An argument for renewables, and for a new utility paradigm

In late January 2019, California’s largest investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) declared bankruptcy for the second time, causing anxiety for investors, ratepayers, employees, PPA holders, elected government officials and, lest we forget, fire and gas explosion victims. Judge Alsup, who is overseeing PG&E’s probation from its felony conviction, lambasted the company for violating its probation. “To my mind, there’s a very clear-cut pattern here: that PG&E is starting these fires,” Alsup said. “What do we do? Does the judge just turn a blind eye and say, ‘PG&E continue your business as usual. Kill more people by starting more fires.”

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Strategies vary, but the goal remains the same

It’s no secret that global energy demand continues to rise, with some estimating an increase of a third by 2040. Meanwhile, writes David Green, Research & Analysis Manager for Smart Utilities Infrastructure at IHS Markit, the energy industry is on the cusp of a 100 year change away from oil and coal hydrocarbons towards renewables and natural gas. Every stakeholder in the industry has a role to play in the energy transition, including within the industrial sector which accounts for 50% of global energy consumption.

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The weekend read: European solar comes of PPAge

From scorching Seville to rainy Rostock, investors claim that power purchase agreements (PPAs) have made European solar farms bankable without government subsidies. By providing lower risk for cheaper capital, they are powering a renaissance in established PV markets and lowering the cost of solar electricity in Europe.

The Netherlands: PV’s Iron Throne

While relatively small compared to its more populous neighbors, the Netherlands has a history of punching above its weight. This is certainly true of its solar market in 2019, writes Rolf Heynen from Dutch New Energy Research. And for companies awake to the nuances of its policy settings and market opportunities, The Netherlands could prove a jewel in the European solar crown.

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Inverter suppliers go digital

More than 11 million PV inverters will be shipped in 2019 alone, and most of these will be connected to a software platform and controlled by the inverter companies. This creates an opportunity for suppliers to create new models and revenue sources, writes Cormac Gilligan, research and analysis manager at IHS Markit. And indeed, in recent years inverter suppliers have been rapidly developing ‘Internet of things’ software platforms to take advantage of this.

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China’s PV policy still under discussion

Although the National Energy Administration (NEA) held a seminar to talk about the development of the 13th five-year plan last November, a positive signal for domestic demand, the Chinese government still has not released new official targets for solar, as of February 2019.

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Supply distribution under trade barriers and the trend of market diversification

Despite a number of unfavorable policy announcements, the global PV market still added 101 GW in 2018. It looks likely that this momentum will continue this year, with as much as 110 GW of new capacity expected.

Exponential or slow growth?

The Turkish solar market finds itself at a crossroads in 2019, with previous policy settings coming to an end and more questions than answers being raised by recent government efforts. While the YEKA projects to date have delivered little in terms of installations, Muren Guler from Global Energy Ltd believes that ‘Mini YEKA’ could provide just the boost manufacturers, suppliers, and developers are looking for.

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What sustainable solar means to Turkey

There is no denying that Turkey is an ideal fit for a major solar market and key player in the PV sector, located on the border between east and west. But while the country has shone as a solar star this decade, writes Eren Engür, Managing Partner at Icarus Energy, it is quickly fading as the government has failed to promote a sustainable solar sector. However, this could be about to change.

The mainstreaming of mono

In the second half of 2018, monocrystalline silicon technology passed an important milestone: Quarterly production of monocrystalline ingots, wafers, cells, and modules overtook that of multicrystalline for the first time in the mainstream PV era. This milestone was tracked by PV technology and market forecasting firm exawatt. CEO Simon Price sets out how mono’s rapid growth could have been, and was, predicted.

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