Disruptions in the energy industry: What are they and what impact will they have? These were the topics of the sixth BarCamp Renewables. Here is a short summary of the most important trends and theories. 

Lively kick-off discussion

Disruptions in the energy industry: intriguing statements from Martin Rühl, Julian Kretz and Daniel Bannasch

Disruptions in the energy industry: intriguing statements from Martin Rühl, Julian Kretz and Daniel Bannasch

This year, the BarCamp started with a panel discussion at Gleis1 in Kassel. Energy industry representatives discussed future disruptive forces in the energy industry. Martin Rühl from the Stadtwerke Union Nordhessen remarked that “renewables have already won the race for the future.”

Energy blogger Daniel Bannasch from Metropol Solar was also certain that renewables are now unstoppable: “With 1 m² of photovoltaics, it’s possible to drive 1,000 km per year with an electric car.” The Googles and Apples of this world have long realized this potential and will drive forward the goal of 100% renewables with new business areas, according to Bannasch. This is contrary to policies that prohibit, rather than promote, especially in Germany, which was a point that received much applause from the audience.

Lively discussion at the kick-off event

Lively discussion at the kick-off event

At the same time, concerns were expressed about how a decentralized, democratic, bottom-up energy transition can be achieved. Here, Julian Kretz from Next Kraftwerke pointed out that a great deal of the responsibility lies with public utilities and civilian-led energy cooperatives. It is exactly these important players who should be aware of the greater complexity and work more intensively with programmers and start-ups on digital solutions, to make sure they don’t get left behind.

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Law on digitization: the end for blockchain?

One of the top subjects at the BarCamp was the session by Marek Seeger, Information Security Manager at SMA, on the effects of the new German law on digitizing the energy transition. “With regard to security, the law on digitization, as far as the latest technology is concerned, is adequate, in principle, but future technologies will be impeded or even prohibited through the enforced use of smart meter gateways,” said Marek. Criticism was primarily directed at the insufficiently clear regulation on the use of smart meter gateways. It is not yet possible to assess the precise effects with regard to technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence. However, it is foreseeable that there is a massive potential for conflict here.Audience opinions were controversial: The legislators want to retain control and prevent monopolies by companies.

Bitcoin, blockchain and smart contracts

Bitcoin consultant Britta Aufermann shed light on the situation and was met with strong interest from participants. The clear message of the session was that Germany has failed to take advantage of this worldwide trend of trading in bitcoin. However, for the (digital) energy industry, it would be a major opportunity if it embraced the concept and took advantage of it by introducing a SolarCoin, for example. In particular, combining blockchain technology with photovoltaics could also reduce the energy resources to be used. Unfortunately, time was too short to deal with this subject in detail. However, everyone agreed that it is worth keeping up with this highly exciting topic.

 toniseba“Saubere Revolution 2030”

100% renewable energie sources in 2030 are not only possible but probable. This is demonstrated by Tony Seba in his book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation,” which is now also available in German as “Saubere Revolution 2030.” The initiative came from Daniel Bannasch, who picked up the book fresh from the printer on the morning of the BarCamp and sold it exclusively to the participants.

Winning the fight for attention, virally

During her session, Johanna Gampe, assistant lecturer at the University of Kassel, asked what kind of digital promotions renewables can harness to benefit them. The main point: Let’s talk less about the “what” and more about the “how.” For example, how do civilian-led energy cooperatives reach a broad public across all age groups to boost involvement? One possibility is viral communication via social media.

Detlef Beister from SMA on the win-win situation of digitization and photovoltaics

Detlef Beister from SMA on the win-win situation of digitization and photovoltaics

Photovoltaics are becoming increasingly digitized

During his session, Detlef Beister, Business Development Manager at SMA, presented the work of the SolarPower Europe Digitalization & Solar Task Force. He made it clear that digitization has already found its way into all points of the PV value chain. He also pointed out the political apathy and referred throughout the session to the ten “regulatory requirementss.” In these, the task force has formulated what is necessary for policy makers to do in order to ensure that the digital transformation of the energy system can be driven forward at pace.Read more about his work with PV industry association SolarPower Europe here: .


The sixth BarCamp Renewables was an event full of content, with 120 participants presenting exciting examples of success and discussing the most important questions for a digitized, renewable energy supply of the future. Naturally, there was also a hands-on test from the e-mobility sector: In addition to the two e-cars, BarCamp participants also tried out an electric skateboard by Mellow for the first time.

It will therefore be exciting to see what kind of electric vehicles participants will use to arrive next year and which of the concepts from today will already be the electricity of yesterday 😉

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Les propriétaires d’installations photovoltaïques veulent naturellement recueillir le plus de soleil possible. Cependant, que se passe-t-il si un arbre, une cheminée ou même une maison voisine génère de l’ombre sur les panneaux photovoltaïques ? Aucun problème car SMA a la solution adaptée en fonction de la quantité d’ombrage.

Dans cet article, nous vous présenterons nos solutions et vous expliquerons quelle option choisir suivant la situation.

1. OptiTrac Global Peak : gestion de l’ombrage inclus dans l’onduleur SMA

Le tracker MPP de l’onduleur solaire a une influence décisive sur la production énergétique d’une installation photovoltaïque partiellement ombragée. Il exploite en permanence les modules photovoltaïques qui lui sont affectés à leur puissance optimale, également connu sous le nom de point de puissance maximale (MPP).


Nous avons optimisé le MPP tracking grâce à la fonction de gestion de l’ombrage OptiTrac Global Peak, spécialement développée pour les systèmes PV impactés par environ 15-20 % d’ombrage. Cette fonctionnalité équipe tous les onduleurs string SMA. En cas d’ombrage, OptiTrac Global Peak reconnaît automatiquement les performances maximales globales du module affecté et peut donc utiliser presque entièrement l’énergie disponible d’une chaîne partiellement ombragée.

Les avantages d’OptiTrac Global Peak

  • Gestion de l’ombrage gratuite et intégrée
  • Aucun dispositif auxiliaire nécessaire
  • Rendement énergétique cinq fois plus élevé, sans coûts supplémentaires

Dans cette vidéo, découvrez comment fonctionne OptiTrac Global Peak :

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2. Optimiseurs SMA TS4-R-O

Si plus de 20 % des panneaux photovoltaïques sont ombragés au cours de la journée, il est judicieux d’équiper le système photovoltaïque d’optimiseurs SMA TS4-R-O. L’optimiseur permet un suivi MPP à l’échelle du module photovoltaïque et permet ainsi d’optimiser les rendements énergétiques des modules, même en cas d’ombrage.

Avantages de l’optimiseur SMA
  • Gestion de l’ombrage à l’échelle du module
  • Seuls les modules affectés par l’ombrage doivent être équipés d’un optimiseur
  • Rapide et facile à installer
  • Jusqu’à 10 % de rendement énergétique en plus

Cette vidéo vous montre comment fonctionne l’optimiseur SMA :

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In a timely reminder for the national negotiators now starting their work in Bonn (dubbed ‘Fiji on the Rhine’ given the Presidency) at COP23, PwC recently released their annual Low Carbon Economy Index, which showed yet again that current emission reduction plans for the global economy do not match the goal of the Paris Agreement.

PWC Paris Pledges

While a handful of economies are in the ballpark of the required trajectory, these are by far the exception rather than the rule.

PWC Intensity Chart

The annual UNEP Gap Report has also just been released and arrives at a similar conclusion, with Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment saying;

“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future.”

The key issue with a cumulative problem such as the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide, is that the correction required becomes steeper with each passing year that the build-up goes unchecked. Say for example that the 2°C goal requires a linear reduction in emissions from 2015 to 2075, i.e. from 40 Gt per annum CO2 to net-zero in 60 years, with the area under that line being 1,200 Gt (40*60/2). If the first five years, i.e. from 2015 to 2020, result in a flat trajectory with no reductions, then the resulting trajectory from 2020 must reach net-zero by 2070 for the same total cumulative emissions. This means that every year of delay to the point at which emissions start falling means a year earlier in terms of reaching net-zero.

The Paris Agreement attempts to deal with this by utilizing its 5-year ratchet mechanism, where every five years the nationally determined contributions (NDC) are progressively ratcheted in terms of ambition. But the Agreement gives no guidance as to how that ratchet mechanism will work, other than the timetable on which it operates. It does however assume that information will be offered through the global stocktake, which will also operate on a 5-year cycle. The Paris Agreement says;

Each Party shall communicate a nationally determined contribution every five years.

 Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition.

 The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall undertake its first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

 The outcome of the global stocktake shall inform Parties in updating and enhancing, in a nationally determined manner, their actions and support in accordance with the relevant provisions of this Agreement, as well as in enhancing international cooperation for climate action.

In addition, the Decision Text to the Paris Agreement offers an early process to take stock, to inform the first round of NDC updates and requests with urgency that the Parties revise their NDCs with a first update in 2020.

Decides to convene a facilitative dialogue among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Agreement and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 8, of the Agreement.

 Urges those Parties whose intended nationally determined contribution pursuant to decision 1/CP.20 contains a time frame up to 2025 to communicate by 2020 a new nationally determined contribution and to do so every five years thereafter pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 9, of the Agreement;

 Requests those Parties whose intended nationally determined contribution pursuant to decision 1/CP.20 contains a time frame up to 2030 to communicate or update by 2020 these contributions and to do so every five years thereafter pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 9, of the Agreement;

So, there is a mechanism in place, but no real detail on its operation. The maths behind the process should be straightforward, based on cumulative emissions to date and cumulative emissions remaining for a 2°C goal. The UNFCCC has already published data on the cumulative emissions impact of the NDCs. In addition, the IPCC 5th Assessment Report and forthcoming special report on a 1.5°C offer advice on the total cumulative emissions for a given warming limit, so the data to do the maths is available. What is lacking however, is any translation of this maths to the NDCs.

For the Paris Agreement to deliver on its goal, this problem will need considerable attention. Although the NDCs are nationally determined, a foundation principle of the Agreement, that determination cannot take place in a vacuum, with national eyes simply focused inwards. That is presumably the reason for the five-yearly stocktakes and the facilitative dialogue in 2018.

Yet, it is not the prerogative of the UNFCCC to make decisions on national actions nor is there even a clear role for the COP or CMA (the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement) in coercing Parties to adopt NDCs that reflect the climate goals of the Agreement. Rather, the pressure comes from the Agreement itself, embedded in many places, but never with absolute clarity. For example, Parties are asked to prepare long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, to be informed by the global stock-take and to work cooperatively together, all of which should facilitate progress towards a common goal.

Article 13 of the Paris Agreement sets out the need for an enhanced transparency framework, which perhaps comes closest to the coercive role that is needed to push the Parties towards a successful outcome. The purpose of the framework is clearly stated in 13.5;

The purpose of the framework for transparency of action is to provide a clear understanding of climate change action in the light of the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2, including clarity and tracking of progress towards achieving Parties’ individual nationally determined contributions under Article 4, and Parties’ adaptation actions under Article 7, including good practices, priorities, needs and gaps, to inform the global stocktake under Article 14.

The task that now confronts the negotiators in Bonn is to turn this into a set of modalities and procedures that brings reality to the process of establishing and implementing NDCs. This will not be an easy task in that they will be caught between the rock that is national sovereignty and the hard place that is reflected in the climate maths above. But unless progress is made in this area, the Paris Agreement will forever struggle to effectively and efficiently deliver on its goals.

COP 23 needs to confront this challenge head on!

India’s renewable energy push is a commendable shift that promises to bring socio-economic change and drive progress. Government support has been the primary force behind this growth and scaling from 10 MW of solar capacity in 2010 to 13 GW in 2017. Besides utility scale installations, Government support has spurred a growth trend within rooftop solar sector, showing a 72 MW per year to 227 MW per year growth since 2013. Presently, India has near about 1,660 MW of installed capacity in rooftop solar sector. And expected 90% year-over-year growth expectancy within the solar sector, promised to increase rooftop solar installed capacity.

Although, solarisation within the country is growing, our green energy future is still not in our control. Government initiatives like Make in India, Power for All, Surya Mitra, and even the 100 GW target by 2022 revolves around immediate solarisation and socio-economic growth of the country. However, as our present solar growth depends on importing solar modules, the core purpose behind green energy shift still remains unrealized.

Continuous Solar Module Imports and Its Effect

India has imported approximately 161.5 million solar panels in FY 2014–15 amounting to almost $821mn, which is a 15.45% ($ mn) growth over last year’s expenditure of $711.12 mn. In FY 15-16, the expenditure jumped to $2.3 bn and within FY16-17, India spent $3.2 billion in solar equipment imports, which is about 35 times its solar equipment export. Records show that within April-July FY 17-18, Indian solar module import expense has already reached $1.5bn, estimated to surpass past year records. Chinese modules being 8-10% cheaper than the domestically manufactured modules are the reason behind such unwavering focus on importing solar modules.

However, increase in solar module imports has also led to drastic fall in tariff. India has seen solar tariff fall from Rs 12.76-10 per kWh in 2010-11 to INR 2.44/per unit in 2017 (near about 90 per cent fall). Decreasing solar tariff is making solar projects financially unviable, by shrinking down the ROI generation. This is scaring off investors and putting Indian solar growth on an unstable ground.

Increase in imports has also reduced demand for domestic manufacturers (8 out of 10 module suppliers within India are Chinese), which has made existing capacity utilization an unfair challenge, and capacity enhancement moot.

These practices are increasing forex outflow, allowing foreign (Chinese) suppliers more than 80% of the domestic industry, blocking the road to job creation, and pushing out India from the highly lucrative solar export market. All this is leading India to practically import the solar dream, making it costly to realize a fraction of the idea, while the primary purpose remains frozen.

Manufacturing Scenario and Its Importance

Solar energy source is free indeed, but the components used to harvest the energy (solar panels) are not. Therefore, it is easy to understand that allowing solar manufacturing industry to centralize in foreign countries, will lead India to spend money for energy just like importing fossil fuels.

Countries like- China and the US have understood this and have aggressively expanded their domestic manufacturing capacity, thus controlling the price and improving the quality of panels. With better products and cheaper price, China and the US have claimed large portions of the global market through exports, becoming leaders in the solar industry. Although, Indian Government has introduced Make in India, Power for All, and brought DCR quota projects to help increase demand for domestic manufacturers; delays in awarding projects, lack of investment in domestic manufacturing, lack of R&D have allowed limited growth in capacity enhancement and utilization.

Limited involvement in domestic capacity enhancement and utilization, will only result in limited or disproportionate growth of Indian industrial structure. Which is far away from making Indian solar industry global competitive.

The Right Decision for Growth

If the country focuses on reducing imports and utilizing domestic capacities, it will help India save up to $42 billion in equipment imports by 2030 in solar industry only. Besides concentrating on domestic manufacturing will urge in R&D development, thus helping India improve module quality and control product prices, winning a considerable position in the export market.

Expanding domestic manufacturing capacity and utilizing it can become the advantage for India, that dominant solar countries are already enjoying. It will help India develop an industrial eco-system controlling solar component supply chain, bringing in industrial growth, creating jobs, and ultimately, introduce socio-economic growth.

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