The pv magazine weekly news round-up

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Italy generated a record amount of solar electricity last month, according to Terna, the country’s largest grid operator, a whopping 2.834 GWh – or 12.66% of national demand – during the month. Photovoltaicissimo.

From January to August PV, which supplied 9.68% of the country’s electricity demand, was second only to hydro (23.4%) in the renewables mix.

Thermal energy supplied 2% of the energy mix with wind generating 5.8% – some of that, presumably, generated by Beppe Grillo’s political polemics.

Researchers at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) say they are close to commercial production of a solar ink which can be printed and attached to appropriate surfaces and Aussie solar dye cell maker Dyesol is reportedly interested.

Great news although, given some of us still struggle to work out how to print double-sided paper, the innovation could prove a double-edged sword.

There was ultra-mega-gigantic-mammothian news from India this week as the country’s ministry for new and renewable energy (MNRE) revealed draft plans for 25 new solar parks, each with a capacity of a hundred, billion, trillion, gazillian TW… ahem, each with a 500 MW-1 GW capacity, for a total of 20 GW of new solar over the next five years.

Funding assistance

The MNRE will offer funding assistance of up to $33,000/MW or 30% of set-up costs with further help available.

Manufacturers and developers are cock-a-hoop but pv magazine managed to find a dissenting voice with Raj Prabhu, CEO of market research company Mercom Capital pointing out the U.S. and China are going in the opposite direction, into small-scale distributed generation.

"India has 25-30% transmission losses, among the highest in the world," said Prabhu. "How does it make sense to have these sorts of centralized huge projects?"

In an exclusive interview with pv magazine, Otto Preiss, senior group VP and head of Swiss power technology group ABB’s power conversion business unit, further outlined the company’s plans for world domination, via the energy storage market. Only time will tell if the Preiss is right.

The prophetic talent of the Bee Gees has been borne out by a decision by the energy department in Massachusetts not to allocate any energy credits for large scale ground mount projects in the state, in 2016.

"And the lights all went out in Massachusetts," wheedled the Gibb brothers approximately 47 years before legislators at the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER, although DON’TER would surely be a more appropriate acronym) decided they would have no more truck with the ‘managed growth’ segment of solar.

‘We aren’t doing that any more’

That segment, "is done, we aren’t doing that any more," stormed Dan Berwick, chair of the Massachusetts branch of the SEIA. So much for Stayin’ Alive.

But don’t let those Massachusetts killjoys start your weekend on a downer because Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE this week revealed the astounding news that the skies are getting brighter.

Fraunhofer researchers have amended their forecasts for PV project profitability, having discovered ‘global brightening’, a phenomenon which began in the mid 80s, and has seen irradiation levels rise 5% on the levels observed ten years ago. Never listen to anyone again who tells you the 80s gave us nothing to cherish.

Scientists are putting the effect down to less air pollution and fewer aerosol gases in the atmosphere. Hooray.

"We expect that other regions experiencing the brightening effect are seeing similar underestimations (in profitability)," said Björn Müller, project leader at Fraunhofer, dismissing any suspicions those über-efficient, ultra-perfect, World Cup-snatching Germans are trying to claim even their sunlight is better than anyone else’s.