The leading solar manufacturer issues SEC filing in which it raises specter of inability to meet its outstanding obligations, which currently stand at more than $1.6bn.
In a bombshell SEC filing issued after the close of the U.S. markets late on Friday, Yingli Green Energy, the second-largest solar company in the world, has warned that it may be unable to continue as a going concern due to "substantial indebtedness".
The 20-F filing was released shortly after the company published its delayed 2014 financial figures, and candidly lays bare the stark situation of Yingli’s financials. "Our substantial indebtedness could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to meet our payment obligations under our debt instruments and further grow our business," read the filing.
Yingli revealed that it has outstanding short-term borrowings of RMB 10,112.1 million ($1.63 billion) and long-term debts of more than $460 million. This level of debt, the company added, could make it more difficult to meet its payment obligations, resulting in cross-defaults that could trigger restrictions in the company’s ability to secure further financing, thus placing it at risk of liquidation.
The filing continued: "If we become unable to continue as a going concern, we may have to liquidate our assets, and the values we receive for our assets in liquidation or dissolution could be significantly lower than the values reflected in our audited consolidated financial statements."
Yingli’s lack of cash resources and its potential inability to continue as a going concern will likely then adversely affect the company’s share price and overall value.
At the end of April, Yingli was granted a 15-day extension in filing its 2014 annual report, triggering rumors within the industry that the company’s long-term financial health had suffered. Yingli recently agreed a pre-funding payment of approximately $207 million to China Government Securities Depository Trust and Clearing Company Limited – a payment that industry watchers believe was made to allay fears that Yingli was in financial trouble.
No longer market leader
Since leading the solar industry between 2012 and 2013,Yingli was shunted from top spot last year by Trina Solar, and its recent financials – though solid – have seen the company slip even further behind. In 2014, Yingli shipped a record high 3.3 GW of modules, which increased the company’s gross margin to 17.3%, up from 10.9% in 2013.
Efforts to diversify its market presence and reduce manufacturing cost were successful, the company claimed, with gross profit reaching $360.7 million. However, weighed down by debt, the company’s operating loss was actually RMB 215.2 million ($34.7 million) last year, which equated to a negative 1.7% operating margin.
And despite being a recognized presence in the leading solar markets, Yingli’s "significant short-term borrowings" are proving a millstone for the company, which added in its filing that it may not be able to renew them when they mature.
Original article here (http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/yingli-green-energy-reveals-hefty-debt-burden--may-have-to-liquidate-assets_100019488/#axzz4AIh7hKxL)
31 Mai 2016
Innovatives PV Finanzierungsmodell verändert den südafrikanischen Solarmarkt
Die dena unterstützt die Fa. maxx-solar & energie bei dem Transfer des PV Mieten Ansatzes nach Südafrika
Der Ausbau der Photovoltaik in Südafrika boomt seit Ende 2015. Großanlagen werden international finanziert und in zentralen Ausschreibungsrunden durch die Regierung vergeben. Es fehlt jedoch an Finanzierungsinstrumenten für Photovoltaik Aufdachanlagen. Wer es sich leisten kann, investiert in eine eigene PV Anlage, um unabhängig von Strompreiserhöhungen und Stromausfällen zu sein. Aber nicht jeder hat die finanziellen Mittel, in eine eigene PV Anlage zu investieren. Es gibt derzeit keine Finanzierungsprogramme für PV Anlagen, auch werden PV Anlagen nicht als Sicherheiten für Kredite anerkannt. Mit dem PV Mieten Ansatz bringt die Firma maxx-solar und energie GmbH & Co KG aus Waltershausen ein innovatives Finanzierungskonzept nach Südafrika, das den Ausbau der Solarenergie beschleunigen wird. Die ersten Pilotprojekte in Kapstadt wurden im Rahmen des dena-RES-Programms realisiert und am 19. Mai eingeweiht.
„Es ist nun genau ein Jahr her, dass wir die Idee hatten, den PV Mieten Ansatz nach Südafrika zu transferieren. Dank der Deutschen Energie-Agentur konnten wir letzte Woche die ersten beiden Pilotprojekte einweihen“, sagt Dieter Ortmann, Geschäftsführer der maxx-solar und energie GmbH & Co KG. Bereits im Jahr 2011 hat Dieter Ortmann ein Tochterunternehmen in Südafrika gegründet. Genau wie das deutsche Unternehmen sollte die südafrikanische Tochter Systemanbieter im Bereich Photovoltaik sein. Doch vor 5 Jahren steckte der südafrikanische Solarmarkt noch in den Kinderschuhen. „Wir haben begonnen in der Solarbranche in Südafrika zu arbeiten, als es die eigentlich noch gar nicht gab“, sagt Dieter Ortmann. Um das Land auf den vorauszusehenden Solarboom vorzubereiten und die Firma maxx in Südafrika zu etablieren, begann die Firma mit dem Aufbau der maxx-solar academy, einem Trainingsinstitut für Photovoltaik, in dem mittlerweile über 1500 Leute ausgebildet wurden. Die maxx-solar academy ist der südafrikanische Arm der DGS SolarSchule Thüringen. Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie, kurz DGS, steht heute noch für Qualität der Kurse in der academy in Südafrika. Mit ihren Arbeitsfeldern Großhandel und Training ist die Firma maxx-solar & energy PTY Ltd. mittlerweile ein fester Bestandteil des südafrikanischen Solarmarktes. Als IBC Solar Premiumpartner für Südafrika steht die Firma auch im Großhandel für deutsche Qualitätsprodukte.
Um die deutsche Qualität auch in der Installation aufrechtzuerhalten, arbeitet die maxx-solar energy ausschließlich mit Alumni der maxx-solar academy, den so genannten maxx-team Installern zusammen. In regelmäßigen Treffen werden Informationen über aktuelle Entwicklungen und Probleme ausgetauscht. In diesen Treffen geht es auch immer wieder um das Thema Finanzierung. Nicht jeder Südafrikaner hat die finanziellen Mittel, in eine eigene PV Anlage zu investieren, aber viele wünschen sich, unabhängiger vom Stromversorger zu sein. Viele leiden unter den immer wieder auftretenden Stromausfällen und den steigenden Strompreisen. „In einem maxx-Alumni Treffen Anfang 2015 entstand die Idee, den deutschen PV Mieten Ansatz nach Südafrika zu transferieren“, sagt Antje Klauß-Vorreiter, Leiterin der maxx-solar academy. „Mit der dena haben wir auch einen Partner gefunden, der es uns ermöglichte, das Konzept in zwei Pilotprojekten zu testen“, so die 42-Jährige weiter.
Am 19. Mai war es dann so weit, die ersten zwei maxx PV Renting Photovoltaik Anlagen wurden in Kapstadt eingeweiht. Das richtungsweisende Konzept von maxx-solar macht erneuerbare Energien für viele südafrikanische Kunden erschwinglich: Das Unternehmen verkauft die Anlage an eine Finanzierungsfirma. Der Endkunde, im Pilotprojekt die Dominican Grimley School und das Atlantic Gold Guest House, bezahlt an diese eine vorher definierte Miete und kauft damit den von der Anlage erzeugten Strom. Nach fünf bis zehn Jahren kann der Endkunde die Anlage für den Restwert erwerben. D.h. der Kunde kann den günstigen Solarstrom nutzen, ohne nur einen Rand zu investieren.
Die beiden PV Aufdach-Anlagen an der Dominican Grimley School in Hout Bay (20 kWp) und am Atlantic Gold Guesthouse in Camps Bay (14 kWp) wurden als Vorzeigeprojekte im Zuge des von der Deutschen Energie-Agentur (dena) ins Leben gerufenen und vom Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) im Rahmen der „Exportinitiative Energie“ geförderten dena-Renewable-Energy-Solutions-Programms realisiert. Gebaut wurden die Anlagen von den maxx-team Installern Solarpower PB und RED Engineering.
An den Eröffnungsfeierlichkeiten nahmen Klaus Heidorn, Ständiger Vertreter des Leiters des Deutschen Generalkonsulats Kapstadt, und Councillor Matthew Kempthorne, Chairperson des Energy and Climate Change Committee sowie zahlreiche Vertreter der südafrikanischen Wirtschaft teil. „Eine große Herausforderung im Bereich Photovoltaik ist die Finanzierung“, so Kempthorne. „Dieses Projekt zeigt uns heute den Weg in die Zukunft. Denn mit Partnerschaften zwischen Regierung und Privatwirtschaft können wir den Wandel erreichen, der global notwendig ist.” Die aus Deutschland stammende Besitzerin des Atlantic Gold Guesthouse, Alice Zidek, sagte in ihrer sehr emotionalen Rede „Wenn man durch Deutschland fährt, fallen einem die vielen Solaranlagen auf den Dächern auf…Wieviel sinnvoller wären solche Anlagen - und wirklich viele davon - in einem Land, in dem praktisch die Sonne den ganzen Tag lang sehr intensiv scheint“.
Dena RES Projekt Südafrika
Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena)
Die Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) ist das Kompetenzzentrum für Energieeffizienz, erneuerbare Energien und intelligente Energiesysteme. Ziel der dena ist es, dass Energie so effizient, sicher, preiswert und klimaschonend wie möglich erzeugt und eingesetzt wird – national und international. Dafür kooperiert die dena mit Akteuren aus Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Die Gesellschafter der dena sind die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, die KfW Bankengruppe, die Allianz SE, die Deutsche Bank AG und die DZ BANK AG. www.dena.de
Mit der Exportinitiative Energie unterstützt das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) kleine und mittlere deutsche Unternehmen der Energiebranche bei der Erschließung von Auslandsmärkten. Angesprochen sind Unternehmen, die Energielösungen im Bereich Erneuerbare Energien, Energieeffizienz, intelligente Netze oder Speicher anbieten. Die Exportinitiative verfolgt das Ziel, deutsche Energie-Technologien international stärker zu positionieren und zu verbreiten, um das Marktpotential für deutsche Technologien und deutsches Know-how zu erhöhen. Ausgerichtet auf die jeweiligen Exportphasen stehen bei den Angeboten der Exportinitiative die Informationsvermittlung, die Kontakt- und Geschäftsanbahnung bzw. das Auslandsmarketing im Fokus. www.german-energy-solutions.de
Mit ihrem dena-RES-Programm unterstützt die Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) Unternehmen der Erneuerbare-Energien-Branche bei der Erschließung von Märkten. In attraktiven Zielmärkten wird Energietechnik öffentlichkeits- und werbewirksam an repräsentativen Einrichtungen installiert und durch Aktivitäten im PR-, Marketing- und Schulungsbereich umfassend begleitet. Diese vom Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (BMWi) im Rahmen der „Exportinitiative Energie“ geförderten Leuchtturmprojekte haben zum Ziel, die Qualität deutscher Produkte im Bereich erneuerbare Energien zu demonstrieren und teilnehmenden Unternehmen den nachhaltigen Eintritt in neue Märkte zu erleichtern. http://www.export-erneuerbare.de/EEE/resprogramm
Pressekontakt: Antje Klauss-Vorreiter
maxx-solar & energy PTY Ltd., 100 New Church Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town 8001
Büro: +27 (0) 82 291 97 57, Mobil (D): +49 176 10303580,
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Inauguration of the first maxx PV renting photovoltaic systems in Cape Town
The lack of financing options is one of the main obstacles to the implementation of small-scale photovoltaic systems in South Africa. PV renting is an innovative financing option which allows schools, guest houses, public bodies, small and medium sized companies and many others to benefit from cheap, green solar power. Thanks to the dena Renewable Energy Solutions Programme, maxx-solar energy PTY Ltd. is able to set up two PV renting pilot projects in Cape Town, a 20 kWp system at the Grimley School in Hout Bay and a 14 kWp system at the Atlantic Gold Guest House in Camps Bay. Klaus Heidorn, Consul and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, and City of Cape Town Clr Matthew Kempthorne, Chairperson of Energy and Climate Change Committee, will officially inaugurate the two systems on 19th May 2016.
“One year ago, we thought of transferring the PV renting approach to South Africa and thanks to the dena, the German Energy Agency, we are able to inaugurate two pilot projects this week”, said Dieter Ortmann, founder and Director of maxx-solar energy PTY Ltd. He is proud of his company’s development in the last five years. “We started to work in solar power business in South Africa when there was actually no solar power market and now we are part of the incredible solar movement here.” maxx | solar energy has its headquarter in Thuringia, Germany. Through maxx | solar energy PTY Ltd., the maxx group expanded into South Africa in 2011. The service range of maxx | solar energy includes training, wholesale and consulting. As premium partner of the German IBC Solar AG, maxx | solar energy has access to a wide range of quality PV products. Since 2011 hundreds of engineers, architects and craftsmen have been taking part in maxx-solar academy trainings and many of them now work as certified maxx I team installers.
More than 40 maxx I team installer companies are based in the Western Cape. Very often they discuss the issue of financing with their clients. “Clients approach me as they are aware that solar power is much cheaper than conventional electricity, however they often have difficulties finding affordable financing”, lamented Martin Pollack, CEO of Treetops Renewable Energy Systems CC, in one of the maxx I installer meetings last year. The maxx group wanted to offer the companies not only quality training and technology made in Germany, e.g. by the German company IBC Solar, but also support them with regard to financing PV.
The German company maxx I solar & energie GmbH & Co. KG has experience with PV renting projects in Germany. PV renting means that one entity invests in a PV system (system owner) and rents the system to a second entity (system operator). The system operator uses the electricity and pays a monthly rent to the system owner. Furthermore, the system owner gets the option to buy the system after five to 15 years (similar to car leasing). Thanks to the dena Renewable Energy Solutions Programme, the maxx group was able to transfer the PV renting approach to South Africa. And thanks to the maxx I installers RED Engineering PTY Ltd. and SOLARpowerPB PTY Ltd, the two pilot projects, Dominican Grimley School and the Atlantic Gold Guest House in Camps Bay could be identified.
Patrick Baldamus, CEO of SOLARPowerPB PTY Ltd., has already installed a heat pump in the Dominican Grimley School for deaf children in Hout Bay. The school has limited resources and could only invest in the heat pump thanks to external funding. Sister Macrina, the head of the school, is always seeking opportunities to reduce the school’s monthly infrastructure costs to free up money for deaf kids’ individual needs. She is very happy to get one of the pilot PV renting systems, as the PV renting concept allows her to reduce the school’s monthly costs without any upfront investment. After ten years, the school will own the system and produce their own solar electricity for free. The 20 KWp solar power system was installed in February 2016 and will produce 33,600 kWh electricity per year.
Clemens Brandt, CEO of RED Engineering PTY Ltd., has already installed solar power systems in Camps Bay. Among RED’s clients, Atlantic Gold Guest House owners Alice and Gerald Zidek are committed to offering their guests not only a luxurious but also an ecofriendly service. The first step towards green tourism was the installation of solar thermal collectors and two heat pumps for solar water heating. The use of solar power as the guest house’s main electricity source was planned as a second step. The maxx group, the financing partner Centrafin and RED Engineering jointly developed a package (PV system and financing) for the Atlantic Gold Guest House and thus allowed the installation of a 14 kWp pilot project in April 2016. The PV system will substitute expensive grid electricity, which costs the guest house 1.87 ZAR per kWh excl. VAT. The guest house will substitute approximately 23,400 kWh/year with solar power.
One year after the idea was born, Mr Klaus Heidorn, Consul and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, and City of Cape Town Clr Matthew Kempthorne, Chairperson of Energy and Climate Change Committee, will officially inaugurate the two systems on 19th May 2016. The PV renting approach will also be presented at the African Utility Week. Antje Klauss-Vorreiter, maxx-solar energy, and Clemens Brandt, RED Engineering, will present both pilot projects on 18th May at 1pm at the German Pavilion.
The dena RES Project South Africa is part of the worldwide dena Renewable Energy Solutions Programme coordinated by Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) - the German Energy Agency - and co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the German Energy Solutions Initiative.
Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena)
The Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) - the German Energy Agency - is Germany's centre of expertise for energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and intelligent energy systems. dena's aim is to ensure that energy is used in both a national and international context as efficiently, safely and economically as possible with the least possible impact on climate. dena is working with stakeholders from the worlds of politics and business and from society at large to achieve this aim. Shareholders in dena are the Federal Republic of Germany, KfW Bankengruppe, Allianz SE, Deutsche Bank AG and DZ BANK AG. www.dena.de/en.
German Energy Solutions Initiative
The transfer of energy expertise, the promotion of foreign trade and the facilitation of international development cooperation are part of the German Energy Solutions Initiative, which is coordinated and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The initiative offers networking and business opportunities in Germany and abroad, it showcases reference projects and facilitates capacity building. www.german-energy-solutions.de/en
dena Renewable Energy Solutions Programme (dena RES Programme)
The dena RES Programme was developed by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency. This programme, co-financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy within the German Energy Solutions Initiative, supports renewable energy companies entering new markets. Within the framework of the programme reference and demonstration projects are installed nearby designated institutions in different countries around the world. The installation is accompanied by comprehensive marketing and training programmes. These projects impressively present high-quality renewable energy technology. www.german-energy-solutions.de/en/res
Photo01: Atlantic Gold guest house PV system
Photo02: Grimley School guest PV system
The maxx-solar energy team is available for interviews and further questions at African Utility week at the German Pavilion.
The official inauguration takes place on 19th May from 2pm to 4pm at the Dominican Grimley School in Hout Bay (Valley Road, Hout Bay).
Journalists contacts: Antje Klauss-Vorreiter and Denise Waschnig
maxx-solar & energy PTY Ltd., 100 New Church Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town 8001
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Rooftop Solar PV will be a game changer by Dirk de Vos
While most attention has been fixed on the utility scale renewable energy programme that has seen about 6,000MW of renewable energy capacity built or under order in terms of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, another renewable energy initiative well under way in our industrial and commercial parks and some of our neighbourhoods is rooftop Solar PV. By DIRK DE VOS.
The solar PV (photovoltaic) industry is still small but it’s growing at an exponential rate with 159MW already installed up from just 35MW a year before. As the price of PV panels continues to fall and the price of electricity pushes ever upward, more people will look to rooftop solar PV as an alternative.
On the face of it, there is nothing not to like. More renewable energy means a reduced impact on the environment. There is a catch though. Our electricity supply systems are unprepared for the impact of small scale electricity generation and unless South Africa’s electricity distributors, (the municipalities) and Eskom, where it supplies directly, make the necessary adjustments, we could face a situation where everyone loses – Eskom, the municipalities, consumers, the environment, the economy and, indeed, issues of social justice.
The idea of going completely off-grid is an attractive one but in a modern urbanised context, it is not feasible. One might be able to put in a large solar array with an enormous battery but cloudy days often come together.
An analysis by Mike Rycroft ably demonstrates the point. There are seasonal differences too. The electricity a PV system produces in summer is significantly different to what it produces in winter. Our consumption profiles are just the reverse – we consume more electricity in winter. The result is that most rooftop PV installations are grid tied and there are different schemes where one can feed excess PV generated electricity back into the grid. The City of Cape Town is piloting a separate tariff where rooftop PV installations are subject to a monthly fixed charge and they buy back excess electricity, and Nersa, the energy regulator, is working on its own regulations.
Historically, the electric system has been planned only for one-way flow of electricity and, at the relatively low voltages at the distribution level, no outside generation. As such, there are limits to how much the energy the local distribution network can absorb. Reversing the power flow creates new challenges around voltage variations, overloading circuits and maintenance. These problems become more acute when renewable energy is introduced due to their unpredictable generation characteristics. Moreover, solar PV generates maximum output around midday and not during the morning and evening peaks. The PV installations in a particular suburb using the same circuit will also peak (and drop off) at the same times. A cloud passing over will affect all the installed PV panels at the same time.
The consequence is that if the amount of solar PV exceeds a certain point, say 15% of the maximum load of a particular circuit, it can cause havoc with voltage and power quality problems for everyone. Given the generation profile of solar PV, the maximum contribution of residential rooftop PV connected to the grid could not exceed 5% of total electricity generated. Better than nothing – but not by much. The problem is that even at this level, there are real impacts on the financial viability of local electricity distribution systems.
For the most part, commercial and residential electricity pricing is bundled into a per-kWh energy rate. You pay on a per-kWh basis. Even without inclined block tariffs (where you pay more per kWh, the more you consume), this pricing model places a smaller real cost-share on low consumption (poorer) customers. In recent times, this pricing scheme has worked well for our cities’ finances. As Eskom’s wholesale tariffs have shot up, the real margin that cities have been able to make from distributing this higher cost electricity has gone way up as well. The windfall, via Eskom’s tariffs, is entirely unconnected to any increased direct costs incurred by the cities in distributing Eskom-supplied electricity.
Already though, the system is falling apart. Much higher electricity prices have driven down consumption and the theft of electricity is now widespread. Johannesburg’s “nontechnical” electricity losses are especially large. Increased margins for more expensive electricity have been counteracted by fewer sales.
The particular problem that rooftop PV presents is that it is the best customers, the wealthy, high consumption customers (say those consuming 700kWh/month or more) who are deploying it first. This creates a problem not dissimilar to the way our income tax system works – the few top earners are responsible for the bulk of all taxes paid. For the electricity system then, solar PV has the same impact as a large tax avoidance scheme used by higher earners. The only difference is that electricity works as a tax on consumption so the “scheme” can’t be closed down.
Albert Hirschman, the renowned development economist, addressed the problem of the wealthy being able to opt out in his bookExit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organisations and States. The wealthy, he says, have two choices when confronted with something they don’t like. They can complain, vote (voice) or they can leave and get the product/service somewhere else. He suggested that monopolies of all types might not improve their service to prevent the wealthy from leaving. The problem of bad service then rests on those who can’t leave the system, the poor. He argued that this problem applies to a range of services – a failing education system, a dysfunctional public transport system (Hirschmann developed the idea after being subjected to a horrendous train trip in Nigeria – he noted those who could leave were using cars instead). It applies to an electricity system. The key then is to have everyone largely remaining in the system so that it can be fixed for the benefit of everyone, even those who have the option of leaving it.
Rooftop solar PV is subject to a first come, first served problem which means that people who can afford to install solar do so first. If you don’t own a home, rent or don’t have the income, you can’t participate. Latecomers who might be able to afford an installation at some point in the future may well find that they can’t connect their systems to the grid because, where they live, it is already congested (at the low, low 15% of peak).
As described, the existence of solar PV creates engineering challenges on a local circuit level that, in time, will require additional resources to manage. These residential customers also are selling electricity into the grid when Eskom’s supply to the municipality is relatively cheap and coming back at peak times, when Eskom’s supply is more expensive. This reverses the existing subsidy system by shifting costs of the whole system back onto those without solar PV installations.
If far greater penetration of rooftop solar PV is inevitable, we should prepare for it and make it work for the benefit of all. First, distributors should embrace the opportunity and they could secure a far penetration of solar PV if it was carefully considered on a system basis. The unplanned first come, first served approach inherently limits how far grid tied solar PV can go. Planning for far more solar PV has another benefit. The steps required for making our electricity distributions accommodate high levels of distributed PV also addresses the serious problems that they confront today.
Like Eskom itself, our cities’ and towns’ electricity distribution systems have suffered from years of under-investment. Previous efforts to address these shortcomings, such as the establishment of Regional Electricity Distributors, came to nought. In the meantime, huge surpluses from electricity revenues have been diverted elsewhere. Any loadshedding that we experience now is no longer because of Eskom but because of the state of the local grid.
More residential and commercial Solar PV inevitably results in decreased purchase of electricity from Eskom and increases the complexity of the distribution system. It can’t be avoided. For distributors, the first step would be a detailed cost of supply analysis. How much does it cost to supply electricity to different categories of customers? For the most part, despite regulatory requirements, municipal electricity departments are not ring-fenced off from other municipal functions. A credible cost of supply analysis requires a lot of dynamic data: about Eskom’s tariffs, different customer consumption patterns and the condition of the physical infrastructure itself.
Too little of this type of data is collected notwithstanding the technology revolution in information and communications technology (to cheaply obtain, transmit real time data and to store all of it) and big data analytics (to analyse all of it). Widespread metering is needed and it can be done cheaply if done correctly.
Getting to grips with the actual cost of supply would lead to better tariff design. If distributors began to see themselves as infrastructure maintenance entities funded exclusively off the connection charge, they would be neutral as to the energy costs, whether supplied by Eskom or through distributed solar PV in the system. Once again, this depends on the implementation of time of use metering. Better data means better decisions and better regulation of rooftop PV systems.
For example, thousands of smaller 500w-1kW solar PV systems with unobstructed north facing aspects evenly distributed over a wide area would dramatically increase the total amount of solar PV possible compared to just a few large 5kW systems in our leafy suburbs. One could think of other schemes similar to the Parkhurst community broadband initiative where a suburb comes together to place PV panels on an optimal site for the benefit of the community. Large building owners, including those who are not thinking about rooftop PV, could be encouraged to rent their rooftops or other space for someone with a creative aggregation business model to install solar PV for nearby customers. What this does is to keep more of the valuable customers in the system, for the benefit of all.
There are wider national level implications as well. Our traditional top-bottom planning for electricity, as the Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) processes does, can’t work when confronted by bottom-up solar PV generation popping up all over. In fact, the very idea of having a single vertically integrated monopoly providing the whole country with baseload and peak load electricity as well as having the responsibility to maintain a synchronised system and maintaining acceptable power factors everywhere http://www.kwsaving.co.uk/Business/pfc/pfc-simple.htm is increasingly absurd.
The release of the new IRP has been postponed several times. Squaring a huge nuclear build programme into the plan while maintaining the credibility of previously published IRPs can’t be an easy task. We await another document though – the Gas Utilisation Plan which is expected to set out just how Independent Power Producers will get to build 3,000MW of gas-fired generators. For proponents of a cleaner energy system, gas is interesting. Besides being half as carbon intense as coal, it’s the most flexible source of energy around and it pairs nicely with intermittent renewable energy.
The wise thing to do is to make our cities the designated off-takers of gas-fired electricity. The economics of gas-fired electricity makes it ideal to address the daily demand peaks and use the rotating mass of their spinning turbines to keep the electricity synchronised where the load is. Eskom, with multiple problems of its own, can then focus on supplying the baseload as cheaply as possible.
Let’s restate the problem: The solar PV and associated battery (storage) revolution is being driven by technology developments (generation and storage) over which nobody has any real control. Prices for these are only going to drop. We can only decide whether we will accommodate this and make this work for all of us or ignore/resist it and see our valuable electricity infrastructure abandoned by those who can. The question is whether our politicians and regulators have the appetite to make the necessary changes. DM
Photo by ZME Science.
original Source article
Study on Supergrid Presents Scenarios and Technologies for a Renewable-Based Energy Supply
Press Release 09/16, April, 18, 2016
- In the Supergrid project, Fraunhofer researchers developed scenarios and technologies for integrating a large share of renewable energy in Europe and Africa. ©istock/skodonnell
The percentage of renewables in the electricity supply is steadily growing worldwide. Using a combination of different renewable sources, an ecological and economical electricity mix can be realized across national borders. Decisive here is the reliable supply, storage and distribution of renewable electricity. In the Supergrid project, several Fraunhofer institutes joined together to research just how such an electricity and transmission grid between North Africa and Europe could function. They developed scenarios for a renewable energy system in the MENA region and compared potential technologies. Detailed solutions were proposed and regulatory mechanisms were evaluated. The results of the Supergrid study are now available in a final report.
The Supergrid study was a joint effort carried out by five Fraunhofer institutes each with different expertise. Using a model-based analysis, an interdisciplinary research team first confirmed that renewable energy technologies have a large techno-economical potential in North Africa. Because of this, scenarios were developed that consider an ambitious expansion of renewable energy in the MENA region – with and without the perspective of energy exports to Europe. Because present political conditions hinder the expansion of renewable energy in this region, the scientists also prepared recommendations for new regulatory mechanisms and support schemes for renewable energy.
Before modeling began, the status quo in North Africa and Southern Europe was taken: Existing electricity systems in Europe and North Africa were documented and the solar and wind potentials were analyzed using a geographical information system. Next, the best cost combination of power plants was determined with consideration to site planning and power plant deployment. Finally, the existing transmission grid infrastructure was modeled and the extent of renewable electricity integration was investigated. On this basis, four scenarios were developed which track renewable energy expansion up to 2050. For each scenario different assumptions were made for the electricity demand on site, the electricity export to Europe as well as for the politically motivated targets set for carbon dioxide emission reductions and energy efficiency improvements. “The results of the study show that decarbonizing the electricity supply in Europe and North Africa is feasible in a cost-effective manner,” says Prof. Dr. Werner Platzer, project leader and division director at Fraunhofer ISE. “In each of the scenarios modelled, very high shares close to 100 percent renewable energy were achieved by 2050.”
According to the Fraunhofer researchers, concentrated solar thermal power plants (CSP) will play a major role in a renewable-based supply system in the MENA region. This dispatchable technology serves to complement the fluctuating generation from wind and photovoltaics. In this respect, the development of high temperature storage for CSP power plants becomes very attractive. In developmental research, reducing costs by using less expensive storage materials, e. g. molten salt, and increasing system efficiency is just as important as improving the storage component design and optimizing the complete system. In order to evaluate the performance of different CSP power plant concepts, a simulation platform was created which allows many modeling variations for the concentrator and receiver technology, heat transfer medium and the storage type. At the same time, scientists analyzed different storage materials and components in the laboratory. Actual prototypes of solar thermal storage systems were built and tested. For example, an innovative latent heat storage system with a screw heat exchanger was investigated for applications in direct steam power plants that use water as heat transfer fluid. Other concepts aimed at using salts both as storage as well as a heat transfer medium.
In each of the four scenarios, a large growth of renewable energy goes hand in hand with an expanding direct current grid. One solution is to create a meshed overlay grid with high-voltage direct current lines (HVDC) that enable fluctuating power from renewable power plants to be transmitted over long distances. Such a grid can contribute significantly to the grid stability. Since no such grid exists to date, the Fraunhofer researchers set about modeling it, analyzing the performance with respect to the complete grid management. Power electronics will be a key technology in the expansion of the DC transmission grid. Therefore, the researchers in the Supergrid project developed detailed solutions so that the electronic components of the future can meet the new requirements in the medium-voltage range. Among other developments, the engineers built a medium-voltage DC/DC converter in order to demonstrate the potential of low loss high voltage transistors made of silicon carbide (SiC). In the field of passive components, prototypes of capacitors based on thin glass foils were tested.
About the Supergrid Project
The Supergrid project was supported by the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. The coordination was carried out by Fraunhofer ISE. Other project partners were Fraunhofer Institutes for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, for Mechanics of Materials IWM, for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB and for Systems and Innovation Research ISI.
Further information about the sub-projects:
- SuperGrid – Energy-economic Analysis
Project in the Business Area of Energy System Technology; Topic: Energy System Analysis
- SuperGrid – Storage Technology for Linear Fresnel Power Plants
Project in the business area of Solar Thermal Technology, Topic: Solar Thermal Power Plants
- SuperGrid – High-efficiency Power Electronics
Project in the Business Area of Energy System Technology; Topic: Power Electronics
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