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EGEB: Hurricane hardened solar, solar industry record sales and revenues, negative pricing, more

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial and political review/analysis of important green energy news. Featured Image Source

Photovoltaic withstood Caribbean hurricanes better than many buildings – The largest solar farm in the Caribbean with its 58 MW, which was only finished in August 2016, also proved that photovoltaics can be made storm-proof. Here, apart from occasionally torn away modules, almost no damage was caused.  For projects done by a company in Antigua – The tests showed, according to Wolf, that the structures for ground-mounted open-site systems have to be anchored over 2 m into the ground, and sometimes additional concreting is required too. Furthermore, solar modules with a frame thickness of 50 mm and strengthened glass have been used. The angle of the solar modules has also been adjusted so that they provide the wind with as little vulnerable surface area as possible. So, we now have solid evidence – in a real category 5 hurricane – that solar can be built to withstand a hurricane. The articles note that the newest systems only lost ‘an occasional solar panel.’ If occasional panels are lost – then that means the solar system is still up, as strings can go down and a broader system still run.

Soltec expects to supply more than 1.1GW of single-axis trackers in 2017 – Soltec noted that it expects to achieve over a 200% growth in revenue to around US$215 million in 2017. Brazil was a key country with supply contracts totalling 517MW in 2017. Soltec also highlighted that investments in 2016 to increase manufacturing capacity to 2.5GW per year and to prepare for large-scale project supply challenges contributed to its success in 2017. Apparently, in 2016 79% of US utility-scale solar projects involved tracking. I’ve seen in reports looking at pricing of utility-scale projects that trackers only add a penny or two per watt to system costs. The question then becomes – what’s the value of the 10-20% extra electricity relative to labor. Generally, projects of this size always have technicians on site – meaning additional O&M costs are probably well-funded.

First Solar reports record quarterly bookings of 4.5GW – Thin-film manufacturer First Solar reported record Q3 bookings of 4.5GW taking the company’s order book to 7.4GW for shipments out to 2020. R&D and production start-up costs for the quarter totalled US$33.5 million. ‘Shipments out to 2020’ – I wonder if this volume could be shipped earlier if additional manufacturing capability comes online. Already, within the company there is a debate about keeping an older series of solar panels producing to keep supplying high demand (this is the Series 4 solar panel). In the article they mention moving to all/majority ‘Series 6’ in 2019. I saw their stock price jump last night. Good job First Solar.

Wacker reports best quarterly polysilicon revenue results since 2012 – Wacker makes silicon, in addition to the polysilicon for the solar industry, so this isn’t a pure polysilicon party. But in light of seeing records, like at First Solar above, and globally approaching or hitting 100GW – we should see a lot of record revenue volumes coming from the solar industry.

Australia just had some negative prices and Germany might have negative electricity this weekend – Happens in California, happens in other places. When it started happening in Germany a few years back – we didn’t have much to do with it. We just dealt. These days – they’re building big energy storage facilities to deal with it. Australia is going to become a fully renewable energy island a lot sooner than the world expects.

Just sayin –

Featured image is of a solar ‘shade structure’ that dissapears in the disance. Thought it interesting that there was so little to see in this image. This is a 3 MW Solar PV Shade Structure site at the Ben Clark Training Center in Riverside, CA. Photo by Janet Purchase.

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