In Australia, the energy mix is changing. There are around 13 GW of renewable projects currently committed with another 20 GW proposed, noting that peak demand is around 33 GW. “In terms of renewables, the solar market is certainly growing – we have more than 6 GW of rooftop PV with 20 GW projected by 2040,” says Winodh Jayewardene, WSP’s Technical Executive, Network Connections and Performance for Power.
Recent projects include the Solar Flair Alliance where we conceptually developed and studied a 150 MW parabolic-trough solar power thermal generation plant, proposed for location in Central Queensland. The consortium included International leading technology providers, state and federal sponsors as well as the leading Australian banks. We have also completed a pre-feasibility study for ActewAGL into the risks and costs for a proposed 22-megawatt solar power plant in the Australian Capital Territory.
New data from GTM Research shows that 18 states in the USA will install 1 GW or more of PV between 2018 and 2022. Together this will represent in excess of 80 per cent of the country’s installations. In the Southwest region, we are currently supporting a client during the start-up, commissioning and performance acceptance testing of a solar project. Our team is facilitating the transition of project operations from the general contractor to plant owner, and providing a technical interface with equipment vendors and other contractors during start-up.
Latin America is a region that’s making its mark on solar. In 2010, there were barely any solar installations in the region. By 2021, solar capacity is expected to reach 40 GW5. Interestingly, Brazil has the greenest energy mix of the world’s largest energy consumers – almost 45 per cent6. And Colombia is an emerging solar market – the country installed its first PV power plant in 2017. WSP is working in the region, providing technical advisory services through an independent assessment of the net energy yield for a portfolio of solar PV projects. Each project is under 9 MW AC and will sell energy at a stabilised price as part of the country’s Small Means of Distributed Generation program. Deliverables include PVsyst reports, energy yield assessment reports, and site visits to determine constructability/suitability issues.
In Africa, the largest market continues to be South Africa, although in 2017, Egypt installed its first solar power plant (below 100 MW). In Southern Africa, we delivered the environmental and social impact assessment for the Kalahari Solar Power Project, the first concentrated solar power initiative in the country to be brought to the feasibility stage, on behalf of Group Five. We also managed the stakeholder consultation process which was of great significance given the potential changes to the landscape. In addition, we have also worked on a range of projects in Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, The Gambia and South Africa.
GTM Research’s Global Solar Market Attractiveness Index points to the Middle East as being one of the most attractive markets for new-build solar in the world. It made headlines for driving record low solar power tariffs in 2017 in competitive auctions. This disruption saw Masdar and Energies consortium placing the lowest-ever bid for of US $1.78c/kWh7 for a 300 MW solar PV project in Saudi Arabia.
In the Middle East, WSP was appointed lender’s engineer to an international financial institution seeking to finance a renewable energy developer with a portfolio of solar PV systems. The project sites utilised both thin film and polycrystalline technology with various system designs. Ranging from 0.59 MWp to 11 MWp, the licensed and unlicensed projects included one operational plant, seven plants under construction, and 10 further sites under development. We identified technical issues outlining country-specific processes and risks involved, which allowed our client to make informed decisions on their potential investment.
In the UK, solar accounts for about a fifth of the electricity generated8. However, domestic solar installations are on the decline due to the government slashing the feed-in tariff regime in 2016, which has largely dampened the financial attraction for householders. In the southern part of the country, as sustainability consultant, we mapped out the ‘net zero carbon’ strategy for Graylingwell Park’s new build and retrofit housing project, a flagship zero-carbon community under development. As solar PV is a key element in the development’s renewable strategy, we handled this aspect of the project from resource assessment to functional specification and tender.
China has the largest global solar power capacity by far – it now operates one third of the world’s solar power generation capacities. In 2017, the country installed more than half of the world’s solar capacity – 52.8 GW or 53.3 per cent in 2017. A lot of this growth has been driven by the feed-in tariff program which was basically uncapped. Today, China is home to the world’s largest floating solar farm on a lake northwest of Anhui province’s Huainan city. WSP has considerable experience in building solar PV and solar hot water systems for clients in China, mostly for commercial applications less than 1 MW.