PV Intelligence Brief 26 May - 10 June 2014

Qatar Solar Energy launches largest MENA solar facility

Companies mentioned: Qatar Solar, Energy, Al Jazari Center for Excellence, Meyer Burger, Eurotron, GT Advanced Technologies, Tempress, Asys, RENA, Rofin, Teamtechnik, Reis Robotic, ECN, Marubeni Corporation, Sunpreme, Sungevity,  E.ON Benelux, Zonline, Andalay Solar, Vivint Solar, Mibugawa Power Company

Thin Film Brief 25 May – 10 June 2014

Qatar Solar Energy launches largest MENA solar facility

Qatar Solar Energy (QSE), a Qatar-based renewable energy company, has launched what is considered the largest solar technology development and manufacturing facility in the MENA region.

The launch was attended by government officials, foreign dignitaries, industry and environmental leaders, and special guests attended the launch, which puts Qatar on the path to be one of the biggest producers of solar energy in the world. Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke during the event.

QSE, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, spearheaded by H.H. the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is delivering solar energy solutions and manufacturing solar products that will lessen the reliance of the economy on hydrocarbon fuel industries. QSE is currently manufacturing patented products specifically designed for sun-belt regions.

The facility’s model will include research, technology development, manufacturing, and project development and deployment under one roof, forming a fully integrated value chain from raw materials to the end-user. Crucial to this process will be the facility’s collaboration with the Al Jazari Center for Excellence, QSE's research institute.

"Qatar Solar Energy is dedicated to democratizing sustainable energy by delivering
environmentally responsible solutions to the world's pressing energy challenges. By lowering the cost, our technology will empower individuals and businesses with affordable electricity in developed and emerging markets," said Salim Abbassi, CEO of QSE. "This is a significant milestone for Qatar and proves that the region can be on the leading edge of an industry that will secure sustainable energy for future generations."

QSE has also signed agreements with Jermyn Capital to supply 150MW of solar power to the Japanese market and additionally with Power Capital to supply Thailand with 150MW of solar power. At the time of writing, QSE achieved 300MW of solar capacity and is on its way to expanding production to 2.5GW.  To improve cost and efficiency QSE is collaborating with solar energy technology companies with specialisation in ingot, wafer, cell, module, and deployment technologies.

QSE collaborates with leading solar energy technology providers and research institutes including Meyer Burger, Eurotron, GT Advanced Technologies, Tempress, Asys, RENA, Rofin, Teamtechnik, Reis Robotic, ECN, Sunpreme and others.

Marubeni to launch three mega-solar power plants  

Marubeni Corporation has entered into an agreement for the construction of three mega-solar power plants in Sekikawa Village, Iwafune County in Niigata Prefecture. The project is being jointly developed with Mibugawa Power Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marubeni. Construction will be carried out from July to December 2014 and the plants will be handled by Mibugawa.

With the support of Sekikawa Village, Mibugawa will build and operate the plants at three locations owned by either Sekikawa Village or private owners. The total capacity of the plants is approximately 2,700 kW and the plants are expected to collectively produce approximately 2.6 million kWh per annum, corresponding to the annual electricity consumption of 700 ordinary houses. The generated power will be sold for over 20 years under Japan's feed-in-tariff scheme.

Marubeni will construct the environmentally friendly mega-solar plants by using disused spaces such as closed school grounds located in Sekikawa Village.

Marubeni already has three mega-solar projects under its belt (82MW in Oita, 4.3MW in Hokkaido and 1.1MW in Miyazaki) and two more projects (49MW in Aichi/Mie and 28.3MW in Miyagi) under development.

Sungevity, E.ON sign co-branded partnership

Solar savings predictive software company, Sungevity, and E.ON Benelux, a division of one of the world's largest investor-owned utility companies, have formed an agreement whereby Sungevity will offer its turnkey solar energy service to E.ON's base of customers in the Netherlands on a co-branded basis. The partnership is expected to expand to other European countries in the near future.

"As the second-highest-priced energy market in Europe, the Netherlands is an ideal place to begin our strategic partnership with E.ON," said Andrew Birch, Sungevity's Chief Executive Officer. "Being able to tap into their customer base, their brand recognition and their credibility as one of the largest utilities in Europe gives us a solid route to market with extensive growth potential in the face of rising demand for alternative energy sources."

E.ON SE last month made a strategic investment in Sungevity that set the stage for the current partnership and helped the solar energy provider raise a total of $70m in new equity financing from a consortium of new and existing investors, it was reported. E.ON plans to use the partnership with Sungevity to expand its solar energy footprint.

To facilitate its European expansion, Sungevity has converted its minority stake in Dutch solar startup Zonline to full ownership. Sungevity will retain and expand the Zonline workforce, including CEO Frank Goovaerts and founder Roebyem Anders, and rebrand the company as Sungevity Netherlands.

The new entity will serve as Sungevity's European headquarters, and will manage and support the solar services provided to E.ON customers as well as other Sungevity customers acquired through separate marketing initiatives and partnerships. Sungevity's acquisition of Zonline closed on May 22, 2014.

Sungevity's remote solar design capabilities and iQuote instant quoting technology claims to eliminate the need for upfront site visits through the use of satellite imagery and aerial photography. Quotes include estimated cost savings over conventional energy sources based on buyers' historical consumption rates.

Sungevity first entered the European market through a joint venture partnership with Zonline announced in November 2011, and launched its brand in Australia in April 2012.

Andalay Solar expands product line

Andalay Solar is expanding its product line and re-introducing the world's first fully integrated DC Instant Connect Panel equipped with a unique plug-and-play feature.

The DC Instant Connect Panel has built-in racking, grounding and wiring.  Each DC Instant Connect Module comes with a pre-installed jumper cable, which eliminates the need to run a homerun cable and thereby eliminates costly wire management issues, the company has said. As the panels come together, the junction box cables and jumper cable automatically connects.

The company says that the latest version is an extension of pre-existing ones, where the splice rods provide both structural rigidity and an electrical grounding path, subsequently getting rid of the need for racking and copper grounding. In addition, it says, the built-in racking and Andalay groove enable panels to be attached directly to the roof without a rail system which reduces installation time and creates a more aesthetically pleasing installation by enabling the solar system to be mounted more flush to the roof.

"We are very excited to be the only company to offer a rail-less DC Module with built-in wire management jumper cables. These enhancements increase performance and make our systems even more reliable and easy to install," said Steven Chan, CEO of Andalay Solar. "With more than 60% of the solar market using DC modules, Andalay Solar intends to re-establish its position in the market by expanding its product line to the DC module."

Vivint Solar opens two offices in Arizona

Vivint Solar, a provider of residential solar energy systems in the United States, has expanded into the Phoenix, Arizona area with two new offices. This is the company's first business expansion into the Grand Canyon State and is planning to hire approximately 100 employees and direct sellers to begin providing its affordable solar energy system lease solutions to homeowners, the company has reported.

"Arizona is well-suited for distributed solar energy generation, and we believe our lease offering will work well in the Phoenix area," said Chance Allred, vice president of sales at Vivint Solar.

A Vivint Solar lease, provides Phoenix homeowners a fixed monthly lease payment for a rooftop solar energy system with no down payment or upfront costs for installation and permitting. Vivint Solar leases include a solar energy production guarantee and provide a credit to the homeowner in the event the solar energy system does not meet the annual energy production guarantee.

Marubeni Shimizu mega plant opens

Mibugawa Power Company has recently held an opening ceremony for its mega-solar power plant in Shimizu town, Kamikawa County, Hokkaido. Mibugawa completed the first-stage construction in November 2013 and the second-stage of construction in January 2014.

With the support of Shimizu Town, Mibugawa has built and operated the plants at five locations owned by Shimizu Town. The total capacity of the plants is approximately 4.3MW and the expected annual power generation will cover the annual power consumption of 1,300 ordinary houses. The generated power will be sold for over 20 years under Japan’s feed-in-tariff scheme. Stable operation of the plants will be managed by Mibugawa.