pv magazine weekly news roundup: Nov 14-21

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Every Friday, pv magazine rounds up the biggest and best stories from the past week and packages them here in one easily digestible news nugget. So kick back, fire up the coffee machine and get up to speed with the latest comings and goings in the global PV industry.

These are stirring times for the Indian solar industry. The past seven days have seen Narendra Modi’s government agencies lend a great deal of support for the PV sector – buoyed by foreign investment and some pretty positive forecasts from industry experts.

Early in the week we learned that the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank had signed an MoU with the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) worth E1 billion. The MoU will finance the sale of U.S. clean energy exports to India, providing a huge lever that will fuel solar deployment, investment and jobs.

U.S. thin-film giant First Solar is likely to be a keen beneficiary of the agreement, said Bridge to India founder Tobias Engelmeier, thanks to India’s domestic content requirement that mandates all c-Si-based projects must use locally made cells and modules.

Elsewhere in India, the country’s rooftops are poised to be the key beneficiary of solar’s evolution in the future, said a Bridge to India report titled India Rooftop Solar Map.

With good net metering policies being announced, and solar reaching grid and diesel parity, the rooftop PV industry is set to blossom – rising from the 112 MW currently installed to something quite larger. Bridge to India expects the industrial segment in particular to soar by 133% per year until 2018.

Meanwhile, Mercom Capital’s Raj Prabhu told pv magazine that India is likely to add around 1.8 GW of new PV capacity in 2015 – double the amount deployed this year.

Panting labs

Sweat, toil and eureka! breakthroughs abounded in a number of the solar industry’s most highly regarded laboratories this week as many leading names announced new production lines, efficiency breakthroughs and output records.

pv magazine was in Switzerland to see Meyer Burger unveil its new HJT pilot line, which the company hopes will push the next generation of HJT cell technologies up to and beyond 22% efficiencies.

The Swiss-Inno line was created in conjunction with CSEM and utilizes a new approach that deposits thin amorphous silicon (a-Si) on to both sides of a monocrystalline wafer – a rapid-turnaround performance at lower temperatures than previously used delivers a high level of uniformity in the passivation and doped a-Si layer.

"The Swiss-Inno HJT project drives further development of a forward-looking, highly efficient cell technology," said Meyer Burger CEO Peter Pauli. "Working together with CSEM, we will further optimize the important economic advantages, such as lower production costs and higher energy yields, while lowering the cost of solar energy in the long term."

In China, Trina Solar announced that it had achieved new world records for high efficiency p-type and n-type silicon solar cells at its research lab in Changzhou.

Although the technology used is not currently in production, Trina did reveal that it will form part of its future commercialized Honey Plus and IBC products, according to chief scientist, Pierre Verlinden. Trina’s p-type monocrystalline silicon solar cell reached an efficiency of 21.4% in the tests (independently verified by Fraunhofer ISE in Germany), while the n-type hit a new height of 20.53% efficiency.

"Our aim is to continuously integrate technological developments into our PV products, which are currently commercialized or would be in the future, to further drive down the product cost," said Verlinden.

On the same day, JA Solar announced that it too had surpassed efficiency records with the 17.2% conversion efficiency achieved for its new multi-Si 60-cell solar module, which produced a power output above 280 W.

Better together

This week also saw a number of potentially profitable partnerships, mergers and collaborations across the solar spectrum.

Just yesterday we learned that South Korean chemical giant LG Chem will partner with Germany’s Siemens on the production and development of industrial battery storage systems. The two companies signed an MoU on Wednesday as they attempt to meet the growing demand for efficient, affordable and industrial-scale storage.

In the inverter sphere, German solar company SolarWorld announced that it is to begin sharing market channels with U.S. microinverter specialist Enphase in an attempt to augment the two companies’ already solid relationship.

"Enphase has worked closely with SolarWorld for several years, and the companies have built a strong, growing business together in collaboration with SolarWorld’s extensive U.S. channels," said Enphase senior vice president of global sales, marketing and support, Jeff Loebbaka.

Sticking with the U.S., SunEdison also announced this week that it is to purchase renewable energy company First Wind with the assistance of its yieldco subsidiary, TerraForm. The $2.4 billion deal sees TerraForm add 521 MW of PV and wind plants to its operating portfolio, and serves to bolster SunEdison’s global clean energy capacity to 6.4. GW worldwide.

And finally…

Solar power in the U.K. is likely to be cheaper than gas by 2018, according to a recent report by the Solar Trade Association (STA), which also forecast solar to be cheaper than the wholesale price of electricity at some point between 2025 and 2028.

"U.K. solar is on its way to becoming subsidy-free, but it is critical we maintain stable government policy that supports grid-connected utility-scale solar as opposed to fossil fuel power stations," said STA CEO Paul Barwell.

Investors schooled in the Russian economy and energy markets have warned that the country’s solar energy sector is on the verge of meltdown as the Ukraine crisis – and the subsequent sanctions imposed on the country by the global community – rumbles on.

The director of Energiya Solntsa Viktor Antonov, revealed that many leading foreign investors are looking to move their money elsewhere as the ruble continues to devalue and neighboring countries – such as Kazaksthan – make a play for capital.

Nov 14-21: That was the week that was. Be sure to follow @pv-magazine on Twitter for continued updates and breaking news, and check back next Friday for the next pv magazine weekly news roundup.

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