Solar perspectives for 2015

As discussed in our 2014 retrospective, published in December 2014 (click here to read), the 3E solar team has made remarkable steps towards internationalization, technical advisory expertise and reputation.
So, where are the next challenges for 2015 from a PV market point of view?

In Europe, two countries should, next to the still ambiguous UK market future, get all the attention of developers and investors: France and the Netherlands.

The French government indeed officially decided end of last year to reedit it’s now third call for PV projects. The call consists of three categories of system types aiming a cumulated project capacity of 400MW. The first category aims to englobe 150MW of systems installed or (semi)integrated to building assets, whereas the second one focuses on the larger (up to 12MW) ground mounted systems. Finally, a last category has been defined for covering specific motorized vehicle parking areas representing 50MW in total.

Most important, compared to the above expected categorization, is the focus of this call in contrast to the research and development orientation of the previous one, as the integration of innovative products represented a significant part of the awarded points. Projects developers will thus definitely need to collaborate with component suppliers or service companies for defining an attractive but still economically competitive project configuration. This won’t allow companies with unsuccessful projects at the previous round for simply submitting their projects without major engineering and investment model changes. Lenders and investors will also need to prepare for assessing less conventional assets and to give particular attention on components reliability risks.

The solar sector might boom this year in the Netherlands as some rumors report a large participation of PV project developers to the last SDE call organized end of last year. This results in a subsidy of circa 400mEUR for solar projects to be constructed in 2015. As previously known on the Belgian and German markets, many large rooftop projects might thus popup this year allowing the Dutch PV sector to finally grow as it did years ago for its neighbors.

Most of European countries could re-start building up their renewable energy targets using solar as one of the most promising source but only in case the anti-dumping taxation on modules would be reviewed or abandoned giving a chance to EPC prices and LCOE to decrease further. The path to grid parity might in some cases remain long but consumer parity will be achieved much sooner, allowing an increase of the PV penetration and more fair perspectives for the sector to stabilize.

The European market is nowadays characterized by an incomparable concentration of operating assets. Out of operational data analyses on numerous plants, we also see a real need for professionalizing and optimizing the O&M of current assets. Professional workgroups will be put in place and share experience in order to firstly optimize the current investment but also to confirm that solar energy is on its ways to become mainstream technology and that both financing risks and costs could be decreased.

Emergent markets are taking every year a more significant share of the worldwide market. Many projects of all size are popping up in Asia, Latin-America, but also more and more in Africa. Africa shows a huge potential but still lack in many regions a reliable electrical grid to connect to. Many companies and developers are thus exploring the potential of hybrid and mini-grid systems. The viability of those projects is mostly driven by the barrel price, which is strongly collapsing since mid-2014, keeping the developers and investors in the starting blocks for the moment.

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