Technical requirements in public auctions to make solar plants shine
The deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is accelerating across the globe, as prices continue to fall and countries begin their transition from fossil to renewable energy. Public auctions have become the dominant policy tool for solar PV deployment: 106 countries held renewable energy auctions (dominated by solar) by the end of 2018 (IRENA a, 2019). One third of the 55 countries that held renewable auctions in 2017 - 2018 did so for the first time (ibid.). Little solar-specific experience and capacity in newly adopting countries can result in technical failures and lower solar plant performance (IRENA 2017). For instance, it was reported that 30 percent of nearly 100 analysed projects in different countries indicate severe defects that impact performance (TÜV Rheinland 2015). This makes investment in solar plants in newcomer countries risky, hindering the development of the solar sector and undermining political targets of solar energy deployment in these countries. In this context, international organisations have suggested that policymakers in adopting countries include international quality standards1 as technical requirements in the design of public auctions. This policy brief outlines the potential benefits and challenges of doing so, highlighting the crucial role of the Quality Infrastructure (QI) system in newcomer countries. Key lessons learnt are synthesised from international experiences with technical requirements in solar PV auctions. On this basis, entry points are identified for the development of strategies for their introduction in newly adopting countries. The two key things policymakers should consider are the adoption of appropriate standards based on the specific country context and the implementation of real-time data monitoring.