New Hampshire, USA — For now Suntech is still going about its business after the company’s major debt default and restructuring. But a major concern is already playing out: customers concerned about product warranties are already exploring different supplier options. “For any developer, it’s pretty impossible to put that technology in a project now because lenders are going to want to see a financially stable entity standing behind the warranty,” said Recurrent Energy president Arno Harris.
Suntech isn’t the only Chinese solar manufacturer to feel the pinch lately. JA Solar is shuttering capacity after posting a seventh straight quarterly loss in its fiscal 4Q12 results announced this week. Shipments were ahead of projections in 4Q and still the company lost money, and it projects shipments to drop off in 1Q13.
Meanwhile, Doug Young points to another important announcement out of China, where GCL and Yingli have realized the benefits of establishing a tight supply chain partnership — and, he wonders, maybe sets the stage for something deeper down the road?
IN THE NEWS
China Grants More Wind Farm Approvals: China’s National Energy Administration has approved nearly 500 wind power projects with combined capacity of roughly 28 GW, to be installed over the next two years. Another 750 MW for four pilot projects were also approved to be developed from 2015 onwards.
Japan Reviewing Wind Turbine Project: Kuroshio Furyoku Hatsuden’s proposed 15-turbine wind farm in northeastern Aomori Prefecture is under the microscope of the Environment Ministry, after an environmental review questioned potential harm to birds at the location near a large lake. Apparently it’s only the southern part of the 18-square-kilometer Lake Jusan at issue, as a migratory pathway for tens of thousands of birds from Siberia. One of Japan’s bigger wind projects under consideration, 55 turbines with potential 126 MW output, is also near this lake and similarly under review.
Renewable Energy Momentum in the Pacific Islands: Leaders from a number of Pacific islands — Cook Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa, Niue, Tonga, and New Zealand — gathered this month in Tonga to share experiences and develop renewable energy activity in the region, ahead of a bigger regional gathering in Australia. Topics addressed included common problems of energy security and affordability. Each of their leaders “are 100 percent committed to the target of renewable energy, and I think this is the beginning of a new movement hopefully towards transforming to a renewable future,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.
Solar Tourism in Kashmir: Kashmir is a popular regional tourist destination in winter, but heavy snowfall can mean frequent and long power outages, sometimes for days at a time, creating problems for tourists and lodging. This year, subsidized rooftop solar panels on hotels and huts are helping to support basic services, and open up new economic activity.
China Launches CIGS Project: Manz is supplying 1 MW of thin-film (CIGS) solar panels for a solar project in Shilin Town in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, currently the largest CIGS module solar park feeding power into the Chinese grid.
Indian Coal Plant Commissions Solar Project: KSK Energy Ventures has begun operating a 11.6-MW project using Miasole’s thin-film solar technology in Rajasthan, adjacent to a coal-fired power plant. The project, partly financed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, is one of four projects Miasole has completed in India in the past year, and the company plans to expand its global footprint and build up a project pipeline.
Kansai Electric, TonenGeneral to Build 30MW Solar Power Plant: Kansai Electric Power Co. and TonenGeneral Sekiyu, Japan’s second-largest refiner by capacity, plan to build a 30-MW solar power station in the western Wakayama prefecture. Operations are slated to begin in March 2015.
Here’s Why India Supports Domestic Solar Manufacturing: India’s plan to add 20 GW of solar energy in the next decade includes some domestic content stipulations. Here’s why: Of the country’s 551 MW of solar capacity installed in the past three years under the National Solar Mission, more than 70 percent uses imported cells and modules.
India’s Karnataka State Pursuing 130 MW of Solar: India’s Karnataka state plans to tender for 130 megawatts of solar power projects in the next month. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development will accept bids from now through April 23 for projects of 3-10 MW capacity, either solar PV or solar thermal; developers will be responsible for connecting to substations and ensuring water availability.
ON THE HORIZON
Greenko Adding Six New Hydro Projects in India’s North: Greenko has added six new run-of-river hydroelectric plants to its development pipeline, across India’s Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh with cumulative installed capacity of 425 MW, reports HydroWorld.com. Funding for the projects will come in large part from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), which will invest approximately US $150 million into the project via Greenko’s Mauritius division.
Relief for India’s Wind Industry as GBI Returns: India’s generation-based incentive (GBI) for wind energy was reinstated in late February, after being repealed a year ago, a move seen as reenergizing the domestic wind energy market. Withdrawal of the incentive is seen to have contributed to a 50 percent drop in capacity additions over the past fiscal year; its reinstatement could mean a return to 5 GW annual capacity additions by 2014.
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