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The week got off to on a positive note for U.S. homeowners: A new report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley Laboratory found that residential solar installations could make U.S. homes more attractive, and their sale more lucrative.

Home buyers have been consistently willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar systems, averaging about $4 per watt of PV installed, across various states, housing and PV markets and home types. According to the study, premiums for a typical residential PV system averaged around $15,000.

In Indiana and West Virginia, meanwhile, net metering schemes survived after the defeat of anti-solar bills that were supported by electric utilities.

And Google continued its solar investment spree with a further $300 million commitment to SolarCity's $750 million fund for residential solar PV projects.

In Mexico, U.S. renewable energy company Pattern Energy and Mexican construction materials company Cemex created a joint venture to develop up to 1 GW of renewable energy projects in the country.

Fortress Europe

Across the pond, the European Commission unveiled an ambitious and controversial plan to unite the EU’s energy markets into a new “Energy Union” that would provide a more fortified bulwark against Russia’s energy market dominance.

The move followed developments that already point to a united energy market: Firstly came news of a new electricity interconnector between Spain and France that doubles the electricity exchange between the two countries. A few days later, Italy’s transmission grid operator Terna announced that the country's electricity market had been successfully coupled with the neighboring markets of France, Austria and Slovenia.

A united energy market could mean a major boost for solar. Indeed, a new study published by Norwegian-German certification and classification body DNV GL found that renewables could make up about 60% of the European electricity system by 2030 provided appropriate regulatory and infrastructure support was forthcoming.

In the United Kingom, meanwhile, leading solar developer Lightsource announced it was committing more than £125 million ($193 million) towards expanding its solar top division and pipeline as the company looks to reach 1 GW of operational solar assets in Britain.

In Germany, authorities unveiled the country’s new pilot incentive program for ground-mounted solar farms. Incentive rates for renewable electricity will no longer be set by the government but by a market mechanism.

According to a new report by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems for German think tank Agora Energiewende, stable regulatory conditions could soon lead to solar power in sunny regions of the world becoming cheaper than power from coal or gas.

By 2025, the cost of producing power in central and southern Europe will have declined to between €0.04 and €0.06 per kilowatt hour, and by 2050 to as low as €0.02 to €0.04, researchers predict in the study.

African solar on the rise

Countries in Africa continue to embrace their solar potential. Algeria set a solar target of 13.5 GW solar PV by 2030, while in Nigeria, the state government of Lagos began implementation of a plan to bring off-grid solar to rural sites, including hundreds of schools and hospitals, in the region.

PV big in Japan

Industry reps from around the world headed to Japan this week for the 8th PV Expo in Tokyo.

The event is co-hosted alongside eight other cleantech trade shows and conferences, as a part of World Smart Energy Week and will be held at the sprawling Toyko Big Sight. Organizers reckon with some 80,000 visitors across the three days of the event.

In India, state utility NTPC greenlighted a 15 GW solar plan that includes three separate tranches rolled out in 3 GW, 5 GW and 7 GW segments.

U.S. solar giant SunEdison announced its intention to bring electricity to 20 million people by 2020 via solar-powered mini grids. The company is aiming to provide solar power to a million people by the end of the year, In India, a flagship scheme involving SunEdison and Omnigrid Micropower Company (OMC) is already underway. The program includes development of 5,000 solar power plants over the next five years that will serve 10 million people upon completion.

In Nepal, SunEdison has partnered with SunFarmer to develop a 5-7 year rent-to-own loan designed for less affluent organizations in the region keen to install solar power.

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