EGEB: Floating solar panels, Morocco’s huge solar farm, Enphase shortage

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

Today in EGEB, Japan and China lead the way in floating photovoltaics. A look at the world’s largest concentrated solar farm in Morocco. Enphase writes to customers about the shortage of a key part.

Floating solar arrays are becoming more popular in Japan and China, according to Scientific American. But while floating solar panels can offer a number of advantages over traditional arrays — they don’t take up land space, they can be easier to install, and cool water can help panels stay more efficient — adoption in the U.S. has been slow.

Ample land availability is an obvious factor that could slow adoption, in addition to varying output by location. Mostly though, it seems people are hesitant about the probable success of such projects. Existing installations are so new that long-term results are unclear. As Robert Spencer of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory told Scientific American,

“We’re going to need to have a few high-profile projects that really demonstrate that this can happen at scale and by major players.”

A floating solar pilot plant is in the works for the Van Norman Lakes Reservoir in Los Angeles. It may qualify as one of those “high-profile projects.”

Massive In Morocco

CNN recently took a look at the world’s largest concentrated solar farm, the Noor Ouarzazate complex in Morocco. The country is aiming for 42 percent renewable energy by 2020 and it may hit that goal. In 2018, 35 percent of Morocco’s electricity came from renewable sources.

A complex like Noor Ouarzazate will certainly help in reaching those goals. The 580 MW complex takes up more than 13.5 square miles (3500 hectares) and includes a 797 foot (243 meter) tower.

Being a concentrated solar plant, the complex uses curved mirrors to heat tubes of fluid, rather than photovoltaics. A number of U.S. concentrated solar plants are among the largest in the world, but they now fall behind Noor Ouarzazate. This includes the former solar thermal power champion, the Ivanpah Solar Plant in the Mojave Desert.

Enphase Shortage

Energy company Enphase, known for its solar microinverters, is facing a shortage of key parts — and automotive companies are to blame. A letter from Enphase CEO Badri Kothandaraman posted by a Reddit user reveals the company is short on High Voltage Power Field Effect Transistors (Power FET), which are used in its microinverters. As Kothandaraman wrote,

“While we have multiple Power FET suppliers on our Approved Vendor List, all of them are facing unprecedented demand from the automotive sector, causing them to be overbooked.”

The letter outlines the actions Enphase is taking to address the constraints, including new long-term contracts. But the company is still asking customers and partners to place Q2 and Q3 2019 orders now.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: