Intersolar Europe 2017
Renewable energies are taking the world by storm. As a result, decentralised energy generation and above all the smart integration and management of renewable sources of energy are becoming increasingly important. Intersolar Europe is taking up this topic at the Smart Renewable Energy special exhibit and collaborating with three Helmholtz Association centres to demonstrate what the energy supply of the future could look like. Intersolar Europe, the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry and its partners, will be held from 31 May – 2 June 2017 in Munich. The success of renewable energy continues uninterrupted around the world. According to a new report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, the global share of energy from renewable sources could grow from the current 4 per cent to 36 per cent by 2035. A substantial amount of this will be contributed by solar energy. According to the figures recently published by SolarPower Europe, 76 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy were installed in 2016 – as compared to just 50 GW in 2015. China and USA in particular led the surge last year, with both countries almost doubling their solar expansion.
The consequence of rapid development worldwide: The share of renewable energy in the power grid is constantly increasing. In light of this, the question of how renewable energy can be effectively integrated into power grids and energy systems is becoming ever more important – because supply safety must be guaranteed in the new energy world. Renewable energies do not supply the same amount of power at all times of day or year, so the global energy transition needs a modern, smart infrastructure and innovative storage options to ensure that the necessary quantities of power, heat and fuels are available at all times. Intersolar Europe is exploring this topic at the Smart Renewable Energy special exhibit (hall B2, booth B2.140).
Intelligently connected – Researchers test energy networks of the future: The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and its project partners from the Helmholtz Association – the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) – will present how new methods and technologies can shape the energy system of the future. Their new infrastructure platform Energy Lab 2.0, funded by the German government and Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, investigates the complex interplay of components in the energy systems of the future. As a “real-life laboratory” and simulation platform, Energy Lab 2.0 tests new approaches to integrating diverse technologies into the energy system. Among the topics the researchers are exploring is how different storage technologies are best connected to electricity generation and consumption. This is linked to the question of what sort of an information and data network is required to facilitate this. For the first time in Europe, larger test facilities for generating renewable electrical energy, for storing and converting energy to gas, fuels and heat as well as for reconverting chemical energy sources back into electricity are being combined with each other in a facility network.
The core of the Energy Lab 2.0 is the Smart Energy System Simulation and Control Centre, where all data from the facility network come together and are analysed, stored and used for simulation. “Changes in the energy world require a new grid architecture and IT-based approaches in order to intelligently connect and control the different players. Extensive research in the Energy Lab 2.0 will be devoted to this issue over the coming years. Intersolar Europe is a great opportunity for us to present the project to trade visitors and to provide inspira-
tion for how the framework conditions might be designed,” said Professor Dr-Ing. Roland Dittmeyer from the Institute for Micro Process Engineering at KIT.
Expert discussions at the Smart Renewable Energy Forum: Experts behind the Energy Lab 2.0 will be introducing the project and other groundbreaking research initiatives for realising the energy transition on 1 June 2017 in the Smart Renewable Energy Forum, directly opposite the special exhibit. This will be followed by a question and answer session with industry professionals. On all three days of the exhibition, pressing issues for the new energy world will be tackled at the forum and discussed by experts from a broad range of disciplines.
The role of merchant PV power plants, rating agencies and insurance companies: The success or failure of a PV project hinges on appropriate financing. In recent years, numerous new financing models have emerged for solar installations of various sizes. Intersolar Europe and its accompanying conference are shining a spotlight on the topic this year, providing visitors with information on the most important developments. Discussions will include the influence of rating agencies on the success of PV projects and the market prospects for so-called merchant PV power plants. The growing number of large-scale PV power plants and reduction in the feed-in tariff have spurred the industry to become ever more creative in recent years when it comes to new and innovative financing models. With solar and wind energy deployment setting new records in 2016, the topic is more relevant than ever. According to initial estimates from analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), an additional deployment of 127 gigawatts (GW) is expected, with approximately 70 GW coming in the form of solar installations. Financing is particularly important here, because although operating costs are low, photovoltaics are initially associated with relatively high implementation costs. New financing models are thus essential to promoting the global expansion of solar energy in the future. The industry has proven to be particularly innovative in this respect, with countless new business and financing models for PV projects emerging in recent years.
Leasing and crowd-funding: The option to lease entire installations is a relatively new opportunity in PV financing for private and commercial use. The advantage: The property owner does not need
to make an investment or deal with installation, insurance or maintenance. Roof-mounted installations aren’t the only area where innovation abounds; numerous new models are also available for large-scale power plants. Intersolar Europe is showcasing the various options, and new financing models are taking centre-stage on both days of the conference. To see which innovations are entering the markets in the USA, Canada and Mexico, visit the Solar Trends in North America session on 31 May.
The role of rating agencies: One promising new approach is crowd-funding, which is primarily practised in Germany, Great Britain and France. With crowd-funding, investors become coowners of an installation. Countless past projects have shown that this model is not just suitable for neighbourhood associations; it can also be successfully applied to financing large-scale PV power plants. Green bonds offer another lucrative option for funding solar projects. 2016 was a record year, with the issuance of green bonds increasing by 120 per cent to 93.4 billion dollars. The rating agency Moody’s expects further growth in 2017, with a predicted issuance of 206 billion dollars. This growth is attributed to the momentum from the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris as well as extremely strong demand from investors. The session titled ‘Financing Opportunities in the Global Secondary PV Market’ on 31 May will address further opportunities in the stock market for investors and project developers. Rating agencies have an important role to play in this context. They investigate and assess the profitability of bonds, and thus have a major influence over how these are implemented. The significance of rating agencies for the success of solar projects continues to grow, as they are also major players in the area of merchant solar power plants. Under this model, the PV power generated is sold directly on the energy market. This involves a certain degree of risk: In order to be competitive, the energy sold must not be more expensive than energy from conventional suppliers. Successful projects with a total volume of 31.2 megawatts are already under-way in South America. The session on ‘Merchant PV power plants – The role of rating agencies and insurances’ which will be held at the Intersolar Europe Conference on 31 May will address the effects of rating agency activities and the role of insurance companies.