The pv magazine weekly news digest


With pv magazine revealing this week the number of new electric vehicles (EVs) registered worldwide in 2014 was a whopping 320,000, we may have unwittingly revealed what sent enraged Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson spinning out of control.

That figure amounted to almost half of the 740,000 EVs on the road with the Nissan Leaf retaining top spot in the popularity stakes ahead of General Motors' Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius, although new models the Tesla Model S, Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In and Honda's Fit EV dominated last year's sales, alongside perennial favorite the Leaf, favored by Leonardo Di Caprio and Larry David, among others.

The news came from another German company with a too-difficult-to-spell-out acronym, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden Wurttemburg, otherwise known as the ZSW.

The U.S. accounts for almost one-in-three of the world's EVs with Japan's presence at number two no surprise given the number of Japanese models among consumer favorites. With China the third biggest market, with 54,000 new registrations in 2014, Germany struck a bum note with only 11,700 new EVs on the road thanks to a lack of incentives.

pv magazine takes no responsibility for any damage suffered by producers as a result of the re-iteration of these figures.

Hanergy and its amazing share performance

English newspaper the Financial Times this week revealed the curious case of Chinese thin film manufacturer Hanergy's soaring share price.

The FT noted the Hong Kong publicly listed share price of Hanergy has consistently surged ten minutes from the close of trading on a daily basis over the past two years in a pattern experts say is unlikely to be random.

Not to blow our own trumpet but (ahem!) pv magazine has previously shed light on the kind of internal shenanigans operated by Hanergy which saw it effectively buy its UK business from itself for $0.13

Hanergy's parent company robustly denied efforts were being made to prop up the share price of the listed company, which is 73 per cent owned by Li Hejun, China's richest man.

Germany and Norway get plugged in

Swiss engineering company ABB has been awarded the $900 million contract to connect the grids of Germany and Norway in one of the European Union's projects of common interest.

The 623km NordLink project will be Europe's longest power grid interconnection and will involve 154km of subsea and 54km of underground cabling in the German sector alone.

The link will mean surplus power generated by solar and wind capacity in Germany can be transmitted to Norway which can send surplus hydro power in the opposite direction.

With the Spanish and French grids recently linked and Italy plugged in to France, Austria and Slovenia, the latest stage in the plan to make Europe less dependent on Vladimir Putin's gas supplies is expected to be in operation by 2020.

Scotland the brave new world

Moving away from the EU – do you see what I did there – there was more good news in the UK where renewable energy, at 19.2 per cent of the energy mix, outpaced nuclear (19 per cent) for the first time so, for all our weekly digest criticism, the government must be doing something right.

Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy in the UK, although it has to be, with just six per cent of the renewable energy mix, lagging bioenergy (36 per cent, who knew?), onshore wind (28 per cent and staying that way of the Tories have anything to do with it), offshore wind (21 per cent) and hydro (nine per cent).

Coal use declined 26 per cent in the UK – news that would have warmed the cockles of Mrs Thatcher's heart, had she possessed one – but the runaway success story is Scotland, where the 30 per cent of electricity demand met by onshore wind meant almost half the energy used north of the border came from renewables.

Allen key not included

And finally, Australian construction company Laing O'Rourke this week unveiled a redeployable diesel-solar hybrid power plant that will encourage the renewables lobby and strike fear into anyone permanently scarred by Ikea flat-pack hell.

The 1 MW plant, which is being used to power an ‘accommodation village' – and more on that fun-sounding place please – for a large construction project off the grid in Queensland, incorporates 144 kWp of solar panels so, to be fair, it does seem more diesel than PV, but every little helps.

The novelty of the system is it can be scaled up or down by adding or removing modules and was delivered and up and running within a week although the accompanying press coverage failed to reveal whether it came with bewildering illustrations of a man with a big nose or whether the installers had to go back to the store because they had been supplied with exactly two fewer dowelling plugs than required.

Anyway, must dash, there's only half an hour until the Hong Kong exchange closes and I have a couple of investments to make…

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