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Parabolic trough solar thermal electric power ...

Parabolic trough solar thermal electric power plant 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





PV outlook 2012 – from Germany

The PV market will continue to consolidate but, so growth will continue, and prices for all of the main technologies will continue to drop.

 - The roof of Michelin's plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, has nearly a megawatt of solar on it, and the company's carport adds another 800 kilowatts.  Photo: Sputnik Engineering

The roof of Michelin’s plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, has nearly a megawatt of solar on it, and the company’s carport adds another 800 kilowatts.Photo: Sputnik Engineering

At the beginning of 2012, it is already clear that the forecast for market consolidation will hold true. Berlin-based Solon, one of the first players on the market, filed for bankruptcy at the end of the year, as did Solar Millennium, Which failed to transition from concentrated solar power to photovoltaics. Over in Ontario, Arise Solar Technologies, a manufacturer of crystalline solar cells in Waterloo, then threw in the towel, and Schott Solar cell production closed in Alzenau, Germany.

In the Netherlands, sold its cell manufacturer Solland cell plans in Heerven at the beginning of January. Even the biggest players are tightening their belts, seeking as Norway’s RAC, Which reduced wafer production in Glomfyord, and while SolarWorld is limiting its capacity and focusing its production within the U.S. on Hillsboro, where Solyndra and Evergreen Solar are still on everyone’s mind

Other signs of consolidation include the takeover of Hamburg-based manufacturer inverter volt solar works by Bosch. Voltwerk what part of the Conergy Group, Which is also struggling. The deal put desperately needed liquidity into the firm’s bank accounts, though the actual purchase price was not revealed. But the sale only gives some breathing room, Conergy, it does not solve all of its problems.

Global Boom

The other shiny side of the coin is that 2011 saw a breakthrough for the market in Asia, Australia, and North America. The plummeting price of photovoltaics has given firm’s giant international markets, especially for utility-scale projects. As a result, panel manufacturers are joining forces with project developers or coming up with their own EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) departments. As Conergy and Q-Cells with their demo strated large solar farms in Asia, this combination holds the key to the future of Western solar manufacturers. And will this trend continue, not only internationally. (Heiko Schwarz Burger / Craig Morris)

Solar Without Subsidies

Market Update 2012: Installations Grow to 38.3 GW in 2017 as the Market Goes Global
April 5th, 2012
Lux Research
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After recent explosive growth capped by a 66 per cent surge to 26.5 GW in 2011, solar installations will grind to a near halt this year — adding a mere 0.4 GW, totaling 26.9 GW of new installations — while industry revenues drop from $110 billion in 2011 to $92 billion in 2012 due to crashing prices. However, new installations rebound to 38.3 GW in 2017 as the industry learns to navigate a global market fast losing its subsidies, according to a Lux Research report.A supply glut, caused mainly by Chinese manufacturers, speculation of incentive cuts in Europe and the end of the 1603 Cash Grant in the US, fueled the sharp growth in installations last year.Lux Research analysts ran a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis in 156 separate geographies, accounting for 82 per cent of the world’s population, calculating internal rates of return, to determine the viability and competitiveness of solar in each market. That model and methodology is part of the Lux Research Solar Demand Forecaster. Among their conclusions:
  • Emerging markets more than quadruple in size. Emerging markets will be both a battleground for suppliers and a source of great strength with South Asia accounting for the majority of growth, rising from 1 GW in 2011 to 4.5 GW in 2017. However, ASEAN, Africa and South America take the reins from 2017 to 2022, hurtling toward gigawatt status.
  • Utility-scale application segment grows. In large emerging markets like China, utility-scale solar will gain as conditions favor fewer, larger-scale projects that allow more control over financing and regulatory factors. This segment will grow from 6.3 GW globally in 2011 to 13.8 GW in 2017.
  • Oversupply still a possibility. Even the boom of 2011 was not sufficient to utilize all of the world’s module capacity, which reached 50 GW and pushed prices down to $1/W. With China’s 12th Five-Year plan calling for major expansions in solar capacity, global markets will still see strong downward price pressure.
  • Securitization boosts smaller installations. Asset-backed securities are spurring growth of the small-scale segment in the U.S. residential and commercial markets. Securitization and “renewable bonds,” which have been tested in the past by SunPower (in Italy), and Wells Fargo (in New Jersey), are likely to see widespread growth in 2012 or 2013. Expect major commercial banks like Citigroup to lead this effort.

The report, titled “Market Size Update 2012: The Push to a Post-Subsidy Solar Industry,” is part of the Lux Research Solar Systems and the Lux Research Solar Components Intelligence services.About Lux ResearchLux Research provides strategic advice and on-going intelligence for emerging technologies. Leaders in business, finance and government rely on us to help them make informed strategic decisions. Through our unique research approach focused on primary research and our extensive global network, we deliver insight, connections and competitive advantage to our clients. Visit for more information.

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An article from the LA Times published in February 2012 follows below


Build a Solar Power Plant

Solar Power Plant Project – How to Build a Solar Plant in 10 Steps

12 Apr, 2011

Solar Energy

Solar Power Plants have mushroomed in different parts of the world as Global Solar Demand has increased by more than 150% in 2010.Solar

Power Plants built on the Ground differ from that put on the Roofs of Houses as they require to go through feasibility,environmental assessment, grid connection, siting etc. which is typical for a large industrial project.

The time taken to build a solar power plant project is also much more than a rooftop residential solar installation.Solar Farms are being mainly being built in countries which have subsidy program like tax rebates,feed in tariffs etc.

However building a solar plant has become quite easy unlike in the past as solar panel, solar inverters and installation expertise is more easily available.

The regulations and permits for building a solar plant or a solar farm on the other hand differ from country to country and region to region depending on federal and state laws.

For a Large Solar Plant like the Aqua Caliente,there are a number of permitting steps that have to be passed before the plant can be built.For smaller power plants in the 5 MW range the requirements are less.In general the smaller the size of the solar installation,the lower the number of regulations required.

Here are the steps required in building a Solar Power Plant

1) Site Identification – Identifying a Suitable Site for Building the Solar Plant.Note the Area should not be heavily forested and have easy access to the Roads and the Power Grid.

2) Preliminary Financial Analysis – Preliminary Financial Feasibility with inputs like the Land Costs,Solar Insolation,Interconnection possibility with the Power Grid Operator

3) Land Leasing or Buying – After Step 2 has passed,then begins the Acquisition of the Land through Lease or Ownership.

4) Basic Engineering Design/Technology Selection – An Engineering Layout is prepared along with the Selection of the Technology and Vendors of Solar Equipment

5) Permitting – Various Permitting Procedures need to be followed in this Step.This is specific to an Area and can be quite cumbersome.For eg. in the USA the permitting involves very heavy costs forming almost 15-20% of the cost of a Solar Project.

6) Power Purchase Agreement – A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) needs to be signed with the Power Utility who will buy the Electricity

7) Selection of EPC – A System Integrator or a Solar EPC Contractor is selected.  In case an EPC Contractor is selected then Solar Panels , Mounting and Inverters needs to be purchased if the Contract is not a Turnkey One

8) Financing of the Solar Project needs to be done.Note Solar Power Plants require a high initial investment with very low O&M costs.In general 60-80% of the Project is Debt Financed.

9) Testing and Connection to Grid –

After the Solar Plants is built,Testing of the Plant has to be done before it is connected to the Power Grid

10) Ongoing O&M – A Solar Plant has a life of between 25-30 years and requires minimal maintenance and monitoring.

Solar Inverters have to be replace after 10-15 years.

In case a Solar Module fails,it needs to be replaced as well as it degrades the performance of other Solar Panels. Note the Above Steps are a basic procedure for a Solar Power Project.It can be further be refined into more steps.

Summary Note

building a Solar Power Plant requiresProject Management skills typical of an industrial project with some unique characteristics.

The above steps are a simlistic procedure of a how to go about building a solar power plant.

The process in fact requires more detail and solid execution skills.A Solar Plant can be built in 3 months to 2 years depending on the expertise and the permitting required.

Note building a Solar Thermal Plant is much more time consuming typcially taking between 3-5 years.

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