solar panels

By Simon Currie and Laura Kiwelu, Norton Rose Fulbright

Harnessing abundant and free solar energy has long been regarded as the obvious solution to Africa’s persistently low electrification rates. After a sluggish start due to unproven technology and high capital costs, we are now witnessing a solar revolution which will transform Africa’s energy landscape over the next decade.

In February 2015 the first solar photovoltaic (or PV) grid connected plant in Africa outside of South Africa was inaugurated at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, a refuge for those orphaned during and after the 1994 genocide.

With a layout resembling the Africa continent, its ramifications have spread far beyond the 8.5MW it exports to the grid, attracting visitors such as Bono and members of the US Senate. In Africa the usual development period for power plants is nine years from inception. Yet this project was generating power barely two years after completion of the feasibility study. Read more

By Simon Currie and Stephen Begley, Norton Rose Fulbright

India is the latest in a string of markets to witness a solar energy boom. Solar power currently accounts for just over one percent of India’s total installed power capacity of 261 gigawatts (GW) and the government’s new target is to add a staggering 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.

Traditional markets for solar, like Europe, don’t offer the same growth prospects making India one of the next big stories for the global solar industry. It has already come a long way from just under 12 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity at the end of 2010, to 3,743 MW as of March 2015. This has largely been achieved through federal reverse auctions, with the first tranche of the next round eagerly awaited later this year; a significant 1000MW will be up for grabs. Read more

By Carlos Braga (r) and Jean-Pierre Lehmann of IMD

The EU-China solar panel dispute could conceivably fizzle out. Alternatively, it could escalate into a major trade conflict between two of the world’s three economic giants. Obviously one hopes for the former, as a Sino-European commercial war could be extremely nasty with quite devastating effects not only for the two parties concerned, but globally. When elephants fight…

Even the fizzle-out scenario, however, could prove to be just a temporarily doused fuse in an explosive powder-keg. Read more

Things are going from bad to worse for Suntech Power, the Chinese solar panel maker.

The company, which has been fighting to stay afloat amid falling panel prices and slowing demand, became the latest company from mainland China to default on its international bonds. Read more

The US has this week formally complained that India’s national solar programme, which requires developers to use only domestically-produced modules and cells, contravenes global trade rules.

But far away from the emerging trade dispute, Indian companies and their partners are powering ahead with innovative solar schemes, even if the local content rules restrict the import of foreign solar technology. Take for example, solar-powered greenhouse-generators. Read more

By Ed Crooks

Earlier this year the US decided to impose two sets of duties on imports of Chinese solar cells; a move that it confirmed, with some adjustments, earlier this month. Now it is becoming increasingly clear – as this excellent piece from the FT’s Leslie Hook points out – that the Chinese solar industry is in deep trouble: a “patient on life support”, as one policy-maker puts it.

So US industrials should be rejoicing, right? Well, no. Not if you are DuPont, Dow Chemical and 3M. This week all three US chemical companies said their earnings have been hit by the downturn in the solar industry, especially in China. Read more

By Zhengrong Shi of Suntech

While nations united to celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics in London, the world’s superpowers are competing for a dubious crown – how to outdo each other in economic nationalism in solar energy. Read more

Growing demand for solar panels has increased the number of suppliers of high purity silicon, its key raw material, including those in China. Peter Marsh, FT manufacturing editor, reports from Asia Silicon in the remote Chinese city of Xining.

By Usha Haley and George Haley

With the US Commerce Department’s preliminary decision last week to impose a 31 per cent anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, some commentators, including Kelly Sims Gallagher and Kevin P. Gallagher, have warned that this is the first shot in a job-killing trade war with China.

Professed fears of a trade war are as predictable as night after day. Fortunately, the hand wringing is largely unnecessary. Prediction of a trade war is largely a dangerous myth. Read more

By Kelly Sims Gallagher and Kevin P. Gallagher

The Obama Administration’s preliminary decision to impose a 31 per cent tariff on solar panels imported from China is short sighted. The move could cause a trade war, hurt the US economy, jeopardize US security interests, and put the world further off course in terms of meeting its global climate change goals. Read more

There are many things China comes under fire for when US politicians take the stage: stealing American jobs is an old favourite, as is “manipulation” of the renminbi to keep Chinese manufacturing cheap. Then there are the exports of toxic petfood, or lead-coated children’s toys. But the latest broadside from Capitol Hill hits out at a new, and somewhat surprising, target: cheap Chinese solar panels being installed on American homes. Read more