Beyond COVID: Malaysia’s pandemic recovery plan and renewables records tumble in Europe

By PV Tech
Image credit: Iberdrola.

The COVID-19 emergency has squeezed a lifetime-worth of disruption into just a few months, forever consigning the world we thought we knew to the past.

The arrival of June finds dozens of countries worldwide making tentative steps back to normality, a journey where hope for a better tomorrow mixes with the spectre of a second pandemic wave. A mainstream economic player in its own right, solar faces a similar balancing act – the need to double down on the pre-COVID momentum while accepting that chaos is far from over.  

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Having spent months documenting the emergency’s immediate impacts through dedicated trackers (see here for links to the whole series), PV Tech is now shifting the spotlight to the longer term. Our new ‘Beyond COVID-19’ series will curate the news and developments of the post-pandemic green new world currently taking shape – and solar’s role in it.

Monday 1 June 2020

Malaysia eyes pandemic recovery with 1GW new solar tender

Malaysia has turned to large-scale solar as an engine of the post-COVID comeback, targeting smaller and local ventures with its largest tender to date.

In recent days, the country’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources announced the fourth round of its large-scale solar (LSS) programme, designed to offer 1GWac worth of tender contracts and help reactivate Malaysia’s economy in the wake of the global pandemic.

The Ministry explicitly linked the fourth solar round with the broader COVID-19 recovery efforts. According to its estimates, the 1GWac tender is expected to unlock 4 billion Malaysian ringgit (US$927 million) in investment and create 12,000 new jobs.

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

Support to Polish solar fires starting pistol of Europe’s green COVID-19 recovery

Europe has turned to one of its currently talked-about solar markets as the symbolic debut of a continent-wide green shift, set to focus on renewables as a COVID-19 recovery pillar.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will be lending 82 million Polish złoty (US$21 million) to a 66MW solar pipeline by Energy Solar Projekty sp.z o.o, fuelling growth for a market that reached 1.3GW of installed PV capacity in late 2019.

EIB’s support to Poland was announced side by side with the EU’s trillion-euro-plus COVID-19 comeback plan, which will see renewables become one of a few strategic growth engines. As suggested by leaked drafts, seen by PV Tech, the EU will steer growth via green energy auctions.

See here to read the EIB’s statement in full and here for PV Tech’s coverage of Europe’s post-COVID renewable plans.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Nuclear decommissioning opens window for green energy in Taiwan

Taiwan is expected to turn to green energy to fill the gap left behind by a soon-to-be-shuttered nuclear plant, according to the Taiwan Solar Energy Corporation (TSEC).

The planned decommissioning of the 985MW installation next March is buoying up the prospects of solar developers and manufacturers on the island, TSEC said, pointing at efforts by utility Taipower to heavily invest in renewables to accelerate the post-COVID economic recovery.

TSEC’s talk of “optimism” in Taiwan – widely praised over its COVID-19 pandemic response – follows PV Tech’s attendance last October of Energy Taiwan 2019, a visit this publication used to take stock of the island’s downstream opportunity and upstream challenges.

See here to read the TSEC statement in full

Wave of research bolsters case of renewable investments in post-COVID era

A raft of new studies has come to underscore the business case of pushing renewables to the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, amid claims green energy plays offer a low-cost, high-return opportunity for investors.

Solar and wind levelized costs of electricity (LCOEs) have dropped to such an extent that the world would save US$23 billion per year by tapping these technologies to replace the priciest 500GW of existing coal, according to a new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Meanwhile, a review by the IEA and Imperial College London examined the performance of listed renewable portfolios in the US, the UK, Germany and France over the decade. The investment returns outstripped those of fossil fuel counterparts “significantly”, the analysis found.

See here to read this PV Tech story in full

A decade of plummeting solar LCOEs

2010 2019 2021 (estimate)
Utility-scale PV LCOEs US$0.378/kWh US$0.068/kWh US$0.039/kWh
Residential, C&I rooftop PV LCOEs US$0.301-0.455/kWh US$0.063-0.265/kWh —-
Kilowatts of PV power generated per US$1m invested 213kW 1,005kW —-
Source: IRENA’s Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Spanish reps propose €60bn roadmap for post-pandemic green economy

Spain could ensure a green and fair recovery from the COVID-19 crisis if it makes renewables, building renovation and others the heart of stimulus measures, according to Fundación Renovables.

The foundation urged Spain to invest €60 billion (US$68 billon) in selected green areas such as renewable generation and self-consumption, to ensure the COVID recovery does not come at the cost of energy access and regulatory stability as with the financial crash of the late 2000s.

The proposals emerge as Spanish solar operators work to resume project construction after a 10-day freeze in April. Judging by recent Solar Media webinars, the country’s PV players feel bullish about financing prospects even if grid issues continue to raise concerns.

See here to read the Fundación Renovables statement in full

Diesel-ridden Somalia turns to solar as Africa eyes renewable tomorrow

A new solar plant lies in the works in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after the prospect cheaper bills persuaded utilities to move away from expensive diesel, Reuters reports.

“We are happy to be the first company to install solar energy to supply cheaper electricity,” BECO chief engineer Mohamud Farah told the outlet, adding that long-term success replacing diesel will require the addition of battery systems. 

Somalia's embrace of solar emerges as the broader African continent zeroes in on renewables as a priority support area post-COVID. A recent webinar by IRENA urged to support the sector, amid claims that the pandemic has “stretched it thin”. 

See here to read the Reuters story in full

Beyond COVID-19: Post-pandemic solar era takes centre stage of latest PV Tech Power issue

The new edition of PV Tech Power – PV Tech Power 23 – is now available to download entirely free of charge.

Volume 23 of the journal uncovers precisely how both the upstream and downstream solar sectors have tackled the COVID-19 pandemic. Included within the cover story of this issue are stories of not just how the industry has circumvented the virus’ impacts, but how the post-pandemic landscape could shape up.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Bullish Spain, Germany, UK fuel Europe-wide record of renewable generation

Newly released figures indicate renewable generation scored a Europe-wide record share of 55% on 24 May, described by analysts as an “incredible” feat.

According to the stats from Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab, Europe’s all-time green energy high of late May was driven by the likes of Germany and the UK – where renewable generation shares of 58% and 48% were reached across May, respectively – and Spain, which hit 74% on 30 April.

The claims of Europe’s renewably-powered May follow similar findings for April 2020. According to think tank Ember, EU-wide solar generation two months back was 28% up compared to April 2019, with Germany (12%) and Italy (9%) reaching the highest solar shares.

See here for more information on the Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab

US renewable industries rally behind vision for green energy system

All major renewable sectors have joined forces this week in the US to support a roadmap that would see green energy cover the majority of power generation by 2030.

Associations for solar (SEIA), wind (AWEA), energy storage (ESA) and hydro power (NHA) threw their weight behind a target to ensure green energy reaches a 51% share by the end of the decade, split between solar (20%), wind (20%), hydro (9%) and other renewable segments (2%).

The talk of a new green energy vision – proposed as the US reels under the world’s highest COVID-19 virus case count and protests over the death of black man George Floyd – would be paired with a major push to energy storage systems, amid predictions of a 125GW fleet.

See here to read the new statement from SEIA and other associations

In the face of the “dreadful” pandemic, the US must chart a path forward that puts a “premium on innovation, jobs recovery and a smarter approach to energy generation”, said SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. Image credit: SEIA

Friday 5 June 2020

Israel’s government plots 15GW-plus solar plan as post-COVID policy priority

Solar is to become an energy policy axis of the newly-reappointed government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with plans now laid out for a decade-long renewable boom.

The Energy Ministry released a plan this week to mobilise a whopping 80 billion Israeli Shekel (US$23 billion) in government and private funding to take solar capacity to 16GW by 2030, coinciding with a coal phase-out over the decade. 

Israel’s long-term bet on solar emerges as the Middle Eastern state targets the sector as a driver of post-COVID economic recovery. A month ago, the country announced solar would be the core of a more short-term plan, looking to fund an initial pipeline of 2GW.  

See here to read the PV Tech story in full

EBRD: Auction milestones show investor appetite in renewables is here to stay

The direction of travel of post-COVID energy policy and the recent success stories of tenders indicate the world is “sticking with the green agenda” despite the disruption, the EBRD has said.

In a recent post, EMEA head of energy Harry Boyd-Carpenter said the new EU green stimulus plans and competitive solar tariffs in Albania last month have dispelled worries that governments might “put renewables in the freezer.”

The Albanian tender “plays to the EBRD belief in the power of markets”, Boyd-Carpenter said, adding: “If you run a well-structured tender, the private sector can deliver public goods in fantastically competitive and imaginative ways.”

See here to read the EBRD statement in full

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