Schneider Electric Sees U.S. as a Growth Market for Utility-Scale Solar Projects

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Along with innovations in solar technology, we placed a strong focus on the growth of the U.S. utility-scale market at this year’s Solar Power International (SPI) in Las Vegas, Nevada. SPI is the largest solar show in North America, with a 20% increase in overall attendance in 2016.

The U.S. continues to be one of the biggest markets for utility-scale solar projects, boosted by multi-year extension of Federal ITC and various state level policies and legislation. With approximately 36 GW expected to be installed in the next five years, utility-scale solar power generation has become a critical element of U.S. power generation infrastructure.

The U.S. is also expected to be the first major market to adopt 1500-volt technology, helping to further optimize the Levelized Cost of Energy from solar. At SPI we completed the U.S. launch of the Conext SmartGen, a cloud-connected 1500-volt utility-scale power conversion system for PV and energy storage applications. By combining the best in power electronics design with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and data analytics technologies, the Conext SmartGen reduces power plant operating expenses and at the same time increases system availability and total power generation.

With proven expertise in energy management, solar, and storage, we are focused on delivering bankable technology solutions for safe, reliable, and sustainable power generation.  We look forward to continuing this discussion with our customers at Energy Storage North America 2016 at booth 520 in San Diego from October 4-6.

Posted on: | Posted in: Life at Schneider Electric.

In 1987, the Brundtland Report was published and the term sustainable development  was coined. One of the key concepts of the Brundtland report has been to give priority to the needs of the world’s poor. However, 20 years after its publication, 1.1 billion people worldwide are still lacking the basic access to electricity and 87 percent live in rural areas. At Schneider Electric, sustainability is at the heart of our company strategy and we strive to solve the global energy dilemma as we believe that access to energy is a basic human right.

Yet today’s energy demands on the planet are enormous with global primary energy demand expected to increase 32 percent by 2040. How do we meet the increased energy demand while undertaking the challenge of bringing clean energy to everyone? How can we balance this energy paradox responsibly? Our future depends on how we meet the energy challenge and how we create more efficient, more sustainable and more innovative solutions to ensure that Life is On™ everywhere.

2 degrees Celsius

This is the limit in global temperature rise if we are to avoid irreversible damage to our planet and thus our society. To keep global temperatures from rising, greenhouse gas emissions need to fall as much as 70% around the world by 2050 and to zero by the end of this century. Yet, greenhouse gas emissions will rise with the increase in energy demand while a decrease by 41% is required for the world to achieve the environmental targets, outlined at Paris Climate Conference (COP21). We are committed to solving this challenge and at COP21 in December 2015 we announced to become a carbon neutral company by 2030 with 10 commitments to support our sustainability objectives.

Our continuous efforts in sustainability haven’t gone unnoticed and we have been named Industry Leader in the DJSI World and Europe Index for the 4th consecutive year. The index is the result of annual evaluation of companies’ sustainability practices in which over 3,400 listed companies around the world are analyzed, based on questions focusing on economic, environmental and social factors. While we are honoured by this recognition, climate change remains a global challenge and a challenge for everyone.

Tackling the energy challenge

Energy efficiency targets can only be met through the right energy mix with a focus on increasing the share of renewable energy and innovative solutions. Solar energy combined with our innovative solar and energy storage solutions provide a reliable, powerful and environmentally safe alternative. With more than 15 years of experience in solar and energy storage management, we help companies minimize their carbon footprint and meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

For more information, view Strategy & Sustainability Highlights 2015 – 2016.

Tokyo, Japan, November 1, 2016 – As one of Japan’s leading renewable energy independent power producers, Nippon Renewable Energy K.K. (representative: Adam Ballin, main office: Minato-ku, Tokyo, hereinafter: “NRE”) and Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation (representative: Kosuke Matsuzaki, main office: Minato-ku, Tokyo), announced a comprehensive technology partnership in conjunction with the commissioning of NRE’s latest 36MW solar power plant, Mito Solar Power Plant, located in Mito city, Ibaraki Prefecture (“Mito Solar”).

Mito Solar is NRE’s largest commissioned solar power plant to date and forms part of a 510MW solar generation portfolio across 9 prefectures in Japan. Mito Solar generates 43,420MWh of energy per annum and occupies 42 hectares on the site of a former golf course. On an annual basis, it provides 8,713 households with electricity, saves 25,326 tons of CO2 as well as 43.3 million liters of water. In addition, its construction created 250 local jobs for civil, electrical and construction contractors.

NRE is headquartered in Tokyo with three offices in Aomori, Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures. NRE is focused on the long-term ownership and operation of solar power plants incorporating the highest standards of technological and operational excellence. As a vertically integrated IPP, NRE has the in-house capabilities to take projects from initial planning to commercial operations, covering all phases of project development and financing, technical engineering, construction management, and operations and maintenance. It operates with a fully integrated local team of 57 professionals with expertise in land acquisition, technical design, project management and O&M.

In recognition of Schneider Electric’s expertise in containerized power conversion technology, NRE and Schneider Electric have established a technology framework agreement to deploy Schneider Electric’s proprietary PV-BOX systems on 17 future solar project sites (10 of which are under construction). This is in addition to the 5 sites (105MW) that NRE has already installed Schneider PV-BOX systems. By combining the main power conversion equipment into a single package, the PV-BOX reduces system costs and space, while improving maintainability.

NRE has also partnered with Schneider Electric to provide electrical O&M services across its 510MW solar portfolio. Schneider Electric will co-locate 20 professionals at NRE’s offices in order to provide a market leading quality of service on the preventative and corrective maintenance of inverters and all related AC equipment including transformers, MV switchgears, DC boxes, array boxes and control monitoring systems via a 98% availability guarantee and 24 hour emergency response times. NRE will utilize Schneider Electric’s proprietary monitoring and data analysis systems, Conext Controls and Conext Advisor, to ensure optimal performance management on each solar plant.

“NRE is committed to the long term success and viability of the Japanese renewable energy industry, and the strengthening of Japan’s overall energy security. We are working diligently to build and operate facilities that produce clean, safe and sustainable electricity that we and the local community can take pride in. In order to enhance our position as a leading industry player, NRE will continue to adapt its business to embrace changes in the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, recent electricity deregulation, regulatory developments and technological enhancements,” said Adam Ballin, Representative Director of NRE.

“Schneider Electric is excited to form a strong partnership with NRE in both inverter components and electrical maintenance services to contribute to the effective and efficient operation of renewable energy facilities in Japan by providing products and solutions that are highly reliable and offer a good return on investment,” said Pierre-Emmanuel Frot, Solar Power Generation Global Business Vice President at Schneider Electric.

NRE strives to serve as a responsible Japanese corporate citizen and member of its local communities with CSR initiatives centered on education, health and environmental awareness. NRE has partnered with Schneider Electric to donate 10kW solar systems to local public schools to provide free electricity and educate students on the benefits of renewable energy.

 

About Nippon Renewable Energy K.K.

Nippon Renewable Energy K.K. is an independent Japanese renewable energy utility business with its head office in Tokyo, Japan and local offices in Aomori, Ibaraki and Fukushima prefectures. NRE employs a strong local team of experienced development, design, project management engineers and investment professionals who are designing, financing, constructing and operating over 500MW in Japan. For further information about Nippon Renewable Energy, please visit http://nipponenergy.co.jp/en/

About Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. With revenues of ~€27 billion in FY2015, our 160,000+ employees serve customers in over 100 countries, helping them to manage their energy and process in ways that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. From the simplest of switches to complex operational systems, our technology, software and services improve the way our customers manage and automate their operations. Our connected technologies reshape industries, transform cities and enrich lives. At Schneider Electric, we call this Life Is On. www.schneider-electric.com

Press Contacts:

Nippon Renewable Energy

Ayako Masse

TEL: 03-5425-7220

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Schneider Electric Japan

Mayumi Kanamitsu

TEL:080-3022-3067

Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bioenergy, renewable energy derived from biological sources, today accounts for as much as three-quarters of total final renewable energy use — making it by far the most widely used renewable energy source worldwide. IRENA estimates that to meet international climate change targets, the share of renewable energy will need to be doubled by 2030, and bioenergy can account for around half of that.

Falling costs and favourable policies have resulted in a dramatic rise in installed generation capacity worldwide, but the deployment of renewables is at times still stalled by projects that do not meet the specific standards required to obtain the necessary financial support. To support the successful development of woody biomass projects, IRENA has launched new technical guidelines on Woody Biomass, as part of its online Project Navigator platform. Just as the utility-scale solar PV guidelines, released last October, the newly released guidelines describe in nine stages what is needed to plan, establish, operate, and decommission a bankable woody biomass project.

“These guidelines can be used by project developers, public service units, academia, and anyone who wants to know how to develop a bankable woody biomass project,” said Dolf Gielen, Director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre. The Technical Concept Guidelines for Woody Biomass joins IRENA’s collection of expanding resources for project development that already includes on-shore wind and utility-scale solar PV plants. “Through IRENA’s supportive guidance, project developers can use tools and templates in nine stages to navigate potential project pitfalls and deploy woody biomass projects successfully,” Gielen explains.

But what are these nine stages, and what do project developers need to consider in each phase to avoid stalling their projects?

Getting started

“Most renewable energy businesses are based on long-term agreements with utilities, or they sell into a large and established market,” says Roland Roesch, IRENA’s Senior Programme Officer for Renewable Energy Markets and Technology Dialogue. “Managing project risks is crucial as both the feedstock and the targeted market may change or even disappear during the lifetime of the project. One mitigation measure lies in identifying a range of feedstock sources, markets and technologies, rather than fixating on only one solution. This is the first step, the identification stage.”

An outline of the interactions between various project stakeholders.An outline of the interactions between various project stakeholders.

After the identification stage, screening can begin. Screening involves making comparisons between feedstock, business models, related policies and programmes, and project sites. IRENA’s guidelines help planners address typical ‘show-stoppers’ — issues that can cause a biofuel project to fail — and advises that projects should be thoroughly checked in their early development process to avoid wasting energy and money investments.

Assessing a number factors like feedstock type and availability, community concerns, market data, cost estimates, preliminary financial assessment, project options, and ranking of options, are crucial. “The cost of a plant increases with its size, capacity and projected output, and so there are economy-of-scale effects to take into account,” explains Roesch. “Essentially, the larger a plant gets, the lower the cost per tonne of plant capacity will be. It’s in the assessment phase that project planners can identify the ‘sweet spot’ between costs and plant capacity.”

The selection stage involves stakeholders and external decision makers who evaluate the bankability of project alternatives. These decision makers investigate the relative financial viability of alternatives, long-term feedstock availability, the availability of human resources, and any potential issues that could cause the project to fail.

After the selection phase, pre-development of the project can begin, during which technical and economic planning is done. Major engineering studies are undertaken, including the conceptual design of the processing plant, and these form the basis for the project’s permits, licences and authorisations.

An illustration of the flow of activities during the pre-development phase.An illustration of the flow of activities during the pre-development phase.

Building bankability

The final development phase of the project is the single most critical phase of the whole development process. Final decisions that affect the project’s future performance, are taken, and all activities previously performed under multiple tasks and in different project development steps are finalised to decide if and when the project is ‘bankable.’

“A project is generally considered bankable if a bank or lenders are willing to finance it,” says Simon Benmarraze, an analyst working on the Project Navigator. “Each lender and investor has criteria to judge whether a project is bankable. Specifically, bankability means that the results of the financial model are in line with the expectations of investors and lenders.”

A project’s construction phase stretches from equipment procurement, to construction, installation and plant commissioning. The key concerns for project developers during construction should be cost, quality, and planning control measures.

Once construction is complete, the hopefully long period of operations should be begin. The focus of this phase should be to achieve and consistently maintain projected production levels and product quality, with the careful monitoring of feedstock quality, and best storage and processing practices.

The key stakeholders that take part in a medium- to large-scale biomass fuel-production plant.The key stakeholders that take part in a medium- to large-scale biomass fuel-production plant.

“Constant maintenance, fine-tuning, and adjustment are necessary to maintain smooth operations and uniform product parameters,” explains Benmarraze. “Some of these skills cannot be prescribed but depend on the equipment used, and will become part of the in-house knowledge of the biofuel producer.”

At the end of a project’s lifecycle, decommissioning begins. During this phase a biofuel plant may either be re-tooled so that it can continue to operate, or it can be decommissioned and its site rehabilitated.

In anticipation to the launch of the new guidelines, IRENA held an hour-long webinar covering the development of a bankable woody biomass project, which can be viewed in its entirety on IRENA’s YouTube channel or below. To learn more about developing a bankable renewable energy project, visit the IRENA Project Navigator website and try out its modules.
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