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Freitag, 24. Februar 2017

Solar Leasing Continues to Lose Share to Loans

 
Recently released data from NYSERDA demonstrates the increasing trend of consumers electing to purchase solar vs. lease (lease or power purchase agreement). In January in New York, the percentage of residential solar systems purchased was 46 percent, validating the shift that began in mid-2016 to purchases vs. leases. The same trend was seen in California, which experienced an increase in purchased systems from 42 percent in the beginning of 2015 to 53 percent in 3Q16.

Solar Loan Capital Markets Activity
In 2015 and 2016, there has been an increasing number of solar loan options for consumers that has been supported by capital markets activity. In early February 2017, Mosaic completed its first securitization of residential solar loans. The offering consisted of a single tranche of $138.95 million notes rated "A" by Kroll Bond Rating Agency that was supported by a collateral pool of $178 million of loans. The securitization is an important milestone in itself, but the sale process provides insight into institutional investor appetite for solar loans. The deal reportedly generated an oversubscription level of 5.6 times the offering size, indicating a healthy interest in the asset class.
Consumer Investment Options
Although public solar data does not breakout the purchase volume between cash and loans, cash transactions may also be helping drive the shift to purchase. With prices falling rapidly (our NY solar research indicates a ~15 percent decline in 2016), the solar investment size and returns have become more attractive to consumers as they evaluate the solar lease vs. buy decision. A 2016 analysis reported an average IRR in the U.S. of 9.24 percent for solar vs. the 25-year performance of the S&P of 7 percent with an IRR in some states (MA, NY and NJ) of greater than 20 percent. With U.S equities reaching all-time highs, solar may be a more attractive investment option for retirees and all other homeowners.
Solar Third-Party Ownership by State
The percentage of third-party ownership varies significantly by state, according to the EIA's net metering report. The U.S. average of total installed capacity as of November 2016 was 43 percent within some states such as Massachusetts and Maryland at greater than 65 percent, with other states, such as Texas, Hawaii and Utah, at less than 25 percent.

This article was originally published by Sunvago and was republished with permission.

The Age of the Giant Battery Is Almost Upon Us

The Age of the Giant Battery Is Almost Upon Us

 
The idea that giant batteries may someday revolutionize electrical grids has long enthralled clean-power advocates and environmentalists. Now it’s attracting bankers with the money to make it happen.
Lenders including Investec Plc, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. are looking to finance large-scale energy-storage projects from California to Germany, marking a coming-of-age moment for the fledgling industry. The systems help utilities solve a longstanding clean-power conundrum: managing the unpredictable output from wind and solar farms, and retaining electricity until it’s needed.
Battery costs have declined 40 percent since 2014 and regulators are mandating storage technology be added to the grid. That’s encouraging utilities to offer longer contracts, and developers are expected to build $2.5 billion in systems globally this year. These trends are changing the risk profile, giving lenders confidence in batteries in much the same way that power purchase agreements opened banks’ doors years ago for wind and solar power.
“Having big money come in is the first step to widespread deployment,” Brad Meikle, a San Francisco-based analyst for Craig-Hallum Capital Group LLC, said in an interview.
That’s a shift from many of the storage projects we’ve seen to date as expensive components and unproven revenue potential made commercial lenders leery. Developers typically have financed systems from their own balance sheets, cobbling together revenue from short-term utility contracts or wholesale electricity markets.
“We see an opportunity in the space,” Ralph Cho, Investec’s co-head of power for North America in New York, said in an interview. “We’re attempting to be a first mover.”
Storage contracts to date in the U.S. and Canada rarely exceeded three years, said Bryan Urban, head of North American operations for the Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland-based storage developer Leclanche SA. Now utilities are signing agreements for three to seven years, and sometimes as long at 10 years, he said. And in the U.K., National Grid Plc is signing four-year contracts for storage services.
‘Uncertain Revenue’
“Instead of these short uncertain revenue streams, you now have longer-term contracts that investors can get behind,” said Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London.
The industry still faces significant hurdles. While costs have fallen, batteries are still an expensive way to manage electricity. Developers have little data to demonstrate how their systems will perform over time. Also, existing rules for wholesale power markets were mostly written for traditional equipment that generates and delivers electricity, and the industry is still developing market mechanisms to determine how to value and pay for storage systems that offer different functions.
The market is fragmented with a variety of different technologies, including lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries and flywheels. They have different capabilities and developers offer different types of services. They can smooth the flow of power on the grid, absorbing power when there’s too much and delivering needed jolts when demand spikes.
That means the industry is still figuring out the best uses for storage systems, and banks don’t want to wind up backing the Betamax of storage. Plus, several one-time high flyers ended up filing for bankruptcy in recent years — remember A123 Systems Inc., Xtreme Power Inc. and Beacon Power Corp. — leaving lenders gun-shy.
Utilities have been experimenting with energy storage for decades, and while momentum has been slow, it’s starting to take off. It took 30 years to install enough systems to add up to a gigawatt, and Sekine expects 1.7 GW to go into service in 2017 alone. State regulators are a key driver, with California ordering utilities to install at least 1.3 GW of storage by 2020, and Massachusetts on track to set its own targets by July.
A handful of lenders have already backed storage deals. Prudential helped finance two 20-MW systems in 2015 that Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. built in Chicago. CJF Capital LLC and SUSI Partners AG backed a 12-MW portfolio of storage projects last year in Canada. More are on the horizon.
“As you get into the latter half of this year, you’ll start to see a pick-up of activity,” Ric Abel, a Prudential Capital Group managing director, said in an interview.
The new crop of battery suppliers includes companies with more resources and deep pockets. Tesla Inc., LG Chem Ltd., Samsung SDI Co. and Panasonic Corp. are giving lenders confidence that grid-scale energy storage is a bona fide industry. At the same time, the number of projects have surged around the globe, giving banks a broad choice of deals.
“We’ve had conversations with financing houses going back four or five years,” John Zahurancik, the Arlington, Virginia-based president of AES Corp.’s storage division, said in an interview. “They’ve gotten comfortable with the components. Now that the deal flow is increasing, I think it is starting to attract more attention.”
©2017 Bloomberg News

Researchers Make Progress in Study of Geothermal at Reykjanes Volcano

Researchers Make Progress in Study of Geothermal at Reykjanes Volcano

 
While the most atrocious nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency may have just been confirmed, our environment might not be completely doomed. Over the past few weeks, environmental scientists took a major step forward in their search for clean and sustainable energy, and their answer may lie with some of the oldest structures on Earth: volcanoes.
In an opinion piece for the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus this week, Emma Hungaski took a closer look at the possibilities of geothermal energy from volcanoes.

Scientists are studying the technology that taps formations miles below the earth’s surface. A recently completed deep hole at Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland will allow researchers to create supercritical water that would be used to create power.

Read more about the project from Hungaski here.

More Than 3 Million in US Now Work in Clean Energy

More Than 3 Million in US Now Work in Clean Energy

 
On Wednesday, February 22, national business groups representing the range and breadth of clean energy companies in the United States cheered government statistics showing their industries support more than 3 million American jobs – equal to the employment of retail stores across the country, and twice as many jobs as involved in construction of buildings. This is based on 2016 data recently released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in its second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
DOE does not offer a definition of "clean energy," and the trade associations representing different portions of the industry have their own ways of defining what "clean energy" represents. But the groups all agree that, in the aggregate, these jobs add up to more than 3 million nationwide.
The groups made the announcement on the same day they organized a national social media campaign, encouraging companies and workers to share their employment stories. The purpose of the social media event was to draw attention to these growing industries, which offer good-paying jobs ranging from equipment installation and maintenance to sales and information technology — many of them jobs that cannot be automated or moved abroad. 
Organizers of the #CleanEnergyJobs campaign include Advanced Energy Economy, American Council on Renewable Energy, AJW (representing Energy Service Companies), Alliance to Save Energy, American Wind Energy Association, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Energy Storage Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association.
“Today, our organizations, member companies, and their workers are celebrating all the people who make up the clean energy industries and the positive impact that we have on the U.S. economy,” said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy. “We are excited to bring visibility to our share of the more than 3 million people that work today in advanced energy across our nation.”
“People often don’t realize that energy efficiency is such a huge jobs creator,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. “It supports about three times as many jobs as the mining industry and unlike that sector it is growing and creating good-paying jobs like weatherizing homes and manufacturing high-efficiency appliances or building materials. And the best news is there’s just enormous opportunity to expand this work and create more jobs with smart efficiency policies and incentives.”
“These impressive employment numbers highlight the tremendous importance of America’s renewable energy sector, which attracted nearly $100 billion in investment over the last two years, as a national economic driver,” said Gregory Wetstone, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Council On Renewable Energy. “We look forward to working with our members, policymakers, and allies to ensure that the American people have increasing opportunities to work, save, and prosper through renewable power.”
“Wind energy has now created over 100,000 jobs that rural and Rust Belt America need, including more than 25,000 manufacturing jobs in 43 states,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technician is now the fastest-growing job description in America.”
“The contributions of clean energy jobs to the country’s economy are significant and expanding,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The trend lines are clear: energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are creating well-paying jobs and benefitting American consumers, American businesses and American manufacturers. And that adds up to one conclusion: clean energy wins for America.”
“In setting a record for new electric generating capacity, the solar energy industry added one in every 50 new jobs in the economy last year and now employs 260,000 people in America,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “These jobs pay well, they support local economies and they fuel American innovation."
According to the Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report, the “clean energy” sector supported more than 3 million U.S. jobs in 2016, including:
  • Nearly 2 million workers making buildings, appliances and other products more energy efficient, saving money for families and businesses.
  • More than 600,000 workers involved with clean power generation, including biomass, biogas, fuel cells, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, natural gas, solar, waste-to-energy, and wind.
  • 100,000 workers in advanced grid technologies, including energy storage, and another 100,000 workers in biofuels.
  • In addition, advanced transportation, including hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles, support 200,000 more jobs.
These jobs are made possible by the growth of markets for clean energy products and services in this country. According to Advanced Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Now 2016 Market Report, total U.S. revenue from the wide range of advanced energy goods and services was $200 billion in 2015, more than pharmaceutical manufacturing in this country. Investment over the past 10 years in zero-carbon electricity generation has totaled $507 billion, with $59 billion invested last year alone, according to the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, published by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
The wind industry gets American-made turbine parts from more than 500 factories in 43 states. AWEA recently highlighted the growing number of jobs throughout the economy that are wind-powered, releasing its latest quarterly results at a General Motors factory near Dallas that builds 1,200 SUVs a day and will soon buy all its electricity from wind farms.

EnergyAustralia Provides Update on Proposed Seawater Pumped Storage Project

EnergyAustralia Provides Update on Proposed Seawater Pumped Storage Project

 
EnergyAustralia recently briefed the federal government on the potential for a 100-MW pumped storage project in South Australia that uses seawater.
Partners in developing this project are Energy Australia, the Melbourne Energy Institute and Arup Group.
The proposed project would be located on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf. The site is within 2 km of the coast and has an elevation of 300 meters. “It’s the ideal site for pumped hydro energy storage with seawater in South Australia,” says Dr. Roger Dargaville, deputy director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne.
In 2013, the Melbourne Energy Institute and the Arup Group began assessing how pumped hydro technology could be adapted to Australia’s dry conditions using seawater. Arup says this would be only the second example of a seawater pumped storage plant anywhere in the world.
EnergyAustralia and its partners plan to have a feasibility study completed by mid-2017. If the project is viable, detailed engineering design work, environmental impact statements, consultation with stakeholders and applications for government approval will follow.
Construction would take about two years, and the project could be providing electricity to the grid by the summer of 2020/2021, EnergyAustralia says.
Melbourne Energy Institute reported Feb. 21 that the partners had received a grant from ARENA for assessment of this project but did not disclose the value of the award. The Guardian reported the grant had a value of $450,000.
EnergyAustralia owns coal, gas and wind powered generating facilities. Arup Group is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists.

California Lawmakers Seek 100 Percent Renewables by 2045

California Lawmakers Seek 100 Percent Renewables by 2045

 
California SB 584 would require 100 percent of all electricity sold in California at retail to be generated by eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2045. A summary of SB 584 is provided at the link.
A new bill introduced in the California Senate (SB 584) would require utilities in the state to procure 100 percent of the power they sell at retail from renewable energy sources by 2045. In addition, it revises the 50 percent by 2030 target to 50 percent by 2025, only 8 years from now.  Renewable Energy World will continue to inform readers about the progress of this bill and other energy-related bills as they make their way through the legislative sessions.   -- JR

The Energy Web Foundation: Bringing Blockchain Technology to the Grid

 
Blockchain technology—the technology underpinning the Bitcoin virtual currency—is being discussed as one of the most potentially disruptive technologies since the Internet. Blockchains are a combination of information technology, cryptography, and governance principles that enables transactions to occur without the need for a third party to establish trust between transacting parties.
To put it another way, in today’s transactions a number of human processes and institutions—such as banks, lawyers, regulators, brokers, and utilities—are paid to establish trust. Blockchain technology replaces these institutions, making it possible to conduct transactions without a third-party intermediary.
At Rocky Mountain Institute, we believe that blockchain technology has the potential to play a significant, potentially game-changing role in the global electricity system’s transition to a more secure, resilient, cost-effective, and low-carbon grid.
Blockchain Technology and the Electric Grid
In the face of aggressive growth in distributed energy resources (DERs)—such as rooftop solar, demand response, and electric vehicles—governments, utilities, and other stakeholders from across the globe are experimenting with new ways to better regulate and manage the electricity grid. These experiments currently face four main issues regardless of their geography:
  • Controlling demand is difficult: Customers are concerned about privacy and sometimes loathe to share data—let alone allow third parties to control DERs that they own.
  • Tracking flows of energy is imperfect: Energy markets and markets for the attributes of energy (e.g., renewable energy credits) can be expensive to run, can be subject to double spending, and can usually be accessed only via intermediaries.  
  • Not everyone can participate in the grid’s evolution: In developed economies, only large, sophisticated businesses are able to enter into off-site power purchase agreements for renewables. In emerging economies, access to capital is a major barrier to accessing DERs and renewable energy, even if these technologies are capable of generating cost savings.
  • Putting customers and DERs first is challenging: The entire grid was originally designed from the top down, making it challenging to put customers and DERs first.
Although it is not yet 100 percent clear how, blockchain technology may be capable of solving these challenges:
  • Blockchains provide privacy, enhance cybersecurity, and are a low-cost way of managing DER-focused transactions at the edge of the distribution grid.
  • Blockchains provide a more transparent and, at the same time, a more secure way of tracking energy flows than the status quo.
  • Blockchains enable small-scale and low-credit customers to participate in business models focused on DERs and renewable energy.
  • Blockchains are a key enabler of balancing and managing the grid from the bottom up versus today’s top-down approach.
To unlock this value and help accelerate blockchain technology development in the electricity sector, RMI and Grid Singularity—an Austria-based blockchain technology developer—formed the Energy Web Foundation (EWF).
EWF is a nonprofit foundation with one high-level goal: to unleash the potential of blockchain technology in the energy sector. To achieve this goal, EWF focuses on defining blockchain use cases, building a blockchain platform for the energy sector, incubating an ecosystem of stakeholders, and educating the public.
Discovering Blockchains’ Many Applications
When technologists connected individual computers via phone lines to exchange packets of information in the late 1960s, no one knew exactly what that technology—which would eventually become the Internet—was capable of. Sending digitally signed messages, or “e-mail,” was immediately seen as a clear and interesting application, but not much else. In other words, the beginnings of the Internet looked intriguing, but nobody quite knew the extent of what it could do.
Blockchain technology in the energy sector is at a very similar early stage. We understand, at pilot scale, how to connect electricity loads, generators, and everything in between (e.g., distribution lines and batteries) to a blockchain ecosystem in order to track flows of energy and value while allowing multiple parties to transact. The most discussed blockchain pilots demonstrate this basic functionality, with small-scale rooftop solar customers exchanging green attributes of power in places like New York City and Australia.
But small-scale peer-to-peer use cases like these are just the tip of the iceberg. Even to blockchain experts, it’s still unclear exactly where the technology’s value lies and what the roadmap to commercial implementation looks like in the energy sector. Research organizations have identified more than 200 applications of blockchain technology. EWF will conduct detailed research and analysis on these use cases to identify exactly what blockchain technology can be used for in today’s electricity sector, how much economic value the technology can unlock, and what it will take for applications to be deployed at scale. Thus, EWF can help key stakeholder groups—electricity regulators, ratepayer advocate groups, and the public—better understand the benefits of blockchain technology and ease the technology’s path to market.
Open Sourcing and Unifying the Blockchain Movement
Imagine for a moment you are the chief executive of Snapchat (or any other popular mobile phone application) five years before its application becomes one of the most-used in history. Now, imagine that you have built your application, but platforms like Apple’s iOS operating system or Google’s Android simply don’t exist. In this alternate history, Snapchat would not only need to build its application, but it would also need to build an entire operating system capable of running the application on mobile devices everywhere—a massive undertaking.
This is exactly where blockchain technology is in the energy sector today. Currently, a select few utilities are experimenting with blockchain pilots. These pilots typically consist of defining a use case (e.g., peer-to-peer exchange of excess rooftop solar energy), writing software to turn the use case into an application, and then running the applications on a platform. To date, each utility has either built its own platform or used an existing public platform (like Ethereum or Bitcoin) to run its application.
Instead of developing proprietary platforms, EWF sees an opportunity for energy market participants to jointly fund and develop a single blockchain platform for the global energy sector. EWF will capture this opportunity by bringing together dozens of stakeholders and building an open-source blockchain platform. Organizations representing distribution utilities, traders, customers, and financiers will be able to build energy-focused applications on top of this shared, open-source blockchain. Likewise, instead of utilities, regulators, and grid operators conducting individual pilots, we aim to position EWF as the central convening platform to bring together energy-focused blockchain efforts everywhere and accelerate the pace of blockchain development through a combination of hackathons, boot camps, and other gatherings.
Event Horizon
Last week in Vienna, Grid Singularity hosted the first large-scale conference focused on blockchain technology and energy: Event Horizon. The conference is an opportunity for energy-focused organizations to learn about blockchain technology, connect with startups across the globe, and understand how they can benefit from the technology. Moving forward, EWF plans on holding Event Horizon conferences annually, with ambitions to become the conference for blockchain technology and energy.
RMI and Grid Singularity look forward to sharing EWF’s progress and detailing exactly how blockchains can help us achieve our vision of a cleaner, more resilient, customer-focused electricity future.
© 2017 Rocky Mountain Institute. Published with permission. Originally posted on RMI Outlet.
Image courtesy of iStock.

Insolvenzverwalter: Care-Energy beliefert Kunden vorläufig weiter

Insolvenzverwalter: Care-Energy beliefert Kunden vorläufig weiter

23. Februar 2017 | 12. Forum Solarpraxis, Märkte und Trends, Topnews
Nach dem Tod des Geschäftsführers Kristek, der in der Vergangenheit für einigen Wirbel in der Energiewelt gesorgt hat, musste der Energieversorger Insolvenz anmelden. Während des vorläufigen Insolvenzverfahrens soll die Stromlieferung an die Kunden jedoch gesichert sein.

Das Amtsgericht Bremen hat Ende vergangener Woche wegen Zahlungsunfähigkeit vorläufige Insolvenzverfahren gegen die Care-Energy AG, die Care-Energy Holding GmbH und die Care-Energy Management GmbH eröffnet. Zum vorläufigen Insolvenzverwalter ist Jan Wilhelm von der Kanzlei hww Hermann Wienberg Wilhelm berufen worden. Dieser teilte nun mit, dass die Versorgung der Kunden im vorläufigen Insolvenzverfahren weiterhin gewährleistet sei. Das Hauptaugenmerk liege derzeit auf der Stabilisierung der Geschäftsbetriebe und der Sicherstellung der Versorgung der etwa 28.000 Kunden in Deutschland und Österreich mit Strom oder Gas. „Vorrangiges Ziel des Insolvenzverfahrens ist es, nach Möglichkeit einen Geschäftsbetrieb im Energiebereich auf Basis der Zusammenarbeit der drei Unternehmen fortzusetzen“, so Wilhelm weiter.

Der vorläufige Insolvenzverwalter prüfe zudem Sanierungsmöglichkeiten. Nach den Sofortmaßnahmen gehe es um die Restrukturierung, um den Energieversorger wieder auf eine gesunde wirtschaftliche Basis zu stellen. „Konkrete Pläne existieren noch nicht“, sagte Wilhelm mit Hinweis auf die Kürze der Zeit seit Eröffnung des Verfahrens. Von der Insolvenz seien mehr als 100 Mitarbeiter in Deutschland und Österreich betroffen. Ihre Löhne würden bis April über das Insolvenzgeld gesichert.

Hintergrund des Insolvenzantrags sei der überraschende Tod des Inhaber und alleinigen Geschäftsführers der drei Gesellschaften, Martin Richard Kristek, vor rund einem Monat gewesen. Die nachfolgenden Notgeschäftsführer hätten nach Prüfung der finanziellen Verhältnisse die Zahlungsunfähigkeit festgestellt, heißt es vom Insolvenzverwalter.

Kristek gehörte zu den umstrittensten Persönlichkeiten der deutschen Energiebranche. Vor fast genau einem Jahr stellte er gemeinsam mit Hans-Peter Schwintowski, Professor für Energie- und Wettbewerbsrecht an der Humboldt-Universität (HU) Berlin, ein Gutachten vor, wonach das EEG nicht mit dem Verfassungs- und Europarecht vereinbar sei. Beide warben für die Einführung eines Quotenmodells anstelle des EEG. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt betonte Kristek ausdrücklich, dass er nur Geschäftsführer der Care-Energy Holding GmbH sei und nichts mit dem gleichnamigen Energieversorger in Hamburg zu tun habe, der im November 2015 zur Nachzahlung von rund 82 Millionen Euro EEG-Umlage verurteilt worden war.

In der Vergangenheit befand sich Care-Energy zudem immer wieder in Rechtsstreitigkeiten mit der Verbraucherzentrale. Angesichts der Insolvenz weist sie daraufhin, dass kein Sonderkündigungsrecht für Kunden bestehe. Sie müssten sich weiterhin an vereinbarte Fristen halten. Zudem verweist sie darauf, dass selbst wenn der Insolvenzverwalter entscheiden würde, die Versorgung einzustellen, automatisch und lückenlos der örtliche Grundversorger die Strom- und Gaslieferungen übernehmen werde. (Sandra Enkhardt)

Athos Solar stellt zwei Photovoltaik-Anlagen im Iran fertig

Athos Solar stellt zwei Photovoltaik-Anlagen im Iran fertig

23. Februar 2017 | Märkte und Trends, Topnews
Das mittelständische Unternehmen aus Heidelberg hat zwei Photovoltaik-Anlagen mit einer Gesamtleistung von 14 Megawatt im Iran installiert und in Betrieb genommen. Die Investition in Höhe von knapp 20 Millionen Euro wurde von Athos Solar zu 100 Prozent aus Eigenkapital finanziert.

Mit Hilfe des deutschen Projektierers Athos Solar geht der Iran einen wichtigen Schritt zu mehr Ökostrom in dem Land voran. Anfang Februar wurden in Anwesenheit des deutschen Botschafters, Michael Klor-Berchthold, und des iranischen Energieministers, Hamid Chitchian, zwei Phototovoltaik-Anlagen mit einer Gesamtleistung von 14 Megawatt in Betrieb genommen, teilte das Unternehmen mit.
Nach Angaben von Athos Solar dauerte es nur neun Monate von der ersten Kontaktaufnahme mit dem iranischen Projektentwickler bis zur Fertigstellung der beiden jeweils 100.000 Quadratmeter großen Solaranlagen in der Provinz Hamadan nahe der Hauptstadt Teheran. Der Großteil der Anlagen einschließlich der 40.000 Photovoltaik-Module von Canadian Solar seien dabei in den Iran importiert worden. Christian Linder, Geschäftsführer von Athos Solar, sagte hierzu: „Die Zusammenarbeit mit den iranischen Behörden und Partnern verlief reibungslos und äußerst kooperativ. Es herrscht spürbar eine große Offenheit und großes Interesse für diese Art der Energieerzeugung.“
Die Investitionen von knapp 20 Millionen Euro seien von Athos Solar als Investor komplett aus Eigenkapital finanziert worden. Linder zufolge sei dies der einzige Weg, Projekte im Iran zu realisieren. „Eine Finanzierung über Banken ist derzeit noch nicht möglich; schon der Zahlungsverkehr ist eine tägliche Herausforderung“, sagte er.
Der Bau der beiden Solaranlagen, die durch Geschäftspartner aus dem Iran und England initiiert wurden, sind nach eigenen Angaben die ersten Projekte von dem deutschen Photovoltaik-Projektierer im Nahen und Mittleren Osten. Aufgrund der guten Erfahrung seien zudem weitere Projekte in Planung. Die Umsetzung sei jedoch abhängig von den politischen Rahmenbedingungen in der Region, so Athos Solar weiter. (Carl Johannes Muth)

Tesla weiter mit großen Plänen

Tesla weiter mit großen Plänen

23. Februar 2017 | Märkte und Trends, Speicher und Netze, Topnews
Der US-Konzern hat im vergangenen Jahr viel bewegt, nicht aber den Sprung in die Gewinnzone geschafft. Derzeit steht bei Tesla unter anderem die Integration des Photovoltaik-Anbieters Solarcity und des Maschinenbau-Spezialisten Grohmann Engineering im Fokus. Ab April kehrt der alte Finanzvorstand zurück.

Tesla hat im vierten Quartal knapp 25.000 Elektroautos hergestellt und 22.250 ausgeliefert. Diese Zahlen liegen leicht unter jenen des Vorquartals, sind aber deutlich mehr als im letzten Quartal 2015, wie der kalifornische Elektroauto-Hersteller bei der Veröffentlichung seiner Zahlen bekanntgab. Zudem hätten die Bestellungen im vierten Quartal für das Model S und X neue Höchststände erreicht. Die Vorbereitungen für die Produktion des Mittelklasse-Elektrowagens „Model 3“ verliefen nach Plan und sollen voraussichtlich im Juli starten und ab September in Serie hergestellt werden.

Mit dem Start der Produktion in seiner Gigawattfabrik für Batteriespeicher in Nevada, der Übernahme des Photovoltaik-Anbieters Solarcity und dem deutschen Maschinenbau-Spezialisten Grohmann Engineering im vergangenen Jahr befindet sich Tesla mittlerweile auf dem Weg von einem Elektroauto-Hersteller zu einem integrierten Energieanbieter. Dies schlägt sich natürlich auch auf die Geschäftszahlen nieder. Der Umsatz sei im Vergleich zu 2015 um 73 Prozent auf knapp 7,02 Milliarden US-Dollar gestiegen, hieß es weiter. Allerdings machte Tesla im vierten Quartal erneut einen Nettoverlust von 121 Millionen US-Dollar allein im vierten Quartal bei einem Umsatz von 2,28 Milliarden US-Dollar. Das Speichergeschäft hat daran einen Anteil von 131,4 Millionen US-Dollar. Die Bruttomarge lag dabei im vierten Quartal bei gerade einmal 2,7 Prozent; im dritten Quartal war sie mit -4,1 Prozent sogar negativ. Mit 98 Megawattstunden insgesamt werden bei Tesla die Verkäufe der privaten und Kraftwerksspeicher angegeben. Da nun auch Solarcity zum Konzern gehört, seien auch 201 Megawatt Photovoltaik-Leistung im vierten Quartal abgesetzt worden.

Zum Ausblick für das laufende Jahr hieß es, dass voraussichtlich die Standorte für zwei bis drei weitere Gigawattfabriken festgelegt werden sollen. Neben seiner Batteriefabrik in Nevada hat Tesla mit der Übernahme von Solarcity auch die Photovoltaik-Gigawattfertigung, die derzeit in Buffalo entsteht, in Besitz genommen. Das Solardach, das Vorstandschef Elon Musk, im vergangenen Herbst präsentierte, solle voraussichtlich in der zweiten Jahreshälfte kommen. In diesem Zuge solle dann auch die Profitabilität des Speichergeschäfts stärker in den Blick genommen werden, wie es weiter hieß. Zudem rechne das Unternehmen mit Investitionen von 2,0 bis 2,5 Milliarden US-Dollar, bevor die Produktion des „Model 3“ starten könne.

Tesla verkündete zudem, dass Finanzvorstand Jason Wheeler zum April das Unternehmen verlassen werde. Er werde durch Deepak Ahuja ersetzt, der der erste Finanzvorstand von Tesla war und vor seinem Rücktritt diese Position mehr als sieben Jahre innehatte. Er werde bereits Anfang März sein neues altes Amt übernehmen, um einen nahtlosen Übergang zu schaffen. (Sandra Enkhardt)

JA Solar setzte mehr als fünf Gigawatt 2016 ab

JA Solar setzte mehr als fünf Gigawatt 2016 ab

23. Februar 2017 | Märkte und Trends, Topnews
Der chinesische Photovoltaik-Hersteller hat nach vorläufigen Berechnungen seine eigenen Erwartungen beim Absatz von Solarmodulen und Solarzellen übertroffen. Zu möglichen Gewinnen und Verlusten machte JA Solar zunächst keine Angaben.

Die JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. hat im abgelaufenen Geschäftsjahr nach vorläufigen Berechnungen zwischen 5,1 und 5,2 Gigawatt Solarmodule und Solarzellen abgesetzt. Diese Zahlen beinhalteten auch den Absatz in das eigene Projektgeschäft, teilte der chinesische Photovoltaik-Hersteller am Donnerstag mit. Die eigenen Erwartungen für 2016 lagen bei einem Absatz von 4,9 bis 5,0 Gigawatt. Beim Umsatz rechne JA Solar mit einem Ergebnis von 15 bis 16 Milliarden Yuan – umgerechnet 2,06 bis 2,20 Milliarden Euro. Zu Gewinnen und Verlusten im vergangenen Jahr machte der chinesische Photovoltaik-Hersteller zunächst keine Angaben. Die finalen Geschäftszahlen wird JA Solar am 16. März veröffentlichen. (Sandra Enkhardt)

Die Energiewende anschaulich auf einem Blick

Die Energiewende anschaulich auf einem Blick

23. Februar 2017 | Politik und Gesellschaft, Topnews
WWF Deutschland und Lichtblick informieren auf einer neuen Internetseite mit relevanten Daten und Grafiken über den aktuellen Stand der Energiewende in Deutschland.

Wie hoch ist der Anteil von Photovoltaik am deutschen Strommix oder die installierte Kapazität aller Solaranlagen in Deutschland? Wie viel Landfläche zerstört der Braunkohletagebau jedes Jahr hierzulande? Um diese und viele andere Fragen rund um die Energiewende zu beantworten, war bisher oftmals eine aufwendige Recherche notwendig. Tagesaktuelle Daten gab es in einigen Bereichen bisher nicht.
Das Energie-Unternehmen Lichtblick und die Naturschutzorganisation WWF Deutschland wollen auf www.energiewendebeschleunigen.de die aktuellen Stand der Energiewende mittels eines Dashboard mit den relevanten Daten und Grafiken vermitteln. Diese Art digitales Armaturenbrett zeigt anschaulich auf einem Blick beispielsweise die Höhe der deutschen Treibhausgasemissionen oder die aktuelle Bruttostromerzeugung aus Photovoltaik und Windkraft. Zeitgleich informiert die Seite über die finanzielle Förderung für Erneuerbare und stellt sie in Relation zu fossilen Energieträgern. Auf der Seite ist auch die Zahl der Unternehmen zu finden, die von der EEG-Umlagebefreiung profitieren und die Summe, die sie bisher im Jahr damit eingespart haben.
Das Angebot richtet sich sowohl an Vertreter aus Politik und Wirtschaft sowie Journalisten und Verbraucher, die ohne lange Suche die Zahlen und Fakten zur Energiewende im Blick behalten wollen. Alle auf dem Dashboard dargestellten Daten werden von dem Online-Statistikportal „statista“ regelmäßig aktualisiert und stammen aus anerkannten Quellen, die auf der Seite genannt werden, wie es bei Lichtblick und WWF heißt. (Carl Johannes Muth)

SolarCity drags down Tesla’s Q4 results

SolarCity drags down Tesla’s Q4 results

Morgan Stanley analysts reckon Tesla and LG Chem will corner the bulk of the market share for storage.

Tesla’s quarterly results show more of the roller coaster that has been Tesla Motors, as it builds the world’s largest battery factory, re-invents solar and spearheads the mass-market adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
But despite record EV sales, the acquisition of a financially troubled SolarCity appears to have left a mark on Tesla’s Q4 results. While revenues in the company’s Energy Generation and Storage division rose four-fold to $131 million, margins are much lower than at Tesla’s automotive business, with a 2.7% gross margin ensuring an operating loss for the division.
And while it is hard to tease out from the limited financial figures provided exactly how much of the company’s overall $121 million net loss during the quarter is related to SolarCity, Tesla did note $85 million in solar-related operating expenses.
These are measly figures versus the company’s $2.28 billion in quarterly revenues, Tesla appears to be working to make SolarCity profitable in the short run regardless. During the quarter Tesla/SolarCity more than doubled its portion of leases to 28%, and Tesla also noted in its Q4 shareholder letter that during the transition period of the acquisition, it will “prioritize cash preservation over growth of MW deployed”.
However, Tesla/SolarCity still managed to deploy 201 MW of solar during the quarter, an increase over Q3. Tesla’s combined solar and storage division also claims the deployment of 98 megawatt-hours of residential and grid-scale battery storage during the quarter, with the company’s Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nevada beginning to produce batteries for its PowerPack and PowerWall products.
And while SolarCity may have brought a quarterly loss to Tesla, it also brought $214 million in cash, which helped Tesla increase its cash reserves to $3.39 billion.
Tesla may need a fair amount of that cash. During the quarter the company invested $522 million in manufacturing capacity for its Model 3, its battery Gigafactory and “expanded customer support infrastructure”. Before the roll-out of its Model 3, Tesla expects another $2-2.5 billion in capital expenditures.
Model 3 is not the only product Tesla is preparing to roll out, and the company says that its Solar Roof is “on track” for H2 2017 deployment.
And as time moves on and SolarCity is integrated into Tesla, the company says that it plans to change tack on its solar strategy. “As this transition progresses, we see a return to growth of MW deployed later this year to help us generate cash and realize cost synergies projected prior to acquisition,” noted the shareholder letter.

Confirmed: India to double solar park 2020 capacity goal to 40 GW

Confirmed: India to double solar park 2020 capacity goal to 40 GW

India's solar parks plan has been ambitiously doubled to 40 GW by 2020. Current installed capacity nationwide is just over 9 GW.

The makeup of India’s 100 GW solar goal by 2022 has shifted shape this week following the confirmation by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) that the target for solar park capacity has doubled from 20 GW to 40 GW.
This target capacity increase was first outlined in the new budget at the turn of the year, but the confirmation from government also included further details of how the target is to be reached.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will oversee the development of this goal, working closely with respective state governments to see through project development of ultra-mega solar power plants across the country.
A total of 50 solar parks will now be built between 2019-2020, backed by central government financing of $1.2 billion. Park developers will receive a grant of up to INR 2.5 million (around $37,000) to draw up draft project reports prior to each park’s construction, after which the government will release Central Financial Assistance of up to INR 2 million ($29,800), or 30% of the project and grid connection costs (whichever is lowest), to each developer.
Prior to the CCEA confirmation, India had begun planning or building 34 solar parks across 21 states as it inched slowly towards that earlier 20 GW target. Raj Prabhu, Mercom Capital Group CEO, has previously warned of the difficulties some developers face in bringing their plans to fruition, with many running into difficulties concerning poor and lacking infrastructure in or near identified development sites.
“The issues around solar parks are typical to the Indian solar sector,” Prabhu said. “Most policies are well-intentioned with top-down goal setting, but the problem usually is on the execution side.”
The hope this time is that central government financing will be available a good time in advance, enabling developers and state governments to properly clear any hurdles that may hamper construction plans.
Speaking at a media briefing with the CCEA yesterday, Indian minister for power, coal, mines and new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said that the decision to double the nation’s solar park capacity will “contribute to long-term energy security of the country”.
Pressed on whether foreign manufacturers would be permitted to supply these solar parks, Goyal responded: “I am in continuous dialogue with the manufacturers of solar equipment in India and […] there is now quite a significant interest to set up solar manufacturing in India,” Mint reported. “We will shortly bring out a new policy to promote manufacturing of entire solar power generation equipment in India,” Goyal added.
Analysis by Mercom Capital Group has found that India currently has 5.2 GW of operational module manufacturing capacity, of which only around 3 GW is “working” capacity. The recent budget failed to address local manufacturers’ concerns regarding a lack of subsidy or incentive to develop fabs, and unclear support at state level.

Australia has 4.7 GW of large-scale solar in the works, finds new Climate Council report

Australia has 4.7 GW of large-scale solar in the works, finds new Climate Council report

2017 will see around 20 big ground-mounted solar farms brought online in Australia.

A new report by Australia’s Climate Council talks of a “huge” year ahead for the country’s large-scale solar sector, with more than 20 utility-scale solar plants totalling more than 1 GW set to come online in 2017, with a further 3.7 GW of new capacity in the pipeline.
The report, titled State of Solar 2016: Globally and in Australia, was a little conservative in its global cost projections, citing an average solar park price of $110/MWh and price falls of 40-70% by 2040, but generally painted a positive PV picture that tallied with many other leading reports issued in the past six months.
From an Australian perspective, beyond that 3.7 GW pipeline figure another noteworthy number was 20 GW: this is the amount of solar capacity the Climate Council believes will be added in Australia over the next 20 years.
Solar power is now cheaper than retail power prices found in all of Australia’s capital cities, aside from the Australian Capital Territory. Currently, solar in Australia supports 8,000 jobs, with the potential to create 20,000 more by 2030, the report added, and the country now has the equivalent of more than one solar panel per person installed.
Combined, Australia boasts 5.44 GW of installed PV capacity across 1.58 million installations – a figure shaped by rooftop PV penetration that reaches as high as 30% in the states of South Australia and Queensland. For Western Australia, that figure is 24%, with New South Wales and Victoria each at around 15%. On average, the typical Australian solar home has a 5.34 kW system installed.
At utility scale the wheels are beginning to turn. In 2016 the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced AUS$1 billion in funding for 482 MW of PV projects, and a number of multi-megawatt solar farms are due to boost the sector by at least 1 GW this year.
In terms of storage, the Climate Council finds that 6,500 households currently have some sort of distributed storage system installed – a figure that they expect will be tripled in 2017. Looking farther ahead, a combination of falling battery costs, high power prices and changing retail tariffs will be the catalyst for rapid uptake of home battery systems, with the report suggesting that 1.1 million Australian households could have a solar+storage system connected by 2035.

Lightsource acquires 469 solar installations in the UK

Lightsource acquires 469 solar installations in the UK

Lightsource has snapped up 469 residential rooftop solar systems in the U.K.

Lightsource Renewable Energy, a British solar energy company, has added 1.32 MWp of residential U.K. solar PV capacity to its portfolio following the purchase of 469 installations from Ecos Solar Nine.
In a deal valued at £2.3 million ($2.87 million), Lightsource has taken the first step towards building a large residential rooftop solar portfolio over the next five years. The firm, which is Europe’s largest solar company in terms of solar capacity deployed, will receive the FIT payments due on each of the rooftop installations, while managing their operations and maintenance (O&M) for the duration of each FIT term.
Lightsource currently has an O&M fleet of around 2 GW in Europe, and is seeking opportunities to add further domestic and commercial rooftop systems to its portfolio this year. Homeowners and businesses in the U.K. that already have a solar system installed can realize a cash lump sum from their existing installations by selling the rights to the FIT to Lightsource.
However, this latest acquisition is a bulk-buy of existing systems, averaging 2.8 kWp per rooftop. Real estate firm Strutt & Parker acted as facilitator in the deal.
“This latest portfolio acquisition marks an important step into our continued growth in 2017,” said Kareen Boutonnat, Lightsource COO. “We believe that decentralized energy is the future and offers consumers new levels of control, security of supply and value for money.”
Boutonnat added that Lightsource has a pipeline of projects lined up for the coming year.

ARENA backs deX project to deliver open-source digital marketplace coupling distributed solar-plus-storage and grid services

ARENA backs deX project to deliver open-source digital marketplace coupling distributed solar-plus-storage and grid services

Phil Blythe: “Imagine a single marketplace where consumers can connect and configure their energy resources, and all of the upstream value generated by these assets are automatically paid into a bank account or digital wallet.”

Australia’s fast-growing distributed battery storage and mature rooftop PV markets could soon get an ARENA-funded boost. The provision of ancillary grid services, such as peak demand reduction and frequency regulation, could be facilitated by an open-source software solution currently being developed under the deX project.
ARENA has tipped funding into deX, which seeks to develop the software required to enable a digital marketplace for grid services, provided by rooftop solar and battery storage arrays on and in Australian homes and businesses.
Melbourne-based energy tech startup GreenSync is leading deX. GreenSync is teaming with Canberra startup Reposit Power, network operators United Energy and ActewAGL, and electricity retailer Mojo Power, to develop the software solution and couple it with distributed battery trials currently underway in Canberra and on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula. deX will be deployed at the two pilot projects in June.
“We are on the cusp of a profound shift in the electricity market and a turning point in Australia’s energy future,” said Phil Blythe, GreenSync founder and CEO. “Imagine a single marketplace where consumers can connect and configure their energy resources, and all of the upstream value generated by these assets are automatically paid into a bank account or digital wallet.”
GreenSync and ARENA have not announced whether Blockchain technology will be deployed on deX, although it is being deployed on some similar trials in Australia and elsewhere.
A reference group will be attached to the deX project, to investigate how public policy can enable the rollout of the distributed energy and grid services platform. The group will be formed by representatives from the Australian Capital Territory, and Victorian governments, researchers from the Australian National University, and the Australia’s Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and Energy Consumers Australia.
By taking a collaborative and open-source approach, the deX project could potentially result in an open-source digital trading platform that can be rolled out in various markets free of charge.
“Reliability of the energy system and delivering new value streams to consumers are key priorities driving deX,” said GreenSync’s Blythe. “Homes and businesses will be able to monetize their solar and storage assets by essentially renting them to the grid when they’re most needed. deX will revolutionize peak electricity management and drive more effective investment in energy infrastructure.”
United Energy operates the grid on the Mornington Penninsula, on Melbourne’s southern outskirts. The region is forecast to experience electricity network constraints as the population grows. United Energy will investigate the efficacy of deploying distributed solar and storage, coupled with the deX platform, instead of carrying out grid infrastructure upgrades.
“The deX exchange is a step toward localized or “mini-markets” on the grid that will optimize value for all parties,” said United Energy’s Greg Hannan. “This is key to creating value for energy customers in the grid of the future.”
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht explained that deX will open up new revenue streams for homes and businesses with rooftop PV and storage.
“Australia has world-leading levels of rooftop solar, however, there’s currently no marketplace for consumers to access the full value of these systems,” said Frischknecht. “This could encourage more investment in solar and batteries, supporting the grid, reducing the need for infrastructure investment and ultimately reducing the cost of renewables in Australia.”
deX was formed at ARENA’s accelerator A-Lab, which opened April 2016.

Growatt supplies central and string inverters to 20 MW Thai solar plant

Growatt supplies central and string inverters to 20 MW Thai solar plant

Jetion Solar installed more than 63,000 PV modules at its latest Thai solar project.

China’s Growatt has supplied a range of central and string inverter solutions to a 20 MW solar PV project in Thailand that has been developed by Jetion Solar.
Divided into four sub-plants of 5 MW each, the 20 MW solar farm is three-quarters controlled by Growatt’s CP2000 Station-S compact central inverters, which are 2 MW each in capacity and have been designed to operate to optimal efficiency in hot and humid conditions, such as those found in Thailand.
The fourth and final quarter of the project was completed using a series of Growatt’s 20000HE string inverters ,which have a fanless design and boast efficiencies of up to 99%. Growatt had previously demonstrated its string inverters’ efficacy at scale last year, when they were installed at a 90 MW solar farm in Phitsanulok, Thailand.
The Thai solar market is proving a happy hunting ground for the Chinese firm. Since entering in 2013, Growatt now has a cumulative capacity of more than 300 MW of inverters installed, the company said. Worldwide, that figure has now surpassed 5 GW.

Renova surges on Tokyo trading debut

Renova surges on Tokyo trading debut

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In its initial public offering (IPO), Renova offered 1,210,000 common shares at ¥750 per share, with 650,000 of them newly issued.
The company raised ¥907.5 million in its IPO. Daiwa Securities, SMBC Nikko Securities and Mizuho Securities underwrote the offering on the TSE’s secondary market.
Tokyo-based Renova’s operational PV portfolio will rise to 270.1 MW upon completion of a 70 MW project in Karumai, Iwate prefecture, in December 2019.
The company runs a 20.5 MW biomass plant in Akita prefecture and is considering the geothermal market. It is currently developing 110 MW of onshore wind capacity in Japan.
Last May, Renova announced plans to expand its PV portfolio to more than 300 MW, shortly after it was targeted for a ¥1 billion investment by Sumitomo Forestry, which is now its second-biggest shareholder.

JA Solar preliminary 2016 figures suggest raised shipments, revenue

JA Solar preliminary 2016 figures suggest raised shipments, revenue

JA Solar's 2016 revenue looks to have surpassed $2 billion.
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Vertically integrated Chinese solar manufacturer JA Solar has published a pithy preliminary 2016 financial report that suggests raised shipments and strong revenue for the year.
The company expects to have shipped between 5.1 GW to 5.2 GW of solar modules and cells – including those installed in JA Solar’s own downstream projects – in 2016, which is above previous shipments guidance of 4.9 GW to 5 GW announced in Q3, and marks a return to early-year confidence when the firm expected shipments to reach at least 5.2 GW.
Revenue for the year is estimated to be in the range of RMB 15 to 16 billion ($2.2 billion). In the third quarter of 2016, JA Solar’s revenue rose sequentially by 1.2% to reach $624.3 million – a figure that was also 9% up year-over-year.
JA Solar will announce full 2016 financial results on March 16

Asociación de Industriales de Mallorca estima potencial solar de 73 MW en polígonos

Asociación de Industriales de Mallorca estima potencial solar de 73 MW en polígonos

En la imagen, el polígono industrial Son Castelló en la isla española de Mallorca

La Asociación de Industriales de Mallorca (Asima) ha estimado el potencial de instalaciones de energía solar en cubiertas en los Polígonos de Empresariales de Son Castelló y Can Valero en 73 megavatios.
En las cubiertas útiles de más de 1.400 empresas localizadas en ambos polígonos de la isla española de Mallorca se podría instalar una superficie equivalente a 50 hectáreas de módulos fotovoltaicos, según un estudio de Asima presentado el lunes.
“En el caso de Son Castelló estaríamos hablando de unas 40,3 hectáreas con una potencia pico de 62 megavatios y, en el de Can Valero, 7,3 hectáreas con una potencia pico de 11,2 megavatios, equivalente entre ambos a casi 50 campos de fútbol y que generarían la energía equivalente a la demandas eléctrica de más de 32.100 hogares palmesanos”, afirmó el directo de Asima Alejandro Sáenz de San Pedro.
La asociación prevé que el estudio realizado sea también accesible online para que los empresarios de dos polígonos industriales. “Estamos convencidos que estos estudios, que se realizan con una tecnología muy avanzada, son muy positivos y concluyentes para nuestros asociados, ya que pueden obtener información clara y precisa del potencial de sus cubiertas para la instalación de placas solares fotovoltaicas”, agregó.
La mayor parte de las instalaciones fotovoltaicas que se llevan a cabo en España en la actualidad corresponde a sistemas de autoconsumo. Según la asociación UNEF, en 2015 se agregaron 49 megavatios fotovoltaicos en el país.