Category: News

TTG completes 19MW solar project in Vietnam after lengthy delay

Thien Tan Group has completed a 19.2MW solar PV project in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai, after three years of construction.

The Mo Duc solar power plant, in the South Central Coast region, had a ground-breaking ceremony in August 2015, but it faced various delays.

With total investment of VND900 billion (US$39.8 million), the project is spread over 30 hectares and uses technology from US firm FTC Solar. The firm claims it is the first large-scale PV project to have been connected to the national grid in Vietnam. Although, earlier this week BIM and Ayala laid claim to having completed the largest PV project in Southeast Asia, standing as a 330MW cluster of projects in Ninh Thuan, Vietnam, which has also been connected to the grid.

TTG claimed that the plant can endure strong storms as the mounting brackets use smart sensors that automatically close in extreme weather.

Jetion Solar supplies 50MW of solar modules to Myanmar project

Chinese company Jetion Solar has supplied PV modules to a 50MW project in Minbu, northern Myanmar, said to be the first such large-scale project in the country.

The under-construction Minbu Solar Park will use Jetion Solar JT PAg polycrystalline solar modules, with China Triumph International Engineering (CTIEC) providing EPC services, and SMA supplying its inverters

The project covers an area of 81 hectares and is expected to be connected to the grid in June 2019. The annual power generation is expected to be 87 million kWh, which can power the equivalent of 20,000 Myanmar families.

“In the northern part of Myanmar where the PV project is located, the performance and stability of solar modules in extreme high-temperature conditions are very important,” said Zhao Honglei, senior vice president of Jetion Solar. “In the future, Jetion Solar will keep driving Myanmar energy structure reform with our expertise in photovoltaic R&D, production and EPC services, as well as our global service network and experience.”

Jetion Solar claims to have an annual production capacity of 2GW of cells and 2.5GW of modules.

BIM and Ayala complete Southeast Asia’s largest solar project

Vietnamese company BIM Group and Filipino firm AC Energy have completed and connected to the grid 330MW of PV capacity spread across three projects in Ninh Thuan, Vietnam, with one 250MW plant being the largest solar installation in Southeast Asia to date.

Work began on the projects in January 2018 and took around nine months to complete, with a power purchase agreement (PPA) being signed with monopoly utility EVN at the end of last year. Grid connection for the BIM 1 (30MW), BIM 2 (250MW) and BIM 3 (50MW) solar power plants took place earlier this month.

Rivalling these projects, a Thai and Vietnamese partnership are also working on a 420MW plant in Tay Ninh due for completion in June.

Collectively, the BIM plants required VND7,000 billion (US$301 million) investment. They will provide power to the equivalent of 200,000 households, producing 600 million kWh annually.

BIM Energy and AC Energy of major Filipino corporation Ayala Group had established a joint venture to develop renewable energy projects in Ninh Thuan Province. This province has high levels of irradiation but has also been subject to fears about grid and transmission capacity given the high concentration of solar plants being developed there. This is why the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) recently updated its next feed-in tariff (FiT) rules incentivising developers to set up projects in less sunny parts of the country and spreading the load.

However, BIM also owns what is said to be the largest Salt Industrial Economic Zone in Southeast Asia across ​​more than 2,200 hectares in Ninh Thuan.

Doan Quoc Huy, vice chairman of BIM Group, general director of BIM Energy Renewable Energy, said: “BIM Group oriented to become the leading pioneer investor in renewable energy in Vietnam to 2022, the total clean energy capacity supplied by BIM Energy will reach a total scale of 1,000MWp of solar and wind power. With the inauguration of a cluster of three plants with the largest capacity in a short period of time is a testament to BIM Group’s long-term commitment to clean energy. We look forward to contributing and joining to protect the environment, fight climate change, support national energy security, build sustainable energy sources for the country’s future.”

BIM said that it will continue to work with partners including EPC providers France’s Bouygues Energies of France, and Germany’s juwi, which announced it had bagged a contract for 30MW and 50MW plants from BIM last October.

AC Energy is also working on 80MW of PV power plants in the provinces of Khanh Hoa and Dak Lak.

Last week, JinkoSolar said it had supplied 100MW of its modules to the Srepok 1 and Quang Minh Solar Power Plant Complex, which also stands as one of Vietnam’s largest solar power projects.

More details on the updated Vietnamese draft FiT rules can be found here

Drax launches ‘end-to-end’ C&I electric vehicle service

Energy group Drax has become the latest supplier to take aim at the UK’s nascent EV market, launching an end-to-end EV service targeting C&I customers.

Haven Power, Drax’s energy supply division, has launched the service which comprises EV charging infrastructure installs, operating software, vehicle leasing and renewable electricity supply.

Telematic systems which provide enhanced monitoring of electric vehicles will also be supplied, paving the way for vehicle-to-grid charging trials within Drax’s customer base.

The group has already enlisted its first customer, SES Water, which has taken on 16 new EV charging points to support the electrification of its fleet. SES Water is to initially replace 10 of its diesel vans with electric alternatives.

Drax’s service will help SES determine which vehicles and systems suit the company best, while also providing analysis of different charging methods to minimise fleet downtime and maximise their efficiency.

Jonathan Kini, chief executive at Drax Retail, said that the firm’s experience in the supply market had taught it that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not deliver what’s necessary for companies looking to electrify their fleets.

“Instead, we are working with customers like SES Water as an energy partner, to offer each of them a solution tailored to their specific needs. Giving them the optimal EV package will result in lower carbon emissions and costs, helping them to grow better businesses.”

Drax isn’t the first energy supplier to launch an EV proposition under the premise of it being end-to-end. Late last year ScottishPower unveiled a similarly-billed service using a partnership with vehicle dealership Arnold Clark.

And in January Centrica established an e-mobility division to house its EV-dedicated teams, following its investment in Israeli EV service provider Driivz.

Competition can take brakes off Southeast Asia solar market

A lack of competition, on a number of fronts, is preventing Southeast Asia’s solar market from reaching its full potential.

Speaking to PV Tech on the condition of anonymity, a successful developer in the region said governments were missing out on a huge opportunity by failing to establish cost-competitive tenders and competing with one another for foreign investment.

“Power is the bloodline of any economy. Governments need to provide cheap affordable power to their constituents. In Southeast Asia, consumers are used to getting lower tariffs due to consumer subsidies and fossil fuel subsidies. There are very few consumers who will willingly pay a higher tariff just because the power comes from renewable sources,” they said.

“It’s a catch 22. Solar supportive policies would help create the market for solar which might be a bit more expensive in the beginning but then with economies of scale would end up being cheaper in the long run. Today Solar is at grid parity in different markets,” they added.

In addition to the absence of widespread tenders, which have lowered prices dramatically in other markets, the developer also blamed policies that discouraged rather than encouraged foreign direct investment (FDI)

“In most cases, foreign ownership is restricted to below 50%. Most Southeast Asian countries want or need FDI due to lack of local funding. It’s a dichotomy. On one hand the country needs FDI and on the other hand, it needs national security. It is difficult for international players to enter a market with these restrictions.” Instead, the developer says governments should “come to the realisation” that they are competing for FDI with their regional partners and aim to create the best possible conditions for investors.

Vietnam veers course to lure in foreign investors

Dr. Oliver Massmann is, a Vietnam-based lawyer with Duane Morris, told PV Tech that there signs the government there is changing course.

“In Vietnam, the solar feed-in tariff is fixed by the Government, [there is] no further negotiation. The Government is still working on the tender for renewable power projects in general but it is not yet official. However, I believe the Government of Vietnam really expects to lure in foreign investment in the sector and is making an attempt to create favourable investment conditions,” he said.

The anonymous developer’s concerns do not end there however, with fears over the impact of skewed competition via local content requirements also impacting the ability of the market to drive down prices on merit. In some cases, they claim local EPCs have executed poorly and given investors a poor experience of the solar industry.

Samridh Goyal, founder and CEO of Singapore-based C&I developer Solar Horizon was more specific about the conditions he’d like to see.

“Streamlined permitting and licensing processes, encouraging market liberalisation and allowing more private power sale mechanisms, creating favourable investment policy framework, for example, import tax reduction or even a waiver for solar panels,” he listed out. 

Goyal is optimistic about the growth in Malaysia, via the next 500MW auction and its solar leasing model for the C&I sector he is focussed on. While better conditions could help, head-turning low prices in the Middle East are difficult for others to achieve owing to the higher irradiance in the region and access to cheaper finance.

Five things we learned from Everything EV 2019

Last week’s Everything EV conference in central London bought together representatives from across the e-mobility ecosystem to discuss the sector’s direction of travel.

The Current± editorial team was on hand to report from the event, and here are the five key takeaways from Everything EV 2019.

The government’s lack of ambition only risks holding the sector back

The UK government’s stated aim of banning the sale of conventional vehicles by 2040 has definitely jarred with the industry, not least because Scotland, where the policy is devolved, has been far more ambitious by setting its phase-out date at 2032.

That lack of ambition has been widely criticised, and it was no different at the Grange St Pauls Hotel last week.

Labour MP and member of the BEIS select committee Peter Kyle was forthright in his opinion that such a stated lack of ambition, coupled with the political gridlock Brexit has created in Westminster, could see the UK cede any potential leadership of the e-mobility industry to international rivals.

Kyle revealed it was the committee’s opinion that the date should be brought forward from 2040 to somewhere between Scotland’s 2032 and Norway’s phase-out date of 2025, around about the late-2020s. While setting such a date wouldn’t immediately hand the UK a leading role in the electrification of road transport across the world, it would certainly give it a headstart.

Associated technologies are critical to business models… for now

Utilisation rates have been a crucial factor in making EV charging infrastructure work from a commercial perspective, with investors perhaps uneasy to finance installations without the guarantee of them being used and, as a result, those installs securing revenue.

One panel during the event zeroed in on this particular issue, ultimately concluding that while revenue certainty remains a barrier, there are ample options to sidestep it.

One solution that is becoming increasingly viable is the addition of additional, associated technologies to installations in order to bolster revenue ‘stacks’. We heard from Gridserve chief executive Toddington Harper, who spoke of his company’s combination of renewable generation and large-scale battery storage plant to provide vital grid services.

Utilisation rates will of course gradually decrease as an issue the more EVs can penetrate the automotive market, however the event also heard confidence in the rapidly growing electrified fleets market to play a crucial role in seeing the sector through.

Interoperability must happen, and at scale

It’s no secret that charging an electric vehicle using public infrastructure can be a complex activity. There are a number of different apps, cards, and accounts needed to top up an EV. Interoperability is a word being banded around regularly, often cited as something that will need to be implemented if EV uptake is to increase.

The need for a simplified, uniform charging system was stressed by several industry members speaking at the event, with Dale Eynon, director of Defra Group Fleet Services at the Environment Agency saying that charging needs to be made consumer friendly. He suggested making it so all EV drivers are able to pay using their debit card alone. Eynon also said that interoperability wouldn’t prevent the creation of unique products.

The need for collaboration was also stated by head of strategy at Connected Kerb, Chris Pateman-Jones, saying that “the time of operating alone is over”.

The need for consumer education

One thing that repeatedly cropped up in discussions during the conference was the increasing need for more consumer education, with many in the room agreeing that more was needed if the uptake of electric vehicles is to increase. Most notably, and of frequent discussion by panellists and speakers alike, were anxieties surrounding the range of EVs and ease of charging.

Head of roads policy for the AA, Jack Cousens, said a survey of AA members showed that 8/10 of respondents were reluctant to purchase an EV because of a perceived lack of charging infrastructure. Cousens added that more needed to be done to “get the message across” that there are more charge points than is the public perception.

Cousens’ opinion was echoed by other attendees. Senior transport planner for Nottingham City Council, Mark Daly, said that there is a lot of myth-busting that needs to be done, although he also said he believed the tide is turning.

Co-founder and director of Abundance Investment, Louise Wilson, agreed that people now wanted to listen but more had to be done to “cut through our busy lives and create the means of education.”

Collaboration is key

Of all the themes, topics and trends discussed at the conference, one of the most prevalent however was collaboration. The event was attended by representatives from across the supply chain, from OEMs, technology and solutions providers, energy companies and end users alike.

And while there is of course competition between those companies to stake their claim in e-mobility, there is far greater clamour for the industry to collaborate and hold the discussions necessary to drive the sector forward.

National Grid’s Graeme Cooper was willing to bet with any of the 225+ delegates that if they don’t already own an electric vehicle nor currently plan for their next car to be electric, then the vehicle after that will certainly be electric. That will require a countrywide infrastructure network that provides an experience as seamless and intuitive as consumers currently get at the petrol pump.

The only way that’s likely to happen is with a sector-wide collaborative effort, and Everything EV provided a platform for such an effort to take hold.

Copyright 2017 Xevent. All rights reserved