News in Brief

Solar in South Africa

ABB has signed an agreement with FG Emvelo to develop concentrating solar power (CSP) plants at Karoshoek Solar Valley in Northern Cape province, South Africa. FG Emvelo recently acquired a 340 km2 site for the plants, which will use the ABB-Novatec Solar technology, which the company claims reduces the need for land by 40% and water by 80%. Novatec Solar, in which ABB recently acquired a 35% stake, uses a solar boiler for direct steam generation based on linear Fresnel technology. Elsewhere in South Africa Soitec says it has secured financing from Investec Bank Ltd to build a 50 MW Concentrating PV (CPV) power plant in Touwsrivier, also in the Cape. Investec has committed to finance the project and raise the equity for construction. Soitec has already installed a pilot facility near Aquila and a 500 kW CPV plant near Durban.

Module Price Slump

The average price of Chinese tier-2 crystalline PV modules fell to US$0.96/W in January, according to a new report from IMS Research. Annualised price declines slowed to 22% in January, having exceeded 50% in December, as incentive levels were reduced in a number of major PV markets at the end of 2011. Highly competitive pricing has continued into 2012 and the average crystalline PV module price from these suppliers declined twice as quickly as the total market in January. Although many lower spot prices were offered in recent months, this is the first time the global average price had fallen below this industry milestone. Prices as low as $0.80/W were recorded for Chinese suppliers in January, typically for large orders from German distributors. The report also found significant pricing variations throughout the supply chain, with distributors seeing an even faster fall in prices.

CSP Turbine Deal

Three orders to supply a total of four steam turbine generator units for CSP plants in the Indian state of Rajasthan have been placed with Siemens. The SST-700 turbines are for the Godawari, Abhijeet and Diwakar & KVK parabolic trough plants, with a combined capacity of 300 MW. The installations are due to begin operations in spring 2013. The Godawari and Abhijeet projects are each rated at 50 MW. Siemens has been awarded contracts for an SST-700 steam turbine generator unit and auxiliary systems for each of these units. The third customer, Lanco Solar Energy, has ordered a steam turbine and generator rated at 100 MW, complete with auxiliary systems for each of the two units of the Diwakar & KVK parabolic trough power plant. Siemens says its type SST-700 steam turbines for solar thermal power plants have a rated output of up to 175 MW.

Grow Green Granada

A 4.3 MW PV installation has been commissioned close to Granada, Spain. The project was commissioned by Innotech Solar (ITS), Jendra Power and the investor, Swiss energy supplier Energie Wasser Bern (ewb). It uses 39 Kaco Powador TL3 inverters. Constructed on several greenhouses – where trees are being cultivated for a local forestation project in an area measuring 62,000 m2 – the plant is expected to produce 6 GWh per year. Construction work on the power plant in the Andalusian municipalities of Atarfe and Moclin began in May 2011. Planning, project management and construction were the responsibility of Jendra, a former subsidiary of Norwegian module producer Innotech.

Kyoto’s Solar Plans

A 4.2 MW solar power plant is to be built by Kyocera and the SoftBank Group subsidiary in charge of its renewable energy business, SB Energy Corp., in Kyoto City, Japan. The two are to build and operate the facility with Kyocera Group companies supplying the modules and responsible for construction while SB Energy will be the operator. As envisaged, the plans will see the system operating in time for the start of a new FiT which will be put in place on 1 July 2012. Approximately 17,000 Kyocera modules will be installed at two facilities of 2.1 MW each in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City, generating roughly 4.2 GWh annually, its developers say.

New German PV Plant

Previously known only for producing linseed oil, the German town of Hoyerswerda has had an added attraction since January 2012: the Elsterheide solar park. The plant, with an overall output of 20 MW, extends over 450,000 m2 and uses 86,960 modules from the Sunowe company. Distributed over 18 power stations are 54 330TS-SV SolarMax inverters, each rated at 330 kW. The extremely short execution time was a challenge: there were 10 days between contract signing and project start. The company expects an annual yield of 19,464 MWh.




ABB will develop CSP plants in South Africa

ABB Solar

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