The pv magazine weekly news digest

Welcome to pv magazine’s first weekly digest of 2016. Last year ended on something of a high with the welcome news that the U.S. government had approved an extension of the ITC just days after a largely successful COP21 summit in Paris that saw solar steal the show.

The positivity that brought 2015 to a close was tempered somewhat by regressive steps taken in the previously dynamic U.K. solar market to roll-back support under the FIT scheme. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that is overseeing these cuts could not obfuscate the true impact solar has had in Britain over the past few years. This week, DECC published data that showed the U.K. now has 8.4 GW of cumulative solar PV capacity installed, making it one of the world’s largest solar markets.

As recently as 2011, the U.K. had just 223 MW of solar PV capacity installed nationwide. In these past five years the sector’s boom has ridden various subsidy cuts and policy changes to emerge as a sustainable, viable and increasingly vital addition to the U.K.’s energy mix, and even once the subsidies are scaled right back, British developers are still confident that the market can continue to grow satisfactorily.

German transition continues

The world-leader in terms of cumulative solar PV capacity remains – just – Germany. The PV pioneer was first to transition to a post-boom solar landscape, and the past two years of Energiewende have been painful on installation rates and hitherto-booming local companies.

In 2016, Germany will experience further consolidation as the sector continues its slow transformation, and two popular stories this week encapsulate just how this evolution will pan out. Frustration was the overriding reaction to Germany’s storage policy delays. Funding for storage for small-scale solar ceased at the end of 2015, and the government appears to be dragging its heels over a new program, which should begin “as early as possible in 2016”.

Confusion over when and how the storage subsidy should be extended has reigned for a while, and Oliver Krischer of the Green Party told pv magazine that the storage program was originally not supposed to be continued past 2015. "Then, actually, we hear it is to be extended, but it is not clear when and under what conditions," he said. "This back and forth is poisonous for an innovative storage market."

Further changes to Germany’s solar landscape are being brought by the solar tender, which delivered a unit price of €0.08/kWh in the third round this week, beating the unit price of €0.0849 set during the second tender.

Germany has set a date of April 1 for the fourth tender, with authorities poised publish all relevant bidding details in February. This fourth tender will have a limit of 125 MW and will form part of the annual tender limit of 400 MW set by government. Last year, Germany set a 500 MW limit, but so far none of those successful bids have yet been connected to the grid.

India continues where it left off

The bold solar proclamations made by Indian PM Narendra Modi at the COP21 Summit have rolled seamlessly into 2016, with the Indian government allocating a budget of around $751 million for the explicit pursuit of rooftop solar PV.

The aim is to install 4.2 GW of rooftop capacity up to 2019-20 under the National Solar Mission. However, at this pace India would still fall some way short of its stated goal of reaching 100 GW of installed PV capacity (with around 40 GW for rooftops) by 2022.

Bridge to India, which released a solar rooftop map for 2016 last November, calculated that cumulative solar PV rooftop capacity, as of October 31, 2015, was just 525 MW, of which residential comprised 143 MW, commercial 172 MW and industrial 210 MW. It projects that 6.5 GW will be installed by 2020.

Meanwhile, in a report also released in November, KPMG India forecast that 10 GW of will be installed by 2020, and up to 49 GW by 2025.

Elsewhere, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) also signed a potentially lucrative MoU with the Russian Energy Agency (REA) for the creation of many large-scale solar PV projects and manufacturing facilities in India, according to an REA statement.

"The parties have proposed to collaborate and cooperate on the basic parameters of project implementation in order to achieve competitive solar tariffs, and have agreed to devise a road-map for development of solar projects and manufacturing facilities," the statement read.

Brazil doubles solar target

The Brazilian government has outlined its solar intentions for the next decade, and they are reassuringly bold. By 2024 the country is targeting the installation of 7 GW of utility-scale solar PV, and 1.32 GW of distributed PV – a doubling of the previous goal for 2023.

This ten-year energy plan was approved last week by the Brazilian government and builds upon a growing demand for solar energy in the country. As of November 2015 only 32 MW of solar PV was connected to the grid in Brazil, according to the MME report. Of these, DG solar represented 10.8 MW. Roughly half of these installations have a capacity from 2-4 kW.

Duties review brings little comfort

In the U.S., Preliminary rulings in the second administrative reviews of 2012 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on PV cells from China suggest lower rates, but experience from the first review gives no cause to celebrate yet.

This week, ITA published preliminary findings for its second administrative review of anti-subsidy duties (countervailing duties or CVD) set in 2012 on Chinese PV cells, in conjunction with the anti-dumping duties. At 19.62%, the "subsidy rate" for Chinese PV makers was slightly higher than 2012 CVD rates, however not enough to offset potentially lower dumping duties.

This prospect of lower duties would ostensibly be seen as good news for Chinese PV makers. However, these are only preliminary rates, and GTM Research Solar Markets Senior Analyst, Jade Jones says that the previous review taught suppliers a lesson.

"In the preliminary finding, they were calling for lower levels, but the final finding was essentially the same as the 2012 rates," Jones told pv magazine. "Some suppliers did quotes, prices that would be unfavorable for them at the end, because they assumed lower dumping rates."

pv Deutschland

Germany’s pace of solar installations may have slowed, with data forecasting that the past year will see new installs come in below 1.5 GW, but new analysis has showed that existing solar systems have produced more energy than ever before, and by some margin, too. Also in Germany, utility E.ON has completed the separation of its operations between clean energy and more traditional sources.

pv Latin America

The big stories from Latin America, aside from the Brazil announcement, revolved around Chile and its growing desire for more solar power. Copper producer Codelco launched a tender for the installation of two PV systems at its two offices in Santiago and Los Andes, while the Chilean government said it was confident of reaching 70% renewables by 2050.

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