"I love my Mac. I just wish it came in green"

Last April Apple released a beautiful promo-video titled "better". Though many cynics will still discount the computer giant's efforts as window(s) dressing, Apple has actually gotten a lot 'better' in its environmental and sustainability policies since it was heavily criticized for its manufacturing processes halfway into the 2000s.  

Last week Apple announced its earnings and, once again, these were huge. 

Apple’s earnings, as expected, were a bit boring today. The company isn’t debuting any major new products until later in 2014, so investors had to make do with news that the company hauled in a slightly larger boatload of cash than it did this time last year, mostly thanks to growing iPhone sales. Total revenue rose 6 percent to a gaudy $37.43 billion.
— Slate

$37.43 billion... that's a number you don't hear every day. Apple is definitely no longer a rebel company, but is in the absolute top of the consumer electronics & web services business. Being in such a leading position means having a lot of power and, thus, a lot of responsibility.

Apple has a responsibility to the environment, to fighting climate change and to the preservation of the world for future generations. If they want to keep on selling shiny computers for decades to come that is... 

In the past, Apple has received a LOT of criticism on its environmental policies. One of the more famous leaked out stories was that in 2007, Apple's board of directors actually recommended shareholders to vote AGAINST proposals for adopting stronger measurements and policies aimed at cutting back the company's carbon footprint and using more recycleable materials.

This did not go unnoticed by the climate hounds over at Greenpeace. That same year, Greenpeace published an article in which they highlighted the hazardous materials that had been found in the iPhone, such as vinyl (PVC) plastic with phthalates, along with brominated compounds. They also argued that, since companies like Sony were already removing toxins from their TV’s, and that Samsung, Nokia, and Puma had also announced to phase out toxic chemicals in all of their products - Apple was seriously lagging behind. 

We know Greenpeace can be quite persistent - annoyingly so even - so they even launched an Apple-imitating website that revolved around the caption: "I love my Mac. I just wish it came in green." The campaign and its aftermath were quite successful. Later that year, Steve Jobs promised Apple would become greener. 

And they delivered. By 2012 Greenpeace ranked Apple 6th in its overview of green electronics manufacturers. 

They didn't stop there and anounced more ambitious goals. Specifically targetting solar and renewables. 
Ever since 2010 Apple started to make the switch to renewable energy. At first by purchasing renewable energy from existing projects, later by building its very own solar projects. 

By now they own and operate two 20 MW solar plants in North Carolina, have a fully solar powered manufacturing facility in Arizona, a solar-powered data center (20MW) in Nevada, and more projects like these. Their impressive new Headquarters in Cupertino (the already-famous UFO), will also be covered in solar panels. 

The most recent announcement was that of a THIRD 20MW plant for its data centers in North Carolina.

Our goal is to power all Apple corporate offices, retail stores, and data centers entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, micro‑hydro, and geothermal, which uses heat right from the earth. We’re designing new buildings and updating existing ones to use as little electricity as possible. We’re investing in our own Apple onsite energy production as well as establishing relationships with third‑party energy suppliers to source renewable energy. As of 2013, we’ve already converted 73 percent of the energy for all our facilities — 86 percent for our corporate campuses and 100 percent for our data centers. And so far in 2014, we’re powering more than 140 U.S. retail stores with renewable energy.
— Apple

With all this, Greenpeace's love for Apple has flourished and blossomed. They were especially pleased with Apple's "Green Manifesto" and the leading example Apple is setting by making sustainability such a big part of there total brand. 

With the launch of Apple’s new environmental initiative, the world is once again buzzing with comments, critique and speculation on what the world’s biggest brand is doing. Apple’s bold move is an impetus for the private sector to move in the same direction. Renewable energy is ready to become mainstream, and those companies that fail to pick up on the trend will lose their competitive edge.
From the full-page ad in newspapers around the world, to the homepage placement of a powerful video narrated by Tim Cook himself, Apple is launching its first major manifesto in years, making the very public declaration that “environment” is a significant new string to the brand’s bow.
— Kumi Naidoo - Executive Director, Greenpeace

So it's no big surprise that Greenpeace has now ranked Apple as the #1  green internet company, as their online iCloud and iTunes services are completely renewable energy powered. Since the company is also putting so much effort into greening up its manufacturing facilities, office spaces and retail outlets, they aren't doing too bad if you measure up their entire operations. According to the American Solar association SEIA, Apple was (in the U.S.) 2013's 4th largest commercial solar user, outranked only by Walmart, Costco and Kohl's, but topping the likes of IKEA (who have received a lot more praise) and Macy's.

If Greenpeace *hearts* Apple and all evidence seems to suggest that they are clearly doing such great stuff, can we now please be a little less critical about this big company that is setting an incredibly important example for all other tech companies to follow? 


If you want to learn more about Apple's initiatives, go over to their dedicated website: http://www.apple.com/environment/climate-change/


Further reading & viewing: 'Inside the huge Solar Plant that powers Apple's 'iCloud' - http://climatedesk.org/2014/07/inside-the-huge-solar-farm-that-powers-apples-icloud/

The 10 reasons why solar energy continues to grow

The solar energy revolution has only just begun, but has already quite established itself. There are many reasons why the generation of electricity from sunlight will continue to grow forever. This blog explains the 'why' with ten key arguments and trends.


1 - World Expanding (flat).png

1. The global market expands and continues to grow.

Some facts and figures at a glance for the perspective:

2010:

  • The market is dominated by Germany, which accounts for 50% of the global market.
  • 3 countries install more than 1 gigawatt (= 4 million solar panels)

2013:

2014:

  • The global market is growing two-dimensional: the growth applies in individual markets and is expanding to more and more countries
  • Again a growth of 20% is predicted, resulting in approximately  40-45 gigawatts of new installed PV capacity

2018:

  • The European Solar Industry Association (EPIA), predicts that the market doubles within 5 years. EPIA often proved to be too pessimistic in its predictions in the past.
  • Renowned research agency Solarbuzz even states that an annual installed capacity of 100 gigawatts should be achievable by 2018

2030:

  • The International Energy Agency - founded by the "oil countries" - expects more than 5% of global electricity demand to be covered by PV by 2030, against 0.85% in 2013.

2. Solar energy still becomes cheaper

Who would have thought that in 2014 it would be possible to produce solar power for seven dollar cents per kilowatt-hour? That is a cost price that can compete with the production of electricity from coal or nuclear power. Admittedly, this is solar energy generated in 'Sunny California', however also in the Netherlands solar energy is cheaper for an average household than electricity from the grid without any form of subsidy.

The cost of solar panels reduced again in 2013 and will provisionally continue to drop. This was predicted by one of the largest manufacturers of solar panels, the American First Solar, that will even halve its production costs over to 2018. It is even more important that the costs of complete solar systems will continue to decline. Why? Not only the costs of the solar panels, but also those of the other components (such as inverters) decrease. In addition, the increasing efficiency of companies in the installation of PV systems lead to lower costs. If an installer places not tens but hundreds of roofs a year full with panels, the overhead costs per system decrease. The IEA thinks that the production costs of one kWh of solar power could drop to $ 0.045/kWh in 2050, however the same organization thinks that $ 0.07 is possible by 2030, and that objective has already been achieved in 2014.

With scale size, costs of financing decrease. And contrary to popular belief, these will be more crucial than the cost of the solar panels.


3. People want solar energy

Last year 101,000 new PV systems were installed in the Netherlands. Especially among households there is a revolution going on. Even in the United States, still regarded by many people as the domain of fossil energy, people want solar energy. Research shows that seven out of ten Americans think the federal government should do more to support Solar. Across America, 140,000 new PV systems were installed in the past year. Aside from California and Arizona, the market volume in the other States is even smaller than in the Netherlands.

Why would people want PV? It is a combination of a feeling of independence; financial benefits; certainty about future energy costs; distrust of the large energy companies; and green dreams. Private initiatives arise everywhere, from the local tennis club to new solar energy cooperative. And this is copied in the business market: from agrarian to Google. Europe and the USA lead the way in this. The other continents will follow soon, because the motives are universal. In absolute sense, Germany is still leading the market, with more than 1,3 million solar energy systems .However the USA is only just gaining momentum with 445.000 PV systems on a total of 70 million households. In China, the residential market is still untapped. So the market potential is enormous.


4. Solar energy produces peak current in a growing energy market

Solar energy systems produce energy when the demand is at the highest: at daytime and during sunny times (air conditionings on).'Previously', we are talking about 5 years ago, electricity was most expensive on the trade market for energy in Germany during summer. Now the over 150 million solar panels in the country are supplying almost 50% of all required power on sunny days, and the prices on the power exchange are precisely lower than on other days. This saves hundreds of millions of euros a year. This is not directly a benefit for energy companies, who used to make more profit during peak hours. The demand for electricity at peak and other times will only continue to grow worldwide. According to the ' New Policies Scenario ' of the IEA, will increase by more than 67% in the period from 2011 to 2035. In 2013, the contribution of PV was less than 1% of global electricity demand.


5. New construction goes to 'zero energy concepts'.

The focus of the PV industry has mainly focused on the most favorable existing roofs so far. Now that solar energy is profitable in more and more markets without subsidies and the cost drops even lower, the application at new residential buildings and structures is an inevitable choice. It is the time to let the depreciation run along with that of the building. Thus the production costs are even lower, making you a thief of your own wallet if you let this opportunity pass. Clients and architects favor  energy efficient and energy-neutral new construction more and more . The market for new construction will only increase globally as a result of increasing population and growing prosperity, particularly in emerging economies. The EU has determined Directive 2010/31/EU that by  31 December 2020, all new buildings have to be nearly zero-energy buildings. And in the U.S. Obama has set a target that 100% of all new federal government buildings have to be energy neutral by 2030.


6. Power to the people: independence and cooperatives

Certainly in Western countries there is a  trend towards ´independence´. 'Power to the people', more transparency and reduced reliance on large institutions. Not only in the financial sector (crowd funding instead of banks), but also in the energy sector. New local energy cooperatives thrive in many countries, from the UK to the Netherlands, Germany to the USA, who together choose to generate green electricity in a fair and transparent manner. With energy storage in the near future, the quest for independence can take further shape. 'Breaking free of large institutions and the government' is something that appeals to more and more people. Those same energy companies are therefore, according to experts, in a  .With the increase of decentralized sustainable energy, the demand for electricity from conventional coal, nuclear or gas plants decreases. The fixed costs of these plants must be supported by an ever smaller group of customers and thus increase, leading to an even greater flight of customers to the ever-cheaper all renewable energy.


7. The new revolution of EVs and energy storage

Although the storage of solar energy is still in its infancy,  there is already a revolution going on. Just look at the mobile phone. Modern Li-ion batteries have twice the capacity per unit weight as the first commercial versions that Sony sold in 1991 - plus they are 10 times cheaper. And this is only the beginning. Energy storage is ' the next big thing ' and a stimulator in the renewable energy revolution. The cost of storing energy in the years ahead  will drop spectacularly. Not only by the telecom applications, but also by the rise of EVs (electric vehicles). The storage of renewable energy will be so cheap that you as a producer of solar energy decide when you want to use power and when you want to send it back into the grid and thus 'sell' it at the best price.

The linking of PV with EVs is obvious. That link is also made by FastNed, the company that is constructing a network of 200 'solar powered' fast charging stations at strategic points along the Dutch motorways. Additionally EV trendsetter Tesla itself constructs its own network of 'Tesla Superchargers'  in Europe, of course with PV on the rooftop.

The expectation of the IEA (International Energy Agency) is that worldwide, by 2020 more than  20 million plug-in electric and hybrid electric cars  are in use. If those will run purely on solar energy, that in itself will require hundreds of Gigawatts of new PV capacity. And this development does not stop by 2020.This market is also in its infancy.


8. Technological progress

Solar energy is not a new technology, as many think; it was already used in satellites in 1958 and from 1966 onwards in buildings. The technology celebrates its  60th anniversary of the discovery of the solar cell. The efficiency of solar panels still increases every year, just as cars become more efficient each year. The panel efficiency of the market leading First Solar has increased from 9.5% to 13.2% since 2006.This is an increase of 39%, while in the same period, the cost of the panels have decreased with 55%.Their roadmap for 2017 provides a panel efficiency of 18.1 to 18.9 percent, while on a laboratory scale is already a record of 20.4% was achieved. Technologically the end is still far from being achieved and in sight. Theoretically, the solar cell efficiency can be much higher. Today's multi-crystalline silicon solar panels contain solar cells with an efficiency of around 20%, while the best cell in the research lab already has an efficiency of 44% .Those 'high end pieces' are however very expensive to produce and therefore more suitable for aerospace. Nevertheless, technological progress will infiltrate into commercial applications, as the Formula 1 is a testing ground for the automotive industry.

Major technological steps are taken not only in the development of solar cells and panels, but also in the analysis, measurement and control (via software) solar installations. For good reason the brainy college MIT in Boston puts 'Smart Solar Power' in its Top 10 'breakthrough technologies' in 2014 .Through careful analysis of the wealth of information on the optimal operation of solar energy systems and advanced artificial intelligence, detailed forecasts and projections can be made. These ensure that solar energy systems, roofs and parks are able to work more efficiently and will have a higher yield. In addition, it means that solar power can be integrated into the electricity network more smoothly and with larger quantity.


9. Era without subsidies

In more and more markets PV application has passed the grid parity moment now: self-generated solar power is cheaper than electricity from the grid. In Western markets without subsidies, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, it is more economical to invest in PV on your roof, then to put your money in the bank. Therefore, Deutsche Bank predicts a second "solar gold rush". In rural applications, solar energy is almost always cheaper than electricity from diesel generators. This while the prognosis is that this diesel market by itself is expected to reach over 40 billion dollars in 2018.now what hinders this growth? Some countries and lobbies of energy companies are anxiously trying to stop PV application with bizarre rules, such as in Spain, a country where PV has been profitable for a long time now. People who want PV panels mounted on their roof there, are risking a fine of 30 million... The fact is that the power companies get in a 'death spiral'. Their sales drop because customers generate solar power themselves, and on the other hand, the fixed costs of existing fossil power plants have to be distributed among less sold kilowatt hours. As a result of these rising costs to be even more clients will invest in solar energy. McKinsey defines this as "The disruptive potential of solar power". Big energy companies have seen their share decline, in turn affecting their financial strength. RWE lost 70% since 2008 and has now decided  to focus more on Renewables. The other giant E.On invests it in Sungevity , one of the PV market leaders in the USA. Turning the business model of the energy giants towards the sun means even more consumers and businesses are prompted to choose solar energy.


10. Financial world will embrace

Besides energy companies the major investors also increasingly discover the benefits of solar energy as an investment. Business Week recently reported that the investments in solar energy in 2013 increased by 23%.Take for example the world's most successful investor Warren Buffet. His company MidAmerican Energy  offered $ 1 billion in bonds at 5.375 percent interest to finance half of world's largest PV plant in California. In total, Buffets company already invested several billion dollars in solar energy. Another forerunner and famous investor in solar energy is Google. Why do they do this? Solar power plants are even more predictable and constant in yield than windmills. And a predictable, 'steady cash flow' for at least 20 years, that (large) investors love. Through contracts with energy companies (PPAs) deals are closed with a term of 20 years. No worries about yields, impending CO2 levies, unsuspected environmental, uncertain costs of fossil fuels. Solar power can compete in more and more places and can operate for a long time with little maintenance. And after 20 or 25 years, just replace the panels for even cheaper and more efficient ones. All infrastructure remains and the engine is staged, resulting in even cheaper electricity for another 25 years. Pension funds are the next group of major lenders that will explore solar energy. And this big money contributes to more major projects, cheaper financing, cheaper solar power and more investors.


In 60 years' time solar technology has come... well, not that far

Dutch solar expert Wim Sinke brought this amazing video to our attention at The Solar Future: NL '14 last week. It's an eleven-minute film from Bell, that introduces the very first "Bell Solar Battery". One of the most amazing things about it is how little has actually changed in the technology and philosophy of the solar cell over the past 60 years. 


The technology behind the solar cell hasn't changed much. The looks of the solar cell are also still pretty much the same. 

Space 800x600.jpg

In the video they're already talking about things like energy storage, its potential for use in space and solar powered electronics & gadgets.

CSP 800x600.jpg

It's really cool to see the original inventors work on - and play with - their revolutionary invention! 

There's even a good ol' PV sneer directed at CSP, basically discounting it as "a primitive attempt" that scientists dabbled with in the 19th century.


See the video in full below:


That's all folks! Hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. 

Hydrogen Storage to the rescue

The Clean Energy Partnership is a German network of companies pulling together to introduce hydrogen as a fuel. 

Their philosophy:


Hydrogen could play a key role in the transition to renewable energy. The German government´s energy concept provides a clear target for the expansion of renewable energy use – from 20 per-cent in 2011 to 80 percent in 2050. This requires an efficient power grid that can absorb the power fluctuations of renewable energy sources. If more electricity is produced than is needed at certain times, the energy must be temporarily stored so that it is not lost. But Germany has insufficient storage capacity available for this.

Hydrogen could provide a solution, as large amounts of energy can be stored in the form of hydro-gen. Not just for hours or days, but for weeks and months without appreciable loss. This means that hydrogen is able to play a strong supporting role in the transition to renewable energy, becau-se the greatest challenge facing our energy industry right now is to solve the timing issues between energy supply and demand. The hydrogen produced in this way is transformed back into electricity as needed, for example in a power plant. The most efficient way to do this is directly in the fuel cell of a car, bus, boat or plane. Renewably produced hydrogen therefore supports a low-carbon energy supply and clean mobility – independent of fossil fuels.
— Clean Energy Partnership

Their great promo video (which orginally caught our attention):


Solarplaza events 1H2014 - Save the dates

Solarplaza events 1H2014 - Save the dates
View this email in your browser
It's been an incredible year again!

In 2013 we've organized 12 conferences and 3 trade missions in 10 countries on 4 continents, connecting and informing over 1200 high-level professionals!

Our newsletter is read by 5,500 PV professionals daily, we´ve started building online communities to keep the network going 365/24/7 and we're fully committed to keep empowering your business!

In this e-mail we'd like to inform you about our plans for 2014 and give you some interesting updates on the developments in the markets we'll visit first.

Essential: Download the complete agenda of Solarplaza events for 2014 (PDF)

Informative:


Photo's: Next year Solarplaza will celebrate it's 10th year anniversary! Look back in time with us on our Flickr page

Leaves us to say you can always get in contact with us, that we wish you a great holiday season and hope to see you next year at one of our events!

Kind regards,
The Solarplaza Team
South Africa: Overview of commissioned and announced PV projects

>> Top 10 commissioned solar PV projects

>> Commercial project examples

>> Top 10 announced PV projects
Update on the Mexican solar market in 5 headlines
 
Mexican Sun Lures Cash to Solar as Panel Prices Plunge
Solar energy makes economic sense for about 3.5 million commercial customers and 500,000 high-use residential consumers who pay “extremely high” electricity rates, according to BNEF. Installations of under 500 kilowatts benefit from net metering, a system that credits generators for the power they can’t use. (...)

Largest solar plant in Latin America nearing completion
The 30-megawatt Aura Solar plant in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico is the country’s first utility-scale solar installation with a power purchase agreement with the federal power company, according to a release from Suntech. (...)


Could Mexico be at the start of a solar boom?
It has ambitious plans to generate 35% of its energy from clean sources by 2026. That would be up from less than 15% now, which is mostly hydro, with wind and solar only providing only ±1.5%. These renewable sources would need to grow a lot, and in such a sunny country, solar power makes a lot of sense. (...)

Read all 5 headlines and the articles behind them here
 
The most complete event on Solar Operations & Maintenance and Asset Management in North America

Field data has demonstrated that professional Operations & Maintenance can result on average in a 5% increase of the performance ratio of photovoltaic power plants. Even for small plants, this can lead up to thousands of euros of extra revenue every year. In other words: investing in the right O&M services is not just a basic need, it also provides substantial financial benefits.

Following the huge success of Solar O&M Europe, we'll host the conference & exhibition Solar O&M North America on 25 and 26 March in San Francisco.
The Solar O&M Europe conference & exhibition will also be returning to Milan in 2014, so block the 7th & 8th of October in your agenda!

Check the website and lock this date in your agenda
 
2014 SOLARPLAZA EVENTS

11-12 February 2014 | Johannesburg
The Solar Future: South Africa '14 (3rd edition)

3-7 March 2014 | Mexico City
Solar PV Trade Mission: Mexico '14 (2nd edition)

25-26 March 2014 | San Francisco
Solar Operations & Maintenance: North America (1st edition)

7-11 April 2014 | São Paulo
Solar PV Trade Mission: Brazil '14 (2nd edition)

8 May 2014 | Copenhagen
The Solar Future: Denmark '14 (2nd edition)

22 May 2014 | Eindhoven
The Solar Future: NL '14 (6th edition)

24-25 June 2014 | London
The Solar Future: UK '14 (5th edition)

14-18 September 2014 | Riyadh
Solar PV Trade Mission: Saudi Arabia '14 (2nd edition)

22-26 September 2014 | Jakarta
Solar PV Trade Mission: Indonesia '14 (2nd edition)

7-8 October 2014 | Milan
Solar Operations & Maintenance: Europe (2nd edition)

30 October 2014 | Amsterdam
International Solar Marketing Conference (1st edition)

25-27 November 2014 | Istanbul
Solar Now: Turkey (2nd edition)
Copyright © 2013 Solarplaza, All rights reserved.


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Shell Is Working on ‘Promising’ Renewable Technology, Voser Says

Tom

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:


It would be stupid from the oil and gas industry to say that renewables will not play a major role in the energy system of the next few decades.

We are investing heavily in R&D solutions at the moment, where we are looking at what part of wind and solar technology delivers a greener and cleaner energy form for the future.

We will develop a major technology play whatever it’s going to be over the next few decades. As Shell, we want to be part of the energy mix in the future.

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:

Classic Shell 05.jpg

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.

Solar Now Turkey - Policy update, speaker announcements & last chance on Early Bird

Solar Now Turkey - Policy update, speaker announcements & last chance on Early Bird
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Solar Now Turkey - PV in the Commercial Segment | 22-27 November 2013 | Istanbul
Dear Solarplaza follower,

With the recently announced policy update for unlicensed solar projects (>1 MW) and new projects coming online as we speak, the timing is perfect for the upcoming event "Solar Now Turkey: PV in the Commercial Segment", from 25 to 27 November.

We have a lot of updates to share with you, so dig in right away and feel free to get in contact with us:
Or go directly to the website for an updated programme, list of speakers and registration page.

Kind regards,

Paul van der Linden
p.vanderlinden@solarplaza.com | +31 10 280 9198
 
Receive more information, by visiting the website solarnowturkey.com or getting in touch via e-mail
As of 02.10.2013, everyone will be able to produce his/her own electrical energy in certain amounts. Due to the Regulation on Electrical Energy Production without License which has been entered on 02.10.2013 into force, every residence of business may produce a certain amount of its electricity and sell the surplus. Read more.

With this update the commercial segment finally really takes off. Several projects are already online, realizing payback times of 7 years and based on 100% self-consumption.

+ More News & Updates
New Confirmed Speakers

We're very pleased to announce an amazing line-up of expert speakers to present at Solar Now Turkey. Let us highlight a few and do check out the full list of speakers on the website:

Mustuafa Herdem - General Manager & Owner, Else Enerji
Leading Turkish EPC, recently realized 100% selfconsumption 500kWp rooftop system near Ankara.

Ozan Korkmaz - Founder & Managing Partner, APLUS Energy
Consultant for electricity distributors and traders. Knows all about electricity forecasts and dynamics relevant for the solar PV business case.

Prof.Dr. Şener Oktik - Chairman, GENSED
Over 15 years experience in Turkish solar market. Chairman of GENSED, the national solar association.

Jeremy Leggett - Founder of Solarcentury, writer
Author of "The Energy of Nations", "The Carbon War" and "Half Gone". Founder and non-executive chairman of Solarcentury and founder and chairman of SolarAid. 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.

See the full list of speakers here
Partner & Sponsor update

JinkoSolar is a global leader in the solar PV industry with production operations in China and many sales and marketing offices around the world. JinkoSolar has built a vertically integrated solar product value chain, with an integrated annual capacity of approximately 1.5 GW each for silicon ingots and wafers, solar PV cells, and solar PV modules, as of June 30, 2013. JinkoSolar is Gold Sponsor for Solar Now Turkey and a perfect partner for your projects in Turkey.Solarplaza is working with strong local partners to ensure the success of this event. Therefore we're very proud to introduce these partners to you:

PwC provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. They have a strong energy advisory team in Turkey and are actively involved in renewable energy development discussions at the highest level. During Solar Turkey Now, PwC will give the "Introduction to doing business in Turkey" on 25 November and speak about "Tax incentives and regulation for solar PV energy projects" on 26 November.

Apricum is a global management consulting and transaction advisory firm specialized in clean technology. They help organizations improve their results and create business opportunities, with a strong expertise on market-entry strategies in emerging markets like Turkey. As the main content-partner, Apricum is involved in the development of the programme for Solar Turkey Now, and Matthias Kittler, Principal at Apricum, will chair the conference on 26 November.

Solarbaba is Turkey's largest non-governmental solar energy platform, broadcasting on Linkedin, Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. So far, they are reaching >150,000 individuals and companies per week interested in solar energy. Solarbaba is the main media partner for this event, and it's founder Ates Ugurel is a solar authority in Turkey in itself. Mr. Ugurel will speak about the "Business case for commercial PV application" on 26 November.

GENSED is Turkey's solar energy (photovoltaic) association and was founded in 2009.


 
Register here and benefit from special
Early Bird rates (discounts up to €140,-) until 30 October

What to expect?

Sponsorship opportunities

The 'Solar Now: Turkey' conference provides your company with extensive opportunities to gain visibility and promote your brand. You will reach both international border-crossing professionals and local industry players involved in the event. Furthermore, you will benefit from a global promotional campaign leading up to the event, with visibility in e-mailings to a database of 50,000+ international solar industry professionals and presence on the event website. For more information on the opportunities, please contact us through sponsors@solarplaza.com or leave your contact details behind, so we can get in contact and discuss the possibilities.
Copyright © 2013 Solarplaza, All rights reserved.


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Turkey: Business development opportunities beyond the gold rush (just some stats)

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.

 

solar-powered-mosque-turkey.jpg

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.

What we’re working on at Solarplaza

BY  PAUL 

BY 

PAUL 

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:

The rapid growth of Very Large Scale Solar PV Power plants

BY  EDWIN 

BY 

EDWIN 

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/

 

 

Reality check: Why do people really go solar?!

BY PAUL

BY
PAUL

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.

And here are 9 other surprising facts about people who go solar.

The added value of solar energy storage

BY EDWIN

BY
EDWIN

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?

Is the UK the new Germany?

BY EDWIN

BY
EDWIN

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...

Brit & Dutchie to row the Amazon river, powered by Solar Energy!

BY TOM 

BY
TOM
 

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!

amazonrow4web.jpg

10 Great Solar Energy Commercials

BY PAUL 

BY
PAUL
 

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.


But speaking to peoples hearts and minds isn’t necessarily the most effective way to market solar, when it appears that most people go solar for the money, according to this survey and this one.

So Sunrun deliberately takes down the stereotypes in these great and funny commercials:


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:


 

Solar Inverters: Revenues decline despite market growth

BY EDWIN 

BY
EDWIN
 

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?