Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Solar to supply modules for Australia's largest Solar PV installation

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. will supply photovoltaic (PV) modules to Solar Shop Australia, Pty Ltd. (Solar Shop), for a 1MW DC rooftop project.

The solar power system, installed on six separate buildings at the Adelaide Showground in South Australia, will be the largest PV installation in the country. The rooftop system is being commissioned by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia.

First Solar is the world’s largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules. The Company recently announced that it has produced 1 gigawatt of its PV modules since beginning commercial production. In addition, First Solar has the lowest manufacturing cost in the industry, having broken the $1 per watt price barrier by reducing its manufacturing cost to 98 cents.

“First Solar is proud to be supplying modules for the country’s largest PV system,” said John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president of marketing and business development. “This project will take one of Australia’s most abundant resources, sunlight, and convert it into clean, affordable electricity.”

“This project marks the beginning of what we expect to be a very promising future for solar energy in Australia,” said Carrington. “Australia’s policy initiatives have set the stage for the growth of affordable renewable energy, and First Solar’s advanced, cost-effective solar technology is a perfect fit.”

Solar Shop, in an alliance partnership with building and engineering company Build Environs Pty Ltd., will design and construct the 1MW installation, which is expected to displace approximately 1500 tons of CO2 every year.

Construction is anticipated to begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2009. The power produced by the solar installation will be used predominantly at the Adelaide Showground site, displacing power generated from conventional sources.

“Solar Shop Australia is excited to be introducing First Solar’s modules into the Australian market and particularly for use on this project, Australia’s largest solar PV installation,” said Adrian Ferraretto, Solar Shop’s managing director. “Solar Shop determined First Solar’s modules offered the best option for the Showground after considering a number of other solar technologies and the client’s specific requirements.”

Comprehensive report on TFPV and batteries 2009-2029

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Thin Film Photovoltaics and Batteries 2009-2029" report to its offering.

This comprehensive report, updated and revised in March 2009 to take into account the global economic situation, gives a thorough analysis of printed and thin film photovoltaics and batteries, with 10 year forecasts to 2019. Included are detailed profiles of 48 companies working on the many different types of technologies.

The report covers companies, research institutes and universities that are active in developing and commercializing thin film technologies for photovoltaics and batteries. Photovoltaic technologies covered include CIGS, CdTe, DSSC, a-Si and organic photovoltaics. Learn how these technologies (each at a different stage of development and adoption) are driven forward by both government and leading companies in the field.

The report also describes materials (both organic and inorganic) and device structures as well as various high-speed printing technologies employed.

IDTechEx find that the market for thin film inorganic photovoltaic technologies beyond crystalline silicon will reach at least $20 billion in 2014. The global solar energy market is expected to reach $34 billion in 2010 and $100 billion in 2050 and most of that latter figure is expected to be achieved by non-silicon photovoltaics.

This report provides a comprehensive list of key companies that are active in each of the TFPV and battery technologies. Compiled and analyzed by Dr Harry Zervos, technology analyst with IDTechEx, company profiles are given along with 20 year forecasts for the growth of the market share of these technologies. Dr Bruce Kahn, consultant and academic, gives a thorough analysis of the science and technology behind thin film photovoltaics and batteries, as well as a comparison of different high-speed printing techniques.

New technologies emerging
Silicon photocells are seen in many places, but the technology is limited. Crystalline silicon will never give tightly rollable devices let alone transparent ones or even low cost power generation on flexible substrates.

Fortunately there are many new alternatives. Proprietary nano-particle silicon printing processes are developed by companies such as Innovalight and Kovio and it promises many of the photovoltaic features that conventional silicon can never achieve. It can be printed reel to reel on stainless steel or other high temperature substrates.

However, most of the work on the next generation of photovoltaics is directed at printing onto low cost flexible polymer film and ultimately on common packaging materials.

Several companies, universities and research institutes are hard at work in different development stages of these technologies with large scale plants being built across the globe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Progress Energy Carolinas, Carolina Solar Energy to develop Person County solar park

ROXBORO, USA: Progress Energy Carolinas and Carolina Solar Energy have completed an agreement under which Carolina Solar Energy will design, build and operate a 500-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant on the site of the Person County Business and Industrial Center near Roxboro, N.C., and sell the energy produced to the utility for distribution to its customers.

Carolina Solar Energy will build the solar PV array on about 4 acres on HWY 501 just south of Roxboro. It will use more than 3,250 High Efficiency CS I 200 WATT crystalline PV Solar modules generating approximately 837,000 kilowatt-hours in the first year. The Person County Solar Park will produce energy later this year and is another step in Progress Energy's plans to meet the growing needs of its customers with renewable energy and achieve the goals of North Carolina's Senate Bill 3 energy law, passed in 2007.

"Solar power is an important part of our balanced energy strategy for meeting the region's needs," said Lloyd Yates, CEO and president of Progress Energy Carolinas. "We are continuing to pursue cost-effective solar and other renewable opportunities aggressively, and we expect to announce additional renewable energy investments soon. Meanwhile, we're promoting increased energy efficiency and working to ensure we have state-of-the-art power plants and infrastructure. We will continue to look for new, innovative ways to help meet our customers' needs reliably, affordably and in an environmentally sound manner."

Carolina Solar Energy proposed this latest PV solar project in response to Progress Energy's request for renewable energy proposals issued in 2008. Project financing was secured through a tax advantaged lease from BB&T Equipment Finance Corporation.

"Photovoltaic solar technology has come a long way in the past few decades and there is no longer any doubt that solar power is becoming a viable investment in North Carolina, and will only improve as more projects are deployed, driving prices even lower," said Richard Harkrader, CEO of Carolina Solar Energy, LLC.

Solar EnerTech, Jiangsu Shunda in solar JV

MENLO PARK, USA: Solar EnerTech Corp. announced the establishment of a joint venture with Jiangsu Shunda Semiconductor Development Co. Ltd, a leading PV raw material manufacturer, to pursue solar expansion opportunities in the US region.

Jiangsu Shunda is one of the largest polysilicon and wafer manufacturers in China, with an annual production output of approximately 1,500 metric tons of polysilicon.

The US JV company, which will be called Shunda-SolarE Technologies, Inc., is expected to begin operating in early May of 2009. The joint venture is expected to utilize Jiangsu Shunda's strength in polysilicon and wafer supply and Solar EnerTech's advanced solar cell technologies as well as its resources in the US market. Overall, both parties believe the joint venture establishes a vertically integrated operation in the US market with services ranging from the production of polysilicon to ingots and wafers, to solar cells, panels and solar system installation.

Jiangsu Shunda and Solar EnerTech contributed $1.0 million and $0.7 million in cash respectively to the initial setup cost of the JV. Jiangsu Shunda will own 55 percent of the JV company, Solar EnerTech will own 35 percent and the management of the JV will own the remaining 10 percent. Yunda Ni, President of Jiangsu Shunda will serve as the JV Chairman of the Board, Leo Young, CEO of Solar EnerTech will serve as the Board's Vice Chairman. The Board of Directors will be comprised of five seats, three of which will be reserved for Jiangsu Shunda and two for Solar EnerTech. A Chief Executive Officer of Shunda-SolarE Technologies is expected to be identified in the near future.

Leo Young, CEO of Solar EnerTech, commented: "We are extremely pleased to establish this joint venture with Jiangsu Shunda, a highly successful polysilicon manufacturer in China. We have a compelling opportunity to penetrate the US market with the establishment of this JV. Solar EnerTech has strong R&D capabilities supported by an outstanding technical team, and a fully operational US office governed by experienced management whereas Jiangsu Shunda maintains a UL listing, which is instrumental in conducting large scale operations in the US market, and controls the upstream supply which can provide large volumes of silicon feedstock to the JV in order to secure sizeable contract orders in the growing US market. Together, we can more easily penetrate US solar opportunities and establish Shunda-SolarE as a leading brand recognized for high quality solar products and service. We plan on providing investors with additional information on this JV in the coming weeks and months ahead."

Ni, President of Jiangsu Shunda added: "The goal of this joint venture is to build market share in the U.S. and maximize profitability. There is great synergy between both companies as well as with myself and Leo. Together, we believe we have an excellent opportunity to expand our market presence in the U.S. We look forward to a successful venture together."

Monday, April 27, 2009

EVSO: Texas launches $500 million solar subsidy

PHOENIX, USA: Evolution Solar Corp. said that the Texas Senate just approved one of the largest subsidy programs for solar power in the United States.

The program mandates a 60 percent increase in alternative energy from sources other than wind over the next five years. The program is likely to result in an additional 200-500 megawatts of solar power in the State of Texas. (There are currently 590 MW of solar power generated nationwide).

"The Texas legislature has made it clear that the State has put out the welcome mat for companies such as Evolution Solar who are committed to expanding solar capacity in the United States," stated Robert Kaapke, CEO of Evolution Solar Corp. “This new initiative will put Texas in the forefront of states that provide solar incentives and help make Texas the leader in solar power as it already is in wind generation.”

Texas is expected to attract solar manufactures with its new incentives as well as installations from companies such as SunTech and Energy Conversion Devices.

Sunrise Solar identifies government projects

SAN ANTONIO, USA: The management of Sunrise Solar Corp. met with government leaders in Washington over the past several weeks to identify specific demonstration projects related to SSLR’s solar energy and alternative energy solutions.

The company’s proposals were well received and the response thus far from government agencies suggests they are inclined to move forward with specific demonstration projects. The company expects its successful demonstration projects to lead to more and larger projects in the months ahead.

“Federal agency representatives responded positively to SSLR’s proposals for specific demonstration projects,” noted Maurice Stone, President of Sunrise Solar. “Now that these doors are open, we expect to begin the roll-out of our projects.”

“Over the past several months we have laid the groundwork for these projects and now we are beginning to see the positive results of our initiatives,” added Stone.

SSLR expects to expand its portfolio of projects within the US and abroad as it becomes a competitor to companies such as First Solar Inc., GT Solar Inc. and Suntech Power Holdings.

BP Solar to supply PV power systems for Wal-Mart

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: BP Solar recently confirmed that it has been selected to provide photovoltaic solar power systems for Wal-Mart stores in California. This agreement builds on an established relationship between the major retailer and BP Solar.

Under a power purchase agreement (PPA) negotiated for the projects, BP will finance, install and maintain the systems and Wal-Mart will have immediate access to clean electricity with no up front capital cost to the retailer.

BP said it will initially focus on building 10 to 20 rooftop systems at Wal-Mart locations in California, and would work with the retailer to evaluate the potential for additional projects. BP expects to complete the first set of projects, totalling up to 10 megawatts of installed solar power, within about 18 months.

"BP is pleased to expand our energy supply relationship with Wal-Mart through this series of new projects,” said Reyad Fezzani, CEO of BP Solar. "BP’s solar power systems have been shown to reliably perform for more than 25 years and this reliability - when combined with no up front capital cost -- will help drive further development of large-scale solar projects in California and elsewhere."

In 2008, BP Solar completed construction on 4.1 megawatts of solar energy systems for seven Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs in California.

Under the PPA, Wal-Mart is purchasing all of the energy produced by the solar power systems and BP Solar will operate and maintain the systems. BP leverages its own capital and also works closely with external finance partners to provide optimal value for its customers.

"BP Solar has been a great partner, and we look forward to accelerating our efforts to utilize more affordable renewable energy in our operations" said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy at Wal-Mart. "As we partner on this larger scale, our goal is to show how using affordable solar power benefits the environment and makes good business sense"

“With our proven long-term reliability, electricity produced from our modules actually offers the lowest lifetime cost of power among major PV companies today" Fezzani said. “Combine this with BP’s staying power and you have a very reliable, secure and cost-effective platform for large customers making significant investments in renewable energy"

BP already guarantees its modules for 25 years and pioneered this offer within the solar industry in 1998.

BP Solar, part of BP Alternative Energy, is a global company with about 2000 employees. BP Solar designs, manufactures and markets products which use the sun’s energy to generate electricity for use in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. With over 35 years of experience and installations in most countries, BP Solar is one of the world’s leading solar companies.

BP is one of the world’s largest energy companies, with interests in more than 100 countries and over 96,000 employees.

Lockheed Martin celebrates completion of solar energy testbed

MOORESTOWN, USA: Lockheed Martin recently observed Earth Day with a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of its solar energy testbed. The testbed supports Lockheed Martin’s work in utility-scale renewable power.

The Solar System Test and Engineering Site (SolSTES) array in southern New Jersey enables Lockheed Martin engineers to integrate and test a variety of solar technologies in a high-fidelity test environment. Design and construction of the testbed began in early 2008. Today the facility is a full-scale, functional solar collector assembly, 100 meters long and three stories high, consisting of highly reflective mirrors and solar receivers.

“Through this solar field testbed, we’re applying for the utilities the same systems engineering and disciplined integration approach that we do for all of our domestic and international customers,” said Chris Myers, Lockheed Martin vice president for Solar Energy programs. “Utility-scale solar power is another way our highly-skilled workforce can help solve a critical security challenge facing our nation. The testbed enables us to validate solar collector technologies and optimize our production skills.”

In November 2007, Lockheed Martin teamed with the Starwood Energy Group to provide utility-scale solar power in North America. Lockheed Martin is responsible for engineering, procurement, manufacturing and systems integration. Starwood is primarily responsible for arranging long-term power purchase agreements, site selection, permitting, and for providing construction, permanent debt and equity financing.

Since the teaming agreement was signed, Lockheed Martin and Starwood have been pursuing multiple utility-scale opportunities, and have invested in land acquisition, transmission, permitting, supplier base, technology development, and efficient, low-cost production techniques. The teaming arrangement positions Lockheed Martin and Starwood to provide clean, renewable energy throughout the United States.

Spire upgrades, expands Advanced Technology Center (ATC)

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing turnkey solar factories and capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) modules worldwide, has upgraded and expanded its Advanced Technology Center (ATC) located at Spire’s headquarters in Bedford, Massachusetts.

The ATC consists of a state-of-the-art PV module production line for product development and PV material evaluations, including solar cells. This center consists of Spire’s most advanced module manufacturing equipment for customer evaluation and training. Spire’s long-pulse solar simulator, cell string assembler, cell tester and lamination equipment are all available.

In addition, the ATC is staffed to provide expert technical and engineering support for the assembly of customer modules. Modules made for Spire’s turnkey production line customers can be used for early certification to accelerate their entry into the market. The ATC laboratory is able to produce modules that qualify for United States (U.S.) and international standards such as UL 1703 and IEC 61215.

Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO, said: “Our investment in the ATC has been made to support Spire’s ‘Come to America’ program. This program is designed to bring international module manufacturers to the US to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Stimulus Bill funding. The bill funding is aimed at putting more solar energy on line and creating millions of new jobs in America. It promises to make the US the fastest growing PV market in the world over the next few years. This facility is an important asset to our bringing new manufacturers on line rapidly.”

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Low-cost solar now available to Arizona homeowners

SCOTTSDALE, USA: American Solar Electric, a leading Arizona-based design-build firm specializing in solar electric power systems, and SunRun announced a new way for homeowners to get residential solar power in Arizona without feeling the pain of high upfront cost.

Arizona homeowners can now have their home solar systems installed before summer utility rates increase with the summer temperatures.

The American Solar Electric and SunRun partnership gives homeowners a more affordable alternative to purchasing an American Solar Electric system outright. With SunRun's solar lease, Arizona customers can now get an American Solar Electric system for as little as $1,000 upfront, and realize cost savings on their monthly electricity bills immediately.

SunRun also provides complete monitoring, maintenance, repairs, insurance and performance guarantee for all its customers, simplifying the process of going solar for homeowners.

SunRun, launched in California in 2007, has seen exponential growth over the past two years, and become a popular option for hundreds of homeowners there. In November 2008, US Bancorp committed project financing for up to $105 million in solar facilities to SunRun, and SunRun is now bringing its low upfront solar pricing and high-quality service for residential solar customers in Arizona.

SunRun, which partners with leading local solar companies who design and install systems for its customers, has selected American Solar Electric as its partner for its first expansion beyond California.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Solar energy: A bright spot in renewables

MENLO PARK, USA: Solar energy is gaining market share, as interesting new technologies are being developed to drive this renewable energy source forward.

The oil price fluctuations and global warming concerns have sparked a concentrated interest in promoting solar energy applications. In fact, the outlook for the global solar energy market is projected to more than double to reach $70 billion by 2013.

SRI Consulting (SRIC) has published its new Materials and Technologies for Solar Energy report that details the solar materials and technologies used in 1st through 4th generation photovoltaic applications, including an overview of solar thermal.

Solar power, like so many new energy processes, makes demands of chemicals during equipment manufacturing or operations. The 1st and 2nd generation photovoltaic cells require different forms of silicon, rare transition metals and metalloid elements. As a result of increased silicon costs, the 3rd and 4th generation technologies are focusing on organic polymers or nanomaterials and the lower manufacturing costs they offer.

Bob Davenport, Director of the Safe and Sustainable Chemicals series at SRIC said: "Developments in organic photovoltaic technology have made significant improvements in recent years, with cell efficiencies reaching over 5 percent. However, silicon based cells in the commercial photovoltaic industry are still the predominant technology because of higher efficiencies reaching over 25 percent."

The Materials and Technologies for Solar Energy report explores new applications where solar energy is being applied. Many opportunities exist for companies in the solar energy area from material research to manufacturing where breakthrough developments are being made at a surprising rate. The developments in organic manufacturing pose promising synergies with the printed electronics industry.

The number of specific technologies for producing photovoltaic solar cells is almost as numerous as the number of companies participating in the industry, especially with newer generation technologies. In addition, manufacturers are coming together and establishing standards. The Materials and Technologies for Solar Energy report includes information on key manufacturers and major technologies.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wind, solar hybrid offers solution for telecoms market

UK: Avea shows its commitment to the environment by using a hybrid solution as an alternative to diesel generators to power its telecoms base station.

This is the first Proven Energy wind turbine installed in Turkey for Avea, Turkey’s youngest operator in the telecoms market. The 6kW wind turbine was manufactured by Scottish firm Proven Energy and installed by Turkish resellers Girasolar.

The telecommunications market is one of the largest in Turkey and a hybrid solution is the answer to the problem of low energy supply at times when sun and wind strengths vary. Manufacturers of the installed Proven 6kW wind turbine are favourites in the telecoms markets due to the low cut in wind speed of 2.5 m/s and only requiring annual maintenance.

This mixed method of power generation is already well known in many sectorswith high energy needs. Installing a hybrid system has a quicker payback comparing solar panels and wind turbines alone and traditional diesel generators omit greenhouse gases that have a detrimental effect on the environment.

Girasolar director Erol Barendregt stated: “The hybrid solution is the best option because the sun and wind resources have opposite cycles and intensities during the day. Wind and solar power are understood to be among the best natural alternatives to fuel based electricity generation. Byusing both in a system that is designed to supplement each other you get a continuous and reliable power supply.”

Proven Energy head of business development Craig Jones, commented: "Our wind turbines are suited to the telecoms market due to their reliability in the market place. Proven Energy has worked with and are still working with some of the top names and glad to be working with Avea on their project."

Proven Energy installed their first wind turbine for the telecoms industry in 1999 for British Telecoms company BT. To date Proven Energy has worked with such names as Orange, Motorola and Vodacom.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Solar, Juvi secure financing for 53MW PV power plant in Germany

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. and Juwi Holding AG announced that they have secured financing for a 53 megawatt (MW) DC photovoltaic (PV) power plant near the German city of Cottbus.

More than 80 percent of the required project capital is financed through non-recourse debt from a consortium of banks. First Solar and Juwi intend to sell the majority of the project after its completion. Construction of the project began in January 2009, and the first 15MW have been completed. The remaining 38MW are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009.

The project is being constructed on 162 hectares of land that is part of the Soviet Army's former 26,000 hectare Lieberose training area north of Cottbus in eastern Germany. The project's low cost enables the required return to fund an attractive land lease for the State of Brandenburg. The lease, in turn, finances the environmental cleanup of this former military zone, which is littered with tons of land mines, grenades and other munitions.

Matthias Platzeck, minister president of the German state government of Brandenburg, where Lieberose is located, said the project is a model for the conversion of former military land to productive use. "This kind of project helps us heal the scars of the Cold War and meet our ambitious targets for renewable energy production at the same time," he said.

"First Solar's mission is to enable a world powered by clean, affordable solar electricity," said Stephan Hansen, managing director, First Solar GmbH. "This project alone is expected to displace approximately 35,000 tons of C02 emissions a year. But we are particularly proud of this project because it adds an additional element to 'clean.' Not only will the project produce clean electricity, but it will also result in the removal of hazardous munitions from this project site."

Upon completion, the PV power plant will consist of approximately 700,000 modules and is projected to be the largest in Germany, producing enough power to provide for the annual electricity needs of more than 14,000 homes, and the second largest worldwide.

"The sheer size of the project helps us achieve economies of scale that are a significant factor in helping PV energy become competitive with fossil fuels and to be able to provide an increasing contribution to national renewable energy targets," said Hansen.

Brandenburg Economics Minister Ulrich Junghanns said the project underlines the state's credentials as an energy producer. "The Lieberose project will shine far and wide and help Brandenburg solidify its top billing as a center of solar power production," he said.

Matthias Willenbacher, Juwi chief executive, said, "Large projects like this one demonstrate that solar power is already capable of making significant contributions to addressing climate change." With this project, Juwi, using First Solar modules, has developed the three largest PV power plants in Germany.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BioSolar expands BioBacksheet product line for solar panel market

BioSolar Inc., a developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar cells, announced that the company is nearing the completion of the commercialization of its BioBacksheet product and enters pre-production stage on new versions to address the entire flat solar panel market.

“Contrary to common belief, commercialization of renewable energy technologies such as BioSolar’s BioBacksheet is quite complex and requires both a comprehensive understanding and analysis of its potential, as well as the development of innovative models to help it gain market penetration,” said Dr. David Lee, CEO of BioSolar.

“BioSolar is nearing completion of the commercialization process, and we continue our mission to develop new products that utilize our proprietary manufacturing and materials process to enhance the characteristics of traditional bio-based materials and turn them into robust and durable materials for solar applications,” said Lee.

Backsheets, the bottom-most layer of nearly all photovoltaic solar cell modules, are currently made from petroleum and designed to protect the solar cell from environmental hazards like moisture and UV rays.

BioSolar’s BioBacksheet is a protective covering made from renewable plant sources and is expected to cost substantially less than traditional petroleum-based backsheets.

BioSolar recently announced its plans to expand the company’s technology to accommodate copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film modules, as reported by Doris DeGuzman, the associate editor for ICIS Chemical Business, a global chemical trade magazine on her blog, Green Chemicals, in The Industry Standard and in Power Management DesignLine Europe, an EE Times Europe publication. Just recently,, the online alternative energy magazine, drew attention to BioSolar by detailing a recent press release on their website.

“Today, BioSolar is pleased to announce that two BioSolar products are currently in the Pre-Production stage and nearing qualification for full production,” said Lee. “The BioBackSheet-L, an enhanced performance backsheet for demanding PV applications, is nearing qualification for production and the BioBackSheet-C, designed for cost sensitive, economical PV modules, is making excellent progress in pre-production development and testing.”

“BioBackSheet-A with ‘Absolute Moisture Barrier’ is also doing well in the late research and development stage,” said BioSolar Chief Technology Officer Dr. Stanley Levy. “We will continue to provide more information in the future as the product continues to evolve.”

Photovoltaics International's solar awards on May 28

Photovoltaics International, a leading source for technical manufacturing information and news concerning the solar industry, has partnered with the International Photovoltaic Equipment Association, PV Group, and Sun & Wind Energy among others to introduce the International Solar Technology Awards, a new set of industry awards recognizing significant achievements in the production of solar technology.

Nominations closed on April 15. Winners will be honored at the awards ceremony at Intersolar in Munich on May 28, 2009.

Unlike current industry awards that focus primarily on early stage solar technologies, the International Solar Technology Awards are designed to put the spotlight on companies spanning the manufacturing supply chain from raw materials to modules. Judges from Q-Cells, Suntech, Deutsche Solar, Moser Baer, Fraunhofer ISE and others will select award recipients on their efficiency advancements, improved design and processes.

The eight International Solar Technology Award categories are:

* Best Technical Product for Module Assembly.
* Best Technical Product for Thin-Film Module Manufacturing.
* Best Process Technology for c-Si Cell Manufacturing Lines.
* Best Technology for Silicon Feedstock and Wafer Processes.
* Best New Manufacturing Facility for Cells, Modules, Equipment and BOS Components.
* Best Region for Manufacturing Solar Technologies.
* Green Manufacturing Award.
* Industry Choice Award.

“We created the International Solar Technology Awards to serve as a catalyst for new business opportunities through enhanced industry visibility,” said David Owen, Managing Director of Photovoltaics International. “By bringing together some of the most prestigious names in the solar space, we strive to provide the solar manufacturing industry with an unbiased, well respected recognition to showcase industry leaders.”

To apply for The International Solar Technology Awards and to learn more on award criteria and benefits, visit:

If you are a member of the solar industry and would like to register to vote for The International Solar Technology Awards, visit

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will solar downturn lead to more mature PV industry?

The severe downturn in the global Photovoltaic (PV) market in 2009 actually could have a positive outcome for the worldwide solar industry, yielding a more mature and orderly supply chain when growth returns, according to iSuppli Corp.

Worldwide installations of PV systems will decline to 3.5 Gigawatts (GW) in 2009, down 32 percent from 5.2GW in 2008. With the average price per solar watt declining by 12 percent in 2009, global revenue generated by PV system installations will plunge by 40.2 percent to $18.2 billion, down from $30.5 billion in 2008.

The figures present iSuppli’s forecasts of global PV installations in terms of gigawatts and revenue.

Fig 1: Global Photovoltaic System Installation Forecast in Megawatts, 2008-2013Source: iSuppli, April 2009

“For years, the PV industry enjoyed vigorous double-digit annual growth in the 40 percent range, spurring a wild-west mentality among market participants,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “An ever-rising flood of market participants attempted to capitalize on this growth, all hoping to claim a 10 percent share of market revenue by throwing more production capacity into the market. This overproduction situation, along with a decline in demand, will lead to the sharp, unprecedented fall in PV industry revenue in 2009.”

However, the 2009 PV downturn, like the PC shakeout of the mid 1980s, is likely to change the current market paradigm, cutting down on industry excesses and leading to a more mature market in 2010 and beyond.

Fig 2: Global Revenues Generated by Photovoltaic Installations 2008-2013 in Millions of US DollarsSource: iSuppli, April 2009

“The number of new suppliers entering and competing in the PV supply chain will decelerate and the rate of new capacity additions will slow, bringing a better balance between supply and demand in the future,” Wicht said.

Blame it on Spain
The single event most responsible for the 2009 PV market slowdown was a sharp decline in expected PV installations in Spain. Spain accounted for 50 percent of worldwide installations in 2008. An artificial demand surge had been created in Spain as the time approached when the country’s feed-in-tariff rate was set to drop and a new cap of 500 Megawatts (MW) loomed for projects qualifying for the above-market tariff. This set a well-defined deadline for growth in the Spanish market in 2009 and 2010.

While the Spanish situation is spurring a surge in excess inventory and falling prices for solar cells and systems, this will not stimulate sufficient demand to compensate for the lost sales in 2009. Even new and upgraded incentives for solar installations from nations including the United States and Japan—and attractive investment conditions in France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece and other countries—cannot compensate for the Spanish whiplash in 2009.

The Spanish impact will continue into 2010, restraining global revenue growth to 29.2 percent for the year. Beyond Spain, the PV market is being adversely impacted by the credit crunch.

“Power production investors and commercial entities are at least partially dependent upon debt financing,” Wicht noted. “Starting in the first quarter of 2009, many large and medium solar-installation projects went on hold as they awaited a thaw in bank credit flows.”

After the fall
After 2010, the fundamental drivers of PV demand will reassert themselves, bringing a 57.8 percent increase in revenue in 2011 and similar growth rates in 2012 and 2013.

“PV remains attractive because it continues to demonstrate a favorable Return on Investment (RoI),” Wicht said. “Furthermore, government incentives in the form of above-market feed-in-tariffs and tax breaks will remain in place, making the RoI equations viable through 2012. Cost reductions will lead to attractive RoI and payback periods even without governmental help after 2012.”

Furthermore, lower system prices will open up new markets by lowering incentives and subvention costs. The lower the PV system prices are, the lower the incentives will have to be. Developing regions will be big the beneficiaries of these lower prices and thus will grow faster than the global average, Wicht said.

Source: iSuppli, USA

Friday, April 10, 2009

Opportunities in India's solar/PV landscape: SEMI India

Solar/photovoltaics (PV) holds tremendous potential and promise for India, a fact not hidden from anyone. To further highlight its importance, SEMI India unveiled its first paper on Solar PV in India yesterday afternoon.

More action from Indian government needed
The meet called for more action from the government of India, a more closer industry-government collaboration, as well as the need for financial institutions to pay more attention to the solar/PV segment in India.

The photo here shows from left to right: Dr. Madhusudan V. Atre, President, Applied Materials India; Dr. J. Gururaja, Renewable Energy Action Forum & Executive President, SEMI India; K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar; and Sathya Prasad, president, SEMI India.

Touching on the rationale for this SEMI paper on solar/PV's landscape in India, Dr. J. Gururaja, Renewable Energy Action Forum and Executive President, SEMI India, said it was meant to project the solar/PV industry's perspective: where we are and what needs to be done! This is a first account report and will be followed by many other such reports.

He said: "Solar in general, and PV in particular, can address the challenges that we face today. Solar/PV has a special attraction. It converts solar to electricity without involving any moving parts."

He added that although the industry has been looking at the potential, the markets have not been expanding as expected. "We need to see what can be done and achieved. This report is a stock-taking exercise," he pointed out.

Case for solar/PV in India
Sathya Prasad, president of SEMI India, touched upon the case for PV in India. These include:
* The existing power deficit situation in many parts of the country.
* India's brisk economic growth implies rising energy needs.
* Overdependence on coal for electricity generation -- limited coal reserves and CO2 emissions.
* Overdependence on oil and natural gas imports -- it accounts for 7 percent of GDP and consequent energy security concerns.

According to him, India is abundantly endowed with solar radiation. So far, so good!

Key PV opportunities for India
According to SEMI's paper, the key PV opportunities for India lie in off-grid applications and grid-connected PV. The off-grid applications include:
* Basic lighting and electrification of rural homes.
* Irrigation pump sets.
* Power back-up for cellular base station towers -- approximately, there will be 2.9 lakh base station towers by the end of 2009.
* Urban applications -- such as street lighting, etc.

The opportunities in grid-connected PV exist in:
* The current grid connected PV generation capacity is very small.
* Existing power deficit and huge projected future need.
* The cost point of PV has been declining continuously with technology improvements and scale.

Benefits of PV in India
The benefits of PV in India extend well beyond addressing energy needs. For instance, renewable energy technologies create more jobs than any fossil fuel based technologies. It also creates jobs across the value chain -- from R&D to manufacturing, installation and maintenance. Sathya Prasad highlighted MNRE's point that about 100,000 jobs could be created out of PV.

PV also has the capability of transforming lives. About 450 million Indians today manage with kerosene/other fuels for very basic lighting despite its significant health and safety risks. In this context, special mention needs to be made of the Aryavarta Grameen Bank's home electrification program.

Challenges for PV in India
Evidently, a bunch of opportunities are awaiting India in the solar/PV space. However, several challenges need to be overcome as well. These would be:
* Need for closer industry-government co-operation.
* Need for standards.
* Need for collaborative, goals driven R&D.
* Training and human resources development
* Need for financing infrastructure and models.

So, what are the recommendations of this paper on solar/PV landscape in India, and further call to action? These are:
* Need to evolve a common government-industry vision to make India a world leader in PV.
* Develop financing infrastructure and models that will motivate large-scale PV adoption and investments.
* Expand development of PV in off-grid applications.
* Accelerate grid-connected PV generation on a large scale.

Call for low carbon growth strategy
"Low carbon growth path is universal now. To make that happen, there needs to be a political will," advised K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar, and chairman SEMI India PV Advisory Committee, while presenting his perspective on the solar/PV industry in India.

There has been little action on part of the government of India. "This needs to be implemented on the ground. We need policy and lifestyle innovation," he added. Subramanya cautioned that, "Too much of analysis will result in paralysis." According to him, separate budgets are required for a low carbon growth strategy. "Solar has tremendous potential. Even its learning curve is brilliant," Subramanya noted.

He added that if the European Union (EU) can make a low carbon journey so smoothly, then why not India? For instance, in Karnataka state alone, the demand is said to be 6700MW and a 10-11 percent peak shortage. We have 20-odd lakh Bhagya Jyoti and Kutir Jyoti units, and around 7,870-odd street lights. If a majority of these can be replaced by solar, it could lead to tremendous savings! This could be at least 57MW for a state like Karnataka. Apparently, all of this would require an investment of Rs. 52 crores and a payback time of two years.

"Why can't we develop a low-carbon growth path for every state in India? Imagine, what it can do for the other states," Subramanya highlighted. "If the power sector does not do well, it will hit the country's GDP!" Quite rightly so!!

Subramanya cited another example of solar water heaters in Karnataka. There are 32 lakh homes, of which about 5 lakh homes have solar water heaters. If more houses were to adopt these, it would result in a saving of 4,000MW of electricity! The Tata BP Solar CEO also called upon financial institutions to have a closer look at solar. Even the tariffs structure for solar/PV in India is not favorable enough.

He also touched upon US President Barack Obama's energy plan and the actions taken, since his comin to power, and drew a parallel with India's national action plan, which includes a solar mssion. This was released last June, but hardly any action has happened on the ground. So, there needs be changes on this front as well.

Four key aspects for solar/PV in India
Dr. Madhusudan V. Atre, president, Applied Materials India and vice chairman SEMI India PV Advisory Committee, highlighted four major aspects while presenting his perspective on the solar/PV industry. These are:
* See the advantage SEMI India brings to India. It can help bring costs down, due to the involvement of the PV Group.
* A point Dr. Atre had highlighted to me about a year back -- that solar/PV is a great way to trigger manufacturing in India. He said that the solar/PV ecosystem will be a very important step in setting up a semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem in the country.
* What wireless did to telecom -- perhaps, solar/PV has a similar aim! It can get rid of transmission lines and actually take power to the people!
* The Indian government-academia-industry would need to work hand-in-hand.

Growth steady, but limited, for BIPV

BOSTON, USA: Targeted subsidies and aesthetic appeal have helped lay a foundation for the building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) market, and modest but steady growth will support future opportunities for innovative cross-industry services and improved products.

But a new report from Lux Research concludes that today’s $1.7 billion BIPV market’s lack of standardization, low production volumes and formidable competition from building-applied photovoltaics (BAPV) will hinder broader adoption through 2013.

BIPV are PV components that replace the look and function of a primary building material, and are sold as a single unit. Compared with BIPV, BAPV encompass a broader class of building-mounted photovoltaics and include some traditional roof-mounted PV systems.

Entitled “Laying the Foundation for Building Integrated Photovoltaics,” Lux’s report takes a strong analytical approach to provide valuable insights for building materials, chemical and photovoltaics players on:

* Opportunities for entering the market
* Likely candidates for strategic partnerships
* Market developments and new technologies that will foster success, and
* How conventional and thin-film solar technologies will compete in specific applications.

“The market may be too small to be a central interest to big players, but we see key opportunities for technology providers that can deliver BIPV components with an aesthetic differentiation –- as opposed to a cost differentiation,” said Johanna Schmidtke, a Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report. “That also applies to architects and building envelope specialists who can distinguish their own businesses, while raising awareness of BIPV.”

The report taps Lux Research’s database of solar PV technology providers and installations for details about the 81 companies engaged in BIPV work. It includes intelligence gathered through 29 additional interviews with PV technology providers, module/system developers, PV installers, building suppliers and architects to offer a comprehensive view of the BIPV market.

High price points and a lack of standardization are slowing adoption. Highly customized products and low production volumes are putting a drag on BIPV’s claim that it lowers costs by streamlining installation of building product and PV technology. High price points will limit growth to $5.7 billion over 694 MW in 2013, signifying just 3.7 percent by volume of the overall solar market.

Improved regulation, building services and materials could all boost demand. BIPV-specific subsidies and aesthetics have driven growth more than economic viability. But standardized regulations covering BIPV’s dual role as building component and PV technology could control customization issues, and reduce the technology’s prohibitive price points.

BAPV will dominate for the foreseeable future. BIPV currently wields aesthetic and subsidy-based advantages over BAPV retrofits. But PV module manufacturers are shoring up the aesthetic gap, which will further pressure BIPV players to decrease the price premium they exact.

“BIPV is nearing a crossroads,” said Schmidtke. “It will either continue to grow slowly as a highly specialized, aesthetic niche market, or bridge the gap between the PV and building industries. The latter path will require industry standards, as well as innovation and investment. But it also offers genuine growth opportunities for well positioned parties.”

“Laying the Foundation for Building Integrated Photovoltaics” is part of Lux Research’s Solar Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive continuous research on solar industry market trends and forecasts, ongoing technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Solar Journal and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.