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Solar power getting stronger with utilities ramping up

Leading solar power project developers are finding themselves in a “much stronger position at the end of the first half of 2009” –due to scaling utility involvement, amongst other things, says Reese Tisdale, Research Director at Emerging Energy Research.

Both solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) sector are experiencing positive outlooks as utilities’ involvement is scaling, regulatory regimes are improving, and technology is becoming more economically competitive.

EER’s Tisdale says the second quarter of 2009 revealed a continued interest from utilities in purchasing and owning PV projects – largely due to PV’s “improved economic positioning, improved regulatory regimes, and its siting versatility.”

Renewable developers and utilities in Europe such as EDF, Enel, Statkraft and E.ON are increasing their activities in PV – and not just in the countries they belong to. North American utilities in Florida, Ohio and Ontario are also ramping up their solar PV developments. EER expects utilities to be the key players in solar power developments with the access to the ITC, land and transmission.

Spanish fiesta?

Spanish CSP developers now have more than 1.5 GW of CSP under construction and another 3.8 GW of registry applications submitted. Although there are 9086 MW of CSP developments in the USA, these are struggling to move beyond permitting, technology demonstrations, the Bureau of Land Management and project finance, according to EER. This does not mean that US CSP activities are insignificant – “ultimately, the US is the long-term prize for project developers, as evidenced by scaling project pipelines across eight US States,” Tisdale says.

Regulatory changes

EER says a series of regulatory measures are on the table in both Europe and North America. In addition to Spain’s CSP feed-in tariff deliberations, the US Department of Treasury has launched its Renewable Grant process to stimulate renewables development including solar and the BLM aims to fast-track the solar application process. Additionally, France launched the first stage of its Grennelle Proposal by opening bids for 300 MW in May 2009.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity

 

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