Sweden appears to be synonymous with the color yellow. From the bright yellow-blue façade of every Ikea store across the world to the golden strands of hair atop ABBA beau Agnetha Fältskog’s fine head, yellow is threaded through the nation’s image like a catchy Swede-pop chorus.
Yellow is bright. Positive. Safe. Sunny. But to be yellow is also to be cowardly – an accusation leveled at the center-left Swedish government in recent months following its introduction of a controversial solar tax on arrays larger than 255KW.
But the Swedes are nothing if not considerate. So, following a period of consultation, the government this week decided to effectively scrap the tax, and will in January introduce a 98% cut to the tax, thereby ensuring the nation’s commercial rooftop solar plans can continue unimpeded. Which should please Ikea no end.
And there was no end to Sweden’s renewable embrace this week, it seemed. Barely a day after the solar tax was scaled back, the government also announced plans to introduce a 60% subsidy for residential storage systems.
The plan is designed to support the country’s renewables push, and will no doubt aid PV deployment in a nation that is actually sunnier than many people think. Under the terms of the subsidy scheme, homeowners can claim 60% financial support for systems up to a maximum of $5,400.
From Musk ‘till dawn
Entrepreneurs don’t sleep, they plot. Tesla head honcho Elon Musk may look eternally youthful, but his boyish face belies a wise mind and sharp business brain, not to mention a seriously impressive work ethic. For the man is simply everywhere at the moment, and this week he kept his profile high with the confirmation that the long-awaited Tesla/SolarCity merger had been finalized.
According to SEC filings, shareholders representing over 85% of Tesla’s independent share capital approved the deal, and shareholders holding over 98% of SolarCity shares likewise gave their approval.
The exact dimensions of the changes at SolarCity and Tesla are hard to delineate at this time; however earlier statements by Tesla indicate that Tesla will begin offering rooftop PV systems and battery storage to its EV customers.
Additionally, the acquisition clears the way for Tesla to move forward with Elon Musk’s Solar Roof concept, and for Panasonic to take over at the SolarCity "gigafactory" under construction in Buffalo, New York. This also means that Silevo Triex heterojunction silicon PV technology is likely to replaced with Panasonic’s Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin Film (HIT) technology.
Mono on the rise
Over in China, pv magazine discovered that the price of mono PERC is continuing to rise as demand for high-efficiency modules grows, with mono supplies actually running low in some regions.
With the launch of the PV Top Runners project, the market recognition and demand for high-efficiency modules is gradually increasing. In addition to the projects in the Top Runner bases, some ground-mounted power stations are also starting to shift part of their demand to high-efficiency modules. The Head of Sales at an anonymous company explained: "Firstly, the high tension of land supply forces project owners to purchase high efficiency mono modules to meet their rated capacity requirements; secondly, some customers have benefited from the trial use of high-efficiency mono modules in terms of system cost and IRR, hence their recognition of such products is growing."
The current market price for mono PERC is around RMB 3.4 (US$0.49)/Watt, and despite the price increase, the products are still in short supply.
Going for an Indian
Data emerging from India this week highlighted the lopsided nature of its solar market, with official government figures revealing that China accounts for 84% of its imported solar cells and modules this year.
Further data analysis by Mercom Capital found that imports for the April-August period amounted to $762.7 million – a figure that dwarfs exports for the same period (a mere $45.55 million). However, India’s solar exports have grown 66% in the space of a year; a trend that is expected to continue as government measures to support domestic manufacturing are enacted.
And in other news…
It was another busy week of third quarter financials, with Trina Solar revealing a 22% revenue contraction but South Korea’s Hanwha Q Cells posting a 65% increase in YoY revenues; U.S. solar loan provider Mosaic secured $250 million in financing from Deutsche Bank, and a GTM Research report found that the global O&M PV market for utility scale will hit 182 GW by the end of the year.