Sunday, May 31, 2009

National Semiconductor, SunEdison initiate trials to optimize solar arrays output

SANTA CLARA, USA: National Semiconductor Corp. and SunEdison LLC, North America's largest solar energy services provider, have initiated field trials to optimize the energy output of solar arrays.

SunEdison has initiated field trials in California using National Semiconductor's SolarMagic power optimizers. National's SolarMagic power optimizers enable individual solar panels to maximize energy-produced independent of performance of other panels in an array. Individual panels can often under-perform due to shade, debris, panel mismatch or aging.

SunEdison delivers solar energy services to utilities, commercial and government entities by providing a new way to engage in solar energy. The company's customers pay only for the energy produced by its solar power plants. In March of 2008, the company surpassed 100GWh of delivered energy, marking a new milestone for solar energy services in the North American marketplace.

"We're delighted to be working with SunEdison" said Brian Halla, National Semiconductor's chairman and CEO, "SunEdison services architecture delivers industry leading reliability, with more delivered energy, resulting in greater customer savings. We believe our SolarMagic power optimizer will further strengthen the SunEdison service architecture."

Added Brian Jacolick, GM of the America's of SunEdison: "SolarMagic promises to offer a significant breakthrough on delivered energy for solar arrays. The net effect will be greater savings for our customers. National Semiconductor's leadership in analog and power management will serve SunEdison well as we build on this strength to make continued improvements for the solar industry."

First Solar announces multi-year supply contract with Pfalzsolar

MUNICH, GERMANY: First Solar Inc. and Pfalzsolar, GmbH, a fast-growing German solar project developer owned by Pfalzwerke AG, a public utility in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, recently announced the signing of a new long-term supply agreement.

The latest in a series of utility-linked agreements initially foresees delivery of First Solar’s photovoltaic modules to Pfalzsolar, beginning immediately, for use in rooftop and free field solar projects in Germany.

“This agreement reinforces First Solar’s relationships with utility-owned project developers and demonstrates that local utilities increasingly see photovoltaic power as a necessary component of their future electricity generation portfolio,” said Stephan Hansen, managing director of First Solar GmbH.

“We are pleased to have gained Pfalzsolar as an additional customer in a key market at a key period for the evolution of solar electricity in Europe,” added John Carrington, executive vice president, global marketing & business development.

Ali Boukhalfa, managing director of Pfalzsolar GmbH, said the company was delighted to have reached a long-term supply agreement with First Solar. “The agreement gives us the guarantee of being able to offer high-performance modules at competitive prices, thereby helping us fulfill our ambitious growth targets,” he said.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Solar PV forecast -- industry will bounce back with adjusted priorities

SCOTTSDALE, USA: IC Insights recently released a new report, its first to examine and analyze the solar photovoltaic industry from the perspective of semiconductor industry participants.

Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry starts with the market for high-purity silicon shared with the chip industry, a market where the rapidly changing balance between supply and demand is contributing to a rethinking of priorities in the solar PV sector.

For some time, PV device makers have concentrated on reducing the amount of silicon required per watt of energy output, in part because silicon represented a large portion of the cost of a solar cell, but also because the supply of solar-grade silicon was limited. With new polysilicon plants coming on line, the supply constraint has evaporated and the cost of silicon is coming down significantly.

At the same time, demand for solar installations has plummeted due to the recession and credit crunch, as well as government incentive cutbacks in Europe. Solar panel inventories have built up, and competition has intensified for the reduced available business, driving prices down across the solar PV supply chain.

IC Insights forecasts that on a megawatt basis, global installations will drop 22 percent this year. Average selling prices for solar panels is expected to drop 28 percent.

IC Insights expects demand for solar installations to come charging back in 2010 as new government incentives in the US, Europe, and China gain traction. Installations are forecast to rise 37 percent to 6.7 gigawatts, with continued growth achieving a CAGR of 25 percent over the 2008-2013 forecast period.

The price drop of 2009, while not forecast to repeat in 2010-2013, will make solar systems more attractive in more markets even as government incentives supporting installations start to taper off starting four or five years down the road, IC Insights believes.

With the cost of silicon dropping, R&D investments in solar device design and manufacturing technology will back off the years-long push to minimize silicon consumption and center on new ways to reduce costs and boost device efficiency. For example, several solar cell makers are coming out with new back-contact cell designs, as described in the report.

Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry provides a detailed forecast of the solar cell and panel market, including thin-film panels, as well as a system-level forecast and a country-by-country demand forecast.

The forecast includes a unique look at the semiconductor content of solar systems, a small but very fast-growing segment, and predicts global capital spending for solar cell manufacturers over five years. The report also reviews the numerous technology approaches challenging mainstream silicon wafer PV cells.

Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry comes with a full-color three-ring binder for easy off-the shelf reference and an electronic copy on CD-ROM that includes image files of the charts and tables. The report is available for purchase at $2,975 for individual users and $5,880 for multi-user corporate situations.

Friday, May 29, 2009

IEC certification for Applied's world’s largest solar panels

SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Materials, Inc. announced that the 5.7m2 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules produced by its SunFab Thin Film Line, using both single and more advanced tandem junction technologies, were awarded International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) certification, validating their exceptional performance under extended outdoor exposure.

Certification of these SunFab modules, which are the world’s largest available solar PV panels, unleashes an opportunity for the widespread incorporation of SunFab panels in utility-scale, thin film solar farms to further drive down the price of clean electricity.

“We expect 5.7m2 modules to become the standard for utility-scale PV power,” said Dr. Randhir Thakur, senior vice president and general manager of Applied Materials’ Display and SunFab Solar Business Group. “Applying SunFab technology to ultra-large modules creates an unprecedented opportunity to reduce both manufacturing and installation costs, transforming solar PV into a long-term solution to provide the world with affordable energy from a renewable source.”

Certification was awarded by TÜV InterCert, confirming that the SunFab modules meet IEC standards 61646 and 61730. “Applied’s 5.7m2 modules are four times bigger than anything we’ve ever tested,” said Sergizzarea, president and CEO of TÜV InterCert.

“We made modifications to the laboratory and added equipment to enable us to test modules this large. Creating a PV product of this size that can pass all of the IEC tests while maintaining mechanical and electrical integrity is an impressive feat of engineering.”

The quarter-sized 1.4m2 modules produced on the Applied SunFab Thin Film Line received IEC certification earlier this year. However, a full-size 5.7m2 panel designed to maintain high power output while subjected to years of exposure to sunlight, extreme temperatures, wind and precipitation was a new challenge.

Applied’s technology and engineering expertise in flat-panel display and architectural glass systems enabled it to deliver the critical uniform conversion properties required across large areas. An innovative, integrated bonded rail support structure strengthens the module, allowing it to withstand wind and seismic loads while enabling the reduction of installation costs by greatly simplifying the mounting structure.

Signet Solar, Moncada Energy Group execute definitive supply agreement

MENLO PARK, USA: Signet Solar and Moncada Energy Group announced that the two companies have executed a definitive supply agreement for Signet to supply a minimum of 7.7MWp of its Gen 8.5 thin film modules before the end of 2009 and a continued supply relationship in 2010 and beyond.

Moncada, the largest Sicilian producer of wind power (over 100MW) with projects focused in renewable energy across all of Europe, will deploy the purchased thin film modules in large solar PV farms beneath the towers of their wind farms to allow both the panels and the wind turbines to use the same infrastructure in place to collect energy for, what Moncada calls, “double-harvesting renewable energy”.

"Our deployments will be the world’s first large scale installation of certified Gen 8.5 size (2.2 m x 2.6 m) modules,” said Salvatore Moncada, CEO of the Moncada Energy Group. “We believe that using these large modules in solar farms will allow for the lowest cost structure per installed watt due to the advances Signet Solar has made in thin film technology and module efficiency, and we are excited to work with Signet over the long term.”

“We are thoroughly excited to work with Moncada Energy Group, who falls perfectly into our strategy of being the world’s leader in providing thin film PV solutions for solar farms," said Gunter Ziegenbalg, Managing Director of Signet Solar. “We believe this kind of commitment is a testament to our extremely strong quality and reliability, and our customer first approach.“

SEMI PV Group recommendations for China PV policy roadmap

SHANGHAI, CHINA: The SEMI PV Group announced the availability for “China’s Solar Future,” a preliminary report containing specific recommendations for a China photovoltaic (PV) policy roadmap.

As the world’s fastest growing developing country, China faces a rapidly increasing demand for energy and the country has also been building a massive PV industry representing all facets of the supply chain, from polysilicon feedstock, ingots and wafers to cells and modules. Virtually all of this PV production has been exported.

The report recommends an accelerated adoption of PV generated electric power in China to reach global average level of PV power generation by 2014.

The report was prepared by the China PV Advisory Committee, organized by the PV Group, and comprised of China PV industry and academic leaders. The China PV Advisory Committee objective is to collectively define and address issues facing the region’s PV industry, and petition the China government for PV legislation, policy and financial support.

Currently, consumption of coal and other fossil fuels has a central role in China’s economy, and the region derives almost 70 percent of its energy from it. The use of fossil fuels has a negative impact on the environment in China; generating massive amounts of carbon dioxide, and according to the World Bank, by 2020, the external costs of using coal will reach 13 percent of China’s GDP.

This comes as a result of the steady increase in China’s energy demand. On the supply-side, in 2010 by some estimates, after accounting for coal, hydro, and nuclear power, there could be a 6.4 percent shortage in electrical supply, which will need to be filled by renewable energy.

“China is just now beginning to understand the global opportunities and implications of PV products and systems, and it is creating a massive PV industry representing all areas of the supply chain,” said Dan Martin, executive vice president of the SEMI PV Group. “In fact, the ramp up has been so significant that in 2007, China took the number one spot in solar cell manufacturing with a total production of over 1GW, and in 2008, the region doubled that production. It is important that China occupy a leading position in the demand for solar power, as well as contribute to global supply,”

According to the report, even with the massive solar cell production in China, the region faces tough challenges as its PV industry grows. A key issue is the major imbalance between domestic production and domestic consumption, as 98 percent of China’s PV products are shipped to overseas markets.

Other significant challenges include China’s lack of world-class production technology for high-purity silicon and Chinese PV industry reliance on imported technology and equipment, as well as a lack of sufficient funds for R&D.

New record for Oerlikon Solar’s Micromorph technology

INTERSOLAR MUNICH, GERMANY: Oerlikon Solar, the world's leading supplier of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) production equipment, today announced that it has achieved a new record efficiency level for commercial thin film silicon PV modules.

Recent test results from Oerlikon Solar's pilot production line in Switzerland show that full-size Micromorph modules (1.4 m2) have 151 Watts initial power, or 11 percent initial power conversion efficiency. This result sets a new industry record for production thin film silicon modules.

Oerlikon Solar was able to consistently reproduce modules with similar record results, demonstrating a stable and scalable process. "This achievement clearly demonstrates Oerlikon Solar's technical leadership and is another key milestone on our path to grid parity", stated Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar.

Oerlikon Solar has previously announced an ambitious production cost target of USD 0.70 per Watt peak and is on track to achieve this target by end of 2010. Increased module efficiency and power are key contributors to this goal.

The excellent performance of the record modules demonstrates the advantage of Oerlikon Solar's end to end manufacturing solution. Oerlikon Solar's advanced PV technologies and process integration know-how result in an optimized manufacturing solution that is able to achieve higher conversion efficiencies and lower cost of ownership.

An example of this technology optimization is Oerlikon Solar's integration of a proprietary process to deposit high-quality transparent conducting oxide (TCO) on the front and back surfaces of the active thin film silicon junction. This TCO is engineered to optimize the performance of the Micromorph technology by improving light transmittance and light scattering, resulting in maximum efficiency and electricity output.

Success through best in class technology
Oerlikon Solar is the world leader in silicon-based thin film solar technology and end-to-end manufacturing solutions with 10 established customers in operation or ramp up worldwide representing 600 MWp of yearly production capacity, enough to power 480,000 households. This record panel is the latest result of this ongoing development program and reinforces Oerlikon Solar's role as a technology and market leader.

Oerlikon Solar's end-to-end solution as key enabler
"We successfully implemented several modifications of key processes of our end-to-end production line, leading to the increase in initial power output and efficiency", emphasized Dr. Juerg Henz, Head of Thin Film Engineering and Operations at Oerlikon Solar. "We are confident that our ability to repeatedly achieve record results can be transferred into mass production soon."

Low cost, high performance technology
Oerlikon Solar's IEC certified Micromorph technology significantly boosts solar cell efficiency by adding a second microcrystalline absorber to the amorphous silicon (a-Si) layer. This layer converts the energy of the red and near-infrared spectrum, facilitating efficiency increases of up to 50 percent.

The Micromorph technology also bolsters overall module power, enabling a growing number of PV module manufacturers around the globe to produce cost-effective highperformance thin film silicon solar modules.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

President Obama's remarks on renewable energy -- We come for the sun!

Here's the release on US President Barack Obama's remarks on alterative energy. It is also posted on the White House web site.

NEVADA, USA: Thank you so much. Everybody please have a seat. Thank you so much.

I've got some special acknowledgments that I have to make. First of all, we've got some members of the congressional delegation Nevada who are doing outstanding jobs not only for Nevada but also for the men and women in uniform. So please give a warm welcome to Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. Congresswoman Dina Titus. And we're in his district, he couldn't be here, but Congressman Dean Heller, please give him a big round of applause.

I also want to thank the State Controller, Kim Wallin, for her great work. The Nevada Secretary of State, Ross Miller. Nevada State Treasurer, Kate Marshall. I want to thank the Brigadier General, Stanley Kresge, for the wonderful, outstanding work that he does, as well as Colonel Dave Belote, who just gave me an outstanding tour of the solar panel facility out here.

But mainly I want to thank all of you, the men and women in uniform, for your service to our country. We're grateful to you. Thank you.

I just spoke to a handful of your commanders here. I know some are about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, many have just come back. The fact that you serve each and every day to keep us safe is something that every American is grateful for. And so if I don't do anything else as your Commander-in-Chief, I'm going to make sure that we're there for you just as you've been there for us. So thank you very much.

Finally, let me acknowledge Senator Reid, not just for the generous introduction, not only because he's been a great friend, not only because he's been an outstanding Majority Leader, but also because of everything that he's done for the people of Nevada and for the armed services. He is somebody who has never forgotten his roots. After all these years, he still brings the voices and values of Searchlight, Nevada to the nation's most important debates in Washington, D.C. -- and we are better off because he does. So please give Harry Reid a big round of applause.

You know, it's always a pleasure to get out of Washington a little bit. Washington is okay, but it's nice taking some time to talk to Americans of every walk of life outside of the nation's capital. And there's nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week. Like millions of other Americans, we come to this beautiful city for the sights and for the sounds -- and today, we come for the sun.

Because right now, we're standing near the largest solar electric plant of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere -- the entire Western Hemisphere. More than 72,000 solar panels built on part of an old landfill provide 25 percent of the electricity for the 12,000 people who live and work here at Nellis. That's the equivalent of powering about 13,200 homes during the day.

It's a project that took about half a year to complete, created 200 jobs, and will save the United States Air Force, which is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, nearly $1 million -- $1 million a year. It will also reduce harmful carbon pollution by 24,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing 4,000 cars from our roads. Most importantly, this base serves as a shining example of what's possible when we harness the power of clean, renewable energy to build a new, firmer foundation for economic growth.

Now, that's the kind of foundation we're trying to build all across America. One hundred days ago, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in half a century, we passed the most sweeping economic recovery act in history -- a plan designed to save jobs, create new ones, and put money in people's pockets. It's a plan designed not only to revive the economy in the short term, but to rebuild the economy over the long term. It's a plan that we passed thanks to the tireless efforts of Harry Reid and Congresswoman Berkley and Congresswoman Titus and all the other outstanding public servants in Washington.

But if it hadn't been for Harry Reid -- because the Senate is tough -- moving this Recovery Act through Congress with the skill and tenacity and urgency of somebody who knows the struggles that millions of people are going through, we would have not gotten it done. So I am eternally grateful to him and the other members of the congressional delegation for helping to pass this plan.

And 100 days later, we're already seeing results. And today, we're releasing a report that details the progress that we've made in every region of the country.

In these last few months, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs -- jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, making homes and buildings more energy efficient. They're the jobs of teachers and police officers and nurses who have not been laid off as a consequence of this Recovery Act. They're the jobs fixing roads and bridges, jobs at start-ups and small businesses, and jobs that will put thousands of young Americans to work this summer.

Also in the Recovery Act, by the way, is all sorts of construction taking place on bases just like Nellis to support military families, and I know that that is something that Michelle Obama has taken a lot of time looking into; that's something that I'm spending a lot of time thinking about. We want to make sure that our bases and our facilities are the best in the world for our best troops.

Ninety-five percent of all working families saw their take-home pay increase because of the tax cut that we provided in the Recovery Act. Fifty-four million seniors received $250 extra in their Social Security checks. Laid-off workers have received greater unemployment benefits and paid less for their health care.

For the thousands of families whose homes have been made more energy efficient, it's also saved them about $350 on their energy bills. Other Americans saved thousands by taking advantage of the tax credits the Recovery Act has provided for the purchase of a new home, or a new fuel-efficient car, or energy-efficient cooling and heating systems, windows, and insulation. And all of this has helped to fuel demand that is helping businesses put more Americans back to work.

But this is just the beginning. There are still too many Americans out of work, and too many who still worry that their job may be next. There are still too many families struggling to pay the bills, and too many businesses struggling to keep their doors open. And that's why we will continue to implement the Recovery Act as quickly and effectively as possible over the next two years.

We're just at the start of this Recovery Act. We are going to keep on going through this year and into next year, because we are going to make sure that not only are we putting people back to work, but we're laying the foundation for a better economy. And that's why my administration will continue an unrelenting, day-by-day effort to fight for economic recovery on all fronts.

Now, I just want to emphasize, even as we clear away some of the wreckage and debris of this extraordinary recession, I've also said that our next task is making sure that this doesn't happen again. We can't return to the same bubble-and-bust economy, borrow-and-spend economy based on maxed-out credit cards and overleveraged banks and financial profits that were only real on paper -- see, that young lady agrees with me. We have to lay a new foundation for prosperity -- a foundation constructed on the pillars that will grow our economy and help America compete in the 21st century.

And a renewable energy revolution is one of those pillars. We know the cost of our oil addiction all too well. It's the cost measured by the billions of dollars we send to nations with unstable or unfriendly regimes. We help to fund both sides of the war on terror because of our addiction to oil. It's the cost of our vulnerability to the volatility of the oil markets. It's the cost we feel in shifting weather patterns that are already causing unprecedented droughts and more intense storms. It's a cost we can't bear any longer.

Today, projects like the one at Nellis are still the exception to the rule, unfortunately. America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources of energy like wind and solar -- less than 3 percent. In contrast, Denmark produces 20 percent of their electricity through wind. We pioneered solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in generating it, even though they get less sun than we do. They certainly get less sun than Nevada.

So we've got a choice. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, sending our money and our wealth away, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy. We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they've already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy. And that's the nation I want America to be and I know that's the nation you want America to be.

Already, we've made more progress on this front in the last four months than we have in the last three decades. Last week, I brought auto executives, labor unions, environmental groups, Democrats, and Republicans together to set the toughest-ever national fuel-efficiency standard for our cars and trucks -- a standard that will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.

In Congress, leaders like Harry Reid are also working to pass a historic energy plan that will help end our dependence on foreign oil while preventing the worst consequences of climate change. It's a system -- it's a plan that will create a system of clean energy incentives that will create good, American jobs and crack down on polluters who pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Finally, by the end of the next two years, the Recovery Act will have enabled a doubling of our nation's capacity to generate renewable energy by investing in projects just like the one on this Air Force base. And today, I'm announcing the availability of funding for two Recovery Act programs that will help us reach that goal.

The first is a solar energy technologies program that will help replicate the success of the Nellis project in cities and states across America -- because in this case, what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas. We want everybody to know what we're doing here in Vegas. We'll invest in the development and deployment of solar technology wherever it can thrive and we'll find the best ways to integrate solar power into our electric grid.

The second program I'm announcing will help develop the use of geothermal energy in America. As many of you in Nevada know, geothermal energy is literally defined as "heat from the earth." This heat can then be harnessed as a clean, affordable, and reliable source of energy.

And already, Nevada has 17 industrial scale geothermal plants, and your capacity to generate this type of power is expected to increase in the next few years. The program we're announcing will help accelerate this process -- here, and across America. So this is something that we expect will -- (applause.) -- this will create more jobs, it will create more businesses, and more affordable electricity for the American people.

Now, from where we stand today, the road to economic recovery is still long. We've got a lot of work to do. There are a lot of folks who are still hurting out there. And the road to a new, clean energy economy is even longer. We're not going to do it overnight. But after four months of this administration and 100 days of this Recovery Act, we have carved out a path toward progress. It's a path that begins in places just like this Air Force base, where ordinary citizens tap into their sense of innovation and ingenuity to reinvent the world around them.

This base has been known as "The Home of the Fighter Pilot." Now it's the home of the largest solar energy installation of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. And by the way, the two concepts are connected because it is good for our national security if we've got more control over our own energy use.

And that's the story that will be told all across America, in cities and towns, where a shuttered factory reopens to build wind turbines; where a hospital treats patients with new technology and pulls up their history with new electronic records; where a young entrepreneur with a nest egg and a good idea starts a business and creates more jobs.

That's how we move America forward. This is how we've always moved forward. It happens slowly, in fits and starts, but it always happens surely when we are dedicated to bringing about change. It happens not by chance or by luck, but because the American people keep pushing ahead -- persevering through hardship, growing through challenge, building something firmer and stronger in place of what was.

That's the work we've begun in these last few months, and with your help, this is the work we will continue to do in the days and months ahead.

For all of you who are serving in our armed forces, we want to make sure that our civilians are mobilizing and working on behalf of this country just as ably as you are. We salute you, we thank you. Thank you, everybody. God bless you, God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Spire receives US patent for nanophotovoltaic devices

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing turnkey solar factories and capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic modules worldwide, announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued US Patent No. 7,514,725 B2 entitled “Nanophotovoltaic Devices.”

This patent is for nanophotovoltaic devices formed from silicon or gallium arsenide having sizes in a range of about 50 nanometers to about 5 microns, and method of their fabrication.

Although there are a number of applications, the patent describes one application which is to inject nanophotovoltaic devices into diseased tissue, e.g., cancerous tissue, and activate these cells by the use of suitable radiation. These cells will generate electric fields in the tissue, causing a disruption of the cancerous cells.

Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire and co-inventor, said: “This is an extension of our solar energy technology into biotherapeutics. Functionalized nanophotovoltaic devices can go to cancerous cells in the body and when exposed to tissue penetrating light, may provide sufficient electrical energy to destroy the cells. We are continuing to exploit this technology in our research and development activities.”

GT Solar commissions first integrated solar wafer and cell turnkey solution in Greece

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar, a global provider of specialized equipment and technology for the solar power industry, announced that it has received final acceptance for the design, installation and commissioning of the first integrated photovoltaic (PV) solar wafer and cell turnkey fabrication line in Greece.

The state-of-the-art production line, created for Greece-based Solar Cells Hellas S.A., has an annual capacity of 30-megawatts (MW). It delivers a stable production process that produces high-quality multi-crystalline cells of optimum efficiency. With the commissioning of this turnkey solution, Solar Cells Hellas becomes the first PV manufacturer in Greece.

“The successful start-up of this wafer and cell turnkey line is additional confirmation that GT Solar delivers to our customers advanced technological solutions that are efficiently implemented through the application of our extensive process know-how,” said Ron Jones, vice president and general manager of GT Solar’s turnkey business. “We’re proud to have worked with Solar Cells Hellas to open this world-class facility in the Greek port city of Patras, and believe they are well-positioned to help meet the increasing demand for solar energy in Greece and throughout Western Europe.”

GT Solar is one of only a small number of equipment providers that offers turnkey solutions for every process involved in manufacturing PV wafers, cells, and modules. The company’s turnkey solutions, which integrate GT Solar and best of breed third party equipment, are built to increase customers’ productivity, boost quality and improve line yields, all resulting in a low cost of ownership. Comprehensive training and world-class service back each turnkey offering. GT Solar has successfully installed a variety of turnkey line configurations in countries around the globe including China, India, Italy, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

“Being new to the industry, Solar Cells Hellas needed a partner that we could rely on – one with significant PV manufacturing expertise and experience,” said Dimitris Panagakos, chairman for Solar Cells Hellas. “Not only was GT Solar able to build and deploy our equipment, but they also helped us design and configure our facility, and provided the training that will allow us to realize the best possible results. We’re pleased at how quickly we’ve been able to get our operations up-and-running, and we look forward to expanding relationship with GT Solar as we grow our company.”

A GT Solar turnkey solution is built on the solid foundation of GT Solar’s industry-leading directional solidification systems (DSS) furnace technology. GT Solar’s wafer fabrication line (GT-WAFFABTM) delivers high-quality multi-crystalline ingots to the wafer lines. It features leading-edge equipment technologies for squaring, polishing, chamfering, wafering, cleaning, and inspection. GT Solar’s cell turnkey line (GT-CELFABTM) is designed to produce high efficiency solar cells from round or square, mono or multi-crystalline silicon wafers.

SunPower announces solar industry's most powerful rooftop system

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced its new SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile (T5 Roof Tile), the solar industry's most powerful roof overlay system.

The T5 Roof Tile system approximately doubles the energy generated per square meter compared to systems that are mounted onto flat commercial rooftops. Combined with SunPower's high-performance, 96-cell solar panels, the T5 Roof Tile produces the industry's maximum solar energy per roof and greatest energy savings.

Tilted at a five-degree angle, the T5 Roof Tile is the industry's first all-in-one, non-penetrating photovoltaic rooftop product that combines solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. The T5 Roof Tile solar tiles interlock for wind resistance and secure installation. The patented design is adaptable to virtually any flat or low-slope rooftop.

"It was SunPower technology that established the commercial rooftop solar market more than a decade ago and today we continue to build on more than ten years of experience delivering reliable, affordable solar power systems," said SunPower's CEO, Tom Werner.

"The introduction of the T5 Roof Tile will enable us to extend our leadership in system innovation and offer the benefits of solar to an even wider array of customer building types. We design our solar system technology for lower cost, faster delivery of local, secure clean energy that will accelerate solar green job opportunities."

"The development of the T5 Roof Tile is a direct result of the investment by the US Department of Energy (D.O.E.) through its Solar America Initiative program," said Bill Mulligan, SunPower's vice president of technology and development. "The T5 Roof Tile was developed and delivered to customers less than two years after SunPower began receiving D.O.E. research and development funding."

The T5 Roof Tile all-in-one mounting system and frame is made from an engineered glass-filled polymer that is non-reactive, eliminating the need for electrical grounding of the array. This makes the T5 Roof Tile easier and faster to install than other rooftop systems.

Its aerodynamic design is resistant to high winds, and the strong, smooth-edged, lightweight polymer material protects the roof for long-term durability. Since the T5 Roof Tile is stacked for shipping, more kilowatts per pound can be transported using less packaging, resulting in lower distribution costs.

The T5 Roof Tile system integrates a frame and mounting system with SunPower's high-performance, 96-cell solar panels, including the recently announced SunPower 315 Solar Panel. This combination empowers commercial customers to generate the greatest return by maximizing solar gain from each roof.

The T5 Roof Tile is available in the US immediately and can be ordered in Europe during the third quarter of 2009.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silex acquires solar manufacturing facility at Sydney Olympic Park

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Silex Systems Ltd (Silex) is pleased to announce the conditional acquisition of all the manufacturing assets and equipment of the Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) Solar manufacturing facility. This follows the signing of a Heads of Agreement with BP Solar Pty Ltd, who operated the facility until the end of March 2009.

In a separate arrangement, Silex has also signed a conditional lease for the building which houses the SOP Plant, meaning that once the transactions are completed, the manufacturing facility including infrastructure and services will be secured relatively intact. It is expected that both transactions will be completed before the end of June 2009.

Subject to this, Silex anticipates that new manufacturing operations will involve a progressive roll-out of advanced technology and innovations, potentially including novel materials being developed by Silex’s Silicon Valley subsidiary Translucent Inc.

“This is a unique opportunity for Silex to kick-start its commercial solar operations” Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO said. “More importantly, it opens the door for Silex to begin implementing some potentially exciting technical innovations aimed at higher efficiency solar cells. While the SOP Plant provides a solid platform for the production of high quality silicon solar cells, our aim is to ultimately become a leader in the Solar industry through technology innovation” he added.

The SOP Plant is the largest solar manufacturing facility in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 50MW of solar cell production and 10MW of module production annually under previous BP Solar operations. It is estimated that the future capacity of the plant could potentially be expanded to 200MW, and possibly more with improvements in solar cell efficiencies. Initially, the plant will operate at a much reduced capacity of 10MW ~ 15MW in 2010CY, ramping up to full capacity by 2012 to 2015CY, depending on market demand.

The time to market with product from the SOP Plant, regardless of cell technology, is dictated by the product qualification process, which is expected to take approximately six months to complete. This is a mandatory process for any manufacturer in the solar industry.

During this period -– planned to commence in July 2009 following finalization of the abovementioned transactions -- Silex Solar will undertake maintenance and recommissioning activities, and produce the product samples needed for qualification testing later in the year.

The existing manufacturing equipment and facility is in good condition, although we have budgeted up to A$0.5 million in costs associated with the re-commissioning effort over the remainder of 2009. A team of ~20 engineers and technicians is currently being assembled to undertake this effort. If all goes to plan (noting that delays are possible), Silex Solar will aim to generate its first sales in Q1 2010 CY.

“We believe this is a very opportune time to be gearing up for a new solar manufacturing enterprise” Dr Goldsworthy said. “With the current economic downturn, the global solar industry is taking a ‘breather’ -– with forecast growth this year around 10 percent instead of the 30 percent+ per annum growth seen for the five years to the end of 2008. Despite this, strong growth continues in the local Australian market with the increasing support of State and Federal initiatives.

"Looking forward, stronger growth is expected to return to the global market once economic conditions improve. An important factor going forward is the global swing towards renewable energy sources such as solar, supported by strong government policy initiatives around the world, and ever decreasing solar power costs as solar technology improves. With its strong focus on technology innovation, Silex Solar
will be in good position to take advantage of these positive market factors over the next decade” he explained.

Examining BIPV market in North and Southeast Asia

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of Frost & Sullivan's new report "BIPV Markets in North and Southeast Asia" to its offering.

This research service analyzes the current market trends, revenue distribution, key regulations, competitive structure, market drivers, market restraints, end-user analysis and market share analysis for the building integrated photovoltaic market in North Asia and Southeast Asia.

Market overview

Global Warming heats up BIPV market in North and Southeast Asia

With global warming endangering several species of life and posing bigger potential risks, there is an urgent need to curb its main cause -- greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Clean energy technologies such as wind, solar, and biomass are gradually being promoted over conventional, GHG-emitting power sources.

Among solar energies, BIPV is being increasingly sought out by real estate companies and builders for its distributed power generating ability, especially in the urban areas. Seeing that urban centers and cities are major power consumption centers and yet do precious little to cut back GHG emissions, high net worth individuals and commercial buildings have begun to extensively endorse 'green energy' to ensure a clean environment.

"Growing awareness among various end-user segments coupled with abundant availability of sunlight is fostering the growth of BIPV market in cities," says the analyst of this research. "Solar energy integrated townships and clean energy buildings are being extensively planned and supported to highlight the savings in energy and measure carbon dioxide emissions."

Breaking out of the confines of rural area deployment for distributed or centralized power generation, renewable energy, especially BIPV, is gaining widespread acceptance among city builders. One of the main reasons for its popularity is its prevention of transmission and distribution (T&D) loss, as electricity is consumed at the point of generation.

However, the BIPV market still has some ground to cover before it can aim for large-scale commercialization in North and Southeast Asia. This is because builders are put off by the high installation and generation costs, a minimum pay back period of six to eight years, and lack of an attractive feed-in-tariff from the utilities.

For reasons of economic viability and low product awareness, builders and real estate companies prefer to buy electricity from the utilities at a much cheaper rate than invest in renewable energy sources.

Despite the hurdles, BIPV power generation has made a case for itself with its unique ability to power mass applications in urban areas. While promoting energy efficiency and low energy use in buildings, it also offers multi-functional solutions for modern-day architecture.

Therefore, despite a slowdown in capacity additions, North Asia exhibits great potential for the commercial end-user segment. Among all the countries in this region, Japan is the one that has best cashed in on the opportunities in the commercial and residential segments.

"The withdrawal of subsidies in 2005 has had a moderate impact on the growth of the BIPV market," notes the analyst. "Meanwhile, in South Korea, the introduction of attractive feed-in-tariff in is likely to fuel the growth of centralized solar PV systems."

On the other hand, Southeast Asia holds promise for BIPV systems in both the residential and commercial end-user segments, thanks to a strong push from the government and solar subsidy programs. Malaysia has successfully deployed BIPV systems and other countries are soon likely to follow in its footsteps.

Singapore trails close behind Malaysia in BIPV deployment and installations in this country are forecast to increase from 2010 due to the introduction of the 'Green Mark Scheme' in the construction industry.

Evidently, it is vital to have solid government backing in the form of long-term subsidies and incentives. An attractive feed-in-tariff and a robust policy framework is needed to provide guidance to potential developers and end-users, while greater awareness through frequent information dissemination on the technology, economics, and business models of BIPV installations will also go a long way in buoying this market.

Reduced installation costs and integration in the industry are the other crucial factors that can kindle the interest of the industry stakeholders. This will also encourage R&D in BIPV systems' designing and facilitate large-scale commercialization of the technology.

Ascent's solar modules to be designed into development of hybrid, unmanned aerial vehicle

THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. announced that its state-of-the-art, flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules will be designed into the development of a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle (H-UAV) called the Silent Sentinel developed by Bye Aerospace, Inc. The H-UAV will be designed primarily for military use; however, its capabilities will also include a broad spectrum of civil applications.

The first of its kind hybrid utilizes stored electric power, thin film solar photovoltaics (PV), and other technologies to enhance its endurance, quiet operations and low emissions. Bye Aerospace is teamed with thin film PV manufacturer Ascent Solar to develop the solar energy capability on the aircraft.

For primary propulsion, the hybrid UAV will be coupled with an advanced Williams International FJ33 turbofan. The efficient engine will provide the UAV remarkable climb rates and high altitude quick access to areas requiring surveillance.

Charlie Johnson, COO of Bye Aerospace, said the Silent Sentinel is a robust, long-range UAV that will incorporate several proprietary clean energy features.

“Ultimately, it will provide advanced tactical reconnaissance functionality while utilizing a uniquely long endurance, highly capable tactical sensor platform that is operationally stealthy and cost-effective to operate. The unique characteristics of the Ascent Solar flexible modules allow us to design this UAV to become very energy efficient.”

Dr. Joseph Armstrong, Chief Technical Officer of Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. stated: “Our flexible, monolithically integrated CIGS PV technology offers the ideal combination of low weight, higher voltage, and high performance that makes it ideal for applications such as the Silent Sentinel, and we look forward to providing Bye Aerospace the materials they require for their vehicle.”

Potential military applications include border patrol, search and rescue, visual and thermal reconnaissance, and forward air control. In addition, potential civil applications include traffic control, pipeline and power line inspection, aerial law enforcement, forest fire detection and aerial photography.

Initial meetings are being conducted with US Government entities regarding the capabilities of the aircraft. More are planned in the near term.

Veeco intros VCM optical profiling system

PLAINVIEW, USA: Veeco Instruments Inc., a leader in scientific and industrial metrology, announced the launch of its Veeco Confocal Metrology (VCM) Optical Profiler Systems.

Veeco’s VCM Profilers provide a compact and easy-to-use non-contact metrology solution for applications requiring data acquisition from steep slopes, high surface roughness, or beneath transparent layers. VCM Profiler Systems are based on spinning disc architecture and employ white light as the excitation source, enabling faster, more accurate and repeatable measurements than competing confocal systems.

“Veeco has a strong heritage of providing world-class, white-light optical profilers in a variety of configurations, from table-top models to fully automated production floor systems,” said Mark R. Munch, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Veeco Metrology.

“Our new VCM confocal microscopes continue this tradition of scalable white-light optical instrumentation, providing our research and industry customers with a suite of metrology options for difficult sample requirements and a variety of sub-millimeter applications.”

Andrew Masters, Veeco’s Vice President of Segment Marketing and Business Development, added: “Our VCM profiler line offers quantitative 3D confocal measurements on the same familiar microscope platform that customers utilize for brightfield, darkfield, and differential interference contrast (DIC) techniques.”

VCM Optical Profiler Systems
Veeco’s VCM series of confocal microscopes allow for 150, 200, or 300 millimeters of travel, and can be configured for either manual or automated operation.

The VCM System software features a full complement of metrology and 3D imaging tools, and accommodates advanced research, development and industrial needs, from economical manual operation to high-throughput, fully automated sample positioning and data acquisition. An optional stitching interface makes stitching multiple data sets simple and automated, providing high-resolution imaging of features requiring a larger field of view.

Veeco Instruments Inc. manufactures enabling solutions for customers in the HB-LED, solar, data storage, semiconductor, scientific research and industrial markets.

Sunrise Solar signs agreement with Macon County

SAN ANTONIO, USA: Sunrise Solar Corp. has signed an agreement to assist Macon County, Alabama, with the implementation of new alternative energy projects.

The company will evaluate green technologies that will benefit the County, government buildings, public lighting and educational facilities. Projects will then be designed and implemented to meet these needs.

Addressing energy needs will include both improving energy efficiency in the County and bringing new alternative energy resources to the area. Funds are available from government sources, including the $800 Billion stimulus package to provide energy solutions that will reduce costs and dependence on foreign oil across America.

"We are pleased to become a partner with the leaders of Macon County," noted Maurice Stone, president of Sunrise Solar. "We expect to expand this model of working closely with government leaders to municipalities across America."

"We are excited to have this opportunity to work with Sunrise Solar in an effort to identify and develop alternative energy sources for Macon County," stated Louis Maxwell, Chairman, Macon County Commission. "We realize that to continue doing business in the same way, will produce the same results; we must change if our children will have a chance to become energy independent."

Sunrise Solar competes with green alternative energy players such as: Sun Power, First Solar, Trina Solar and LDK Solar.

QD Soleil acquires critical patents in solar energy

PALO ALTO, USA: QD Soleil, a division of Nanosys Inc., announced the signing of an exclusive license agreement with Starfire Electronic Development and Marketing Corp. for patents covering the work of nanotechnology pioneer Dr. Avery Goldstein.

The technologies under license have the potential to dramatically improve the economics of solar energy by increasing process efficiencies and reducing the amount of raw materials required in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells.

The license relates to manufacturing methods for making semiconductor thin films using roll-to-roll processing and nanoparticle inks, and also includes seminal coverage of silicon and germanium nanocrystals, all of which are critical in the production of solar energy at cost parity with traditional energy sources. Silicon nanocrystals also have the potential to produce highly efficient photovoltaic cells.

“These patents complement our strong intellectual property position in the area of thin films and photovoltaic devices,” said Vijendra Sahi, vice president and general manager of QD Soleil. “Avery Goldstein has been one of the leading minds in nanotechnology since the beginning of this field. The licensed patents from Starfire cover fundamental applications of nanotechnology in photovoltaic technologies which will help keep QD Soleil at the forefront of solar innovation.”

“We are pleased to be working with QD Soleil, which is clearly the leader in semiconductor thin films and nanotechnology-enabled photovoltaic cells,” said Dr. Goldstein. “This is a natural fit for our intellectual property. I am excited about the opportunity to further the development and commercialization of this technology working in conjunction with QD Soleil.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rechargeable alkaline batteries to power solar lighting products

TORONTO, CANADA: Pure Energy Visions Corp., the leading Canadian provider of environmentally responsible rechargeable battery products, has signed an agreement with The Brinkmann Corp. based in Dallas, Texas.

Beginning this fall, Pure Energy will supply rechargeable alkaline batteries for use in Brinkmann’s solar garden lights for sale in the US, Canada and Mexico.

Brinkmann offers a wide variety of different solar lights including garden path and spot lights, house number lights and security lighting. Brinkmann is a leading manufacturer of outdoor lighting, hand-held lighting, outdoor cookers and smokers, lawn & garden products, pet products, camping equipment, boat covers, and Remington branded clothing. Brinkmann products are available at a number of leading retailers including Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, Menards, and Lowes.

“As a company concerned with the environmental impact of our products, we are very pleased to be making the shift from rechargeable nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries to non-toxic Rechargeable Alkaline batteries,” stated Baxter Brinkmann, President of Brinkmann. “Not only are we using the most environmental responsible rechargeable batteries in the world, we have a battery technology with significant performance benefits over NiCd and other rechargeable products. In addition to our solar lighting, we see several other opportunities to use Pure Energy’s Rechargeable Alkaline batteries.”

“We are very pleased to be working with one of the leading solar lighting companies in North America,” said Paul W. Simmonds, Pure Energy’s President and CEO. “Our Rechargeable Alkaline batteries and solar lighting are an excellent fit from both a performance and environmental perspective. With the banning of NiCd batteries in Europe last September and with this trend expected to continue worldwide, we see a significant opportunity for Pure Energy in this growing market sector.”

There are several key features that make Pure Energy’s Rechargeable Alkaline batteries the ideal choice for products utilizing solar charging. These include:

* Industry leading charge retention with a seven-year shelf life.
* Manufactured in the fully charged state, they are ready to go without initial recharge.
* Excellent intermittent discharge/recharge characteristics, with more than 5000 cycles possible.
* The higher nominal voltage of 1.5V of Rechargeable Alkaline batteries will provide greater brightness compared to 1.2V batteries.

Pure Energy’s Rechargeable Alkaline is considered the most environmentally responsible battery system in the world and is the only battery to be awarded the “Eco Logo” from Environment Canada.

5G Wireless to develop hydrogen based fuel powered by the sun!

REDONDO BEACH, USA: 5G Wireless Communications, Inc. has signed a strategic alliance agreement with Magnegas Corp. that sets the framework for the joint commercial development of Magnegas Refineries powered by alternative sources of electricity such as wind, solar, or both.

The goal of the project is to commercialize the production of clean burning hydrogen-based fuel powered by the sun. The projects would be solar or wind powered, or a combination of the two.

5G Wireless CEO, Bo Linton, stated: "As the former President of Magnegas Corp., I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with Magnegas to construct as a first project a solar powered Magnegas refinery. I am confident the Magnegas Refinery is the best available technology for converting liquid waste into clean burning fuel. Our goal is to take it one step further and power the refinery with solar power creating a virtually infinite fuel supply supporting America’s efforts to achieve true energy independence.”

Rich Connelly, president of Magnegas stated: "Magnegas has been seeking an alliance to take advantage of the many synergies between wind or solar power and the Magnegas Refineries. We are confident that we have found the correct alliance in 5G to take the technology to the next level producing a hydrogen based fuel from the sun or wind."

Linde to supply supply high purity gases to Italy’s first thin-film solar cell plant

MUNICH, GERMANY: Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, announced that it has been awarded the exclusive contract to supply high purity gases to Italy’s first thin-film solar module manufacturing plant. The Moncada Energy Group s.r.l., a leading private producer of renewable energy in Italy, is building the plant in Campofranco (Sicily).

Under this agreement, Linde Gas Italia, a member of The Linde Group, will provide Moncada with turnkey installation of the plant’s bulk and specialty gases supply systems. On an ongoing basis, it will also deliver nitrogen (N2), hydrogen (H2), silane (SiH4) and chamber cleaning gases which are essential to making thin-film solar cells.

“Linde Gas Italia is excited to partner with Moncada to expand Italy's growing infrastructure of renewable energy installations,” said Fabrizio Elia, CEO of Linde Gas Italia. “Our collaboration with Moncada echoes our commitment to deliver innovative environmentally friendly processes, and it also builds on our aim to make solar energy more affordable for mass consumption –- at par with the grid.”

Linde was selected based on its proven supply capability and strong global market position in turnkey solutions for thin-film solar module manufacturing. Its established R&D programme, which is focused on reducing production costs and delivering environmentally friendly solutions, was also key to the contract win. Linde has developed a process that can replace the powerful greenhouse gas nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) with pure fluorine (F2), which does not contribute to global warming.

Moncada’s thin-film PV plant in Campofranco, which becomes fully-operational in 2010, will produce large 5.7m2 single junction photovoltaic modules. The facility is expected to have an annual output capacity of 40MWp.

“Moncada’s mission is to enable the environmentally friendly and cost-effective production and installation of solar panels. Linde’s proven technology expertise mirrors our ambition to quickly achieve grid parity in Italy,” said Salvatore Moncada, CEO and founder of Moncada Energy Group. “Partnering with experts from The Linde Group and Applied Materials, Moncada is firmly placed to fuel the boom phase for renewable energy in Italy.”

Linde is the leading supplier of fluorine, producing it on-site, on-demand and at very low pressures. Developed in the late 1990s, this proven technology has been installed at more than 20 semiconductor, LCD and solar cell production sites, including Toshiba Matsushita Display, Samsung, and LG.

RFID system for solar industry

CHELMSFORD, USA: Brooks Automation Inc. has announced a new radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader specifically for the solar cell industry.

This innovative solution provides reliable traceability from the source ingot to the ready-to-use solar cell module. RFID usage increases manufacturing throughput, reduces handling errors and limits non-value handling.

The innovative HF80 Series developed by RFID specialist Brooks Automation offers a variety of functions and is obtainable with an Ethernet and/or serial RS232 interface. The system consists of an RFID reader, antenna and transponder. Working at a frequency of 13.56 MHz, the five antenna terminals minimize the cost per reading point and ensure best-in-class reading ranges and reliability.

The HF80 Series is intended for use in the production process where it is effortlessly integrated into production machines. An application in order picking stations is also conceivable. The HF80 enables solar cell manufacturers access to integrated, transparent production data throughout the manufacturing process.

RFID is the future ID-System for the PV-Industry. The read and write capability of the transponder, the accurate reading rate and the exceptional reliability of the system uniquely qualifies it for the solar production process.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

See SolarEdge's revolutionary power harvesting system at Intersolar Munich 2009

HERTZLIA, ISRAEL: SolarEdge Technologies, an innovative solar power harvesting start-up, announced the company’s highly anticipated PV energy harvesting system will be revealed for the first time at Intersolar Munich 2009, taking place from May 27-29.

Leading up to the conference, SolarEdge Chairman, CEO and Founder Guy Sella will give a featured presentation on May 26 on the topic of “Breakthroughs in Distributed DC Architecture” at the PV Industry Forum.

While the solar industry has taken enormous strides to reduce the dollar per watt cost of PV-generated electric power through increased cell efficiency and other innovations, traditional PV installations still suffer from a broad range of limitations.

Centralized architecture and standard design constraints today cause power loses on average of 20 percent per solar field and lead to poor roof utilization, fire and maintenance safety issues, and ineffective panel theft prevention measures. In addition, current architectures do not enable module and system-level monitoring for issue identification and performance tracking.

At Intersolar 2009, SolarEdge will introduce the first PV panel-integrated power harvesting system, which can be embedded in practically all types of solar panels available today. The module and system-level combined solution enables maximum power generation throughout the solar lifecycle while dramatically reducing complexities and costs. System owners enjoy significant power increases while installers are able to reduce installation costs and maximize roof utilization, all resulting in lower dollar per watt electrical power.

“We are very pleased to be working with leading companies in the market and are excited to finally show the industry our unique holistic approach,” said Guy Sella, chairman, CEO and founder of SolarEdge. “By addressing the problems that the industry has overlooked or considered unavoidable, SolarEdge reduces the lifetime cost of PV energy, thus making PV more affordable and paving a faster way to grid parity.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sanyo develops HIT solar cells with 23pc energy conversion efficiency

TOKYO, JAPAN: SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. has broken its own record for the world’s highest energy conversion efficiency in practical size (100 cm2 or more) crystalline silicon-type solar cells, achieving a efficiency of 23 percent (until now 22.3 percent) at a research level for its proprietary HIT solar photovoltaic cells.

SANYO is pushing forward with the expansion of its solar business, based on its Brand Vision ‘Think GAIA’, and aims to realize a clean energy society.

The increase in the solar cell conversion efficiency this time is accompanied by significant advances in lowering the production cost of the photovoltaic system and the reduction in the use of raw materials such as silicon.

This achievement by SANYO represents the first time that a photovoltaic manufacturer has broken through the 23 percent mark in conversion efficiency at the research-level for practical-sizxed solar cells, and further cements the leadership of SANYO’s HIT solar cell which is renowned for its high conversion efficiency.

For now on SANYO will continue to advance its efforts into applying this research-level achievement into mass production, and promote further research into energy efficiency, as well as reductions in cost and materials.

Applied Solar announces restructuring

SAN DIEGO, USA: Applied Solar, Inc. announced that it had begun the process of restructuring its operations. On May 22, 2009, the Company entered into a definitive loan and security agreement with The Quercus Trust, pursuant to which the company borrowed $698,000 under a short-term loan that matures on June 15, 2009.

As a condition to the loan, the company is required to file for reorganization pursuant to Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code within thirty days following the date of the loan. The company is currently engaged in discussions with potential financing sources, including The Quercus Trust, concerning the extension of debtor-in-possession or “DIP” financing to support the Company’s operations during its reorganization.

David Field, President and CEO of the company remarked: “Despite very promising macro and micro business trends affecting the company, including solid relationships with its business partners, the current state of the financial markets combined with a difficult and complicated capital structure have made it extremely challenging for the company to secure needed financing. We are hopeful that a restructuring will enable the company to emerge stronger and in a better position to capitalize on the anticipated future growth in the solar industry.”

At the present time, no binding commitment to provide DIP financing by The Quercus Trust or any other party has been received and there can be no guarantee that the company will obtain such financing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sanyo to launch high output HIT-HD solar modules in Europe

MUNICH, GERMANY: Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd has announced the development of new 240W and 235W HIT-HD photovoltaic modules, with the highest output of any SANYO solar panel, based on performance improvement for the HIT-HD*1 series.

The new modules are to begin mass production at SANYO Hungary Plant by October 2009. The new HIT-HD module will be on display at the Intersolar trade show being held in Munich, Germany, from May 27 to 29, 2009.

High Output 240/235W HIT-HD PV Modules (HIT-240/235HDE4)
Greater output and efficiency through manufacturing process optimization
Previous SANYO solar panels had a maximum rated power output of 230 watts per module (i.e., HDE Series 230W).

Now, with this improved HIT-HD module, a rated power of 240 watts has been achieved through the optimization of the cell manufacturing process. A cell conversion efficiency of 20 percent has also been reached (module conversion efficiency of 17.3 percent), which is the highest efficiency for a mass-produced SANYO model.

Solar industry strategies rerouted by market conditions

SCOTTSDALE, USA: Thin-film (TF) solar panels, most notably the cadmium telluride panels made by First Solar Inc., have solidly established themselves as offering a lower price-per-installed watt than traditional solar panels made using silicon wafers.

The 876 megawatts of TF modules sold in 2008 is expected to grow to 5.2 gigawatts in 2013, a compound annual growth rate of 43 percent, according to a new 2009 report from IC Insights, Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry.

With this growth, the TF share of total solar photovoltaic devices sold will increase from 14 percent in 2008 to a forecast 27 percent in 2013, according to the report (see Fig. 1 below).

While TF is expected to continue gaining share, the Solar Energy report shows the forecast rate of growth is significantly lower than many recent solar industry forecasts. There are a number of factors behind this prediction.

TF panel makers have struggled to push panel efficiencies above about 11 percent, despite research-lab devices with efficiencies ranging from 16-20 percent. These higher efficiencies have been difficult to achieve in volume production, and there is little indication so far of a breakthrough in this regard.

Thus, despite their lower cost per watt, TF panels are predominantly used in large-scale ground based utility installations, where a large amount of space is available. In almost all rooftop applications, panels made with silicon-wafer-based solar cells are more attractive because their higher efficiency, ranging from 14-21 percent, means that more power can be generated for a limited rooftop area.

The political clout of electric utilities will undoubtedly draw government dollars toward large-scale solar installations. However, the Solar Energy report suggests that it is arguably the best use of solar technology to distribute small arrays on rooftops, close to the point of power consumption, where it reduces the costs and power losses associated with transmission and distribution lines. The better government policymakers understand this, the better the incentives should be for solar suppliers with the best rooftop products.

The Solar Energy report goes on to show that after several years of stellar growth—capped by a 99 percent growth year in 2008—the solar industry is being slammed during the current economic downturn.

IC Insights believes that after a 22 percent drop in installed megawatts of solar PV capacity during 2009, strong growth will return in 2010, as new government incentive programs gain traction in the US, Asia, and Europe. But with weakened government support during 2009, seriously lean conditions are driving solar device makers to re-evaluate and re-tune their strategies for increasing the value they can deliver per dollar.

A big factor coming to the aid of wafer-based cell makers is a big increase in available polysilicon supplies in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Freed of the capacity constraints for wafers and with silicon costs dropping, wafer-based solar cell makers will concentrate on improvements in device design and manufacturing techniques that allow them to drive device efficiency up and cost-per-watt down. Several suppliers have said that they will be bringing higher-efficiency cells to market, including a number of new back-contact cell designs.

Other key findings in Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry:

* Pricing for solar panels will take a big step down in 2009, and then return to moderate decreases in price per watt over the remainder of the 2009-2013 forecast period.

* Competition is great among solar PV suppliers, with the top supplier in 2008 holding only 9 percent of the market, and 13 other suppliers each with 4 percent or more. IC Insights expects supplier rankings to continue to change.

* Solar-grade polysilicon will remain in oversupply throughout the forecast period. New sources of lower-cost supplies, such as upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG) silicon, will help drive down wafer costs.

* Equipment suppliers to the new solar device industry must re-tune their business as device makers struggle with ballooning inventories and plummeting capacity utilization.

Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry was written to help current semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers gain a clearer understanding of solar technology and markets as they consider exploiting existing and upcoming opportunities available in the fast-growing solar PV sector.

It contains five-year forecasts for photovoltaic cells, solar modules, PV pricing trends, semiconductors in solar systems, PV-production capacity, capital expenditures, and polysilicon sales for PV cells. Regional market trends along with profiles and ranking of the industry’s top 15 photovoltaic device suppliers are also covered in the new report.

Single-user copies of the 118-page report sells for $2,975 with each additional copy priced at $495. A multi-user corporate license is available for $5,880.

Source: IC Insights, USA

Solar monitoring application for Apple iPhone, iPod touch

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced the industry's first monitoring application for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch mobile devices.

With the addition of this application to the SunPower(R) Monitoring System, a suite of monitoring services, residential customers now have three easy ways to access information about the energy generated by their SunPower solar systems.

Along with the iPhone and iPod touch application, the SunPower Monitoring System offers homeowners the ability to monitor SunPower solar systems with a wireless, in-home wall-mounted LCD display that provides power production and cumulative energy information.

The monitoring system also provides the convenience of Internet access to a solar system's performance from virtually anywhere. Customers can view a system's energy performance and environmental savings on an hourly, monthly and annual basis.

"With the SunPower Monitoring System, our customers can optimize their solar investment and save on energy expenses," said Jan Soderstrom, vice president and chief marketing officer at SunPower Corp. "By monitoring their solar systems online, in-home or via their Apple mobile devices, these tools empower homeowners to track their systems anytime and from practically any location."

The iPhone and iPod touch application can be downloaded immediately from the Apple App Store at at no charge and is available to new and existing customers of SunPower solar systems with monitoring capabilities.

Prospective customers can download a demonstration feature with an overview of how the application works. The SunPower Monitoring System is available through the SunPower dealer network for homeowners purchasing a new solar rooftop system. Customers in new home communities with SunPower solar can monitor their systems via the online and Apple mobile device application services.

SunPower announces planet's most powerful solar panel

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced the latest version of the SunPower 315 Solar Panel, the planet's most powerful solar panel for the residential and commercial markets.

The improved 96-cell, 315-watt panel uses SunPower's high-performance solar cells and offers the industry's highest conversion efficiency of 19.3 percent.

The SunPower 315 Solar Panel now includes an anti-reflective coated glass and larger, more powerful all-back contact solar cells. The anti-reflective coating allows for more diffuse off-angle light to be captured, generating more energy per rated watt than a conventional solar panel.

The SunPower 315 Solar Panel's larger area cells can capture more light per panel, resulting in high energy output. The coating and the larger area cells result in a darker, more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

"SunPower continues to provide its customers with the best solar technology and greatest return on investment," said Vikas Desai, SunPower vice president and general manager. "The latest version of our SunPower 315 Solar Panel maximizes energy production resulting in fewer panels per rooftop. With less panels and balance of system materials, customers can benefit from lower installation costs."

The improved SunPower 315 Solar Panel is available for residential and commercial customers via SunPower's European and North American dealer networks. The company will be taking orders for the SunPower 315 Solar Panel beginning July 2009.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

RUSNANO, RENOVA to found company for Russia’s largest production of solar batteries

RUSSIA: The Supervisory Council of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies, (RUSNANO, has approved the corporation’s participation in a project to produce solar modules using thin-film technology.

RUSNANO CEO Anatoly Chubais commented on the project: “We are talking about creating the largest base in Russia for the production of solar batteries. This is the most significant investment in alternative energy on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

A new company is to be established under the project at Khimprom’s industrial park in the city of Novocheboksarsk in the Chuvash Republic. The company will realize the entire cycle of production for solar modules. Its planned capacity is to be one million solar modules per year, the equivalent of 120 MW per year.

The core participants in the project are RUSNANO and RENOVA Group. Total investment in the project is 20.1 billion rubles. RUSNANO will contribute 3.7 billion rubles to the equity of the new company. In addition, the corporation will offer the project company a loan of 9.8 billion rubles. RUSNANO will hold a 49 percent equity share in the project company. RENOVA will own a 51 percent stake and will be responsible for development of the business.

The project is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2009 and reach the planned capacity in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company revenue in 2015 is estimated at 10.3 billion rubles.

RUSNANO CEO Anatoly Chubais noted: “A part of the project, the establishment of a major research center, whose expenses for equipment alone will equal one billion rubles, lends it a particular significance.” The center will work on increasing the effectiveness of the solar modules in cooperation with the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The production of solar modules will involve the latest cutting-edge thin-film technologies developed worldwide. The technology of micromorph silicon thin-film solar modules developed by Swiss company Oerlikon Solar, a world’s leader in the solar energy market, is planned to be used as a basic technique.

“Establishing production of solar batteries is in line with one of the strategic goals of RUSNANO –- to implement cluster projects that result in the creation of nanotechnology products, interrelated by manufacturing method or by sequence in the processing chain. Such projects create the backbone for formation of an innovative sector in the Russian economy,” said Chubais.

Earlier, the Supervisory Council of RUSNANO had approved the Corporation’s participation in a project to establish Russia’s first large-scale complex for production of polycrystalline silicon and monosilane, which are raw materials for the manufacture of solar batteries.

Additionally, the solar battery project will stimulate ancillary production within the territory of the Russian Federation, in particular the production of especially pure technical gases and special-purpose glass.

“This undertaking will not only become the starting point for creating a new industry in Russia’s economy -– solar energy –- but also stimulate the development of a number of related economic sectors,” noted Chairman of the Supervisory Committee of RENOVA Group Viktor Vekselberg.

The market for solar energy has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years. According to data from US-based research company Lux Research, in 2008 the market reached $33.3 billion, or around 5 GW. In monetary terms the market has increased more than 11-fold since 2001.

The market for silicon thin-film solar modules in 2008 was valued at 0.6 GW, but by 2012 it is expected to grow to 2.4 GW, which, in monetary terms, is growth from $3.8 billion to $8.6 billion.

Markets in countries in Southern Europe -– Italy, Spain, and Greece -– and Germany are primary targets for the sale of products. Avelar Energy Group (part of the RENOVA Group), which installs and adjusts solar modules in Europe, will handles product sales. In the long term, up to 15 percent of the solar modules are to be directed toward the Russian market.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kyocera supplies solar modules for Toyota Prius

KYOTO, JAPAN: Kyocera Corp. announced that it is supplying solar modules for the new Toyota Prius solar ventilation system, an optional feature for the hybrid car model introduced in Japan by Toyota Motor Corp. on May 18.

The system ventilates the air inside of the car by using the electricity generated by the solar module on the rooftop to drive the fans while the car is parked during the daytime. This feature automatically moderates temperature rise inside of the vehicle even during hot seasons.

For this product, Kyocera has implemented strict quality control evaluations, done through rigorous testing to confirm heat resistance, vibration resistance, shock resistance and other aspects, in order to ensure that the quality meets the standards required for onboard components used on the new Prius. For the production of this module, Kyocera has set up a dedicated production line with specialized manufacturing engineers to ensure thorough manufacturing control.

By supplying solar modules for the Prius, a leading eco-car that has won praise all over the world, Kyocera is proud to offer a new function for the use of solar modules to the owners of the vehicles.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Energy Harvesting & Storage Conference expands

CAMBRIDGE, UK: The conference Energy Harvesting in Cambridge UK on June 3-4 has enhanced its first and second day line up with carefully chosen speakers giving the big picture, with a particular emphasis on commercialisation.

Energy harvesting -– making electronic and electric devices self sufficient for decades -- is rapidly moving from the laboratory into a plethora of new applications. The first day of this unique conference is dedicated to uses, potential uses and market sizes – the first time an energy harvesting conference has served this aspect.

Latest to join the speaker list on the first day is Lockheed Martin subsidiary Savi airing their need for energy harvesting in military and heavy logistics RFID.
The second day covers all the important technologies and what is possible when. Latest addition here is Dr Steven Novack of Idaho National Laboratory.

His flexible sheets of printable nano antennas promise to harvest light -- and beyond -- at up to double the efficiency of the best, highly expensive, photovoltaic solar cells yet be affordable and easily applied to any structure whatever its shape.

Dr. Peter Harrop, Chairman of analysts IDTechEx staging the conference says: “The first day is when we hear Rolls Royce Aeroengines and many other major users and potential users. It is now well complemented by the full range of technologies being compared on the second day -– piezoelectrics, electrodynamics, photovoltaics, nantennas and thermoelectrics with an emphasis on applications.

"For example, three very important aspects now receiving major attention are energy harvesting tolerant electronics –- where we have three speakers –- and use of several energy harvesting methods together to give greater security of supply. At the event, delegates specialising in one technology will be forming partnerships with those having complementary technologies.

"Then there is the fact that 90 percent of potential wireless sensor network applications are impossible without energy harvesting. Four speakers describe exciting advances in this aspect as well as other progress.”

There is an exhibition, Masterclasses and visits to local centres of excellence. The Masterclasses are led by world class authorities from IDTechEx and elsewhere, an example being Dr. Emma Kendrick of Fife Batteries with Dr. Peter Harrop and Dr. Harry Zervos of IDTechEx leading the Energy Storage Masterclass on the day after the conference.

The visit to see Cambridge University CAPE research on batteries, piezoelectrics and photovoltaics will be hosted by Dr. Andrew Flewitt at the University.

-- Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx

Rapid growth likely for chemicals and materials in PV solar cells/modules

BOSTON, USA: The market for advanced chemicals and materials used in PV solar cells and modules will decline in 2009 to $2.3 billion before resuming strong growth to approximately $15 billion by 2015, according to a new industry analysis report from Linx-AEI Consulting, a leading international consulting firm serving the photovoltaics and electronics industries.

The new report entitled Chemicals & Materials for Photovoltaic Cells and Modules, 2009, examines emerging materials requirements in solar cell and module production, and quantifies the global markets for these advanced chemicals and materials as follows:

PV Cell and Module Chemical and Material Demand
According to the new report, the driver of growth in the PV market will be the global end market demand for solar power, which is likely to grow from 5.7 GW to 36 GW over the same time period.

Combining unique perspectives on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) as a function of module performance with geography-specific considerations such as local incentives and irradiance, Linx-AEI has developed long-term forecasts by cell type. As a result, this report includes detailed perspectives and insights into chemicals needs for individual cell and module types for crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, tandem-junction, CdTe and CI(G)S cells and modules.

Chemicals & Materials for Photovoltaic Cells and Modules, 2009, outlines market opportunities available to chemicals and materials suppliers as a result of strong volume growth in addition to technology-driven opportunities to deliver progress towards lower cost.

However, Mark Thirsk of Linx-AEI cautions: "This industry is still driven by the need to achieve grid parity and its evolution is still strongly impacted by policy. Therefore, there is a critical need for all value chain participants to continually monitor and understand LCOE, technology development, existing investment and changes in policy. This need has been clearly illustrated with the current turmoil in the supply of polysilicon."

American Solar Electric, KYOCERA, leading component makers bring solar to Habitat for Humanity

SCOTTSDALE, USA: Five families participating in Habitat for Humanity’s new homeowner program will be moving into solar-powered homes this year as a result of an industry partnership coordinated by American Solar Electric. The solar electric systems are being donated by American Solar Electric to Habitat for Humanity as part of the company’s 2009 Community Outreach Program.

The systems range in size from 2.73 to 3.15 kilowatts and are comprised of Kyocera high output 210-watt photovoltaic (PV) modules and high-efficiency Fronius IG and IG+ inverters.

Electricity generated by the solar electric systems will be used to offset utility power, thereby reducing the cost of electricity for the new homeowners. The systems are forecasted to produce between 4,700 and 5,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity in their first year of production.

“Even as our local economy has slowed, the local solar industry has continued to boom,” said Sean Seitz, president of American Solar Electric. “Thanks to our continued success and the contributions made by our employees and industry partners, we’ve been able to increase the number of solar projects we donate to Habitat for Humanity from two in 2008 to five in 2009.”

“Solar systems are not only a great source of clean energy but they significantly lower monthly electricity bills as well,” said U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell. “At a time when many people are struggling economically, Habitat for Humanity’s energy efficient homes will help insulate these families from rising energy costs.”

In addition to American Solar Electric’s donation of system components, employees of American Solar Electric and Kyocera are donating their time and expertise to install the systems. Additionally, Fronius has agreed to supply high-efficiency inverters for the projects at discounted prices.

“The partnership with American Solar Electric has a significant impact on Habitat’s ability to build affordable homes,” said Roger Schwierjohn, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona. “We appreciate American Solar’s commitment to renewable energy and to the families we serve.”

“We, at Kyocera, are pleased that our employees are volunteering their time to help Habitat for Humanity improve the human condition and the environment by installing pollution-free solar energy on homes,” stated Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc.

“Fronius is excited to be a part of Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to create sustainable affordable housing,” said Gord Petroski, director, Fronius USA, Solar Division. “Long-term planning is a core value at Fronius, and we are proud our inverters will be a part of the systems that will help keep these homes affordable into the future.”

It is the goal of Habitat for Humanity to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification on all five homes. One of the homes will be featured as part of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo coming to Phoenix on November 11-13. This featured home has been designed to be a ‘net zero energy’ home; meaning the energy generated with renewable resources is as much energy as the homeowners would use on a net annual basis. Three homes are expected to be completed in the spring with two more this fall.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Solmetric to develop PV layout and estimation software tool

BUFFALO, USA, AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY: National Semiconductor Corp. announced a partnership with Solmetric Corp., an innovative developer of test and measurement tools for solar installations. Solmetric has developed a software tool to estimate the energy production of solar arrays, including installations outfitted with National's SolarMagic power optimizers.

National's SolarMagic power optimizers enable solar panels to produce maximum energy regardless of whether other panels in the array are under-performing due to shade, debris, panel mismatch and aging. To help determine how much benefit an installation will gain by using SolarMagic power optimizers, PV installers and designers can capture site-specific shade information with Solmetric's SunEye, a handheld measurement instrument, then create a PV system design on the site with the new photovoltaic (PV) layout and estimation software.

The system uses data collected from real-world installation sites and enables a solar system designer to experiment with different array configurations, with and without SolarMagic power optimizers. Designers can compare different hardware and different roof layouts, and visualize shade over the array area.

The system estimates the resultant energy production, resulting in more confidence in a PV design in less time. Solmetric is offering a technology preview of the PV Simulator, which can be downloaded for a 30-day trial starting in late May 2009. The final release of the PV Simulator will be available to SolarMagic and Solmetric customers in August 2009.

Friday, May 15, 2009

DuPont launches new materials for PV modules

WILMINGTON, USA: DuPont announced the commercialization of two new families of PV encapsulant sheets that are expected to improve durability and efficiency of photovoltaic modules.

The DuPont PV5300 Series and DuPont PV5200 Series deliver long-term protection for the most sensitive part of photovoltaic modules – the solar cells. They contribute to longer life and reduced cost-per-watt, helping system manufacturers deliver more reliable and cost-effective solar power. On a global basis, DuPont expects to nearly triple annual sales from its portfolio of photovoltaic materials to more than $1 billion by 2012.

DuPont offers the latest in flexible and rigid sheet and encapsulant materials for photovoltaics. (High Resolution) “With these new introductions, DuPont science is helping enable the faster spread of solar power,” said William F. Weber, vice president and general manager -- DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers. “These new encapsulant materials contribute to keeping cost-per-watt low and reducing the total cost of ownership for solar power. We expect growth for encapsulant materials like these of more than 25 percent per year in the next five years, due to the anticipated strong growth in solar module installations globally.”

DuPont PV5300 Series sheets are five times tougher and 100 times stiffer than materials typically used as encapsulants. Their structural properties make possible new module designs such as building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) tiles that can be installed on building roofs. Companies like SYSTEM Photonics S.p.A of Italy are adopting DuPont PV5300 for architecturally appealing built-in rooftop photovoltaic power generation.

The company also launched DuPont PV5200 Series sheets designed to meet the needs of thin-film solar power generation, a fast-growing segment of the industry. They are based on polyvinyl butyral polymer technology and offer high performance in physical processing. They enable faster, more efficient module production and longer service life.

German PV market by far one of the world's biggest sales markets

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "BrandMonitor 2008/2009 -- Germany" report to its offering.

The German photovoltaic market is by far one of the biggest sales markets in the world. At the same time, the competition for consumers is already increasing in Germany.

At present, the market is changing. Sometimes the cost is regarded as the only criterion for purchase decisions. From the point of view of market research it is important not to underestimate the complexity of purchasing behavior.

Solely focusing on pricing does not necessarily result in sustainable market penetration, especially for complex products. With more than 350 cell and module manufacturers all over the world, the creation of suitable unique selling propositions might be problematic.

So far, the question of brand and brand awareness has only been discussed marginally within the photovoltaic sector.

It seems like the perception of the branch is dominated by the idea that solar products are simple consumer goods for which the brand plays a minor role. This fact corresponds with the general market development: a high demand of end customers meets with a still higher offer of solar producers.

New solar producers want to sustain their position toward well established solar brands and challenge them. Therefore, brand image and brand awareness play a even more important role nowadays when its about positioning of the own company in the market.

In case of corresponding product availability, the brand promise is a solid factor in the purchase process. The brand acquaintance is a positive factor in the selection process.

The main brand function is risk reduction of an investment for 20 years and a payback period of long above 10 years. Building up a brand is a sensitive and an interminable process. The present study is an essential support for companies on that way.

Photovoltaics in the USA -– stop or go?

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Photovoltaics in the USA" report to its offering.

First comprehensive study of the US photovoltaic market based on a broad quantitative data base released. New study by EuPD Research analyzes current developments in the US photovoltaic market. Market participants expect a moderate but steady growth. Stop-and-go political support one of the key hindrances for market growth.

Cautious optimism
There is good evidence that the US photovoltaic market will be one of the key future markets for photovoltaics. However, up to now, the market has had to struggle with erratic political support for renewable energies, as well as highly complex promotion structures and strong fragmentation due to the 50 separate state markets.

The results of the new survey of around 130 US photovoltaic companies and electric utilities show a clouded optimism after a prosperous year 2007. While the companies generally expect increased sales for the current year (plus 62.2 percent on average) and consequently also a market growth of 50 percent to 300 MWp in 2008, the sinking rebate levels in California as well as the failed extension of the tax credit are slowing down the positive development of the market.

Slowdown for the market
If not extended, the most important national promotion instrument - the investment tax credit (ITC) -- will go down from 30 to ten percent for commercial customers and to 0 percent for residential customers on December 31st, 2008. However, it has become very unlikely that this will happen under the current president.

While the sudden interruption of renewable energy promotion seems difficult to understand in view of the oil price shock and pressing climate change issues, events like these are not new to the market. "It continues the stop-and-go-policy that has characterized the market in the past", explains project manager Sarah Endres.

Special products for a special market
Availability is also an issue for the market players. In total, 62.8 percent of the respondents report problems when purchasing modules. Some market players stated that they pretty much sell what they can get.

Nevertheless, the survey results show some clear trends regarding which product characteristics are demanded in the market. "Design aspects seem to be a big issue in the residential segment", explains Endres.