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Asia Report: Solar in "Emerging" Asia

Solar PV demand from countries in "emerging" Asia and Central Asia will ramp at a 28 percent annual pace from 2013-2017 to 3 gigawatts (GW) of demand by 2017, up from just 723 MW in 2012, as the region reaches beyond solar lighting and residential schemes and embraces more large-scale ground-mounted PV installations, according to NPD Solarbuzz.

"Overall PV demand from the EAPCA region will account for 5 percent of global PV demand by 2017, with the potential to reach 5 GW," stated analyst Steven Han. Like most emerging markets, demand for solar PV still remains highly fragmented with diverse policies and end-market drivers.

Thailand is seen leading this region with demand for electricity and desire to slough off dependence on imported energy. Indonesia's feed-in tariff incentives will make it the second=largest solar PV market in Southeast Asia by 2017, and the country plans to achieve 0.3 percent of national energy by 2025, equivalent to 1 GW of new solar demand. (Indonesia also is expected to shortly call for a tender for 150-MW of solar power projects nationwide, expected to result in IDR 19 million (US $1.95 billion) of power purchase deals.) Other nations in the region with increasing solar PV priorities include Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

IN THE NEWS

Uttar Pradesh Seeking 200 MW of Solar Capacity: Uttar Pradesh has opened up bidding for 200 MW of solar capacity, and has finalized its draft solar policy targeting 500 MW of installed capacity by the spring of 2017. PPAs will leverage a tariff of around INR 7/kWh (USD $0.14, or €0.11), and with UPPCL as the offtaker — and with a short duration of 10 years, the shortest term among prevalent Indian state solar policies, seen as beneficial for both lenders and developers.

Japan Finalizes Tariff Cuts: Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has confirmed a 10 percent reduction in its solar power tariff to 37.8 ¥/kWh, down from 42 ¥/kWh, with rates for other energy (e.g. wind and geothermal) unchanged.

Solar Frontier Restarting Second Plant: Solar Frontier is restarting manufacturing of thin-film (CIS) modules at its Miyazaki No.2 Plant in Kiyotakecho, Miyazaki in July, after suspending output at the 60-MW (nameplate) capacity site since the end of 2012. Part of the re-ramp will include "minor equipment modifications to enable the manufacture of new products that will be sold in Japan," according to the company.

Malay Company Eyes Global Biomass Plant Expansion: Wah Seong Corp Bhd wants to build as many as 20-30 biomass plants in the next 5-10 years in a major expansion of its renewable energy division. The first two overseas plants are proposed for Cambodia (up to 10 MW) and Congo (3-5 MW), at a projected cost of about $22 million. Next up: Indonesia, and potentially inroads into Latin America.

Japan Approves 400 MW PV Project on Remote Island: Japan says it will build a 400-MW solar project on an island off its southern coast, to transport electricity to utility Kyushu Electric Power Co. via undersea transmission lines. The project's pricetag reportedly is about ¥100 billion.

JinkoSolar Lands China Bank Backing: Not all is doom & gloom in China's solar credit sector. JinkoSolar has signed a deal with the China Development Bank for a RBM 360 million (US ~$58 million) 15-year loan agreement to help finance domestic solar PV power plant projects.

Renewable Energy Ups and Downs, Down Under: The Australian Government's Climate Change Authority may have committed to maintaining its renewable energy targets, but Queensland has taken a different track with support for solar energy. The Queensland Competition Authority has concluded the Solar Bonus Scheme will send electricity prices skyward, so it will change the current feed-in tariff of 44 cents/kWh to a "fair and reasonable" 7.55 cents/kWh. "With healthy retail competition in the south east, the QCA believes there is no need for government to set a regulated price," says the QCA, pointing out that seven retailers in the area already offer their own FiTs.

Nippon Paper's Co-firing Experiment Pays Off: Nippon Paper Industries says it has developed a new torrefied biomass solid fuel usable with a pulverized coal boiler in which 25 percent (weight ratio) of new biomass solid fuel can be incorporated under the maximum load of the boiler — that's about a 10× improvement. The new fuel, developed under a project of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), also can retain about 90 percent of its heat quantity by semi-carbonizing woody mass, vs. less than 50 percent for normal carbonization, and is expected to enhance the crushability, water resistance, and co-firing rate of biomass in a pulverized coal boiler.

Malaysia's Solar PV Quota Frenzy: One hundred thirty-seven applications were received for 20 MWs worth of solar PV for non-individuals and projects sized under 500-kW, fulfilling the quota within an hour, says the Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA Malaysia). Give credit to a recent increase in degression, from 8 percent to 20 percent, for installed PV capacity for >24 kW systems. SEDA emphasized that the participants would have to bring systems online by year's end to qualify — from 2014-2017 the degression rate for solar PV for individuals will be eliminated entirely — and that applications received does not ensure compliance or approval.

DBJ Funding for Japan Wind, Solar Expansions: The Aoyama-Kogen Wind Farm in Mie prefecture has secured ¥18 billion (US $191 million) in funding from the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and five regional banks, to add 80 MW of capacity (40 new 2-GW turbines) to its existing 15-MW capacity. Separately, the DBJ is giving a ¥3 billion loan to NTT Facilities for a 12-MW solar plant in Saga Prefecture, which should start operations this June.

DoD Starting Wind Site in Japan: One of the Department of Defense's first wind turbines in Japan, adjacent to a building on Camp Foster, has been installed and is expected to be fully operational in mid-April, capable of generating 10 kWh at peak which is enough to power the fluorescent lights on one floor of the adjacent Building 1. A smaller wind turbine also has been completed at the base's facilities engineers Building 363, capable of generating 1 kWh.

Toshiba Entering Solar Power Business: Perhaps best known for computer memory chips and nuclear reactors, Toshiba aims to break into the solar power generation business. The company's 1.5-MW plant in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, came online April 1; three more stations are planned to come online within the next 12 months, all told with 6.5 MW of capacity. Toshiba also says it will consider other cleantech business directions, including wind, geothermal, and small hydro.


ON THE HORIZON

Taiwan Hikes Solar PV Targets: Taiwan has raised its target for installed solar PV in 2013 to 130 MW, up from 104 in 2012 (vs. previous expectations of flat growth at 100 MW. Domestic demand in dollar value is seen increasing about 14 percent to TWD 13.2 billion (US 434 million).

Solar Project Interest in Punjab: Twenty-five companies, including Tata Solar, L&T, Welspun, GE, Punj Lloyd, and Aditya Birla, have expressed interest in setting up 300 MWp worth of solar power projects in the state of Punjab, with total investment of 3,000 Rs crore. Power would be procured under 25-year agreements.

Foxconn Adopts Solar in Broader Scheme: Foxconn plans to build a solar power network in China with new factories in plants in Guangxi province. The plan would include a research center, five factories to make components for solar power systems, and 20 solar power plants, flexing its financing and management expertise as part of an expected decade-long plan of investment in Guangxi.


A DEEPER LOOK

India's Off-grid Renewables Initiative is Changing Lives: Electrifying rural areas is a prime concern of the Indian government. Prime Minister Manoman Singh has personally committed to electrifying every Indian household by 2017 — but 400 million Indians still lack access to modern forms of energy, and 20,000 villages are too remote to ever realistically be grid-connected. Duncan McKenzie explores how one small district in India is taking on a flagship role in the nation's renewable energy policy.

Why Was Turnout So Low for Tamil Nadu's Solar Tender?: The Tamil Nadu solar policy is the most ambitious policy in the country to date, aiming to add 3 GW of solar capacity by 2017. Tendering for implementing the first phase of projects (1 GW) was initiated in mid-December, but only half of that has been applied for across just 105 projects. Hari Manoharan examines multiple reasons why the turnout was so much lower than anticipated: lack of upper limits, the bidding mechanism, payment security, and validation.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Mar. 21-26, 2013 Asia Report: Asia Report: Let the Suntech Fallout Begin

Mar. 13-20, 2013 Asia Report: Is Japan's Solar Market Overheating?

Mar. 7-12, 2013 Asia Report: Suntech Debt, Chinese Solar Saga Still Playing Out

Feb 27-Mar. 6, 2013 Asia Report: China Recommits to Energy, Emissions Goals

Feb 19-Feb. 26, 2013 Asia Report: India's Solar Market at a Crossroads

Feb 12-Feb. 18, 2013 Asia Report: As PV Demand Surges, Local Issues Drive Supplier Strategies

Feb 6-Feb. 11, 2013 Asia Report: Solar Trade Battles Brewing Between India, US, China

Jan. 23-Feb. 5, 2013 Asia Report: India Scales Back Subsidies, What it Means for Solar

Jan. 11-21, 2013 Asia Report: Reacting to China's Goal of 49 GW of Renewables in 2013

Lead image: Buddha statue on sunset sky background at Saraburi, Thailand, via Shutterstock

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