieve solar grid parity in 2023, slow development of storage hinders RE adoption, survey shows

Examining the outlook for renewables, grid and infrastructure, and energy storage for the next five years and beyond, the Lloyd’s Register 2018 Technology Radar study asks the question: When will renewables become the dominant source of energy?

Germany’s Allgäu region connects first large-scale battery storage system

ADS-TEC, a southern German battery solutions provider, has this week connected a 1 MW+ lithium-ion storage facility in the Allgäu region of the country.

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Press Releases

Mobisol tackles off-grid solar industry’s recycling challenges

Solar provider establishes partnerships for responsible disposal of e-waste and lead batteries in all operational countries.

Leclanché partners with Imeon Energy

Leclanché SA announced a partnership with Imeon Energy, developer of intelligent inverters for solar installations, to provide homes and small businesses in Switzerland with hi-tech storage solutions for energy self-sufficiency and to reduce their energy bills and CO2 emissions.

GE partners with Scatec Solar for 162 MW solar project in Brazil

GE Power (NYSE: GE) was chosen by Scatec Solar to supply solar photovoltaic (PV) skids for a 162-megawatt (MW) solar project located in Quixeré, State of Ceará, Brazil.

sonnen powers remote school in Puerto Rico using solar + battery storage microgrid technology

The Orocovis school is the site of the ninth and tenth microgrids that sonnen has installed following Hurricane Maria.