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Magazine Archive 03–2021

Green shoots of recovery

There is a sense of cautious optimism with signs of an end to the tumult and disruption that have been a feature of the last 12 months, and for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, the first green shoots of spring.

Headwinds, or a healthy correction?

In the month of February, the solar industry witnessed a decline, writes Jesse Pichel of ROTH Capital Partners. Increasing prices throughout the supply chain and forced labor concerns from China spelled headwinds for the solar industry, but the decline can also be viewed as a healthy correction, following historic highs in January.

Why human rights protection is pushing up module prices

The solar industry typically sees itself as being supportive of the environment, humanity, and human rights. Even large Chinese PV manufacturers publish statements to this effect, particularly if they are listed on Western stock exchanges. But what do human rights have to do with the solar industry? What connections exist, asks Martin Schachinger of pvXchange, and how are they important to the future success of the European PV market?

A banner year for US solar

Despite the supply and demand challenges that PV faced in 2020, the U.S. solar market had its largest installation year to date, writes IHS Markit’s Maria Chea. More than 22 GW of PV installations were completed last year, with utility-scale projects representing 77% of that volume. A renewables-friendly administration, an extended ITC schedule, increasingly competitive pricing, and a massive late-stage project pipeline will drive strong growth for the United States in 2021.

Manufacturing amid market concentration

The solar market is expected to grow in 2021, following a year of pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions, exacerbated by explosions at polysilicon plants. PV InfoLink estimates almost 154 GW of module demand in 2021, up by 10% on 2020. Analyst Amy Fang examines the key market trends for the first quarter.

From minnow to colossus

When looking at European Union renewable energy statistics, the Netherlands was, and still is in many ways, the laughingstock of Europe. But in recent years the country has come to rank near the top in solar deployments. In 2021 this small nation may even surpass neighboring Germany with new installed capacity. Rolf Heynen, the CEO of Dutch New Energy Research, takes a look at what is going on.

Timing is everything

For investment portfolios and for the entire renewables sector, diversity matters. A new independent study shows that by complementing Ireland’s onshore wind sector with greater volumes of large-scale solar, emissions are lower, curtailment decreases, and society potentially gains economically, to the tune of €21 per citizen. Conall Bolger, CEO of the Irish Solar Energy Association, reports on the power of daytime production.

Smart meter disruption in Flanders

The installation of digital smart meters, in theory, could be extremely positive for the development of rooftop PV and energy communities, as smart meters allow customers to monitor their energy consumption and production, as well as their consumption habits. But the rollout of smart meters in parts of Belgium have left PV “prosumers” high and dry, with tariffs for solar feed in curtailed.

Central Asia’s solar awakening

Uzbekistan is providing a model for solar development in Central Asia as it rolls out its first large-scale projects. With the support of multilateral financial institutions, the government is prioritizing its electrical infrastructure as it pursues economic development goals. And as Amjad Khashman reports, the engagement of developers from fossil-fuel- rich neighbors in its solar projects points to a bright, renewable future for the region.

Hope for a restart

The decline of the Turkish PV market over the past three years has been disappointing. But there is hope in the form of smaller “mini YEKA” tenders and the creation of a policy regime to support power purchase agreements, says Kutay Kaleli, the chairman of the board at Turkey’s peak solar industry body, Günder.

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