Turkey set to tender 1 GW solar plant; Inverter supplier SMA cuts profit outlook

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Turkey's 1 GW PV project would be the largest solar plant in the world and could attract $1.3 billion of investment. (Image credit: Trekandshoot)

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Turkey to tender for 1 GW plant in December

Turkey is to hold a tender in December for a 1 GW PV plant near the city of Konya in central Turkey, Berat Albayrak, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, announced October 20.

The 1 GW project would be the largest solar plant in the world and is set to attract $1.3 billion of investment, according to local media reports. The plant would be built on a 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) site in the Karapınar district.

The plant is expected to start producing power around the end of 2018 and some of the electricity may be exported in the future, the Daily Sabah newspaper reported.

The Turkish government has set a target of 5 GW of solar capacity by 2023 but grid limitations, licensing issues and significant domestic content requirements have held back utility-scale growth. Turkey's total solar installed capacity was only 250 MW at the end of 2015, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

International bids are expected for the 1 GW project and the selected developer will use domestically manufactured technology and at least 80% of project "engineers" must be sourced from Turkey, the Daily Sabah said.

Turkey will hold a tender for similar-sized wind power development in the first quarter of 2017, the paper said.

Jordan signs PPA for Masdar's 200 MW plant

Jordan's National Electric Power Company and Masdar of the United Arab Emirates have signed the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for Masdar's 200 MW PV project near the capital of Amman, the company announced October 22.

In January, Masdar signed an agreement with Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) to build, own and operate what will be Jordan's largest solar plant.

Jordan has set a target of 15% of domestic electricity production from renewable energy sources by 2020, equivalent to some 1.8 GW. The government will soon launch its third solar power tender for around 400 MW of capacity, media reported last month.

Jordan's second solar tender was held in 2015 and saw around 200 MW of PV capacity awarded at prices between $61 and $77/MWh.

In December 2015, Jordan inaugurated the 117 MW Tafila wind farm, its first utility-scale wind project. The project was jointly developed by InframedMed, Masdar and EP Global Energy.

SMA cuts 2016 profit forecast as price war hits sales

Germany's SMA, the world's largest inverter supplier, has lowered its forecast for operating profit (EBIT) in 2016 to between 60 million euros and 70 million euros ($65.3-$76.2 million), down from between 80 million euros and 120 million euros due to price competition and project delays.

The new forecast predicts full-year sales between 900 million euros and 950 million euros, down from previous forecasts of 950 million euros to 1.1 billion euros, the company announced October 24.

"After a successful third quarter in 2016, we expect weaker business at year-end due to the significant increase in price pressure and numerous project delays in the [Europe and Middle East and North Africa (MENA)] markets and North American regions,” SMA said.

Price competition and changes to feed in tariffs have cut global investment in renewable energy technologies in 2016. Global investment in renewable energy and energy smart technologies in July-September fell by 43% on a year ago to $42.4 billion, due to cooling markets and falling technology costs, according to the latest data published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

In August, SMA said pricing pressure would intensify in 2017 and the company would close manufacturing facilities in Denver, U.S. and Cape Town, South Africa, to lower fixed costs.

SMA expects to see positive effects of product innovations and cost-cutting activities in 2017 earnings, it said in its latest statement.

"With a high equity ratio of nearly 50% and net cash of more than 350 million euros ($380.8 million), SMA is one of the most solid companies in the solar industry. Financial strength is of great importance in view of the market for major solar projects and the long-term service business," SMA said.

US utility-scale boom hikes global tracker deployment

Global PV tracker installations are expected to hit 12.6 GW in 2016, more than double the 5 GW installed in 2015, mainly due to fast growth in U.S. installations, GTM Research said in a new report.

Global tracker installations are forecast to rise 19% in 2017, as growth in countries such as Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Jordan and Egypt supports demand, GTM Research said in its report 'The Global PV Tracker Landscape 2016.'

By 2021, tracker installations are forecast to grow to 37.7 GW and account for nearly half of ground-mount solar systems.

Source: GTM Research report:'The Global PV Tracker Landscape 2016.'

"The economic case for tracking systems is fully proven, and over 70% of U.S. ground-mount projects are now being installed with trackers," Scott Moskowitz, GTM Research solar analyst, said.

U.S. tracker growth is expected to dip in 2017 following a surge in installations this year based on a deadline of end of 2016 for Investment Tax Credit (ITC) support. The ITC deadline has since been extended but only some of the projects will spill over into 2017.

Falling tracker prices will support growth in other countries, GTM Research said.

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