The pv magazine weekly news digest

The world was confident. Europe was confident. Bookmakers were extremely confident. And the solar industry was also confident… and maybe a little drunk. As Europe went to bed on the night of Thursday, June 23, the signs were good that the U.K. was going to vote to remain in the European Union. All that campaigning, that worry, those harbingers of doom were felt to be, at the time, all for naught.

But as fuzzy heads arose from their slumber on Friday morning, the world seemed a very different place. The Brits had only gone and voted out of the EU by a narrow 52/48 margin. Prime Minister David Cameron duly resigned. Face of the Leave Campaign Nigel Farage was already backpedalling on the promises made during an early BBC interview. And the European solar industry got dressed, shuffled back to the exhibition hall in Munich for the final day of Intersolar Europe and tried – mostly in vain – to talk about anything other than Brexit.

The incredulity hung heavily in the air across the show, with most European and many non-European solar companies unable to believe what had just happened. In London, pv magazine’s U.K. correspondent Ilias Tsagas had, however, prepared for such an eventuality, and within hours had written a comprehensive overview of what Brexit would mean for the U.K.’s renewable energy development. We shall say no more other than – it’s worth a read, so take a look.

Europe marches on

Slightly wounded by the news, the Intersolar Europe exhibition ended on a strangely somber note; a note at odds with the two preceding days that reverberated to the sound of positivity and optimism. There were no standout trends or themes from the show, save for: storage has arrived, Europe is rediscovering its mojo, and inverter suppliers are beginning to take up the baton of cost reduction with a suite of new, bigger and smarter applications.

Masdar set to shine in UAE

Two of the biggest stories of the week came from just one company: Masdar. The Abu Dhabi clean energy developer was confirmed as the lead on a consortium chosen to build the 800 MW third phase of the Shiekh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar plant in Dubai.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) confirmed that Masdar, alongside Spanish and Saudi partners, had been chose to develop the plant at the world-record low tariff of 2.99 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour.

A few days later Masdar also announced that it is soon to begin work on a 350 MW solar PV plant in Abu Dhabi in a joint venture with France’s EDF, adding that it is “entirely possible” to develop this project at a tariff below that seen in Dubai.

ABB switch sights to Europe

In the U.S., Swiss power electronics firm ABB announced that it is to close its Phoenix inverter production factory and shift operations to Estonia and Italy. Reports suggested that as many as 90 jobs could be lost in Arizona, with ABB telling pv magazine: "The consolidation will enable factory and supply chain optimization while improving cost, deliver and quality to our customers. The transition is expected to be completed by November 2016."

SunPower sets another record

Efficiency records have been tumbling in 2016, and no more so than in June, as three records have been broken for cells and modules using varying different technology. SunPower has announced that it broke its own world record for a PV panel that uses silicon cells.

The record, that was achieved using laboratory cells from SunPower’s X-Series modules, was validated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It broke the company’s own record of 22.8% efficiency that was set in February, which clearly didn’t stop SunGrow from striving for improvements.

"SunPower’s X-Series panel was tested by our lab under standard test or reporting conditions," said NREL scientist Keith Emery. "The module measured 11310.1 CM2 (aperture area) and had a power of 272.5 Watts. We recorded 24.1% efficiency, which is a new record for silicon module efficiency."

Texas holds ‘em promise

The old adage is that everything is bigger in Texas. The state was the largest in the United States before the acquisition of Alaska, and its broad prairies, pine woods and deserts have made many men rich in cattle, oil and gas over the centuries.

Today Texas is expecting a different sort of boom – a solar boom. Figures released today from Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research’s Q2 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight are in line with predictions made by Brattle Group and Texas grid operator ERCOT in forecasting a very large solar market in the state in coming years.

But while ERCOT and Brattle Group predicted that the state would install 13 GW by 2030 or 2035, respectively, SEIA has focused on a shorter time frame, and expects Texas to install 4.6 GW over the next five years. In 2016 alone, SEIA predicts that the state’s installed capacity of 566 MW will more than double. SEIA expects the large majority of this to be utility-scale solar, at 4 GW.

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