Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SunPower, Wells Fargo to finance $100mn in solar projects

SAN FRANCISCO & SAN JOSE, USA: Wells Fargo and SunPower Corp. have announced a new, collaborative effort to fund up to $100 million in SunPower commercial-scale solar systems.

Under the financing program, SunPower will enter into power purchase agreements with qualified customers and Wells Fargo will finance the solar power systems that SunPower will design, build, operate, and maintain.

Customers hosting the systems will buy the electricity from SunPower at prices that are competitive with retail rates, providing them with a long-term hedge against rising power prices and the ability to take advantage of the environmental and financial benefits of solar power with no initial capital investment.

"We see increasing opportunities over the next several years to support renewable energy markets," said Barry Neal, director of Wells Fargo's Environmental Finance. "By teaming up with SunPower, we intend to support growth in the solar energy market by making it easier and more affordable for businesses and public entities to benefit from solar electricity today."

The first projects financed under the program include a 1.1-megawatt system for University of California, Merced, and a 1-megawatt system for the Western Riverside County Regional Wastewater Authority.

Scheduled for completion by year end, both will be ground-mounted systems using the patented SunPower T20 Tracker technology, which follows the sun throughout the day and delivers up to 30 percent more energy than fixed-tilt ground systems.

"SunPower offers high performance solar technology and financing expertise that helps customers maximize savings on their electricity expenditures. Our relationship with Wells Fargo strengthens our project finance efforts, streamlining the implementation of clean, renewable solar power for SunPower's large commercial and public customers throughout the US," said Mac Irvin, managing director of SunPower's structured finance group.

SunPower has more than 500 large public and commercial solar power systems installed or under contract, representing more than 400 megawatts. The company pioneered the use of solar power purchase agreements in 2000.

Wells Fargo has provided more than $1.75 billion in financing for renewable energy projects since 2006. That includes funding for 27 wind projects, more than 150 commercial-scale solar projects and 1 utility-scale solar thermal project.

QuantaSol unveils 28.3 percent efficient single-junction solar cell

KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, ENGLAND: QuantaSol Ltd, a new, independent designer and manufacturer of strain-balanced quantum-well solar cells, has developed what it believes to be the most efficient single junction solar cell ever manufactured.

Developed in just two years, QuantaSol's single-junction device has been independently tested by Fraunhofer ISE as achieving 28.3 percent efficiency at greater than 500 suns.

QuantaSol was established in June 2007 as a spin-out of Imperial College London to commercialise the University’s solar cell IP and offer devices to concentrator photovoltaic (PV) systems developers. Imperial will be featuring a QuantaSol device as part of its presence at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in London this week.

“Our technology is the industry’s best kept secret. This is the first time that anyone has successfully combined high efficiency with ease of manufacture, historically a bug-bear of the solar cell industry,” said Kevin Arthur, QuantaSol’s CEO. “We’re now gearing up to provide multi-junction cells of even higher efficiencies as early as Q1 2010.”

QuantaSol’s approach combines several nanostructures, of two or more different alloys, in order to obtain synthetic crystals that overcome the problems associated with current solar cell designs. It also greatly enhances the photovoltaic conversion efficiency.

The company, which has a development laboratory in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, completed a £2m second funding round last week. It will now concentrate on cutting the cost of ownership of solar energy by moving to multi-junction devices.

SEMI PV Group commends Taiwan government on passage of Renewable Energy Act

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: The Taiwan PV Advisory Committee and SEMI PV Group commend the Taiwan Government on its swift passage of the Renewable Energy Act to increase the adoption of solar power in Taiwan.

With the goal of making Taiwan the world’s third-largest producer of solar cells by 2015, SEMI Taiwan and its members have strongly pushed for a greater role for PV in the region’s renewable energy plan to boost development of the island’s green energy industries.

“On June 12, the Renewable Energy Act was successfully passed, ushering Taiwan into a new era of alternative energy development and related applications,” said Yeh Hui-ching, director of the MOEA Bureau of Energy. “Under the law, the government will provide incentives such as equipment purchase subsidies and low-interest loans to increase renewable energy generating capacity in Taiwan to between 6.5 million kilowatts and 10 million kilowatts.”

”We are happy to see that the government has shown strong commitment in passing the Renewable Energy Act during the current legislative session. Since these policies could give the industry a boost, companies are more willing to increase investment, building domestic demand and allowing for greater expansion globally, which will create more jobs in the process,” said Tsao. “SEMI pledges to continue bridging the gap between the government and industry, by relaying industry perspectives to the government.”

SEMI Taiwan has been a longtime advocate of the proliferation of PV technologies, and through its PV Group initiative is deeply involved in supporting its members across the PV supply chain through the development of PV-industry standards; Environmental, Health and Safety initiatives; market statistics, and global expositions. Taiwan PV Advisory Committee members include the CEOs of AUO, Chi-mei, E-Ton, Motech, Neo Solar Power, and Nexpower, among others.

In addition, the SEMI Taiwan PV Committee jointly drafted the "Taiwan Solar Energy Public Policy White Paper," and Tsai Chin-Yao chairman of the SEMI Taiwan PV Committee and CEO of Auriasolar acted as spokesperson to present the seven following suggestions:

1. Make imported components exempt from the commodity tax, duties, and other relevant taxes.
2. Provide low-interest project financing through financial institutions.
3. Introduce national standard certification.
4. Raise the feed-in price to at least NT 8 dollars per kw/h.
5. Require that solar energy companies comprise 1/3 of the Price Regulation Committee.
6. Expand resources from foundations.
7. Make donations of PV industry products tax-deductible or tax-exempt.

“PV manufacturers in Taiwan expect the government to help grow the industry by offering a range of tax incentives on imported parts and materials and funding support,” said Tsai Chin-Yao. ”We need officials to pay serious attention to this opportunity, and we are happy to have gained additional support from other legislators and associations who have joined us to both support and accelerate this agenda.”

After the Act had been passed, he forcast that the enactment of the statute will spark investment of NT$30 billion in Taiwan's renewable energy sector within one year. The investment could create up to 10,000 jobs and generate NT$100 billion in revenues within one to two years, he added.

The currently-approved plan is backed by a five-year budget of NT$20 billion (US$597 million), which is specifically dedicated toward investment in the research and development of green energy technologies, and is expected to, in turn, generate NT$200 billion ($5.97 billion) in private investments for the industry.

In addition, it will also provide NT$25 billion ($746 million) to promote the installation of green energy or energy-saving equipment or systems, as was indicated by the Executive Yuan.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Q-Cells increases share in Solibro to 100pc

BITTERFELD-WOLFEN, GERMANY: Q-Cells SE has increased its interest in Solibro GmbH from previously 67.5 percent to 100 percent by acquiring the Swedish joint venture partner Solibro AB.

Solibro's modules rank among those with the highest efficiency rating in the field of thin-film technologies. At present, Solibro's modules achieve an average efficiency rating per module of around 10 percent; the peak values are in excess of 11 percent.

"The potential of Solibro's thin-film modules lies in the combination of high efficiency ratings with extremely low costs per watt. After we successfully implemented this potential in mass production as well, Solibro became an integral component of Q-Cells' thin-film strategy," said Dr. Florian Holzapfel, member of the Executive Board of Q-Cells SE and Head of the New Technologies division.

"Taking this step is a sign of our confidence in the technology. This way, we have the degree of freedom we need to develop Solibro into a leading global provider of thin-film technologies," added Dr. Johannes Segner, COO and Managing Director of Solibro GmbH.

Solibro GmbH was formed by Q-Cells and Solibro AB at the end of 2006 to commercialise a CIGS thin-film technology developed at the University of Uppsala. The first test modules were created on the production line in Saxony-Anhalt's Solar Valley as early as spring 2008. Mass production began in the third quarter of 2008.

The foundations for a second production line were laid in Thalheim at the end of last year. It is expected to commence production in the fourth quarter of this year and achieve full capacity of 90 MWp after about twelve months with a module efficiency rating of around 12 percent.

The acquisition is being implemented as a capital increase against non-cash contributions. In return for their shares in Solibro GmbH, the shareholders of Solibro AB, amongst others the pension fund "6th Swedish National Pension Fund", will receive 3,988,170 shares in Q-Cells SE.

Fifty percent of these shares are subject to a lock-up period of at least 180 days. As a result, Solibro GmbH will now become a fully consolidated, wholly owned subsidiary of Q-Cells SE rather than an investment carried at equity.

GCL-Poly to acquire one of world’s leading polysilicon suppliers at HK$26.35bn

HONG KONG: GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd, a leading integrated green energy enterprise in China, recently announced that it will acquire 100 percent equity interest in Jiangsu Zhongneng Polysilicon Technology Development Co. Ltd, one of the world’s leading suppliers of polysilicon and wafers for use in the solar industry, at a consideration of HK$26.35 billion. Jiangsu Zhongneng is the main operating entity of GCL Solar Energy Technology Holdings Inc. in the PRC.

The consideration represents a valuation of approximately 10.4 times the audited consolidated net profit of RMB2,233 million of GCL Solar for the year ended December 31, 2008. It will be satisfied by means of: 1) cash payment of $200 million; 2) issuance of a $350 million secured note; and 3) issuance of 10,039,772,727 shares at HK2.2 per share (representing a discount of 12 percent to the closing price of the last trading day).

The acquisition constitutes a very substantial acquisition and a connected transaction. It is subject to the approval by independent shareholders and the grant of whitewash waiver by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

Commenting on the acquisition, ZHU Gong Shan, Chairman and Executive Director of GCL-Poly, said: “China has undergone unprecedented economic development in the past three decades. Supply of conventional sources of energy cannot keep up with rising demand.

"Furthermore, sky-rocketing coal and oil prices last year as well as environmental pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels directly affect the sustainability of China’s economic development as well as overall quality of life. As a result, the PRC government, like governments from all over the world, has been strongly advocating the development of a low-carbon economy and the use of renewable energies to reduce reliance on conventional sources of energy.”

“While many types of resources on earth are being depleted every day, the supply of sunlight is endless and is not subject to price fluctuations. In view of the tightening supply and rising prices of traditional fossil fuels, governments from all over the world have initiated subsidy programs to encourage the adoption of solar power as a source of alternative green energy.

"Japan, Germany and Spain have introduced a number of incentives to encourage the use of solar power, thus driving the rapid development of the solar industry in these countries. The Obama Administration in the US sees the adoption of alternative green energy as one of the main drivers of economic recovery, hence further accelerating the development of the solar industry.

The PRC government has also been a strong advocate of solar power, and in line with this, local governments have launched various incentive programs to encourage the use of solar power. The Ministry of Finance recently introduced a program to subsidize and promote the application of roof-top solar systems. We expect the PRC government to initiate more incentives or subsidy programs to encourage the adoption of solar power going forward.”

Located in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, GCL Solar’s annual polysilicon production capacity is expected to reach 18,000 MT by the end of 2009. With further technical upgrade, it will further expand to 21,000 MT by the end of 2010, making GCL Solar one of the world’s largest polysilicon suppliers. Benefiting from economies of scale, advanced research and development capabilities, proven capabilities in cost reduction, stringent quality control and an effective management team, GCL Solar is able to compete effectively against its global peers.

“GCL-Poly is a leading renewable energy supplier dedicated to providing green and clean power. The Group has extensive experience in constructing, operating and managing power plants. GCL Solar’s polysilicon production scale and cost advantages provides the Group with a strong driving force and a solid foundation in developing large-scale solar power plants in the future. Backed by strong government support, the future of the solar industry is promising and the Group is well-positioned to capitalize on these opportunities. I am very optimistic and have every confidence in the prospect of GCL-Poly,“ Zhu concluded.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Solar EnerTech in sales contract with German system integrator

MENLO PARK, USA: Solar EnerTech Corp. has entered into a 10MW contract to deliver its solar modules to Solarzentrum Allgau, one of the leading solar system integrators in Germany.

The total shipment value to Solarzentrum Allgau under the contract is approximately $20 million. Shipments, aimed for solar power installations in Germany, are scheduled to begin immediately and will be delivered throughout the current calendar year.

Solarzentrum Allgau was founded in 1985 in Altdorf, Germany. The company has benefitted from Germany's introduction of the Renewable Energy Sources Act in March 2000 and has grown its operations through its specialization of sale, assembly and installation of PV systems.

The company is also the founder of an information and advisory center about solar energy in the county of Allg?u. Its President, Willi Bihler is considered a visionary in the field for his innovations in solar power installation.

Leo Young, CEO of Solar EnerTech, commented: "This is an exciting new project for Solar EnerTech which can accelerate our financial performance for this calendar year. It shows that our strategy of enhancing our operating facility and improving our product efficiency is paying off."

"The quality of our solar modules are well known to Solarzentrum Allgau as we have served as a supplier to their rooftop projects in the past. Our high-quality, efficient and reliable products continue to garner increased attention among many well-known PV system integrators, which has improved our competitive advantage in winning new contracts."

Willi Bihler, Proprietor of Solarzentrum Allgau commented: "Solar EnerTech's solar products and support services meet the criteria for high quality and performance that we demand from our suppliers. When we encounter some technical issues during our installations, Solar EnerTech's team is always available to assist us with the appropriate solutions. We look forward to further developing our relationship with Solar EnerTech and believe that through their support, we have a compelling opportunity to gain a larger share of the German market going forward."

Friday, June 26, 2009

ULVAC PE-CVD system increases conversion efficiency by 30 percent

TOKYO, JAPAN: ULVAC Inc., a supplier of the amorphous-silicon (a-Si) thin-film photovoltaic modules production turnkey line, has developed a new PE-CVD system for microcrystal (µc)-Si, model CIM-1400, which can achieve a 30 percent increase of the conversion efficiency and a 10 percent reduction of the manufacturing cost per watt (Wp) compared with the a-Si photovoltaic modules.

This new system will be utilized to the tandem type thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules production turnkey line.

Though the a-Si thin-film photovoltaic modules are made from silicon, an abundant and secure material resource, even they use only a small amount of silicon: that is, one hundredth or less of the crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.

For this reason, a-Si thin-film photovoltaic modules have received widespread attention as a product that will become the mainstream of photovoltaic cell in the future, and are being developed all over the world.

However, since a-Si thin-film photovoltaic modules have a lower photoelectric conversion efficiency than crystalline photovoltaic modules, efforts have been made to develop the technologies and manufacturing equipment for tandem type thin-film photovoltaic modules, which have a µc-Si layer added to an a-Si thin-film solar cell (a-Si layer). So far, however, no practicable and productive technologies for manufacturing equipment have been developed until today.

In this situation, ULVAC has developed a new PE-CVD system for µc-Si, model CIM-1400. This system for the first time, allows productive high efficient µc-Si film formation, which can allow light from the red to infrared wavelengths to be converted to electricity.

By incorporating this new CIM-1400 PE-CVD system to the production turnkey line for tandem type thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules, power output will be improved by 30 percent or more compared to a-Si thin-film PV modules.

The following lists the features of the new PE-CVD system “CIM-1400”, and “CIM-1400” utilized tandem type thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules production turnkey line.

For this system, a Generation 5.5 size glass substrate, a common glass substrate for thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules, is used.

High productivity for high-performance tandem type thin-film silicon PV modules
The performances of tandem type thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules produced by “CIM-1400” utilized tandem type thin-film Production turnkey line is:
• Cell conversion efficiency: 9% (in the aperture area)
• Average module power output: 130Wp (annual productivity: 32.5 MW)

Innovative PE-CVD system for microcrystals
To produce high-performance thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules, the silicon thin films needs to be formed at a low deposition rate. In addition, to form µc-Si thin films with high conversion efficiency, a thicker film is required compare to the a-Si thin film. Therefore, theoretically large quantities of PE-CVD systems have been required.

ULVAC's highly innovative breakthrough new PE-CVD system “CIM-1400” enables to process six glass substrates at the same time, achieving high productivity at a low deposition rate and this tandem type thin film silicon photovoltaic modules Production turnkey line is operated with a throughput every 90 seconds per substrate.

Manufacturing cost per watt (Wp) reduced by up to 10 percent compared with a-Si thin-film photovoltaic modules
This breakthrough enables the annual productivity (power output) of the modules to be increased from 25 MW (a-Si thin film photovoltaic modules) to 32.5 MW (tandem type photovoltaic modules) maximizing the investment productivity more than the investment cost required for the PE-CVD system “CIM-1400”.

The new innovative PE-CVD system “CIM-1400” and the tandem type photovoltaic modules production turnkey line has successfully reduced the manufacturing cost per watt for the first time in the world, by replacing the a-Si thin-film photovoltaic modules with the tandem type thin-film photovoltaic modules.

The PE-CVD system “CIM-1400” and tandem type photovoltaic modules production turnkey line will be released on July 1, 2009.

Spire secures expanded $8mn revolving credit facility

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing turnkey solar factories and capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) modules and solar systems worldwide, announced that it has amended its current Revolving Credit Facility.

In addition to the amended $3 million facility, the Company has added an additional $5 million revolver under an Export-Import Credit Facility which is backed by a guarantee from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The existing Equipment Credit Facility will be retained with no additional funds available under that line. In the aggregate, the Company will have availability of up to $8 million over the next year.

Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire, commented: "We are pleased to receive these credit facilities, which improve our liquidity to support our growth. Silicon Valley Bank has been a good financial partner. Even with the tough banking environment, we were also able to increase the loan availability with the assistance of the guarantee offered by Ex-Im Bank."

“Spire is well positioned in the growing PV solar renewable market,” said Jay T. Tracy of Silicon Valley Bank’s Boston office. “We are glad we are able to renew our commitment to the Company and help it meet its growth objectives, particularly in such a challenging economy.”

ULVAC to launch thin-film characterization system

TOKYO, JAPAN: ULVAC Inc. has developed and will launch the MPEC-1300 Multi-Probe Evaluation of Thin-Film Characterization system for evaluating thin-film characteristics in the tandem type thin-film solar cell production process.

In the deposition process of solar cell manufacturing, evaluating characteristics such as deposition quality and deposition thickness uniformity is essential to maintain production yields. The evaluation of deposition characteristics, however, has required multiple systems with different measurement principles depending on the purposes, where evaluation samples are required to be prepared for each system, therefore demanding time and manpower.

ULVAC now releases the MPEC-1300 Multi-Probe Evaluation of Thin-Film Characterization System for tandem type solar cell, which can obtain the optical characteristics of Tandem-deposited micro crystal silicone (µc-Si) films in addition to the evaluation of existing amorphous silicone (a-Si) thin-film solar cells, and can also evaluate multiple different film characteristics without preparing sample glass substrates for evaluation use.

Conventional solar cell thin-film characteristics evaluation equipment is used in the production process of a-Si thin-film solar cells to measure the deposition thickness, surface shapes, and resistance of thin films and to control the distribution of materials deposited, deposition quality, and such other elements.

However, destructive evaluation takes place to obtain the optical characteristics, involving the cutting of glass substrates into small pieces and the use of dedicated measuring instruments specialized in this particular measurement. Such equipment has been very ineffective also due to the necessity of introducing multiple measuring instruments, which incur initial costs.

Contrary to this, ULVAC’s newly developed and launched Multi-Probe Evaluation of Thin-Film Characterization System for tandem type solar cell, MPEC-1300, which is compatible with the 5.5th-generation substrate size used as standard for thin-film silicone solar cells, is a breakthrough evaluation system that can evaluate not only a-Si thin films but also the µc-Si crystallinity of tandem type thin-film solar cells, which is achieved by providing a function that can evaluate optical characteristics in addition to the conventional measurement of deposition thickness, surface shapes, and resistance.

The MPEC-1300 Multi-Probe Evaluation of Thin-Film Characterization System for tandem type solar cell has the following conventional measuring functions:
(1) a “Surface Profiler ,” which measures the deposition thickness and in-plane distributions of electrode-use thin films; (2) a “Low-resistance measurement,” which evaluates the resistance distributions of electrode-use metal thin films. In addition, four additional measuring functions have been intergraded including;
(3) a “Raman Spectoscopy ,” which maps in-plane distributions by obtaining µc-Si Crystallinity;
(4) a “Three-dimensional (3D) measurement,” which three-dimensionally evaluates the shapes both of film surfaces after laser scribing and of TCO (Transparent Conductive Oxide) film surfaces;
(5) a “Spectroscopic Ellipsometer,” which evaluates the optical constants of a-Si thin films; and
(6) a “High-resistance measurement,” which evaluates the high-resistance distributions of a-Si thin films.

By including a total of six types of measuring functions, the MPEC-1300 Multi-Probe Evaluation of Thin-Film Characterization System for tandem type solar cell has enabled the thin-film characteristics evaluation of tandem type thin-film solar cells to be performed in one system. In addition, since all surface areas of a glass substrate up to the 5.5th-generation size can be measured with the system, there is no need to destroy substrates for evaluation. These excellent features can greatly reduce initial introduction costs and running costs by about 1/2 compared to when introducing two or more individual dedicated-use measuring instruments.

This evaluation system is designed such that the user can select the measuring functions to be included according to the user’s purpose.

ULVAC is also developing a system for evaluating the distributions of TCO Haze and solar cell local conversion efficiency.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Smart meters not enough to achieve energy efficiency goals!

SAN MATEO, USA: eMeter Corp., the global leader in Smart Grid management software, has unveiled Energy Engage™, an online, consumer engagement solution that encourages conservation by enabling users to understand the relationship between energy consumption, cost and carbon output.

Pilot participants with PowerCentsDC will be the first to actively manage their home energy consumption with Energy Engage. PowerCentsDC is a public–private partnership program backed by Pepco and consumer and regulatory bodies in Washington DC that is testing how much electricity consumers can save using key Smart Grid technologies.

Utilities have been investing in smart metering technology to lower operating costs, offer faster customer service and provide consumers with billing options and pricing that corresponds to peak demand. However, there has been little progress in engaging end users to realize the benefits of this technology.

Energy Engage encourages behavioral change among customers by helping them understand how their energy consumption levels impacts not only their wallets, but also the environment.

Energy Engage uniquely empowers utility companies to help consumers manage their home energy usage with, for the first time, accurate daily billing information, real-time event driven alerts to budget variations and access to local community guidance and advice.

“To fully realize the benefits of Smart Grid technologies, utilities must engage their customers more effectively for improved energy efficiency and conservation. The critical next steps are to provide better information to consumers about their usage, make them aware of opportunities for savings and get them motivated to make positive changes,” said Sam Klepper, Senior Vice President and General Manager of eMeter’s Consumer Energy Group. “With Energy Engage, consumers and utilities are able to benefit from a symbiotic relationship, changing passive energy users into active participants of energy conservation and management.”

Leveraging Energy Engage, PowerCentsDC is investigating new pricing models and behavioral changes that can be maximized through advanced consumer engagement solutions. All participants will be able to see, for the first time, daily usage and cost updates and have summaries sent automatically by text or email, along with optional budget alerts when their usage or cost exceeds pre-set thresholds.

“We chose eMeter's Energy Engage over other options because we believe it creates a compelling, consumer-oriented experience that pushes the envelope in terms of empowering our customers to make positive changes. We expect improved conservation, customer energy efficiency and greater peak demand reductions,” said Rick Morgan, Commissioner of the District of Columbia Public Service Commission and Chair of the Smart Meter Pilot Program, Inc.

Benefit to utilities
Consumer engagement is critically important for utilities to reap the full benefits of the Smart Grid. With an integrated engagement solution that leverages data traditionally used for billing, utilities are better able to offer consumers an easy to use tool that encourages closer collaboration on reducing peak demand and increasing energy conservation. Energy Engage bridges utilities with customers to monitor energy consumption levels with compelling tools that motivate change and increase energy efficiency.

While first generation web portals typically have provided online bill access and simple tips, Energy Engage gives utilities an online solution for their customers to monitor energy consumption levels together with a variety of tools to enable long term behavior change, including text and email alerts, trusted advice from industry experts, and community building including local advice and views of how their energy consumption compares to others in their neighborhood.

Benefit to consumers
Energy Engage will be available to consumers through their utility company as a free, online resource that provides unprecedented transparency into their home energy consumption.

Providing detailed yet digestible information on energy consumption levels, Energy Engage illustrates the relationship between usage, cost and environmental impact. Consumers will benefit from more insight and control over their energy use, including notifications of power outages, tools to budget energy bills, and industry and community tips on lowering costs.

The development of a consumer engagement solution is a natural progression for eMeter, the global leader in Smart Grid data management. Leveraging the company’s operational understanding of utility infrastructure, Energy Engage ensures the most accurate and meaningful consumer communication of usage, cost and environmental impact.

By integrating sophisticated Web 2.0 user interface and behavioral activation techniques, Energy Engage entices consumer involvement and motivates them to make behavioral changes to lower energy consumption and costs.

GT Solar launches engineering solution for Silane gas

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar, a global provider of specialized equipment and technology for the solar power industry, announced the availability of its Silane Production Package, which bundles GT Solar’s silane technology expertise with its proprietary equipment.

This new package enables companies in the semiconductor, solar, and flat panel display industries to secure their own source of ultrapure silane gas using cost-effective, local production facilities.

“Increased demand from the semiconductor, photovoltaic, and flat panel display industries has resulted in shortages of silane gas accompanied by rising prices,” said Dave Keck, vice president and general manager of GT Solar’s polysilicon business.

“As the need for silane gas continues to grow, companies around the globe are beginning to seek more secure solutions. With silane production a natural extension of our existing, well-proven polysilicon and trichlorosilane production plant capabilities, we believe we are well positioned to take advantage of these adjacent market opportunities.

“Similar to what we are experiencing in polysilicon production, where GT Solar’s efforts with new entrants are drastically augmenting polysilicon supply, we expect that our technology and know-how will help create a new class of regional competitors in the silane market. As a result, we anticipate that silane users will have more choice, and there will be a reduced reliance on the one, primary supplier that currently exists.”

GT Solar’s Silane Production Package is a modular equipment solution and basic engineering package that enables companies to construct silane plants and begin delivering silane gas within 24 months. The package includes design, fabrication, quality control, training and technical support services; as well as a modular silane production plant, complete with piping, instrumentation, and analytical equipment.

Silane (or monosilane) gas is one of the most widely used silicon-containing gases utilized in the production of the thin silicon layers that are the foundation for semiconductor and photovoltaic products, as well as flat panel displays.

New Energy’s see-thru SolarWindow cells surpass thin-film and solar in artificial light

BURTONSVILLE, USA: New Energy Technologies Inc., a next-generation alternative and renewable energy developer, announced that new tests of the company’s ultra-small solar cells for use in its transparent SolarWindow have demonstrated substantially superior performance over current thin-film and solar photovoltaic technologies at generating electricity from artificial light -– an important advantage over conventional solar technologies which are limited by their capacity to function well where exposure to direct sunlight is available.

“One of the biggest issues with today’s solar products is their dependency on direct sunlight, which our cells have demonstrated the potential capacity to overcome,” explained Meetesh V. Patel, Esq., President and CEO of New Energy Technologies.

“We’re now actively working to coat these cells onto transparent glass in order to fabricate our SolarWindows, which generate electricity and have the potential to be installed virtually anywhere that either direct sunlight or artificial lighting such as fluorescent systems emit visible light. In contrast, today’s building-integrated solar and photovoltaic products are limited to installation on south-facing surfaces, as is the case with currently-available solar materials tested in these newest experiments.”

In a series of new experiments, researchers repeatedly tested New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells on a 1”x1” substrate against today’s popular solar materials for their capacity to produce electricity under varying artificial light conditions, mimicking the levels of light exposure in homes and commercial offices.

In every case, New Energy’s solar cells, the smallest reported organic solar cells of their kind in the world, exponentially outperformed all of the conventional materials tested.

Under normal office lighting conditions, without the benefit of outside natural light from windows, New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells produced:

* Almost two-fold greater output power density than monocrystalline silicon, an established commercial solar cell material;
* More than eight-fold greater output power density than copper-indium-selenide, known for its high optical absorption coefficients and versatile optical and electrical characteristics; and
* More than 10-fold greater output power density than flexible thin-film amorphous-silicon, a popular ‘second-generation’ solar thin-film material.

New Energy's solar cells generate electricity not only from the visible radiation found in sunlight but also by using the visible light found in artificial illumination, such as the fluorescent lighting typically installed in offices and commercial buildings. While the majority of today's solar cells can only be installed where direct sunlight is available, New Energy's cells could be installed close to any source of visible light.

New Energy’s SolarWindow technology makes use of an organic solar array, which has the same desirable electrical properties as silicon, yet has a considerably better capacity to ‘optically absorb’ photons from light to generate electricity and achieves transparency through the innovative use of conducting polymers. Each solar array is composed of a series of twenty ultra-small solar cells measuring less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice each.

The organic solar cells are fabricated using environmentally-friendly hydrogen-carbon based materials, and successfully produce electricity, as demonstrated in a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics.

Click here to view the study: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.2998825

The superior optical absorption properties of New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells enables development of an ultra-thin film (only 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair, or 1/10th of a micrometer) that can be utilized to produce a transparent solar window. In photovoltaic applications such as see-thru windows, where transparency is a primary concern, today’s thin film solar cells simply cannot be utilized to produce a transparent solar window for application in homes, offices, and commercial buildings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Auria ramps up 60MW Micromorph line in record time

TAINAN, TAIWAN & TRUBBACH, SWITZERLAND: Auria Solar has become the first manufacturer to reach the mass production stage with Oerlikon Solar’s industry leading end-to-end manufacturing technology for high efficiency Micromorph thin film silicon solar PV modules.

Oerlikon Solar’s advanced process integration technology and on-site customer support helped Auria Solar reach the mass production stage, and attain IEC certification from TÜV Rheinland, in record time. Oerlikon Solar and Auria Solar ramped up the entire 60 MW Tainan facility and brought it to mass production in less than eight months after the move-in of equipment.

“Oerlikon Solar was our preferred supplier because of its proven technology, superior panel performance, comprehensive customer service and unmatched track record in delivering the fastest time-to-market. We are extremely impressed with the speed in which Oerlikon Solar’s expert team was able to bring our Micromorph end-to-end fab to mass production,” says Dr. Chi-Yao Tsai, CEO of Auria Solar.

“With our own innovations and state-of-the-art technologies, Auria Solar can already produce modules with 120 W stabilized power output and 9 percent conversion efficiency. Furthermore, the low-cost manufacturing process enabled through Oerlikon Solar’s leading-edge, end-to-end solution will help us reach the target of grid parity in the foreseeable future.”

Oerlikon Solar’s tandem-junction Micromorph process will enable Auria Solar to produce 60MW of highly efficient, cost-effective thin film silicon solar PV modules per year. “We congratulate Auria Solar in being the first end-to-end producer of our Micromorph® technology. Auria Solar achieved a fast ramp-up of certified high-performance PV modules resulting from our proven end-to-end line solution,” states Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar.

Dramatically accelerated IEC certification
The TÜV Rheinland IEC master certificate enables Oerlikon Solar’s customers like Auria Solar to accelerate their own IEC certification process, reducing time-to-market for certified high-performance modules from six months to less than six weeks.

“We believe Oerlikon Solar is one of the premier equipment and module technology providers in the thin film silicon solar PV market. They have proven their ability to scale world-class technologies and processes to mass production, and passed all of our tests,” stated Willi Vaassen, Head of Renewable Energy division, TÜV Rheinland.

The TÜV IEC master certification is valid worldwide and is just one part of the established portfolio of solutions Oerlikon Solar offers its customers to enable rapid ramp-ups to mass production of thin film solar PV modules.

Cost competitive solar PV solution
Oerlikon Solar’s Micromorph process 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, yielding efficiency and module power gains of up to 50 percent. The Micromorph technology enables module manufacturers to produce thin film silicon solar modules at competitive cost.

Dr. Tsai: “With Auria Solar’s TÜV Rheinland IEC certificate, we are well positioned technically and competitively to compete in the worldwide PV market.” In late 2008, Auria Solar expressed aggressive growth plans to expand its manufacturing capacity to 500 MW by 2012.

“Oerlikon Solar’s competitive time-to-market for the Auria Solar facility is another example of the world-class experience, support and knowledge Oerlikon Solar can offer to all of its customers,” adds Sargent. “We are dedicated to helping make solar PV an economically viable alternative energy option, and our ability to quickly ramp our high-performance Micromorph® end-to-end fab illustrates this commitment.”

Satcon delivers fully integrated utility class 1MW power conversion solution

BOSTON, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility scale distributed power solutions for the renewable energy market, announced the general availability of Prism, a fully integrated one megawatt medium voltage solution optimized for utility scale solar PV installations.

Leveraging Satcon’s industry standard setting PowerGate Plus 500kW solar PV inverters, Prism is a fully customizable one megawatt platform, complete with factory integrated step-up transformers, switchgear, and electronics.

The solution will be delivered complete in an all-climate outdoor enclosure and ready to connect to the PV array and utility grid, enabling rapid installation through a modular prepackaged design.

Prism will dramatically increase the ease and speed of a typical utility scale PV installation, while also providing the unparalleled power production efficiencies that can only be realized through this full factory integrated and tested power conversion platform.

Satcon'’s Prism one megawatt integrated medium voltage solution is based on factory integrated pairs of Satcon’s highly efficient PowerGate Plus 500kW solar PV inverters, which recently eclipsed 150MW of total units installed globally.

“We are at an inflexion point in the solar PV industry, where utility scale projects are becoming more prevalent,” commented Dr. Leo Casey, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering for Satcon.

“Satcon’s solutions have been used on some of the largest renewable energy sites in the world with hundreds of millions of grid connect kW hours delivered to date. Our customers were asking for a highly efficient, completely integrated package for large scale installations, and Prism offers the most flexible, efficient and powerful solution on the market today.”

The Prism solar PV solution is available for order immediately. The complete solution will come with Satcon’s standard five-year warranty included, and available optional warranty terms up to 20 years. Integrated transformers and switchgear are fully customizable, and Satcon system consultants are available to assist with project requirements and configurations.

SMUD selects Silver Spring for smart grid rollout

REDWOOD CITY, USA: Silver Spring Networks, a leading provider of smart networking solutions, announced today that it has been selected by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to provide the network infrastructure for their Smart Capital initiative which will network approximately 600,000 homes and businesses in Sacramento County.

Silver Spring Networks will provide field-proven, open-standards-based, secure, wireless network communications, software and services in support of SMUD’s efforts. Rollout will begin next month and is expected to be completed by March 2011.

“Silver Spring Networks is looking forward to working with SMUD to deliver the benefits of a truly smart grid to customers across Sacramento County,” said Scott Lang, Chairman, President and CEO of Silver Spring Networks. “With an intelligent network, SMUD can empower customers to manage their energy consumption more efficiently, enabling rate payers to become full participants in building more energy efficient communities.”

In partnership with Silver Spring Networks, SMUD intends to implement a number of advanced Smart Grid applications, including distribution automation and home area networking.

The new, networked grid will enable SMUD to provide its customers with actionable information about their energy use, as well as enhance system efficiency and reliability by giving the utility complete visibility across its service area.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is the sixth largest community-owned electric utility in the country, serving approximately 600,000 residential and commercial customers.

“For 60 years, SMUD has been committed to providing our customers with reliable, low-cost energy, while maintaining a commitment to our environment,” said John DiStasio, General Manager & Chief Executive Officer. “Building the Smart Grid with a trusted partner like Silver Spring Networks is a vitally important step in keeping that promise to our customers and our planet.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shimane SANYO to start new HIT solar cell production line

TOKYO, JAPAN: SANYO Electric Co. Ltd has announced that Shimane SANYO Electric Co. Ltd will start up a new HIT solar cell production line, in anticipation of an active demand for photovoltaic systems worldwide stimulated by economic packages as represented by the Green New Deal.

The new production line will be installed on the second floor of Factory Building No. 3 and is scheduled to begin operation in April 2010.

Shimane SANYO currently has a total HIT cell production capacity of 130MW. Its first production line was installed in 2001. With the completion of Factory Building No. 3 in FY2008, an additional line was installed on its first floor. The new line will be installed on the second floor and have a production capacity of 90MW. This will bring the total production capacity of Shimane SANYO up to 220MW.

Currently, SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. (SANYO: Moriguchi City, Osaka) has two locations in Japan for HIT solar cell production: Nishikinohama Factory (Kaizuka City, Osaka) and Shimane SANYO. As the Solar business is one of the core businesses of SANYO and vital to its growth strategy, Shimane SANYO is an important base for the realization of this development. Shimane SANYO will contribute to the local community by expanding its photovoltaic system business

HIT stands for Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer. HIT Solar Cell is a uniquely-structured hybrid-type solar cell developed by SANYO Electric Co., Ltd., which uses a crystalline silicon substrate and amorphous silicon thin film. Its high conversion efficiency and superior temperature characteristic enable the world's highest power generation per installation area.

Amtech to intro new technology-solar PSG removal equipment

Intersolar North America 2009, TEMPE, USA: Amtech Systems Inc., a global supplier of production and automation systems and related supplies for the manufacture of solar cells, today announced that its solar subsidiary, Tempress Systems, plans to introduce its new PSG removal technology at the Intersolar North America 2009 solar industry trade show (booth #8023), taking place July 14-16 in San Francisco, California.

This newest solar product represents the third product in Amtech’s solar portfolio and, combined with its PECVD tool launched a year ago, will significantly increase the company’s total available market size.

This process step in the manufacturing of solar cells removes phosphosilicate glass (PSG) that naturally occurs during the diffusion process. A vast majority, if not all of existing PSG removal equipment utilizes conventional wet chemistry technology. Amtech’s new technology utilizes a dry chemical process that does not require large quantities of hazardous wet chemicals that impose large disposal burdens, resulting in potential lower cost of ownership.

J.S. Whang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amtech, commented, “The introduction of our third solar production tool is an important milestone for the company, coming approximately one year after the introduction of our PECVD equipment. In addition to the significant benefits of dry chemical technology, this PSG solar product has the potential to contribute to higher cell efficiency, aiding the overall solar market goal of reaching grid parity. As we introduce our PSG removal equipment into the market, we continue to focus on our strategy of further expanding our offerings with the introduction of additional solar products in the future. With a healthy balance sheet and expanded product line, we are determined to emerge from the current recession as a stronger player in solar market.”

BudaSolar's R&D agreement with Bangkok solar project

DIX HILLS, USA: Solar Thin Films Inc. today announced that BudaSolar Ltd has advised Solar Thin Films that it has entered into an R&D co-operation agreement with Bangkok Solar Co. of Bangkok, Thailand, a major producer of amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules with over 50MW of current capacity.

Solar Thin Films and its subsidiary Kraft Elektronikai Zrt have entered into an agreement with the shareholders of BudaSolar, which contemplates that Kraft will acquire 100 percent of the share capital of BudaSolar in exchange for 49 percent of the share capital of Kraft. Closing of the transaction is contemplated to occur in July or August 2009.

The goal of the BudaSolar collaboration with Bangkok Solar is to develop a micromorph module with a minimum 8 percent efficiency using a modified version of batch process technology currently developed, manufactured and marketed by both Kraft and BudaSolar.

Both Kraft and BudaSolar believe that this level of performance provided through the inclusion of a microcrystalline layer ("micromorph product") could be of great benefit to potential customers as it is capable of increasing efficiency by as much as 30 percent more than currently available amorphous silicon modules.

"The results of the preliminary experiments we have made for confirmation of the development concept are really very promising," said Dr. István Krafcsik, CTO of BudaSolar, who played a key role in the production and installation of the Bangkok Solar production facility. "Just as the batch process has proved to be the most cost-efficient solution for the production of double junction amorphous silicon modules, so we expect a new modified version of that batch process to be the most cost effective solution for the production of higher efficiency micromorph modules."

The project, which will run through 2010, will also leverage work being completed under a separate contract awarded BudaSolar late in 2008 for micromorph research.

"The advantage of working together with Bangkok Solar is that we gain access to both a production scale environment, to complement our lab work, and are able to work collaboratively with a very experienced manufacturing team with years of experience using the batch process technology," noted Dr. Csaba Dücsõ, BudaSolar's Head of Technology Development.

Sompong Nakornsri, CEO of Bangkok Solar, stated: "This collaboration is key to the future strategy and profitability of Bangkok Solar. Under current market conditions, increasing the efficiency of our modules in the near future is critical. We share the opinion of BudaSolar that creating a product with a microcrystalline layer -- a micromorph product -- is the best way to achieve desired efficiency increases, while maintaining or even improving on the existing cost advantage of the batch-type process."

Peter Lewis, Group Vice President of STF's Thin Film and Equipment Division, commented, "We are glad to hear of BudaSolar's collaboration with Bangkok Solar, and believe this is a positive step towards further bringing down the production cost of photovoltaic systems in the very near future."

TÜVRheinland opens new PV test lab in Cologne

NEWTOWN, USA: TÜVRheinland is increasing its domination of the photovoltaic market, expanding its global reach once again by opening a new test laboratory in Cologne, Germany this month.

The new Cologne location offers state-of-the-art technology for inspecting photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors and systems. It includes six climate chambers and five sun simulators, as well as two stations for mechanical load testing.

The 1,800 m2 facility is three times larger than the previous Cologne test site, which could no longer meet the requirements of the rapidly growing solar energy market. The company also operates two external facilities – one in Cologne and another in Italy -– for testing modules under real-weather conditions.

TÜVRheinland plays a key role in the international development of solar energy usage and quality assurance of solar modules. Since 1995, the company has continuously expanded its laboratory capacity and resources to address the needs of the ever-growing production of photovoltaic systems.

“Approximately 70% of all manufacturers of solar modules worldwide have their products tested in TÜVRheinland laboratories in order to obtain international market licenses and gain the recognition of both users and investors,” said Stephan Schmitt, President & CEO of TÜV Rheinland North America Holding Company. “Our newest test lab in Cologne demonstrates our leadership position and further solidifies our stronghold in the solar testing arena.”

With an international network across six continents, TÜVRheinland maintains the largest network of Solar Energy Laboratories worldwide with five major laboratories on three continents, providing services that include product testing and certification, production monitoring, system testing and monitoring and research and development. In addition to the German test center, the company has established solar laboratories in Japan, China and the United States.

The US laboratory, based in Tempe, Arizona, is TÜV Rheinland PTL, LLC, a leading provider of safety and performance testing, and market certification serving every sector of the photovoltaic marketplace, from the supply chain through installation.

TÜV Rheinland PTL is a unique partnership between Arizona State University, an institution with more than 50 years of research on solar energy and extensive solar testing know-how, and TÜVRheinland, a $1.5 billion global provider of independent testing, assessment, and certification services.

BioSolar’s BioBacksheet may revolutionize solar power industry

SANTA CLARITA, USA: BioSolar Inc. has introduced “a robust protective backing for solar cells derived from cotton and castor beans, which may possibly revolutionize the solar power industry as we know it today,” according to a June 3, 2009 article on Green Energy News.

The article notes that BioSolar is “the primary initiator of this resilient bio-based plastic, which substantially reduces solar manufacturing costs and entirely ceases any need for petroleum exploitation.”

BioSolar’s line of proprietary BioBacksheet protective coverings are designed to replace expensive and hazardous petroleum-based film with a bio-based one derived from cotton and castor beans, creating a more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective solar panel component.

“With the market for solar power already in explosive growth mode, BioSolar is singularly positioned to lead the development of truly sustainable and cost-effective solar technology,” according to YESWECANSOLVEIT Blogspot.

Dr. David Lee, Chairman and CEO of BioSolar, recently announced that the BioBacksheetTM-C will be the company’s first product to be commercially available during the second half of 2009. The announcement follows BioSolar’s recent news that two of its products are currently in the preproduction stage and nearing qualification for full production.

Solar PV capex cuts will ease capacity growth in time for recovery

USA: Much like the boom-to-bust IC industry in recent decades, manufacturers of solar-energy cells and thin films are having a difficult time matching investments for new production capacity with the recessionary and recovery throes of the fledgling photovoltaic (PV)-device market, based on the analysis in a new 2009 report from IC Insights: Solar Energy: Growth Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry.

The mismatch of photovoltaic capacity expansions and slumping market demand is underscored by the expected 32 percent increase in global PV production capacity in 2009 despite a forecasted 22 percent decline in solar system installations this year, according to the new report.Source: IC Insights

Although PV-device manufacturers made known their intentions in late 2008 to trim capital spending, many of the top suppliers have been unable to abruptly halt those expenditures in 2009. Consequently, global PV solar-device production capacity is expected to rise 32 percent in 2009 to a total output capable of generating 11.5 gigawatts of electricity.

This follows a 69 percent increase in installed photovoltaic cell and thin-film (TF) plant capacity in 2008 to 8.7GW, says IC Insights' new report. Cuts in capital spending will slow capacity expansion to just 15 percent in 2010, but that will come when the solar market begins to recover with a 37 percent growth in system installations next year, based on the repor's 2009-2013 forecast.

In 2010, IC Insights believes that capex spending levels for PV cell and TF module capacity will fall further than the 23 percent decline forecast for 2009 as producers confront rising inventory stockpiles and plummeting capacity utilization.

The report shows global solar PV cell and TF capital expenditures falling 40 percent in 2010 to about $680 million from $1.13 billion in 2009, excluding capex on assembly of cell-based modules and panels. However, solar PV capital expenditures will begin a steady recovery in 2011, rising 13 percent that year to $772 million but surging 74 percent in 2012 to $1.34 billion, based on IC Insights' five-year forecast (see Fig. 1).

With PV manufacturers unable to abruptly curb additions to production plants, capacity utilization rates for solar devices are forecast to plummet from 83 percent in 2008 to 54 percent in 2009 and to 52 percent in 2010.

However, IC Insights is forecasting a steady rise in plant capacity utilization to 63 percent in 2011 and to 82 percent in 2013. The efforts to achieve high levels of capacity utilization will stretch out to the end of the forecast period and will be an important contributor to the industry's reduction of the cost per watt of solar systems.

The new 2009 solar report estimates that plants in mainland China and Taiwan accounted for 39 percent of total global PV device production in 2008, with European production at 28 percent of the worldwide total and Japan 16 percent. US producers captured only 10 percent of the total in 2008, based on IC Insights' data.

Monday, June 22, 2009

AU Optronics strengthens presence in clean energy sector

HSINCHU, TAIWAN: AU Optronics Corp. announced its decision, as resolved by its Board of Directors on June 19, to subscribe new shares to be issued by M.Setek, which is a major polysilicon and monocrystal silicon wafers manufacturer in Japan.

Such investment is for AUO to secure key materials in the solar industry and strengthen its strategic position in energy business. AUO’s preliminary plan is to invest US$125 million taking majority shareholding of M.Setek gradually, with investment amount to be finalized depending on future development of the investee.

Being a major supplier to renowned solar cell companies around the world, M.Setek is a company with leading technology that realizes high conversion rate of monocrystal silicon wafers for solar cells. Its capabilities and high-efficient products have always been highly recognized in the Industry. “This will mark a major step forward for AUO’s endeavor in energy business,” said K.Y. Lee, Chairman of AUO. “We are very much looking forward to collaborating with M.Setek, jointly bringing greater inputs to solar energy sources and providing better renewable energy solutions.”

Dr. L.J. Chen, President and CEO of AUO, also expressed that after extensive and careful planning, as well as the establishment of a dedicated R&D team, AUO’s energy business, guided by the strategy of total solution, has been proactively making sound presences throughout the value chain of energy business, aiming to offer the finest integrated technology and services to the world. This includes the collaborations with system house for photovoltaics (PV) in a bit to swiftly accumulate capabilities in system integration and design at the end market.

Furthermore, the company has established a 100 percent-owned energy company called AUO Energy Taiwan Corp. (AET) presided by Max Cheng as the Chairman in May 2009, which dedicates to provide integrated technical supports in energy system.

AET will provide more extensive value-added services in the future, including installation of energy system fueled by solar or other renewable energies for power plants, industrial facilities, commercial buildings and households. Currently, the AET together with system providers is actively participating in relevant solar energy projects in Taiwan and around the world.

Lee also emphasized that AUO has already possessed sound energy- efficient technologies in TFT-LCD Industry and by acquiring integrated capacities in both solar upstream and downstream industry, it is hoped that AUO will swiftly establish its leading presence in energy Industry. “More importantly, by injecting more resources and efforts, we hope to see the realization of renewable energy products with higher efficiency in a bit to solve human beings’ energy needs in the long run, as well as to protect the Earth.” he added.

LG Display to nurture thin-film solar cell business as future growth driver

SEOUL, KOREA: LG Display Co. Ltd, a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced plans to focus its R&D capabilities on a thin-film type solar cell and nurture it as a future growth driver.

LG Display plans to invest KRW50 billion into R&D to build a pilot line within its Paju display complex in Korea during the second half of 2009 and build an outdoor test power generation facility.

Further, the company aims to raise the current energy conversion efficiency rate of 8 percent to 12 percent by 2010, and eventually achieve efficiency rate of 14 percent in 2012 to prepare for commercialization. It also plans to secure sufficient commercial value by lowering the manufacturing cost to less than $1 per watt.

In addition, LG Display target the market for cells used in photovoltaic power generation, buildings and public displays during the initial stages of commercialization. The company’s long-term blueprint includes expansion into solar cells for mobile displays and automobiles, as well as solar cells for extreme environments such as offshore photovoltaic power generation stations.

According to US market researcher Nano Markets, the thin-film type solar cell market will grow from $4.6 billion in 2011 to $14 billion by 2015.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Alexion extends commitment to green footprint with new solar energy system

CHESHIRE, USA: Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. has completed the installation of a 295 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the company’s Cheshire, Conn., corporate headquarters and research facility. State officials and other guests joined Alexion employees at yesterday’s ceremony to “throw the switch” on the new system.

Alexion’s PV system comprises 1,738 photovoltaic solar panels, mounted on the rooftop of the Company’s 125,000-square-foot facility in Cheshire, which convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Approximately 9 percent of the facility’s total electrical needs will be provided by the solar installation, which is expected to produce more than 329,000 kWh of power annually, resulting in an estimated reduction of 380,000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year.

"This solar array is a key part of our corporate commitment to responsible energy choices,” said Leonard Bell, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Alexion. “We are continuing to drive toward a greener and more cost-effective energy footprint in Cheshire and at other company facilities. The installation of this system will ensure long-term benefits to both the environment and our organization for years to come.”

Connecticut State Representative Elizabeth Esty, whose home district includes Cheshire, Wallingford, and Hamden, was in attendance at the event and noted that, “Through this commitment to solar energy, Alexion is demonstrating that good business and social responsibility can go hand in hand.” Representative Esty is a member of the Energy and Technology Committee of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

Alexion has a long-standing commitment to energy conservation and to the communities in which it operates. Along with the installation of the new PV system at its headquarters, the Company is pursuing additional initiatives, including the retrofitting of lighting, heating, cooling and control systems, in order to achieve an appreciable reduction in the generation of greenhouse gases from its Cheshire operations.

Alexion’s PV system was made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.

“We are proud to partner with Alexion in this investment in our state’s future. This initiative will help to stabilize the company’s energy costs and make their business less reliant on outside resources,” said Lise Dondy, President of the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. “In addition, the system will help to stabilize the local power grid by reducing the demands during peak hours, which is beneficial to everyone in the community.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Abengoa Solar inaugurates second-gen solar tower

SEVILLE, SPAIN: Abengoa Solar’s first high-temperature power tower, Eureka, was unveiled today by Martín Soler Márquez, Director of Innovation, Science and Enterprise for the Andalusian Regional Government.

This power tower is intended to test, on an experimental basis, a new type of receiver that will achieve the higher temperatures needed for higher-efficiency thermodynamic power cycles. It is the only plant featuring these characteristics in operation in Andalusia and Europe. The aim of this new technology is to increase plant performance, thereby reducing both generating costs and the area of the solar field.

This experimental plant occupies a 16,000-squarefoot portion of the Solúcar Platform and uses 35 heliostats and a 164-foot tower which houses the experimental superheating receiver. The power output capacity of the experimental plant is approximately 2MW. The plant includes a thermal energy storage system supplying power supply to the grid for short periods when there is no sunlight.

Rafael Osuna, General Manger Abengoa Solar New Technologies, said: "This marks the beginning of the next experimental phase for this high-potential solar power tower technology, which could lead to an important step forward in our goals of generating clean electricity at competitive prices. Our significant investment in research and development has made this groundbreaking concentrating solar power technology a reality."

Abengoa Solar now has three solar power towers in operation, two for commercial use and this experimental tower.

The new plant is part of the Solúcar Platform, a solar thermal and photovoltaic solar installation complex scheduled for completion in 2013. Thanks to its 300-megawatt power output, the plant will supply clean electricity to 153,000 households and eliminate the emission of 185,000 tons of CO2 per year, reaching a total of four million tons over the course of its useful life.

The Solúcar Platform also features a research and development area that is building several demonstration plants for new technologies. This makes the platform the only place in the world with installations employing practically every type of solar technology available, whether in commercial use or under demonstration.

Abengoa Solar focuses its activity on the development and application of technology for generating electrical power with the sun.

Global solar thermal market analysis and forecasts to 2013

UK: GlobalData recently published a new report on the global solar thermal market.

Solar thermal power is a relatively new technology showing tremendous promise for future development. The volatile prices of fossil fuels, rising concerns about global climate changes coupled with new economic incentives have renewed the interest in this technology.

Globally, a large number of solar thermal plants are under construction or at the planning stage. Around eight plants are expected to come online in 2009 with annual additions of 342 MW, among which Algeria, Italy and Mexico have planned one solar thermal plant each and the rest of the plants are in Spain. Around 18 plants are expected to come online globally in 2010.

"Global Solar Thermal Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2013" gives an in-depth analysis of the global solar thermal market and provides forecasts up to 2013. This research gives a detailed analysis of the markets in key countries namely the US, Spain and Australia and provides growth estimates up to 2013.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Report on China's building integrated photovoltaic industry 2009

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Research Report of China's Building Integrated Photovoltaic Industry, 2009" report to its offering.

Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) refers to the installment of PV modules which can supply electric power on surface of external supporting structure. Those PV modules can not only replace part of such traditional structures as roof slab, tile, window, building elevation and rain-proof shelter, but also can be made to own various functions, such as PV/thermal system, combination with illumination and sun shade, etc.

At present, BIPV is widely applied on exposed walls, sun-shading shelters, patios, tiles, roofs, sound-proof walls, as well as in fields of private apartments, schools, hospital buildings, airports, platforms of subway stations and large workshops.

With the changing fields of PV power generation, China has made great progress in research and development of BIPV system. In 2002, 10KW integrated grid system was built in Fengxian, Shanghai, which realized automation. In 2003, an ecological demonstration project was established in Shanghai and the 5KW integrated grid system combined well with construction with international top technologies.

Shanghai Solar Energy S&T Co., Ltd (SSEC) also established integrated demonstrative office building with six first-initiated technologies of directly combining solar electrical power generation and construction. Today, the total installed capacity can reach 40KW and energy self-supply can basically realized with integrating geothermal air condition technologies.

It is said in the 40th article of "Energy Conservation Law of the People's Republic of China" which took effect on April 1st, 2008 that Chinese government encourages to adopt energy-saving materials and devices and to apply renewable energy resource system in the energy conservation reform of newly-built constructions and existing constructions. It is also stated in the 61st article that enterprises which use energy-saving technologies and products listed in the law can enjoy favorable policies, such as tax incentives.

Although a series of laws and standards have been launched, such as "Renewable Energy Law", "Civil Building Energy Saving" and "Energy-Saving Design Standard of Various Regions", high cost (cost of photoelectric curtain wall jumps to over 1,000 USD/m2 today) will be a big barrier for BIPV projects, apart from limited ideas and technologies. Neither enterprises themselves nor government can afford such a high cost in the long run. Therefore, BIPV captures considerably small market now in China and is mainly used in some demonstrative projects which enjoy government subsidies.

It is clearly regulated by Ministry of Construction of China that 50 percent of design standards should be applied in newly-built constructions. It is predicted that the area of energy-saving constructions will exceed 2.16 billion m2 from 2006 to 2010, with newly-built area of 1.6 billion m2 and rebuilt area of 560 million m2.

At present, area of constructions in China reaches 40 billion m2, over 13 billion m2 of which are to be rebuilt. In order to fulfill this goal, enterprises must adopt such energy-saving technologies and devices as solar illumination, integrated system of solar energy and construction (solar tiles and glass curtain wall), etc. Thus the BIPV market will see a bright prospect in future.

Thin wafer capabilities from CHAD and DEK Printing Machines

ANAHEIM, USA: CHAD Industries has announced that it will be demonstrating CHAD’s thin wafer handling capabilities at this year’s SEMICON West show.

Exhibiting with CHAD Industries in a joint booth will be one of CHAD’s key OEM customers, DEK Printing Machines. On exhibit will be CHAD’s WaferMate200 wafer handler integrated with DEK’s Galaxy screen printer to hand off thin wafers. Each system will be tooled to handle 200mm wafers that are 125u” thick. Additional wafer handling capabilities can be deployed for wafers as thin as 75u”.

CHAD Industries will also be displaying the WaferMate300-1 workcell equipped for 300mm wafers, the SMIF-EZ loadport for 200mm wafers presented in SMIF’s, and CHAD’s new open architecture PC based control system.

“We are excited to partner with DEK Printing Machines, one of our oldest OEM customers, and to help showcase DEK’s new thin wafer capabilities. Our engineering teams worked together to conceive and design a solid, reliable solution for thin wafer handling,” said Scott Klimczak, President of CHAD Industries.

“This is just another example of how in these challenging times, we find that our OEM customers are increasingly dependant upon CHAD Industries to provide engineering support and solutions to their wafer handling requirements. Recent downsizing has put more emphasis on outsourcing, and CHAD is well positioned to provide comprehensive engineering support to solve these new customer challenges.”

CHAD and DEK will be located at booth #811 in the South Hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center during SEMICON West, taking place from July 14-16.

LDK Solar produces larger size ingots

XINYU CITY, CHINA & SUNNYVALE, USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd, a manufacturer of multicrystalline solar wafers, announced that it has successfully produced a multicrystalline silicon ingot weighing 660kg.

The 660kg ingot was the largest ingot produced at LDK Solar and represents a 46.7 percent increase in capacity from the standard 450kg ingot. Maximum furnace capacity is approximately 800kg.

“We reached an important milestone on the roadmap of our technology development for multi-crystalline silicon ingots,” stated Dr. Yuepeng Wan, Chief Technology Officer at LDK Solar.

"We have continued to develop technology aimed at solidifying and augmenting LDK Solar’s cost leadership position. Our objective with this development was to improve product quality and at the same time decrease the cost of multicrystalline ingot production. The larger ingots will lower capital expenditure and contribute to the reduction of production cost. The increased charge size directly contributes to lower power consumption, higher yields, improved efficiencies of downstream processing equipment, and reduced unit consumption of consumables and some direct costs.”

Report on global market for miniature solar cells

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Market for Miniature Solar Cells 2008-2012" report to its offering.

Miniature solar cells are essentially those solar cells that are used to power small devices such as consumer electronic devices (calculators, MP3 players), microelectronics, and grid applications. These cells also power mini solar panels that are used for a wide range of applications; from supplying power to lamps, mobile handsets and chargers to integration into building surfaces, disaster recovery etc.

These solar cells are typically thin film solar cells based on materials like Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), and Amorphous-Silicon (a-Si). However, with technological advancements, organic solar cells (or plastic solar cells) are being developed, which are becoming synonymous to miniature solar cells.

Organic solar cells are low-cost photovoltaic cells which use organic electronic materials (polymers) and provide easy fabrication of the cells, allowing them to be dissolved or applied to flexible materials.

The report forecasts the size of Global Market for Miniature Solar Cells over the period 2008-2012. It highlights the key trends in the market, and segments the market by type of material, applications and into various geographic regions. Further, it discusses the key driving forces and the barriers of the Global Market for Miniature Solar Cells.

Solar Power inks solar modules deal with Australian solar developer

ROSEVILLE, USA: Solar Power Inc. has entered into an exclusive agreement with the Australian solar developer Beyond Building Systems Pty Ltd for the purchase of SPI’s 170–220-watt solar modules.

The agreement provides BBS with exclusive access to SPI’s highly rated panels for use throughout Australia. The two-year supply agreement calls for a minimum purchase of 5.7 megawatts of SPI modules with shipments commencing in June.

“We are very pleased to engage with Beyond Building Systems as a key supplier of solar modules for their projects as they work toward meeting the demands of the growing solar market throughout Australia,” said Bradley Ferrell, President of SPI’s commercial sales division.

“Our relationship supports the significant growth objectives BBS has in order to meet the installation demands of Australia’s national Solar Neighborhoods program,” Ferrell concluded. The agreement with Beyond Building Systems marks SPI’s entry into the Australian photovoltaic solar market as the company continues to expand its international presence.

“Our company’s remains focused on deploying high-quality solar solutions into Australia’s growing solar market,” said Henrih Horthy, CEO of Beyond Building Systems. “Solar Power Inc. and Beyond Building Systems share common core values and a commitment to high-quality products. These are key attributes we look for in a strategic relationship. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with the Solar Power, Inc. team.”

Beyond Building Systems is located in Byron Bay Australia. The company’s mission is to build affordable, high quality, energy efficient housing and infrastructure, fully equipped to meet the global challenges of an ecologically and economically sustainable future.

Renewable energy has been featured as an integral part of the design of their new homes since the company’s inception. Beyond Building Systems operates across Australia and in the USA, Pacific Rim and Asia.

Trina Solar signs sales agreement with Enfinity

CHANGZHOU, CHINA: Trina Solar Ltd, a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products from the production of ingots, wafers and cells to the assembly of PV modules, has entered into a sales agreement with customer Enfinity NV.

The agreement was signed in conjunction with the recent Intersolar-Munich Conference, held from May 27 to May 29.

Under the terms of this agreement, Trina Solar will supply Enfinity with approximately 15 MW of PV modules, with shipments scheduled in the current second quarter.

"We are very pleased to announce this new sales agreement with Enfinity, to further strengthen the existing well established partnership with Enfinity. This new contract will significantly help to grow new projects in markets such as Germany, Belgium, Italy and other European solar markets," stated Arturo Herrero, Vice-President of Sales & Marketing of Trina Solar. "We look forward to keep expanding our relationship with our loyal partner Enfinity by providing high quality modules, premium service and low cost industry leading platform."

"Enfinity is proud of this new sales agreement with Trina Solar. We consider this as a continuation of our good relationship with Trina Solar that supplies Enfinity and its customer base with the best in class solar technology," commented Gino Van Neer, Founder of Enfinity.

PowerSat files patent that accelerates viability of SSP satellite systems

EVERETT, USA: PowerSat Corp., a pioneer in safe and reliable energy generation from space, announced the filing of US Provisional Patent No. 61/177,565 or “SPACE-BASED POWER SYSTEMS AND METHODS.”

The patent includes two technologies, BrightStar and Solar Powered Orbital Transfer (SPOT), which enable the reduction of launch and operation costs by roughly $1 billion for a 2,500 megawatt (MW) power station.

“This patent filing is a watershed moment not only for PowerSat but for a renewables industry that, until now, could neither compete economically nor generate power at the base load scale of oil or coal,” said PowerSat CEO William Maness. “Today, the convergence of technology and energy demand, combined with the political will to wean us off of fossil fuels, enables space solar power (SSP) to fill a widening clean energy supply gap.”

SSP is a clean, viable solution to our world’s growing energy problems. Not limited by weather or geography, SSP solves the intermittency problems of earth-based renewables by providing a reliable and flexible energy source that is available 24/7.

The underlying technology components are proven and systems will be deployable within a decade. Solar energy is captured via solar power satellites (known as powersats) and transmitted wirelessly to receiving stations at various points around the globe. Thousands of megawatts can be harnessed and shifted between receiving stations thousands of miles from each other—all in a matter of seconds.

PowerSat's first patented technology, BrightStar, allows individual powersats to form a wireless power transmission beam without being physically connected to each other. This “electronic coupling,” conceptually similar to cloud computing, effectively eliminates the need to handle large (gigawatt) levels of power in a single spacecraft. Because of BrightStar, one transmission beam may now come from hundreds of smaller powersats. Another advantage of Brightstar is increased reliability.

If any of the individual component satellites fail they can be easily replaced without significantly affecting the performance of the system, thus establishing much greater reliability.

The other technology being patented by PowerSat, Solar Power Orbital Transfer (SPOT) propels a spacecraft to an optimal, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) using electronic thrusters that are powered by the same solar array that is eventually used for wireless power transmission.

Until now, all satellites have had to use chemical propulsion or a chemically fueled “space tug” to move from Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is 300-1,000 miles in altitude to GEO, which is 22,236 miles in altitude.

SPOT technology also decreases the weight of a powersat by 67 percent, dramatically reducing launch costs, and enabling PowerSat modules to fly on rockets to LEO, deploy their solar powered electronic thrusters and then fly themselves out to GEO. GEO, the orbit for most communications satellites, is optimal because it allows a powersat to harvest the sun’s energy continuously.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

ICP Solar cabins incorporate GreenMeter technology

MONTREAL, CANADA: ICP Solar Technologies Inc., a developer, manufacturer and marketer of proprietary solar panels and products, announced that Norwegian distributor Power Controls AS has begun selling “Smart Energy Station” vacation cabins, which incorporate the GreenMeter for remote applications.

Available in Europe, Russia, and soon Canada, the prefabricated wooden units, approximately six square meters in size, are meant to serve the large demand for outdoor cabins and datchas where people vacation in these regions.

Each log house is a waterproof station with automatic ventilation, solar panels, lighting, voltage outlets, and an optional GreenMeter® to measure energy usage. The power stations are delivered as turnkey solutions – completely ready to use, with everything installed and tested. ICP Solar GreenMeters® monitor the performance of the power system.

“Power Controls has been a great partner for ICP Solar, and their latest offering is an amazing concept – a totally clean, green cabin for outdoor use and family vacations,” said Sass Peress, CEO.

“Utilizing the GreenMeter as well as some of our other products, these units truly offer individuals the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness while leaving virtually no carbon footprint behind. We look forward to continue working with companies such as this to bring innovative, practical renewable energy products to the world.”

The prefabricated huts are currently manufactured in Norway and will soon also be made in Canada. Interested parties are encouraged to contact either ICP Solar (Laurie McCabe, Business Development Manager for Monitoring and Metering) or Power Controls AS (Dag Halvorsen, CEO).

Custom-Bilt Metals shines with FusionSolar

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Custom-Bilt Metals has launched its new FusionSolar system, a more-affordable, turn-key rooftop solar power system.

When builders, contractors and homeowners specify FusionSolar with a standing seam roof, they get a complete system, including all necessary components, detailed schematics and specifications for wiring and electrical components that an electrical subcontractor needs for installation. Since no specialized solar installer expertise is required, sheet metal and roofing professionals are able to install the standing seam roof just as they would a standard metal roof.

“By focusing on two core principles, simplicity and a lower cost of installation, we’re delivering a better solar power system,” said Tony Chiovare, president of Custom-Bilt Metals. “Additionally we are providing builders, contractors and their prospective customers with an ROI report to help them determine their payback period and to understand how much of their total power consumption they stand to offset by generating clean, renewable and dependable solar power.”

Custom-Bilt Metals has consistently led the market in metal roofing materials by delivering environmentally sustainable metal roofing products through “cool roof” innovation. The new and innovative solar system is an effective roofing solution for virtually any roofing project, new building or replacement roof.

The company is also pleased to have the FusionSolar system awarded the PCBC 2009 “Cool Product” designation in the energy saver category.

Solar satisfaction
Unlike visually obtrusive polycrystalline panels that are “racked” and attached by drilling through a roof, FusionSolar is fused directly to the standing seam panel, visually blending in without penetrating the roof. Lying flat on top of the surface, the flexible thin film flows with the roof profile even on curved designs.

Once installed, the laminate can be safely walked on without causing damage and unlike solar glass can’t be damaged by a neighborhood kid’s baseball or other flying objects.

Offering a lower cost-per-watt than roof-mounted polycrystalline panels, FusionSolar will pay for itself within ten years or less in most cases. Once installed, it’s a fixed cost that is immune from rate hikes that may be likely in an unstable economy. In addition, FusionSolar currently qualifies for a variety of federal and state tax credits and other incentives.

FusionSolar difference
Simplicity, affordability and good looks are the big differences with FusionSolar. Unlike rack-mounted solar roofing, FusionSolar thin-film laminate blends in with the roof’s intended style, covering all or just a portion of any standing seam roof.

The green building envelope attributes of FusionSolar in combination with energy savings make it the ideal solar product for this day and age. The FusionSolar thin-film laminate technology achieves a higher relative efficiency under high temperatures and low light than solar glass.

Project savings are derived from the use of fewer roofing and racking materials and the more cost-effective solar thin-film technology purchased right from the builder, sheet metal or roofing professional.

Additional benefits of the FusionSolar more affordable solar system include:

* A durable thin-film laminate solution adhered to standing seam metal roofing and able to withstand winds of up to 160 miles per hour.
* The capacity to be individually tailored; delivered on standing seam panels in 9’ or 18’ lengths, the system is able to be scaled to deliver 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, 60 and 120 kW-sized output.
* Specifications and hardware so that any electrical contractor can make the simple connections to the home’s electrical service.
* A 20-year warranty on FusionSolar systems in addition to Custom-Bilt Metals’ already generous warranty on its standing seam metal roofing materials.
* The capability to qualify for up to 7 LEED points in the on-site renewable energy category, a strong step forward in achieving this nationally recognized green building designation.
* The ability to qualify for local, state and national tax incentives.

M+W Zander completes solar cells factory for Q-Cells in Malaysia

STUTTGART, GERMANY: Engineering company M+W Zander has designed and built a new solar cell manufacturing facility for Q-Cells, Malaysia, and has handed over the facility on schedule.
This major project was completed within a tight construction time frame of less than eight months to achieve Ready for Equipment. The three-storey solar-cell factory with eight production lines has an annual output of 500 megawatts (peak).

This major order encompassed the complete value chain from site master planning, detailed design through to procurement and construction management followed by hook-up of all process equipment. In addition to the site master planning M+W Zander was also responsible for design and co-ordination of the process media systems within the newly developed science park.

A multinational team of highly motivated M+W Zander engineers from Germany and Malaysia began work for the site master plan in February 2008. Completion of site backfill, allowed for the 1st piling on 15th May last year. Successfully achieving “Ready for Equipment” by 31 December 2008.

“Thanks to the close collaboration of our teams within M+W Zander Group we could accelerate the project enourmously to meet the challenging timeframe”, said Martin Beigl and Helmut Kurzboeck, Managing Directors of M+W Zander in Germany and Asia.

Are clouds dissipating on solar energy industry?

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Have economic conditions improved for solar cell manufacturers or just changed in the past six months are questions detailed a the report: Opportunities in The Solar Market For Crystalline and Thin Film Solar Cells, published by The Information Network.

On November 18, 2008, we issued a press release entitled “Six Reasons for Cloudy Skies on the Solar Energy Industry”. All six issues presented cast a partial eclipse of the solar market.

Subsequently, a week later we forecast that the solar market would drop from 40 percent growth to 25 percent growth in 2009. At that time, thoughts of a downturn in the luminous market were considered a heresy and comments to the article reflected the attitude of the time -– up, up, up!

Six months have gone by and its time to revisit these issues to see if anything has changed from a fundamental standpoint. The original issues presented are repeated, along with an update on the current environment:

1. With oil at $60 a barrel, who cares about alternative energy? It's a short sighted view, but with the credit market crunch, who can get a loan to build solar plants anyway?

Oil is now $70 a barrel and rising, which to us suggests that people will start rethinking alternative energy. But the second point about the credit market crunch remains. Who can get a loan to build a solar plant anyway?

2. The high price of oil in the past year was a catalyst for development in other alternative energy sources, not just solar. Advances in wind, geothermal, and hydropower energy are reducing the cost of wind power to a point at which it is becoming competitive with traditional energy sources.

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb. Among these alternative energy sources, hydropower and nuclear have the lowest carbon footprints (carbon dioxide produced during operation).

Other alternative energy programs have been affected by the downturn. Most serious was the recent announcement by President Obama that he was terminating the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. This decision gives nuclear power an uncertain future, which may be a benefit to the solar energy.

3. Spain, a huge buyer of solar, reduced its incentive program to aid buyers in 2009. In California, a seemingly green state, Prop. 7 was defeated in the November election with a whopping 65 percent of the voters saying NO. One reason: electricity consumers would pay 10 percent above market rates for renewable power forever.

Spain has not resumed its incentive program and will subsidize just 500 megawatts of solar projects this year, down sharply from 2,400 megawatts in 2008. Mainland China’s stimulus and now Taiwan’s incentives (we suspect money coming in from Mainland China) will counter the downturn in Spain and Germany.

4. The spot market price of 6-inch solar-grade wafers have fallen to $9 from a high of $12.50 in September. This bodes poorly for thin film makers and equipment suppliers.

The thin film solar panel market and hence the equipment market grew strongly because of the shortage of polysilicon. Now that polysilicon is abundant and lower priced, why make thin film panels with 8% efficiency when you get 16+ percent efficiency with silicon wafers?

The spot market price of 6-inch solar-grade wafers has now dropped to below US$3.50 per unit. Winners are the environment and polysilicon solar manufacturers. Losers are the thin film solar manufacturers unless they can achieve a way of increasing efficiency, such as a thin film nano coating being developed by SolarPA in Pennsylvania.

5. Utilization is at only 56 percent. Our analysis of 103 solar manufacturers shows that panel production capacity in 2009 will be 15 GW whereas only 8.3 GW will be sold.

Utilization has not worsened as solar companies are struggling to sell products and new capacity has been put on hold, particularly in Asia.

While polysilicon prices have dropped, solar cell manufacturers are also experiencing a 25 percent drop in revenues in 2009 from last year. The drop in solar cell prices to below $1.50 per watt is not increasing demand, which we forecast last year.

6. The dollar has appreciated strongly against the euro by nearly 25 percent. Germany is the world's largest PV market. US solar companies have had to adjust selling prices to generate sales, reducing profit margins.

On November 18, 2008, 1 Euro was equal to US$1.269. On June 15, 2009, 1 Euro was equal to US$1.385, an appreciation in the Euro of 9 percent. Large, but insignificant in light of the overall economic issues currently facing Europe.

In the past six months we have seen somewhat of a stabilization in the worldwide economies and the share prices of solar companies ramp in recent weeks.

In fundamental terms, while there have been changes in these 6 issues, there are no overriding factors to change our forecast of a downturn in the solar industry through 2009 with demand resuming in 2010 back to a 40 percent growth we projected last year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Significant mismatch between solar cell shipment targets and likely 2009 results!

AUSTIN, USA: Young Market Research (YMR) has released the first issue of its Monthly Solar Cell Capacity, Shipment and Company Profile Database and Report. This three-in-one report features essential supply, shipment and company profile data and analysis on over 210 different cell manufacturers.

According to Ross Young, YMR President: “The first issue of this report shows that solar cell manufacturers are currently overly optimistic on the 2009 market. Aggregating their 2009 shipment forecasts results in a market size of 10.4GWs, up 39 percent vs. the 2008 total of 7.5GWs and well beyond the likely outcome of 5.5-7.5GWs. As a result, we expect to see many companies reducing their 2009 guidance in coming quarters.”

According to Young, the lack of growth in 2009 can be attributed to the factors below and are too much to overcome despite healthy reductions in costs and prices.

* An 80 percent decline in Spain, the largest PV market in 2008, due to a 500MW cap on subsidies.
* A harsh winter in Germany, the #2 market in 2008 and expected to be the largest in 2009.
* Tighter credit worldwide for photovoltaic (PV) system financing.
* A declining global economy.
* Significant product inventory in the reseller channel at the beginning of the year.

Report highlights:
* After holding the #3 position in shipments in 2008, First Solar is expected to grab the #1 position for the first time in 2009 with a healthy share advantage over its top competitors on cost leadership and strong demand from the growing utility market.

* Thin film technologies a-Si and CIGS are expected to occupy 17 percent of worldwide capacity in 2009, but just 9 percent of shipments on technical challenges, higher capital costs in the case of a-Si, higher balance of system costs due to lower efficiencies and strong price competition from CdTe and c-Si technologies whose costs and prices are falling rapidly. This report shows 93 cell manufacturers participating in a-Si or CIGS.

* The 2009 capacity growth rate will be 40 percent slower than 2008 as suppliers look to preserve cash. A majority of listed companies lost money in Q1’09 with average operating margins falling from double-digits through Q3’08 to 3% in Q1’09.

* A 42 percent CAGR in nameplate capacity to 50GWs in 2012 with at least 18 percent annual growth as healthy demand growth returns in 2010 due to lower prices and larger stimulus programs worldwide.

* China is expected to lead in total capacity throughout the forecast with a dominant share in c-Si capacity and the top share in thin film capacity from 2009.