pv magazine weekly news roundup: Nov 21-28


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.

If there was still any doubt that battery storage had the capacity to transform the solar industry, it was washed away this week in a torrent of developments across the energy storage sector.

Headline hogger Elon Musk did what he did best in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, revealing that his Tesla Motors company is looking to build a battery fab in Germany.

The entrepreneur also revealed that he is in talks with BMW about a possible partnership, and called on Germany’s mighty automakers to give greater backing to battery development.

Cars are one of the few industries in which Germany’s Siemens isn’t dominant, but the global giants at least made their intentions for the industrial battery storage market known this week with the announcement that the company is to team with South Korea’s LG Chem.

The partnership will see the two companies collaborate on the development of large battery systems for use in stabilizing distribution grids.

Meanwhile, Belectric unveiled the world’s largest battery storage facility at a utility-scale solar plant in Germany.

The 68 MW Alt Daber project, completed in 2011 and operated inn collaboration with power giants Vattenfall, boasts lead-acid batteries with a high operational voltage, creating a storage system that boasts a feed-in capacity of 800 kW and a capacity of 948 kWh.

Inverters: the good, the bad, the ugly

This week presented a mixed bag for the inverter market, particularly that of Europe. On Thursday news broke abruptly that Swiss inverter company SolarMax, operating under its parent company Sputnik Engineering, was to file for insolvency following a difficult few years for the company.

Having seen its global market share slump to below 1% last year, the continued price pressures of the European market, allied to SolarMax’s failure to properly internationalize, have worked against the company, prompting solar analyst Winfried Hoffmann to call for more political support across Europe for companies operating in this growth industry.

Meanwhile, China’s Huawei demonstrated the benefits of global growth in the inverter sector earlier in the week when it unveiled its smart PV solution at a 7.8 MW solar park in western Germany.

Using 300 string inverters rather than the traditional central inverter, the installation at the Greencells plant delivers an increased yield of around 5%, the company claims, while also offering better data management and a more rapid and efficient maintenance response.

Acquisitions and installations

Another big story this week was the news that Chinese-owned Elkem is to buy REC Solar for around $640 million in yet another example of Chinese might establishing a healthy presence in Europe.

What was that about Chinese might in Europe? Ah yes, the 300 MW deal for Yingli to supply its modules to the Neoen installation in France certainly turned heads, as did a report on Friday suggesting that China’s own domestic market may lose top spot to Japan if project delays continue to slow installation deployment numbers.

And finally…

A busy week in the world of solar was made even more hectic for the pv magazine team as the 15th Forum Solarpraxis – created and run by pv magazine parent company Solarpraxis – returned for two busy days in Berlin.

More than 60 exhibitors and hundreds of visitors packed into the Hilton Hotel conference suites to enjoy some excellent presentations, insightful discussions and ideal networking conditions. The show ended Friday afternoon on a high as leading solar experts – including Karl-Heinz Remmers, Hans-Josef Fell and Goetz Fischbeck, discussed Germany’s energy future and its place in an increasingly competitive – and confident – global solar market.

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.