Monday, August 31, 2009

groSolar named as SunEdison channel partner

BELTSVILLE & WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, USA: SunEdison has named groSolar as a channel partner. The announcement deepens the long-standing working partnership between two solar industry leaders.

SunEdison is North America’s largest solar energy services provider, and groSolar is North America’s premier distributor, installer and integrator of solar energy solutions for residential and commercial installations.

According to Paul Coughlin, Senior Vice President at groSolar, “SunEdison brings a sophisticated approach to solar project financing, as well as system monitoring and service. Employing the innovative tools they developed, including their Solar Power Services Agreement and their 24-7 monitoring program, means that we can deliver higher returns to our investors because we will maximize the energy we deliver to our customers.”

In speaking of this addition to the channel partner program, Brian Jacolick, General Manager for the Americas at SunEdison noted, “groSolar has the commercial customer relationships that will add to our pipeline of project opportunities. This partnership immediately extends the national footprint SunEdison enjoys, bringing added strength in the Northeast. groSolar understands the importance of the new energy marketplace, and we are delighted to welcome the company as a solar channel partner.”

SunEdison’s solar channel partner program provides national installers and integrators access to project financing capabilities, including the ability to deliver projects via a solar power purchase agreement.

In addition, for photovoltaic solar energy systems developed under the program, SunEdison will provide service, maintenance and monitoring through the company’s advanced control and management technologies.

PECO OK’d to go solar!

PHILADELPHIA, USA: PECO received approval today from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to purchase up to 80,000 solar alternative energy credits, the equivalent of six megawatts, during 10 years as part of the company’s ongoing fulfillment of the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS).

Enough energy to power nearly 1,000 homes for 10 years, it would take about eight football fields of solar panels to produce six megawatts of energy. Once complete, the company’s purchases could result in the same environmental benefit as planting more than 48,000 acres of trees or not driving more than 133 million miles.

“In 2008 PECO embarked on the first phase of a five-year major environmental initiative to preserve the environment and help our customers and the communities we serve become more environmentally responsible,” said Denis O’Brien, PECO president and CEO.

“The increased use of renewable types of energy is an important part of our efforts. By purchasing these credits and ‘banking’ them to meet future requirements we are helping encourage new solar projects and fostering the development of the renewable energy market.”

The AEPS legislation requires that, beginning in 2011, more of the energy used by PECO customers be generated from renewable resources such as wind and solar. This requirement is measured by renewable energy credits. Renewable energy credits are sold by electric generators on a one-to-one basis each time they produce one megawatt-hour of renewable energy.

The PUC approved PECO’s request to conduct a request for proposals (RFP) to competitively purchase 8,000 solar energy credits each year during 10 years. Both solar farms and businesses and institutions with large rooftop solar panel systems will be eligible to participate.

This competitive RFP will be similar to others PECO has used to purchase renewable energy credits in recent years. Since PECO’s first wind energy credit RFP in March 2008, the company has signed agreements to purchase more than 2.2 million renewable energy credits during five years.

Other PECO environmental projects include the installation of a green roof and new Crown Lights on the company’s Center City headquarters; the opening of PECO’s first ‘green building’ in West Chester, recently awarded silver certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); improvements to secure LEED certification for many other company work sites; the increased use of hybrid and biodiesel vehicles; support for community environmental projects; and enhanced tools and programs to help customers use energy more efficiently.

These efforts support a broader environmental initiative at PECO and also are a component of Exelon 2020: A Low-Carbon Roadmap, the comprehensive environmental strategy of PECO’s parent company.

Exelon 2020 sets the goal of reducing, offsetting or displacing more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. This is more than the company’s current annual carbon footprint and is equivalent to taking nearly 3 million cars off American roads and highways.

Astronergy wins bid for 2MW PV project

HANGZHOU, CHINA: Astronergy has won a 2MW rooftop PV project located in Hangzhou Energy and Environment Industrial Park through a competitive and selective bidding process. This project is fully financed by China Energy Conservation Investment Corp., and is Zhejiang Province's first large-scale on-grid PV plant.

The industrial park is situated in the northeast corner of Hangzhou city, covering an area of 23.8 square kilometers. The rooftop of the Green Science and Technology Hall will be among the first to incorporate building-integrated PV (BIPV) technologies.

Astronergy's high efficiency tandem thin film PV modules with a light transmission rate of 30 percent will be used for the Hall's 58 square meters sunroof. This thin film PV module is also highly resistant to harsh climate conditions such as strong winds and heavy rainfall.

The Energy Conservation Hall on the other side of the industrial park will also employ Astronergy's high efficiency thin film PV modules on its 265 square meters curved building wall.

Astronergy will design and install the entire project with a combination of crystalline silicon based modules and high efficiency tandem thin film PV modules. This project will be completed by September 30th of 2009.

The Chinese government put forth the Golden Sun program on July 22nd, 2009 to financially support the growth and development of the domestic PV market and industry. Under this policy, the government plans to finance at least 500 MW in various PV stations and projects in a two to three year timeline.

"This program will create many excellent opportunities such as this project to showcase Astronergy's revolutionary new thin film technology, which will help us to differentiate ourselves and to establish our position in the industry," said Dr. Liyou Yang, CEO of Astronergy.

China Sunergy to enter into renegotiation with REC for long term supply contract

NANJING, CHINA: China Sunergy Co. Ltd, a specialized solar cell manufacturer based in Nanjing, China, has entered into the renegotiation with the counterparty regarding to a June, 2008 supply agreement signed with REC SiTech AS.

On June 25, 2008, China Sunergy entered into a Standard Agreement for the Supply of Monocrystalline Silicon Ingots and/or Wafers with the European wafer provider REC SiTech As for the high quality supply of monocrystalline 156-millimeter wafers for seven years from 2009 through 2015. It has been revealed that REC SiTech As now is dissolved as a result of a merger early this year.

As the polysilicon supply market has changed dramatically since the fourth quarter of 2008, key raw material suppliers such as REC have indicated the renegotiation of supply agreements with their respective customers and against this background, China Sunergy has entered into the renegotiation with its counterparty in respect to the overall arrangement of the supply agreement, with the good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement between both parties.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

National Solar Mission targets Nov 14 launch

This is a post appearing on Thaindian News ( on August 28! Reproduced here for readers.

KOLKATA, INDIA (IANS): India’s ambitious National Solar Mission, which aims to generate 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020, has a target launch date of Nov 14, a top official said here Friday.

“The overall structure and draft of the National Solar Mission have been approved by the prime minister (Manmohan Singh). The target date for the launch is Nov 14,” said Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Shyam Saran.

The mission, which is part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar energy competitive with fossil-based energy options.

“We are looking at a renewable purchase obligation with regard to solar energy. Utilities will have to include a specified minimum proportion of solar energy in their energy purchases,” Saran said.

Dr. Robert Castellano on how to make solar a'hot' sector again - 1

Last week, I was very fortunate enough to be able to get into a conversation with Dr. Robert N. Castellano, president of The Information Network, based in New Tripoli, USA. It all started with a column, which he writes regularly in “The Street.” One of the recent colums of Dr. Castellano touched upon –- What could make solar hot again?

This first part will touch upon issues such as six reasons for cloudy solar skies and how to rectify the current oversupply situation in solar cell manufacturing, status of a-Si solar cell makers, crystalline vs. thin film capacity, and impact of prices.

How to rectify the solar cell oversupply?
As I'd asked iSuppli too, in one of my recent posts, I also quizzed Dr. Castellano on whether the previously committed capacity expansions have caused solar cell manufacturing oversupply? Also, why had this happened and how could this be corrected?

He said: “The problem will rectify itself when demand catches up with supply, which will take several years. Until then, suppliers are faced with lower prices and margins. I was the first to point out on March 5 2008, in my blog on Seeking Alpha in an article entitled “Contradictions in the Solar Industry” that “The solar industry is faced with a huge oversupply of solar panels planned for production in 2008, but no one seems to notice… or care. Shares in many solar companies such as Evergreen Solar), First Solar SunPower, and Suntech Power have surged with the booming solar market.”

Six reasons for cloudy solar skies
He added: “On November 18, 2008, in another blog on Seeking Alpha entitled “Six Reasons for Cloudy Skies on the Solar Energy Industry” that the problems in the solar industry were the result of the following:

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

2. The high price of oil in the past year was a catalyst for the development in other alternative energy sources, and 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).

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 the market rates for renewable power forever.

4. The spot market price of six-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 percent efficiency when you get 16+ percent efficiency with silicon wafers?

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.

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.”

Have companies been overlooking inventory problems?
In this context, weren't the solar companies doing enough to check all of these during the downturn of Q4-08? Even the 71 days to 122 days excess supply or inventory is huge!

Dr. Castellano said: “The solar companies were benefiting from the low price of polysilicon as a result of excess inventory in that sector. They were renegotiating contract prices with the poly suppliers and dropping prices. With money in place, they continued to build capacity well into 2009. All the factors discussed above took everyone by surprise (witness the stock market crash) and the recession has lasted much longer than initially forecast.

Where does this place a-Si solar cell makers?
How is all of this potentially setting the stage for the failure of multiple cell manufacturers, particularly those pursuing a-Si thin film solar cells?

He added that thin film cells are still less expensive to make and companies are working to improve their efficiency. Also, they appear to work at stated efficiency under lower incident light conditions.

“The issue is the economics in a solar farm where they are installed. The installation price is the same as a polycrystalline panel. Since the efficiency is lower and it takes more panels to reach the same wattage as polycrystalline, it also takes more hook-ups and frames during installation.

“If the panels move, there is another factor in the motors to move them. However, the production cost is lower than the polycrystalline panels. Oerlikon, expects its lines will deliver a cost of 70 cents per watt by the end of 2010 and has achieved an initial conversion efficiency of 11 percent, which comes out to about 9.5 percent of stabilized efficiency.”

Crystalline vs. thin film capacity
There is still a huge amount of solar cell manufacturing capacity in crystalline silicon solar cell, rather than thin film. Are there any chances of that starting to change any time soon?

Dr. Castellano said: “Until last year, Germany had been the world's largest solar market thanks to its feed-in tariffs, which require utilities to buy all the solar energy produced at premium, government-set prices. As a result, analysts now expect Germany, which doesn't have an annual cap like the one in Spain, to become the biggest market again in 2009.Germany installed 1.35 gigawatts of solar energy systems in 2008, and it could add another 1.5 gigawatts in 2009.

“Spain took the lead last year, but the government has since reduced the subsidies and capped the amount of energy that could be sold under the subsidy program. The financial market crisis has made it difficult for developers to line up financing for solar power projects. Spain, which added a few gigawatts of solar in 2008 alone, now has a 500-megawatt cap for 2009. All of these forces have led to an oversupply of silicon panels.

“As governments -- Germany and Spain were a driving force – in the solar industry’s run-up, they were a factor in the downturn. Once the recession is over and liquidity returns, they will mitigate the overcapacity, particularly as prices are so low and there is pent-up demand for new installations.”

Impact of Q4 on overall prices and industry
Another aspect worth examining is the overall impact of this (Q4) on overall prices and the industry.

Dr. Castellano said that silicon used to sell for more than $300 per kilogram on the spot market and $150 per kilogram for long-term contracts a few years ago. Silicon prices have since fallen significantly over the past year. In fact, the long-term contract price has dropped about 50 percent, close to the spot market price of $67 per kilogram, or about $0.50 per watt.

“Polysilicon panels are selling at $2.25 to $2.50 per watt from $4.17 in Q2 2008. We expect prices to decline further throughout the remainder of the year,” he noted.

In part 2 of this conversation, I will be discussing additional capacity in solar, new capacity in India, and of course, lessons to learn for the Indian solar industry. Watch this space, folks!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kyocera Sakura solar energy center marks 25 years

KYOTO, JAPAN: Since 1975, Kyocera Corp. has continuously been developing its solar energy business with the business rationale, “To bring the power of the sun to the world.”

To achieve that goal, in August 1984, Kyocera established the Sakura Solar Energy Center just outside of Tokyo for the research & development, and promotion of solar power generating systems. This month the Center marks its 25th anniversary.

At the time of the establishment of the Sakura Solar Energy Center in 1984, use of solar power generating systems was limited to special applications such as unmanned lighthouses, satellites and wireless repeater stations; and not many people were aware of the possibility of solar power as an energy source used in daily life.

The concept behind the establishment of the Center was to create a comprehensive facility at which to conduct research into solar power products and to facilitate understanding of the benefits of solar energy by introducing it to the world.

Serving our mission, “To deliver light to areas without electricity,” set-up within the facility are solar power generating systems for real-life examples of housing, agricultural pumps, and village electrification that are typically found in areas without electricity in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Kyocera has focused particular attention on experiments and R&D with these installations.

The Center is conveniently located close to Narita International Airport — the gateway to Japan — in Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture, and has been receiving various groups from state visitors and important guests to technical staff and engineers from all over the world for training on solar power applications.

In the 25 years since it was established over 50 thousand visitors have come to the Center to learn about solar power technology — contributing to increased global solar energy awareness.

The technology and experience cultivated at the Center is presently being put to work around the world in mainstream grid-connected systems. With the rise in concern for global environmental issues solar energy first started drawing wide-spread attention as a clean energy source in the 1990s. Anticipating this trend, in 1991, Kyocera was the first company to provide commercial grid-connected systems in Japan.

The Center is equipped with a 43kW solar power generating system that was installed in 1984, and which, to this day, continues to provide power for the facility’s indoor and emergency lighting. At a time when few other large-scale solar power generating systems existed, the installation was a unique and unprecedented experimental system.

Solar energy and social contributions
As part of the company’s corporate social responsibility activities, Kyocera has been actively donating solar power generating systems since 1983 to locations around the world that do not have electricity; starting with a system to the village of Kankoi, Pakistan, as well as a rural village electrification system in Gansu Province, China, and a solar-powered agricultural pump in Thailand.

In recent years, Kyocera has also made donations of solar power generating systems for school facilities in Tanzania, Nepal and Uganda in order to help contribute to the education of the children who will be the bearers of the future.

Moreover, the solar modules developed at the Center are being installed all over the world, including developing countries in Asia and Africa, as part of the Japanese government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) program.

This started in 1984 with the first project to supply a solar power installation in Pakistan, and since then has also expanded to other countries including Myanmar, Vietnam, Mongolia, Malawi and Uganda. In 2007, the first Yen-Loan Project to use solar power generating systems was confirmed to provide Kyocera solar modules in Tunisia.

“The Sakura Solar Energy Center will continue to strive for the enhancement of solar technology in order to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society,” said Junichi Honda, manager of the Sakura Solar Energy Center. “We believe that solar energy can play a large role in helping to solve the world’s energy and environmental issues.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

US solar PV equipments market estimated to generate $347.90 million by 2013

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of GlobalData's new report "The Future of the US Solar PV Equipments Market" to its offering.

The US federal government has provided a funding of $3.1 billion to the states, as part of its economic stimulus package, to encourage photovoltaic (PV) installations and expand solar PV support programs. This is part of the country's plan to encourage the growth of renewables in the energy portfolio.

The government has also extended federal tax credits for solar PV. These support mechanisms combined are expected to open up high-growth markets for PV equipments such as inverters and modules. The PV inverter market in the US is therefore expected to generate an estimated $347.90 million by 2013, while the modules market is expected to generate $2,741 million by 2013.

Spire Solar offers input for Department of Energy tax credit and loan applications

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) modules and turnkey manufacturing lines is offering technical and financial modeling support to companies applying for the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (MTC) 48C and Manufacturing Line Loan applications.

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) has authorized the Department of Treasury to award $2.3 billion in tax credits for qualified investments in advanced energy projects to support new, expanded, or re-equipped domestic manufacturing facilities.

The time-critical preliminary application is due to the Department of Energy (DOE) September 16, 2009 and the final application is due October 16, 2009; all applicants will be notified of their respective tax credit award by January 15, 2010.

Spire Solar has distinguished itself as a US supplier of turnkey PV module and cell lines, including domestically manufactured equipment. A key advantage of Spire Solar’s photovoltaic equipment, made locally in the US, is it adds to evaluation points for indirect job creation.

Having participated in numerous Department of Energy programs over the company’s 40 year history, much of Spire Solar’s DOE activities have addressed the development of advanced PV equipment and technology. Such experience has allowed Spire Solar to continuously provide the leading edge manufacturing technology to its extensive customer base.

In support of the ARRA applications, Spire Solar can provide specific factory designs, factory management assistance, analysis of job creation from factory installations, plant and facility design, factory siting guidance, and manufacturing cost analysis for business plan input.

Spire Solar’s input is valuable for those newly pioneering this sector in America, those aiming to enhance their present manufacturing lines, and for foreign companies wishing to contribute to the rapidly expanding US PV market.

“Spire Solar offers a great advantage to applicants of the MTC,” said Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire Corporation. “We have compiled dynamic factors needed to support applicants wanting to successfully achieve approval for the $2.3 billion tax credits.”

Little continued, “Not only is Spire’s turnkey equipment American-made, but earlier this year, we launched a Succeed in America campaign and have been focusing a substantial amount of our efforts on creating US jobs.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ascent Solar internally certifies module encapsulation material for flexible PV laminate

THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., a developer of state of the art flexible thin-film solar modules, announced the successful internal qualification of a packaging solution for its flexible monolithically integrated CIGS modules.

In internal qualification testing, its flexible packaging solution successfully passed the rigorous standard of one thousand (1,000) hours of damp heat testing (85 percent relative humidity and 85° C temperature) guideline set forth by IEC 61646 standards for performance and long term reliability of thin film solar modules.

Dr. Farhad Moghadam, CEO of Ascent Solar, stated: "This is a breakthrough development not just for Ascent Solar but also for the advancement of flexible CIGS technology and the differentiating capabilities it brings to the market.

"We are very proud of this achievement which now sets the stage for certification of our products by external agencies. This is also well timed to meet the requirements of our initial production from the 30 MW high volume manufacturing plant scheduled to commence at the beginning of 2010.”

Suniva ARTisun solar cells surpass 18 percent efficiency in production

NORCROSS, USA: Suniva Inc., the only US manufacturer of high-power monocrystalline silicon solar cells, announced that its ARTisun series solar cells are achieving conversion efficiencies of more than 18 percent in production, a record for screen- printed cells in regular full-scale production.

“Customers are expecting high-quality, high-efficiency products at lower costs,” said John Baumstark, CEO of Suniva. “Suniva continues to lead these market requirements, delivering cells, and modules from our partners, that strike a sensible balance of power and affordability.”

Suniva’s ARTisun series solar cells are manufactured with optimized metallization techniques and proprietary process innovations, both of which maintain low cost while extracting the highest efficiencies possible. Suniva produces solar cells which are integrated into high-performance solar modules available through Suniva and its global customer partners.

Suniva also announced the start of production on its second manufacturing line at the Norcross plant. The new 64MWp line will triple the production capacity of the facility to approximately 100MWp.

“Our strategy supports both rapid expansion and continual technology advances,” said Baumstark. “Less than a year ago, we opened the doors to our first facility. Today, we have entered our next stage of growth and development with a significant manufacturing expansion.”

Through processes initiated by Suniva founder and CTO, Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, and further developed in Suniva’s R&D lab, the company has achieved certified efficiencies of more than 20 percent on screen-printed cells in the lab (certified by NREL). Suniva plans to steadily raise its commercial cell efficiencies above 20 percent through a series of incremental design and processing innovations.

“Suniva has a strong technology and market advantage because our patent portfolio is based on laboratory innovations that we can translate into cost-efficient manufacturing processes,” said Rohatgi.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TUUSSO Energy secures funding for utility-scale solar projects

SEATTLE, USA: TUUSSO Energy recently completed a $2 million financing round to fund early-stage development of utility-scale solar projects in the Western United States.

Pivotal Investments, a clean technology focused venture capital firm based in Portland, Ore., led the investment round. Pivotal’s investment comes alongside an existing partnership with Akula Energy Ventures, which will be co-investing directly in TUUSSO's development projects.

“This financing is a big step forward and accelerates the rate at which we can turn pipeline projects into active projects,” said Owen Hurd, President of TUUSSO Energy.

“The timing couldn’t be better –- it allows us to act on opportunities created by the recent economic downturn, at a time when banks and utilities are more sensitive than ever to the financial health of their partners. Pivotal's involvement will also open up new opportunities, through their industry expertise and pre-existing relationships with institutional lenders and tax investors.”

“We are excited about the investment in TUUSSO for many reasons,” explained John Miner, Managing Director, Pivotal Investments. “We really like the opportunity to invest with such a smart and promising team. This investment also allows us to take advantage of two significant trends -– decreasing costs for solar technology and a rapidly growing demand for renewable energy. We think the investment in TUUSSO provides an excellent way for our investors to take advantage of these trends,” Miner said.

TUUSSO's first project, TA-High Desert, is scheduled for completion in early 2011 and will supply 20MW of solar-generated power to Californian utilities.

Oerlikon Solar and Rusnano/Renova JV opens up Russian market for thin film solar PV

SWITZERLAND: Oerlikon Solar recently announced that Nano Solar Technology Ltd (NST), a newly formed Russian high-tech firm, has ordered a 120 MW end-to-end Micromorph line for production of thin film solar modules.

NST is a joint venture between Renova Group and the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (Rusnano). With the envisaged production capacity of one million solar modules annually, this is the largest equipment order in the worldwide thin film silicon PV market in 2009 to-date.

The order includes Oerlikon Solar's Micromorph® technology which raises module efficiency by up to 50 percent over prior generation technologies. The equipment will be delivered in 2010 to the new site currently under construction in Novocheboksarsk (Chuvash Republic). The start of production is scheduled for 2011. The order also encompasses a comprehensive multi-year service agreement, provided by Oerlikon Solar's global customer support team.

Establishing production of thin film solar modules in the Chuvash Republic is part of Rusnano's strategy to develop the high tech economy in Russia by co-investing in nanotechnology industry projects.

Through acting as a catalyst for private co-investments, Rusnano aims at creating conditions favourable to developing cutting edge nanotechnology in Russia, the joint venture with Renova being a good example.

"Oerlikon Solar emerged from a thorough evaluation process to identify the best technology partner for our project, because of its leading technology," said Yaroslav Kuznetsov, CEO of NST.

"This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. Oerlikon Solar can establish a strong presence in the Russian market and the Russian economy has made another step as a state-of-the-art production site", continued Yaroslav Kuznetsov.

In addition to the planned production line from Oerlikon, Rusnano plans to set up a major research center that will focus on increasing the effectiveness of the solar modules in cooperation with the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The JV of Rusnano and Renova will be the latest Micromorph end-to-end line customer for Oerlikon Solar to take advantage of the company's proven high-performance low cost PV module production solution. It will deliver Micromorph PV modules to serve the growing market for solar PV applications. The company will address PV markets such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany.

Oerlikon Solar's leading edge production solutions are having a major impact on the market as more and more companies launch their production.

"Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) offer great market potential for Oerlikon in the medium and long-term", said Oerlikon CEO Dr. Uwe Krueger. Already today, the Oerlikon Segments Coating, Vacuum, Textile and Drive Systems are conducting business in Russia. With the substantial order from NST, Oerlikon Solar established itself in this important economic zone as well.

"The contract confirms our leading edge technology and our unique ability to quickly implement and scale up commercially successful mass production of thin film solar modules. The 120 MW Micromorph end-to-end production line will position NST as a key player among thin film PV manufacturers," continued Dr. Uwe Krueger, CEO of OC Oerlikon.

Oerlikon Solar is committed to the highest quality of customer support and is taking great measures to ensure that resources and delivery capabilities grow to meet the needs of future expansion in the solar industry.

Oerlikon Solar's technology gaining momentum
In addition to expansion into new markets, several existing Oerlikon Solar customers have recently announced new off-take agreements to deliver PV panels manufactured on Oerlikon Solar's end-to-end lines.

HelioSphera (Greece) announced the signing of a long term supply agreement with Techno Spot, a major Italian distributor of photovoltaic modules and components. Under this agreement, HelioSphera will supply a minimum of 9 MW of Micromorph thin film modules between 2009 and 2010. German based Sinosol AG has announced agreements with two Taiwanese Oerlikon Solar customers for a total of 68 MW.

"We clearly see improving market conditions for the solar PV industry at mid-year showing a mid- to long-term growth trend in demand for overall renewable energy and especially for solar PV applications", stated Oerlikon CEO Uwe Krueger.

According to a recently published study by New Energy Finance, new investments in clean energy worldwide rallied in the second quarter of 2009, reaching $24.3bn, almost double the amount invested worldwide during Q1 2009. According to New Energy Finance, this improving trend in Q2 was led by investments in asset finance for large solar and wind energy projects.

Solar, wind power enable ‘green’ cell base station market

SCOTTSDALE, USA: In the last few years, the number of worldwide cellular base stations has exploded from the hundreds of thousands to the many millions, creating greenhouse gases and pollution from the power required to run them, reports In-Stat.

Base stations on an electric grid aren’t the real problem, but as cellular spreads to billions of people in emerging countries, off-grid base stations, which are usually powered by diesel generators running 24/7, proliferate.

“While diesel pollution is an environmental issue, what bothers operators the most is the cost of powering and securing the generators,” says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst. “Diesel fuel has to be trucked to remote sites, and theft of diesel fuel and equipment can cost operators millions of dollars. The solution is for operators to at least partially power remote base stations with wind turbines, solar panels, or both. This is truly a case where it pays to be green.”

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
* By 2014, over 230,000 cellular base stations in developing countries will be solar-powered or wind-powered.
* The number of off-grid base stations is growing at 30 percent per year.
* Off-grid base stations are primarily located in Africa, South Asia (including India), South America, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Nuclear power plant goes solar with off-grid LED outdoor lighting

VICTORIA, USA: One of California’s largest state utilities, Southern California Edison (SCE), is lighting up the night with solar technology at its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

To illuminate its main employee parking areas, Edison is equipping the site with solar-powered LED lights from Carmanah Technologies. By using solar technology as an alternative to traditional grid-powered lights, the EverGEN 1500-series lighting system can provide a reliable source of bright uniform illumination while avoiding the costs and challenges typically associated with trenching, cabling, and accessing electrical grid power.

Featuring custom BetaLED light fixtures, Carmanah solar-powered lights offer superior output and performance in accordance with IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) guidelines. A full-cutoff “Dark Sky”-friendly design directs light only where needed (preventing glare or spillover of light onto neighboring properties or into the night sky), while integrated energy management capabilities ensure optimal lighting performance year round.

With no bulbs to replace and a five-year battery life, the EverGEN 1500 lights will help Southern California Edison reduce maintenance and operating costs while serving as a lasting, practical investment in renewable energy technology.

EverGEN 1500-series solar LED lights are available now from Carmanah Technologies.

Fluor wins contract for eSolar reference plant

IRVING, USA: Fluor Corp. announced that the company was awarded an engineering services contract by eSolar Inc., for the design of a 46 megawatt concentrating solar power (CSP) plant. Fluor will provide design optimization to rapidly scale eSolar’s 46 megawatt power plants. The undisclosed contract value was booked in the company’s third quarter of 2009.

“Fluor is well-positioned to play a leading role in the global EPC renewable energy market,” said Dave Dunning, president of Fluor’s Power Group. “Our proven expertise in designing and building power generation facilities will further validate and strengthen eSolar’s technological advancements and bolster their ability to deploy their unique design worldwide to meet their business agenda.”

“We believe that Fluor’s superior engineering strength will lead to faster and broader deployment to meet the rising global demand for renewable energy. With our first 5 MW power plant in the ground and delivering electricity to the grid, we are thrilled to have Fluor onboard to help scale this new breakthrough in solar technology to meet customer demand,” said Bill Gross, chief executive officer of eSolar.

Fluor’s southern California operations center is leading the effort on this project with an immediate start date. Fluor will perform detailed studies focused on optimizing performance, constructability and cost. This will include basic engineering for a reference plant design that will be used to provide a scalable design package to potential developers worldwide.

Over the last three decades, Fluor’s experience in the renewables sector includes work in the solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal and air quality improvement sectors. Earlier this year, Fluor’s Power Group created a dedicated business line to specifically address the needs of the global renewable energy market.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

India to host next International Renewable Energy Conference in New Delhi

NEW DELHI, INDIA: India will host the next International Renewable Energy Conference (DIREC, 2010) during October 27-29, 2010 at New Delhi.

Speaking to the press and media recently, after inaugurating the 3rd India Renewable Energy Expo, Deepak Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that the Conference in Delhi is a part of initiative taken at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg acknowledging the significance of renewable energies for sustainable development -– especially for combating poverty and for environmental and climate protection.

The Delhi Conference is the fourth in the series, following events at Washington in 2008, Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004 and is expected to be the premier all-Renewables gathering in India ever, with an attendance of over 9,000 delegates, over 250 industry leading speakers, experts, academicians, government leaders, financial institutions and around 500 exhibitors from all over the world, which will make it the largest event of its kind.

Gupta said the Conference aims to showcase India as an investment destination for renewable energy; to provide a platform for technology displays, new applications and innovations; to display global research & development with respect to climate change and green environment; to demonstrate the sectoral strength of the global renewable energy industry; and to facilitate: (i) buyers and sellers matching (ii) one to one meetings for setting up of joint ventures in the Renewable Energy Sector and (iii) to provide an opportunity to Indian Renewables Manufacturers to benchmark their products against the best in the world and enhance their competitiveness.

The Conference will ultimately lead to renewed commitment, with concrete proposals in support of activities at the country level.

The DIREC 2010 will build on the success of the previous conferences with the support of National and International Sponsors. REN21 — the Renewable Energy Network — will be a key partner in the DIREC, 2010. Cabinet-level government functionaries from a number of countries will join civil society partners and private sector leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of a global, rapid deployment of renewable energy. The conference will bring together ministers, high-level decision makers and policy level thinkers from a number of participating countries.

DIREC, 2010 offers industry leaders the ability to share their insights, strategies, technologies, new products and staff capabilities with their audiences. The main Theme of the DIREC, 2010 is: “Upscaling and Mainstreaming Renewables for Energy Security and Climate Change”.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy will host the event, assisted by other concerned agencies and looks forward to co-operating with REN-21 and relevant national and international stakeholders, Gupta said.

PV market rebound in Q2?

ENGLAND: Shipments of solar power (PV) equipment grew by 81 percent in the second quarter of 2009 from the first, according to latest analysis from IMS Research, indicating the worst of the industry’s downturn may now be over.

Latest quarterly data from IMS Research, which tracks PV inverter and module shipments, revealed that in spite of the difficulties the industry is facing, over 1GW of PV equipment was shipped by manufacturers in Q209.

However, for the first six months of 2009, shipments were still 34 percent down compared to the same period last year, mainly due to the sudden implosion of the Spanish market.

Research Director, Ash Sharma commented: “Although shipments were sequentially up by more than 80 percent in Q2, year-to-date sales and shipments are still considerably down on 2008. In addition, the PV market is strongly seasonal, and Q2 is typically much stronger than Q1. However, in 2007 and 2008, Q2’s sequential growth was somewhat lower, at 75 percent and 57 percent, respectively.”

Sharma continued: “Trading conditions were reported to have been very tough in Q1, however it now appears we are starting to turn a corner with more customers coming back to PV.

“In spite of this, large-scale PV plants are suffering in Europe due to difficulties in obtaining financing. Much hope is now being placed on newer markets, particularly the US and China, which are showing very promising signs. The US market is now being led by cash-rich utilities that are announcing multi-MW investments almost every week.”

Although the market is up in Q2, IMS Research still projects new installations will be 25 percent down on 2008, with around 4.5GW of new PV capacity added.

mPhase reports on Smart Grid Implementation Summit

LITTLE FALLS, USA: mPhase Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:XDSL) participated on the Thought Leadership Panel at the Smart Grid Implementation Summit last Wednesday, August 19 along with General Electric, Intel, and Deloitte.

The discussion highlighted key developments in energy storage technology and the importance of batteries in smart grid architecture. mPhase described its Smart NanoBattery and applications that could enhance the way smart grids function.

The Thought Leadership Panel on Smart Grid Technology was led by Deloitte with GE and Intel discussing hardware requirements and communication needs and capabilities for smart grids, while mPhase talked about energy storage solutions, focusing on batteries. In its current form, the Smart NanoBattery could provide always ready emergency backup power to electrical devices employed in the smart grid, such as sensors and actuators.

Three elements of batteries were discussed in relation to smart grid architecture: demand response, distributed energy, and reserve power. The mPhase Smart NanoBattery may have an opportunity to make a significant impact with reserve power.

In the event of a power grid going down or becoming disabled, battery power is required to ensure that mission critical operations, such as hospitals, data centers, security systems, etc, continue to operate without interruption. Reliability over extended periods of time is of the utmost importance in these situations.

With a potentially infinite shelf life and the ability to program usage life, the Smart NanoBattery can help improve smart grid security, interoperability and networking.

mPhase CEO, Ron Durando, said: "The Smart Grid Implementation Summit was a success in that we were able to present our technology to key leaders involved in smart grid design and standardization. I think we showed that mPhase and the Smart NanoBattery present a real value to emerging smart grids and the large corporations that will be leading the way."

According to a new report from industry analyst firm NanoMarkets, the demand for battery and supercapacitor storage systems for smart grid applications will grow from $1.5 billion in 2012 to $8.3 billion in 2016.

Its report "Batteries and Ultra-Capacitors for the Smart Power Grid: Market Opportunities 2009-2016," quantifies the opportunities for electrical storage under the emerging "smart grid applications" business category. In addition, the principal energy storage appropriations included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) totaled $7.3 billion.

These appropriations will be dispersed directly to companies that can directly contribute to the development of smart grid architecture, including advanced lithium ion batteries, and is a direct result of the nation's administration's focus on modernizing the electric grid.

The Smart Grid Implementation Summit took place from August 17-19 and over sixty executives from utilities, technology providers, trade associations, and standards development organizations were in. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke led this year's conference.

California’s first utility-scale PV solar farm breaks ground

MENDOTA, USA: Cleantech America broke ground on California’s first utility-scale photovoltaic solar project to be approved under the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program.

Named CalRENEW-1, the solar farm is located in the City of Mendota in California’s Central Valley and will provide 5 megawatts of emission-free solar electricity to PG&E under a long-term power purchase agreement. The facility is scheduled to begin operation before the end of the year and when completed will be one of the largest photovoltaic solar projects in California.

CalRENEW-1 represents a successful collaboration between the Company, PG&E and the City of Mendota to create green jobs, improve air quality and demonstrate the viability of large-scale PV solar to help California meet its renewable energy goals.

“As a zero emission, solar facility, CalRENEW-1 will move the San Joaquin Valley one step closer toward cleaner air and create dozens of green jobs in a city embracing the new clean energy economy. It has taken the support and hard work of many dedicated individuals and we are all extremely excited to be commencing construction,” said Bill Barnes, CEO of Cleantech America.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who earlier shared a California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) award with Cleantech America for the project, is looking forward to the facility’s construction and completion. “The City of Mendota is proud to be a leader in the new clean energy industry,” he noted.

Cleantech America was recently acquired by Meridian Energy Ltd. the largest electricity generator in New Zealand, which generates power entirely from renewable resources. CalRENEW-1 is the company’s first US solar project and is a model for its US growth strategy.

CalRENEW-1 will be one of the most advanced photovoltaic solar facilities in the world, helping California meet its stringent renewable energy and carbon reduction goals. Avoided emissions from CalRENEW-1 will be an estimated 6.3 million lbs/year of CO2, the primary source of global warming and climate change, plus 6,905 lbs/year of NOx and 5,451 lbs/year of SO2 (source: EPA eGRID2002 database). In addition to environmental benefits, the solar farm is anticipated to provide economic benefits.

Quanta Services will provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the project, which will utilize Sharp thin film modules, recently introduced in the US.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Busy period ahead for Indian semicon, solar!

Yes, looks like it!

First, on August 31, the India Semiconductor Association and the UK-TI would be signing an MoU. The next day, September 1, there is a presentation by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and key officials on the government of India’s policies to the industry!

Next, on September 4, the DIT Secretary, R. Chandrasekhar, and the Additional Secretary, will be interacting with semiconductor companies in Bangalore.

Further on, September 16 is the day when the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, will be interacting with a small group of industry leaders at a solar PV conclave in Hyderabad!

That’s quite a lot, within a span of 15-odd days! Must say, this augurs well for the Indian semicon and solar/photovoltaics industry.

Interestingly, a lot of the big events are focusing on solar. So, my hunch is that the Indian solar industry may have some serious announcements to make in the coming weeks. Should that happen, I hope to bring those to you, time permitting.

P.S.: I am tempted to add -- Google permitting! It's been a tough week, where my main blog has disappeared, and well, the solar/PV, telecom and semiconductor blogs were first blocked and released -- these following a similar experience with my electronics blog. Now, Google has blocked the blog on electronic components. Hope the order will get restored soon!

Optisense selects TI for smart grid solution

DALLAS, USA: Providing utility companies with a reliable, accurate and energy-efficient smart grid solution for electricity line monitoring, Optisense Network Inc. has selected Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) embedded processing and analog technology as the preferred solution for its primary measuring units (PMU).

TI's TMS320C2000TM microcontroller and high-performance analog technology enables a complete monitoring solution that gives utilities real-time visibility of primary voltage lines.

The PMU can be configured for primary metering, distribution automation, outage restoration, energy efficiency and power quality. The combination of Optisense's optical sensors and PMUs provides utilities with greater grid security and reliability as well as increased visibility for faster power outage response.

Additionally, utilities are able to realize optimized power flows that increase capacity and energy-efficiency, helping recover 25 percent of total load loss.

"Our unique combination of optical sensors and dual processors on a single chip provide power line measurements (voltage and current) in digital format, giving the processor flexibility for system wide grid reliability and efficiency," said Yossi Harlev, CEO/CTO.

"TI analog and embedded processing technology enables interface, actuation and power handling with reduced footprint and lower power consumption for a smooth transition from legacy systems to a complete smart grid solution."

"With the integration of TI's C2000TM MCU and analog technology, Optisense's highly accurate smart grid solution can execute real-time measurement, analysis and control," said Emmanuel Sambuis, general manager, metering business unit. "TI is committed to providing innovative solutions that enable developers to drive smarter grid solutions for improved accuracy and efficiency."

TI's broad portfolio drives smarter grid solutions
TI's comprehensive utility metering portfolio includes devices targeted at electricity, water and gas metering, as well as power line communications (PLC) and radio frequency (RF) interfaces for advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) that allow customers to design smart grid solutions.

From highly optimized application specific embedded processors, low power RF, high-performance analog, power management and RFID to dedicated software support for ZigBee, 6LoWPAN, WMBUS, OFDM and SFSK modulations, TI offers the most complete solution set for smart metering.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Plextronics closes $14 million financing round

PITTSBURGH, USA: Plextronics Inc. announced that it has completed a $14 million Series B-1 financing round.

The round was led by Solvay North American Investments, LLC, a member of the Solvay Group, which is an international chemical and pharmaceutical group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Marking Solvay’s second investment in three years, its $12 million investment makes Solvay the largest minority shareholder in Plextronics.

Plextronics’ President and CEO Andy Hannah said that the financing will allow the company to continue to grow its research, development and pilot manufacturing programs, all of which are aimed at the commercialization of its technology.

"The funding from this round will enable us to continue to advance our lighting and solar products –- namely our Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) and Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) materials and inks –- so that we can scale these products to meet the customer and industry demand we are seeing," said Hannah.

Hannah also indicated that the affiliation with Solvay has gone very well since the two companies began working together in 2007.

"The global collaboration that our companies envisioned a couple of years ago is going even better than we could have imagined. To have a corporate investor like Solvay that understands our markets, technology and the opportunities that await us is extremely important," Hannah said. "Solvay has become a true partner."

“Solvay has identified organic electronics and sustainable energy as platforms for future growth based on radical innovation. The group believes that the new materials and technologies, which it is currently developing through its own R&D efforts and a number of partnerships with technological leaders, convey potential solutions to some of our contemporary societies’ most acute issues, such as the cost-effective implementation of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient devices,” said Léopold Demiddeleer, Solvay’s General Manager of Future Businesses Competence Center.

“With its cutting edge technology, Plextronics is a perfect partner for one of Solvay’s most promising innovation platforms,” added Demiddeleer.

Several of Plextronics’ existing private investors also contributed to this B-1 financing. Prior to today’s announcement, the last financing round Plextronics completed was a $25 million Series B financing in 2007.

DuPont to invest $120mn to increase capacity for Tedlar PV module materials

WILMINGTON, USA: As a leading supplier of materials to the solar photovoltaic industry, DuPont is providing further details of a multi-phase production expansion for its high-performance DuPont Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride (PVF)product line.

This phase of the expansion represents more than $120 million in investment which increases, by over 50 percent, the capacity of monomer and resin used in producing Tedlar films. Tedlar films serve as the critical backsheet component, providing long-term durability for photovoltaic modules in all-weather conditions.

Site selections for this phase of the Tedlar(R) capacity expansion are complete, and construction has begun for new monomer and resin facilities at the DuPont Louisville, Ky., and Fayetteville, N.C., sites, respectively. The facilities are scheduled to start up in mid-2010.

"This investment supports the significant increase in the global market demand for clean, renewable energy," said David B. Miller, group vice president -- DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies.

"Our capacity expansions are critical steps in growing the Tedlar business and maintaining our market leadership in backsheets for solar panels that deliver the long-term, reliable power supply that our customers have come to expect from their investment in renewable power generation."

The investment reflects the company's commitment, announced last week, to focus on meeting four emerging global trends, one of which is decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.

DuPont anticipates that the photovoltaic market will grow rapidly over the next several years, and this growth will drive the demand for Tedlar and other new materials that increase the lifetime and efficiency of solar cells and modules. DuPont expects that overall sales of its family of products into the photovoltaic industry will exceed $1 billion by 2012.

DuPont already has implemented capacity expansions in 2009 for Tedlar PV2100 series film and is completing the engineering and design for a planned expansion of Tedlar PV2000 series film production, which together will more than double Tedlar film capacity for the photovoltaic industry.

DuPont Tedlar PVF films have been an essential component of photovoltaic backsheets for more than 25 years. Tedlar is widely recognized as the industry standard due to its excellent strength, weather resistance, ultraviolet resistance and moisture barrier properties.

As a result, Tedlar enables solar modules to achieve long-life performance providing a long-term sustainable energy source for the marketplace. Tedlar films also are used in key applications for aerospace, construction and graphics arts because of their durability and weatherability. Tedlar is manufactured at DuPont sites in Fayetteville, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Parlin, N.J.; Fort Madison, Iowa and Towanda, Pa.

DuPont Tedlar PVF films are part of the broad and growing portfolio of products from DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions, which applies DuPont science and technology to support the dramatic growth of the photovoltaic industry globally.

Sixtron enters Asian market with order from top 10 solar cell maker

MONTREAL, CANADA: Sixtron Advanced Materials, a provider of safe and efficient silane-free antireflective coatings systems, has secured an evaluation purchase order from a leading Asian solar cell manufacturer for its SunBox gas delivery system.

The Sixtron system is a plug-and-play solution that provides cost savings and cell efficiency improvements while reducing downtime. Sixtron’s application specialists will support the production evaluation of the SunBox system with the new customer to achieve system optimization and ensure seamless integration into existing and new manufacturing lines.

“The Asian PV cell market is a critical global market and Sixtron is investing to support our customers there with new resources on the ground,” said Zbigniew Barwicz, CEO of Sixtron. “This order demonstrates that the leading manufacturers are ready to engage with us to deliver a plug & play replacement solution to the costs and hazards of silane.”

The customer announcement comes after Sixtron was recently awarded the Cell Award for Best Process Technology in Crystalline Silicon Cell Manufacturing at Intersolar in Munich. Sixtron’s SunBox was recognized for its cost-savings potential by solar industry leaders.

Solar cell manufacturers have traditionally depended upon silane gas to deposit critical anti-reflective and passivation coatings on crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. Silane gas is pyrophoric, meaning it ignites on contact with air, and imposes substantial operational risks and costs on manufacturers.

“After receiving validation of our benchmark solar cell results with our research partners, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, Sixtron is now taking the next step and deploying our tools to the top global PV cell manufacturers,” continued Barwicz.

“Sixtron’s novel SiCN films produced by our SunBox gas generation system deliver innovation and ultimately increased profit margins to our customers while maintaining complete compatibility with typical PECVD manufacturing processes.”

Sixtron works directly with c-Si cell manufacturers to remove the burdens of silane through its SunBox gas generation system. The SunBox system gasifies a harmless solid polymer precursor to produce gas with equivalent, and even improved, results as compared to a silane system. In March, Sixtron announced leading plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) equipment providers are working to integrate the SunBox into their turnkey offerings to cell manufacturers.

Solomon Technologies' subsidiary files patent for Instant Solar product

DANBURY, USA: Technipower LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Solomon Technologies, Inc., announced that it has filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application for Instant Solar, its new solar photovoltaic (PV) product.

Instant Solar is a factory pre-assembled, pre-wired ground mounted solar PV system, initially targeted to the 2-10kW size range that is also suitable for both portable and flat roof mount applications.

Dan Connors, President of Technipower, LLC, said: "Instant Solar's innovative concept and design make it easy to manufacture, easy to ship and easy to install. It has the potential to accelerate small scale solar PV deployment in many market segments. Instant Solar is available for sale now."

Connors continued: "Instant Solar is the first of several products in Technipower's new clean energy, solar product line and represents a significant step in our expansion from a traditional power supply business to a supplier to today's fast growing renewable energy markets."

NV Energy seeks short-term renewable energy

LAS VEGAS, USA: NV Energy announced that it has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for short-term renewable energy resources. The company desires proposals for deliveries of renewable energy beginning on or after October 1, 2009. Energy deliveries may be for a minimum of one month up to three years.

Proposals will be considered for the following types of renewable energy resources: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and other resources eligible for portfolio energy credits under the Nevada renewable portfolio standard. Responses to the RFI are due by September 2, 2009.

"Nevada’s tremendous renewable resources make our state a focal point in the industry," said Tom Fair, vice president renewable energy, NV Energy. "We are currently involved in hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy projects, but need to increase our portfolio to maintain our position ahead of Nevada’s Portfolio Standard (PS)."

This request is consistent with the company's ongoing plan to surpass the goals of Nevada's Portfolio Standard that requires an increasing percentage of the electricity provided by NV Energy to its customers be from renewable sources. The Standard, which was recently increased by the 2009 Legislature, calls for 25 percent of all the company's energy to come from renewable resources or energy efficiency measures by 2025.

Parties interested in submitting a response to the RFI, or those seeking more information related to the RFI or renewable energy laws contact NV Energy at:

SolarCraft helps Goldeneye Winery switch to solar

NOVATO, USA: Novato-based SolarCraft announced the completion of a 32 kW solar electric system at Goldeneye Winery in Philo, CA. The winery, in the heart of Mendocino’s Andersen Valley, is now powered by the sun.

The 32 kW solar electric system at Goldeneye consists of 144 SunPower 225 watt solar panels that will power Goldeneye’s winemaking operations with renewable, green energy. The roof-mounted system spans 2,100 square feet and is expected to generate 48,670 kilowatt hours annually. The solar panels provide clean electricity while insulating and protecting the roof.

“Because Goldeneye is dedicated to crafting world-class Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley, our relationship with the environment is extremely important to us,” says Courtney Dyar, Operations Manager for Duckhorn Wine Company. “As a result, when we set out to design and build a cutting-edge, energy-efficient winery, incorporating solar was a major part of our design criterion. Not only does the array SolarCraft installed for us sustainably address our energy usage, it also helps to mitigate our impact on the Earth in a way that reflects our identity, and our commitment to the Anderson Valley.”

The new system will enable Goldeneye Winery to generate enough clean electricity each day to power over 14 average homes. It will spare the air nearly 25 tons of harmful greenhouse gases annually. Over the next 30 years, the air pollution saved will be equivalent to driving over 1.7 million miles. The system will pay for itself in approximately 6 years.

SolarCraft is one of the most experienced solar energy contractors in California. For more than 25 years the certified Green Business has been providing Solar Thermal and Solar Electric services including consulting, design, installation, monitoring and maintenance.

Lieberose solar farm -- Germany’s biggest, world’s second-biggest

TURNOW-PREILACK, GERMANY: The Lieberose solar farm under construction in Brandenburg on Thursday became the world’s second biggest solar power plant and Germany’s biggest, Wörrstädt, Germany-based juwi Group and First Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) announced.

The announcement followed the placement of the 560,000th solar panel in the project by German Infrastructure Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and Brandenburg Minister President Matthias Platzeck.

The solar farm still under construction in Turnow-Preilack, near Cottbus, is in several ways a landmark project for the solar industry. Despite the current economic and financial crisis, the two companies are building a utility-scale project with a total investment volume of more than €160 million. With an output of about 53 megawatts and with a size of more than 210 football fields, it is the second-largest PV installation in the world.

“The Lieberose project demonstrates the success of Germany’s strategy of combining local production of renewable energies with other strengths, including the knowledge and expertise that resides in local companies, networks, research organizations and universities. It’s the combination that makes German competitiveness,” German Infrastructure Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told 300 invited guests at the official inauguration.

“Lieberose is a model not just in terms of power and financing, but also in the conversion of military and other unused land,” said Platzeck. “Land that was contaminated and off limits for years is being cleared of munitions and other pollution without any financial burden on the owner of the land, the state. The Lieberose solar park is an important step toward making solar electricity a significant force in the local economy,” he added.

The project is being developed on the largest former military training site of the Soviet army in Germany. Due to the relatively low investment and operating costs, it is possible to pay Brandenburg an attractive lease that finances the restoration of the site, including the removal of metal and soil contaminated by leftover grenades, shrapnel and munitions. After the end of the lease period, the solar farm can be removed, restoring the land to its natural state.

“We aim to enable a global power supply with clean and cost-efficient solar energy. The Lieberose project alone will help save about 35,000 tons of CO2 per year,” say First Solar Managing Director Stephan Hansen and juwi Head Matthias Willenbacher. “We are especially proud of this project, because it is also ‘clean’ in another sense of that word. It is not only generating clean energy, but also ensures the removal of dangerous munitions.”

As general contractor, juwi partner juwi Solar GmbH is responsible for planning, logistics, supervising construction and delivering the finished solar farm, which is expected to be sold to an investor upon completion. “Solar farms such as Lieberose are very important for the future of all of the renewable energies,” said Willenbacher and Hansen.

“By their size and the efficiency with which the solar panels are produced, they contribute to significantly lower prices and to accelerating the advent of competitive solar electricity. This clearly increases the acceptance of solar energy,” they said.

Lieberose is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of this year. Upon completion, about 700,000 thin film modules, predominantly from First Solar’s nearby Frankfurt/Oder factory, will produce enough climate-friendly electricity to cover the equivalent electricity needs of about 15,000 households. In addition to producing the solar panels, First Solar helped finance the project.

The solar power station at a glance:
Capacity: approx. 53,000 kilowatts
Area: 162 hectares (over 210 football fields)
Module surface area: approx. 500,000 m² approx. 700,000 thin filmmodules (First Solar)
Annual yield: around 53 million kWh (corresponding to the annual consumption of around 15,000 households)
CO2 saving: approx. 35,000 tonnes per year

ReneSola, Wuzhong Government sign LoI for 150MW on-grid solar power project

JIASHAN, CHINA: ReneSola Ltd, a leading vertically integrated Chinese manufacturer of solar products, announced it has been granted the exclusive right in a letter of intent with the Taiyangshan Development Zone in Wuzhong city, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, to develop a 150 megawatt on-grid solar power project with a budgeted total investment of RMB 4.8 billion (approximately $706 million).

The project, which is subject to a feasibility study and government permits and approvals, has a four-year, four-phase construction period that is expected to begin in 2010.

"We are pleased to announce our new 150MW on-grid solar project in Wuzhong, which adds to our track record of partnering with local governments to develop sustainable solar projects," said Xianshou Li, ReneSola's chief executive officer.

"Our vertically integrated solar manufacturing capabilities continue to position us to capture opportunities presented by the government's increased focus on establishing alternative energy sources."

Li added: "We are excited by China's transformation from a manufacturing hub of solar products into an important and increasingly significant end-user market. The emergence of downstream projects in the domestic market represents a significant opportunity for ReneSola to create new revenue streams and expand local market share.

"The 150MW on-grid solar project in Wuzhong bolsters our downstream project portfolio as we strengthen our position as one of the leading vertically integrated solar companies in China. The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is one of the sunniest regions in China, and this project is strategically located to fully take advantage of the abundance of natural sunlight in the local area."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Solar, SCE to build two large-scale solar power projects

ROSEMEAD, USA: First Solar Inc. and Southern California Edison (SCE) today announced agreements to build two large-scale solar power projects in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California.

The installations, which will be among the largest of their kind, will have a generation capacity of 550 megawatts of photovoltaic solar electricity, enough to provide power to approximately 170,000 homes. The agreements are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Southern California Edison is always looking for innovative ways to deliver clean power from renewable sources. First Solar is an excellent partner in helping us achieve our goals,” said Stuart Hemphill, SCE senior vice president, Power Procurement. “This agreement is good for our customers, for the industry and for the environment.”

First Solar will engineer, procure and construct the two solar facilities, using its industry leading thin-film photovoltaic solar modules. The projects are the 250 megawatt Desert Sunlight project near Desert Center, Calif., and the 300 megawatt Stateline project in northeastern San Bernardino County.

Pending network upgrades and receipt of applicable governmental permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 for Desert Sunlight and 2013 for Stateline. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2015. Several hundred construction jobs are expected to be created at each site. When completed, the solar projects will produce 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year.

“Supplying solar power to Southern California Edison and its customers advances our mission of providing clean, affordable and sustainable solar electricity,” said John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president, Marketing and Business Development.

“These projects will help California reach its renewable energy goals, and are powerful examples of large-scale photovoltaic solar generation becoming a reality in the United States.”

California currently has a goal of delivering 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and is considering legislation to increase the goal to 33 percent by 2020.

SCE is the nation’s leading purchaser of renewable energy and, in 2008, delivered 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy to its customers from renewable resources – about 16 percent of its total energy portfolio. In addition, the utility delivered more than 65 percent of the solar energy produced in the United States for its customers in 2008.

BioSolar files patent for BioBacksheet-A thin film PV solar module component

SANTA CLARITA, USA: BioSolar Inc., a developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar modules, announced that the company has recently filed a patent application to protect the innovations behind its proprietary BioBacksheet-A, a bio-based backsheet featuring an absolute moisture barrier for the thin-film solar cell market.

BioBacksheet-A is a three layer laminate film consisting of a 100 percent recyclable aluminum foil center core sandwiched between two outer layers of bio-based polymer films, making it a unique product in the industry.

“BioSolar's goal is to reduce the costs of solar modules and make solar energy greener by replacing petroleum-based module components with bio-based materials made from renewable plant sources,” said Dr. David Lee, CEO of BioSolar. “Patent filing and protection of our intellectual property is an important milestone as we continue our journey toward full-scale commercial production for many of the company’s new products.”

This patent filing follows the recent news that BioSolar has not only accepted the challenge of developing a backsheet with a water vapor transmission rate of essentially zero, which is necessary for thin film solar module components such as cad-telluride and CIGS, but also the initial pilot line run of this backsheet was highly successful. Testing of these samples continues as the company moves toward commercialization.

BioSolar’s complete line of backsheets meet or exceed the characteristics of various testing and performance standards for the photovoltaic industry and are expected to cost significantly less than petroleum-based films currently in use by the majority of solar module manufacturers today.

First Solar, LADWP contract for 55MW of solar electricity

TEMPE, USA: First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced a contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to build a large-scale solar power project in Imperial County, Calif. The installation will have a generation capacity of 55 megawatts (MW).

First Solar will design, engineer and construct the 55MW Niland project using its advanced thin film solar modules. Construction is expected to begin next year and be completed in 2011.

The contract is conditioned on approval by the Los Angeles City Council and the mayor of Los Angeles. The solar arrays will require building permits from Imperial County.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New report shines light on PV industry

USA: DisplaySearch has recently published a new report on the solar industry -- the Quarterly PV Cell Capacity Database & Trends Report.

Solar is a hot industry: PV cell production capacity will more than double between 2009 and 2013 as individuals, businesses and governments turn toward greener alternatives to satisfy their growing energy demands. It is also an uncertain industry: Technology is evolving; government policy is in flux; the market is global and hard to track.

Covering more than 230 solar cell manufacturers, the new Quarterly PV Cell Capacity Database & Trends report will illuminate developments in this industry, including which technologies are dominating, which companies are growing and where production is clustering.

Report highlights include
* PV cell capacity in megawatts, broken down by country, manufacturer, factory, technology, equipment, glass size, install dates and more.
* Historical and forecast ramped capacity from 2000-2013 with quarterly and annual sums as well as nameplate values.
* Graphical and database-style information for both quick reads and in-depth study.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Veeco NT9100S optical profiling system for PV cell production

PLAINVIEW, USA: Veeco Instruments Inc., a leader in scientific and industrial metrology, today announced the release of its NT9100S Optical Profiler System specifically designed to optimize photovoltaic (PV) cell production and process development.

The new NT9100S combines the renowned performance of Veeco’s NT Series of white light optical profilers with new features and options to enable rapid, three-dimensional surface measurements on six-inch crystalline silicon PV cells.

“Veeco has a very strong presence in the solar market,” said Mark R. Munch, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Veeco Metrology. “Now, with our customized NT9100S, we can offer unprecedented capability to monitor and control surface texture and, more importantly, to match specific surface measurements to solar cell efficiency early in the manufacturing process.”

Andrew Masters, Veeco’s Vice President of Segment Marketing and Business Development, added, “The NT9100S brings the power and flexibility of the NT Series Optical Profilers, along with a PV-specific stage and chuck, to solar cell production monitoring. We are excited to deliver an affordable, feature-rich metrology platform that can enable such a wide scope of efficiency-enhancing applications in solar cell research and production.”

The NT9100S is based upon the workhorse NT Series product line, and adds a custom 156-millimeter programmable stage for edge-to-edge measurements on a 6-inch PV cell. Other standard features include a porous vacuum chuck that securely and safely affixes a standard PV cell, automation software, field stitching software, and patent-pending, ultra-uniform dual-LED illumination.

Running on the industry-leading Vision software platform, the NT9100S provides access to over 200 distinct analyses, and over 1,000 critical parameters for process control and monitoring.

eSolar cranks out alternative energy plant designs in SolidWorks

CONCORD, USA: A five megawatt (MW) pilot concentrated solar power (CSP) plant designed in SolidWorks 3D CAD software went online this week, providing electricity to 4,000 homes near Los Angeles. California-based eSolar used SolidWorks software to design heliostat mirrors that reflect and concentrate sunlight to a boiler that generates steam and powers a standard turbine to create solar energy.

Key facts
* Funded in part by Google, eSolar is an Idealab company that develops and constructs modular, scalable solar thermal power plants.
* eSolar’s methodology standardizes heliostat production to reduce costs and development time, while simplifying deployment.
* eSolar uses 20 licenses of SolidWorks software to engineer the exact mirror specifications that can withstand extreme winds yet be light enough for easy electronic adjustment.
* By enabling eSolar engineers to calculate precise tolerances and part fits on screen, SolidWorks has eliminated a full prototype cycle (normally four months).
* Contract manufacturers work with eSolar’s SolidWorks designs to ensure manufacturability and ease of assembly, further streamlining development.
* eSolar also uses SolidWorks Workgroup PDM product data management software to ensure version control while different engineers work on the same design simultaneously.
* Global energy demand could double or triple by 2050, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
* By 2020, solar energy could easily provide energy to over a billion people globally and provide 2.3 million full-time jobs, according to EPIA and Greenpeace.

Rick Iannello, vice president of manufacturing, said: "As a startup company, we want to deliver our product as fast as possible. That means proving the technology and garnering interest while you still have enough capital.

"SolidWorks software played a critical role in helping us refine the technology quickly so we could start shopping our scalable plant design around. The result is that we’ve gone online with our pilot, and we have other projects in the works. That’s the kind of early traction we need."

Absence of turnaround in PV market impacts ersol's earnings in H1-09

ERFURT, BRUSSELS: ersol Solar Energy AG (ersol), a company of the Bosch Group, increased its consolidated revenue to € 72.9 million in the second quarter of 2009.
Compared with the same period of the previous year (€ 129.9 million), consolidated revenue was thus down by 43.9 percent.

The main reasons for this dramatic slump are the generally adverse market situation -- particularly in international business -– the general slackening of demand, combined with a significant drop in solar module and cell prices and the weaker project business due to the financial market crisis.

Accordingly, the distribution of the ersol Group's revenue by region shows a significant downturn in its international business. The Company's export ratio decreased by 55.4 percentage points, from 72.6 percent in the corresponding period of the previous year to 17.2 percent in the first six months of 2009.

Germany thus accounted for an 82.8 percent share of revenue in the first six months of 2009 (6 months 2008: 27.4 percent). The rest of Europe accounted for 9.6 percent of revenue. Spain's decision to limit its subsidisation of PV plant expansion to 0.5 GWp in 2009 led to a decrease in its share of revenue to 0.1 percent (6 months 2008: 17.7 percent).

The operating result (EBIT) of € -10.6 million was significantly lower than that achieved in the same period of the previous year (€ 22.4 million). Upon separate review of the second quarter of 2009, EBIT amounts to € -13.7 million, thus the decline in this result is mainly attributable to the persistently negative market trend. The EBIT margin decreased in the same way, from 17.2 percent in the year-ago period to -14.5 percent in the first six months of 2009.

Earnings before taxes (EBT) fell significantly compared with the previous year, from € 18.6 million down to € -13.4 million. Net cash flow from operating activities (operative cash flow) amounted to € 70.3 million in the first six months of 2009, corresponding to an increase of € 57.8 million, compared with € 12.5 million in the same period of the previous year.

The change compared with the first six months of 2008 is mainly attributable to the negative operating result and to the significant increase in inventories due to the poor demand for solar modules. Conversely, there was a substantial reduction in interest expenses, which almost halved due to the fall in interest rates.

The current market situation has not left ersol unscathed. Sustained price pressure due to surplus capacities and a change in the market to a buyers' market are reflected in short-term forecasts.

"Our company's figures for 2009 will show significantly less growth than originally anticipated. We are now expecting revenue of less than € 300 million and a negative operating result (EBIT).

"This decline is mainly attributable to the slump in the overall market compared with 2008, due in particular to massive cuts in the Spanish photovoltaic market, the worst global economic crisis for decades and the considerable surplus of solar modules and cells this resulted in, which led to extreme price pressure and, ultimately, to a considerable drop in prices of up to 30 percent in the first six months of 2009.

"Furthermore, the credit crunch that persists due to the financial crisis is curbing the global project business," says ersol's CEO, Holger von Hebel, describing the current market situation and the outlook for the financial year as a whole.

Nevertheless, the medium-term and long-term outlook for the sector remains positive, since regenerative energies, and thus photovoltaics, will play an important role in the future energy mix.

In addition to Southern Europe, future markets include in particular North America and Asia, above all China, which is aiming to drive forward the expansion of renewable energies with substantial government support.

"There is no doubt that we face major challenges; but, as a highly innovative company with an integrated value chain, ersol will play a key role in the future photovoltaic market.

"We are essentially holding firm to our current expansion plans; only the run-up of the new capacities will be adjusted in line with the short-term demand situation. We have secured financing for our expansion plans through group loans, and our application for EU subsidies has been approved," he added.

Suntech energizes Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi with solar energy

WUXI, CHINA & UAE: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest crystalline silicon photovoltaic module manufacturer, announced recently that it has been selected by Aldar Properties PJSC to supply over 1,120 solar panels for a 292kW solar system for The Shams Tower, an iconic building on Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Enviromena, the Abu Dhabi based solar power system integrator, has designed and will install the solar system and Aldar, Abu Dhabi's leading property development, management and investment company, is developing the project.

"We commend Aldar and the Yas Marina Circuit management for incorporating Abu Dhabi's sustainable vision into the course design," said Nader Jandaghi, Suntech's Director of Middle East Sales. "They have shown motorsport enthusiasts worldwide that racing excellence can also contribute to a cleaner tomorrow. Suntech looks forward to continuing to collaborate with highly experienced partners such as Aldar and Enviromena to bring solar to the UAE."

The 2,500sqm building integrated solar array, which sits on the 60-metre high Shams Tower, will simultaneously provide shade for the car park underneath and produce 450 megawatt hours of clean, solar electricity annually. Power generated will not only offset electricity needs during motorsports events, but will also continue to power the Yas Marina Circuit facility for decades, saving 400 tons of greenhouse gases annually.

"Enviromena is delighted to be working with Aldar and Suntech on the Yas Marina Circuit. This unique project will demonstrate how solar can be incorporated into the built environment and serve as a high profile example for sustainable design in Abu Dhabi," said Sami Khoreibi, President and CEO of Enviromena.

"Suntech's expertise in building integrated solar products and commitments to quality and technology innovation are an excellent fit with Enviromena's mission to promote environmentally sustainable development in the Middle East."

Steve K. Worrell, Aldar's Director-Mixed Use Development, Yas Island Project, said, "We are very pleased that with the assistance of Enviromena and Suntech, we were able to create a solar solution that delivered impressive aesthetics and maximized solar energy production at the Yas Marina Circuit development. The government of Abu Dhabi is committed to achieving a target of 7 percent renewable energy by 2020 and Aldar is delighted to play its part in this goal."

Abu Dhabi was recently picked as the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency, and continues with initiatives to show the rest of the region how clean solar energy can co-exist within population centers. Abu Dhabi's sustainability culture was the vision of His Highness, the late Founding Father and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who championed the cause of environmental stewardship.

This is the second high profile project in the Middle East that Suntech has participated in. Earlier this year, Suntech supplied 5MW of solar panels for a 10MW solar system to power Masdar City, the world's first carbon neutral city being built in Abu Dhabi.

EU Commission supports ersol Group investments at Arnstadt site

ERFURT, BRUSSELS: ersol Solar Energy AG (ersol) recently received the anticipated approval of EU Commission subsidies towards investments in the crystalline sector.

The Free State of Thuringia and the Federal Republic of Germany had already accepted this support subject to the approval of the European Commission. With an investment volume of € 530 million ersol will be expanding the factory site at Arnstadt as planned.

This will include the expansion of the nominal capacity in the solar cells sector to 630 MWp over the next few years, together with the establishment of its own module production capacities. The grants now approved will cover more than 10 percent of the overall investment and are a fixed element of the investment planning. The expansion is to be financed with Bosch Group loans and internal ersol funds.

“We are delighted about the approval of subsidies from the European Union. This will enable us to invest over half a billion euros at our Arnstadt manufacturing facility in the next few years. We would like to thank in particular the respective Departments of Trade and Industry of the Free State of Thuringia and the Federation, who lobbied for this important support,” said Holger von Hebel, CEO of ersol Solar Energy AG upon hearing the positive news from Brussels.

World Bank's support to increase electricity access in rural Bangladesh

WASHINGTON, USA: The World Bank recently approved a $130 million IDA credit to Bangladesh, designed to increase access to electricity through the installation of affordable solar home systems in rural areas.

This credit is additional financing for the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Credit, a project that since 2003 has connected 600,000 consumers to the electricity grid, constructed about 8,500km of new distribution, and provided 320,000 consumers with solar home systems.

Despite advances, access to electricity in Bangladesh remains low, currently around 40 percent. Power shortages and load shedding are severe, especially in rural areas, which hurt economic growth and industrial development.

In addition, population growth, increased industrialization, additional connections, and rise in the use of modern, electrical appliances have boosted demand for electricity, currently growing at a rate of over 500MW a year.

“Investing in grid electricity alone will not realize the Government of Bangladesh’s goal of universal access to electricity by 2020,” said Rob Floyd, Acting World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh.

“This additional financing will be used to provide electricity to 300,000 households through solar home systems. Many of these households in poor areas are too remote to connect to the electricity grid and would never receive electricity through conventional electrification methods.”

A part of the additional financing will be used to purchase and install about 10 million energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps in densely populated areas in the country. These will replace an equivalent number of incandescent lamps.

“Lighting coincides with the peak load hours and contributes over 20 percent of the demand,” said Raihan Elahi, Senior Energy Specialist and Task Leader for the project. “Replacing these lamps, which will be free of charge for residential consumers, is expected to reduce the peak demand by about 360MW.”

The project will support an ongoing renovation of the electricity distribution network as well as provide financing for renewable energy projects such as biomass and biogas power plants, solar water pump for irrigation, and solar mini grids.

The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary arm, has 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period; it carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spire sees record revenues of $22.2 million in Q2

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp. reported revenues from continuing operations for the second-quarter ended June 30, 2009 of $22.2 million, a 39 percent increase from $16 million for the same quarter of 2008.

Net loss for the second-quarter of 2009 was $4.6 million, or $(0.55) per share, compared with a net loss of $269,000, or $(0.03) per share, for the second-quarter of 2008.

These losses include losses of $201,000 and $167,000, or $0.03 and $0.02 per share, for the second-quarter periods of 2009 and 2008, respectively, from the company’s Medical Products Business unit which has been classified as discontinued operations.

Revenues from continuing operations for the first six months ended June 30, 2009 were $33.6 million, a 13 percent increase from $29.6 million for the same six month period in 2008.

Net loss for the six months ended June 30, 2009 was $6.1 million, or $(0.73) per share, compared with a net loss of $792,000, or $(0.10) per share, for the same period in 2008.

These results include losses of $391,000 and $281,000, or $(0.05) and $(0.04) per share, for the six month period ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively, from the company’s Medical Products Business unit which has been classified as a discontinued operation.

Also, during this period we initiated the dissolution of our solar systems joint venture which represented a loss of $1,023,000 in the first six months of 2009.

Net cash used in operating activities of continuing operations was $1.2 million for the six months ended June 30, 2009, compared to net cash provided by operating activities of $4.0 million for the same period in 2008. As of June 30, 2009, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $5 million of which $3.5 million is unrestricted.

Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO, said: "We are pleased that we had record revenues this quarter with solar products and services, growing 51 percent from a year ago, and now representing 86 percent of our total revenue. A significant contribution came from the acceptance of our highly automated 50MW/year module assembly line by Martifer Solar of Portugal.

"Spire re-directed its solar PV systems group to focus on Federal systems, after initiating the process of dissolution of its systems joint venture. Spire Solar Systems will provide American systems to Federal agencies creating American jobs.

"Spire Semiconductor continued to advance its solar cell technology by achieving a major milestone toward the 42 percent efficiency goal of its National Renewable Energy Laboratory contract for a triple junction, 500 sun, concentrator solar cell."

"To provide working capital for our growing solar business, we negotiated an expanded $8 million revolving credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank,” concluded Little.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Onset's white paper offers tips on optimizing solar thermal system performance

BOURNE, USA: Solar thermal energy appears poised for a renaissance in the United States, as the Obama Administration presses forward with its green energy agenda. However, the revival could be short-lived unless solar hot systems are maintained properly.

Consumers still remember problems associated with solar systems that were purchased during the green energy boom of the Carter Administration. Too often units were either installed incorrectly or never maintained. Energy savings were promised, but not delivered.

A new white paper from Onset: Optimizing Solar Thermal Performance with Data Loggers, discusses how solar thermal systems, with the help of portable data loggers, can be optimized to deliver the financial benefits residential and commercial users hope to achieve through their investments.

The paper shows installers and engineers how portable data logging devices can be used to measure performance of solar thermal systems, pinpoint any defects or inefficiencies, and optimize performance for greater return on investment.

The white paper is available as a free download from Onset’s website

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Q-Cells sales fall in H1 by 36.8 percent, announces comprehensive set of measures

BITTERFELD-WOLFEN, GERMANY: The photovoltaics company Q-Cells SE presented its half-year report up to 30 June 2009. Following the considerable decline in business performance for Q-Cells SE in the first six months of the current year, the Board of Management is introducing a comprehensive set of measures to fundamentally improve the company’s performance.

As already stated, sales in the first half of the year fell from 579.5 million Euro in the previous year period to 366.2 million Euro. A profit in business operations (EBIT) of 119.1 million Euro in the first six months of last year is countered by an operating loss of -47.6 million Euro over the same period in 2009.

Influenced by a further write-down in connection with the sale of its share in Renewable Energy Corporation ASA (REC) in May, the period loss incurred for the first half of 2009 was 696.9 million Euro.

The production volume has remained almost constant at 272.2 MWp in comparison with the first half of 2008. Q-Cells’ business was harmed by negative pricing trends in the industry and reduced customer volumes. Q-Cells International, a fully consolidated subsidiary of Q-Cells SE, performed generally better and continued to grow rapidly building solar parks.

The company achieved an EBIT of 8.0 million Euro during the half-year on sales of 128.0 million Euro and, amongst other projects, is currently erecting Germany’s biggest ever solar park in Strasskirchen in Bavaria with a capacity of around 54 MWp.

“The business performance shows how quickly and dramatically the markets have changed for us. In order to take rapid and comprehensive countermeasures, we have developed Q-Cells Reloaded, a three-tier set of measures with which we will adapt Q-Cells to market conditions which have structurally changed. The aim is to grow profitably at a sustainable rate again in the medium term,” says Anton Milner, CEO of Q-Cells SE.

Milner further says: “Of course we feel the pressure on prices that comes from overcapacities and the financing of major projects, which remains sluggish because of the financial crisis. We will tackle these and other issues most resolutely in the context of Q-Cells Reloaded.”

In addition, operating profit has been affected by long-term contracts with wafer suppliers which have been working to the company’s disadvantage, by manufacturing partly at too high costs by international comparison and also by comparatively high overheads.

“Q-Cells Reloaded” set of measures

The set of measures comprises the following:

1. Adjust capacity and lower costs
As a result of the oversupply of silicon wafers, the market price for this preliminary product in the short-term has, since the beginning of the year, been below the price level that Q-Cells agreed with its suppliers in its contracts for 2009.

In the first half year alone this resulted in a competitive disadvantage of around 50 million Euro. In 2010 the contracts will be brought into line with the market price so that this disadvantage will largely be eliminated.

In addition, the cost structure of the older generation production lines at the Thalheim location lies around 30 percent above the usually accepted level in international competition. This is mainly the result of substantial scale effects which could be achieved with larger production lines and the technical condition of the old equipment. For this reason the Board of Management has decided to shut down these production lines.

Together with the necessary reduction in overheads in all areas, around 500 jobs will be cut permanently. Short-time work will continue to be in operation at the Thalheim plant depending on the market development. Altogether a reduction of production cost of 25 percent will be achieved with these measures.

2. Strengthening of technology position
Q-Cells is focusing its research in the solar cell sector on projects that are marketable and where success can be expected in the short to medium term.

Most recently, an efficiency of 18.3 percent was achieved for monocrystalline cells. “On this basis, we will achieve a 20 percent efficiency in our R&D lines by the end of 2011”, explains Gerhard Rauter, Member of the Executive Board and responsible for production.

Within its technology portfolio Q-Cells will in the future concentrate on the thin-film companies Solibro (CIGS) and Calyxo (CdTe), where it controls these companies. The Executive Board of Q-Cells has requested that Calyxo proves its technological potential in mass production by the end of 2009. The efficiency of Solibro’s best thin layer modules has most recently been 11.7 percent.

Solibro started mass production in 2008 and has since then produced about 9 MWp of thin-film modules. For its other investments, Q-Cells will continue working with partners to further expand these companies.

3. Securing medium-term liquidity reserves
In order to create sufficient room to manoeuvre for the transitory phase until the beginning of 2011, Q-Cells’ in-house financing is to be reinforced. All investment projects, especially those for 2010, will be reviewed again and the capital commitment in projects and stocks reduced. In contrast to the original plan, Q-Cells expects a reduced outlay of up to 300 million Euro.

“We are able to reduce the cash requirement by around 200 million Euro through tight working capital management in production and in the project business. We can avoid a further cash outflow of up to 100 million Euro through a reduction in our investment programme,” says Dr. Nedim Cen, CFO of Q-Cells SE.

“After the great successes in the start-up period, for which we also have to thank a unique team, we now face some big challenges. To steer Q-Cells safely through the crisis and give the company a long-term perspective at the Thalheim location, these measures, including a cut in personnel, are unavoidable.

“We appreciate that this is a very painful step to take. At the same time we are even managing to create new positions in the Research & Development, Sales & Marketing and thin-film companies so that in future we will be able to differentiate ourselves from our competitors even more strongly by having a technological edge”, Milner concludes.

With the change in the photovoltaic markets, new sectors and regions will also open up. In addition to its core business Q-Cells will in future engage more in systems integration by building on the project business of Q-Cells International which is already a well-known player in the market. Milner said: “We will be offering our own system know-how to selected markets.”