Operations and Maintenance Best Practice Guidelines / India edition – 2020

Welcome to the India edition of the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Best Practice Guidelines. Building on Version 4.0 of SolarPower Europe’s O&M Best Practice Guidelines, this edition has been adapted to the Indian context in a joint effort between the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) and SolarPower Europe.
It has been revised thoroughly in a joint European-Indian Task Force. NSEFI and SolarPower Europe would like to thank the Indo-German Energy Forum for their continued support that made these Guidelines possible.
O&M is a segment of great importance for the solar industry in India, which is home to one of the largest fleets of solar PV plants worldwide. As power plants age, the industry has realised that proper “health care” is indispensable for power plants to meet performance expectations.

Today, O&M has become a standalone segment in the solar value chain in India with an increasing number of companies specialising exclusively in solar O&M. Yet there are
still significant quality discrepancies between services provided by different O&M providers.
To address these challenges, NSEFI and SolarPower Europe, supported by IGEF, joined forces to develop the India edition of the O&M Best Practice Guidelines. Our joint O&M Task Force was launched in March 2020 in New Delhi, assembling more than 40 leading solar experts from India and Europe. The kick-off meeting was followed by a series of online working meetings, in which we fine-tuned Version 4.0 of SolarPower Europe’s O&M Best Practice Guidelines in order to reflect Indian market conditions and regulatory requirements.

The result is a guidance that we hope will help Indian solar stakeholders to increase quality in the O&M segment. This document is aimed at O&M service providers, as well as other parties involved in the operation of solar power plants, such as owners and
investors, lenders, technical advisors and data-related service providers. It will help to establish common standards and increase transparency in the sector. It is also worth noting that solar O&M is a particularly value intensive segment that supports a lot of local jobs, and drives important solar innovations notably in the field of digitalisation.

In the India edition, all chapters of the original document have been thoroughly reviewed and revised with an attention to Indian specificities. To highlight some of the adjustments: to adapt the terminology to the Indian context, for example, we introduced the concepts of “Operation Planning”, performed by the Central Control
Room, and “Operation Execution”, performed by the Local Control Room. The fact that utility-scale solar power plants in India usually have on-site staff as part of the Local Control Room, had implications for many requirements and best practices from monitoring to maintenance.

Indian requirements related to topics such as grid code compliance, power generation forecasting, energy meter accuracy have been covered. India specific best practices have been provided on aspects such as trainings, data and forecasting accuracy, water
use for module cleaning, Performance Ratio (PR) and Capacity Utilisation Factor (CUF) guarantees.

The publication of these Guidelines is an important milestone in the successful cooperation between NSEFI and SolarPower Europe. It follows the publication of our joint report on Solar investment opportunities in India in March 2020 and the publication of our report on PV waste management in India, supported by the EU-India
Technical Cooperation Programme (PV Rooftop Cell), in September 2020. We will continue working together on topics of mutual interest in the future, such as solar manufacturing, green hydrogen and EPC best practices.

If you want to be part of this cooperation, contact NSEFI or SolarPower Europe.

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Global Photovoltaic Power Potential by Country – 2020

Over the last decade, the solar power sector has seen installation costs fall dramatically and global installed capacity rise massively. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has reported that solar photovoltaic (PV) module prices have fallen 80% in the last decade, while installed capacity has grown from 40 GW to over 600 GW in the same period. These trends are set to continue with new global solar installations of over 140 GW expected in calendar year 2020.

The reason for this is straightforward. Solar radiation is essentially a free resource available anywhere on Earth, to a greater or lesser extent. Converting solar radiation into electricity is at present dominated by PV power plants, and in the current era of global climate change, PV technology becomes an oppor- tunity for countries and communities to transform or develop their energy infrastructure and step up their low-carbon energy transition.

But is the PV power potential in a specific country or region good enough to take advantage of solar power, and on what scale? This is a question often asked by policymakers and businesses alike, and one that this report attempts to shed further light on.

Recently, global data representing the solar resource and PV power output in every country of the world has been calculated by Solargis (Figure 3.4) and released in the form of consistent high-resolution data sets via the Global Solar Atlas, a web-based tool commissioned and funded by the Energy Sector Man- agement Assistance Program (ESMAP), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank [1]. Based on this data, it is possible to make high-level comparisons between countries and regions on their theoretical, practical, and economic solar potential.

This report provides such information to raise awareness, stimulate investment interest, and inform public debate. Therefore, it is relevant to policymakers, project developers, financial and academic sec- tors, and the media and communication professionals, as well as communities and individuals.


There are numerous methodologies for evaluating solar energy potential in countries or regions. Chap- ter 2.1 provides a brief literature review by way of background and explains the methods applied in this study. Chapter 2.2 describes the global data sets that were collected and used in this report. As a gen- eral principle, the analysis relied on the best globally available and consistent data sets in each domain to ensure a high level of comparability of the results. Some data sets were ruled out, even if superior in granularity or quality, where just part of the global or individual countries were covered.

The long-term energy content of the solar resource available at a certain location defines the theoret- ical solar PV potential (Chapter 2.3). For PV technology, the energy content is well quantified by the physical variable of global horizontal irradiation (GHI). It is the sum of direct and diffuse irradiationomponents received by a horizontal surface, measured in kWh/m . GHI enables a comparison of the

conditions for PV technology without considering a specific power plant design and mode of operation. GHI is the first approximation of the PV power production in a particular region, but it disregards impor- tant additional factors.

The cornerstone of this report is therefore the evaluation of the practical solar PV potential (Chap- ter 2.4), which is the power output achievable by a typical PV system (PVOUT). Unlike the theoretical potential, it simulates the conversion of the available solar resource to electric power considering the impact of air temperature, terrain horizon, and albedo, as well as module tilt, configuration, shading, soiling, and other factors affecting the system performance. PVOUT is the amount of power generated per unit of installed PV capacity over the long term (the specific yield), measured in kilowatt hours per installed kilowatt peak (kWh/kWp).

The calculated practical potential can be considered as a conservative case—assuming a large-scale installation of monofacial crystalline silicon modules fixed mounted at an optimum angle, which has been the prevailing setup of PV power plants to date. This report evaluates the practical potential at three levels defined by a number of topographic and land-use constraints:

Level 0 disregards any limitations to the development and operation of solar projects.

Level 1 excludes land with physical or technical constraints. These include rugged terrain, extremeremoteness, built-up environment, and dense forests.

Level 2 additionally excludes land under ‘soft’ constraints, such as regulations related to protection of cropland and conservation areas.

Apart from the annual average of practical potential, the seasonal variability derived from the monthly PVOUT values is summarized and compared at the country level.The economic PV potential, expressed in this report via a simplified levelized cost of energy (LCOE), describes how much it would cost to produce a unit of energy. Apart from the PVOUT value, the cost of the PV technology, overall capital expenditure, operation costs, and discount rate are considered over the typical PV plant lifetime. The metric enables the comparison of solar energy to other energy gener- ation technologies (Chapter 2.5). The presented estimate illustrates the solar economic potential from a global viewpoint, with a country as the smallest unit serving as a basis for further in-depth analysis of local intricacies.KEY FINDINGS AND LESSONS LEARNEDThe geographical variability of the solar energy yield is primarily driven by the distribution of the solar resource. The global pattern of the resource (theoretical PV potential) is determined mainly by latitude, occurrence of clouds, terrain elevation and shading, atmospheric aerosol concentration, and atmo- spheric moisture content. At regional to local scales, solar resource is also affected by proximity to sea and large water bodies, as well as urban and industrial areas. This creates a very diverse spatial distri- bution of solar resource.Air temperature is the second most significant geographical factor, as it affects PV conversion effi- ciency. The power output is also variable in time: it changes over seasons and days due to astronomical

and geographical factors and, in the very short term, the variability is driven by clouds. Moreover, the practical utilization of solar power plants is limited by various physical and regulatory land-use constraints. Practical PV potential assessment provides a higher added value by including all these addi- tional factors.

Practical PV Potential Distribution

The results presented in this report show that the global range of PVOUT is not as wide as might be expected. The distribution of air temperature often counteracts the distribution of GHI (the theoretical potential). Places with below average solar radiation may benefit from cooler air temperatures year round, and conversely, high air temperatures may hinder the PV power output in regions with high solar resource.

As a result, the difference between the countries with the highest (Namibia) and the lowest (Ireland) aver- age practical potential is only slightly higher than a factor of two. In total, 93% of the global population lives in countries where the average daily PV potential is in the range between 3.0 and 5.0 kWh/kWp.

Around 20% of the global population lives in 70 countries boasting excellent conditions for PV, where long-term daily PVOUT averages exceed 4.5 kWh/kWp. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA) region and Sub-Saharan Africa dominate this category, accompanied by Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Iran, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, and many nations of the Pacific and Atlantic islands.

At the lower end of the ranking, 30 countries accounting for 9% of the global population score an average PVOUT below 3.5 kWh/kWp, dominated by European countries—except those in southern Europe—and also including Ecuador and Japan. Even in countries with lower solar resource availability, the potential is not dramatically lower compared to the top-performing group.

Finally, countries in the favorable middle range between 3.5 and 4.5 kWh/kWp account for 71% of the global population. These include five of the six most populous countries (China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil) and 100 others (Canada, the rest of Latin America, southern Europe, and African countries around the Gulf of Guinea, as well as central and southeast Asia).

Beyond Average Values

While knowing a single averaged value over the country’s territory is useful, the indicator may not be representative enough for countries with a diversified geography. Countries that are elongated in the north-south direction (i.e., have a significant latitudinal span), as well as those located within major mountain ranges or climatic gradients, tend to have a wide PV potential range.

Where possible, PV installations tend to be concentrated in areas with the most favorable solar resource conditions, and often a minor portion of a country’s area with feasible practical potential may host enough capacity to meet the country’s entire energy demand. Considering this, a higher percentile instead of the average (e.g., Percentile 75, Percentile 90, or the maximum) could better illustrate the potential for installation of large PV power plants in a country. Therefore, Figures 3.8 and 3.20 provide more detailed zonal statistics in individual country factsheets.

Executive Summary ix

Indeed, the availability of detailed PV power potential data enables an estimation of the country area that would be needed to cover electricity production targets. For instance, Mexico would need to dedi- cate only around 0.1% of its territory to utility-scale PV power plants to cover its entire yearly electric- ity consumption (about 270 TWh recently [2]). However, this percentage varies hugely by country. In France, due to higher electricity consumption and lower PV yield, it would be about 1.0% of the country area. In contrast, Ethiopia would need only 0.003% of its land area to be covered in solar PV to meet its annual energy needs in recent years.

PV Potential Seasonality

A single long-term yearly average of practical PV potential, summarized as PVOUT, does not tell the full story in the temporal domain, as it hides various profiles of seasonal variability. Stronger seasonal fluctuations pose economic and technological challenges to the exploitation of PV electricity. Therefore, this report includes new statistics describing the degree of seasonality at the country level (Figure 3.12).

Interestingly, there is a loose, indirect association between the PV potential and the seasonality index— defined as the ratio between the highest and the lowest monthly PVOUT. The high-potential countries tend to have low seasonality (below 2.0) and vice versa. In total, 86% of the global population lives in 150 countries where the average seasonality index is below 2.0, and PVOUT exceeds 3.5 kWh/kWp (the dense cluster of countries in the upper-left part of Figure 3.12). We suggest that it is these countries where solar PV is poised to meet a significant share of energy demand in the future.

In the remaining countries, despite higher seasonality and somewhat lower PVOUT values, solar PV may still be a profitable option playing an important role in the energy mix along with other energy sources. In many cases the seasonal variations of solar PV may be complementary to those of wind or other resources, and in countries with a high cooling demand solar PV can even be load following. While outside the scope of this report, the resources made available allow for such a high-level analysis to be carried out.

Economic PV Potential

Currently, data to accurately calculate the LCOE is available only for a fraction of the countries covered in this report. We derive a simplified version of LCOE as a proxy of the economic potential, taking gen- eralized assumptions about costs of construction and operation of a typical PV power plant. The value, conceived as a snapshot in 2018, ranged globally from under $0.06 to over $0.26 per kWh, with over 75% of the evaluated global area scoring below $0.12 (Figure 3.9).

Comparing PVOUT with average electricity tariffs (Figure 3.18) shows why grid parity for solar PV is seen across a wide range of countries, regardless of their actual resource potential. The relative differences in electricity tariffs can far exceed the differences in practical and economic PV potential. Therefore, PV generation can be profitable in countries with some of the lowest average PV potential (such as Denmark, Japan, and the United Kingdom). Importantly, there is a group of countries with high tariffs (over $0.20) with high potential at the same time (over 4 kWh/kWp). This group includes many island nations and countries with less-developed electricity grids, where expensive and polluting small-scale diesel generators are the primary power generation source.

x Global Photovoltaic Power Potential by Country

A comparison of the PV potential with further socioeconomic indicators provides new insights. For example, a high number of less-developed countries—in terms of the Human Development Index, reli- ability of electricity supply, and access to electricity—tend to have very high practical PV potential, so far untapped (as illustrated by currently installed PV capacity, Figure 3.13). There is a unique opportu- nity for solar PV to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity services to a large share of humanity where improved economic opportunities and quality of life are most needed. The information and insights contained in this report can help to unlock some of that investment.

Explore More

The global data presented in this report, plus individual country factsheets, are available via the Global Solar Atlas at https://globalsolaratlas.info/global-pv-potential-study. Furthermore, the interactive tools, offered via the homepage of the Global Solar Atlas, make it possible to estimate the PV potential at a specific site or any defined region, and the site provides a wealth of additional data, maps, and reports.


Global data representing the solar resource and PV power potential has been calculated by Solargis, and released in the form of consistent high-resolution data layers.

To set the scene, we characterize the long-term energy availability of solar resource at any location, thetheoretical potential. This potential is illustrated by the physical variable of global horizontal irradiation (GHI), which is the sum of direct and diffuse irradiation components received by a horizontal surface. GHI is measured in kilowatthours per square metre (kWh/m2). The quantity allows comparing the natural conditions for implementation of any PV technology without considering a particular technical design and mode of operation. However, at a given site, GHI is modulated by local air temperature, wind and snow, atmospheric pollution, dust, and some other geographical factors. GHI is considered as a simplified approximation, and it does not fully describe the actual potential for PV power production.


Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI): Long-term yearly average of daily and yearly totals

The cornerstone of the study is the evaluation of the practical PV potential, i.e. the power output achievable by a typical configuration of the utility scale PV system, taking into account the theoretical potential, the air temperature affecting the system performance, the system configuration, shading and soiling, and topographic and land-use constraints. The PV power output (PVOUT), defined as the specific yield, is used to illustrate this potential. PVOUT represents the amount of power generated per unit of the installed PV capacity over the long-term, and it is measured in kilowatthours per installed kilowatt-peak of the system capacity (kWh/kWp).

This study describes three levels of practical potential. Level 0 disregards any limitations to the development and operation of solar power plants. To assess the potential more realistically, we exclude unsuitable land, with use of relevant global datasets. At Level 1, we exclude areas due to physical/technical constraints, such as rugged terrain, presence of urbanized/industrial areas, forests, and areas that are too distant from the centers of human activity. At Level 2, we additionally consider “soft” constraints, i.e., areas that might be unsuitable due to regulations imposed by national or regional authorities (such as conservation of cropland or nature conservation). Consequently, we evaluate and compare the spatial distribution of annual PVOUT values in countries and regions, and also explore the seasonal variability derived from the monthly PVOUT averaged values.


Practical photovoltaic power potential (PVOUT) at Level 1: Long-term yearly average of daily and yearly totals

A single long-term yearly average of PVOUT does not tell the full story as it hides various profiles of seasonal variability. Therefore, we present a seasonality index, a new statistics defined as the ratio between the highest and the lowest monthly totals. The high-potential countries tend to have low seasonality (below 2) and vice versa. In total, 86% of the global population lives in 150 countries where the average seasonality index is below 2.0, and PVOUT exceeds 3.5 kWh/kWp. The full monthly profiles and ranges are presented in the country factsheets.


Absolute values of practical PV power potential (PVOUT) compared to PV seasonality index

We assess, also, the economic PV potential via the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), a metric describing how much it costs to produce a unit of energy. LCOE enables comparison of solar energy to other energy generation technologies. This estimate takes a global viewpoint, with a country as the smallest unit, to illustrate the overall solar economic potential, which can be useful as a basis for further in-depth analysis of regional and local intricacies.

We proposed a simplified version of LCOE as a proxy to the economic potential, taking simplifying assumptions about costs of construction and operation of a typical large-scale ground-mounted PV power plant. The LCOE value, conceived as a snapshot in 2018, ranged globally from less than USD 0.06 to over USD 0.26 per kWh, with a significant part of the globe scoring below USD 0.12.


Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) calculated for large scale ground-mounted PV power plants with the expected lifetime of 25 years

In addition to LCOE, we present a set of other socio-economic indicators to show the solar power generation potential in the context of economic, human, and social development.

While knowing a single averaged value over the country’s territory is useful, the indicator may not be representative enough for countries with a diversified geography. Therefore, we provide more detailed zonal statistics in the country factsheets prepared for individual countries. Where possible, PV installations tend to be concentrated in areas with the most favorable solar resource conditions, and often a minor portion of a country’s area with feasible practical potential may host enough capacity to meet the country’s entire energy demand. Given that, a higher percentile, instead of the average (e.g., 75% or maximum), could better illustrate the potential for installation of large PV power plants in a country.

The results show that the global range of practical PV potential (PVOUT) is, surprisingly, rather narrow. The distribution of air temperature (the second most important geographical factor, inversely affecting PVOUT) partially counteracts the distribution of theoretical potential by GHI (the main contributing factor). As a result, the difference between the countries with the highest (Namibia) and the lowest (Ireland) PV power potential is only slightly higher than a factor of two.


Thumbnail of the graph comparing the countries and regions (download the full size graph)

In total, 93% of the global population lives in countries where the average of daily PV  potential is in the range between 3 and 5 kWh/kWp. Around 20% of the global population lives in 70 countries boasting excellent conditions for PV, where the long term PVOUT average exceeds 4.5 kWh/kWp per day. On the opposite side of the ranking, 30 countries (accounting only for 9% of the global population) score the average PVOUT below 3.5 kWh/kWp, dominated by the European countries (except for Southern Europe) but including also, countries such as Japan and Ecuador. Even in the countries with lower PV performance, the potential is not dramatically lower compared to the top-performing group. For instance, the average practical potential of Slovakia amounts to about two-thirds of Morocco’s average. Lastly, countries in the favorable mid-range between 3.5 and 4.5 kWh/kWp account for 71% of the global population. These include the five most populous countries (China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil) and about 100 other countries.


Average practical PV power potential at Level 1 (PVOUT) compared to theoretical potential (GHI).

Comparing PVOUT with average electricity tariffs reveals why grid parity for solar is seen across the countries, regardless of the actual potential. The relative differences in electricity tariffs can by far exceed the differences in practical PV potential (and LCOE). Therefore, PV generation can be profitable also in countries with some of the lowest PV potential (such as Denmark, UK, Germany and Japan). Importantly, there are several countries with high tariffs (over USD 0.20) that host high PV potential at the same time (over 4 kWh/kWp). This group includes many of the island nations and countries with less developed electricity grids, where expensive and polluting small-scale diesel generators are the primary power generation source today.


Practical PV power potential (PVOUT) vs. typical average electricity tariffs

A comparison of the practical potential with further socio-economic indicators provides new insights. For example, less developed countries (as per human development index, reliability of electricity supply, and rural access to electricity) tend to have very high practical PV potential, so far untapped. There is a unique opportunity of PV technology to provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity services to a large share of humanity where improved economic opportunities and quality of life are the most needed.

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Solar Photovoltaics in Severe Weather: Cost Considerations for Storm Hardening PV Systems for Resilience

Resilience can be defined as the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions through adaptable and holistic planning and technical solutions (Hotchkiss 2016). Solar photovoltaic (PV) power has many advantages as a resilient power source, including the ability to provide power after a natural disaster. While solar arrays can survive severe weather events, in some case systems are compromised and left unable to provide power (Hotchkiss 2016). For PV systems to act as resilient power providers, they must remain operational. Building a system that is more likely to survive a severe storm event can come at a higher construction cost than those built to less stringent standards.

Previous efforts have identified various system measures and practices that can increase the likelihood of a PV system surviving a severe weather event (Robinson 2018; Burgess 2018; FEMA 2018). This report provides initial estimates for the up-front cost premiums for various methods of storm hardening PV systems.

This report aims to:

  1. Provide an initial estimate of the additional costs of various storm hardening measures for PV systems
  2. Disseminate information and about strengthening PV systems and to foster greater industry communication and momentum around the topic
  3. Promote a greater consideration for potential lifetime PV system maintenance costs
  4. Encourage a greater consideration of the site environmental conditions and extremeweather events a PV system is likely to encounter over its operational lifetime
  5. Help developers weigh the costs of storm hardening a PV system compared to the costsof recovering, repairing, and repowering a compromised system following an extremeweather event
  6. Provide a resource for developers installing systems in severe weather locations, siteoperators, investors, codes and standards developers, among others.
  7. Promote the installation of more resilient PV systems
  8. Form the foundations of future work to more accurately estimate the costs of installingresilient PV systems.Overall, the main steps to PV resilience are quality assurance in system design, quality control during installation, and ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) (Lopata 2019). Systems can fail because of one, two, or all steps, or for another reason altogether—a storm of extreme force, for example. To achieve more resilient PV systems, it is paramount that PV developers and installers promote rigorous attention to quality throughout the project. This report focuses largely on specific design features that can help make PV system’s more resilient, but ensuring quality construction and installation is equally important.This report investigates 13 storm hardening measures for solar PV systems, summarized in Table 1. For more background on these measures, please reference Robinson (2018).

This document summarizes early efforts to estimate the initial costs of storm hardening measures for PV systems. It is informed by feedback that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) received from industry experts through one-on-one interviews. This work is only as reliable as the feedback received, and NREL understands that some of the cost estimates may differ from actual costs from projects around the globe. Furthermore, system costs are constantly changing, so the values in this report represent an average snapshot of the state of the industry. We also do not account for local variation in costs. The authors welcome feedback to achieve an even more accurate representation of storm hardening costs.

This report analyzes ground-mounted and roof-mounted fixed tilt solar PV systems only. It does not include tracker systems because fixed tilt systems are typically sturdier and an installation constructed to be storm hardened should be designed to be more structurally stable. However, tracker systems currently account for the majority of large-scale PV being installed, and they are being installed in storm-prone regions. Future work will aim to investigate storm-hardening for PV tracking systems.

This report only analyzes initial costs of each of the considered measures. While it will naturally cost more to design and build a more robust system, this initial cost could lead to outyear cost savings. These lifecycle cost savings could come from reduced O&M, decreased repair costs, and shorter system downtimes, among others. While difficult to quantify, there is also a value in resilience and increasing the likelihood of a PV system providing power after a severe weather event.

An intended outcome of this report is to identify the long-term benefits of installing storm hardened PV systems. While the focus is on severe weather regions, many of the design principles could increase resilience in other regions, as well. This report may spur further research into this area, the development of products and solutions specifically tailored to severe weather sites, and to greater understanding of the value of resilient PV installations, all of which could lead to more resilient PV systems worldwide.

This report is available at no cost from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at http://www.nrel.gov/publications.

Download the Report

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Every year, we launch the Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) to present the latest data and facts on renewable energy policies, markets and investments. This year, however, something is different. We collectively witnessed the adoption of immediate and drastic measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuing lockdowns and economic consequences have disrupted everyone’s lives.

Time seems to be separated into a pre-COVID and a post-COVID period. Energy supply and demand have been dis- rupted, and carbon dioxide emissions fell. In such unprecedented times, stepping back to look at what happened in the renewable energy sector in 2019 may seem counterintuitive. But we need to do this.

It’s clear that we need to study the global picture with a long-term view to make the right decisions going forward. If we don’t, we risk getting sidetracked by a short-term perspective. As disruptive as COVID-19 has been, the crisis does not alter observable trends in the energy sector that have persisted for years. The truth remains: we need to enact a structural shift built on an efficient and renewable-based energy system if we want to decarbonise our economies.

Many of the same themes from prior years resurfaced again in GSR 2020. Year after year, we have reported success in the renewable power sector. And year after year, we have reported that renewables lag in other end-use sectors like heating, cooling and transport, and that these sectors suffer a lack of policy support. We need to report about successes as well as take a more critical look at areas where progress is weak, to enable better decision making and advance the uptake of renewables.

In the effort not only to provide accurate data but also to advance renewables in areas of weaker historic progress, GSR 2020 is different from former editions. Rather than only tracking support for renewables broadly, we decided to actively address the disconnect in progress among sectors. You will find some new figures and the start of ongoing data tracking on renewable energy policies, generation and use in different end-use sectors. We hope that this more specific look at each end-use sector (Buildings, Industry and Transport) will provide information needed to make better decisions.

At the halfway point of 2020, we find ourselves in a period of global flux. We are also in a moment of increasing conscious- ness: public support for renewables is at an all-time high, and many people are becoming more aware of the various benefits of renewable energy. Let’s seize this unique moment to create lasting policies, regulations and targets, and an environment that enables the switch to an efficient and renewable-based energy system. Globally. Now.

Some things don’t change, even after COVID-19. As with all REN21 publications, GSR 2020 is the product of a collabora- tive process built from an international community of renewable energy contributors, researchers and authors. This year’s report consolidates data from more than 350 experts to provide an up-to-date snapshot of the state of play of renewables. On behalf of the REN21 Secretariat, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the successful production of GSR 2020. Particular thanks go to the REN21 Research Direction Team of Hannah E. Murdock, Duncan Gibb and Thomas André; Special Advisors Janet L. Sawin and Adam Brown; the chapter authors; our editor Lisa Mastny; and the entire team at the REN21 Secretariat.

We sincerely hope that GSR 2020 will contribute to important changes in the near future.

Rana Adib

Executive Director, REN21

June 2020

Renewables grew rapidly in the power sector, while far

fewer advances have occurred in heating and transport.

Renewable energy had another record-breaking year in 2019i, as installed power capacity grew more than 200 gigawatts (GW) – its largest increase ever. Capacity installations and investment continued to spread to all corners of the world, and distributed renewable energy systems provided additional households in developing and emerging countries with access to electricity and clean cooking services. Also during the year, the private sector signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for a record amount of renewable power capacity, driven mainly by ongoing cost reductions in some technologies.

Shares of renewables in electricity generation continued to rise around the world. In some countries, the share of renewables in heating, cooling and transport also grew, although these sectors continued to lag far behind due to insufficient policy support and slow developments in new technologies. This resulted in only a moderate increase in the overall share of renewables in total final energy consumption (TFEC), despite significant progress in the power sector.

As of 2018, modern renewable energy (excluding the traditional use of biomass) accounted for an estimated 11% of TFEC, only a slight increase from 9.6% in 2013. The highest share of renewable energy use (26.4%) was in electrical uses excluding heating, cooling and transport; however, these end- uses accounted for only 17% of TFEC in 2017. Energy use for

transport represented some 32% of TFEC and had a low share of renewables (3.3%), while the remaining thermal energy uses accounted for more than half of TFEC, of which 10.1% was supplied by renewables. Overall, the slow growth in the renewable energy share of TFEC indicated the complementary roles of energy efficiency and renewables in reducing the contribution of fossil fuels in meeting global energy needs.

Among the general public, support for renewable energy continued to advance alongside rising awareness of the multiple benefits of renewables, including reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Governments around the world have stepped up their climate ambitions, and by year’s end 1,480 jurisdictions – spanning 28 countries and covering 820 million citizens – had issued “climate emergency” declarations, many of which were accompanied by plans and targets to transition to more renewable-based energy systems.

At the same time, while some countries were phasing out coal, others continued to invest in new coal-fired power plants, both domestically and abroad. In addition, funding from private banks for fossil fuel projects has increased each year since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, totalling USD 2.7 trillion between 2016 and 2019. Although energy-related CO2 emissions remained stable in 2019, the world is not on track to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (°C), let alone 1.5 °C, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement.

i The Renewables 2020 Global Status Report focuses on developments in renewable energy in 2019, and therefore does not reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy systems. For immediate impacts on the renewable energy sector as of mid-2020, see Sidebar 1. An overview of the full impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the sector will be included in GSR 2021.

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Distributed Solar Quality and Safety in India

Key Challenges and Potential Solutions

Executive Summary

In India, the quality and safety of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems—and their installation—have become a concern for investors, regulators, consumers, and distribution companies (discoms). The lack of quality standards and a push for low prices has led to the installation of poor-quality products and inferior system design and execution on site (Devi et al. 2018). These low-quality systems deliver less energy than expected and have a lower overall lifespan, which are serious issues for developers and investors whose return on investment depends on the amount of power generated from these solar systems for the expected life of the project. Equipment that does not conform to minimum quality standards also creates safety risks for business and homeowners. Overall, both performance and safety concerns lower investor and consumer confidence in solar products, threatening to slow market development, and are likely key contributing factors in slowing rooftop photovoltaic (RTPV) installations in India, particularly small- capacity systems (less than 100kW). Technical issues such as the absence of standards or monitoring systems, and the penetration of inferior-quality products in the market hamper the performance of the solar system and create a poor reputation for PV systems and the technology (Devi et al. 2018).

India is not alone; the solar quality and safety issues it faces mirror global experiences. Worldwide, residential RTPV consumers are typically unable to distinguish between low- and high-quality systems. RTPV system components vary in quality, and inadequate training leads to poor installation practices. Many inspection checklists and certification procedures to rectify these issues are already available in India, however, they are not always used because they are not mandatory, or the workforce is not aware of them, or may not have the technical capacity to comply. Demonstrations of quality products and installation practices are more effective if the information reaches the consumer in a clear way. A successful approach to improving residential RTPV system quality is likely to include an assortment of strategies by different stakeholders, as discussed later in this report.

This report provides solar quality and safety information and best practices that can help increase confidence in RTPV in India, particularly for small-capacity systems, and thus accelerate the growth of that sector. New data stemming from expert interviews and a stakeholder workshop shed light on common quality and safety technical issues at various stages of an RTPV system’s life (Figure ES- 1) and potential solutions for addressing them. To achieve the goal of a low-cost system with high energy yield, best practices must be followed at each stage of system life.

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A Renewable Energy Mini-Grid Technical Assistance Guide – Take-aways from 15 years of GIZ support in mini-grid market development

Executive Summary – Mini-grid technical assistance recommendations in a nutshell

Over the last 15 years, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has trialed, adjusted and refined approaches to providing technical assistance (TA) to govern- ments interested in rural electrification with mini-grids. This report uses the wealth of experience gathered by various

GIZ mini-grid programs and derives some essential lessons leading the way towards a new understanding of the role and aim of mini-grid TA.

Successful mini-grid TA overcomes the dilemma of expectations between governments and mini-grid companies. Governments typically want to see successful pilots readily deployed in their own country, plus potential financing for large-scale mini-grid roll-outs lined up before they take the effort of adjusting

the policy and regulatory framework. In contrast, private mini-grid companies want to see an enabling policy frame- work in place before they start investing. The TA provider brings the “loose ends” together through the promotion of successful mini-grid pilots, rural electrification and energy access planning, the development of mini-grid regulation in cooperation with the government, capacity building with the public sector as well as the private sector, the development

of country specific tender mechanisms, the acquisition of funding for large-scale mini-grid roll-out and the promotion of productive use of electricity and new business model development. GIZ project managers report that embedding
a mini-grid expert into the government partner’s organization 
has facilitated communication and capacity building, while various units and external experts address the many aspects
of project preparation and implementation. On the private sector’s side, hands-on support for pilot implementation (system design, financial modelling, capital acquisition, etc.) is usually more welcome than theoretical training sessions. The TA provider’s main challenge is to coordinate all relevant stakeholders including Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA), parliament, private sector, academia and civil society, towards finding a national consensus on the degree of gov- ernment funding channeled into mini-grids vs. mini-grid tariffs charged to electricity customers and institutionalizing imple- mentation instruments. While a complete national consensus is usually impossible to achieve, getting as close as possible to this national consensus requires comprehensive coordination

efforts, as well as the use of technically clear language in explaining state-of-the-art delivery models and regulatory concepts. Usually, the delivery model and related regulatory concept selected for implementation is also a direct deriva- tive of the discussion on the national consensus level. “The devil is in the detail”, and this is where GIZ’s long-term on-site presence, intercultural competence, institutional relations and long-term mini-grid TA experience has proved to play out especially well.

Mini-grid TA providers must understand that they have succeeded once the mini-grid market thrives without them and their service is no longer required. This can be achieved best through thorough front-to-end planning, whereby

the endgame of mini-grid TA is the hand-over of all market coordination tasks to a group of organizations managing the large-scale roll-out of mini-grids. These are usually government entities in cooperation with a development bank. In the past, this hand-over has often not worked as fluently as possible. In some cases, TA provider and development bank have found each other in competition for the same government staff resources in the implementation of projects on both ends. In other cases, development banks find frameworks have been developed in a manner unsuitable for large-scale investment, ignoring the fact that TA without the lever of large-scale financing which only development banks bring along, makes governments much less motivated to adapt and thus success is much harder to achieve.

When mini-grid TA providers are aware of development banks’ conditions to start a mini-grid roll-out program and financiers give a clear indication to the government that once these frameworks are in place, access to large-scale finance shall be available, both conflicts above can be resolved. In this manner, mini-grid TA providers have a clear aim to work towards, and development banks find perfect starting conditions once they enter the mini-grid space in a country. It is critical for the health of a renewable energy market that primary stakeholders are aligned, sending one clear message to the private sector, and for this, intense cooperation between government, TA providers and development banks is necessary.

The most fundamental condition for a mini-grid roll-out
is the financial sustainability of mini-grids. Innovations improving the financial sustainability of mini-grids are evolving with support from mini-grid TA. So-called Fourth Generation business models use mini-grids as a starting point to generate additional revenues beyond electricity sales to village customers. While larger financing windows are com- ing online in an effort to accelerate off-grid electrification, mini-grid TA is now tasked to identify and implement Fourth

Generation mini-grid business models in cooperation with mini-grid operators. In addition, new methods of electricity demand projection based on household Average Revenue Per Customer evaluations will probably soon help reduce the highest risk for profitability in mini-grids, the demand or volume risk. If TA can also overcome the mistrust between private sector and governments, leading to the private sector not embracing regulation, the basis for a successful and flourishing mini-grid sector is set.

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Executive Summary

Indian consumers have been deploying behind-the-meter generation (predominantly diesel backup, and, more recently, photovoltaic) and storage systems (predominantly lead-acid and other kinds of batteries as uninterrupted power supplies) by the millions for decades (Jaiswal et al. 2017; Seetharam et al. 2013; IFC 2019). These storage systems are used by consumers to address reliability issues within the Indian power system, and their deployment is driven by consumer preference rather than any specific government program or policy. However, the same energy storage systems could provide additional services to the consumer and distribution companies if properly regulated and designed from the outset to be grid interactive. Grid-connected distributed solar PV (DPV), or rooftop solar, has also seen wide deployment in India and features prominently in the Government of India’s plans for a transition to clean, reliable, and affordable energy for all. At the same time, many utilities and state governments, as well as the central government in India are currently funding-constrained for both operational and future capital expenditures in the power sector, and some perceive customer-sited resources as exacerbating existing financial challenges.

In that context, behind-the-meter energy storage systems paired with distributed photovoltaic (DPV)— with the capability to act as both generation and load—represent a potentially unique and disruptive power sector technology capable of providing a range of important services to customers, utilities, and the broader power system in India. Globally, jurisdictions with high penetration of DPV have seen faster uptake of behind-the-meter energy storage systems, such as in California and Hawaii (GTM and Energy Storage Association 2019). India, with more than 4 GW of installed rooftop solar, is primed for the uptake of behind-the-meter energy storage, as consumer economics become more attractive with the fast- falling cost of energy storage systems. A proper framework to coordinate the deployment and operation of these distributed systems can balance stakeholder benefits from their presence on the grid. Without appropriate regulations or technical requirements, however, these systems could potentially 1) cause safety concerns for the utility; 2) exacerbate utility revenue losses; or 3) limit the ability for stakeholders to achieve certain policy goals. This report aims to offer a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to designing customer programs based on experience in the United States that can help regulators, utilities, and policymakers in India manage the range of challenges and opportunities that increased behind-the- meter energy storage deployment will bring to the power system, in particular when these systems are paired with DPV.

This report has been prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for discussion purposes with a broad range of stakeholders. These include Indian regulatory agencies (such as the Forum of Regulators, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, and various State Electricity Regulatory Commissions), policy makers, utilities, and developers to inform a broader dialogue around the future direction of Indian states’ approach to regulating and facilitating DPV-plus-storage systems. Importantly, this report is intended to offer key regulatory considerations for facilitating DPV-plus-storage programs for retail customers. As the role of regulators is often to convene and balance the interests of a broad range of stakeholders, including policymakers, utilities and customers, this report focuses on their role in the development of behind-the-meter DPV-plus-storage programs. Throughout the report, relevant cases from U.S. states are provided as examples of how novel regulatory issues related to behind-the-meter energy storage systems paired with distributed photovoltaic are being addressed in practice.

Click here for the full report

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Solar Risk Assessment: 2019 – Quantitative Insights from the Industry Experts


“In God we trust, all others must bring data.” – American Statistician W. Edwards Deming
Rarely does a single investment yield both significant social and financial benefit. In this way, solar is unique: this rapidly growing asset class offers the promise of substantial returns on investment in both.

While the financial community is—rightfully—focused on newly emergent risks of this asset class, such as managing the merchant tail and basis risk, it’s important that the financial community remains vigilant on the question of solar production risk.

Over the past few years, it’s become in vogue for financial investors and pundits alike to publicly dismiss the possibility of a solar power plant underperforming, with remarks like, “The sun will always shine,” and “Panels always work because they have no moving parts.” Success breeds complacency, and complacency breeds failure.

We are among the industry’s leading experts on the measurement and management of solar production risk, cumulatively representing hundreds of years of experience in our respective fields. Each of us are risk specialists with in-depth data on a specific element of solar production risk.

Rather than publishing “yet another” opinion, we are committed to letting the data speak for itself. Designed intentionally for a non-technical financial community, this report will be refreshed every year to provide investors with the latest insights on the evolution of solar generation risk.

Fundamentally, it is our hope that this report will serve as a guide for investors who recognize the importance of allowing data-based insights to inform the deployment of capital.

We look forward to the shared work of advancing our solar industry.


kWh Analytics: The “1-in-100 Years” Worst Case Scenario? It Occurs More than 1-in-20 Yearspage3image44576960

DNV GL: Narrowing the Performance Gap: Reconciling Predicted and Actual Energy Production

PV Evolution Labs: Over 5% of Commercial PV Modules Fail IEC Testingpage3image44574080

Borrego Solar: Thoughtful Inverter Procurement Can Prevent 25% of Lost Revenue: Inverter Warranty Management

Clean Power Research: Understanding Irradiance Value in Solar Project Bankability: How to Sniff Out Irradiance Shopperspage3image44576192

Heliolytics: Recoverable Degradation: How to avoid 0.1%/yr Losses Clean Energy Associates: Aggregate Factory Report Shows High Levels of Major (35.5%) and Critical (1.3%) Findings Among Supplierspage3image44570816

Strata Solar: Force Majeure & Energy Modeling: 1 Hurricane, 81 PV Plants Downpage3image44567168

Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables: Solar O&M Pricing has Dropped ~60% with More to Comepage3image44571392

SunPower: Incomplete EPC Punch-listing Results in 1.2% Performance Loss in Year 1 Operations

Click here for the full report

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Data shows solar asset underperformance and bias towards optimistic pricing

Image: Black & Veatch

Solar assets are underperforming far more frequently than official energy estimates would suggest, validating an industry-wide bias towards overly optimistic pricing, according to the industry experts who contributed to KwH Analytics’ 2020 solar risk assessment report. “From a business standpoint, this means that smart investors need to take a step back and adjust to reality,” Richard Matsui, CEO and founder of kWh Analytics said.

“P90 downside events occur so often that they have nearly become P50,” kWh Analytics said in this year’s Solar Risk Assessment report. By definition, P90 events should occur once every 10 years, but they are now at least three times more frequent because of the unreliable energy estimates that have been baked into projections.

The situation is fueled, in part, by the fact that it is a seller’s market; buyers need to be competitive to get the best solar assets.

“Many projects perform up to the rosy expectations but, on average, projects are underperforming their financial expectations,” Jackson Moore, head of DNV GL’s solar section said, noting that the data-driven insights in the report make this clear. “We want data to be as accurate as possible, so it can support a sustainable solar industry,” Dana Olson, global solar segment leader at DNV GL added. Accuracy means avoiding a correction, he added, noting that the solar industry’s optimistic projections problem will not be solved without transparent insight into the sources of underperformance being experienced in the field today.

According to Matsui, the structural setup that underpins the aggressive solar production predictions bias exacerbates the situation. Like the big three credit rating agencies pre-financial crisis, the independent engineers that are hired by solar developers to give solar production estimates have an inherent profit motive for giving an aggressive projection, Matsui explained. “It’s a way to gain market share,” he said.

The data is hard to dispute, however. The report noted that for commercial scale solar projects optimistic irradiance assumptions contributed to a 5% underperformance on a weather-adjusted basis and that “weather-adjustment bias” is responsible for up to 8% bias in measured underperformance.

The report goes on to highlight O&M cost variation issues, disappointing inverter performance and the increasing frequency of diode and string anomalies after the first year.

Source: PV Mag

Click here to access the KWh 2020 report https://www.kwhanalytics.com/solar-risk-assessment

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