pv magazine's weekly news round-up

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Days after UBS, the world’s largest privately-owned bank, made global headlines by announcing electric vehicle-driven (pardon the pun) leaps in battery technology would finally make solar mainstream, and consign those evil fossil fuels to history, battery and inverter giant ABB announced its strategy to become a leading player in the energy storage revolution.

Having decided solar EPC work is old hat, ABB chief Ulrich Speisshofer said on Tuesday, energy storage, micro and nano grids are the way ahead and ABB was perfectly poised to surf the storage wave after Monday’s tie-up with Chinese solar company and electric vehicle (EV) specialist BYD.

The two companies are rolling out fast charging infrastructure in China just as UBS advised investors to look to solar rather than conventional power generation because of a battery technology advances that would drive take-up of EVs and benefit residential storage in a virtuous, and very green circle.

You might almost think ABB and UBS, both headquartered in Zurich, were in cahoots.

First Solar’s brave new world

There was much fanfare this week as U.S. giant First Solar announced completion of the first – 18 MW – phase of its planned 30 MW Barilla solar project without any PPA signed.

A new ‘merchant’ solar model for the States? Probably not, at least intentionally, GTM Research solar analyst Corey Honeyman told pv magazine, explaining: "First Solar has been trying to shop this project for a utility off-taker."

But it’s a bold move with the solar energy being sold into the Texas grid on the spot market at attractive prices that could be imitated elsewhere in the States, Honeyman conceded.

If ever there was a country in need of some positive PR at the moment it’s Israel and the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative opened the tender for its 170 MW Timna Solar Park this week.

There was a good news-bad news scenario in Italy with the fillip that the upper limit for net metering was being raised from 200 kW to 500 kW more than outweighed by the recent decision by the government to reduce ‘guaranteed-for 20-years FIT‘ payments.

Oiling the wheels of industry

EC president Jean-Claude Juncker’s decision to combine climate action and energy into one department seems sensible enough, until he went on to reveal the commissioner in charge of the portfolio will be former Spanish minister for agriculture, food and environment Miguel Arias Cañete, who has substantial shareholdings in Spanish oil firms Ducor and Petrologis Canarias. Nothing wrong with that, I’ve got shares in Royal Bank of Scotland and have an Irish friend who puts GBP50 on England to win every major football tournament, it’s called planning for the worst, but Greenpeace’s MD for Europe was none too impressed.

And finally, Aleo Solar’s Prenzlau production line is back in action, the company confirming this week it has a 120 MW annual capacity, which could be expanded to 300 MW if needed.

The former Bosch unit was bought by Taiwanese company Sunrise Global Energy – itself acquired by Sino-American Silicon Products last month.

New CEO Günter Schulze told pv magazine, production is guaranteed for three years under the takeover adding, with a dramatic flourish, that should be long enough to take the German manufacturing unit ‘through the valley of tears’ for solar. Amen to that.