PV Intelligence Brief 28 Oct. – 1 Nov, 2014

Hydrogen key to storing on-site solar says newco

Companies mentioned: Resatech, Clean Power Solutions, SunPower, SolarBridge Technologies, Ex-Im Bank,Trina Solar, Nathalin Welstar Energy,  Canadian Solar, Solatio, Lightsource, Biosar Aktor

Hydrogen key to storing on-site solar says newco

Resatech, a newly created British company is developing a system that stores renewable energy produced from solar panels or small wind turbines and converts extra electricity at the site into Hydrogen, which can be used as vehicle fuel or central heating fuel.

News of the newco comes on the heels of the UK Government recently announcing an £11m scheme to encourage the creation of a Hydrogen infrastructure to provide fuel for the forthcoming Hydrogen powered vehicles. This means that companies and farmers could now create their own fuel, and also create an income stream selling Hydrogen to other Hydrogen users.

Marc Stanton, the Commercial Director of Clean Power Solutions, the company handling sales of the system said: “Now it’s possible to store all the energy produced from any size of renewable energy systems and use it when renewable power isn’t available.”

He added: ‘In addition, because of the revolutionary design, it means that locations that previously couldn’t be connected to the Grid can now be connected.”

The news could prove fruitful for farmers and commercial companies that could save millions of pounds by taking advantage of the Government’s Feed in Tariffs.

The really clever part is that it can absorb the reactive power, balance the phases and control voltage rises in the local Grid network, said the report by Clean Power Solutions.

“This means that in areas where the network has been weak, it can now be strengthened by the installation of the system. This means that now, electricity companies are positively encouraging companies and farmers to install the system. Now, any sized system can be connected to the Grid without the need for expensive upgrades to the network.”

Every major car manufacturer has announced the development of Hydrogen vehicles and several of them are due to be launched in the UK next year, according to the report.

SunPower to own and operate 160MW facility in South Africa

SunPower Corp. has reported plans to own and operate a solar panel manufacturing facility in Cape Town, South Africa, to meet the growing demand for solar in that region. 

At this new plant, SunPower will manufacture its high efficiency SunPower E20/440 Solar Panels and expects to produce up to 160-megawatts (MW) annually.  The company estimates that it will create up to 150 local jobs and will begin recruitment efforts in the first quarter of 2015.

The facility will also house SunPower's Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and Operations & Management (O&M) offices, consolidating its South African business into one building.

Marty Neese, SunPower COO, said that SunPower has a significant presence in the South African solar market, including two large power plants built this year and another one that will begin construction soon.

“By manufacturing our high efficiency solar panels at this new facility, we will not only help the local economy, but continue to deliver clean, renewable energy to this region," said Neese.

"Our investment in this new plant is part of our commitment to the local South African PV market, and meets our objective to build a sustainable business through local investment and create jobs in the medium and long-term."

Earlier this year, SunPower completed construction of two ground-mounted solar projects totaling 33-MW located near Douglas in the Northern Cape Town province.  Additionally, SunPower has been appointed as the preferred EPC and O&M contractor for an 86-MWdc project in the round three Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement program by the MULILO-TOTAL consortium.

SunPower, an affiliate of Total, operates solar panel manufacturing plants in North America, Europe and Asia, and plans to open its factory in South Africa in 2015.

SunPower acquires SolarBridge Technologies

SunPower has reported that it has expanded its product portfolio for its residential customers with the acquisition of SolarBridge Technologies, an integrated microinverter technologies for the solar industry.

SunPower will use this technology, which converts direct current (DC) generated by a single solar photovoltaic panel into alternating current (AC), to develop next generation microinverters for use with SunPower's high efficiency solar panels.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Texas-based SolarBridge has developed a microinverter solution for roof-ready AC solar panels.  Panels with these factory-integrated microinverters can be directly installed, eliminating the need to mount or assemble additional components on the roof or the side of a home.

"SunPower's acquisition of SolarBridge and its high performance microinverter technology will allow us to develop a differentiated product specifically optimized for our high efficiency solar panels," said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO.

Ex-Im Bank approves $200m for US renewable exports

Independent federal agency Export-Import Bank authorised around $200m to finance U.S. renewable energy exports in FY 2014.

This brings the agency’s total support to nearly $2bn since 2009.

The goal at Ex-Im is to fill the gap when private lenders can’t offer support, so that U.S. companies can compete on a level playing field.

Last year alone, the Bank’s nearly $200m in financing authorisations enabled U.S. companies to ship around $550m worth of renewable energy exports to the global marketplace in support of wind, solar, hydropower, and geothermal projects.

Thailand: Trina completes 7.8 MW to ten commercial rooftop plants

Trina Solar, a global leader in photovoltaic modules, solutions, and services, has completed the supply of 7.8 MW modules to power ten rooftop solar power plants in Thailand, which are developed by subsidiaries of Nathalin Welstar Energy Ltd.

A total of 31,200 Honey modules (TSM-PC05A) will be installed on Siam Global House rooftops acrossThailand, a nation-wide home improvement and construction materials retailer. The installations are expected to provide an annual output of 8,000,000 kWh, which will account for 95% of the facilities' electricity needs.

The rooftop solar projects are among the first distributed generation power plants in the Thai rooftop market since the Thai National Energy Policy Commission (NEPC) announced a feed-in tariff for rooftop solar power plants inJuly 2013. Revenue will be recognized in the fourth quarter of 2014.

"This is a significant development in the adoption of solar power in Thailand and we are delighted to provide our power-efficient and high-quality modules to support these rooftop solar projects," said Helena Li, Managing Director of Asia Pacific & Middle East Region at Trina Solar.

Li continued: "It demonstrates the growing demand for our products in emerging markets and broadens Trina Solar's global footprint. We are encouraged by the Thai government's efforts to promote green initiatives and are proud to support the development of solar energy inThailand."

Canadian Solar wins 114MW in Brazil projects 

Canadian Solar has won 3 solar photovoltaic (PV) projects totalling 114MW in Vazante, in the state in Minas Gerais in Brazil.

Canadian Solar, in partnership with Solatio, will develop, build and own the solar power plants which, once connected to the grid, will sell the electricity generated to the Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica, a Brazilian government entity, under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement at R$216.12/MWh ($86.42/MWh).

Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar said that the company entered the utility scale project development business to differentiate its business model, expand and stabilize our profit margins over the business cycle.

“We have since successfully leveraged our experience in Canada to expand our project business in key geographies. This win in Brazil is a testament to the strength of our project development capabilities, and positions us well to participate in the growth in demand for solar energy across the globe," he said.

"We are convinced that in order to be successful in such a demanding market as the energy sector in Brazil, it is absolutely mandatory to have profound local knowledge of the industry and the country as well as high-quality project developments, concepts on which Solatio has based its work from the very beginning in Brazil,'' commented Pedro Vaquer, a Solatio partner.

"Undoubtedly, a collaboration agreement with a sound international player as Canadian Solar translates into the perfect combination for the success of our projects," added Antonio Rodriguez, another Solatio partner.

Ramsgate solar farm creates habitats for local wildlife

UK solar generation company, Lightsource Renewable Energy, has connected a new solar farm near Ramsgate, in Kent, to the national electricity grid.  Thorne Solar Farm is capable of generating 6.1MWp (Megawatts-Peak) of clean, renewable electricity– enough to power around 1,800 local homes.

Located to the south of Manston Airport, the solar farm is set across 27 acres. However, the panels and infrastructure will only occupy less than 30% of the total leased area ideal for the continued grazing of sheep.

The company says the project is committed to “responsible and sustainable land management” whereby Lightsource has married a detailed biodiversity management plan alongside the traditional grazing of sheep. This ensures farming practices at Thorne Farm continue with the added benefit of increased biodiversity, said the company.

When creating the land management plan, the Lightsource in-house planning team designated the areas within the solar farm to be seeded with rich grass mix to benefit the grazing of sheep and the solar farm boundaries to become a haven for wildlife, with the sowing of wildflowers and installing bird and bat roosting boxes in surrounding trees.

Various habitat enhancements like purpose-built log and rubble piles will provide new homes for hibernating reptiles and amphibians whilst an insect “hotel” and an area to house hibernating hedgehogs will also become new features for the solar farm.

Lightsource contracted specialist EPC company Biosar Aktor to construct and commission the solar farm. Whilst the operation and maintenance of the solar farm will be carried out by Biosar Aktor for the next 2 years, this will be supervised by Lightsource’s own in-house Operations and Maintenance Division who will carry on the operations once the two year contract is completed.