Global solar installations to grow 48% in 2016; EDF commissions 146 MW Chile solar plant

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The 146 MW-capacity Boléro solar plant in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile is online (Image credit: EDF Energies Nouvelles)

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Global solar installations to grow 48% in 2016

The number of new global solar installations will rise 48% to 76 GW in 2016 and that momentum will continue with a further 70 GW in installations in 2017, clean-energy consultancy Mercom Capital Group has forecast.

Demand will overshoot most forecasts made earlier this year due to an unprecedented level of activity in China, according to Mercom CEO Raj Prabhu. “Record installations in China followed by a slowdown resulted in an oversupply situation, which led to a module price crash. Low module prices are helping demand recovery going into 2017,” he said.

China installed 15.1 GW in 2015, and overshot its 2016 installation goal of 18.1 GW in the first half of the year alone with about 22 GW installed as developers rushed to complete projects before the country’s June 30 tariff deadline, Mercom noted. Demand fell after the tariff cuts, which triggered the drop in solar-module prices that led to oversupply. Spot module prices have fallen about 30% year-to-date and about 21% since June. China’s National Energy Administration is now looking at a 27% reduction in the country’s solar-installation target from 150 GW to 110 GW by 2020.

Mercom has forecast about 13 GW in installations for the U.S. solar market in 2016, 78% more than in 2015. Noting that Donald Trump’s election has raised questions for the U.S. solar market, Mercom said the Solar Investment Tax Credit extension was likely to remain in place “due to the bipartisan nature of how the extension was passed and the fact the solar sector employs more than 200,000 citizens.”

New solar installations are set to peak in China and the U.S. in 2016 (Image credit: Mercom Capital Group)

EDF, Marubeni commission 146 MW solar plant in Chile

EDF Energies Nouvelles and Marubeni have inaugurated their jointly owned 146 MW-capacity Boléro solar plant in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Boléro, the largest plant commissioned by the EDF Group subsidiary to date, is capable of supplying 191,000 Chilean households with electricity and is expected to cut down CO2 emissions by 380,000 tons. It comprises of 475,000 photovoltaic modules fitted with solar trackers, and covers an area of more than 500 hectares. EDF EN Chile, a local subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, will be in charge of its operation and maintenance.

In October, the EDF Group announced the launch of an additional 115 MW-capacity solar project located north of the Chilean capital Santiago. That plant will be equally owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles and Andes Mining Energy, a local developer. A percentage of the power generated by the solar project will be covered by a 15-year purchase agreement signed with around 20 distributors while the rest will be sold on the market.

Largest affiliated-service provider has 3.5 GW of PV assets in fleet

SOLV, a division of Swinerton Renewable Energy, is the top-ranked affiliated service provider in the global operations and maintenance market, according to a new report by GTM Research and SoliChamba Consulting.

The report analyzed 66 companies across 14 markets, and segmented O&M vendors into six categories: independent service providers; affiliated service providers; developers, EPCs, integrated firms; financial investors, funds, yieldcos; IPPs and utilities; and inverter OEMs.

Affiliated service providers (ASPs) are organizations such as installation firms, developers, manufacturers and providers, that have created a service business for O&M. SOLV recorded the greatest total growth of the ASPs examined for the GTM report, adding 1.25 GW of PV assets to its fleet in 2016 for a total of 3.25 GW of PV assets under management.

SOLV provides O&M services to both affiliated and third-party plants as a division of utility-scale solar EPC, Swinerton Renewable Energy (SRE). SOLV was developed to provide a comprehensive solution to SRE's existing renewable energy clients, but quickly evolved into a nationally-recognized O&M provider for externally-built plants in addition to those constructed by SRE. Today SOLV's portfolio consists of over 50 percent of third-party PV assets.

According to the report, the global O&M market will reach 182 GW by the end of 2016, up from 133 GW in 2015. This growth represents a 54% increase in deployments over last year, driven by larger plant sizes in new construction markets like the U.S. The report estimates the global market for O&M services will reach 439 GW by the end of 2021.

Amazon backing 260 MW of solar generation capacity in Virginia

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced five new solar farms across the U.S. state of Virginia that will bring a total of 180 MW energy capacity onto the grid by the end of 2017.

Headlining the new capacity will be a 100 MW facility in Southampton County. Solar farms in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, and Powhatan counties will each have 20 MW capacity. AWS has one existing solar farm in Virginia: Amazon Solar Farm US East, an 80 MW facility in Accomack County.

Combined, the six solar farms are expected to generate more than 580,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy annually, and the Amazon subsidiary says this will make it the largest corporate backer of solar projects east of the Mississippi River.
AWS continues to make progress toward its long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100 percent renewable energy, the company said. It expects to exceed its initial 2016 goal of 40% renewable energy by the end of this year and to set a new goal of being powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017.

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