Solar power is continuing to spread to a vaster majority of the world. For instance, in both Latin America and South America, solar power is expanding in places like Chile and Mexico. Meanwhile solar continues to grow in the U.S. as well as MidAmerican plans to issue a new round of bonds to support one of its giant PV projects in the U.S. southwest. For the first time California’s major solar installations have exceeded 2 gigawatts of production. Also, increasing evidence shows that solar and sustainability is becoming more important to both employers and employees, but they’re still not sure how to get there.
Chile is proving to be one of the biggest markets for solar in South America. For instance, last week Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power partnered with pan-emerging market investor Actis on a $1.4 billion deal to install 600 megawatts of wind and solar projects in Chile by early 2016. They’re not the only company installing giant solar and wind projects in the country though. First Solar, for instance already has a 1.5 gigawatt project pipeline in Chile. But unlike in the U.S. and many industrialized countries the projects won’t support the grid at large and will rather support mining and other industrial processes.
To help support growth in the Latin America, Solar Energy International is launching educational courses for solar professionals throughout the region. However, the organization’s Academia de Profesionales Solares de las Americas, will focus on residential and smaller, commercial installations rather than the giant sprawling installations destined for Chile. The first classes, which consist of online and and hands-on workshops are launching this month and will help educate 50 solar professionals.
In the United States, MidAmerican Solar is getting set to offer the first series of bonds to support its $2.7 billion Solar Star project being built by SunPower. Investment analysts are lining up their projections, anticipating a $700 million bond issuance. MidAmerican has already issued two sets of bonds to fund another giant PV project, the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar Farm that’s being built by First Solar, which sold quickly.
Those MidAmerican projects are supporting California’s renewable portfolio standard by bringing on new generation. Two weeks ago, California’s grid-connected PV and solar thermal installations began surpassing 2 gigawatts of energy production on a daily basis. It’s a doubling of solar on the grid over the last year—and there’s a lot more coming online this year.
Meanwhile Italy, which has been one of the fastest growing solar markets, is starting to see some dramatic changes in how it will incentivize future solar installations. With 17 gigawatts of solar installed, and more on the way, the country has fulfilled it’s final feed-in tariff. Now it’s moving to a new incentive scheme that uses net-metering, like in many U.S. states and other incentive mechanisms, to help keep the industry thriving.
An increasing body of evidence also shows that more people are interested in sustainability. And employees want their employers to do more about it. That’s according to WattzOn. Meanwhile employers also want more sustainability, according to a recent Ernst & Young report. However, employers aren’t sure of a clear path to more sustainability in their operations, showing that there’s likely a lot of work to be done to show them better ways to green their industry, particularly as they anticipate various types of shortages in coming years.