First Solar VP: ‘Technical’ Barriers To Mass Solar Energy Have Been Removed

The majority of technical barriers to producing mass-scale global solar power have been removed, according a First Solar expert.

Mahesh Morjaria, VP, PV systems development at the US’s largest manufacturer of photovoltaic panels, told Impact4All: “We are always trying to reduce the barriers for large-scale solar energy. We have reduced the technical barriers to the point where they don’t exist… however there are other [government] policy areas that need to be worked on. But no-one can say the technical solutions aren’t available.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the Smarter E event in Munich, Germany, Morjaria said that the days of solar energy being regarded as ‘unreliable’ are over.

Morjaria said: “The argument that solar energy creates an unstable supply is wrong… critics usually associate solar with intermittence. While solar is intermittent in terms of the sun coming out in the day and going away at night, intermittent doesn’t mean unreliable. We have ways now to manage collection, distribution and flexibility.”

Record stabilised solar energy levels

Arizona-based First Solar has developed and built a 300 MW photovoltaic power plant in California and extensive tests conducted on the site have shown that solar installations of this size can provide reliable network services. The US firm was awarded the The Smarter E Award 2018 on Wednesday for its proprietary technology that promotes stabilisation of PV networks. According to the field data, the test plant is able to respond very quickly to network signal and display more precise regulation than conventional thermal, hydraulic or gas turbine power plants.

Morjaria said: “The grid operators were previously facing challenges; they don’t want to push their power down and then ramp it up again. Now we can make solar energy have a more consistent flow and shape. This is about making solar flexible.”

In general, with renewable energy costing less and less, many companies are shifting from coal to natural gas to renewable sources because it’s more cost effective, said Morjaria. “The fact that it helps the environment is an added benefit,” he said.

However the VP called for the renewable energy revolution to ‘move faster’. “All the forecasts are too low, solar is going to grow a lot faster than the researchers say. We can only have a sustainable energy future if we can do this much faster,” said Morjaria.

“There may be policy areas that also need to be worked on but the last thing you want is for someone to say ‘we can’t do it’ because solar energy is not reliable.”

“We are a global company and we will continue to grow our business to support the global market, the business is much larger than the reports say. I am very bullish about it,” Morjaria said.


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