Global PV Installation Leaders of 2011 Announced
Global solar PV installations are expected to reach 24 GW this year, up from 19 GW in 2010, according to a new report from IMS Research. Trends in Europe have shifted and American and Asian markets are booming. Despite a relatively slow start, installations have seen an overall rise of 24 percent in the last year around the world.
Although installations have recently surged, the demand for PV components is down due to a high level of inventory. “Despite installations in the second half of the year being almost double those in the first half, most suppliers didn’t see any considerable uptick in orders. This is simply as a result of the high inventory levels in the channel, with customers installing previously purchased modules and inverters”, explained Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director for Photovoltaics and author of the report.
Italy the New Number 1
The report indicates that Italy has displaced Germany as the world's largest market of PV installations, expected to deliver 6.8 GW of new capacity. Despite the country's strong performance, Europe's shares have seen an overall drop. Due to the slow-downs in countries like Germany and the Czech Republic, installations have only grown by an underwhelming 3 percent in the last year.
“The upswing in Italian installations won’t be sufficient to counter falls from Germany and the Czech Republic and Europe’s share of global installations will sharply fall from 82% in 2010 to 68% in 2011”, noted Sharma.
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Growth in Other Markets
Meanwhile, American and Asian markets will account for 85 percent of the global growth installations in 2011 and are expected to continue to lead through 2012. The U.K., a recent addition to the list, is set to become the 8th largest PV market this year, reaching over 500 MW in solar capacity. Only three other European countries will make it onto the report's top 10 markets for 2011. The US will come in third, followed by China.
“The PV market continues to diversify in 2011; this will create short-term pain for suppliers that can no longer solely rely on one market to fuel their growth, but creates long-term stability for the industry by helping to balance the effects of a single country’s incentive policy and reduce large swings in supply and demand. This diversification is clearly continuing to happen and we have identified 20 markets that will install more than 100 MW in 2011, up from just 14 last year”, commented Sharma.
USS pension fund buys 50% stake in Bruc Energy
The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) private pension fund has taken a 50% stake in Bruc Energy, a Spain and Portugal renewables-focussed investment vehicle created by OPTrust and Spanish businessman, Juan Béjar.
In the transaction arranged by USS Investment Management, the wholly-owned subsidiary and principal investment manager and advisor to the Scheme, USS has invested €225M (c.£200m) in return for the stake in a major pipeline of 4,000MW of PV farms. Bruc Energy has an ambitious growth plan that goes beyond this to invest in other green energies, such as wind power.
USS, which announced two weeks ago its aim to be net zero by 2050, already has a strong relationship with both OPTrust and Juan Bejar through Globalvia, a specialist infrastructure platform focussed on managing rail and highways assets around the world.
Spain’s sun-drenched climate and national target to reach 100% renewable-based generation by 2050 make it an attractive place to invest in solar energy. In addition, the decades long lifespan of solar PV panels make them well-suited to USS in helping pay members’ pensions long into the future.
USS Investment Management CEO, Simon Pilcher, said: “We are delighted to be committing further finance to renewables and particularly to a major Spanish solar platform like this. We have already invested or committed around £1 billion to renewable energy and demand for this will only increase as more and more countries transition to lower carbon. We know that our members care very much about climate change and ESG and we are convinced that USS playing its part in supporting the transition to a low carbon economy makes good financial sense, too. This announcement closely follows on from our stated ambition to become Net Zero by 2050 so this transaction and others like it will be a key plank of our strategy going forward.”
Gavin Merchant, Co-Head of Direct Equity, said: “We have worked alongside OPTrust and Juan Béjar for many years and are delighted to be making this investment. The long-term nature of solar and the steady returns make renewables attractive to a pension scheme needing to pay pensions for years to come.”
OPTrust’s Morgan McCormick, Managing Director, Private Markets Group UK said: “We are excited to have USS join Bruc Energy building on our strong existing relationship. Their investment will help Bruc become one of the leading renewable energy platforms in Spain. At OPTrust, we believe that investing in renewable energy helps transitions the world to a more sustainable economy. In doing so, we can continue to deliver on our mission of paying pensions today and preserving pensions for tomorrow.”
Béjar said the partnership is a key step to establishing Bruc as one of the more dynamic players in the renewables industry in Spain, because it ensures access to the funds to develop our current portfolio. "All three shareholders of Bruc Energy share a long-term vision, but also the ambition and the social responsibility to counter the effects of climate change in the short-term," he said.
Following the transaction, which remains subject to conditions, including regulatory approval, Bruc Energy will be owned 50% by USS and BROP, a vehicle owned by OPTrust and Béjar. The transaction was advised by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Greenhill and Nomura. Juan Béjar will be the president of Bruc Energy and Luis Venero the CEO.