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News, Renewable, Solar

When Lucy line Wanja Silas installed a 12-volt solar power unit at her home to help her children study at night, little did she know it would become essential to her and her neighbors in Gakunga village, central Kenya, during the coronavirus pandemic?

Wanja, a 48-year-old farmworker, said she had not made any money since the country’s lockdown started in March, but the solar photovoltaic (PV) unit she purchased in January means she no longer needs to buy kerosene for lamplight.

And she can also help others in her area who are without electricity, either because of faults on power lines around the country due to heavy rains since March or because they could not pay their bills after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

“My neighbors who are experiencing blackouts now come to me so that I can charge their phones for them for a fee,” she said, adding that they pay 20 to 50 Kenyan shillings ($0.19-0.46).

“There is no money out there. I do not know what I could be used to buy kerosene if I had not installed this solar unit.”

With extreme weather and the economic impact of COVID-19 plunging many Kenyans into darkness, alternative energy sources are increasingly important – even for families connected to the grid, said Pamela Mukami Njeru, a community health volunteer in the central Mt. Kenya region.

One in four Kenyans – mostly in rural areas – do not have access to electricity. Those who do face high costs and frequent blackouts due to unreliable supply.

As cases of the novel coronavirus continue to climb in Kenya, the lack of reliable power can be a matter of life and death, said Njeru, whose work involves taking patients with urgent health problems to and from hospital.

“Without a power source, families facing an emergency are not able to keep their mobile phones charged to call us. This is how having a solar unit which can supply power all day and night can save lives,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In early May, Kenya suffered a nationwide blackout that lasted about six hours, and the following month, more than 20 counties lost electricity for about 10 hours.

Bernard Ngugi, managing director of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, told reporters in June that the blackouts were the result of work being done by the company to replace damaged power lines or to upgrade the network to connect new customers.

SLOW START

Wanja had hoped to be one of them. She applied for an electricity connection in 2016, but local officials said her application was turned down because she lived too far from the main road.

Worried the kerosene lamps she used for lighting could cause a fire or the toxic fumes would harm her children’s health, she decided to put some of her savings into buying a solar system.

Now she has power through the blackouts, she saves the dollar a week she used to spend on kerosene and her children can study safely, she said.

“Sometimes I would even take the tin lamp to use in the kitchen, leaving my children in darkness. But now I do not have to because there is solar lighting in my kitchen,” Wanja said.

If more Kenyans switched to solar, the move could also help curb climate change, according to a 2018 report by Stockholm Environment Institute Africa researchers.

Replacing smoky fuels such as kerosene, wood and charcoal with solar energy could help reduce emissions in Kenya by 1.8 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, it said.

In 2015, less than 1% of Kenya’s electricity came from solar – with most generated from fossil fuels, hydropower and geothermal energy – but the country has the potential to push that up to more than 7% by 2030, the report added.

The researchers linked the slow uptake of solar energy to high investment costs in recent years, noting that upfront costs involved in generating one kilowatt of energy from solar were more than three times as much as those for hydropower.

“We have the solutions and we have the technologies. But the important thing is up-scaling these so that renewable energy generation can become cheaper in Africa,” said Mbeo Ogeya, one of the report’s authors.

LIFE SUPPORT

Stephen Nzioka, deputy director of renewable energy at Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, said the costs of solar energy are falling.

A report published in June by the International Renewable Energy Agency noted that the cost of utility-scale PV solar power dropped by more than 80% between 2010 and last year.

“We are encouraging renewable energy technologies and (their) dissemination, but also combining mini-grids with solar PV systems,” said Nzioka, adding that the government had removed import duty on solar products.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of British climate charity Ashden, has called for investors, governments and philanthropic groups to create a $35-million fund to support community-based clean-energy businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, as customers struggle to pay.

“Off-grid solar offers a lifeline for around 470 million people, keeping lights on and equipment working in health facilities, small businesses and households,” she said in a statement earlier this month.

“But some clean energy businesses are vulnerable to collapse without support to see them through the pandemic.”

Wanja said the weekly payments she makes on her solar unit work out at 55 Kenyan shillings a day.

Yet, while the government is now easing the coronavirus lockdown, she still has no work – so even that small but essential cost is proving too much.

“Much of my income comes from doing menial jobs, but now there are none because of COVID-19. I cannot afford to pay the daily fee. We need help,” she said.

($1 = 107.9000 Kenyan shillings)

Source – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-energy-solar-feature-trfn/solar-keeps-lights-phones-on-for-rural-kenyans-during-pandemic-blackouts-idUSKCN24O20X

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News, Renewable, Solar

Despite making significant progress in solar power generation, India still relies on China for equipment

India has made significant progress in creating capacity for solar energy generation in the last few years. The Prime Minister’s emphasis since 2014 has given a new fillip to solar power installation. The unit costs of solar power have fallen, and solar energy has become increasingly competitive with alternative sources of energy. India expanded its solar generation capacity eight times from 2,650 MW on May 26, 2014, to over 20 GW on January 31, 2018, and 28.18 GW on March 31, 2019. The government had an initial target of 20 GW of solar capacity by 2022, which was achieved four years ahead of schedule. In 2015, the target was raised to 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.

Relying on imports

This rapid progress should have been made earlier, however. India is energy deficient, yet blessed with plenty of sunlight for most of the year. It should have taken a lead in solar panel manufacture to generate solar energy long ago. Despite the new policy focus on solar plant installation, India is still not a solar panel manufacturer. Just as India has had no overall industrial policy since economic reforms began, there is no real plan in place to ensure solar panel manufacture. The share of all manufacturing in GDP was 16% in 1991; it remained the same in 2017. Solar power potential offers a manufacturing opportunity. The government is a near monopsonistic buyer. India is regarded by the global solar industry as one of the most promising markets, but low-cost Chinese imports have undercut its ambitions to develop its own solar technology suppliers. Imports, mostly from China, accounted for 90% of 2017 sales, up from 86% in 2014.

Substituting for imports requires human capabilities, technological capabilities and capital in the form of finance. On the first two capabilities, the supply chain of solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing is as follows: silicon production from silicates (sand); production of solar grade silicon ingots; solar wafer manufacturing; and PV module assembly. The capital expenditure and technical know-how needed for these processes decrease from the first item to the last, i.e. silicon production is more capital-intensive than module assembly. Most Indian companies are engaged in only module assembly or wafer manufacturing and module assembly. No Indian company is involved in silicon production, although a few are making strides towards it. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (2018), India has an annual solar cell manufacturing capacity of about 3 GW while the average annual demand is 20 GW. The shortfall is met by imports of solar panels.

So we may not see domestic players, in the short term at least, replacing imported ones. While the safeguard duty now puts locally-made panels on par with imported ones in terms of cost, the domestic sector needs to do a lot more to be effective. For instance, it will have to go down the supply chain and make the input components locally instead of importing them and putting the modules together here. Public procurement is the way forward. The government is still free to call out bids for solar power plants with the requirement that these be made fully in India. This will not violate any World Trade Organization commitment. However, no bids will be received as manufacturing facilities for these do not exist in the country. But as Ajay Shankar, former Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, argues, if the bids were large enough with supplies spread over years, which gives enough time for a green field investment to be made for manufacturing in India, then bidders will emerge and local manufacturing can begin.

Lessons from China

China’s cost advantage derives from capabilities on three fronts. The first is core competence. The six largest Chinese manufacturers had core technical competence in semiconductors before they turned to manufacturing solar cells at the turn of the century. It takes time for companies to learn and put in action new technologies. When the solar industry in China began to grow, Chinese companies already possessed the know-how. Experts suggest that the human and technical learning curve could be five to 10 years. Indian companies had no learning background in semiconductors when the solar industry in India began to grow from 2011. State governments need to support semiconductor production as part of a determined industrial policy to develop this capacity for the future.

The second source of cost advantage for China comes from government policy. The Chinese government has subsidised land acquisition, raw material, labour and export, among others. None of this is matched by the Indian government. Perhaps even more important is a commitment by the government to procure over the long run — without that the investment in building up the design and manufacturing for each of the four stages of production of solar power equipment would come to nought.

The third is the cost of capital. The cost of debt in India (11%) is highest in the Asia-Pacific region, while in China it is about 5%.

Fifteen years ago, the Chinese could also have remained dependent upon imports from Korea or Germany; they did not. Remaining dependent on imports only leads to short-term benefits for India. A continuation of the current approach means India’s energy sector will be in the same condition as its defence industry, where enormous amounts of money have been spent procuring weaponry — so much so that India has been the world’s second-largest importer of defence equipment for years.

In the solar panel manufacturing sector, the Indian government allows 100% foreign investment as equity and it qualifies for automatic approval. The government is also encouraging foreign investors to set up renewable energy-based power generation projects on a build-own-operate basis. But the Chinese government is clearly adopting an aggressive stance while the demand for solar power in India continues to grow, as does the government’s commitment to renewables. In 2018, China cut financial support to developers and halted approval for new solar projects. As a result, Chinese producers will cut prices to sustain their manufacturing plant capacity utilisation by sustaining exports to India. In other words, the Chinese strategy is to undercut any planned effort by India to develop the entire supply chain capacity within India so that dependence on imports from China continues. As a counter, India needs a solar manufacturing strategy, perhaps like the Automotive Mission Plan (2006-2016), which is credited with making India one of the largest manufacturers of two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and lorries in the world. This would also be a jobs-generating strategy for an increasingly better-educated youth, both rural and urban.

source – https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/india-needs-a-solar-manufacturing-strategy/article27526839.ece

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News, Renewable, Solar

The shocking spread of COVID-19 pandemic has caught all countries off guard and disrupted all socio-economical activities and anticipated huge human life as well as economic loss which are not easy to makeup despite huge economical stimuli by all countries. This pandemic has exposed tall claims of scientific and technological advancements made by mankind and post-COVID-19 world’s outlook shall change forever.

Economic activities are suffering huge losses and early sectorial analysis with different methodologies giving inconsistent reports because this pandemic shall have a multidimensional, multi-sectorial, multi-regional effect and as COVID-19 pandemic is still not contented, similar reports shall give insights of the problem. This paper deals with certain impacts the solar energy generation sector likely to face in the post-COVID-19 pandemic scenario.

Source – https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3580341

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Delhi, Energy Power, News, Renewable, Solar, Solar Panel

Here we take a look at the leading solar PV module supplier in India (utility-scale and rooftop projects) for the year 2019.

Solar energy has become the leading resource for renewable energy expansion worldwide, and the case is similar in India. Where it now ranks ahead of wind energy, as the leading contributor to India’s renewable energy generational capacity.

According to the latest data made available by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), as on February 29, 2020, a cumulative renewable energy capacity of 132.15 GW had been installed in the country, with an additional capacity of 46.69 GW under various stages of implementation and 34.07 GW under various stages of bidding. Of these, grid-connected solar power capacity is at 35.07 GW, with 21.35 GW in implementation and an additional 31.27 GW at various stages of tendering.

Now while the Indian solar market is expanding as quickly as it is, a majority of its demand (roughly 70 percent) is being met through imports from China and other foreign markets. And the Indian Government is now planning to quickly transition to a more locally dependent market as it wants to reduce the imports from foreign suppliers (especially China). In line with which, new announcements have been made which will see import duties on Chinese imports rise to (at its highest) 40 percent of the cost of the modules. A heavy import duty, and one that perhaps will come as a boost for the local manufacturers.

But for 2019, while the safeguard duty was in place with import rates running at 15 percent, the total modules supplied to the market are estimated to be around 8,366 MW, largely dominated by Chinese manufacturers.

Here we take a look at the leading solar PV module supplier in India (utility-scale and rooftop projects) for the year 2019.

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar, The firm held a 3.8 percent share in the Indian market in 2019. In April, the firm had stated that it had experienced the limited impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its production facilities based in China, and is expected to hold a bigger share in the market in 2020.

Risen Energy

The leading module supplier in the Indian market for 2019 was Chinese brand Risen Energy. The company finished with an 11.6 percent share of the market, inching out local manufacture Waaree to the top spot. The company, as per research agency Bridge to India, held the top spot for a second consecutive year.

Waaree

Mumbai-headquartered solar PV module manufacturer Waaree secured a 10.6 percent market share in 2019, finishing second in the overall market behind Risen Energy. However, it did beat the likes of Vikram Solar and Adani to claim the spot of the leading local module supplier in the market.

Znshine

Another Chinese manufacturer, closing out the top three supplier list is Znshine. The firm grabbed a 9.6 percent share of the market to finish in the third position. Overall, the firm’s exports to India declined in 2019 which fell from over a gigawatt in 2018 to roughly 800 MWs in 2019, however, it still maintained a comfortable share in the market.

Vikram Solar

Fourth in the list, and just marginally losing out to Znshine in the top 3 suppliers list is Kolkatta based manufacturer Vikram Solar. The firm lost out on top three by a margin of roughly 8-10 MWs, as it grabbed a market share of 9.5 percent to Znshines’ 9.6 percent. The firm has received a 300 MW solar project from NTPC and is expected to stay firm at the top of the list for 2020.

Adani

Following right behind Vikram Solar is Adani which grabbed a 9.5 percent market share in the company. Adani perhaps is one the largest IPPs and project developers in the country, and its indulgence in the manufacturing business buoyed by the recent win in the country’s first manufacturing linked tender (annual mandatory manufacturing capacity of 2000 MW) could see it challenging for the top spot very soon.

Trina Solar

The first of the five Chinese firms that will close out the top 10 is Trina Solar. The firm grabbed an 8.5 percent share in the Indian market in 2019 to finish sixth. It is believed that the company was actually leading the market for the first half of the year but then lost out to the others by year-end.

Renesola

Next in the list is Renesola which bagged a 6 percent market share in 2019, to slot in at seventh position behind Trina Solar. The Chinese manufacturer had crossed the milestone of 20 GW in solar module deliveries globally at the back end of 2019.

JinkoSolar

In eight position is JinkoSolar, which finished eighth in the list with a 4.6 percent share in the market. Not the best position for the leading supplier, however, the firm has had a good start in 2020. The manufacturer, according to JMK Research, was the leading solar module supplier in India in the first quarter of 2020.

LONGi Solar

One of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar cells and modules, LONGi Solar only managed to finish 9th in the list of leading suppliers in India for 2019. The company managed a 4.5 percent share in the market but will hope to improve on that in 2020, as it has signed a 1.2 GW multi-year module supply agreement with Adani Green Energy.

{It must be noted here that this list was sourced from a research report by JMK Research and Analytics. However, a report by Bridge to India has a slightly different ranking for the top module suppliers for the year 2019.}

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Delhi, Energy Power, Enphase Inverter, News, Renewable, Solar

BSNL has tendered for grid-connected rooftop based solar PV system scheme for BSNL Buildings in different zones of Maharashtra under the RESCO Model

State-owned telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has issued a tender, inviting bids from eligible bidders for the implementation of grid-connected rooftop based solar PV system scheme for BSNL Buildings in different zones of Maharashtra under RESCO Model from the approved vendors by Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA).

The scope of work for the selected bidders will include the site survey, design, and proposal for the highest power generation capacity plants of rooftop based solar schemes for BSNL buildings in Maharashtra under the RESCO model.

The projects will be developed under the Central Governments’ Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) which now has a target of 100,000 MW of grid solar power by 2022, out of which grid-connected rooftop Solar PV systems is considered as very potent area and has a target of 40,000 MW. To achieve energy security and for having good optics, BSNL is envisaged to develop solar rooftop projects on a large scale by utilizing vacant roofs of buildings and adjoining lands of the campus, etc.

Only Government of Maharashtra departments /establishment, government institutions including Ministries/ Departments/ Organisation of both Central & State Governments and PSUs interested to set up rooftop solar power projects under CAPEX /RESCO model can approach MEDA impaneled Solar Project Developers /System Integrators /RESCO’s.

The tender also lists the eight developers/system integrators/ RESCOs empaneled by MEDA for the development of solar PV power plants in RESCO mode for Government sector buildings in Maharashtra.

As per the terms of a RESCO deal, the SPDs will have to incur a 100 percent cost for the development of the project. The selected bidders can develop solar power plants in RESCO mode from above eight developers at a competitive tariff of Rs. 2.74 per kWh (>10- 100 kW) & Rs.2.7395 per kWh (> 100500 kW) fixed for 25 years.

The last date for bid submission is July 17, 2020, and the techno-commercial bids will be opened on July 18, 2020.

Source:- https://www.saurenergy.com/solar-energy-news/bsnl-tenders-rooftop-solar-plants-buildings-maharashtra

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