US solar roadmap urges Trump to reject tariffs; European MPs agree 35% renewables target

Our pick of the latest solar news you need to know.

Solar industry urges President Trump to reject panel tariffs

The U.S. Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) has sent to President Trump a list of priority measures to secure the future of the U.S. manufacturing and ensure long-term solar job growth, including the rejection of proposed tariffs on imported modules.

The move comes as Trump prepares to decide on tariffs on imported solar panels, recommended by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) following a case brought by Suniva and SolarWorld America. The plaintiffs argued low-priced panels from Asia are damaging the U.S. solar manufacturing industry.

The ITC has recommended tariffs of up to 35% on imported panels and Trump has until January 26 to make a decision on the case.

Low-price imported modules have driven a surge in U.S. solar power installations in recent years. The U.S. installed 13.7 GW of PV capacity in 2016 and industry groups have warned higher module prices would slow growth and endanger employment in the wider solar manufacturing and development industry.

"Tariffs would inflate the cost of solar, throw the industry in reverse and cause the loss of billions of dollars in investment," the SEIA said in a statement December 5.

  Forecast tariff impact on solar installations

                               (Click image to enlarge)

Source: SEIA, GTM Research

In its new industry roadmap entitled "America First Plan for Solar Energy," the SEIA urges the president to "ensure U.S. energy dominance" by listening to the support for solar power from energy producers, conservative groups and American businesses.

The SEIA's recommendations to President set out the benefits of solar power, including ensuring the security of U.S. power supply and the creation of thousands of jobs.

"The U.S. solar industry is soaring. Last year, U.S. solar power capacity doubled and solar was the No. 1 source of new electricity generation. The industry has added more than 100,000 blue-collar jobs to the economy in just the last five years, and is growing at a rate 17 times faster than the rest of the economy," SEIA said.

European MPs vote for 35% renewable energy target by 2030

The European Parliament's Committee for Industry, Research and Energy has voted for a new binding renewable energy target of 35% by 2030, an increase on the 27% target set out in the European Commission's Clean Energy Package 2020-2030.

The committee of European MPs also approved a minimum 12% renewable energy target for the transport sector. The new targets will need to be backed by the European Council, which comprises the ministers of EU member states and typically meets every quarter.

"Through this vote MEPs [members of the European Parliament] send a clear signal, that Europeans expect investments in renewables to increase in the next decade compared to the current one. We now call on the Council to endorse these ambitions and make sure that Europe leads on renewables,” James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said in a statement.

                       Forecast annual PV installations in Europe

                                                         (Click image to enlarge)

Source: SolarPower Europe: 'Global Market Outlook 2017 to 2021.'

In a joint statement, Europe's renewable energy associations said the energy sector must fully decarbonize to comply with the objective of the Paris Agreement and keep average global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"A 35% renewable energy target in 2030 is the bare minimum required to maintain the fast-paced growth of the renewable sector in face of increasing international competition. A strong and vibrant domestic market will ensure Europe reaps the economic benefits of a clean and efficient energy system fit for the twenty-first century," the groups said.

Masdar to build world's largest solar floating plant in Indonesia

The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has signed a project development agreement (PDA) with Indonesia's state-owned electricity company PLN to build the world's largest floating solar PV plant, Masdar announced November 28.

The 200 MW plant will cover an area of 225 hectares in the Cirata Reservoir in the West Java province of Indonesia. The plant will be mounted on 700,000 floats moored to the bed of the reservoir and connected by electrical cables to an onshore high-voltage substation. The 6,000-hectare Cirata Reservoir already powers a 1 GW hydroelectric power station.

“Today’s signing marks the entry of Masdar into South East Asia and our first project in floating solar power,” Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said in a statement.

"The successful deployment of the Cirata project paves the way for the installation of floating solar power on another 60 reservoirs across Indonesia," Masdar said.

In tropical countries such as Indonesia, floating solar power enables developers to build in forested regions generally unsuitable for large land-based plants. In addition to producing power, the solar facility will provide shading to the reservoir, reducing evaporation and limiting algae growth.

Indonesia has set a renewable energy target of 31% by 2050. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the country has the potential to produce more than 700 GW of renewable energy, including 532.6 GW of solar power.

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