Report: Solar spotlight to shift from Germany; US could achieve grid parity first


In relation to grid parity, the company said: “Because so much solar power is likely to be installed in the built environment (displacing electricity consumed from the buildings on which it sits), then solar grid parity is quite likely to be judged by reference to the retail price rather than wholesale price of electricity, with a deduction for the cost of the subsidy itself where it is recovered as part of that price.”

It continued by saying that retail grid parity may be reached generally between 2012 and 2015, with the U.S. to the fore and the UK having the prospect of parity in 2015, if retail electricity prices rise as shown. “Surprisingly,” stated the report, “this is achieved ahead of Spain because of much lower retail prices anticipated there. However, if solar is judged by the harsher test of wholesale parity, then it is not achieved until about 2030 in Italy – with solar CSP achieving parity a few years earlier, between 2025 and 2027 in California and Spain.”

Top spot

Ernst & Young, which issues regular renewable energy attractiveness indices, has said the U.S. has been knocked off its top spot for the first time since 2006, with China having taking the renewable energy crown. As part of its report, the company also analyzed the solar situation in individual regions.


In relation the U.S., it explained that the price of solar panels is continuing to drop. It said they have fallen approximately nine percent from this time last year and approximately 16 percent in the past two years. “However, it is becoming clear that price is not necessarily driving the marketability of solar panels,” it said.


The company went on to say that if Spain implements retroactive changes to its photovoltaics tariffs, then these will have a “significant detrimental impact” on the country’s relative rating across the whole renewable energy sector, reflecting the “increased regulatory risk” of investing in Spain.


China is set to develop 13 solar power projects in the western region as part of a Government aim to cut emissions and boost energy investment in the area, according to Ernst & Young. It added that the government is tendering for bids to develop the projects in six provinces, which will have a combined capacity of 280 megawatts.


Germany, on the other hand, saw a “frantic” rush in the first half of the year, following the announcement that PV tariffs will be cut. These are “set to stunt” future installations, said the company.


Furthermore, it said that India suffered a one point drop in its indices following the Government’s mandate to use local PV manufacturers for the 22-gigawatt National Solar Mission. Indian PV module makers may not be able to keep up with the surging domestic demand, it stated, thus “impairing” the country’s ability to meet its “ambitious” solar energy target.


Japan, however, rose one point, following a 2.6-fold growth in its solar cell market.


The arrival of feed-in tariffs in the UK, continued Ernst & Young, will trigger a fivefold increase in demand for solar PV. It added that market analysis of the UK’s solar PV market predicts the industry will need to deliver 1,000 MW of installed capacity by 2015 – marking a 30-fold increase in its current size.


With a PV installed capacity of 36 MW at the end of 2009, the market in Greece is expected to develop at a faster pace due to the new legislation, said the company. However, it should also be noted, it said, that as of this February, solar PV investments do not benefit from Government capital grants.

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