Middle East, Africa PV installs to hit 20 GW/yr by 2020; US breaks annual PPA record in August

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Middle East and Africa forecast to install over 20 GW/yr solar by 2020

Solar demand in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to hike in the next two years, lifting annual installations to over 20 GW by 2020, GTM Research said in a new report.

In 2018, annual PV installations are expected to rise by 170%, led by Egypt, the UAE and Morocco.

 Forecast Middle East and Africa PV demand

                                (Click image to enlarge)

Source: GTM Research, August 2018.

From 2021 to 2023, the Middle East and Africa region will mostly see “slower, more measured growth” as tender schemes enter multiple rounds and industry and regulatory learnings are applied, GTM Research said.

US surpasses annual renewables PPA record in August

The U.S. has signed 3.6 GW of corporate wind and solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), breaking the annual record in less than eight months, the Rocky Mountain Institute's Business Renewables Center (BRC) announced August 8.

The previous record was set in 2015, when 3.1 GW of corporate PPAs were signed. Some 2.9 GW was contracted in 2017, according to BRC data.

Since 2008, some 13.5 GW of corporate renewables PPAs have been signed in the U.S.

In July, Facebook signed the largest purchase deal, a 437 MW solar power contract with Pacific Power in Oregon.

Facing rising power demand from data centers, global technology groups have spearheaded growth in corporate PPAs. Energy-hungry tech giants are pioneering multi-buyer power purchase agreements and demand from other industries is growing fast.

                             US corporate renewable PPA deals

                                                       (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Business Renewables Centre (BRC), August 2018.


Europe has lagged behind U.S. on corporate PPA growth but European Union directives, growing demand from heavy industry, and global contract innovations should see PPA growth rise towards U.S. levels in the coming years.

Demand for renewables PPAs is also set to accelerate in Middle East and North Africa, following a shift away from fossil fuel subsidies, regional experts said.

French solar prices drop 5% in latest tender

France has allocated 720 MW of ground-based solar power capacity at an average price of 58.2 euros/MWh ($66.6/MWh), some 5% lower than the average price in the previous project tender in February, the French government announced August 6.

For projects of capacity between 5 MW and 30 MW, the average price was 52 euros/MWh.

Renewable energy developer RES expects wind and solar prices in France to drop by around 20 to 30% by 2025, Renaud Chevallaz-Perrier, Director of Operations at RES France, said in February.

French solar prices will approach grid parity in the coming years and operators must focus on wholesale market risks in maintenance strategies to capitalize on growing demand for power purchase agreements (PPAs), he said.

France’s installed solar capacity was 8 GW at the end of 2017.

Engie, France's largest solar operator, was awarded 230 MW of capacity in the latest tender. The Paris-based company has installed 1 GW of solar power in France and aims to reach 2.2 GW by 2021.

Engie is seeking organic growth and strategic acquisitions to meet its solar targets.

In June, Engie acquired Langa, an independent renewable energy developer based in Brittany, north-west France.

Langa is developing 1.3 GW of renewable energy projects which are due to be completed by 2022. Langa’s installed solar capacity is expected to reach 165 MW by the end of 2018.

CWP plans to build 1 GW of solar plus storage in Australia

Australia's CWP Renewables plans to build two new solar plus storage projects of combined capacity 800 MW in New South Wales (NSW), the company announced August 17. The company has also received planning approval for a 200 MW solar plus storage project in NSW which will expand the 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm currently under construction, it said.

Under new plans, CWP aims to build a 600 MW solar plus facility on freehold land 15 km north west of Goulburn and a 200 MW facility on freehold land 3.5 km north east of Jindera, the company said.

Combined, the two new projects would cover 2,400 hectares of land.

CWP would submit a preliminary environmental assessment for the projects to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment "later this week," it said.

CWP’s current development pipeline consists of 1.3 GW of assets.

Enel deploys AI drones across US solar power fleet

Enel Green Power North America (EGPNA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) developer Raptor Maps have agreed to co-develop new technology which combines drones and AI technology to accelerate fault analysis for utility-scale solar plants.

The technology will shorten the plant repair process "from days to hours," the partners said in a joint statement.

Raptor Solar AI software for post inspection analysis will be embedded into EGPNA’s drone hardware. The combined technology will be able to capture both infrared thermal and high-resolution colour imagery and perform post-processing at the source of the data, using edge computing, to deliver real-time analytics solutions.

From August, the Raptor Solar AI software will be implemented across all of EGPNA’s solar assets.

By the end of this year, EGPNA plans to train and equip thirty field workers on this technology. The pilot program can be replicated across other renewable energy technologies, the companies said.

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