From playing a key role in facilitating the scaling of the solar sector, to opening new markets and enabling grid and energy storage technologies, multilateral financial institutions have been an important part of the ongoing global energy transition. And as Felicia Jackson writes from London, with the expansion of “green banks” and clean-energy lending, the role of these institutions is only set to expand.
Technological innovation in PV is taking place in the context of extreme price competition among solar manufacturers, writes Karl Melkonyan, senior analyst for solar demand at IHS Markit. This, he argues, explains the focus on lowering manufacturing costs, increasing efficiencies, and reducing losses at all stages of the manufacturing process.
Contracts to build solar PV plants usually contain a performance warranty to ensure that the owner receives an asset that delivers the agreed-upon minimum performance level. But can warranties and assessment methodologies guarantee that plant performance is being correctly assessed? The answer is not entirely straightforward, writes Felipe Canto Teixeira, a partner at Everoze.
The battery and renewable energy industries are facing increased scrutiny for their human rights impacts. In December, U.S.-based technology and electric vehicle companies were named in the first lawsuit seeking to hold downstream companies responsible for allegedly aiding and abetting child labour in cobalt extraction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (https://bit.ly/2UgQPgZ). Energy storage technology, such as batteries, is increasingly developed alongside solar and wind-powered electricity generation. This means the battery industry’s material risks are now of direct concern to a broader group of companies involved in the global transition to a low carbon economy.
The Covid-19 outbreak has disrupted the global PV supply chain. China, the largest manufacturing hub for solar products, has postponed factory openings in many regions, as it has been hit by logistical hiccups, staff shortages, and delivery delays. Manufacturers in some Chinese provinces are running under capacity, while those overseas are facing the same situation.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s most natural mineral rich countries, yet it is plagued with poverty, inequality, corruption, human rights violations and many more challenges. Mining for materials like cobalt is at the center of these. According to state-owned miner Gecamines, over 22% of the country’s GDP is generated in the mining sector, while 70% of the world’s cobalt is produced in the country.
A growing number of companies globally have set sustainability targets to address the climate emergency. More than 700 companies are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint, write Caroline Zhu and Jiayin Song of Rocky Mountain Institute, and over 200 companies have publicly made the RE100 commitment to procure 100% of their electricity from renewable energy.
The annual installed PV capacity for Japan is expected to be 7 GW (DC) in 2019, according to RTS Corp. Cumulative PV installed capacity now stands at 63 GW. In addition to the robust introduction of small-scale PV projects, the development of already approved large-scale PV projects under the FIT program was advanced by the end of the year, say RTS analysts Takashi Ohigashi and Izumi Kaizuka.
Mining giant Rio Tinto has approved the construction of a large-scale solar PV and battery storage system for its Koodaideri mine in Western Australia. When completed, the solar plant will be among Australia’s largest PV installations at a mining site.
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