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DEVELOPING TRENDS TO BOOST SECTOR

The last year was a formidable one for the Renewable Energy sector with over 165 gigawatts of power production recorded globally. The industry seems poised for steady growth.

Here is a glance at some developing trends set to boost the sector.

PV INTEGRATION

The price decline of photovoltaic (PV) systems has considerably enhanced their penetration on the South African electricity network, in both independent power producers (IPPs) and as small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems on residential, commercial and industrial roofs across the country.

PV inverter suppliers have faced aggressive competition over the years, with a median global PV inverter price falling by a staggering 61% in the past five years. This drop in cost has placed immense pressure on manufacturers’ margins and considerably restricted their ability to increase revenue. This called for efficient and cost effective PV systems.

With rooftop inverter installation requiring a significant amount of time, manufacturers have resorted to producing inverters that are attached to the back panel. The result is a reduction in installation time and subsequent price decreases.

SOLAR CELL IMPROVEMENTS

The past few years within the solar industry have been a race to the top in terms of solar cell efficiency. Several achievements by numerous panel manufacturers have brought solar panel efficiency to an impressive 23%.

The solar cell types employed in mainstream markets might additionally see significant improvements in cost per watt. Compared to the silicon cells presently utilised, Perovskite solar cells have seen some notable breakthroughs within the past few years. The result is panels that may generate over 20% efficiency while still being one among the lowest cost options on the market.

STORAGE

Batteries are a key source for providing renewable energy and best for both residences as well as the grid-wide scale. Studies show that energy storage is a crucial element for alternative renewable types of energies.

Pairing a storage system with solar energy ensures a continuous supply of energy despite weather conditions.

By pairing solar and storage systems, it ensures that the power supply regardless of the weather, is uninterrupted.

The most common storage devices employed in solar energy systems are batteries, and their use is increasing on both grid-wide and residential scale.

Improvements to storage are expected to be advantageous to cost. It will facilitate in generating electricity at less cost and provide people with access to affordable energy sources.

Energy storage manufacturers are expected to continue their developments, creating them more cost-effective and viable.

OFF-GRID POWER

2018 was a record year as investors piled into off-grid power investments.

Corporate-level investments in off-grid solutions have rallied since 2014, as technological advancements and new business models within the sector continue to grow. As such, by 2030, the IEA estimates that more than 71% of the latest electricity connections will be via off-grid or mini-grid solutions.

POLICIES

The undisputed energy leader, China, remains the lead with 41% of global installations in 2018 and is anticipated to continue this year. Its policies are predicted to proceed to define global dynamics as it drives its domestic markets towards grid parity projects.

GLOBALISATION

Globalisation is set to attribute to the expansion of solar this year as well. We are expected to see an annual growth of 18% in PV installations in all six global regions.

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