While scanning the headlines, we came accross this Bloomberg article about Shell's renewable energy strategy, as voiced by CEO Peter Vosser. The interview they conducted with him at the Shell headoffices in The Hague (Netherlands) features great, promising quotes, such as these:
We know Shell will definitely do it's best to stay in the "energy mix (= business) of the future", but one becomes quite sceptical when reading these obvious and seemingly empty answers. It sounds a bit like this:
This is of course solely based on feelings and a slight aversion of the big oil industry (so don't take us too seriously).
Sure, we know Shell is already loosely involved (look at Solar Frontier, for instance) and will probably claim its piece of the pie when the time is right. We're just very curious to see how they will do it. Hopefully, their "R&D" isn't just talk and they can come up with great solutions. They should have the capital for it.
Grab your bottles of wine, carrot snacks and put on some fuzzy socks!
No... we're not really starting a book club! I just wanted to highlight two books that have been written by good friends of ours and have just come out.
Jigar Shah is CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting and a Carbon War Room board member. In 2003, he founded SunEdison, the largest solar services company, and from 2009 to March 2012 he was CEO of the Carbon War Room. Jigar Shah is an entrepreneur and visionary committed to leveraging the next economy by solving the challenging issues of our time. Shah has recognized this as “The Impact Economy.” He works closely with some of the world’s leading influencers and guides policy makers around the globe on key issues to implement solutions for global warming and sustainability that will unlock that next trillion dollar impact economy.
Social entrepreneur Jeremy, author of The Carbon War and Half Gone, is founder and non-executive chairman of Solarcentury and founder and chairman of SolarAid, an African solar lighting charity set up with Solarcentury profits. Described by the Observer as "Britain’s most respected green energy boss," he writes and blogs for the Guardian, the Financial Times, and Sublime Magazine. He was the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership on Climate Change, a CNN Principal Voice, and Entrepreneur of the Year at the New Energy Awards. He is on the associate faculties, lecturing in business and environment, at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and St Gallen.
Creating Climate Wealth is about how climate change - the biggest challenge of our time –can be turned into a $10 trillion dollar wealth-creating opportunity. Author Jigar Shah, internationally recognized for revolutionizing the now multi-billion-dollar solar energy industry, outlines how entrepreneurs and investors can unlock the massive potential that climate change represents. Shah argues that, while new technical innovation is valuable, deployment of existing technologies are the key to reaching our near-term climate targets. Rather than waiting for yet to be developed technology, business model innovation is the key to attract mainstream capital and unlock transformational change.
Systemic global risks of oil supply, climate shock and financial collapse threaten tomorrow's economies and mean businesses and policy makers face huge challenges in fuelling tomorrow’s world.
Jeremy Leggett gives a personal testimony of the dangers often ignored and incompletely understood - a journey through the human mind, the institutionalization of denial, and the reasons civilizations fail. It is also an account of tantalizing hope, because mobilizing renewables and redeploying energy funding can soften the crash of modern capitalism and set us on a road to renaissance.
We recently did interviews with both these guys, so you can learn more about them and their books on the Solarplaza website!
Both Jigar and Jeremy have recorded short videos to briefly introduce their books. Watch them below.
Finally a tender was announced, creating the long awaited start of the Turkish market. With the opening of the tender for 600MW there were projects submitted for 9GW(!), a real gold rush.
For those that want to get involved in this market for the long run though, there are many more interesting opportunities. If it was me, I’d provide large commercial companies with systems up to 500kW, optimized for self-consumption: there’s no difficult licensing process, they can hedge their electricity bill (as prices rise steeply), they will save directly on their energy bill and there’s a tariff for all excess electricity.
Just some stats:
- $0,14 - Electricity costs per kWh for industrial sector
- $0,16 - Electricity costs per kWh for private households.
- 11% - average yearly price increase since 2006
- 6% - annual growth of electricity demand
- 29GW - new power plant capacity needed by 2021 to keep up with demand
- 20GW - capacity that is outdated and needs to be replaced by 2021
- Politics - desire for greater independence from Russian and Iranian gas imports
- 1311 kWh/m2 - average yearly solar radiation (source / source 2)
- 1530 KWh / kWp - irradiation as according to ib Vogt calculation (presentation)
- $0,133 / kWh - price for which all excess renewable electricity will be bought for a period of 10 years under law #5346 (source / source with graph)
- $0,067 / kWh - Bonus on FiT for systems with high proportion of local content, bonus is giving for 5 years of the 10 years FiT period (source / source 2)
- 75 Million - population in 2013
- 6,7% - Expected yearly economic growth 2011 - 2017 (source)
- 30% - Turkey aims to generate 30% of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2023, a $40 billion investment opportunity
- 600 MW - First tender set out by the government. More than 9 GW of projects were submitted by 409 companies.
- 4,5% Interest rate (historically low); lending rate has been increased from 6.5 percent to 7.25 percent
- 8.88 percent Inflation rate in July of 2013 (highest in 1 year)
- In November Solarplaza is organizing a trade mission specifically focused on developing solar projects for the commercial segments. Feel free to get in contact if this is of interest to you or your business.
Spending a fantastic holiday in France makes you wonder every time again why such a beautiful and sunny country does not embrace solar energy massively. At least it is hard to explain to your kids why you see PV panels on every roof in Germany and why in sunny France you see almost none... And we should be doing this for them.
The abundance of solar irradiance and related warmth in France is almost boring and annoying you after 2 straight weeks of sunny hot days. Put on the airco, please!
“Dad, why are these mobile homes not covered with panels?”.
Why don’t the French use the ‘energy gold’ scattered over the country every day? Because their nuclear energy is cheap. Which is of course due to the way costs are calculated. And cheap energy is addictive as long as you are not personally confronted with the related waste.
Try explaining that story to your kids...
I wonder if every family would be willing to bury their part of the nuclear waste in their own backyard. As long as we collectively put it away and we don’t see it, it is not there and we can believe it probably won’t do much harm. No better was this illustrated than by the smoking French guy on the beach. With his feet he fluently hid his cigarette butt under a thin layer of sand.
Summer is upon us and all around people are re-energizing for the second half of the year. For us it’s always a good time to reflect on the great projects we’ve done and prepare for all the new plans we’ve developed these past months.
From September until December we’ll have a full schedule with 7 events in 6 countries. All focused on brand new topics and markets.
We’re determined to specialize further in the specific needs of our customers, as the industry is growing up and is in need of high-level knowledge exchange on in-depth topics. The regular ‘renewable energy conference’ doesn’t cut it anymore. A good example are the upcoming events in Italy completely focused on solar self-consumption and solar operations & maintenance. We’re moving past subsidies, past centralization of the market and further into consolidation. I believe the smartest companies will thrive, and hope you’ll follow us forward to new markets, segments, and the new stage in the solar industry’s development.
Don’t hesitate to let us know what the topics are on YOUR agenda.
Ours is the following:
- Solar PV Trade Mission Indonesia | 23-27 September 2013 | Jakarta
- Solar Self Consumption | 8 October 2013 | Milan, Italy
- Operations & Maintenance | 9 October | Milan, Italy
- Very Large Solar Power Plants Tour | 14-18 October | USA
- Solar PV Trade Mission: Saudi Arabia | 10-14 November 2013 | Riyadh
- Solar PV Trade Mission: Turkey | 25-28 November 2013 | Istanbul
- Solar at zero risk | 10-11 December 2013 | Munich
- The Solar Future South Africa | 11-12 February 2014 | Cape Town
- Solar PV Trade Mission: Mexico | 24-28 February 2014 | Mexico City
- The Solar Future Denmark | 20 March 2014 | Copenhagen
- The Solar Future NL | 22 May 2014 | Eindhoven
In December 2010 I wrote a blog in which I trumpeted the achievement of LCOE of €0,15/kWh for a large (French) PV power plant. Today, in India the $0,10/kWh mark is already reached.
In 1995, a revolutionary 3.3 megawatt ground-based solar PV power plant was connected to the grid in Serre, Italy. Only in 2004 a 5 MW plant, at that moment the world’s largest, was built in Germany. In 2007 the Spanish solar gold rush lead to projects in size over 10 MW. In 2008, 4 power plants above 40 MW were built and one 60 MW in Olmedilla, Spain.
The number of large power plants (>1 MW) grew fast to hundreds in Spain and Germany. The 80 MW mark was reached in 2010 and today the largest project in the world is the Agua Caliente project of 250 MW, planned to be built out to 397 MW soon. It won’t even be the largest PV plant in the country where everything is bigger... The new Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 MW solar power plant under construction in Riverside County, California.
Several countries have +100 MW plants nowadays, from Ukraine to China, India to the USA. Soon more countries will follow, from Chile to South Africa. Apparently, building these larger power plants makes sense, is not that difficult and provides an added value rather for the grid, rather than posing a problem.
From the 550 Megawatt in the USA, I am curious to see the first 1.000 MW power plant initiative. The LCOE will drop further towards the incomparable costs of electricity from polluting gas or coal. Very Large Scale Solar PV power plants will become competitive with any fossil fueled power plant. And these plants can be realized more than 5 times as fast as a coal powered plant, providing 100% cleaner energy.
If you want to learn more about developing large scale power plants, join us on our tour to the worlds largest PV power plants in the USA in October.
See the top 10 of the worlds' currently largest PV Power Plants here: http://solarpowerplantstour.com/news/2013/7/23/top-10-worlds-largest-solar-pv-power-plants
More information on the Very Large Solar Power Plants Tour can be found here: http://solarpowerplantstour.com/
From a survey among UK home-owners: 80% goes solar to reduce their energy bills. More than ⅓ stated they found current energy bills to become unaffordable. With major energy retailers increasing bills twice in the last year it is obviously an issue close to many people’s mind. Over 70% of those that had installed solar believed that solar panels were an effective way to reduce current bills and protect themselves for the future. Only 35% of people that had not installed solar did not believe this to be the case. Over two thirds of the population surveyed that had installed solar panels had seen their energy bills and cost of living reduced significantly. A huge 85% of those that installed would recommend the technology to their friends and family, showing that the growth of solar panels must truly be one of the fastest markets in the UK.
Is energy storage a hype or not? At our Energy Storage UK 2013 conference in London even some speakers said it is. What did we learn? Energy storage is a (too) broad area in terms of technologies (from batteries to fly-wheels, to smart (energy) devices to Power-to-gas). And even if you focus on the storage of electricity, there are solutions to store/transform the electricity into gas (methane) and hot water, making the range of options even broader. In between all these technology discussions, self-consumption and self-sufficiency, smart energy management and all kinds of ICT-solutions pop up as strongly related issues.
It is still very difficult to make up a uniform business case, even per market segment. The industry is very focused on payback times and costs per kWh.
From other industries, we learn that marketing and branding can be far more important. The discussion about added values of electricity storage still has to take off. The telephone revolution learned us that we are now willing to pay >$60/month for cell phone services, while we paid less than $30 in the past for landline services. Why are youngsters willing to pay 5 times much more for a ‘fixie bike’, with no speeds, brakes and front suspension than for a bike that does have these items? Apparently, the added values of cell phones justify this without any protest and the ‘fixie bikes are much ‘cooler’.. We need to find the added values of solar energy with a storage solution, position it as a luxury item that improves your social status, rather than focusing only on payback times!
What benefits would you stress are most important for solar + storage? Where should our focus be on?
The UK currently is one of the few significantly growing markets in Europe. The UK FIT scheme registered 34 MW of newly installed PV capacity during the month of May. According to the statistics until May, the average per month is around 35 MW. This would lead to around 420 MW new capacity for whole of 2013. This figure is not including the larger PV power plants built under the Renewable Energy Obligation scheme. The number of larger power plants is growing fast as well, scattered over the Southern parts of the country.
Data presented at the Global Demand Conference, show that the UK installed around 2.5 GigaWatt of PV so far. By the end of Q1 in 2013, large scale projects account for 50% of the market. It will make the UK the third largest market in Europe behind Germany and Italy. Minister Gregory Barker gave a reason for the current and future success: “The UK has a reformed, robust and fully-financed support framework for renewables, set all the way to 2020 and beyond.” The minister was a speaker at The Solar Future UK in London, this week. He explained: “my ambition is to have 20 GW of solar deployed in the UK by 2020”. The 34 MW installed PV power under the Feed-in Tariff is still ten times less than the 344 MW installed in Germany in May, although the larger PV power plants are not yet included. Nevertheless, the UK market is probably the only market in Europe significantly growing, while installations in Germany and Italy are falling rapidly. Looking at the UK target, the UK surpassing Germany is no longer a mission impossible...
One of the coolest headlines of the day in the Reuters stream: "Briton, Dutchman seek to be first to row the Amazon", continuing with the advanturous lead:
"A Briton and his Dutch rowing partner will brave piranhas, bandits and disease in an attempt to be the first crew to row the length of the Amazon river in September."
"People have kayaked it, walked it, swum it, but never rowed it, so I thought that's me, then," Daredevil Wright told Reuters in an interview.
Well sure, that's just solid reasoning! Of course, they will support a charity with their trip.
Anyway, the two thrill-seeking academics are planning to stay on board throughout the entire trip (only making a few stops for supplies at riverside villages). So they'll eat, sleep and carry all their supplies on board. And, here's where 'we' (as in: solar) come in, they'll rely on SOLAR POWER to make sure they can continue to communicate ('cause what's an adventure, without a blog/twitterfeed/instagramstream/facebookpage?) and, - perhaps more importantly - navigate. The two panels on the roof of their boat will look out for them.
If this intruiges you as much as me, keep an eye on their website for updates: http://www.rowtheamazon.com/
I'll conclude with a last quote from Anton Wright (the Briton):
"We have no realistic idea of what we're going to encounter. What could possibly go wrong?"
Sure Anton. Just keep an eye out for the piranhas. Godspeed!
We’ve come a long way in marketing solar.
From the nostalgic Dale Robertson commercial in the 80s:
To Solon impressing everyone with a Hollywood disaster-movie scene.
And focus one of their commercials completely on the most practical effect of going solar for consumers; stopping the meter from spinning.
And while my colleague Tom was ‘calling for a Mr. S.’ to match Epuron’s obnoxious Wind personification in a recent blog, SunRun was one step ahead and already created a new series of ads, revolving around ‘the new bright guy’ in the office, who “outshines” all the others.
OK, so it seems like SunRun is way ahead of the competition when it comes to creative solar marketing and advertising. Kudo’s to them! But there must be more (coming)? If you know of similar creative, funny or inspirational solar advertising, please give us a shout!
PS: If you didn’t enough for now, look at this spot for the Nissan Leaf. It could just as well been a solar commercial showing the world if everything ran on gas:
Citing SMA in their Press Release of July 3rd: “We are expecting an extended period of consolidation in the solar sector. For the first time in many years, measured in Euros, the global photovoltaic market will decline in 2013.”
On the other hand, PV market analysts expect the global solar market to grow in MegaWatts in 2013. According to SolarBuzz in their new NPD Quarterly report: “...This increase, driven largely by aggressive PV development in China and Japan, will drive full year 2013 PV demand to a record high of 35.1 GW...”. If revenues drop while the market goes up in volume, it means profits and prices are in decline, or ‘under accelerated pressure”.. Comparable to what we saw with the rise of Chinese solar module manufacturers since 2006, we now see happening in the inverter market. More and more Chinese inverter manufacturers are challenging the (European) market leaders. Partly related to the strong market solar growth in Asia and particularly China. SMA talks about “...decrease in sales of nearly 50% since 2010”.
We can expect consolidation in this industry sector in the coming years. Frankly, I see (private) customers who really have no idea about quality, guarantees, and brands of inverters. They will purely select on the (system) price or what their installer says is good.... How to pick the good one? Solarquotes made an interesting video and comparison. What to expect next? Measures on a European level to protect this vital and high-tech industry?
Colorado (USA) based thin-film module manufacturer Ascent solar has formed a venture to build a manufacturing plant in Eastern China.
Two years ago this would have surprised absolutely no one. Today, however, this seems like a remarkable move.
Import tariffs in both the U.S. and Europe have made many non-Chinese manufacturers reconsider their strategies and focus on their local production facilities. Even Chinese manufacturers themselves have started looking at moving production (or at least assembly) processes abroad.
So... is Ascent solar crazy? Or do they know something we don’t yet?
No! They are acting from a long-term vision, which shows guts and confidence. This trade war is nasty and might drag along for a while longer (then again, maybe not that long), but in the end the economies of scale in China will still make sense for a long, long time.
More importantly: they are not even doing it with their eyes set on the ‘old’ markets in Northern America and Europe, but are setting their sights on Asia itself. The Japanese market has exploded and China is becoming a multi-GW-market VERY fast. What better way to service these markets, then from Asia itself?
Completely emerged in all the developments in Indonesia we're learning that, as with most emerging economies, there's a big difference between what is announced and what will be realized.
So here´s a short update on what you should know:
According to the latest regulation, the electricity tariffs that customers are paying will be increased every 3 months for the year of 2013 with the last increase in October of this year. It will end up being Rp 1352/kWh or about 13.5 dollar cents/kWh. Adding up to a15% price increase in one year. At such price increases it will soon be possible to offer grid-parity propositions in the residential and commercial segment.
Tender for 172.5 MW
The grid-connected market for larger projects will be kick-started with a competitive bidding process, auctioning 172.5 MW of capacity at 72 locations. The max. tariff is set at $0,25 and can be $0,05 higher when the developer sources over 40% local content. When the tender starts is still unsure. Expectations are that this will be somewhere mid-august, though it's well possible that it's postponed until September or even October.
A very interesting market in Indonesia, and probably one of the fastest growing, will be in diesel replacement through solar hybrid solutions. There are already projects built in this segment through the 1000 islands scheme which aims to install 700MW of solar for distant communities.
In these communities with micro-grids, prices of electricity can become as high as $0,35 to $0,50 so if you have the right proposition (and connections), solar could be a no-brainer in these area's.
More regulation on enabling IPP's is announced already, which should make it even more interesting to develop such projects.
When you follow the news around the developments in Indonesia you'd expect that already 500MW could be installed within a year. With First Solar signing a MOU with PJB on Bali for 100 MW, LDK announcing a 100 MW order and SGI-Mitabu aiming to develop 250MW of which 50MW on Sumatra. According to our local partners these projects are mostly talk, and they will start much smaller.
The keys to success will be in strong local partnerships, overcoming the challenges of financing, bureaucracy and logistics, educating the government and utility and actively developing projects for PPA's.
So those will be the focus of the meetings and workshops during the trade mission first and foremost.
Let me know your feedback, insights and questions and I'll be sure to follow up!
The Indian PV market is among the fastest growing markets in the world. No wonder, it is a natural market with an abundant amount of sunshine. Various States have started programs to stimulate PV applications. Most popular are the tenders for bigger power plants. Now the State of Andhra Pradesh received solar bids totalling 418 MW. Developers will sign a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Andhra Pradesh utilities for 6.49 INR, currently around $0,10/kWh.
The striking thing is that recently (early June) it was published that - under Phase II, Batch I of the JNNSM - the Indian government launched the Viability Gap Fund (VGF) mechanism that pays developers a fixed tariff of 5.45 INR per kWh for 25 years, which was said at that time to be around $0,10/kWh...In other words, in one month the INR dropped 16% against the Dollar. The VGF is questioned for other reasons as well. Interest rates in India are substantially high too.
KEY TAKEAWAY: The financial risks of PV project development are a bigger challenge than technology.
Okay, it's quite old (2007), but it was new to me and it might be to you: an incredibly smart wind-energy promotion video by Epuron. This is the kind of cool and ingenious marketing that I sometimes miss in the solar industry. We can do this!
My first thought was that someone should make a solar response to this video (I can totally see it: a big Mr. S. obnoxiously shining in people's eyes, causing sunburns, igniting wildfires), but that's not enough. We must come up with our own stuff instead of copying what's done. Last year's "Solar Gangnam Style" cracked me up, but it was a free ride on a bigger hype. We need some good solar virals.Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right places? If you know some awesome solar videos, please share them with us!
I think my colleague Paul has already taken up the challenge to collect some cool solar marketing campaigns, so stay tuned for more on the topic!