PV nears displacement price; India forecast hiked; Sungevity exits Australia

A selection of news from the last month.

Image credit: E.ON

Global PV market nears a turning point
In 2015, the global solar PV market will shift from a high-cost, subsidized source of energy to a growing market with the potential to compete with and displace other technologies, according to a new report by Navigant Research.

By the end of the decade, solar PV is expected to be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices without subsidies in much of the world. Meanwhile, global annual revenue from solar PV installations is projected to surpass $151.6 billion in 2024.

Market activity is shifting from Europe to Asia Pacific and the United States as these markets reach maturity and near grid parity in terms of costs, but there is also market opportunity in other regions such as Chile, South Africa and the Middle East.

Deutsche Bank raises forecast for India’s solar
Annual investments in solar energy in India could surpass investment in coal by 2019-2020, according to Deutsche Bank (DB).

DB has recently raised its solar power projections for India by 240% to 34 GW by 2020 on the back of strong commissioning levels (4.5 GW), and an even stronger pipeline – under construction (about 5.1 GW), and new projects (about 15 GW).

According to the forecast, renewables could account for 20% of India’s power capacity by decade’s end, opening up opportunities for fund-raising, YieldCo structuring and M&A activity.

However, transmission constraints, grid integration, the enforcement of renewable energy purchase obligations, financing, land acquisition, limited domestic manufacturing, and returns/reliability of baseline data could also challenge further solar power penetration.

Sungevity leaves Australian solar market
US rooftop solar developer Sungevity has announced it has decided to exit the Australian market. The company has divested its minority shareholding in the former Sungevity Australia business, which is now being rebranded as RoofJuice Pty Ltd.

The announcement comes less than three years after the company targeted Australia as one of its first expansion markets outside of the US and amid rising concerns about the changing policy environment for clean energy in Australia.

Sungevity said in a statement it is leaving the country to focus on other key growth markets.

In Europe, the company has recently teamed up with E.ON, which is switching its focus to renewables, storage and power grids, and away from its centralized generation business. The two companies have announced major initiatives in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Future of US rooftop solar
Retail electricity rate design will have a dramatic effect on distributed solar PV deployment in the US, according to a recent report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that models the impact of various policies on the distributed solar market.

The study explores the feedback effects between retail electricity rates and PV deployment, and suggests that increased solar deployment can lead to changes in PV compensation levels that either accelerate or dampen further deployment.

The report considers two potential feedback effects. In the first case, increased distributed solar deployment leads to under-recovery of utility fixed costs, creating a need to increase retail electricity prices and in turn incentivizing more customers to defect to solar.

A second – and opposing – feedback occurs when higher solar deployment causes a shift in the timing of peak electricity pricing, which tends to slow down solar adoption by customers who pay time-of-use prices.

According to the study, these two feedback effects largely balance each other out, at least on a national basis.

The two feedback mechanisms largely offset each other at the national level in the study's reference scenario. The fixed-cost recovery feedback increases PV deployment +8% in 2050, relative to the no feedback case. Meanwhile, the time-varying rate feedback decreases PV deployment -5% in 2050, relative to the no feedback case.

The report examines PV deployment levels under broad adoption of time-of-use rates, feed-in tariffs, purely volumetric rates and avoided cost-based rates. Most of these scenarios lead to deployment levels lower than under current rate designs and net metering.

Big data for PV O&M
UK startup Senseye is looking for PV firms to test a military-grade analytics system that the company says could cut operations and maintenance costs by as much as 20%.

The Senseye system, which the company aims to release commercially in 2016, will use software adapted from the defence sector to analyze large amounts of data in real time – for example, inverter output readings and currency fluctuations – and provide predictions about variables such as plant output and component failure rates.