News

Sector News – June 2016

The truth about solar: now cheaper than coal, INQUIRER.net

The conventional wisdom is that solar is expensive and will take decades more to be competitive. Yet last month, the world’s lowest-priced solar was bid in Dubai at P1.345 (US$0.029) per kilowatt hour. Other bids have resulted in P1.575 in Mexico, and P1.741 in the United States by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. These are the result of a 90-percent decrease in panel costs over the past decade, low interest rates, and high levels of sunlight—making solar in those places significantly cheaper than fossil fuel in the Philippines, where coal averages at P4, gas at P6, and diesel at P8.


Can $50M in Emerging Market Solar Help Unlock a Clean Trillion?, HuffPost Business

Unlocking $1 trillion in clean energy investment requires a new financial architecture capable of investing in, and scaling, an increasingly distributed world. One piece of that architecture took a significant step forward last week. Beyond the grid solar financier SunFunder moved a step closer to closing the industry’s largest debt round targeting a new ‘beyond the grid solar fund’ worth $50 million. That fund has now been capitalized with $15 from the US government Development Finance Institution (DFI) the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The deal cemented a relationship between the two institutions that means millions of people can enter the 21st century with the most sophisticated clean technology available – a combination of solar PV, Li-Ion batteries, and LED bulbs that currently dominate a market that according to BNEF will reach $3 billion by 2020. It turns out small can be very big.


From ISO to LEDs: Global leaders announce seven huge schemes to drive the low-carbon transition, edie.net

Global leaders gathered in San Francisco last week (1-2 June) to discuss ways to implement the goals established in the Paris climate accord as part of the Seventh Clean Energy Ministerial. With the dust now settled, edie explores the seven huge new initiatives announced at the event.


What’s behind Caterpillar’s New Hybrid Microgrid Play? Here’s a Deeper Look, Microgrid Knowledge

Caterpillar became the latest big infrastructure company to unveil a microgrid play with the recent launch of its hybrid microgrid into the global market.


Who Will Serve the World’s Missing Middle?, HuffPost Green

Diesel generators are the world’s most ubiquitous distributed energy technology – they’re also ripe for displacement. Around the world a growing number of distributed clean energy technology start-ups have aimed their sights at ending energy poverty by serving a vast untapped market – the 1.2 billion un-electrified people around the world. Their efforts begin by getting people on the first rungs of the energy ladder as quickly and cheaply as possible with pico-solar devices that power basic entry level services like lighting and mobile phone charging. Over time they will, in theory, move these populations up the ladder by providing them with ever expanding levels of service. Whether ultimately connected to stand-alone home systems with storage, mini-grids or even grid extensions (if or when they arrive), there is only one direction to head – up.


Hybrid Energy Storage Systems Get the Best of Both Worlds, Green Tech Media

Many years ago, I was part of a U.S. Air Force program with the goal of reducing the battery weight carried by airmen and soldiers by 25 percent. The Air Force Program Office, after scouring the market for the ideal battery solution, quickly learned that no rechargeable battery could meet the power density, energy density, lifetime, and size/weight requirements.


Let’s Not Settle for Off-Grid Solar Because It’s ‘Good Enough’ for the Energy Poor, Green Tech Media

We are in the midst of a rapid evolution in electrification strategies within developing markets around the world. Many are asking whether the future of energy in developing countries lies with off-grid solar systems tied to storage, or with large interconnected grids.


Financial Inclusion and Off-Grid Solar: Three Takeaways, CGAP

Off-grid solar energy solutions are taking off in the developing world. For the 1.1 billion people living without electricity, the ability to digitally pay for clean energy over time is life-changing. Over 500,000 households have acquired pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) home solar systems in the last five years, with that number set to double (at least) in 2016. Not only is PAYGo solar gaining popularity, but it is also playing a role in driving financial inclusion.


Africa

Cheapest Solar in Africa Comes to Zambia Through World Bank Plan, Bloomberg

First Solar Inc., Enel SA and Neoen SAS won contracts to develop two photovoltaic power projects in Zambia that will provide Africa’s cheapest solar power, the first winners of a World Bank-organized auction program to promote wider use of renewable energy in developing nations.


Unless investors see light on solar, women will still give birth in the dark, the Guardian

High in the Usambara Mountains of northern Tanzania, a woman prepares to give birth in the pitch black. Her family clusters around her. With no electricity at the birthing clinic, someone shines a mobile phone above the midwife’s head.


How Coca-Cola is working with Rwanda’s government to empower communities, CNBC Africa

One of the world’s most popular brands has pursued a social enterprise with the Rwandan government and other companies to uplift the largest province in the country. Coca-Cola has started the Ekocenter, a social initiative providing medication, clean water, solar power and 3G mobile connectivity to the communities.


This solar-powered TV brings global news to rural Africa, CNN

In rural Kenya, people walk for miles in the blistering sun after work just to watch television in the nearest town.


Drought-parched Zambia turns to the sun to keep water flowing, Reuters

Munji Malambo and his younger brother used to wake up at 5 a.m. every day to fetch water for their family and livestock. With the nearest working well over two kilometers away, the boys often missed school as they carried enough water home.


Sierra Leone: energy revolution, the Guardian

Buying electricity in Sierra Leone can cost up to 10 times more than in the UK. The government has committed to affordable power for all by 2025.


Lumos plans East Africa mobile-power roll-out after Nigeria, Gulf News – Energy

Lumos Ltd. plans to roll out its affordable solar-panel kits to East Africans living without electricity after supplying the home-power systems in Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, through a mobile-network operator.


Nigeria To Benefit £16.7m UK SolarNigeria Grants, Leadership

The UK Department for International Development has approved an additional £16.7 million grant for  a SolarNigeria programme aimed at scaling the market for solar home lighting and power in Nigeria to enable millions of Nigerian households experience reliable power by 2020.


ABB inaugurates microgrid in South Africa, boosting renewables & power reliability, Windpower Engineering & Development

South Africa has the highest electricity consumption in the sub-Saharan region, and demand continues to outpace supply. Power shortages, fossil fuel price volatility, environmental concerns, and the increased focus on renewable energy sources like wind and solar, are leading to the search for sustainable solutions.


SteamaCo obtains capital to expand African mini grids, ESI Africa

Global off-grid renewable energy solutions company SteamaCo obtains financial backing from Europe’s impact investment bank ClearlySo worth £640,000 ($934,000). SteamaCo, which also has offices in Kenya, has stated that it intends to use the funding to expand access to its smart metering and data analytics technology that enables distributed providers of electricity from mini grid operators to agricultural irrigation businesses to reach 1.3 billion people living beyond the grid.


World Bank urges Africa to use mini grids to boost electricity access, China.org.cn

World Bank Country Director for Kenya Diarietou Gaye told an energy conference in Nairobi that the majority of the 1.1 billion people globally who still lack access to electricity live in sub Saharan Africa.


Africa: Germany Boosts Energy Supply Efforts With Rwf13 Billion Grant, All Africa

The Government and the Federal Republic of Germany, yesterday, signed a bilateral agreement worth €15 million (about Rwf13 billion) to support energy supply in the country and the Great Lakes region.


Beyond the Grid in Rural Rwanda, Power Africa

Andre and Gaudace Nyirahategekimana live with their family in the Musanze District of rural Rwanda?—?far beyond where the national electricity grid reaches.


Kenya asks World Bank for Sh10 billion to light up villages, Standard Media

Kenya has asked the World Bank for Sh10 billion (US$100 million) to develop small electricity-generation plants and distribution networks in remote areas. The small networks, technically known as mini-grids, are anticipated to help cut the cost of connecting the far-flung rural areas to the main electricity grid. Such electricity-generation plants would typically harness energy from solar panels to be distributed and consumed within the respective villages and centres.


Solar firm seeks nod to challenge Kenya Power monopoly, Business Daily

More Kenyan homes will be connected to the electricity grid without having to go through Kenya Power if the energy regulator gives the nod to private companies seeking to challenge the current monopoly in the sector. Nairobi-based renewable energy firm PowerGen has sought approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to generate, supply and sell power to homes using its solar energy micro-grids.


Solar rural electrification is 30% cheaper than cost of grid expansion, Ghana Talks Business

Our rural folks continue to live in darkness despite the abundance of sunlight. According to the World Bank Data Sheet, one of the key issues in Africa’s Energy Sector is Low Access and Insufficient Capacity. Ghana as of 2012 has an electricity access rate of about 64.1%.  This means many folks in the rural segments are without electricity.  On rural electrification, the primary objective of the policy is to expand access as rapidly as can be afforded in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner. The rural electrification policy includes a full menu of options which include on-grid and off-grid, mini grids, non-thermal and renewables.


Bank of Industry’s Solar Power Project Lights Up 200 Homes In Kaduna, Channels Television

The Bank of Industry (BoI) has commissioned a solar-powered electricity in Makarfi Local Government of Kaduna State, lighting up over 200 homes that were not connect to the national grid.


Asia

India launching small-scale solar wind hybrid programme in unelectrified areas, PV Tech

The Indian government is promoting small-scale solar and wind hybrid systems (SWES) in unelectrified areas through a new programme, which aims to repeat the success of similar projects in the US and Europe.


India, US to forge $1-bn renewable energy pact, Business Standard

Washington and New Delhi are likely to sign a $1-billion partnership for the Indian renewable energy sector, paving the way for an investment boost from several US and global investment agencies. Sources close to the development said the deal would be through two “innovative investment mechanisms” aimed at off-grid solar projects and rural electrification.


The US-India Plan to Leverage $1B for Off-Grid Solar Will Face Obstacles, Says Expert, Green Tech Media

This week, President Obama committed tens of millions of dollars toward off-grid solar projects in India – a deal that American officials say could leverage $1 billion in total investment in the sector. However, one of India’s top solar analysts is expressing caution about the deal.


Grundfos bets big on solar pumping solutions, the New Indian Express

Providing clean drinking water through solar pumping solutions for rural villages has made a huge socio-economic impact, changing lives of the villages especially women and young girls, according to a top Grundfos Pumps India official.


How Solar Investment Can Light Up India, Huffpost Green

The Indian government must back private-sector investments in solar systems beyond the grid to make good on its bold climate pledges.


Koreans Go Off-Grid with Home Solar Cell Panels, Korea Bizwire

Koreans are increasingly choosing to install residential solar cell panels at their homes. Last year, solar power generating units were supplied to 42 households in Daegu, and that number will go up to 600 this year. In April, 251 households from 34 apartment complexes applied for the panels.


Off the (failing) grid in North Korea, where solar energy is a hot commodity, Los Angeles Times

Think of it as a North Korean Best Buy — a shop stuffed with refrigerators, karaoke machines, laptop computers and flat-screen TVs. But with a square footage closer to a typical American 7-Eleven than a big-box store, the Pothonggang Information Technology Center has to be selective about what products it puts on its shelves.


Indonesia Uses Savings from Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform to Finance Development, IISD

Indonesia’s deep cuts to subsidies for fossil fuels have been matched by a substantial increase in spending on other areas of the state budget, finds a new study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development.


Let there be light: The challenge of powering Myanmar, Frontier Myanmar

Myanmar aims to achieve national electricity coverage by 2030, but there are big questions about whether that goal can be achieved and what impact it could have on the environment and communities.


Solar pumps bring safe water to families in Myanmar, UNICEF

In a Myanmar community affected by drought, easy access to safe water is hard to come by. With support from UNICEF and the Government, the village purchased a solar-powered water pump, and now all households get water pumped straight to their homes.


Democratic Voice of Burma: Burma to have universal access to electricity by 2030, BurmaNet News

Burma’s energy minister told parliament on Tuesday that the country is on track to have universal access to electricity — but not until 2030.


Latin America & Caribbean

Intersolar South America 2016: Brazil’s growing distributed generation, Solar Novus Today

Distributed generation connections grew by 308% in Brazil in 2015. This is according to the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL), Brazil’s top energy regulator, and these figures include micro-generation and mini-generation. The state of Minas Gerais has the most micro- and mini-generation systems with 333 connections, followed by Rio de Janeiro (203) and Rio Grande do Sul (186).


SMA installs PV+storage on Caribbean island, will meet 23% of annual demand, PV Magazine

Germany-based inverter supplier SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) has completed installation of a hybrid energy system on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands. Using PV elements of 1.9 MW and 1 MW of batteries, this single system can generate enough power to save 800,000 liters of diesel and 2,200 tons of CO2 annually.


North America

Government of Canada: Government Investment of $2,715,000 Supports Green Energy Solutions in Remote First Nations, Electric Energy Online

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Minister responsible for FedNor, announced an investment of $2,715,000 (US$2,123,300) on May 26 to create a renewable-energy micro-grid development company aimed at providing energy solutions for off-grid and remote First Nation communities.


An off-grid community goes solar, and gets closer to its roots, CBC news

One of the last communities in the N.W.T. {Northwest Territories) to get electricity is becoming a model for other Northern communities looking to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.


Solar panels don’t raise regular utility rates — and might even lower them, Grist

In the early days of solar, there was some concern — nay, terror — of how it could destroy utilities and make power more expensive for all the plebes sans solar panels.


Huxley turbines will be part of microgrid wind farm, Ames Tribune

Currently, a microgrid wind farm is being built on farm land south of Huxley. “Microgrid wind farms have become a viable solution to supply energy to local communities because the power generated by the turbines ties directly into the local distribution system,” said Kirk Peterson, one of the landowners involved in the project, and a local Huxley physician.


Europe

GE buys into Sonnen as another energy major targets solar storage, REnew Economy

GE Ventures, an offshoot of the giant energy services company GE, has announced it has bought a stake in German battery storage developer Sonnen GmbH, in yet another example of an energy major pushing into the solar plus storage market.


Oceania

Esperance farmers go off grid in wake of devastating bushfires, ABC

Five farms in the Esperance region of Western Australia have chosen to go off-grid after last year’s devastating bushfires burnt the power poles leading to their properties.


Why 80% of regional energy customers are happy to leave the grid, REnew Economy

Network operators are usually keen to underline the importance of the grid – to both them and to their consumers – but survey by Western Power of regional consumers has shown that an overwhelming majority are either very keen or are open to the idea of cutting the line altogether.