Solar 2014 Retrospective


How good was 2014 for the 3E PV team?


Despite the low volume of PV projects in Europe in 2014 and this for the second consecutive year, the PV consultancy team, providing technical services for grid connected PV plants since 2006, has made some breaking through steps thanks to its involvement in cutting edge PV projects in Europe but also in Africa.

This year has indeed been very interesting thanks to the acknowledgement of the team expertise and its involvement as technical advisor within numerous international remarkable projects. In France, the market, still facing low annual volumes allows thanks to its tendering system some key players of the sector to survive once they overpass the specificities and complexity of the development framework. On the other hand, the annual volume is limited but France is now developing and implementing, what can be perceived as large scale storage and CPV demonstration projects. Nonetheless, those require leading edge expertise in terms of technology knowledge, simulation capacity and risk assessment methodology, which 3E is proud to own as confirmed by the renewed confidence of its clients. Thanks to its historical settlement in France and its extended comprehension of the market specificities, 3E’s French solar team is involved in more than 50% of the projects getting out of the ground.

On top of it, 3E is very proud of having been selected for advising on specific and strategic engineering and technical aspects of what will become the largest European PV plant.

In Belgium, a project as the collective purchase of 3000 PV residential systems organized by our client iChoosr for a single province, has shown that notwithstanding the crisis in the national market, the questionable bad publicity and the lack of ambition of the governments, PV investments stay attractive and can still convince many people. Next to this project, which might count for the largest capacity installed for the last two years, only a few medium scale plants (mainly 250kW systems) were installed in 2014.

3E’s PV experts have additionally been successfully involved, as owner’s engineer or lender’s technical advisor, in other large scale PV projects in United Kingdom, Germany, Romania, Italy, the Netherlands, etc. Risk assessments on operational plants being put on the so called “secondary market” have been an important activity in 2014, and reveal that non-negligible performance variations are often reported and that optimization of existing assets is clearly possible.

In 2014, 3E’s experts reported an increasing number of PV module defects and issues leading to the rational conclusion that some efforts are still required to stabilize the quality of that part of the supply chain. The same situation is also experienced regarding O&M approaches and contracts, for which high deviations in terms of scope and prices are still observed, leading to unclear and inefficient operations.

Since many years now, the company decided to also focus on the African continent with as logical step to open an office in Cape Town more than 3 years ago. 3E is delivering in South-Africa technical due diligences or engineering services for all project scales and types: from rooftop systems to the largest 85MW grid tied plants. In 2014, studies and projects operated from Cape Town or EU based offices have been successfully delivered in both English and French speaking African countries such as: Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Burundi, Madagascar, Tanzania and Namibia, but also further away as in Curacao or for Kuwait. Thanks to all these studies, 3E reinforces its position as reliable technical advisor with the ability to understand and make noticeable achievements regarding what can be expected as a strategic segment for the solar industry: hybrid systems and mini-grids, which are perceived as very complementary to the grid connected plants, and resulting in attractive LCOE’s showing the increased competitiveness of the PV energy.