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  •  rooftop solar power systems among Czech Republic
    Jan 27, 2022

    On the backdrop of rapidly growing energy prices, businesses have registered growing interest in rooftop solar power systems among Czechs. With higher energy costs and a generous government grant programme, the return on investment into these systems currently ranges around eight years or less for most households. The Czech Republic’s main energy provider, ČEZ, has announced that it installed 2,5 times more photovoltaic panels last year than in 2020. Meanwhile, the sales of batteries and heat pumps doubled during the same period. According to the Czech Solar Association, the dominant type of solar production in the Czech Republic is currently via small rooftop solar panels. The main growth in household photovoltaic energy installation was registered in the second half of last year, when energy prices started rising rapidly, the association states. Martin Sedlák, the programme director of the pro-green NGO Modern Energy Union, told Czech Radio Plus that Czechs are most interested in purchasing solar panels together with batteries, in order to maximize their photovoltaic system's potential. “The most typical system costs around CZK 500,000, but you can also find cheaper systems that sell at around CZK 430,000. The [government’s funding programme] New Green Savings (Nová Zelená úsporám) covers around 50 percent of that investment. “Twelve years ago, combining photovoltaics with a battery had a rate of return of about 12 years. With today’s prices, the return on investment in closer to eight years and can be even shorter if there is a lot of electricity usage. However, this is of course dependent on the individual consumption of each household.” Another option is to purchase a solar-assisted heat pump, which uses the sun’s energy to heat water. According to Pavel Hrzina from the Czech Technical University’s Department of Electrotechnology, this is the most cost efficient use of photovoltaics overall. “You put your module on top of the roof and connect it with a simple regulator directly with the boiler. Such a system costs you just a few dozen thousand crowns, which is nothing considering the cost of building materials today. It provides the family with hot water for roughly 10 months a year.” He told Czech Radio that the increasingly cheaper cost of recycling solar panels has also helped make photovoltaic energy more attractive in recent years. Such panels currently degrade at a rate of roughly 0.25 percent per year. While at the moment recycling batteries is far harder, the scientist believes that this issue could also be solved in the next few years. “Batteries have a more complicated chemical composition and there are not many that need recycling right now. We will have to wait until there are actually batteries that need to be recycled. However, some companies are already asking about how to do it.” According to energy research, solar has the potential to cover close to 27 percent of the Czech Republic’s total energy consumption, roughly half of...

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  • What’s driving Colombia to become the next hot solar market in Latin America?
    Jan 20, 2022

    Latin America has some of the best solar resources in the world, according to MPC. Image: MPC Energy Solutions Latin America is fast becoming a lucrative solar market as countries ramp up deployment efforts in line with national climate commitments. While two major markets stand out – Brazil and Chile – more and more countries are stepping up with attractive environments for solar PV, and none more so that Colombia. That’s according to Martin Vogt, CEO of MPC Energy Solutions, a renewables developer with more than 250MW of projects across Latin America. Vogt says that while more established markets like Brazil and Chile represent great investment opportunity for firms with the size and infrastructure to access them, smaller and less mature markets offer significant potential for early movers. Specifically, he points to Colombia and Panama as markets to keep an eye on. The Colombian market in particular was almost non-existent until two years, says Vogt. “The big white space on the map of Latin America, with zero installed [renewables] capacity if you exclude large-scale hydro,” he says. This is despite Colombia being one of the largest economies in Latin America with a high potential for solar PV. Meanwhile, Panama – a strong, stable market looking to increase its meagre levels of renewable capacity – also represents an attractive setting for solar PV, adding that the country’s willingness to trade in US dollar also gives it an edge. Colombia leading the way among challengers Out of all the markets in Latin America that are striving to reach the maturity of Brazil and Chile, Colombia leads the way, says Vogt. There are a few reasons for this: the size of its economy and relative lack of solar capacity; a liberalised regulatory framework that facilitates bilateral agreements; and a government keen on increasing solar deployment in a country with a conducive environment. Colombia aims for renewables to make up 14% of the country’s energy mix this year, compared to the paltry 0.2% it was back in 2018. By 2020, solar made up just 1% of Colombia’s renewable energy portfolio, compared with 4% from wind, 2% from biomass and 93% from hydropower, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). But things are changing. At the start of this month, Colombian power distributor Air-e said 22 companies had reached the pre-qualification stage in its privately held, 10-times oversubscribed renewables auction, with proposals totalling 2.5GW. And the country’s third renewables auction held in October last year awarded contracts to 11 solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 796.3MW, with the winning bids coming in at COP155.8/kWh (US$0.0414/kWh), close to what Vogt says MPC can produce at US$0.04-0.05c/kWh. “The success of this new auction shows that the energy transition in Colombia is a reality,” Minister of Mines and Energy Diego Mesa said following the auction results. “The solar PV installed capacity [in Colombia] has grown from 50MW in 20...

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  • TrinaTracker takes aim at Middle East PV market with launch of new 1P tracker product
    Jan 19, 2022

    The 1P Vanguard design underwent significant wind testing. Image: TrinaTracker. Trina Solar’s tracker manufacturing unit TrinaTracker has launched a 1P single-row tracker, dubbed Vanguard. The ‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) member said Vanguard was compatible with large-format modules with outputs up to 670W+ and would bolster the company’s range of solar tracker products on the market today. Trina additionally noted that the product had undergone extensive wind tunnel testing, implemented by wind engineering consultancy CPP, including dynamic, static and aeroelastic wind simulations. Stability and resistance to wind has emerged as a particular concern for utility-scale PV systems as the incidence of extreme weather events has increased. Launching the product at this week’s World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Trina also hailed how the addition of clean robots assembled within Vanguard’s 1P design can bolster generation by more than 10% through limiting the impact of sand and dust on system performance. Oscar Aira, head of solutions sales for EMEA at TrinaTracker, said the features included within the design of Vanguard allowed it to cover for demands in the Middle East in particular. “Vanguard 1P enriches and strengthen our tracker portfolio and enables us to provide the best tracking solution in every corner of the world,” Aira added.

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