Guardian: “Jeremy Leggett among 100 signatories to letter opposing oil firm’s likely influence over university’s climate change studies.”
BusinessGreen: ‘A major new report from consultancy giant McKinsey ….predicts solar power will be cost competitive with fossil fuels in hot countries within two to three years, while further cost reductions will be delivered without any major technological breakthroughs. Entitled Solar power: Darkest before the dawn, the report predicts that despite subsidy cuts and a number of high-profile bankruptcies, solar capacity globally will continue to soar as costs fall by an average of 10 per cent a year through to 2020. “Our analysis suggests that by the end of the decade, costs could decline to $1 per watt peak (Wp) for a fully installed residential system,” the report states. “But even if costs only fall to $2 per Wp, the industry is still likely to install an additional 400GW to 600GW of PV capacity between now and 2020″. It adds that such a rapid reduction in the costs of solar energy could have a revolutionary effect on the global energy industry. “Rapid growth of distributed generation could disrupt the regulated utility industry in countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),” the report argues. ….Aanesen predicted that those solar firms that survive the next few years will find themselves operating in an industry that is able to compete without subsidy with established energy sources such as coal and nuclear.”
Frank Asbeck interview reported in PV magazine: “The global competitive struggle is murderous – it’s not a German phenomenon …They’re trying to destroy us. Our opponents want to put a stop to solar energy before it is too late.” Read more
Bloomberg NEF: “After clocking up a record in 2011, new financial investment in clean energy in first quarter of 2012 was the weakest since the depths of the financial crisis in Q1 2009: down 28% from Q4 2011 to just $27bn; it was 22% lower than the equivalent figure in the first quarter of last year. ….The largest projects financed in Europe in Q1 – in the face of a difficult market for bank lending following last autumn’s euro area crisis – were the 150MW Monsson Pantelina wind farm in Romania at $317m, and the 60.4MW SunEdison Karadzhalovo solar PV plant in Bulgaria at $248m. ….Michael Liebreich said: “The outlook for investment in the remainder of the year remains difficult. …continuing improvements in the sector’s economics mean that companies which survive these next few years, whether on the industry’s supply or demand side, will be extremely well positioned for the next growth phase.” / In 2011, overall clean energy investment, including the “financial new investment” measure calculated quarterly but also annually-calculated totals for government and corporate research and development and small-scale projects such as rooftop solar, was a record $263bn. This compares to 2010’s total of $247bn and just $54bn back in 2004.”
Grist: “Solar Mosaic started using this “crowdfunding” model in 2010, and to date, the company has raised roughly $320,000 to fund five solar installations, including an array atop People’s Grocery, a food justice organization in Oakland, as well as the home of artist Shonto Begay on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. It’s similar to the microfinance nonprofit Kiva, which raises money for small businesses around the world. And, like Kiva, its loans are paid back sans interest — you put $100 toward the solar panels for St. Vincent de Paul, and you’ll get $100 back. / But Parish says that’s about to change. Starting this summer, the company will offer investment products that it estimates will pay 5 to 10 percent returns. These products will allow everyday people to get in on a booming business, he says. Bloomberg recently reported that Warren Buffett and Google are pouring billions into solar energy development, lured by 15 percent returns.”
Chris Nelder, on SmartPlanet, Energy Futurist: “A persistent myth about the challenges of integrating renewable power into the grid is that because solar and wind are intermittent, grid operators need to maintain full generation capacity from “baseload” plants powered by coal and nuclear. Recent real-world data and research shows that not only is this not true, but that baseload capacity is fundamentally incompatible with renewables, and that as renewables provide a greater portion of the grid’s power, baseload generation will need to be phased out.”
REneweconomy: “Here is a pair of graphs that demonstrate most vividly the merit order effect and the impact that solar is having on electricity prices in Germany; and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to try to reign in the growth of solar PV in Europe. It may also explain why Australian generators are fighting so hard against the extension of feed-in tariffs in this country. The first graph illustrates what a typical day on the electricity market in Germany looked like in March four years ago; the second illustrates what is happening now, with 25GW of solar PV installed across the country. Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators – as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV – it is in fact eating their entire cake.”
ClickGreen: “Jeremy Leggett, Chairman, Solarcentury said: “The Supreme Court has today confirmed that the Government simply has no grounds to appeal the decision that its handling of solar Feed-in tariffs was illegal. This final step in the legal process has wasted much needed time and money and now we, the renewables industry, simply want to get on with creating our clean energy future. Renewables can only play the pivotal role necessary to deliver a new green economy if we have a stable market and investor confidence backed by lawful, predictable and carefully considered policy. I hope the Government is now clear that it will be held to account if they try to act illegally and push through unlawful policy changes. We would much prefer not to have taken this path but Ministers gave us no choice. Our hope now is that we can work together again to restore the thriving jobs-rich solar sector that has been so badly undermined by Government actions.” More in the Guardian.
E2B Pulse: ““Disastrous” solar Feed-in-Tariffs, the “cavalier irresponsibility” of bankers, and a government that is “mortgaging the future” – Jeremy Leggett is a man with strong opinions. In an exclusive interview with E2B Pulse’s News Editor James Kershaw, Solarcentury’s Executive Chairman argues there’s a war raging against the UK’s renewable energy industry – one that he’s prepared to fight.”
Bloomberg: “U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google Inc. (GOOG) and KKR & Co. by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) together with the biggest Internet search company, the private equity company and insurers MetLife Inc. (MET) and John Hancock Life Insurance Co. poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That’s the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.”
Clean Edge: “The global market for solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components, and installation) increased from $71.2 billion in 2010 to $91.6 billion in 2011. While total market revenues were up 29 percent, installations climbed more than 69 percent from 15.6 gigawatts in 2010 to more than 26 GW worldwide last year. This 40-point discrepancy was due to rapidly declining solar costs. Crystalline solar PV module prices, for example, dropped more than 40 percent between 2010 and 2011, and Clean Edge projects that the cost to install solar PV systems will fall from an average of $3.47 per watt globally in 2011 to $1.28 within the next decade.
ClickGreen: “Jeremy Leggett, chairman of UK-based Solarcentury said: “Any industry (PV) growing volume at 69% and cutting costs 40% whilst netting nearly $100 billion you would suspect might have a glittering future. Big Energy needs to understand that this industry is coming for their market share fast, first in Germany and soon after in other countries, they should embrace solar technology and cease their pushback in defence of a ruinous and increasingly expensive status quo. The UK government is among those who need to understand that their accommodation of Big Energy’s special pleading will cause them to lose out in a job-rich global industry just as it approaches a mass market.”
Guardian: “Jeremy Leggett, chair of Solarcentury, said the solar would not be crushed. “The government does not want anything to impinge on the prospect of centralised power from the big six electricity companies. But well before 2020 solar will be cheaper than nuclear or gas. It’s not the end of the industry but of our opportunity in Britain to grow a domestic industry that could compete with those in Germany and elsewhere. It will explode again, but it will not be British.”
David Wedepohl, spokesman for the German Solar Industry Association, representing 800 solar companies: ”This plan amounts to nothing less than a solar phase-out law. Under these circumstances there’s no way that the transition of the energy industry can be successful. It’s also putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and it’s tough both on investors and on citizens who want to be part of the energy transformation. …We’re taking a part of the market away for large electricity suppliers, but as a country we made a decision after Fukishima to phase out nuclear energy, so we need a lot of power.” German capacity is 25 GW . Solar provides from 3.2% to – on sunny days at midday– up to 25% of Germany’s energy. Guardian: ”renewable energy sector representatives have expressed their suspicions that the cuts are an attempt to appease the major energy companies who are losing out greatly to renewables, particularly since the decision last year to phase out nuclear power following the Fukishima disaster in Japan.”
Business Green: “According to reports, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted a new five-year plan on its website last week detailing how “leading” polysilicon and solar cell manufacturers will be required to increase production capacity.”
All 54 will be offline by the spring, and many are too old to be brought back on. Solar can be put up in days.
Bloomberg: “Germany, the world’s biggest solar market, will cut federal aid to the panel industry by as much as 29 percent from March 9 and further scale back subsidies each month beginning in May, Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said yesterday. The cuts are deeper than the 15 percent reduction ordered Jan. 1 and may hurt manufacturers in Germany and China, where the world’s three largest panel makers are based.”
So figures seen by the Guardian show. Before the April 2010 start of the feed-in tariff, 26 MW were installed. The UK is now c 1% of the global total of c. 100 GW, 50 GW of which are in one country, Germany.
Jeremy Leggett: “We have been expecting this but we hoped that Ed Davey would see sense and not take the appeal. If we are lucky this is just a cynical exercise to limit the market to 3rd March and they will withdraw in a few weeks. If not, and they really are serious about a Supreme Court appeal, then the implications for the renewables industry are deeply worrying. Two weeks ago, Ministers reassured the industry that they wanted to see 4 million solar homes in the UK by 2020. This appeal completely undermines that claim. They need to stop rewriting the scheme, end the constant stop-start and provide long-term stability and meaningful returns for investors and customers and give certainty to the 30,000+ employees of this successful industry – one of the few that is actively creating jobs in this country. If the appeal is successful it will allow Government to change feed-in tariffs whenever it chooses, even for projects that are already installed and supposedly guaranteed the feed-in tariff. At a stroke, this would undermine investment in all UK renewables, not just PV, and show investors that the UK government simply cannot be trusted. Fortunately their arguments are weak. They are the same ones unanimously rejected by the Court of Appeal so I wouldn’t give them much chance of success. Sadly, this appeal has the whiff of farce about it. First they try to woo private capital into infrastructure; then they mismanage it; now they go to the Supreme Court to argue for sovereign default to cover their tracks. I just hope the new Secretary of State actually understands what his lawyers are doing.”
RE World: “Prices for crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules fell below the $1/W mark in January 2012, and in some cases well below even that, marking the first time that global average prices have fallen below this milestone, according to IMS Research. ….Annualized price declines slowed to 22 percent in January, ignoring seasonality, after exceeding 50 percent declines in December, thanks to reductions in incentives across several major solar PV markets at the end of 2011.”
Exports from Germany to France reached 4 to 5 gigawatts in the cold snap last Friday morning according to German journalist Bernward Janzing. It was not exactly a time of low consumption in Germany either at 70 gigawatts around noon on Friday. On the contrary, he reports that a spokesperson for transit grid operator Amprion told him that “photovoltaics in southern Germany is currently helping us a lot.” Solar power production has been peaking at around 10 gigawatts at noon in the dcold spell. Germany currently has around 25 gigawatts of PV installed, i.e. this capacity is peaking at around 40 percent in early February.
The civil society groups advocating more locally owned wind and solar farms include some of the leading UK NGOs, including the Co-operative, the National Trust, the Church of England and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. Patrick Begg, director of rural enterprise at the National Trust: “Many other European countries are way ahead of the UK, as we found out when visiting German communities last year. Germany produces over 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, with communities generating about a quarter of this. In the UK, less than 1% is generated by our communities.”
Time: “If you’re buying solar panels or running a business installing them, life is good, but if you own a company that actually makes solar equipment in the U.S., you’re looking at a lot of red ink. That’s because solar power is getting much cheaper — prices for modules have dropped 40% over the past five years. According to some U.S. solar-panel manufacturers, that drop in price is due largely to low-cost imports from Chinese panelmakers.”