Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Will Solar Policy help Tamilnadu to solve its Power Crisis?

The cornerstone of the solar policy announced by the Government of Tamil Nadu on October 20 is that it has created a demand for solar power by imposing obligations on an industry that is already suffering from crippling power cuts and a recent hike in tariffs.
More tariff hikes are ahead, as the State’s electricity generation and distribution utility, Tangedco, needs to clear out losses of around Rs 50,000 crore. And now, the industry (as well as colleges, residential schools and buildings with built-up area of 20,000 sq. m or more) will have to buy 3 per cent of their electricity consumption from solar power till December 2013 and 6 per cent from January 2014. Therefore, a demand is created, as one industrialist put it, by “arm-twisting the industry.” What of generation?
The State’s solar policy has various things to offer to utility-scale power projects and the rooftop ones.
If you are a utility-scale (that is, large) project developer, you could sell your power to either Tangedco and be paid a ‘solar’ tariff or to consumers directly. That the financial situation of Tangedco is terrible is common knowledge. It has not paid its dues to various generators, especially wind-power producers, for well over a year. Given this situation, it is hard to believe that any bank will come forward to fund a solar project that has a power-purchase agreement with Tangedco.
Open access
The developer then will have to sell it directly to consumers. Here is where the Tamil Nadu policy pales in comparison with the recently announced policy of Andhra Pradesh. AP exempts a developer from wheeling and transmission charges and cross-subsidy charges and electricity duty. Tamil Nadu does not. The least the State could have done is to have followed the AP example.
In April, the State’s regulatory commission allowed the utility to hike the long-term open-access transmission charges from Rs 2,781 a MW a day to Rs 6,483. The short-term open-access charges were raised from Rs 28.96 a unit to Rs 270.11 — nearly 10 times. And then, there are cross-subsidy charges.
Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for solar developers to sell power directly to consumers on the ‘open access.’ That leaves the developer with the only other choice: group captive. Form a special purpose vehicle with your customers as your shareholders, and sell power to them. Conditions apply, though. This is what is most likely to happen in Tamil Nadu.
Now, here is where the State’s policy distinguishes itself positively from AP’s. The AP policy relies heavily on the renewable certificate mechanism. The State’s does too, but in Tamil Nadu, you can sell power at any tariff to a captive customer and yet get tradeable renewable energy certificates (RECs). By relying less on RECs, the State has reduced risk in the projects. Consumers, for sure, will have to pay more, but presumably they will be happy to do so, because they at least get power to run their plants.
Tamil Nadu could have exempted developers from wheeling and transmission charges, and cross-subsidy charges and electricity duty, as AP did. But the AP model conflicts with the spirit of the REC mechanism, which is, to be eligible for RECs the generator shall not have availed itself of any other benefit. This is a legal question mark that hangs on the AP policy, and the State has gotten rid of it.
Coming to rooftop projects, the State policy promises quite attractive generation-based incentives (GBI) — Rs 2 in the first two years, Re 1 in the next two and 50 paise in the following two — for households. Here again, the big issue is payment security. Given Tangedco’s track record in payments, banks will be hesitant to fund the projects.
Otherwise, the Government promises to set an example by putting up solar rooftops on all State-owned buildings.
The policy document also contains statements about encouraging solar module and cell manufacture. The discussion is academic. Given the global glut situation and the low prices and with the prospect of prices going down further, whether anyone will be willing to invest in manufacturing in India is a moot point.
Earmark funds
There are two things that the Government of Tamil Nadu can do in order to make sure that the policy works.
The first is to earmark some funds from its Budget to support solar energy. Rajasthan has done this. This will ring-fence solar expenses from the rest of Tangedco’s problems and give tremendous confidence to lenders. If necessary, the Government could raise tariffs by, say, 2 paise, to defray the costs.
The second is to make land available. Land is a big headache for solar projects, ask any developer. If the Tamil Nadu Government can make available land for solar parks, the State is sure to win projects.
Finally, to lead the rooftop revolution in India, given the net metering facility is in place, the Government can bring in a system whereby the GBI payments due to the customers are deducted from the customers’ monthly bills. This will obviate the need for them to run after Tangedco for their dues.
Ref: This Article was published in Hindu Business Line  on 22 Oct 12

Friday, August 31, 2012

Solar Photovoltaic installations in India cross 1GW in India

Solar photovoltaic installations in India have crossed the 1,000 MW or 1 gigawatt (GW) mark, data made available by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, show.
As at the end of June, India had grid interactive solar PV installed capacity of 1,030.66 MW. Most of the capacities have come in Gujarat. In addition, India has 85.21 MW of off-grid solar PV systems, counting only those that are higher than 1 kW.
Renewable Energy in India crossed another milestone in the first quarter of the current year — total grid interactive renewable energy installations crossed 25,000 MW.
During the quarter, 495 MW were added — 291.70 MW of which came from the wind sector.
This addition took the total installed capacity of renewable power plants in the country to 25,409 MW.

TARGET FOR 2012-13

The Ministry has set a target of 4,125 MW of additional green power capacity for the current financial year. This includes 2,500 MW of wind power and 800 MW of solar PV.
It is worthy of note that the targeted wind power capacity is lesser than the achievement of last year, which was 3,164 MW.
However, the wind industry expects that even 2,500 MW would be a tough target to achieve, due to two reasons — removal of two key benefits of ‘accelerated depreciation’ and ‘generation-based incentive’, and the tough operating environment in key States, especially in the windiest State in the country, viz., Tamil Nadu.

Ref Business Line - the Hindu

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Record for Global Renewable Energy Investment

Solar generation surged past wind power to become the renewable energy technology of choice for global investors in 2011.
Solar attracted nearly twice as much investment as wind, driving the renewable energy sector to yet another record-breaking year, albeit one beset with challenges for the industry, according to two new reports on renewable energy trends issued June 11 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012 is the fifth edition of the UNEP report, based on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and has become the standard reference for global clean energy investment figures.
This year it shows that despite an increasingly tough competitive landscape for manufacturers, total investment in renewable power and fuels last year increased by 17% to a record $257 billion, a six-fold increase on the 2004 figure and 94% higher than the total in 2007, the year before the world financial crisis.
Although last year's 17% increase was significantly smaller than the 37% growth recorded in 2010, it was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world.
The REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status Report, which has become the most frequently referenced report on renewable energy market, industry and policy developments, notes that during 2011 renewables continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors -- power, heating and cooling and transport. Renewable sources have grown to supply 16.7 % of global energy consumption. Of that, the share provided by traditional biomass has declined slightly while the share sourced from modern renewable technologies has risen.
In 2011, renewable energy technologies continued to expand into new markets: around 50 countries installed wind power capacity, and solar PV capacity moved rapidly into new regions and countries. Solar hot water collectors are used by more than 200 million households as well as in many public and commercial buildings worldwide.
The two publications were launched jointly by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, Mohamed El-Ashry, Chairman of REN21, Michael Liebreich, Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Professor Dr. Udo Steffens, President and CEO of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, host of the Frankfurt School -- UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance.
Highlights 2011
- Total investment in solar power jumped 52% to $147 billion and featured booming rooftop photovoltaic (PV) installations in Italy and Germany, the rapid spread of small-scale PV to other countries from China to the UK and big investments in large-scale concentrating solar thermal (CSP) power projects in Spain and the US.
- The United States surged back to within an inch of the top of the renewables investment rankings, with a 57% leap to $51 billion, as developers rushed to cash in on three significant incentive programs before they expired during 2011 and 2012. After leading the world for two years, China saw its lead over the US shrink to just $1 billion in 2011, as it recorded renewable energy investment of $52 billion, up 17%.
- India's National Solar Mission helped to spur an impressive 62% increase to $12 billion, the fastest investment expansion of any large renewables market in the world. In Brazil, there was an 8% increase to $7 billion.
- Competitive challenges intensified sharply, leading to sharp drops in prices, especially in the solar market -- a boon to buyers but not to manufacturers, a number of whom went out of business or were forced to restructure.
- Renewable power, excluding large hydro-electric, accounted for 44% of all new generating capacity added worldwide in 2011 (up from 34% in 2010). This accounted for 31% of actual new power generated, due to lower capacity factors for solar and wind capacity.
- Gross investment in fossil-fuel capacity in 2011 was $302 billion, compared to $237 billion for that in renewable energy capacity excluding large hydro.
- The top seven countries for renewable electricity capacity excluding large hydro -- China, the United States, Germany, Spain, Italy, India and Japan -- accounted for about 70% of total non-hydro renewable capacity worldwide. The ranking among these countries was quite different for non-hydro capacity on a per person basis: Germany, Spain, Italy, the US, Japan, China and India. By region, the EU was home to nearly 37% of global non-hydro renewable capacity at the end of 2011, China, India and Brazil accounted for roughly one quarter.
- Renewable technologies are expanding into new markets. In 2011, around 50 countries installed wind capacity; solar PV capacity is rapidly moving into new regions and countries; interest in geothermal power has taken hold in East Africa's Rift Valley and elsewhere; interest in solar heating and cooling is on the rise in countries around the world; and the use of modern biomass for energy purposes is expanding in all regions of the globe.
- In the power sector, renewables accounted for almost half of the estimated 208 gigawatts (GW) of electric capacity added globally during the year. Wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) accounted for almost 40% and 30% of new renewable capacity, respectively, followed by hydropower (nearly 25%). By the end of 2011, total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,360 GW, up 8% over 2010; renewables comprised more than 25% of total global power-generating capacity (estimated at 5,360 GW in 2011) and supplied an estimated 20.3% of global electricity.
- At least 118 countries, more than half of which are developing countries, had renewable energy targets in place by early 2012, up from 96 one year before, although some slackening of policy support was seen in developed countries. This weakening reflected austerity pressures, particularly in Europe, and legislative deadlock in the US Congress.
- Despite all the additional investments, share prices in the renewable energy sector had a dismal 2011 in the face of overcapacity in the solar and wind manufacturing chains and investor unease about the direction of support policies in both Europe and North America.
"There may be multiple reasons driving investments in renewables, from climate, energy security and the urgency to electrify rural and urban areas in the developing world as one pathway towards eradicating poverty-whatever the drivers the strong and sustained growth of the renewable energy sector is a major factor that is assisting many economies towards a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy" says Mr. Steiner.
"This sends yet another strong signal of opportunity to world leaders and delegates meeting later this month at the Rio+20 Summit: namely that transforming sustainable development from patchy progress to a reality for seven billion people is achievable when existing technologies are combined with inspiring policies and decisive leadership," he said.
"It is essential to continue government policies that support and nurture the sector's growth, and to de-escalate damaging trade disputes. Otherwise," he warned, "the low-carbon transition could weaken just at the point when exciting cost reductions are starting to transform the economics."
Says Dr. El-Ashry: "Despite the continuing economic crisis in some key traditional markets, and continuing political uncertainties, more renewable energy was installed last year than ever before. Policies helped to drive renewable energy forward. Policy development and implementation were stimulated by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan, along with improvements in renewable energy costs and technologies. As a result, renewable energy is spreading to more countries and regions of the globe. Globally there are more than 5 million jobs in renewable energy industries, and the potential for job creation continues to be a main driver for renewable energy policies."
Bumps in the road
Faced with plunging green energy technology prices and economic austerity measures, many governments slashed their renewable subsidies and allowed other support schemes to expire. The result was a succession of company failures and factory closures in 2011-2012, including five significant solar manufacturers in the US and Germany.
According to Mr. Steiner, "Today's over-capacity situation in some renewables sectors, particularly solar, provides the opportunity to upscale deployment in new markets at costs few thought possible only a few years ago. This is particularly attractive to the many developing countries where much of the population has little or no access to modern energy services."
Says Prof. Dr. Steffens: "Renewables are starting to have a very consequential impact on energy supply, but we're also witnessing many classic symptoms of rapid sectoral growth -- big successes, painful bankruptcies, international trade disputes and more. This is an important moment for strategic policymaking as winners in the new economy form and solidify."
Adds Mr. Liebreich: "We are entering a fascinating period, with clean energy's costs starting to be competitive with fossil fuels. The challenge for policy-makers is to reduce support mechanisms at just the right pace -- too fast and the long-term future of the industry will be harmed. Too slow and you do the world's taxpayers and energy consumers a great disservice."
"Right now we are seeing a lot of pain on the supply-side as prices are being compressed, but it is important to remember than installers, generators and consumers are benefiting. It is all part of the maturing of the sector," he says.
"In 1903, the United States had over 500 car companies, most of which quickly fell by the wayside even as the automobile sector grew into an industrial juggernaut. A century ago, writing off the auto industry based on the failures of weaker firms would have been foolish. Today, the renewable energy sector is experiencing similar growing pains as the sector consolidates."
The industry's image in the investor community has been harmed by a number of high-profile supply-chain company failures, he says. At the same time, he points out, Germany's solar installations hit a new record peak output of 22GW at the end of May -- equivalent to around one quarter of the country's total power demand.
Renewables: an increasingly important contributor to world energy supply
In more and more countries, renewable energy represents a significant and rapidly growing share of total energy supply.
In the United States, renewable energy (including large hydro) provided 12.7% of total domestic electricity in 2011, up from 10.2% in 2010, and 9.3% in 2009. An estimated 39% of electric capacity added in 2011 was from renewable sources, mostly wind power. Renewable energy sources accounted for about 11.8% of U.S. domestic primary energy production, for the first time surpassing the 11.3% from nuclear power).
China again led the world in the installation of wind turbines and was the top hydropower producer and leading manufacturer of PV modules in 2011. Wind power generation increased by more than 48.2% during the year.
In the European Union, renewable energy accounted for more than 71% of total electricity generating capacity additions in 2011, with solar PV alone representing nearly half (46.7%) of new capacity coming on stream.
Germany remained the third biggest market for renewable energy investment. Renewable sources met 12.2% of total final energy consumption and accounted for 20% of electricity consumption (up from 17.2% in 2010 and 16.4% in 2009).
As the world marks the UN "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All," the REN21 Renewables 2012 Global Status Report includes a special focus on rural renewable energy, based on input from local experts working from around the world. Renewable energy is seen increasingly as a means for providing millions of people with a better quality of life through access to modern cooking, heating/cooling and electricity.
The impressive deployment of all renewable energy technologies combined with dramatic cost reductions and significant technology advances in recent years create an important opportunity for rural renewable energy development that points to a brighter future. However, further efforts will be necessary to reach the UN's outlined objectives: annual investment in the rural energy sector needs to increase more than fivefold to provide universal access to modern energy by 2030.
Closing the gap with fossil fuels
The price of all major renewable energy technologies continued to fall in 2011 -- to the point where they are challenging fossil-fuel sources, even before climate, health and other benefits are factored in.
The dominant reason for the price declines was that manufacturer margins were compressed as the industry continued the shift from a period of under-capacity a few years ago, to overcapacity now as growing demand failed to keep up with a surge in supply.
The most spectacular price plunge was in PV cells, whose average price fell from $1.50 per Watt in September 2010, to $1.30 per Watt by January 2011 and $0.60 per Watt by the end of the year, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Solar Price Index. This fed into a fall in PV module prices of nearly 50% between the start of 2011 and the beginning of this year.
Onshore wind turbines showed a similar, although less dramatic, trend. In 2011, prices for turbines to be delivered in the second half of 2013 were 25% lower than for devices delivered in the first half of 2009, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Wind Turbine Price Index.
While 2011 saw significant falls in the costs of generating a MWh of power from onshore wind (down 9%), and from PV technologies (down more than 30%), the cost of electricity generated by fossil-fuel sources changed less in most parts of the world -- despite the sharp falls in US natural gas prices due to the increased use of "fracking," a hotly contested form of resource extraction.
Based on current trends, it is predicted that the average onshore wind project worldwide will be fully competitive with combined-cycle gas turbine generation by 2016 even in the US, as gas prices are expected to rebound to a point where they cover the cost of extraction. At present, this is true only of a minority of wind projects, those that use the most efficient turbines in locations with superior wind resources.
In solar, analysis suggests that the cost of producing power from rooftop PV panels for domestic use is already competitive with the retail (but not the wholesale) daytime electricity price in several countries including Germany, Denmark, Italy and Spain, as well as the state of Hawaii.
Policy environment drives development
REN21's analysis found that stable renewable energy policies continue to be a driving force behind the development of green power capacity.
At least 118 countries -- more than half of them in the developing world -- have now established renewable energy targets. These include shares of total primary energy, total end-use energy, electricity generation (typically 10-30%), heat supply, biofuels as shares of road transport fuels, and total installed capacities for specific technologies.
Support for renewable power generation remains the most popular policy option with at least 65 countries and 27 states now having feed-in-tariffs (FITs).
Most policy activities in 2011 involved revisions to existing FITs, at times under controversy and involving legal disputes.
FIT payments vary widely among technologies and countries but are generally trending downwards, mostly due to lower technology costs than expected.

Ref: REN21 Global Status Report

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

German Solar PV Power Plants makes record production

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity - through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, according to reliable sources. 
The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.
Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation's midday electricity needs.
"Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity," Allnoch told Reuters. "Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over."
The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.
Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.
Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
Some critics say renewable energy is not reliable enough nor is there enough capacity to power major industrial nations. But Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany is eager to demonstrate that is indeed possible.
The jump above the 20 GW level was due to increased capacity this year and bright sunshine nationwide.
The 22 GW per hour figure is up from about 14 GW per hour a year ago. Germany added 7.5 GW of installed power generation capacity in 2012 and 1.8 GW more in the first quarter for a total of 26 GW capacity.
"This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power," Allnoch said. "It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants."
Allnoch said the data is based on information from the European Energy Exchange (EEX), a bourse based in Leipzig.
The incentives through the state-mandated "feed-in-tariff" (FIT) are not without controversy, however. The FIT is the lifeblood for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production.
Utilities and consumer groups have complained the FIT for solar power adds about 2 cents per kilowatt/hour on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world with consumers paying about 23 cents per kw/h.
German consumers pay about 4 billion euros ($5 billion) per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the Environment Ministry.
Critics also complain growing levels of solar power make the national grid more less stable due to fluctuations in output.
Merkel's centre-right government has tried to accelerate cuts in the FIT, which has fallen by between 15 and 30 percent per year, to nearly 40 percent this year to levels below 20 cents per kw/h. But the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has blocked it.
Ref: Reuters 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New Software for Optimal Planning of Solar Power Plants

The photovoltaics industry is booming, and the market for solar farms is growing quickly all over the world. Yet, the task of planning PV power plants to make them as efficient as possible is far from trivial. Fraunhofer researchers, working with Siemens Energy Photovoltaics, have developed software that simplifies conceptual design.

The share of renewable energies in the overall energy mix is rising rapidly worldwide. With three-figure growth rates, photovoltaics (PV) play a major role. According to market research organizations, the PV market grew by 139 percent in the year 2010. Germany is among the world's leaders in this technology that uses solar cells to convert sunlight straight into electrical energy. Yet the task of planning large-scale PV power plants spanning several square kilometers is a complex one. With customer specifications, regulations and government subsidy programs to consider, designers must also account for numerous other factors including weather, climate, topography and location. These factors, in turn, influence the selection and placement of the individual components which include the PV arrays with their solar modules, inverters and wiring, not to mention access roads. Until now, engineers have designed solar power plants using CAD programs, with every layout and every variation painstakingly generated separately. This is a very time-consuming approach. To improve a planned power plant in terms of certain criteria, or to compare different concepts with one another, oftentimes the entire planning process has to be repeated.

Several hundred plant designs at the push of a button
In the future, this approach will be improved considerably: researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern, in collaboration with Siemens Energy Photovoltaics, have developed a new planning software that makes it possible to build solar power plants better and more quickly. "Our algorithms programmed exclusively for the Siemens PVplanet (PV Plant Engineering Toolbox) software provide engineers with several hundred different plant designs in a single operation. It takes less than a minute of computation time," ITWM researcher Dr. Ingmar Schüle points out. The only user inputs are parameters such as the topography of the construction site and the module and inverter types that will be used. The user can also change a number of parameters - such as the orientation, spacing and inclination of the solar arrays - to study the impact on the quality of the planning result.
Cost estimates and income calculations included
To evaluate the designed PV power plants, an income calculation is performed that includes a simulation of the weather in the region in question, the course of the sun throughout the year and the physical module performance including shading effects. With the results of this computation and an estimate of the investment and operating costs, the planning tool can come up with a figure for the LCOE (levelized cost of energy). By comparing the plant with a large number of similar configurations, the planners can investigate the sensitivity of the various parameters to find the right solution from a large array of options. "The software assists the expert with decisionmaking and helps with the design of the best possible PV power plant for the site involved.
Which one is 'best' depends on a number of aspects - from the customer's objectives to the site and environmental conditions, but also on the financing concept and the financial incentives for photovoltaics in the target region. All of these criteria are taken into account." Schüle points out. Dr. Martin Bischoff, project manager at Siemens AG, Energy Sector, is also convinced of this approach: "Aside savings, more than anything else the planning tool provides an overview of the scope for optimization. This provides the best possible support for planning the most cost-efficient systems. There has been no other planning software with this scope or level of detail until now."

Ref: Science Daily and Fraunhofer Institute Germany

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Higher potential for Wind Energy in India than previously estimated

A new assessment of wind energy in India by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that the potential for on-shore wind energy deployment is far higher than the official estimates— about 20 times and up to 30 times greater than the current government estimate of 102 gigawatts. This landmark finding may have significant impact on India’s renewable energy strategy as it attempts to cope with a massive and chronic shortage of electricity.

“The main importance of this study, why it’s groundbreaking, is that wind is one of the most cost-effective and mature renewable energy sources commercially available in India, with an installed capacity of 15 GW and rising rapidly,” says Berkeley Lab scientist Amol Phadke, the lead author of the report. “The cost of wind power is now comparable to that from imported coal and natural gas-based plants, and wind can play a significant role in cost effectively addressing energy security and environmental concerns.”

Even if the previously estimated potential of 102 GW is fully developed, wind would provide only about 8 percent of the projected electricity demand in 2022 and 5 percent in 2032. The new Berkeley Lab study has found the total techno-economic wind potential to range from 2,006 GW for 80-meter hub heights (an indication of how high the wind turbine stands above the ground) to 3,121 GW for 120-meter hub heights. Given these new estimates, the availability of wind energy can no longer be considered a constraint for wind to play a major role in India’s electricity future.

Phadke and his team have been discussing their findings informally and formally with several key government agencies in India and have gotten positive responses. “The key agency in charge, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Berkeley Lab to collaborate on several issues related to potential estimates and wind energy integration,” said Jayant Sathaye, who leads the International Energy Studies Group at Berkeley Lab.

Ranjit Bharvirkar, a senior consultant at Itron Inc. and one of the other authors of the study, said part of the motivation for reassessing India’s wind potential came from recent reassessments of wind potential in the United States and China. Both found substantial increases over the previous assessments—a ten-fold jump in China and a 50 percent increase in capacity in the United States and 400 percent by energy. Improved wind technology, including higher efficiency and hub heights, accounted for much of the increase along with more advanced mapping techniques.

The previous wind potential estimate in India of 102 GW is based on the assumption that only two percent of the windy land is available for wind power development. However, this assumption is not based on any assessment of land availability. The Berkeley Lab study undertook a systematic assessment of the availability of land using publicly available GIS (geographic information system) data on topography and land use and found a significantly higher availability of land that can potentially be used for wind power development, which is the primary reason for the higher potential estimates.

The study excluded land with low-quality wind, slopes greater than 20 degrees, elevation greater than 1,500 meters and certain other unsuitable areas such as forests, bodies of water and cities. The researchers obtained off-the-shelf wind speed data for heights of 80 meters, 100 meters and 120 meters from 3TIER.

The study also finds that the total footprint required to develop high-quality wind energy (that is, wind turbines at 80 meters with a capacity factor greater than 25 percent, which would yield a potential of about 543 GW in India) is approximately 1,629 square kilometers, or 0.05 percent of the total land area in India. The footprint is not large because, typically, only about 3 percent of a wind farm is occupied by the wind turbines and related infrastructure; the rest of the land can be used for other purposes.

Ref: The study was funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation through a contract with the Regulatory Assistance Project. Engineers from Itron Inc. and Black and Veatch contributed to the report. “Reassessing Wind Potential Estimates for India: Economic and Policy Implications” can be downloaded at:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Tool to Evaluate the Value of Solar PV Systems developed by NREL

NREL's PVWatts is one of the popular PV Simulation tools I use other than PVSyst. But, a more challenging and userfriendly PV evaluation tool is always a Solar Engineer's dream. There lies the importance of the new Tool developed by NREL named as PV Value TM.

Consistent appraisals of homes and businesses outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) installations are a real challenge for the PV industry, but a new tool developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Solar Power Electric™ and licensed by Sandia addresses that issue. Sandia scientists, in partnership with Jamie Johnson of Solar Power Electric™, have developed PV ValueTM, an electronic form to standardize appraisals. Funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the tool will provide appraisers, real estate agents and mortgage underwriters with more accurate values for PV systems.

"Previous methods for appraising PV installations on new or existing construction have been challenging because they were not using standard appraisal practices," said Geoff Klise, the Sandia researcher who co-developed the tool. "Typically, appraisers develop the value of a property improvement based on comparable properties with similar improvements as well as prevailing market conditions. If there aren't PV systems nearby, there is no way to make an improvement comparison. When a PV system is undervalued or not valued at all, it essentially ignores the value of the electricity being produced and the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. By developing a standard methodology for appraisers when comparables are not available, homeowners will have more incentive to install PV systems, even if they consider moving a few years after system installation."

The tool uses an Excel spreadsheet, tied to real-time lending information and market fluctuations, to determine the worth of a PV system. An appraiser enters such variables as the ZIP code where the system is located, the system size in watts, the derate factor -- which takes into account shading and other factors that affect a system's output -- tracking, tilt and azimuth, along with a few other factors, and the spreadsheet returns the value of the system as a function of a pre-determined risk spread. The solar resource calculation in the spreadsheet is based on the PVWattsTM simulator developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which allows the spreadsheet to value a PV system anywhere in the U.S. The Tool has to be modified a little to make it useful oustside the U.S as well. I think NREL will work on that way also.

"With PV Value™, appraisers can quickly calculate the present value of energy that a PV system can be estimated to produce during its remaining useful lifetime, similar to the appraisal industry's income approach," said Johnson. "Additionally, a property owner thinking about installing PV can now estimate the remaining present value of energy for their future PV system and what it could be worth to a purchaser of their property at any point in time in the event a sale of the property takes place before the estimated payback date is reached."

The tool is being embraced by the Appraisal Institute, which is the nation's largest professional association of real estate appraisers. "From my perspective as an appraiser, I see that this is a great tool to assist the appraiser in valuations, and it connects to the Appraisal Institute's recent Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. It's an easy, user-friendly spreadsheet that will not bog the appraiser down with a lot of extra time in calculations, and if they fill out the addenda properly, they'll be able to make the inputs and come up with some numbers fairly quickly," said Sandy Adomatis, SRA, a real estate appraiser and member of the Appraisal Institute.

Although the tool is licensed for solar PV installations, it could be used for other large green features in a home that generate income, such as wind turbines. The spreadsheet, user manual and webinar explaining the tool are available for download at

Ref: Science Daily/Renewable Energy News

Sunday, January 29, 2012

China leads solar PV demand in Asia Pacific region with 2.9GW installed in 2011

The sleeping giant has finally awoken, according to the latest report from NPD Solarbuzz as PV installations in China reached 2.9GW in 2011, a massive 500% increase over 2010. The Asia Pacific region as a whole saw demand increase 165% year-on-year, reaching a total of 6GW. Like Germany, NPD Solarbuzz noted that 2.8GW of installations in the region were installed in the fourth quarter alone.

According to the market research firm, China has quickly emerged as the dominant force in the region, with 48% of 2011 demand. A planned year-end 13% FIT reduction led to a surge in installations in the fourth quarter, reaching 1.7GW, NPD Solarbuzz noted.

“The China PV market was reshaped in 2011 by the release of the national FIT,” said Ray Lian, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, “Approximately 1GW ground mount projects were installed in the Qinghai province alone. However, the explosive growth could well be followed by policy adjustments in 2012 as the Chinese central government takes action to control the growth rate.”

However, the market research firm noted that low factory gate module prices and favorable project returns have led to a project pipeline that reached 20GW and in direct comparison the project pipeline estimates for the US.


Other major markets in the Asia Pacific region include Japan and India. Though dependent on the residential market (70% plus of installations), Japan installed 1.2GW in 2011, an increase of 30% over 2010.

However, NPD Solarbuzz expects the Japanese market to grow 40% in 2012 as a new FIT law aimed at large-scale PV projects should increase demand, though highlighted that the actual 2012 rates have yet to be announced.

Many forecasters had previously touted Japan to once again become a major growth market but a forecasted growth of 40% could disappoint many in the PV industry, especially considering the growth in overseas module suppliers moving into the Japanese market in anticipation of strong growth.


According to NPD Solarbuzz, demand in India increased by 125% in the fourth quarter, as install deadlines loomed in the first quarter of 2012. The market research firm expects 600MW to be grid connected in the first quarter under the National Solar Mission and Gujarat Solar Policies.

In 2012, the Indian market could begin to approach 1GW, driven by new installations under the National Solar Mission and new state-level policies.

"While rapid PV price declines have greatly improved project economics over the course of 2011, many Indian developers have suffered setbacks due to difficulties associated with financial closure, land acquisition, and power evacuation facilities. Now developers will need to race to meet their installation deadlines or face the prospect of losing their PPAs, leading to a surge of activity in December and January," added NPD Solarbuzz analyst Chris Sunsong.


Australia’s PV installations fell 10% quarter-on-quarter as incentive schemes were closed down. NPD Solarbuzz expected first quarter 2012 installs to make further declines of around 20%.

Worse, the market for 2012 is forecast to fall by 30%; however, the market is forecast to pick up in 2013 as large-scale ground-mounted systems begin to come online.

Thailand, Korea and Taiwan

Other emerging markets in Asia added 500MW of demand in 2011, largely driven by Thailand, Korea and Taiwan, noted the market research firm. Further growth of more than 50% is expected in 2012 as new markets in Malaysia and the Philippines evolve.

Government incentives and continued declines in module prices are set to underline the growth potential in this rapidly emerging important market for the PV industry.



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