Finally catching up on all the extra stories I’ve saved since the Tesla Model 3 unveiling, here’s a lot of big solar + wind energy project news, as well as a “solar article highlight” that is worth a read.
Solar Article Highlight
Over the last few years, solar PV has gotten cheap. Cheap enough to start impacting some commodity energy markets today. Cheap enough that with continued progress, but no breakthroughs, it might alter the global outlook for energy supply within a decade.
I have long been skeptical of solar hype. In 2008 we did an expert judgment exercise suggesting only even odds of getting to module prices of $0.30 per watt in 2030. In 2011 we did some analysis showing how the power-law learning curve for modules appeared to be flattening. That analysis was done at the end of a decade that saw big increases in installed capacity, with little corresponding change in module prices.
I worried that deployment incentives (the global total amounting to many hundreds of billions of dollars over the past decade) would simply lock in the current technologies and do little to drive the breakthroughs that were needed to get solar cheap enough to compete for commodity power.
I was wrong.
Solar + Wind
China has a plan to build a global renewable energy grid. Liu Zhenya is chairman of the State Grid Corporation of China. SGCC is the world’s largest power company. It serves more than 1.1 billion Chinese consumers and operating grids in the Philippines, Brazil, Portugal, Australia and Italy. He told the 2016 Global Energy Interconnection conference in Beijing, “We have the capacity to enable much greater use of renewable energy by interconnecting the world’s energy grids.”
Solar Energy Projects
Despite slightly negative market growth for a second straight year, on-site commercial solar remains a compelling opportunity for many large energy consumers looking to drive energy savings and meet sustainability targets.
In the absence of international project developers who had driven solar power bids to historic lows in India, fresh bids seem to have stabilised at around US$7/MWh.
Even as the Dubai solar power park secured yet another record-breaking tariff bid for the third phase construction of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park, the second phase is in full swing. GE has secured an order to supply inverters worth 220 MW for the second phase of the solar power park. The company shall supply its LV5 series of inverters to the project.
The Indian solar power market continues to attracts new foreign developers despite the recent concerns over the fate of solar power project pipeline of SunEdison. Fotowatio Renewable Ventures has secured its first win in India. The company secured rights to develop 100 MW solar power project in Andhra Pradesh. The project shall be part of a larger solar power park in the state.
Just days after some media outlets had reported that SkyPower Global may be looking to sell equity stake in its under-development solar power projects in India, the company has taken a major step towards the implementation of these projects.
ConEdison has announced the commissioning of the largest solar PV project using dual-axis trackers. ConEdison and CPS Energy commissioned the Alamo 5 solar farm in Texas. The project has an installed capacity of 118 MW (DC). The power generated from the power project shall be sold to the local gas an electric utility CSP Energy through a long-term power purchase agreement.
Six project developers wrapped up 500 MW solar power tender with difference in their tariff bids of less than one US cent. Interestingly, only a single foreign project developer could make the cut.
India’s largest power generation company has approved funding for two large-scale solar power projects demonstrating its intention to push forward with renewable energy development.
Adani Enterprises recently won an initial approval to set up solar modules manufacturing facility in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
In a major boost to Trina Solar’s plans to potentially bypass the anti-dumping duties that its China-made modules attract in the EU and the US, the company has announced operationalisation of a manufacturing facility in Thailand. Trina Solar announced that production at its 500 MW solar module manufacturing facility, located at Rayong (Thailand), has commenced.
After SunEdison, now another global renewable energy behemoth SkyPower is looking to sell equity stake in the solar power projects it had recently secured in some of the fiercest competitive auctions in India.
John Hingley of Milton Keynes, England, has developed a portable solar panel system he says is a self contained microgrid for remote areas or places hit by natural disaster.
Wind Energy Projects
Gamesa continued its dominance in the Indian wind energy market in financial year 2015-16 with the highest installations. Gamesa India reported installation of 1 GW wind energy turbines. This is the first time the company has reached the milestone in a financial year. The achievement is remarkable if one compares it with the installation during the previous financial year – 657 MW.
India’s largest power generation company, NTPC Limited, has ventured into wind energy sector in an attempt to significant boost its renewable energy assets. The public sector company recently floated two tenders for wind energy projects with 50 MW capacity each. As per tender conditions, selected project developers will be free to choose the project location.
In what could be next big thing for the Indian wind energy market, GE recently announced the launch of a digital wind farm solution backed with big data and analytics to boost generation and improve efficiency.
Spanish company Acciona Energy secured a major win in the landmark renewable energy auction held recently in Mexico. The company recently reported that it won a contract to supply 5.85.7 GWh electricity from wind energy projects through the first renewable energy auction held in Mexico. This amount equates to around 168 MW wind energy capacity.
Renewable energy sector in Indonesia received a much needed boost when the US-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation agreed to provide debt to the largest wind energy project in the country. OPIC President and Chief Executive Elizabeth Littlefield recently announced that $120 million shall be provided to UPC Sidrap Bayu Energy for the construction and development of 70 MW wind energy project in Sulawesi. The project is reportedly the ‘largest of its kind’ in the country. UPC Sidrap Bayu Energy is joint venture between US-based UPC Renewables and local company Binatek Energi Terbarukan.
Early signs of persistent growth in the Indian wind energy market are visible as private sector companies in India continue to push for capacity addition.
International company continue to benefit from the recent surge in renewable energy infrastructure development in Egypt. Gamesa recently announced that it was awarded contract for 160 MW wind energy capacity by the New & Renewable Energy Authority of Egypt. The total capacity is spread across two projects at the same location.
America’s next experiment in offshore wind energy has been given the green light in Virginia, and in just a few years, wind turbines could be twirling in two places in the open waters of the U.S. East Coast.
200-meter rotor blade diameters on 150-meter towers? Bernard Chabot says it will happen by midcentury. The result will be capacity factors 10 percentage points higher. This article is available as a PDF.
The German manufacturer of direct-drive turbines has built a prototype of its 4.2 megawatt unit recently announced. But the important thing is not the generator size, but the 126-meter rotor. It is the first of a new platform for turbines that harvest even weaker wins. The second model to be built by the end of the year will even have 141 meters in diameter.