Sara Rafalson of Sol Systems recently sent along an infographic on What Solar Investors Want that her company put together. This isn’t just another flimsy infographic, though. The data came from “a year of our Project Finance Journals, which we distribute on the 15th of every month to approximately 2700 industry professionals” Sara noted. She also commented on why there was even a need for such an infographic:
The shortage of project finance is a limitation to the non-residential, commercial and industrial (C&I) sector of the solar market. Especially compared with other sectors of the market, C&I distributed generation solar is plagued with high transaction costs and a lack of standardization. Though there is no shortage of solar investors trying to break into the promising solar asset class, there is a true shortage of financeable, quality project pipeline. This lack of financeable deal flow is stifling the market and limiting the growth potential of the U.S. solar industry.
So, with that background out of the way, let’s start offering investors more financeable solar projects! Here’s how:
Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.
The Saudi Arabian government, along with the noted solar developer SunEdison, is currently undertaking a feasibility study for a proposed $6.4 billion fully integrated solar PV manufacturing complex.
The potential project would see the creation of a fully functional and complete “industrial ecosystem” — capable of doing everything from producing polysilicon to assembling PV modules. A preliminary study of the project was already carried out by the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and SunEdison, back in 2013.
SunEdison said that it was working with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil Investments) on the complex which would potentially be built at Wa’ad Al Shammal in Saudi Arabia.
The USD 6.4 billion production complex if established was said to be expected to employ SunEdison’s proprietary high pressure silane fluidised bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon, and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology and equipment.
“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region.
This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi partners,” stated Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison.
“The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom’s world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalise on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximise the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”
Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP agreed, and added: “This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilising pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex.”
Nathan For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19
Australia has passed through another significant solar milestone, reaching 3,000 MW (3 GW) of solar PV this month, as Queensland nudged the 1 GW mark and states such as South Australia reached household penetration rates of 25 per cent.
“Solar power is reshaping Australia’s electricity market,” says Warwick Johnston, the head of solar research group SunWiz, who compiled the data. “This is a milestone as note-worthy as the one millionth solar power system that was installed in April.”
The growth in solar PV in Australia is quite remarkable, given that Australia’s capacity was barely more than 180 MW in 2009. Much of this growth came as a result of generous feed in tariffs, but the growth continues as a new generation of households look to solar to hedge against the rising cost of grid-based electricity, to make a statement about green energy, or to do both.
Australia is almost unique in the world in having its solar installations almost exclusively in rooftop solar PV. That, according to Johnston, now totals 3 GW on its own, mostly residential but also on a growing number of commercial rooftops, such as wineries.
Australia has only one solar PV array above 1.2 MW, the 10 MW Greenough River solar farm in Western Australia, although three projects have begun or are about to begin construction in the ACT, and the 102 MW Nyngan project will also begin construction in January. Others are in the wings. To put this into comparison, the Japanese market is expected to install 9 GW of solar in 2013 alone, much of it at commercial or larger scale.
Some other striking figures in the latest data release from SunWiz include the penetration rates in individual states.
Johnston says that nationwide, 14 per cent of dwellings host solar power systems; and one in four dwellings in South Australia have rooftop solar. Queensland has a penetration rate of 22 per cent, and WA 18 per cent.
This is having an impact on Australian electricity markets. Here’s another interesting statistic: At midday on Sunday, September 29, solar power contributed to 9.4 per cent of electricity demand in the National Electricity Market, and 28 per cent in the state of South Australia.
“Over the winter months, solar power contributed to 1.4% of total power consumption in the National Electricity Market, reaching a daily peak of 2.75% of energy NEM-wide production on September’s “Solar Sunday”, Johnston says. (See the graph below).
The solar market is having an impact on incumbent fossil fuel generators, and network operators. That’s because solar reduces demand from the grid, and also takes away revenues on what has traditionally been the most profitable part of the day for generators.
Queensland state-owned generator Stanwell Corp blamed solar for most of its woes, the decline of base-load generation and its inability to return a profit from generation last financial year. As Hugh Saddler remarks in another story today, some of its generators are operating at less than 50 per cent capacity. Many industry experts suggest solar is having such an impact on electricity markets that it is causing a near equal amount of fossil fuel generation to be mothballed or closed.
The SunWiz report says that the solar market has contracted from its giddy, FiT-inspired peaks in the middle of 2012, but it is now stable. However, profitability for industry players remains a challenge, although the customer is benefiting. The months of October and November both recorded around 75 MW of installations.
The average rooftop system has jumped to 4.3kW, the most popular size is now between 3kW and 5kW (depending on the state and its solar resources) up from 1.5kW, and 5 per cent of systems are more than 8kW (the average in the US).
South Australia boasted an average size of 4.8kW and that state overtook Queensland to be the largest market in Australia over the last two months. Localities such as Hilton, Lonsdale, Rosewater and Emu Flat set records for installations.
More information on the SunWiz data can be found here.
Giles Parkinson is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.