PV News Brief 23 July - 4 August

Suntech establishes South Africa subsidiary

Wuxi Suntech, one of the world's largest PV module manufacturers, is expanding its footprint in Africa by establishing a subsidiary in South Africa. The new subsidiary, Suntech Power South Africa, will be fully compliant with South Africa's Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) legislation.
"Given the country's dedication to growing renewable energies, Suntech is exploring the potential of locating manufacturing, assembly and warehousing facilities as well as offering after-sales services in the market," said Suntech CEO Eric Luo. Suntech recently supplied 100 MW of its PV modules for two projects selected during the Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program's (REIPPPP) first bid round.
United PV to acquire 20 MW solar PV plant in Qinghai, China
United Photovoltaics Group, a solar power plant investor and operator in China has entered into an equity transfer and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement with TBEA SunOasis Co. and Xinjiang Sangou Solar Equipment Co. Under the agreement, United PV will acquire the entire equity interests in a 20 MW solar PV power plant owned by TBEA and Xinjiang Sangou in Gonghe county in Qinghai province, and cooperate with the two companies on EPC arrangements, for a total amount of RMB 215 million (US$34.8m). The power plant is located in the same park as United PV’s existing 200 MW PV power plant in Qinghai. 
BHEL to build a 10 MW PV plant in Karnataka
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has won an order valued at INR 68 crore (US$11m) for setting up a 10 MW grid-connected solar PV power plant for Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. The plant will be set up at Shivanasamudram, Belakavadi Village in Mandya District of Karnataka. 
BHEL’s scope of work in the turnkey contract encompasses design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of the 10 MW plant, as well as grid interconnection, operation and maintenance for three years. BHEL has already executed similar projects for KPCL, including a 3 MW PV plant near Raichur and a 5 MW PV plant at Belakavadi Village in Karnataka. 
Emcore awarded long-term supply contract by Lockheed Martin
Emcore Corporation has entered into a new, long-term supply agreement with Lockheed Martin Space Systems to design and manufacture multi-junction Coverglass Interconnected Cells (CICs) for Lockheed Martin's satellite program requirements. The CICs will be produced at Emcore’s manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Emcore’s solar cells and panels have supplied power to over 130 successful space missions with zero on-orbit failures since 2001.
Suntech launches 7.5 MW of off-grid projects to power Malaysia schools and villages
Wuxi Suntech has announced it will provide PV panels for 7.5 MW of off-grid projects to power rural schools and villages in Malaysia. The announcement falls under a government initiative, the Rural Solar Hybrid Electricity Project for Villages and Schools in the Interior, overseen by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. The project is set to be completed in several phases and continue into 2017. 
"We have been working diligently with our partners Helios Photovoltaics and the Malaysian government for several years to launch this revolutionary project. We're using diesel generators and German battery packs to backup Suntech's best in class PV Modules in this system,” said Samuel Zhang, sales director for APMEA & China at Suntech. 
“Many locations in the region are only accessible via boat or helicopter and have previously been left to rely on diesel generation for power. These new micro-grid systems will help to significantly reduce diesel costs and cut 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, providing clean, reliable energy for the schools and villages in Sarawak," Zhang added. The PV modules will form a micro-grid system set to provide 24-hour electricity to three schools and 20 surrounding villages. 
India plans a 1,500 MW solar auction
India plans to auction 1,500 MW of solar-power capacity in its largest tender ever, Bloomberg has reported.  Companies will bid at a discount to a maximum tariff set by the central electricity regulator, and bidders selling their solar output at the lowest rate will win. 
“The government proposes to introduce a scheme for setting up 1,500 megawatts of grid-connected solar photovoltaic power projects,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal was cited as saying. He added that solar electricity may become cost-competitive with fossil fuel-based grid power by 2017, instead of 2022. 
Projects will be awarded in capacities ranging from 10 MW to 50 MW. Companies, including subsidiaries, can win a maximum of 100 MW. The capacity will be awarded in two batches, the first 750 MW by March 2015 and the remainder in the next financial year. Of the 1,500 MW, a third will be required to use locally manufactured solar cells and panels. 
Instead of providing government grants as it did in the February auction, the government will revert to an earlier approach used to make the price of solar power affordable to distribution utilities, according to Bloomberg, by having NTPC Ltd. buy the output and bundle it with cheaper coal-fired electricity.