Solar and Storage Industry

   By Mr. Umair Nabeel, Renewable Energy and Environment Entrepreneur

After focusing on EVs(electric vehicles) in the July and August 2020 articles, it’s time to discuss and share details on solar plus storage industry, the global market, trends, economics and most importantly from an end user’s view point, decentralized power. This industry is amongst the top 5 key factors which gives us the chance to keep our planet inhabitable and zero in on global warming’s bullet train like accelerated pace we’re all witnessing. Hence I started off with EVs since that addresses our intra and inter city commute, again a very critical factor.

So, let’s first look at decentralized power. Over the last four to five years, massive investments in RnD has actually converged the entire industry to a consumer friendly junction. Nowadays, almost the entire solar grid– tie, hybrid and off-grid inverters OEM’s and lithium-ion battery manufacturers have inter-connectivity compatibility. Even better, the systems have become simple boxed/enclosure like solutions with external controls and connections. Moreover, all these OEMs have developed in house applications and software’s which allow us, the consumers complete control of our solar PV system, whether installed at home or at our workplace. The boxed like systems now save the end user a lot of space and the installations give a neat finished look, pleasing to the eye of course. To sum up, the end user now has a wide canvas of choices, choose your own inverter and battery which best suits your requirements. And since many inverter and lithium-ion battery OEM’s have officially started making a shift towards strategic partnerships, you and I are good to go and can make our homes and offices, a virtual power plant (the basic definition of decentralized power).

Global market news shows lithium-ion battery prices on an averaged scale now stand at roughly US $200/KWH and on a cell level, the number goes further down. This trend is set to continue based on last ten years of data (which saw major price falls year on year) coupled with expected and projected solar PV demand, pipeline projects and targets of both the solar industry itself and national governments. Soaring utility prices of course is also a major factor from a consumer view point. Also, as we speak, lithium-ion batteries offer 2-3 years of reusable operational life once put through recycling and requalification process, technology for which is out and about in the market, going all the way to cell level. The United States, despite their federal government’s lack of support managed to tender and install record number of solar and storage projects in all three sectors (residential, commercial and industrial) in Q1 2020, the largest Q1 growth ever at approximately 3.6GW. State level governments continue to press on.

Australia, one of the few countries aggressively making the transition had its NSW state government finalize and award a 720MW utility scale solar plus storage project worth US $530 million. The project will be completed in three years time and offers direct and indirect employment to 700 workers, full time. Food for thought for our policy makers and private sector. Rooftop solar continues to be Australia’s biggest contributor to its entire solar industry. Citing a recent AEMO report, data from 2014 up till early to mid 2019 shows how far the country has come along this marathon transitional journey. From two 145MW utility scale projects connected into the national grid to approximately 2.5GW (2,500MW) come mid-2019, these five years and counting speak volumes. Moreover, with the help of Tesla, the country managed to install utility scale solar plus storage projects which addresses their summer time “demand response” issue, causing the grid to trip and end up in power disruptions.

Concluding this article, I’ll leave the readers with some fun news which exposes us to a whole new learning horizon. “DIGICON”, a virtual online platform created by EUPD Research and Consulting GmbH in partnership with IBESA for the global solar and storage industry, has basically taken your conventional conference and expo centers from a physical location to your laptop. Look it up, get the feel and enjoy this thoroughly professional platform, served with excellence.