Covers environment, transportation, urban and regional planning, economic and social issues with a focus on Finland and Portugal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Photovoltaics Status Report 2008: 60% increase in solar panel production

On December 11, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre has released the latest Photovoltaics Status Report. According to JRC, this scientific study combines analysis of up-to-date international manufacturing and market implementation data throughout 2007 with subsequent strategic and political developments up to September 2008.

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Preliminary findings demonstrate the next key facts:
  • an increase in the yearly growth rate of solar photovoltaic production, averaging 40% over five years and then peaking at 60% in 2007;
  • a €5.7 billion turnover in Germany in 2007 with in excess of 100,000 houses installing solar panels;
  • world electricity production with PV systems is ca 10 Billion KWh, of which half comes from the EU. Solar energy still accounts for only 0.2% of total electricity consumption in Europe. Yet, the net effect is 4 million fewer tonnes of CO2 being released;
  • incentive schemes and technical advances are having a positive downward impact on photovoltaic costs. Market value is estimated to reach €40 billion by 2010 with lower prices for consumers.

Joint Research Centre predicts that more than 15TWh of electricity will be generated in 2010, what is equivalent to 0.5% of the EU 27 total net production of electricity in 2006 (the same as Slovenia's total electricity consumption). This prediction is sustained on photovoltaic growth scenario for Europe based on 2001 to 2007 data, an analysis of European policies and assessment of current investments.

Other projections are that by 2012 China will account for 27% of worldwide solar cell production capacity (approximately 42.8 GW), followed by Europe with 23%, Japan with 17% and Taiwan with 14%.

Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is one of 14 different energy technologies that the European Commission's Joint Research Centre is currently assessing within the context of the SETIS (Strategic Energy Technology Information System), which is a key input to Europe's current energy policy. The Joint Research Centre, through the SETIS provides independent, validated and reliable information on energy technologies.This ranges from research on hydrogen fuel-cells and solar to nuclear energy.

The JRC comprises 2,750 staff across seven research institutes in 5 EU Member States (Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain), including the Institute for Energy in Petten, North Holland.

Second JRC, the last edition of the Photovoltaic Status Report 2007 was downloaded 150,000 times.

You can get a free copy of the new Photovoltaic Status Report 2008 at: [PDF]


PV Status Report 2008
Research, Solar Cell Production and Market Implementation of Photovoltaics
September 2008
Arnulf Jäger-Waldau
European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre,
Institute for Energy, Renewable Energies Unit

Photovoltaics is a solar power technology to generate Electricity using semiconductor devices, known as solar cells. A number of solar cells form a solar "Module" or "Panel", which can then be combined to solar systems, ranging from a few Watts of electricity output to multi Megawatt power stations.
The unique format of the Photovoltaic Status Report is to combine international up-to-dateinformation about Research Activities with Manufacturing and Market Implementation data of Photovoltaics. These data are collected on a regular basis from public and commercial studies and cross-checked with personal communications. Regular fact-finding missions with company visits, as well as meetings with officials from funding organisations and policy makers, complete the picture.
Growth in the solar Photovoltaic sector has been robust. Yearly growth rates over the last five years were on average more than 40%, thus making Photovoltaics one of the fastest growing industries at present. Business analysts predict that the market volume will increase to € 40 billion in 2010 and expect rising profit margins and lower prices for consumers at the same time. The PV Status Report provides comprehensive and relevant information on this dynamic sector for the public interested, as well as decision- makers in policy and industry.

Images(except the first) and data Source: PV News, Photon International and JRC analysis


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Municipality of Moura and 3 companies want to invest €40M in new solar thermal power station

The Municipal Council of Moura and three companies, two Portuguese and one German, want to build a solar thermal power plant in that municipality of Alentejo region, a predicted investment of 40 million euros.

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Alentejo is a region with low population density, occupying almost 33% of the area of Portugal and having only 5.2% of its inhabitants. For an effective regional development of Alentejo, it is critical to achieve the Alqueva Multi Purpose Project (Empreendimento de Fins Múltiplos do Alqueva) in its whole potential - agro-industry, agriculture, irrigation, tourism and renewable energies. This can be a great opportunity to develop the potential of Alentejo in the production of electricity from renewable sources, with emphasis on solar photovoltaics and now, solar thermal. The production will be carried out by centralized power plants, the Alqueva Hydroelectric Plant, small hydro plants, mini PV power plants and micro-generation.

The functional specialization, as a mechanism for creating competitive territories and stable employment, migth be a solution in the particular case of the Moura city and surrounding territory, by the promotion of a regional cluster in the area of solar power and innovation. In the context of the Regional Development strategy, the Moura Project has two main “tracks”: Moura Solar Factory (MFS), Moura Technological Park and the micro-generation Program. Now, a new track is in its initial development phase - a new solar thermal power plant.

It is worthy of remark that the known 46 MWp (62 MWp in the posterior 2nd phase) single-axis tracking system centralized photovoltaic plant in Moura (Amareleja parish), promoted by the local municipality and Acciona Energia (Spain), is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. This plant will have the highest power so far installed in the world with this technology. The installation of 46 MWp power represents an investment of approximately 250 million euros.

A 7.6 million euros PV panel manufacturing plant (MSF) will provide panels for the second stage of the Amareleja power station construction. The factory, located also in Amareleja (Baldio das Ferrarias), is being constructed by Acciona and became operational in December 2007. Its future production will be targeted at the international market, with a capacity of producing 24 MW of solar panels annually.

Actually, the new project is expected in a memorandum of understanding already signed between the Municipal Council, the German company SKY Energy and the Portuguese TOM, Lda. e Lógica ( this one from the Municipality) , which aims with concerted efforts to create the necessary conditions for building the plant.

The new solar thermal power station, which will have 10 MW of installed capacity, will be installed in an area of about 15 ha. The selection of this area should be completed in January 2009.

By the end of August 2010, it will be defined the financial structure of the plant construction, for later project presentation to the Ministry of Economy.

The construction of the plant, estimated the Mayor José Maria Pós-de-Mina, should start as soon as the relevant permits and allowances are issued and it is guaranteed a tariff that allows the project viability.

Image: Moura (Amareleja) Photovoltaic Power Station / by Luis Alves


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lisbon municipality sells energy generated by solar panels

The Lisbon Municipal Council may gain 160,000 euros/year through the sale ( to the electricity operator EDP - Energias de Portugal) of electricity generated from solar photovoltaic panels installed in primary schools and municipal buildings located in municipal neighborhoods (bairros municipais).

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The micro-generation project, presented yesterday, is taking first steps, but expectations are optimistic. "The return on investment is assured and in eight or nine years, the Municipal Council will make money," said the Mayor of the municipality.

It is estimated that each micro-plant produces 5,110 KW/year, representing a saving of two tonnes of carbon dioxide per system.

Second Gebalis, the municipal company that manages municipal neighborhoods in Lisbon, the systems already installed on the roof of 23 buildings (22 for housing and one for services, the Gebalis headquarter) will bring in the municipality 80,000euros/year - an important contribution to mitigate the damages from the municipal company, that spent 1,026,000 euros with electricity bills of its “bairros”, last year.

However, it’s still necessary to amortize the investment of around 500,000 euros made in systems, which are not yet producing electricity.

For now, the micro-generation is only a reality in the School 117 (Bairro da Flamenga, Marvila), which served as a pilot project and is selling energy to the grid since October - on 14 August 2008 it was officially certified the first installation of photovoltaic micro-generation in a school of Lisbon. Simultaneously, the installation of a exploitation unit of solar thermal energy will allow energy savings of about 70% and economic savings of 80%.

School 117 will be followed by seven other primary and pre schools, whose systems are already installed and approved. With the micro-generation working on eight schools, it is expected an earning revenue of 26,000 euros/year through the sale of energy.

If everything goes well, other 23 schools will join the project. In that case, the gain will reach 75,000 euros/year.

The municipality has spent 25,000 euros per school (200,000 in total) in the installation and certification of the PV solar panels.

In fact, the integrated systems in buildings (BIPV) have a great potential and can lead to a creation of a sustained market (the installation of 1.5 kWp systems in new buildings could result in an annual potential of 60 MWp).

Some benefits include the creation of jobs associated with market promotion and evolution of PV. The investment in the area of photovoltaic systems can create companies of manufacturing, engineering, installation and maintenance and employment with a particular focus at the local level.

Manufacturing: 7 jobs per MW produced.
Engineering and Installation: 30 jobs per MW installed.
Maintenance: 2 jobs per MW installed.

To ensure its 2010 objective for power generation based on renewable energies - 45% of total electricity consumption - Portugal must implement the next two points, with respect of solar power and micro-generation :

Solar energy: construction of the world's largest photovoltaic plant (the Moura plant) and ensure link to micro-generation policies. The Moura Photovoltaic Power Station represents about 30% of the objectives of photovoltaics in Portugal (national target is 150 MW).

Micro-generation: program for installing 50,000 systems until 2010, with incentives to the installation of water heating systems based on solar energy in existing houses. This program can create new business opportunities for installers, industry and energy service companies, stimulating the market of renewables. The micro-generation program is mainly oriented to electricity consumers, small businesses and communities. The special regime applies exclusively to renewable sources (solar PV, wind, hydro, biomass and fuel cells) with the maximum of interconnection power by application limited to 3,68 kW. This program is under the DL n.º 363/2007, 2 November.

Image: Solar Building XXI, INETI - Instituto Nacional de Engenharia, Tecnologia e Inovação, Lisbon / by anabananasplit, some rights reserved