London, UK Welcome to this new supplement from the Renewable Energy World stable of publications. We present this addition to our portfolio as the global solar industry faces turbulent times.
For instance, news earlier this year that the UK is to join a number of other European nations with a plan to revise its solar suport mechanism and cut feed-in tariff payments for larger scale solar photovoltaic projects, prompted consternation among many advocates of solar power.
The UK also followed other nations in justifying its decision on the rapid fall in prices that solar has achieved over recent years.
Whatever the ramifications for the UK’s nascent industry, many would argue that such a move is, however, in principle the right thing to do. It is vital that the industry continues and even accelerates its push to grid parity. At the current level of maturity, cutting levels of support — it may be argued — implies a very real competitive pressure on manufacturers to increase R&D, boost economies of scale, improve materials, manufacturing and longevity, cut installation times and improve the overall lifetime cost of energy.
And there is even perhaps some evidence to support this assertion. For despite the tariff cuts that have been instituted across Europe, in 2010 the region saw its highest ever capacity addition with more than 13 GW installed, according to European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) figures. In addition, more than 3 GW of new PV installations were developed outside of Europe in the year, with Japan, the US and China figuring heavily.
Much of this capacity has come from utility-scale projects and it is worth noting that, in many respects, it is through the development of large-scale solar installations that the major cost reductions can be achieved through increasing economies of scale. In order to atract the major investments that such endeavours require, the industry must not only continue to build confidence in its products, it must also work to ensure that its generation facilities operate competitively in the event that hard-pressed governments follow the current round of tariff cuts with more stringent or even retroactive reductions in levels of suport.
Recognising both the advances of solar energy into the large scale power generation sector and the growing engagement of utility users we are delighted to publish this Large Scale Solar supplement. Within its pages we offer a look at the latest analysis of the global solar PV sector along with an outlook to 2015 with the latest EPIA figures, we also present an extract of a Fraunhofer ISE report considering the market for CSP technology in the Middle East and North Africa region. Reviewing the latest trends and developments in the global inverter market in an interview with Yole Développement’s Brice Le Gouic, we hear of the potential disruptive influence of Chinese policymakers on that market. We explore the potential cost advantages of module level management and we consider the question of module reliability and its impact on the bottom line for system owners.
And, focusing on an emergent utility-scale technology, we take a look at a 1 MW CPV project in New Mexico from a company that has already announced far grander things in a deal with a major US utility.
In all, a snapshot of the dynamic, expanding and exciting large-scale solar sector.