Make hay while the sun shines
There’s plenty of scope in the solar sector, but it needs the right products for the right application
The solar power generation industry is going from strength to strength. For example, 59 gigawatts (GW) of additional generation were added in 2015 alone, taking the total now to 238 GW. These figures come from the GTM Research Solar Executive Briefing 2015, published earlier this year, and are demonstrable proof that solar is a source of power that is here to stay.
With the recent extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC) in the US, the government incentives are there to ensure that a carefully planned and executed solar project, which utilizes the correct design of products specifically for the application, can be sure of a return on investment (ROI) well into the future. Similar schemes are also well positioned in India, China, Japan and South America, so there is plenty of scope for further investment in well-established solar markets.
Having said that, making revenues is not a foregone conclusion, especially if a component in the system is not optimized to the application. Take transformers, for example. As new technology comes online, with regard to solar inverter voltages moving above one kilovolt (kV), this will put additional design stresses onto the transformers that play a role in the network. The transformer designs will need to adapt to these changes – and to support a lower cost system, more inverters are likely to be connected to each transformer, meaning more windings and more stresses.
As we all recognize, with any form of generation, reliability is a key issue. If one component in the network is not optimized to the application it can fail, meaning outages across the whole system and lost revenue. This is why it’s so important to make sure that all the equipment suppliers into a project have specific domain knowledge and, equally importantly, that should an issue occur they are positioned to be able to respond quickly.
Such optimization would allow all stakeholders to benefit from the future of solar power generation. For, as the global reliance on fossil fuel technologies for generation declines over the coming years, renewable technologies like solar will help to fill the generation gap created – and as such the industry will enjoy its “day in the sun” for quite some time to come.