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MachinePulseTM, a provider of Industrial Internet of things (IoT) solutions, recently won the Solar IT & Data Analytics Company Of The Year award at India Solar Week 2016, for its industry leading solar monitoring solution, SolarPulseTM.

Kerala-based electrical goods maker V-Guard Industries is planning to reach out to houses in Uttar Pradesh and states in eastern India that are lacking in access to electricity for its solar power solutions, as it aims to outgrow its traditional inverter business.

Su-Kam Power Systems, India’s leading power back up solutions provider has recently bagged a project to install a 1 Megawatt (MW) Grid Tie Solar Power Plant at the Head Office of Chennai Metro Rail Ltd.

Gujarat Industries Power Company (GIPCL) said it has bid successfully for one more solar power project in Gujarat under National Solar Mission (NSM) Phase-II. 

AEG solar modules utilizing Individual Module Monitoring (IMM) technology allow you to track their own performance increasing system yield and reducing your O&M costs at a highly competitive price with respect to currently available smart modules.

Working with OpTerra Energy Services, the District's 5-year energy savings have already surpassed projected amounts by more than $1,600,000

Canadian Solar Inc., one of the world's largest solar power companies, today announced that a severe tornado damaged its solar cell factory in Funing County, Jiangsu Province, China.

JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. (Nasdaq: JASO) ("JA Solar"), one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-performance solar power products, announced that it is providing 420MV of modules for a national advanced PV technology demonstration project in Datong, Shanxi province. The first phase of the "Front Runner" project has a total installed capacity of 950MW. JA Solar is providing 44% of the modules for this first phase.

Technology leader achieves 24.1 percent - new world record

Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, forecasts another year of solar growth with installations expected to reach 64.7 GW in 2016 up from 57.8 GW forecast for 2015.

“The largest markets in 2016 will again be China, the United States and Japan; the United States is set to overtake Japan as the second largest solar market behind China. These three countries will account for about 65 percent of installations next year” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group.

China will continue to be the largest solar market in the world, installing approximately 19.5 GW in 2016. China has installed almost 10 GW in the first three quarters this year, well ahead of 3.79 GW installed in the same period last year. Curtailment and delayed subsidy payments remain a challenge. The announcement of an additional 5.3 GW installation quota with a completion deadline of June 2016 for provinces that have met or exceed their installation goals is likely to help China get close to meeting its installation goals in 2015, and ensures a strong 2016. The Chinese government is expected to increase its 2020 installation target to 150-200 GW.

Mercom is forecasting the United States to install about 13 GW of solar next year which will be the best year for U.S. solar installations by far. The U.S. solar market is expected to experience robust growth for the next 13 months as the industry rushes to complete projects before the 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) drops to 10 percent. The industry is hopeful, but not betting, on a possible extension to 30 percent ITC at 30 percent. The 2016 installation estimates will need to be revised if solar projects are allowed to “begin construction” by December 31, 2016 instead of reaching completion, or if there is an agreement in Congress to extend the ITC in any form.

Japan  is expected to install about 9 GW of solar in 2016. The Japanese solar industry has experienced two feed-in tariff (FiT) cuts in 2015 as the government looks to trim solar subsidy costs. So far, Japan has approved a little more than 80 GW of solar projects under its FiT program, of which about 25 percent has been installed. Japan is going through a transformation in the energy sector with a change in its energy mix going into 2030, giving more weight to renewables and cutting back on nuclear energy. Japan also is in the process of deregulating its utilities and breaking up monopolies. Japanese domestic solar module shipments have dropped the last two quarters following the reduction in FiTs.

In European market activity, the U.K. is expected to lead in terms of PV installations in 2016 followed by Germany and France. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the U.K. PV market with a decision on FiT cuts still pending and Renewable Energy Credits set to expire in April 2016.

Indian solar installations are expected to reach about 3.6 GW in 2016, significant growth compared to the 2.1 GW forecasted for 2015. Momentum has picked up after the government set a target of 100 GW by 2022. Aggressive bidding in its recent auctions has caused some concerns as to the viability of these projects due to unrealistically low bids.

SOURCE:

Mercom Capital Group

 

A new report from FICCI and the UNEP Inquiry has reviewed the sustainable development financing challenge in India/identified the momentum for sustainable finance in India. Below are the excerpts of the report.

The quarterly SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight™ report shows the major trends in the U.S. solar industry. Learn more about the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.

The record number of countries set to sign the Paris Agreement in New York on 22 April signals the next step towards the Agreement coming into force and a critical juncture in a global effort to ensure lasting hopes for secure and peaceful, human development.

West African country to earn $38 million, create 3,000 jobs and save 40,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions with exports from a 100 MW of solar power plant

There are a myriad of risks present in the PV project cycle. Some, such as construction risk, are confined to specific phases of development, while others persist throughout the entire cycle from planning through operation. 

With exponential growth in the terrestrial photovoltaic market, many issues arise regarding the integration of these systems into utility networks at high levels of penetration. 

The costs and benefits of rooftop solar electricity is emerging as a key topic of discussion globally. New set of policies, actions and schemes are being announced globally, making it easier for homeowners, corporates and utilities to invest in green energy systems.

The continued growth of the distributed solar market globally has spurred electric utilities, regulators and stakeholders to consider improvements to distributed generation (DG) interconnection processes.

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Mr. Kiran Patil, Managing Director, PLG Clean Energy Projects Private Limited

Do you feel the Indian solar market is overheating and needs to cool down to avoid problems in the long run?

My view is, the Solar market in India is evolving, it is not overheating.

With a target to have an operational solar power capacity of 100 GW by March 2022, the Indian government hasannual capacity addition targets for the next few years. By early March this year more than 5.7 GW of solar power capacity was operational in India.The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) plans to add 12 GW,15 GW and 16 GW solar power capacity in the financial years 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively.

Most of the solar markets around the world are stagnant while we are seeing a lot of growth in India. Since India is a big market, the investors have shown a keen interest. The aggressive bidding is an initial reaction from few investors.

Will aggressive bidding by the developers create problems for the entire solar value chain?

In recent times, most government mega and ultra-mega projects that were put up for bidding received bids below Rs 5 per kwh.quoting low tariff & winning bids is not the end goal for solar companies, post that tying up finances is crucial for the success of the project

Banks are now more active in understanding how the numbers play out and they are not financing the projects unless they are convinced that it will be commercially viable. 

India is also in talks with development banks like the Asian Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, KfW, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the New Development Bank to access cheap debt finance for setting up solar power projects.

According to the UK-based magazine The Economist, the cost of solar panels has declined by 80% since 2010, there is an expectation that cost of panels may go down further—but the panel price trend in last few months is rather flat. This will prohibit the bidders from further aggression at least for next 3-6 months.

Competition is always good. It makes the stakeholders to find out the innovative ways to optimize the costs & maximum utilization of the assets.  There will be a pressure on entire value chain but I am sure that during this transition phase, each of the stake holder will find a solution to optimize the costs and make some margins to be in the business.

As the large amount of PBG’s are at the stake, the bidders must have done their mathematics before putting the aggressive bids. There will be few losers in the game but the solar market will be a winner.

 

Mr. Simarpreet Singh, Business Development & Strategy, HARTEK POWER PRIVATE LIMITED

Do you feel the Indian solar market is overheating and needs to cool down to avoid problems in the long run?

The Indian solar industry has come a long way since the rollout of the National Solar Mission in 2011 and last year’s fivefold increase in India’s solar generation target for 2022 from 20 GW to a staggering 100 GW. Consequently, a new trend is emerging. In pursuit of the ambitious target, the focus is shifting to bigger solar plants of 50 MW and above. Until three years ago, smaller solar plants ranging from 2-5 MW were more sought after, but these have now suddenly gone out of favour. Most of the solar developers are private equity-run companies which are under immense pressure to first get business and then step up cash flows and revenues.

But I do not think there is any overheating in the Indian solar market. In fact, recognising the huge potential of solar energy in India, the government has created conducive conditions for the solar industry to thrive, which is reflecting in the investments. If any course correction is required, the government can always revise the renewable purchase obligation of states. The need of the hour is to constantly upgrade the grids and come up with new ones to match the outflows created by new solar projects. Having connected more than 250 MW of solar power to the grid, we, at Hartek Power, feel that sustainability is the key in the long run. The solar industry will eventually consolidate, but the recent closure of a couple of leading solar developers should serve as a lesson that only companies with sustainable business models will go far. Sustainability forms the very basis on which the fundamentals of the solar business rest.

Will aggressive bidding by the developers create problems for the entire solar value chain?

Falling prices undoubtedly put EPC companies under a lot of pressure to make their projects more cost-effective and financially viable. To survive the competition, they have no option but to go for cutthroat pricing, which affects the entire value chain. At the same time, every company is free to take a call and do a cost-benefit analysis keeping in view its long-term business interests and strategies. I believe that while cost-cutting measures should be taken at all stages as per the demand of the market, there should be no compromise on quality. After all, the plant has to last a good 25 years. Eventually, everything boils down to how sustainable your business model is and how well you are able to align your operations with it by taking the right decisions at the right time.

 

Mr. Abhay Raina, Head - Solar, Hero Future Energies

Aggressive bidding by the developers does not necessarily imply problems for the entire solar value chain as there is now a considerable amount of experience in India on solar. Developers, EPCs and suppliers have been working day in and day out to bring in cost optimisation without compromising on technology and quality. Developers are looking at various innovative funding methods, new technologies to improve their generation vis-a-vis the cost incurred and increase their IRR’s. EPCs and suppliers of major components have also realised that the game is shifting from what it used to be at the beginning of the JNNSM, and they need to be ready to play solar T20 match, than a test match. 

We do agree that due to these low bids, entire value chain is likely to be in a distress huddle although may be for a short duration. Lenders are likely to be a little apprehensive as they were initially, to comprehend the security of their loans and may continue with higher lending rates till these low tariff projects are commissioned. EPCs and other vendors is likely to be under stress in order to match expectations of developers, leading to quality deterioration. Solar industry faced the same dilemma when one of the developers bid INR 7.49 way back during Phase 1 of JNNSM, but came out of that initial shock quicker than the fall of solar tariff.   

The existing challenges of the industry include discoms not being able to provide proper evacuation facility and payments on time, land continues to be a challenge, dollar rate fluctuation impacts the prices of modules, which heightens the graveness of the issue. 

On the other side, an increase in the number of projects implies increased opportunities across segments of solar business, which is likely to benefit due to higher business volumes albeit lowers margins. Bigger players will not suffer much, however small businesses might find it difficult to match market expectations. With so much work on plate for EPCs, it will be also interesting to see how much can they chew and how much is left for developers to construct on own, giving rise to a sector of ‘self EPC’. 

In my opinion, although low bids pose an enormous challenge for the entire supply chain, I am sure we will sail through these times with intelligent project management, financing options and use of innovative technology and solutions like use of trackers, better design of solar field, better inverters. Developers who don’t have much experience of Indian solar sector and are executing their maiden executing projects in India, may might be in a tight spot, due to non-accounting of various unseen expenses.

Projects under DCR category may find it hot to execute their projects on time and within budget, but with the support from government these issues can be sorted out. All in all, we are a mature industry now and Developers are more aware and educated to know what they are doing. Flukes in this industry don’t stay long and hence effective and water tight strategy shall be the key to success for any developer.

 

Mr. Siddharth Modi, Senior Manager (Projects), Techno Electric & Engineering Co. Ltd.

The Indian government took a decision in 2014 to increase the installed capacity of Solar to 100 GW by 2022. Though optimistic, the viability of this target is questionable, since this would require 15 GW installations every year and a capital of around 100 billion USD. Solar installation has crossed 5GW with approximately 4 GW being installed in the last financial year. It was record year for tariff reduction, as they breached 5 INR/ unit, with the lowest being 4.34 INR/ unit in Rajasthan. There was a price reduction of around 15% in a space of 6 months, and during this period, INR had a net depreciation of 1-2% also taking account of the RMB devaluation against USD. Since there was no major technological breakthrough and/ or reduction in material cost in this time frame, it indicates that the companies are bidding aggressively to bring down the price. Thus while executing the project, corners will be cut to save cost on the equipment and workmanship, which will affect the quality of a solar plant with a projected lifetime of 20-25 years. Razor thin margins and the volatility of INR currency could deter foreign and domestic investment significantly, making it difficult for India to achieve its targeted installed capacity. In the last month, Sunedison the Goliath of Solar power developers, and the first company in India to bid below INR 5 per unit had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is looking for equity investors in over 2 GW of finished and unfinished projects in India. This could just be the beginning and a clear indication that if the prices are unsustainable, there will be further consolidation in the market and lead to correction in the pricing model.

 

Ms. Ritu Lal, VP – Business Development, Amplus Solar

When compared to certain international markets – for example, the latest bids in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, Mexico and Germany, the Indian market may not seem to be overheated. However, it is also interesting to note that while solar tariffsin India have been coming down, there have been no compelling factors that canexpIain this significant drop in prices.

The drop in prices has been attributed to the fall in module prices. While module costs, which make 60 percent of the project outlay,may be coming down, theitems that contribute the remaining 40 percent have a wider supply market – especially items like galvanised iron structures, transformers, cables etc. This market has seen no real reason to cut down prices exceptfor the general slowdown in the global markets.

A reduction in tariffs will surely impact the value chain. Reduction in margins is one obvious effect. However, we will also see players cutting it rather fine on technical specifications to try and squeeze out as much as possible from theircosts in order to protect their margins. This will inadvertently create pressures on the supply chain as suppliers may face issues in terms of increased warranty claims etc. Also, apart from downgrading technical specifications, reduction in tariffs will also force people to go very aggressive on other costs – designing, capex as well as operational expenses.

The fall-out from these cost-cutting measures may be rather unpleasant. It is very likely that theconsequenceswill include increases in failures, poor plant performance etc., that will have a subsequent impact on supplier and EPC reputation.

On the flip side, however, there could be a positive outcome of these actions. We may see innovations in design and materials that can help cut costs and/or increase performance.

“Green Bonds – Made by KfW” “Green Bonds – Made by KfW” offer investors the opportunity to specifically invest in the promotion of environmental and climate protection while combining this with the safety and liquidity of an investment in KfW bonds.

Scientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin photovoltaics flexible enough to wrap around the average pencil. The bendy solar cells could power wearable electronics like fitness trackers and smart glasses. The researchers report the results in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

 

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