Things are changing fast in the solar industry. For this reason, PVcase will constantly provide a summary of the most prominent news in the solar industry sector. We’ll share the latest news that we have found to be interesting and thought-provoking. Let’s see what happened in January — the first month of the already eventful 2023.

Switzerland startup tries to deploy solar on railways

Sun-Ways, a Swiss startup, has developed a solution to roll out solar modules in between railway tracks. The project should go online around May 2023. The mechanically detachable PV plates will occupy a Swiss railway track section.

The pre-assembled solar plates are easily removable in case of maintenance needs. Considering the 7000 kilometers in Switzerland, the benefit of this invention can be enormous. Experts calculated that it could potentially generate up to 1 Twh of energy.

Sun-Ways is also thinking of introducing its idea to other markets. Europe has around 260,000 kilometers of railways, while there are 1.16 million kilometers of rail tracks across the globe. The company has already pitched the idea to several European and US investors.

US solar asset owners at risk of revenue loss due to weather and supply chain issues

US solar project developers and asset owners are at risk of revenue loss due to supply chain disruptions and operational module damage. The latter was caused by severe hail storms battering solar power plants all over the country. For example, hail storms caused around 330 million dollar solar losses in Texas in 2022.

With imports seized at the border due to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), the developers struggle to find replacement modules on time. These disturbances can cause a significant revenue loss to the US solar market. Damaged non-operational equipment can bring a year’s worth of revenue loss. Considering that many suppliers have 12-month revenue protection, the extended inability to replace the damaged modules within one year can cause significant losses.

The situation with Chinese suppliers showcased the disadvantages of isolated supply chains and reliance on a single source. Solar developers must reconsider their strategies and evaluate whether the current issues are worth the lower costs. Some developers have already started putting more effort into researching their suppliers’ backgrounds and looking for alternative sources (e.g., India).

EU passed a landmark emergency law to support rapid solar installations

In December 2022, the EU adopted an emergency law to address citizens’ calls for structured and renewable-based solutions to the energy crisis. The law will hopefully accelerate the process of solar plants deployment in Europe.

The law has been adopted due to rising energy prices, and it’s the first time the EU has used such emergency means to push forward renewable energy initiatives. The EU countries can legally restrict the timeline for bureaucratic processes for solar installations to three months, while projects under 50 kWh can expect a one-month administrative cap.

This new regulation will run for an 18-month transition until the EU Renewable Energy Directive is updated and adopted in 2024. While this temporary law is in place, the EU is working on setting renewable targets for 2030. The current goal is to support 40% of renewables in the EU until 2030. However, this falls short of the minimum 45% target the institutions are aiming to achieve.

Saltwater battery for large-scale storage unveiled

Salgenx, a US startup, has created a scalable redox flow battery with two electrolyte tanks, one of which is filled with saltwater. The battery can be used for standalone storage or combined with solar and wind power.

The new battery has an energy density of 125.7 Wh/L. It consists of two large tanks, one of which is saltwater and the other a proprietary electrolyte. The fluids are circulated through electrodes, which regulate the input and output of electricity from the battery. The new device is membrane-free, saving huge upfront purchase costs, maintenance, and consumable expenses. Its capacity can also be increased by adding additional electrolyte tanks.

Salgenx is in the process of developing the technology and commercializing it via third-party manufacturers.

Administrators are settling the future of Sun Cable

Sun Cable, the developer of the world’s largest intercontinental energy and solar storage project, is now in the bidding process between two of Australia’s wealthiest individuals. Sun Cable’s PowerLink project aims to export clean energy from Australia to Singapore via a 4.200-kilometer submarine cable.

PowerLink’s fate will probably be decided in three months, with Sun Cable being sold or recapitalized by the end of April. The administrators said that Sun Cable would be put on sale before the end of January due to the strong level of interest in the company and its PowerLink venture. Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and Atlassian co-founder Cannon-Brookes are expected to bid for the company.