From the Mag: a selection of stories from the June issue


Published to coincide with this week’s hotly anticipated Intersolar Europe Exhibition in Munich, Germany, the June edition of pv magazine is packed with a 20-page special looking at the top 50 array-changing components set to be unveiled at the show.

Subscribers can peruse the entire issue right now online, but for all you non-subscribers out there, here is an appetite-whetting teaser of the three articles you can enjoy online, for free, right now…

Waiting for a star

Following March’s elections, pv magazine’s intrepid reporter Max Hall headed to Israel to assess the solar mood in a country that has promised so much, delivered a fair bit, and discussed at great length its PV ambitions.

Policy uncertainty was a certainty, with many of the country’s leading solar advocates telling pv magazine that the industry has been "in survival mode" for a few years now. Having installed 195 MW of solar PV capacity in 2013, and an encouraging 300 MW last year, forecasts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggest that the market will grow by around 250 MW this year.

Right now, the sector is awaiting clarification from Israel’s Public Utilities Authority (PUA), which will set out the guidelines as to how exactly the proposed 340 MW of new solar (as per last October’s government-backed quota) will be apportioned, developed and supported.

"The effectiveness of the management of renewables by the government is to blame for the three-year drought in PV," said Arava Power CEO Jon Cohen. The government has pledged to source 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, but there are rumblings among both the solar sector and environmentalists over the feasibility of this goal.

From farm to flash

Scientists at Zurich University of Applied Sciences were busying themselves at a farm in Germany earlier this year, stripping modules from a 1.2 MW array and carting them off into an old barn. Inside, pv magazine found the team flashing each module with a newly developed LED mobile flashing device, testing for nominal power and – even more interestingly – the efficacy of each module’s bypass diodes.

The technology and technique is at its early stages, but pv magazine learned that the flasher is able to flash modules at a distance of just 5 cm, and can be managed by a team of two, making it possible for testing to be done on modules while in situ in the field or on the rooftop.

According to Daniel Schär of Zurich University, the flasher can test around 500 modules a day, and can accurately test which modules’ bypass diodes are faulty, thus enabling system owners to identify where repairs or replacements are needed.

Mining smart management and storage

Although never the closest of bedfellows, the mining industry in many of the world’s most mine-active locations is now looking to solar PV as a solution to their off-grid needs.

In territories that have high solar irradiation – such as Chile, South Africa and parts of Australia – mining activity is also robust, and it is solar-powered off-grid applications that are proving most reliable and cost-effective as a source of power for these energy-intensive operations.

Many large-scale, multi-MW solar arrays are now being planned by the developers of these extractive operations, including a 10.6 MW plant in Australia and a 150 MW PV project in South Africa, which would meet 20% of the Sibanye Gold operation’s energy needs.

And interestingly, many of these new PV developments are tailor-made to be re-deployable elsewhere. "The concept of re-deployable solar plants overcomes the barriers and risks associated with permanent installations," said renewable and mining expert Thomas Hillig. Other solutions in the industry include rented or leased solar plants, as well as better battery storage and smarter energy management.


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