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Roundup: US PV installers on storage, BYD signs with Masdar, Canada’s self-sustaining community

Over 50% of US installers could offer storage by end of this year

14 April 2016: In contrast with Germany, where as many as 85% of PV installers are thought to be offering their customers energy storage alongside solar, only a third of US installers are doing the same, according to new research.

EuPD Research has surveyed over 300 installers in 42 US states and Washington DC, for its latest “PV installer survey USA 2015/2016” report. The firm, headquartered in Bonn, Germany, interviewed the installation professionals to look at a range of topics with a potential impact on their businesses, such as customer procurement practises, market penetration and brand management.

The surveys found that 34% of installers are offering their customers energy storage and 26% wish to start doing so during this year, while 38% so far have decided not to offer the technology. In the equivalent survey for Europe, published last summer, around 85% of Germany’s PV installers were already selling storage.

EuPD said that the cost of storage systems is still prohibitive for many installers, who are unable to make good margins on the technology. There is still some scepticism over the technology also, EuPD said.

The results are perhaps not unexpected. The US business case for residential energy storage is still at its early stages, with the majority of states offering retail-rate net metering as a mechanism to support the uptake of household PV systems. Conversely, in Germany, PV installation rates overall have dropped sharply due to the lowering of feed-in tariffs, but this has meant a growing business case for self-consumption of solar has developed. 

The BYD-Masdar deal is formalised. Image: Masdar.
Warren Buffet-backed BYD signs with Masdar to showcase technologies

14 April 2016: Chinese rechargeable battery, electric transport and clean energy company BYD has been signed up as a “preferred partner” to Abu Dhabi-headquartered Masdar.

Masdar is the UAE’s state-backed initiative for developing future energy solutions, describing itself as an agency to bridge the gap between hydrocarbon-based economies of the past and the energy efficient, renewable future.

The group has signed the agreement with BYD (“Build Your Dreams”), which is increasing its share of the growing EV market in China rapidly. The initial focus of the collaboration will be the promotion of battery-based energy storage and on clean transport. This could include driverless cars for mass transit and a hub for energy storage solutions. 

BYD, which noted investor Warren Buffet famously has a stake in, revealed plans last year to develop as much as 34GWh production capacity for batteries by 2020, rivalling Tesla’s much-vaunted Gigafactory in scale. BYD currently has a market capitalisation of US$19 billion. The company also signed a deal with Swiss engineering giant ABB on developing energy storage technologies in 2014.

The initial areas of focus could be expanded to encompass other technologies, such as utility-scale and rooftop solar panels, LED lights and solar street lights, Masdar said. Masdar has R&D facilities in Masdar City, a planned, sustainable development where incidentally the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) are also based. BYD’s technology will be showcased at the Masdar City R&D hub as well as at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and at various city locations.

Sunvault, Aboriginal Power work on Canada's first 'self-sustaining' community

13 April 2016: Energy storage manufacturer for solar, Sunvault Energy, is involved in a project to construct and maintain Canada’s first "self-sustainable community", combining technologies including solar, energy storage and biomass, alongside what will be British Columbia’s largest PV park.

Sunvault and Aboriginal Power, an incubation company for Sunvault, announced that they have agreed to a deal to acquire a 25% stake in Slatchinum Development Corporation (SDC), which has already started work on the 200-home section within the city of Kelowna, BC, located next to Winfield, BC, on Okanagan Band Land.

The area is a 19-hectare site, with SDC holding no debt on the land. Sunvault will install a solar storage system in each home, along with PV arrays. Sunvault will sell and install the 200 systems, while the companies will also construct an anaerobic digester facility that will convert organic waste into renewable energy. In total, 1.2MW of solar PV will be installed on the roofs of the 200 homes.

Home built in this community will be sold to the owners and land will be leased for 49 years, with an option for an additional 49 years. SDC and Sunvault stand to make significant revenues from the project, if successful. SDC will make around US$140,000 a year from the site's water systems, while Sunvault's revenue streams will include around US$350,000 to US$400,000 a year from power usage through being a Green Renewable Energy Utility provider. 

This story by Conor Ryan 

SDC has already started work on the 200-home community in Kelowna, BC. Image: stantoncady/Flickr

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