From the Mag: A selection of stories from the December issue

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The December issue of pv magazine is out today, filled once again with insightful articles examining the markets, trends, suppliers and technologies that continue to shape the solar industry.

Taking the lead this month is our examination of how interest in PERC technology is driving new solutions to previously unheralded challenges in the space. Subscribers to pv magazine can head over to our archive section now to enjoy the entire issue, online, at their leisure, while everybody else gets the usual access to three hand-picked teaser articles.

And they are…

Low tariffs but a hot Indian market

Mercom Capital CEO Raj Prabhu delivers his latest assessment of the Indian solar PV market in this insightful roundup. Prabhu writes that interest in the National Solar Mission has never been greater, but warns that such ‘heat’ is serving to push some solar tariffs to record – and possibly unviable – low levels.

Mercom Capital’s calculations forecast that India will install around 3.6 GW of new solar PV capacity in 2016, and will end 2015 with a cumulative figure of 4.8 GW, having grown approximately 2.1 GW this year.

Rajasthan continues to lead the way in terms of MW installed, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The article also breaks down the next phases of the JNNSM, including an in-depth look at batches 2 and 3, as well as a state-by-state overview of how, when and where solar is being installed right across the country.

The Wolves of Solar Street

The relative youth of the solar industry means that it can be forgiven for its naivety at times. But the specter of unscrupulous sales practices – something that haunts the door of every successful industry – should not be discounted in the world of PV either.

William P. Hirshman took up the task for pv magazine of attempting to unearth examples of poor ethics in the U.S. residential solar space. Hirshman found evidence of unethical practices in some of the leading solar states, whereby companies would seek to charge more per watt on electricity than could be feasibly deemed appropriate.

Such practices have not gone unnoticed within the industry, and it is heartening to learn that regulators have begun drafting policy designed to come down hard on perpetrators, while the emergence of third-party internet platforms is empowering solar customers, allowing them to make more savvy, smarter and more informed decisions, and ensuring they are not left at the mercy of wolfish practices.

Australia’s grand battery goal

The growth of residential solar PV in Australia usually takes the headlines, but related to that surge is steady investment and growing interest in battery storage. At October’s All Energy trade show, writes pv magazine editor in chief Jonathan Gifford, storage was the undisputed flavor of the month, but the question many are now asking is: will the value proposition play out favorably?

The chief issue that many in the industry are grappling with is the so-called ‘death spiral’, where consumers go off grid in such numbers that they drive up grid costs, this incentivizing further defections.

"In the short term it is likely that Australia will become a good market for battery storage, but in the long term there can’t be 50% of consumers going off-grid while the other half pay twice as much," said Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt.

But the flexibility of storage means it is no longer a one-way argument. The case for grid-level storage and grid-edge applications is strong, and could prove to hold the key that will enable Australia’s solar-powered march towards a cleaner future to really gather pace.

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Every month, pv magazine produces the world’s leading publication for the solar PV industry, covering a wide range of topics in the most in-depth and insightful manner possible.

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