Friday, October 30, 2009

EU states failing to support critical renewable energy investment

LONDON, UK: According to a new report published by London Research International (LRI) "The European Renewable Electricity Sector 2009/10: A Country Comparison of Risks and Opportunities", many EU countries are failing to offer adequate financial and institutional support for renewable electricity generation.

Consequently, they are struggling to attract sufficient investment to meet their ambitious EU-mandated 2020 renewable energy (RE) targets. This is despite a considerable rise in public support in the EU for increased RE deployment and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, between 2006 and 2008.

In the UK, planning delays and local opposition are undermining government incentives offered to RE developers. The contribution of RE to final energy consumption in the UK was just 1.5 percent in 2006 (up from 1.3 percent in 2005) which is well below the EU 2020 target of 15 percent.

The UK has a long way to go as confirmed by the recent report from the Committee on Climate Change, led by Lord Turner. Many other EU countries require similarly significant increases in RE production.

Key findings include:
* Spanish and German solar power markets experienced rapid growth in the last year.
* The greatest opportunities for the expansion of renewable electricity generation remain in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Germany.
* The lowest risks to renewable electricity investment are in Austria, Denmark and Germany, followed by the Czech Republic, Finland and Spain.
* Risks are higher in the new EU member states of Romania and Slovakia.
* Belgium, the UK and Italy all require additional investment in power generation, but planning risks and the lack of an attractive incentive scheme are discouraging this.
* Despite having excellent resources for renewable electricity generation, grid access and planning permission risks in Greece and Italy are relatively high and thus growth is slower than in other southern European states such as Spain.
* Apart from large hydro, biomass and onshore wind are the most established technologies for renewable electricity generation.
* Advanced forms of biogas, such as anaerobic digestion (AD), hold the potential to follow biomass as an established generation technology across the EU.
* As advances in solar power technology continue, solar power generation is expected to increase across the EU.

Global Infrastructure Partners announces strategic investment in Terra-Gen Power

NEW YORK, USA: Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent $5.64 billion infrastructure investment fund, announced today that it has reached agreement to acquire up to a 40 percent convertible preferred interest in Terra-Gen Power Holdings, LLC (Terra-Gen) from ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC (ArcLight). Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

Terra-Gen is a leading US renewable power generation company that owns or operates over 800 megawatts (MW) of renewable power facilities, including geothermal, wind and solar projects across a broad area of the United States. Terra-Gen also has over 5,000 MW of renewable energy projects under development.

Following completion of this transaction, which is expected by year-end, ArcLight and GIP will be partners in driving the continuing growth of Terra-Gen.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner of GIP, commented: “We are very pleased to be working with ArcLight and the outstanding Terra-Gen management team to help meet the growing demand for clean, renewable energy in the United States. Their capabilities are an ideal complement to GIP’s operational strengths and our expertise in the power sector.”

Jonathan Bram, the GIP Partner leading the transaction, added: “This investment represents an excellent opportunity for GIP. In Terra-Gen, we have a solid portfolio of operating renewable projects combined with a unique growth platform that includes each of the three most attractive clean energy technologies.”

Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor to GIP.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Advanced Energy intros Solaron 250 PV inverter

FORT COLLINS, USA: Advanced Energy Industries Inc. has introduced the Solaron 250, expanding AE's line of high-efficiency, transformerless, grid-tie photovoltaic (PV) inverters.

With a power level of 250 kW, the Solaron 250 is ideal for applications such as commercial rooftop installations. Building on the success of the previously released 333 and 500 kW Solaron inverters, the new Solaron 250 provides customers with another option to achieve the lowest levelized cost of energy (LCOE) available in the industry.

"The Solaron 250 extends our Solaron inverter line to a new power level that has excellent growth potential in the commercial PV market," said Dr. Hans Betz, president and CEO of Advanced Energy. "The American-built Solaron inverters are particularly well suited for programs that have buy-American requirements, such as federal building projects and projects supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

Alstom to expand Switzerland’s renewable energy production capacity by 1000 MW

LEVALLOIS PERRET, FRANCE: Alstom Hydro has been awarded a €178 million contract to provide four 250 MW variable speed pump turbine and motor generator units for a new pumped storage installation in Switzerland.

The plant’s 1000 MW generation capacity will supply enough electricity to power around 1 million homes, mainly cover the peak power demand and help to further develop Switzerland’s low-carbon power generation peak demand.

The contract with the Kraftwerke Linth-Limmern AG (KLL), a partner of the Axpo AG, the largest producer of hydropower and electricity in Switzerland, and the canton of Glarus, has been booked on the 2nd quarter of the 2009/2010 fiscal year.

This contract covers design, engineering, manufacturing, installation, testing, commissioning and training services. The equipment to be delivered by 2015 will be installed in the new Limmern facility being built in the canton of Glarus, in eastern Switzerland.

This is the second variable speed pumped storage power plant contract Alstom has signed in Switzerland this year. In May 2009, the company was awarded a €125 million contract to equip the 628 MW Nant de Drance power station four 157 MW vertical Francis reversible turbines, four 170 MVA vertical asynchronous motor/generator units and other equipment, as well as to handle site delivery, erection, supervision and commissioning aspects.

Philippe Joubert, President of Alstom Power, said: “Pumped storage can help Europe meet its target of producing 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This technology allows utilities to store excess energy produced by intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power making it a powerful tool for balancing resources across the grid.

To date, there are over 127 GW of pumped storage in operation around the world. Alstom is the world’s pumped storage market leader having captured in average 47 percent of the pumped storage market share per year since 2004.

Pumped storage technology is the most efficient and flexible large-scale power storage technology available and enables utilities to respond quickly to fluctuating power demand and to manage demand peaks in a financially and environmentally attractive way.

When demand for electricity is low, excess power is used to pump water into a higher reservoir. When demand for power is high, the water in the higher reservoir is released through a hydroelectric turbine, generating electricity that can be sold at premium prices.

A variable speed pump turbine regulates the level of energy the pump turbine consumes, thus giving utilities an even better control over their resources to more easily and efficiently match energy supply to demand. Variable speed also helps reduce the number of starts and stops and helps to regulate the network frequency or voltage in pumping mode.

These benefits result in improved profitability for pumped storage plant owners, and allow network operators to improve the reliability of the grid as well as the quality of the power supplied to end consumers.

Satcon selected for 5 MW CalRENEW-1 solar farm

FREMONT, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility scale power solutions for the renewable energy market, has been selected for the CalRENEW-1 installation, the first utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program.

The 5 megawatt AC facility, located in Mendota, CA, will utilize five, one megawatt Prism solutions, Satcon’s fully integrated utility platform that comes complete with factory integrated medium voltage transformers, switchgear, and electronics.

Introduced in June of 2009, Prism is the industry’s most advanced 1 megawatt solar PV power conversion solution, and is built on the market leading PowerGate 500 kW inverter line, which has been installed on over 170 megawatts of large scale solar power plants since 2005.

Each 1 MW Prism solution is delivered complete in an all-climate outdoor enclosure and ready to connect to the PV array and utility grid, enabling rapid installation through a modular prepackaged design.

CalRENEW-1 will be one of the most advanced photovoltaic solar facilities in the world. The 5 MW plant will generate zero emission electricity for sale to Pacific Gas & Electric under a long term power purchase agreement.

“We are excited to be a part of the CalRENEW-1 project, which clearly demonstrates the increased role of large scale solar power production as an integral part of tomorrow’s energy network," said Steve Rhoades, President and Chief Executive Officer of Satcon Technology.

“Our continued focus on developing the highest performing, most reliable, and most advanced utility ready solar PV inverter systems allow us to deliver the solutions that enable utilities to effectively integrate solar power as a secure and cost effective renewable energy source.”

Stimulus spending on ‘Smart Grid’ will benefit renewables

SCOTTSDALE, USA: GWS Technologies Inc., an alternative energy company developing and marketing solar and wind-powered renewable energy products and solutions, sees substantial benefits for wind and solar energy projects in White House's recent announcement that $3.4 billion will be allocated to modernize the nation’s electrical power system to more easily use renewable resources.

The money will be released in the form of grants to applicants and must be matched dollar for dollar by private funding. The grants are a result of an allocation of funds to smart grid projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“One of the biggest obstacles to developing more wind and solar power on a utility-size scale has been the lack of transmission lines tied to an electrical grid that’s capable of delivering clean electricity from the best solar and wind sites to the point of use,” said GWS President Richard Reincke.

Reincke added that “Building a ‘smart grid’ will allow utilities to integrate renewable energy sources from distant locations with their existing generation sources and synchronize consumers’ energy use to coincide with maximum production times for wind and solar power.”

GWS Technologies is currently evaluating sites for wind and solar farms in Arizona, Texas, and Montana.

Global PV installations will more than double in 2010, prices to crash by 2013

BOSTON, USA: Companies at every step of the solar photovoltaic value chain must prepare for saturation in key markets by 2013, according to the latest research report Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse from PHOTON Consulting.

While PHOTON’s near-term outlook for sector growth is very positive, PHOTON’s team of analysts, researchers and consultants believe saturation of a key large PV market within the next five years will drive a downturn for PV manufacturers more severe than anything the sector has faced to-date.

Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse outlines specific defensible strategies available to companies to prepare for market saturation and highlights leading companies that are best positioned to succeed in an environment where one or more key PV markets ‘turn off.’

Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse also includes PHOTON Consulting’s acclaimed five-year sector forecasts, based on PHOTON’s screen of more than 1,500 key and emerging companies and a detailed review of the global PV supply chain, including company-by-company and market-by-market data and analysis of production, prices, costs, profit margins and installation volumes.

Ryan Boas, a co-author of Solar Annual concludes: “Solar Annual 2009: Total Eclipse provides a positive near term view of the sector combined with a critical warning: very rapid, profitable sector growth in 2010-2012 will likely lead to saturation in one or more key markets, with negative consequences for the sector as a whole and particularly for manufacturing companies that are unprepared. Total Eclipse provides companies with the insights and supporting data needed to understand, prepare for and profit from the crash dynamics.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fronius and SunWize expand partnership

KINGSTON & BRIGHTON, USA: SunWize Residential Power Systems, the premier solar installation division of SunWize Technologies, Inc., has entered into an agreement with Fronius USA, LLC to utilize Fronius IG Plus and DATCOM as their preferred inverter and monitoring solutions for residential and small commercial applications.

SunWize Residential Power Systems, a leading installer in California and Oregon, determined it could lower the cost and improve service to its customers by standardizing on an inverter/monitoring solution. After evaluating a number of products, the Fronius IG Plus and DATCOM combination was selected on the basis of its technology, reliability, ease of use and value.

SunWize customers using Fronius’ top of the line inverter and monitoring solution are able to track their system’s performance from anywhere in the world via an online portal. Lifetime access is free; the only investment required is for datalogger components used in the initial system installation.

In addition, SunWize can monitor the system’s performance and will be alerted automatically in the event of a service disruption. This feature allows SunWize to further strengthen its commitment to quality and absolute customer satisfaction.

“We wanted to standardize on a best-in-class inverter and monitoring solution to improve our operational efficiencies and deliver greater value to homeowners,” said Paul Garvison, vice president of Commercial and Residential Power Systems at SunWize. ”By teaming with our long-time partner Fronius, we can now offer our customers sophisticated, yet user-friendly monitoring at a nominal cost.”

“We have for many years been a manufacturer partner of SunWize’s industry-leading distribution division,” said Gord Petroski, director at Fronius USA, Solar Electronics Division. “We are very pleased to expand our relationship to include their rapidly growing Residential Power Systems Division.”

Applied Materials’ next-generation IEC-certified SunFab module technology cuts customers’ cost of manufacturing

SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Materials, Inc. announced today that it has significantly lowered the cost for customers to manufacture solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on its SunFab Thin Film Line using its next-generation module technology.

Executing on its aggressive cost-cutting roadmap, Applied has leveraged economies of scale with leading suppliers and has introduced key process efficiencies that reduce the cost of materials by 22 percent.

In addition, SunFab panels using these new materials and processes have received IEC certification for aperture area conversion efficiencies of up to 9.7 percent, enabling customers to advance panel performance to this level without requiring additional certification.

“This achievement demonstrates Applied’s ongoing commitment to reducing the cost of manufacturing panels with our SunFab Thin Film Line to $1/watt and below,” said Tom Lacey, vice president and general manager of Applied Materials’ SunFab Thin Film Solar Group.

“Applied Materials has a unique ability to accelerate solar PV through its 5.7m2 panel size standard, innovative technology and line performance improvements, and also through its expanding global SunFab footprint that enables economies of scale by aggregating the needs of multiple customers.”

In order to achieve these cost reductions, Applied worked with leading, high-quality materials suppliers on behalf of its customers to secure lower pricing in key raw materials such as transparent conductive glass and laminating films. Applied also engineered and validated more efficient processes that significantly decrease materials consumption.

Applied’s receipt of advance IEC certification for panels produced on SunFab lines using this next-generation module package of materials and process changes will help accelerate customers’ time to market for their new panels.

The IEC certification was awarded to both single and tandem junction modules in all panel sizes by TÜV InterCert, demonstrating that, like the original SunFab panels, modules produced with this next-generation technology can meet performance and safety specifications under challenging environmental conditions.

Konarka solar panels power Neuber’s Energy sun-bags

LOWELL, USA: Konarka Technologies Inc., an innovator in development and commercialization of Konarka Power Plastic, a material that converts light to energy, announced the company’'s Konarka Power Plastic solar panels have been integrated into German-based Neuber’s Energy Sun-Bags, the lightest solar energy bag available on the market.

Now available for purchase, the business and leisure bags charge mobile phones, digital cameras, iPods, Mp3 Players and more with solar power.

“There is great demand for a versatile, flexible solar bag giving users the ability to charge mobile devices on the move,” commented Alexander Valenzuela, vice president of European business development at Konarka. “Thanks to Konarka’s light weight, flexible Power Plastic solar panels, Neuber’s bag is the lightest solar bag available in the market.”

Sun-Bags weigh only 500 grams including the battery, bag structure and solar panel. Available in 37 colors with optional custom printing, users never have to worry about getting to a power connection to charge devices. Neuber’s Sun-Bags are currently available globally. Pricing begins at 99 Euro (under $150 USD).

AETI enters solar power market

HOUSTON & ANAHEIM USA: American Electric Technologies Inc., a premium global supplier of custom-designed power infrastructure solutions for the traditional and renewable energy industries, announced its formal entry into the rapidly emerging solar power market at the 2009 Solar Power International (SPI) conference and expo.

With its official market entry, AETI is offering comprehensive electrical services for solar power infrastructures and modular solar power substations that reduce infrastructure, operating and maintenance costs. In addition, the company brings a long history of proven power distribution expertise and service to the solar power industry.

"As the solar power industry trends toward integrating utility-scale power generation, developers need a proven partner to help them keep up with demand using unique and innovative power distribution solutions," said Charles Dauber, chief executive officer of AETI.

"Our 60-year history and extensive technical expertise in power infrastructure equipment, along with our construction and services capabilities, will enable the industry to reach its potential of grid parity energy production."

AETI will serve the solar power market by leveraging more than 60 years of providing rugged, low, medium and high voltage AC and DC voltage power distribution and control technologies and services to the traditional energy and wind markets.

The company's containerized substations and power conversion systems will help reduce solar utility developers' costs and increase solar power infrastructure reliability by bringing technology to market that has been pre-commissioned and wired, stringently tested for harsh environments, and is ready to be integrated into existing infrastructure.

Sustainable Energy intros PARALEX solar power system to North American market

ANAHEIM, USA: Solar Power International Conference, Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd has introduced PARALEX, a unique extra low voltage, high yield commercial rooftop solar power system to the North American market.

PARALEX changes the game for the rooftop solar power industry by delivering a greater return on investment while providing the highest level of safety and reliability for building owners, suppliers, integrators and contractors. Key benefits include:

* Increased power yields—PARALEX produces 5-15% higher energy yields per kilowatt installed in comparison to conventional systems.
* Highest level of safety—PARALEX has an inherently safe, extra low voltage design that addresses concerns of public safety and liability critical for commercial and public buildings
* Lowest cost of ownership— PARALEX has a simple, flexible design that requires no special integrators, system designers or installers, reducing the cost of installation and maintenance. The result is the lowest cost per kilowatt hour for maximum return on invested capital.

"PARALEX raises the bar for solar power systems providing public sector and commercial building owners an efficient, sustainable energy source while delivering the maximum return on investment," said Robert Bucher, President and CEO of Sustainable Energy.

"The performance benchmark results demonstrate the increased system energy yield PARALEX delivers by turning each thin film module into an independent solar power generator. With the introduction of PARALEX, Sustainable Energy is poised to capture rooftop solar market share by accelerating the acceptance of thin-film products and reducing the time and complexity of installations."

PARALEX combines Sustainable Energy's proprietary extra low voltage inverter, SUNERGY, with standard thin film PV modules in a parallel architecture that maximizes energy yield, simplifies installation, and reduces total system cost, while addressing safety concerns associated with high voltage products.

Unlike traditional series string architecture power systems that reduce system power output to the level of the lowest producing panel, PARALEX connects solar modules in parallel, ensuring that each individual module performs at its maximum potential.

Additionally, PARALEX reduces the impact of shading, soiling, and other real world factors without the need to add complex module micro inverter electronics that increase installation and maintenance costs or traditional high power inverters that require complex shading analysis and decrease total power delivery.

PARALEX stands alone in meeting the emerging safety concerns for commercial and public sector facilities such as schools, shopping centers, office complexes and recreational areas. PARALEX operates at consumer appliance voltage levels from 50 – 150v compared to high voltage systems that operate at levels up to 1000v.

The elimination of high DC array voltages provides an important safety benefit to installation and maintenance crews. In addition, the SUNERGY inverter products utilize low voltage electrical components increasing long-term reliability while decreasing manufacturing costs.

New SunSi Energies JV for trichlorosilane production facility

NEW YORK, USA: SunSi Energies Inc. announced that, through its wholly-owned subsidiary SunSi Energies Hong Kong Ltd., it has executed definitive Articles of Association for the creation of a newly formed Joint Venture, which will own and operate an existing Trichlorosilane (TCS) production facility in Zibo, China.

As previously announced, SunSi will own 90 percent of the Joint Venture Company; named Zibo SunSi Chemical Co. Ltd., specifically formed to own the assets, expertise and technology of the Zibo TCS production facility that currently maintains a production capacity of 25,000 MT per year.

Zibo SunSi Chemical Co. Ltd. will be engaged in the production of TCS, a chemical primarily used in the production of polysilicon, which is an essential raw material in the production of solar cells for photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert sunlight to electricity for homes, businesses and farms.

TCS is considered to be the first product in the solar PV value chain before polysilicon, and is also the principal source of ultrapure silicon in the semiconductor industry.

Pursuant to the terms of the joint venture agreement between the parties, all of the assets, including permits, rights, land usage, as well as the entire labor force and management team of the Zibo TCS producer, will be transferred into Zibo SunSi Chemical Co. Ltd. upon closing of the transaction.

While the current name plate capacity of the facility is 25,000 metric tons of TCS per year, SunSi has committed to double this number over the next 12 months. Concurrently, the TCS production facility continues its normal activities.

SunSi Energies also announced that Child, Van Wagoner & Bradshaw, PLLC (CVB), their US-based auditors with offices in China, has completed the audit of the Chinese company's financial statements for the last two fiscal years under U.S. GAAP.

"We are pleased to have completed our due diligence and review of the Chinese company and its operations. While conducting our review over the past nine months, we have built a solid relationship with the corporation, while integrating ourselves in the management of the Chinese company.

"The Chinese team will be integrated into the newly formed entity as its members are not only well respected in the industry, but also the leaders in TCS production. We can now focus on the expansion and economic growth of the company," said Mr. Richard St-Julien, Vice President of SunSi Energies Inc. and President of SunSi Energies Hong Kong Ltd.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Solar state: Look to supply lines!

by Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network

The article below is part of our new Insight series of consulting services encompassing customized research and business strategies. These Insight services are tailor-made on a case-by-case basis, leveraging our unique combination of market expertise, global presence, and relationships with key industry players.

Data for this article are in our report: "Opportunities in the Solar Market for Crystalline and Thin Film Solar Cells", and was published today in my column on, a financial website --

There is almost a daily a stream of conflicting data points coming out of the solar industry. One way to reconcile such differences is to look at the supply line.

Dozens of companies sell materials to the solar industry for module construction, assembly and installation, including polysilicon, indium tin oxide (transparent conductive electrode), adhesives, sealants, encapsulants, coatings, sputtering targets and gases. A healthy supply chain means a healthy solar panel market.

I noted in my Sept. 1 article on that solar panel manufacturers that reported losses a few weeks earlier included Energy Conversion Devices, JA Solar, LDK Solar, ReneSola, Solar Power and Yingli Green Energy.

On Oct. 19, Macquarie upgraded YGE to outperform and raised the price target to $15 from $12. Piper Jaffray reiterated an overweight rating and $6 price target on JASO.

On Oct. 1, Barclays Capital maintained an equal weight rating and $4.50 price target on SOL, and Societe Generale downgraded LDK from hold to sell, reducing the price target from $8.50 to $4.50.

Also of importance, on Sept. 8, ENER rose 24.98 percent to $13.01 on speculation that Applied Materials(AMAT Quote) would acquire ENER for $18 per share. Recently, SunPower and Akeena Solar disappointed investors on Oct. 22, even though it topped Wall Street estimates.

I discussed on Sept. 18 on that a company I started, SolarPA, has developed an antireflective coating (ARC) utilizing 3-7 nm proprietary nanomaterials to increase the efficiency of solar cells by as much as 12 percent. A number of material and equipment companies approached me to discuss the technology and possible joint marketing.

Air Products(APD Quote)sells gases to the solar industry. Five weeks ago, that company laid off a number of R&D employees in its solar department, deciding to focus instead on its core businesses.

Covidien sells materials to solar manufacturers. Five weeks ago, its global marketing manager for PV materials left the company for reasons unknown.

Ferro sells thick film pastes to the solar industry. Two weeks ago, the company reorganized and laid off its business development manager who handles new business opportunities such as solar.

An improvement of 10 percent efficiency corresponds to a reduction of manufacturing costs of about 10 percent. Clearly, at a time when Chinese solar manufacturers are receiving nearly free money from banks and the Chinese government, then selling product at lower prices than can be made in other parts of the world, a 10 percent decrease in manufacturing costs can be significant, particularly during this period of slow growth for the industry.

By the way, Applied Materials and Oerlikon also initiated talks, as they are selling equipment with an amorphous silicon recipe with efficiencies in the 8 percent range. They continue trying to develop a micromorph structure with efficiency in the 10 percent range with no firm production-worthy results, in my opinion.

Using SolarPA's ARC coating, I believe, could bump up their product to 9 percent. Yet, both companies discontinued discussions.

In my analysis and judgment, business conditions in the supply chain are not healthy, otherwise we would not be seeing behind closed door activities such as layoffs and organizational changes -- activities that would have otherwise gone unnoticed by an analyst. And if the supply chain is not healthy, the solar panel industry is suffering with the same conditions.

I see a recovery in 2010, but estimate growth at only 26 percent based in watts. That's little more than half the average growth rate of 40 percent per year over the past decade excluding 2008.

Transparent conductive films for flexible electronics 2010-2020

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Transparent Conductive Films for Flexible Electronics 2010-2020" report to its offering.

This report focuses on the requirements and achievements to date on the topic of flexible transparent conductors, where high transparency and high conductivity are required.

Worldwide research and design efforts are presented, both from research institutes and companies that are developing the necessary materials and processes. Several technical solutions available are compared, and forecasts are given for the next 10 years.

Increasingly more and more flexible devices are required, from flexible displays for e-readers, OLEDs and other types to flexible photovoltaics and beyond. These devices require a conductor to close the layers of active materials, but that conductor needs to be transparent in applications such as displays and photovoltaics to allow light through.

Today, transparent conductive oxides are widely used for rigid devices but these will become more expensive due to rare materials used, and are inadequate for most flexible electronics applications where they can easily crack under little strain. Alternatives are sought.

The main materials available for this purpose are:
* Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs).
* Organic materials, such as the most common PEDOT:PSS.
* Carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene.

Each have trade-offs between conductivity, transmittance, and flexibility. Each can be patterned in different ways. While sputtering will remain an important and high-volume technology for coating of rigid substrates like glass, solution-based processes including printing and the use of organic and nanoparticle materials have already gained a lot of traction and are expected to dominate the market for the flexible applications within a few years.

Significant new developments are being made with both the materials used and how they can be deposited. This report addresses the performance of the different options and profiles organizations around the world that are developing better solutions. The biggest opportunity

In 2020, the biggest opportunity is for flexible OLEDs and flexible photovoltaics -- however, both lack appropriate, low cost flexible barriers today, which delays the market penetration.

While ESD (electro static discharge) applications have moderate requirements concerning the properties of TCFs, demands in devices such as OLEDs are more complex. The main reason is that in that case, not only the standard properties as conductivity, transmittance and flexibility are important, but the interactions with other layers play an important role, namely charge carrier injection.

In addition, for large area devices, homogeneity is more critical, especially when it comes to display and lighting applications. The human eye is more sensitive to changes in brightness than to changes in colour, and brightness of an light emitting device depends on the electrical conditions -- voltage in the case of inorganic electroluminescence, current flow in the case of electrochromic and light-emitting semiconductors.

Market forecasts 2010-2020 IDTechEx find that the market for TCFs will be $0.24 million in 2010 -- mainly used in research and development and used in small quantities for commercial devices.

By 2017, TCFs will become a billion dollar market for printed and potentially printed electronics, reaching $3.39 billion in 2020, mainly due to photovoltaics and OLED displays. The report gives forecasts by component for 10 years.

Ascent Solar unveils FlexPower modules

Solar Power International 2009, THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., a developer of lightweight flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules, today unveiled its FlexPower line of products.

The FlexPower class of modules, which includes Light, Mobile and Extreme, carries an industry leading power to weight ratio, achieves the highest power density of any flexible product currently available in the market and provides a unique form-fit capability. The FlexPowerTM line is now available and on display at Solar Power International at the Company’s booth 1254.

FlexPower Light modules are manufactured for the Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) market. The FlexPower Light line features a 5 Meter long product that delivers 123 watts and is the world’s largest monolithically interconnected flexible module.

Manufacturers of building materials and BIPV systems can now utilize the unique nature of the FlexPower Light class for large area BIPV installations and seamless integration into building surfaces.

FlexPower Mobile is designed for the Electronic Integrated Photovoltaic (EIPV) market. These modules are optimized for 12-volt battery charging applications, provide seamless integration into consumer electronics and are available encapsulated or un-encapsulated as a build to suit solution.

FlexPower Extreme for Defense is a durable and deployable photovoltaic solution for Defense applications. The Extreme class of modules is designed to provide excellent power density and match existing battery recharging ecosystems allowing for more supply line independence.

Farhad Moghadam, President and CEO for Ascent Solar stated: "This is an exciting event for Ascent Solar as we unveil our line of products to the public. Our ability to manufacture monolithically integrated flexible CIGS modules provides a unique and enabling solution to various premium market opportunities. FlexPower is not only a brand name, but it also best represents our manufacturing capability at Ascent Solar."

TGI Solar turns management of Solar Power Italy srl to Prime Solar srl

RED BANK, USA: TGI Solar Power Group, provider of solar and other clean technology products and solutions, has turned management of Solar Power Italy srl, Italian subsidiary of TGI, to its strategic partner Prime Solar srl of Italy.

The decision was made to allow Prime Solar to handle affairs of Solar Power in Italy, whereas TGI shall manage and oversee Prime Solar's interests in the US.

"We believe that having a local management team to oversee our interests in Italy will bring more effective results," said John Litvinchuk, COO for TGI Solar.

"And at the same time, we are looking forward to supporting Prime's existing projects in the US, as well as working to identify new global opportunities in sustainable energy. Green Energy is the future, with the rising cost of energy globally, and we are excited to jointly develop and commercialize promising renewable energy technologies around the world."

Prime Solar srl is a licensed and insured Italian Solar Energy Contractor and Solar General Building Contractor. We specialize in the creation and installation of custom-designed residential and commercial solar electric power, solar heating, and wind energy systems.

By handling the job from the solar system design all the way through to the installation and final inspection of the system, we bring continuity through our turn-key approach.

2009 PV Taiwan: Orders flood in, dazzling venture glows with success

TAIPEI, TAIWAN:The message is clear! Solar is hot, very hot, and after 2009 PV Taiwan there’s no turning back.

The three-day event from Oct.7 to Oct. 9 attracted 10,160 visitors, a 65 percent increase from the previous year. Among them were 1,421 foreign buyers (+58 percent from 2008) who represented nations as diverse as Germany, the USA, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, India, and China.

This event also known as the 2009 Taiwan Int’l Photovoltaic Forum, marked the first collaboration between TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council) and SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Int’l).

Visitors from over 50 countries join PV Taiwan
At the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s first-ever pavilion, spokesperson Ms. Gabriele Haase at the pavilion praised the planning and execution of the PV Taiwan that greatly helped to attract floods of visitors.

In addition the “Germany Day” series of seminars on Oct. 8 also paraded vast opportunities. After meeting with success at the show, the German organizers look forward to bringing more German companies for next year show.

These and other pavilions formed a dazzling venue that attracted buyers from both Europe and Japan to place massive orders, many of which were signed right on the show floor. Wu, a director of the module manufacturer Perfect Source Tech. Corp., also pointed out that besides the European clientele, many buyers came from Japan and took advantage of the factory tours to inspect Taiwan production.

HCPV Pavilion pulls in crowds
Without a doubt the special HCPV Pavilion was the hottest spot at the show. It spotlighted high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV), HCPV products and technology. This area hosted speeches from world-renowned experts, as well as a photovoltaic museum which detailed the technical applications and development trends of HCPV.

The 32 booths displayed HCPV modules and technology from 13 leading HCPV companies and research institutions, including Everphoton Energy Co., Compound Solar Technology Co., Arima EcoEnergy Technologies Corp., Arima Photovoltaic and Optical Corp., Millennium Communication Co., Huang Yih Gear Industry Co., Powertronics Co., Tisamax Technical Co., Green Source Technology Co., Pan-Co International Co., SUMITRONICS TAIWAN CO., LTD., and the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research.

“This year’s exhibition was the first in which HCPV companies joined in their own dedicated area,” stated marketing director of Everphoton Energy Co. Annie Lai. “That went a long way in helping us to profile Taiwan’s HCPV industry. and helped to attract large numbers of buyers and inquiries. Overall buyers increased 20 percent on last year’s show and there was great interest from buyers from the US, Germany, Hungary, and Australia.”

“That new HCPV Area greatly helped HCPV companies,” noted Yong-Si Su, project planning director at Epistar Corp. who noted that “PV Taiwan’s gala banquet brought together companies in Taiwan’s photovoltaic industry, giving upstream and downstream companies a great chance to establish connections; I hope there will be more events of this kind in the future.”

Standing room only in PV forum
Held from Oct. 7 to 8 in Room 201 of the Taipei International Convention Center, the Taipei Summit and PV Taiwan Forum 2009 drew an audience of more than 500 visitors during their four sessions.

Participants came from home and abroad, including high ranking officials from ASEAN countries: Fortunato dela Peña, Undersecretary for Science and Technology Services of the Philippines; Sorayut Phettakul, Vice Minister for Trade and Industry of Thailand; and Ms. Took Gee Loo, Deputy Secretary General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.

This year's forum included 18 guest international speakers, namely the Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Sunil Gupta, President of Solarbuzz LLC Craig Stevens, LDK Chairman Xiaofeng Peng, President of Sino-American Silicon Products Inc. Ms. Doris Hsu, Director General of ISFOC Dr. Pedro Banda, and CEO of Würth Solar Bernhard Dimmler.

These experts covered a wide range of issues, including technologies and trends in the photovoltaic industry, polysilicon and other new materials, applications for new photovoltaic technologies, and the development of thin-film solar cells. Their analyses and opinions on PV spurred lively interactions with their audiences.

Thumbs up for innovation event
The nine New Products & Solution Outlook during the course of the exhibition also drew full crowds.

International buyers asked about smart, low-cost, highly efficient solar cells, and the development and application of new technologies and products, and scheduled further post-conference visits to exhibition booths in expectation of future business opportunities.

PV Museum stages glowing roots of solar
This year’s PV Taiwan featured the Photovoltaic Museum that drew an endless flow of visitors reflected on the past as PV Museum guides outlined important milestones in the development of the photovoltaic industry while full production displays provided valuable information on the production of solar cells.

The 3-in-1 heat insulation solar glass developed by National Taiwan University of Science and Technology amazed the crowds and drew potential buyers to hands-on demonstrations with its combination of insulating, self-cleaning, and electric generation properties, and an 8℃ indoor temperature drop after application. The conferences also included daily draws for pre-register buyers, with the PS3 console top prize proving to be a hot attraction.

In the adjacent applied products display much attention was directed to the applied products display, which focused on the application of technology in everyday life.

One popular product on display was the solar-powered pet house developed by National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, which uses solar energy to power deodorizing equipment, fans, and lights. This won the hearts of many US buyers who signed orders on the spot.

There was also a solar powered cockroach elimination machine developed by Hung Der Technical and Commercial High School that re-charges with solar power to sense and electrocute cockroaches. This brought in many inquiries from visiting buyers and offers to collaborate in production.

International buyers were also highly interested in Ching Yun University’s trendy solar car; the Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan’s solar cooking pot (that cooks food using optical reflection) and Solarfocus Technology’s solar powered clothes, which helps blood circulation, and maintains a comfortable temperature for the wearer.

The photovoltaic industry has rebounded and been busy receiving and filling orders. For example, Quincy Lin, CEO of Neo Solar Power Corp. (NSP) says production at his company has been in full throttle since July, and buyer inquiries at the exhibition remained high even though the company has already a full order list to keep it busy up to next year. Lin stated that this year’s exhibition was much larger than last year’s, and the large turn-out made it easier to heighten corporate profile.

All companies agreed that foreign buyers were especially active in this year’s PV Taiwan especially as the new US administration has strongly been promoting a green energy policy. This year’s exhibition also welcomed a group of 33 US senators and representatives along with house speakers and majority leaders from Hawaii and several New England states. This high profile group lauded Taiwan’s green energy industry and the exhibition itself, indicating a high international interest in the Taiwanese market.

The joint efforts of TAITRA and SEMI helped 2009 PV Taiwan join domestic and foreign companies under one roof and to stage Taiwan’s massive industrial and R&D power and the diversity of the industry. With the high standards set in this year’s exhibition, and the active participation of buyers from more than 50 countries, Taiwan’s solar industry has established a solid position in the international arena.

Expect to see an even bigger and better show at the next PV Taiwan from Oct. 26-28, 2010!

Pre-Copenhagen Executive Mission matches US technology to Indian needs

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The US-India Business Council (USIBC) launched the first annual Green India Executive Mission, with an executive delegation representing some of the world’s leading clean energy and water infrastructure companies.

Led by Robert Nelson, senior partner with the renowned firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Member of the US-India Business Council Board of Directors, the Green India Executive Mission is in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry.

“Our Delegation is enthusiastic to play a role in deploying the latest and best clean technologies in India -– to help India meet its growing energy needs in a sustainable manner,” said Ted Jones, Director for Policy Advocacy at the US-India Business Council.

Even with efficiency improvements, India’s demand for power is forecast to more than quadruple by 2030, making India the third largest energy consumer in the world after the United States and China.

India’s need for water infrastructure is equally acute. India is heavily dependent on the monsoon for water supply –- 90 percent of all river flows occur in a four-month period. Whereas the US stores up to 5,000 cc of water per capita and China stores up to 1,000 cc, India currently stores just 500 cc of water per capita.

“India has made important domestic commitments to deploy low-carbon-technologies and improve the existing water infrastructure,” said Jones. “Our companies are here this week to better understand these new incentives, and gauge the commercial opportunities.”

The National Action Plan details plans to deploy 15,000 megawatts of renewable power by 2012; 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020; saving 10,000 megawatts through energy efficiency by 2012; and increasing nuclear capacity to 40,000 MW by 2032.

India aims to increase efficiency in the water sector by 20 percent as well as make improvements in the overall storage and distribution of water throughout the system.

“Obviously these commitments can be met only by broad private-sector participation,” Jones observed. “The key is for India to develop and sustain a robust market for clean technologies and water infrastructure.”

Among the technology companies in the Delegation are AES Solar; Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.; Azure Power; CH2M Hill; Easy Energy Systems; Eaton Corp.; General Electric Co.; Hines Corp.; Honeywell; SPX; Synergics; United Technologies; and Weston Solutions Ltd. The delegation also includes leading investment banks and finance firms energy consulting and professional services companies.

The USIBC Delegation will meet with key Government of India officials in the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Ministry of Power, and the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, among others.

Recognizing the important role of State Governments in the deployment of low-carbon technologies and improvements in water infrastructure, the Mission will host in New Delhi senior government officials from select progressive States, including Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Gujarat.

On the morning of Friday, October 30th, the Mission Delegates will meet with their Indian industry counterparts in sessions aimed at exploring partnerships between US and Indian companies in the clean energy and clean water sectors.

With this Mission, USIBC is fulfilling its commitment to deepen U.S.-India trade and investment in clean technologies made at the launch, one year ago, of its standing Green India Initiative.

US-India cooperation in energy and infrastructure has steadily increased ever since India and the United States launched Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) in 2001. The deepening of this collaboration will yield political and economic benefits that support the mutual interests of India and the United States in achieving energy security and reducing carbon emissions.

The US-India Business Council (USIBC), formed in 1975 at the request of the Government of India and the U.S. Government to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties, is hosted under the aegis of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

SunWize, SOLON establish strategic partnership

Solar Power International 2009, KINGSTON, USA: SunWize Technologies, the solar industry’s leading wholesale distributor, will be a strategic distributor of SOLON Corp.'s top quality, made-in-the-USA modules in North America. The SOLON Blue 220/01 is in stock and available for immediate shipment.

The quality of the SOLON product is reflected by its industry-leading ten year workmanship and 25 year performance guarantee warranties. With its proven German design and state-of-the-art US manufacturing, SOLON strives to deliver the highest quality and most reliable solar solutions on the market.

SOLON is a subsidiary of the German-based SOLON SE, one of Europe’s largest solar module manufacturers and a supplier of solar power plants. The Tucson, AZ manufacturing facility began operations in 2007 and sources many of its materials from US suppliers.

SunWize currently stocks the 225 and 230 watt versions of the SOLON Blue 220/01, providing solar installers exceptional value at an extremely competitive price point. It is a highly efficient polycrystalline solar module with module efficiencies of up to 14.02 percent. The SOLON Blue is ruggedly constructed, incorporating stout 4mm solar glass with a twin-wall frame for ultra high load capacity.

SunWize and SOLON will be exhibiting the Blue 220/01 and a prototype of the all-black monocrystalline 230/15 prototype at Solar Power International 2009 in Anaheim, CA, October 27-29, Booths 201 and 409.

“We are excited to announce our newest module manufacturer relationship. After extensive evaluation, we selected SOLON modules because of their superior quality and value,” reports David Kaltsas, executive vice president at SunWize. “In addition to providing a best-in-class product, we have a partner that shares our commitment to customer satisfaction and the growth of green jobs in America.”

“We are extremely pleased to partner with the premier distributor in the industry,” states Olaf Koester, CEO of SOLON Corporation. “SunWize mirrors our focus on quality and customer satisfaction. We look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration.”

NextEra Energy Resources to supply solar power to PG&E

JUNO BEACH, USA: NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, already the country’s leading generator of wind and solar power, has entered into a contract to sell 250-megawatts of solar thermal power from the proposed Genesis Solar Energy Project to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E).

The proposed Genesis Solar Energy Project will be comprised of two 125-megawatt units. Once both units are fully operational, the project is expected to produce approximately 560 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity each year. This is equal to the annual usage of more than 80,000 homes.

“This agreement is an important step forward in the development of solar power in California,” said Mitch Davidson, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources. “With increasing concerns about greenhouse gases, solar electricity can have a meaningful impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to clean energy, this project will create jobs and many positive economic impacts for Riverside County.”

“Solar energy is a reliable and environmentally-friendly way to help meet California’s peak energy demands,” said Fong Wan, senior vice president for energy procurement at PG&E. “Through our agreement with NextEra Energy, we will significantly increase the amount of clean, renewable energy we provide to our customers in the years to come.”

This is NextEra Energy Resources first contract to sell solar power to PG&E, and it is subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. In August, NextEra Energy Resources filed an Application for Certification with the California Energy Commission (CEC) to construct, own and operate this 250-megawatt solar plant in the Sonoran Desert.

In addition, NextEra Energy Resources has filed for a right-of-way grant with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for this project.

For the Genesis Project, NextEra Energy Resources plans to utilize proven and scalable parabolic trough solar thermal technology that has been used commercially for more than two decades. NextEra Energy Resources has nearly 20 years of experience operating similar technology at its SEGS solar facilities in the Mojave Desert.

The proposed Genesis Solar Energy Project will be located on an approximately 1,800-acre site between Desert Center and Blythe, on land managed by the BLM in Riverside County, California.

The more than 500,000 parabolic mirrors will be assembled in rows to receive and concentrate the solar energy to produce steam for powering a steam turbine generator. Genesis is one of about a dozen solar projects identified by BLM for fast track consideration to receive permits by the end of 2010.

Assuming timely regulatory approvals, NextEra Energy Resources plans to start construction on the project late in 2010 with operations expected to begin approximately 30 months later.

Once complete, this project will reduce the emissions of CO2 by approximately 500,000 tons per year, when compared to a high-efficiency natural gas plant. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates this is the equivalent of removing about 83,000 passenger vehicles from the road each year.

The recently filed Application for Certification with the CEC is the latest example of NextEra Energy Resources ongoing leadership and commitment to renewable energy generation. This is the second Application for Certification the company has filed with the CEC.

In March 2008, NextEra Energy Resources filed an Application for Certification with the CEC for the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Project to be located in eastern Kern County. The company is waiting for a final determination from the CEC on its pending application.

In addition to being the largest operator of solar power in the United States with 310 megawatts, NextEra Energy Resources, through its subsidiaries, is also the largest owner and operator of wind power in the country with more than 6,600 megawatts currently in operation. NextEra Energy subsidiaries also currently own and operate nearly 700 megawatts of wind in California.

SoloPower displays CIGS PV module prototype

Solar Power International 2009, SAN JOSE, USA: SoloPower, a California-based manufacturer of thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, announced that a prototype of its flexible CIGS photovoltaic module will be on display at the 3M booth, #377, at the Solar Power International 2009 conference in Anaheim, California on October 27-29, 2009.

SoloPower worked with 3M to develop a flexible CIGS photovoltaic module that includes the 3M Ultra Barrier system, which is designed to provide protection against the elements for a long and reliable operating life in the field.

SoloPower’s flexible CIGS modules represent a breakthrough solar product. Because of their lighter weight, they will be deployable with lower installation costs, providing less expensive solar electricity for utility, commercial and industrial customers.

SoloPower’s flexible modules will present new opportunities to large rooftop sites that glass-plate modules cannot service due to factors such as weight, high wind conditions, or roof penetrations.

SoloPower flexible CIGS modules are expected to be available for sale later in 2010.

Abengoa Solar signs contract with PG&E to supply solar power in California

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Abengoa Solar announced the signing of a power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to supply the electricity generated by the new solar plant “Mojave Solar.”

The project will generate 250 megawatts (MW) of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and is to be located in an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County, between Barstow and Kramer Junction, approximately nine miles northwest of Hinkley, and 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The project is expected to bring 1,200 green construction jobs and, when completed, approximately 80 permanent jobs to this desert area.

Once it starts operating in 2013, it will generate nearly as much electricity as all of California’s present-day commercial CSP installations combined, enough to power about 90,000 average homes, and avoid over 431 kilotons per year of greenhouse gas emissions.

On August 10, 2009, Abengoa Solar filed an Application for Certification with the California Energy Commission for its Mojave Solar Project. The project has been deemed data adequate by the CEC and public meetings are anticipated to begin in December.

Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar explained: “Mojave Solar is a project we have been working on for several years. The permitting and engineering effort is very advanced and we are very proud to partner with PG&E to make this project a reality.”

The project will be sited on 1,765 acres of private, previously disturbed land that had been farmed since the 1920s, but is now largely fallow. The solar plant will use significantly less water per acre than was used for agricultural purposes.

“The location has been carefully chosen and the plant has been specifically configured to minimize environmental impacts on the desert,” said Scott Frier, COO of Abengoa Solar, Inc.

The spinoff economic benefits, including jobs created, are expected to be significant near an area that was farmed for alfalfa from the 1920s, but was later largely abandoned.

Mojave Solar Project will contribute to meeting California’s aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for moving away from fossil fuels to solar energy and other renewable energy sources that avoid pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Applied Materials opens advanced solar research and customer demo facility in Xi’an

XI’AN, CHINA: Applied Materials Inc. today opened an advanced solar research and demonstration facility in Xi’an, China.

Applied Materials’ Solar Technology Center, the largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world, is comprised of laboratory and office buildings covering more than 400,000 square feet and contains an entire Applied SunFab thin film manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process. These lines are configured to closely simulate customer fabrication (fab) environments.

“This opening represents a critical breakthrough for the photovoltaic industry and China and a tremendous benefit to our customers,” said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO of Applied Materials. “Establishing this center in China is an integral part of Applied’s global strategy and an important step toward the industrialization of the global solar industry.”

Applied Materials is celebrating its 25th anniversary in China this year and today has more than 800 employees and 13 offices in the country, with approximately 300 employees in Xi’an. Applied first broke ground in Xi’an in 2006 and the total investment in the multi-phase project is more than $250 million dollars.

The completed facility includes a solar technology center for R&D, engineering, product demonstration, testing and training for crystalline silicon and thin film solar module manufacturing equipment and processes.

Employees in the center will work closely with local suppliers to test and qualify new materials and tools and evaluate potential new cost saving technologies. The center has the largest solar array in Xi’an, a 56 kW array on a parking lot structure.

“We believe this technology center will provide important contributions to driving down the cost of solar around the world,” stated Mark Pinto, senior vice president, general manager, Energy and Environmental Solutions and Applied’s chief technology officer.

“In addition to housing Applied’s state-of-the-art research into solar manufacturing techniques, customers and potential customers from around the world will be able to work side-by-side with our technologists to reduce their time to market and improve factory productivity and cell efficiency.”

Xi’an is located in the Shaanxi province in northwest China and is a growing center of energy technology excellence in China. The local province boasts more than 40 colleges and universities and Xi’an is recognized as one of the leading high-technology research areas in the country.

Applied has worked closely with local governments, contributed to research and awarded 166 university scholarships since 2005 through an R&D fund with the Xi’an Municipal Science and Technology Commission and Xi’an High Tech Park.

“As China works to build its renewable power infrastructure we are pleased to offer such a unique facility. In the laboratories, local suppliers of systems and materials will be able to work closely with our engineers to reduce development costs, accelerate the industrialization of clean energy technology and contribute to decreasing the cost of solar,” said Charlie Gay, president, Applied Solar.

“This is a powerful benefit we are bringing to our customers and to China, and we look forward to immediately putting these capabilities to work.”

SunPower's world-record solar panel with 20.4 percent total area efficiency

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced today that it has produced a world-record, full-sized solar panel with a 20.4 percent total area efficiency.

The prototype was successfully developed using funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under its Solar America Initiative (SAI), which was awarded to SunPower approximately two years ago.

The new 96-cell, 333-watt solar panel is comprised of SunPower's third generation solar cell technology that offers a minimum cell efficiency of 23 percent. In addition, the larger area cells are cut from a 165 mm diameter ingot and include an anti-reflective coating for maximum power generation.

With a total panel area of 1.6 square meters, including the frame, SunPower's 20.4 percent panel achieved the highest efficiency rating of a full sized solar panel and this rating was confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), an independent testing facility.

"SunPower has the engineering expertise and proven technology to accomplish this remarkable milestone in such a short period of time," said Larry Kazmerski, executive director, science and technology partnerships, located at NREL. "My colleagues at the DOE and NREL had cautioned me that reaching a 20 percent solar panel was a stretch, but this did not dampen my optimism that it would happen. I congratulate SunPower and its team of talented engineers on realizing this accomplishment."

SunPower expects to make the 20.4 percent efficiency solar panel commercially available within the next 24 months. The company plans to begin operating a US panel manufacturing facility in 2010 using automated equipment designed and commercialized with SAI funding.

SunPower recently announced the availability of the SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile (T5), the first photovoltaic roof product to combine solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. The T5 was also developed using research and development funds from the SAI.

"We are excited with the rapid pace in which we've been able to develop these advanced technologies," said Bill Mulligan, SunPower's vice president of technology and development. "Without the funding from the SAI, it would have taken us much longer to deliver both the world-record 96-cell solar panel and the innovative T5 Solar Roof Tile. We appreciate the DOE's continued support of the solar energy industry."

The Solar America Initiative is focused on accelerating widespread commercialization of clean solar energy technologies by 2015 and to provide the US additional electricity supply options while reducing dependence on fossil fuels and improving the environment.

It aims to achieve market competitiveness for solar electric power through government partnerships with industry, universities, national laboratories, states, and other public entities by funding new research and development activities.

Enfinity chooses LDK Solar for largest rooftop solar energy installation project with the Balta Group in Benelux

XINYU CITY, CHINA & SUNNYVALE, USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd has announced a supply contract with Enfinity for the largest rooftop solar energy installation project in Benelux (an economic union comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).

LDK Solar will provide approximately 18,000 solar modules to be installed on the Balta Group’s factory rooftop in Sint-Baafs-Vijve, Belgium. The project will be the largest solar installation project in Benelux, with a capacity of 4.2 MWp (megawatt peak) and total panel surface of over 30,000 square meters.

The solar panels will deliver an average power output of 3.6 million kW (kilowatt) hours per year, which is equivalent to the power consumption of approximately 1,200 families.

The Balta Group, a manufacturer of broadloom carpets, rugs and laminate flooring, will be utilizing a portion of the solar energy to power its own business activities, with any surplus flowing back to the public grid. For a 20-year duration of the project, Balta Group will enjoy reduced and more stable power bills, in addition to avoiding producing approximately 34.6 million kilograms in carbon dioxide emissions.

Enfinity, an international player in renewable energy, negotiated a 20-year lease for Balta Group’s rooftop space and has already begun installation of this project. Enfinity is utilizing revenue from the energy produced and the Green Energy Certificates from the Flemish Government to fund its participation in this project.

“Balta’s decision to manufacture green energy supports a broader view of sustainability in which the improvement in its energy efficiency and the reduction of CO2 emission play an important role. As a market leader, we take responsibility to reduce our ecological footprint and contribute to achieving European goals in the area of renewable energy,” commented Jules Noten, CEO of the Balta Group.

"We are excited to be working with Enfinity, who brings proven expertise and a track record of speedy execution to this project, as well as LDK Solar, who will provide best-in-class solar modules. Balta has more than 61 hectares of rooftop space in Belgium alone, so there is plenty of potential for additional projects in the future.”

“We are very pleased to partner with Balta and Enfinity for this ambitious project,” stated Xiaofeng Peng, Chairman and CEO of LDK Solar. “As we work diligently to expand our presence in Europe, we are very excited to provide the solar modules for the largest solar rooftop project in Benelux. This four megawatt module shipment also represents a significant milestone for LDK Solar -- our first module volume shipment to Europe.”

Phoenix Solar AG to build photovoltaic power plant in France

SULZENOOS: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading, TecDAX-listed international photovoltaic system integrator has been commissioned by E.ON Climate & Renewables GmbH to plan and build a solar power plant with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts in France.

E.ON Climate & Renewables, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, is responsible for the E.ON Group's global renewables and climate protection activities. Following the recent establishment of Phoenix Solar's French subsidiary, Phoenix Solar SAS, this project is an important major milestone in entering one of tomorrow's most important European photovoltaic markets.

Phoenix Solar will install the solar park near Le Lauzet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region on a southern alpine slope at an altitude of 1,000 m. The company will be using crystalline solar modules spread across a four hectare site to generate some two million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

This corresponds to the annual demand of about 600 households. Construction is scheduled to start end of October. The aim is to have the solar power plant connected to the grid before the end of the year.

"We are very pleased to be building our first megawatt project in France for E.ON Climate & Renewables. This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise and our long-standing experience in building solar farms in the megawatt range also in this market, which is new to Phoenix Solar," said Dr Andreas Hänel, CEO of Phoenix Solar AG.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

SOLARCON India to address 2020 target of 20 GW solar

BANGALORE, INDIA: Draft versions of India’s “National Solar Mission” indicate the possibility of unprecedented investment in renewable energy with a massive expansion in installed solar capacity— from 20 GW of solar power by 2020 to 200 GW by 2050.

The people, policies, companies, and technologies leading this transformation will be showcased at SOLARCON India 2009— the first and largest conference and exhibition dedicated to serving the business and technology needs of India's fast-growing solar photovoltaic (PV) industry.

The exhibition, in association with Intersolar India and the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), will take place on November 9-11 in Hyderabad, India.

SOLARCON India is the premier event that will bring together participants from the entire PV industry eco-system— including materials and equipment, cell and module manufacturing, balance of systems (BOS) space, total PV solution providers, the finance and banking community, policy makers, end users, and service providers. The exhibition is an excellent opportunity to meet and interact with PV exhibitors and suppliers across the supply chain.

Presentations across Solar/PV ecosystem
On November 9, there will be a keynote address by Dr. Eicke Weber of Fraunhofer ISE. On November 10, Charlie Gay of Applied Materials -– Solar presents a keynote address on “The India PV Opportunity and World PV Markets.”

On November 10, J. Fleischer of MAG Group presents on “Manufacturing Trends to Support Gigawatt-scale PV Cell/Module Production” and Bettina Weiss from the SEMI PV Group offers her insights on “The Importance of Global PV Standards in PV.”

Panel presentations include:
India PV Market Overview and Forecasts with CERC, Tata BP Solar, Morgan Stanley, Cleantech, and Frost & Sullivan
PV and Climate Change with Tata BP Solar, Moser Baer PV, Solar Semiconductor, TERI, SustainAbility, WWF India, and SEMI PV Group (for U.S. EPA programs)
Key PV Products and Applications in India, including presentations on Polysilicon/ Materials Manufacturing (Virasa Technologies), Utility Scale Power Plants (Titan Energy Systems), Challenges of Grid Connected PV (Webel SL Energy), Rural/Off-Grid Applications (Kotak Urja), and PV for Telecom Apps (SunTechnics)

Other programs include:
The India PV Market Landscape with BP Solar International, Moser Baer PV and Orb Energy
Government Policies Shaping the Growth of the Industry with iSuppli, MNRE, Solar Semiconductors and CERC
Strategies for Cost Competitiveness in India with Moser Baer, HSBC Bank and IREDA
Policy Perspectives from MNRE (for India), SEMI PV Group and Dow Corning (for the U.S.), EPIA (Europe), China, and the IFC/World Bank (on financing solar/PV)
Importance of Standards with MAG Group, IIT-Chennai, SEMI PV Group and Underwriters Labs (UL)
Balance of Systems with Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, SMA Solar Technology AG, University of Applied Sciences Ulm (Germany), and Luminous Teleinfra Limited
PV Project Planning and Implementation with Refex Energy, North Delhi Power Limited, Phoenix Solar AG and EPIA, and Astonfield Renewable Resources

For the first time in India, SEMI and the Semiconductor Safety Association - Europe (SSA-E) will present a technical workshop on EHS for PV Manufacturing targeted specifically to PV manufacturing professionals. The workshop will offer global experts addressing PV sustainability and recycling, management of fluorinated greenhouse gases, silane safety, emissions handling/abatement safety, and energy conservation.

“SOLARCON India 2009 offers a superb opportunity to learn about and understand the latest solar/PV business and technology trends and to explore the huge opportunity in India, with opportunities to network with top experts from across the solar/photovoltaic (PV) eco-system,” said Sathya Prasad, president of SEMI India.

“This event is essential for suppliers in India and global companies to stay current on the latest regional market and technology advancements.”

Solarmer Energy continues to break world records with 7.6 percent efficient plastic solar cell

LOS ANGELES, USA: Solarmer Energy, Inc., a leading developer of plastic solar panels, has done it again, breaking the plastic solar cell world record for a second consecutive time.

Solarmer announced its champion plastic solar cell efficiency of 7.6 percent, certified by the Newport Corporation’;s Technology and Applications Center’'s Photovoltaic (TAC-PV) Lab. The Newport Corp. is a globally recognized leader in advanced technology products and solutions.

Plastic solar panels, the next generation of solar products, will be flexible, transparent, and able to generate low cost clean energy from the sun. Attractive and colorful, customizable shape and sizes, and better low light performance are just a few in a long list of unique characteristics of plastic solar panels.

These solar panels will transform the renewable energy industry, because of their ability to drive cost down to 12-15 cents/kWh and much less than $1/Watt.

In the process of completing their pilot manufacturing line, this efficiency milestone increases anticipation for Solarmer’s plastic solar panels, which will be available next year. "Breaking the 7% efficiency barrier for organic photovoltaics is a huge accomplishment for Solarmer and the organic photovoltaic (OPV) industry." said Dr. Gang Li, Vice President of Technology Development.

"We are thankful for the contributions of our two primary collaborators, Prof. Luping Yu at the University of Chicago and Prof. Yang Yang at UCLA. We believe that our world class team will ensure that we continue along the path to the commercial success of OPVs."

“We are pleased that Newport’s recently launched certified PV lab is helping Solarmer in achieving outstanding results in efficiency. Our collaboration in material research and certified testing is a great example of how two very different companies can benefit by working together,” says Dr. Ruben Zadoyan, Director of Technology and Applications Center of Newport Corp.

Friday, October 23, 2009

MEMC to expand scope of solar business with SunEdison acquisition

ST. PETERS & BELTSVILLE, USA: MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., a leading provider of silicon wafers to the semiconductor and solar industries, has reached a definitive agreement to acquire privately held SunEdison LLC, a developer of solar power projects and North America's largest solar energy services provider.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2009, subject to customary closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals.

The agreement calls for $200 million to be paid at closing to SunEdison security holders, which will be paid 70 percent in cash and 30 percent in MEMC stock. The agreement also includes an earn-out provision, should SunEdison meet certain performance targets in 2010, of up to an additional $89 million, consisting of cash and stock.

In addition, the agreement calls for employee retention payments of $17 million in cash at closing, plus up to $34 million in stock which is subject to SunEdison meeting certain performance criteria and time vesting, the payment of certain transaction expenses and the assumption of net debt.

"This acquisition will provide a third engine of growth for MEMC," said Ahmad Chatila, Chief Executive Officer of MEMC. "MEMC will now participate in the actual development of solar power plants and commercialization of clean energy, in addition to supplying the solar and semiconductor industries with our traditional silicon wafer products."

"SunEdison has successfully built about 300 solar power plants representing approximately 80 MW of generating capacity on the rooftops and grounds of customers in the United States, Canada and Europe," said Carlos Domenech, COO of SunEdison.

"Our business is highly scalable and will be able to grow substantially, capitalizing on our more than 1.5 GW of pipeline, backlog and leads with a financially strong, technically sophisticated partner like MEMC, which also has a competitive cost structure in upstream materials. This combination will greatly accelerate our goal of making solar energy cost competitive with grid prices."

SunEdison is based in Beltsville, Maryland and employs approximately 300 people worldwide. It "simplifies solar" by managing the development, financing, operation and monitoring of solar power plants for commercial customers, including many national retail outlets, government agencies, and utilities.

In a typical structure SunEdison arranges third-party, non-recourse financing for the facility and the customer has no up-front capital outlay.

With one of the strongest brands in solar, SunEdison will continue to operate with the SunEdison name, as a subsidiary of MEMC. Carlos Domenech will continue to lead SunEdison. After the acquisition is complete, he is expected to be named as Executive Vice President of MEMC and President of SunEdison, reporting to Ahmad Chatila.

"By making solar power more affordable and easy to obtain, we expect to tap into a large pent-up demand," added Chatila. "We believe this strategy will drive revenue growth for our wafer business while producing a recurring revenue stream from solar-generated electricity. This will also allow us to directly benefit from the technological and cost advances that we are helping to create in the solar industry."

Chatila concluded, "In short, we believe MEMC and SunEdison make a powerful combination, and we are excited about having their talented employees around the world join the MEMC team."

MEMC expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings, subject to purchase accounting adjustments, by the second half of 2010.

Signet Solar intros 400 W single junction silicon thin film modules

MENLO PARK, USA: Signet Solar, a global manufacturer of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) modules, announced the introduction of 400W power class module using single junction (SJ) thin film silicon technology.

Signet Solar started volume production of these TUV certified large area thin film modules in October 2008 by implementing its proprietary technology on commercially available equipment. The production line has successfully ramped up over the last year and is operating at full capacity.

Signet’s consistent execution to its roadmap of improving module efficiency and output power has been well received by its customers. In addition to providing 15 percent higher output, the 400W single junction modules reduce balance of system costs by 7 percent to 10 percent.

“Our strategy of utilizing proven, commercially available equipment and implementing proprietary technologies has enabled us to quickly bring to market the industry leading price performance large area modules for utility scale power generation,” said Rajeeva Lahri, CEO and founder of Signet Solar.

“Our first year of production has been a resounding success with customers and partners who have embraced the usage of our large form factor modules, translating into a meaningful increase in internal rates of return (IRR) for investors.”

Signet Solar’s German engineered, high quality large area modules have already been deployed in over 15 solar photovoltaic installations in Europe and US ranging from solar farms to commercial rooftops applications.

Signet has been able to support its customers in securing bank financing of its solar photovoltaic modules by reducing financing risk through its warranty insurance from Munich Re, one of Europe’s largest insurance companies. Signet Solar is an innovation leader in large area silicon thin film module technology, working with customers worldwide to bring low cost solutions to solar farms and commercial roof top installations.

eIQ Energy, PV Powered ally on potential solar energy product enhancements

SAN JOSE, USA: eIQ Energy, Inc. and PV Powered, Inc. of Bend, Ore., will jointly explore enhancements to their solar energy conditioning products in a collaborative effort.

The two companies will seek to optimize system-level solutions used in solar power installations. By pre-validating the operation of PV Powered inverters and eIQ Energy’s vBoost product, system designers can be assured of the interoperability and optimal performance of the two solutions.

PV Powered is a leading supplier of high-efficiency inverters, which convert the DC power generated by solar panels to AC. eIQ Energy’s Parallel Solar technology—including the recently launched vBoost DC-to-DC converter modules—allows solar arrays to be wired in parallel rather than series, with substantial cost savings.

The two companies’ products will inter-operate across electrical buses, where there are opportunities to optimize the performance of system components. These optimizations will not only improve the operation of the solar installation but will also have a significant impact on the economics.

Among other things, the vBoost narrows the range of the voltages seen by the inverter, which could enable higher conversion efficiency for inverters. The data that can be provided by the vBoost system will give array operators better visibility into performance and potential problems before they have a chance to affect the inverter.

“We see an opportunity to collaborate with eIQ Energy and provide our customers system-level solutions that improve the economics of solar by optimizing power production from the panel to the inverter to the grid,” said Gregg Patterson, CEO of PV Powered.

Oliver Janssen, CEO of eIQ Energy, added, “We have great respect for PV Powered's technology; we’re using their inverters at a number of our beta installations with excellent results. We look forward to having a solution on the market that can take advantage of the innovation that the joint optimization of the two products will bring to the table.”

Amtech receives sizeable technology grant from Dutch government for solar R&D projects

TEMPE, USA: Amtech Systems Inc., a global supplier of production and automation systems and related supplies for the manufacture of solar cells, semiconductors, and silicon wafers, announced that its solar subsidiary, Tempress Systems Inc., recently received a $500,000 technology grant from the Dutch government for solar research and development.

The grant was obtained jointly with one of Tempress’ European solar research partners, and will be used for developing a process method to improve solar energy conversion efficiency rate.

J.S. Whang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amtech, commented: "This grant from the Dutch government is the latest in a series of recent Company business developments that demonstrate our growing technology expertise in the front-end manufacturing of solar cells.

"We continue to be optimistic about the long-term growth opportunities in the solar market and our ability to capture that growth by offering multiple solar production tools and becoming a technology turnkey product supplier to the diffusion, PSG, and PECVD markets."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Promising potential for PV manufacturing in India @ SOLARCON India 2009

BANGALORE, INDIA: SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) India, a leading global PV industry association, in association with Intersolar India and partner organizations India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and Fab City, organizing SOLARCON India 2009, the largest showcase for Solar/PV space in India, today held an interactive panel discussion titled, ”Rising opportunities for Solar/PV in India”.

Eminent professionals like Sankar Rao, Managing Director, Titan Energy Systems, SSN Prasad, Vice-president, Solar Semiconductors, Seshagiri Rao, India Manager, Sales, Oerlikon and Sathya Prasad, President, SEMI India were on the panel with BP Acharya, IAS, Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corp. (APIIC), chairing it.

The session held as part of an overall initiative to raise awareness of the opportunity in the solar/PV space addressed wide ranging topics from market potential for PV in India and the current state of PV manufacturing in India to how India can become a major player in the global solar/PV arena.

Setting the context, Sathya Prasad, President, SEMI India, stressed the role & importance of manufacturing in PV in India. He said: ‘India has been seeing a sharp rise in PV manufacturing. Aggressive targets are being set for installed PV generation capacity to the tune of 20GW by the year 2020. While there are challenges, the country has the advantage of being an established, high quality, low cost manufacturing base.”

Sankar Rao, Managing Director, Titan Energy Systems, said: ”The global PV segment has been growing at 30 percent annually for the last five years. India has been making significant progress as a player in photovoltaic modules and panel manufacturing units and stands a good chance of emerging as a global leader in solar PV technology.”

According to SSN Prasad, Vice-president, Solar Semiconductors: “Apart from off-grid applications such as home lighting, grid connected solar/PV farms are increasingly becoming attractive in India and will help solve the growing gap between energy supply and demand. This, coupled with adoption of new technology will drive growth of the Indian solar/PV space exponentially. We also expect more players to enter the industry in the near term enticed by the market opportunity.”

In his remarks, Seshagiri Rao, India Sales Manager, Oerlikon, stated: “Shortage of solar grade feedstock to grow wafers till 2008 has stimulated renewed interest in thin-film technologies and in particular amorphous silicon and microcrystalline.

“Reduction in the cost of the modules is becoming possible through increasing stabilized efficiencies and deposition rates of the materials. Current improvements in both product and manufacturing process technologies will see per module price at retail level dropping to Rs.50 by end of 2010. Anticipating similar cost reductions in BOS spectrum, dropping of total system cost to sub Rs. 100 levels by end of 2011 is also a reality.”

Signet Solar, BSC-Solar to build 1.8 MW solar farm in Czech Republic

BLÍ KOVICE, CZECH REPUBLIC & & MOCHAU, GERMANY: Signet Solar and BSC-Solar announced that they are jointly developing a 1.8 MW solar power plant in the Czech Republic, located in the Bl kovice region, South Moravia near the Austrian border. Signet Solar will supply single junction silicon thin film solar photovoltaic modules totaling 1.8 MW for the entire project.

The installation of the solar farm is set to start by end of October, 2009. BSC-Solar will construct the solar photovoltaic farm on five hectares of land using an estimated 20,000 single junction silicon thin film modules.

The solar farm will be completed and connected to the grid by the end of the year 2009, and will generate approximately 2.4 million kilowatt hours (Kwh) of electricity annually.

“This order is a testament to the growing acceptance of Signet Solar’s thin film photovoltaic modules in the European market,” said Gunter Ziegenbalg, Managing Director of Signet Solar GmbH.

“In the future, solar energy in the Czech Republic will play an increasingly important role. We are pleased by this supply agreement with the BSC Solar Group, one of the leading solar photovoltaic project developers in the Czech market, and it will further strengthen and expand our market position in the Czech Republic.”

“BSC-Solar, had a single most important criteria for cooperation with Signet Solar,” said Dieter Schäfer and Dalibor Kopp, Managing Directors of BSC-Solar. “No two locations are the same and each solar farm requires a customized approach to development.

“Signet Solar’s system level application support and project management expertise delivers an optimal installation experience. This strong customer commitment, coupled with the high quality of Signet Solar single junction silicon thin film modules, convinced us that we had made the right decision in partnering with Signet Solar.”

Satcon supplies solar PV inverter platforms for Canada’'s largest solar power plant

FREMONT, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility scale power solutions for the renewable energy market, announced that its PowerGate Plus 500 kW solar PV inverters were selected for and are now fully operational at First Light, Canada’'s largest solar farm developed through a joint venture between SunEdison and SkyPower.

The 9.1 megawatt First Light installation is located on approximately 90 acres of land in Stone Mills, Ontario, and is projected to generate more than 10 million kilowatt hours (kWhs), enough electricity to power almost 1,000 homes in its first year of operation.

“The First Light Solar Park is the largest system deployed under Ontario’s RESOP and is a significant step in the growth of utility scale solar power generation in North America,” said Carlos Domenech, SunEdison Chief Operating Officer.

“Producing reliable large scale solar power in the challenging Ontario climate presented design challenges to our project team. Satcon brought the expertise and the proven inverter technologies to help us achieve the performance and quality required to deliver stable and reliable solar power.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Satcon supplied 18 of its PowerGate Plus 500 kW inverters, the industry’s most proven large scale solar PV power conversion technology solution, with over 170 megawatts delivered worldwide since 2005.

The selection of the PowerGate 500 kW for First Light is yet another example that, as today’s solar PV farms grow in size and complexity, Satcon’s suite of utility solutions continue to set the standard for projects that require highly reliable and efficient power production.

Satcon’'s other utility grade solutions include the fully integrated 1 megawatt medium voltage platform, Prism™, and the recent addition to their product line, Solstice™, the industry’s first complete power harvesting and management solution for utility class solar power plants. Prism and Solstice, along with the PowerGate 1 megawatt and 500 kW solutions, give Satcon the most complete set of utility ready products in the industry.

“First Light further demonstrates the growing adoption of large scale solar installations in North America and the increased demand for advanced feature, utility grade solutions,” said Steve Rhoades, President and CEO of Satcon.

“We have worked closely with both SunEdison and SkyPower to develop a total system solution that delivers the highest levels of performance and reliability designed for the challenging Canadian environment. With First Light, we continue to set the standard for large scale solar power production in North America.”

The grand opening ceremony for First Light was held on October 14, 2009 in Stone Mills, Ontario.

Installed cost of solar PV systems in the US fell in 2008 -- Berkeley Lab report

USA: Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) released a new study on the installed costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the US, showing that the average cost of these systems declined by more than 30 percent from 1998 to 2008. Within the last year of this period, costs fell by more than 4 percent.

The number of solar PV systems in the US has been growing at a rapid rate in recent years, as governments at the national, state, and local levels have offered various incentives to expand the solar market. With this growth comes a greater need to track and understand trends in the installed cost of PV.

“A goal of government incentive programs is to help drive the cost of PV systems lower. One purpose of this study is to provide reliable information about the costs of installed systems over time,” says report co-author Ryan Wiser.

According to the report, the most recent decline in costs is primarily the result of a decrease in PV module costs. “The reduction in installed costs from 2007 to 2008 marks an important departure from the trend of the preceding three years, during which costs remained flat as rapidly expanding US and global PV markets put upward pressure on both module prices and non-module costs.

"This dynamic began to shift in 2008, as expanded manufacturing capacity in the solar industry, in combination with the global financial crisis, led to a decline in wholesale module prices,” states the report, which was written by Wiser, Galen Barbose, Carla Peterman, and Naim Darghouth of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

In contrast, cost reductions from 1998 through 2007 were largely due to a decline in non-module costs, such as the cost of labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems.

The study—the second in an ongoing series that tracks the installed cost of PV—examined 52,000 grid-connected PV systems installed between 1998 and 2008 in 16 states. It found that average installed costs, in terms of real 2008 dollars, declined from $10.80 per watt (W) in 1998 to $7.50/W in 2008, equivalent to an average annual reduction of $0.30/W, or 3.6 percent per year in real dollars.

Costs differ by region and type of system
Other information about differences in costs by region and by installation type emerged from the study. The cost reduction over time was largest for smaller PV systems, such as those used to power individual households.

Also, installed costs show significant economies of scale—small residential PV systems completed in 2008 that were less than 2 kilowatts (kW) in size averaged $9.20/W, while large commercial systems in the range of 500 to 750 kW averaged $6.50/W.

Installed costs were also found to vary widely across states. Among systems completed in 2008 and less than 10 kW in size, average costs range from a low of $7.30/W in Arizona, followed by California, which had average installed costs of $8.20/W, to a high of $9.90/W in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Based on these data, and on installed cost data from the sizable German and Japanese PV markets, the authors suggest that PV costs can be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs.

The study also found that the new construction market offers cost advantages for residential PV systems. Among small residential PV systems in California completed in 2008, those systems installed in residential new construction cost $0.80/W less than comparably-sized systems installed in rooftop retrofit applications.

Cash incentives declined
The study also found that the average size of direct cash incentives provided by state and local PV incentive programs declined over the 1998-2008 study period. Other sources of incentives, however, such as federal investment tax credits (ITCs), have become more significant.

For commercial PV systems, the average combined after-tax value of federal and state ITCs, plus direct cash incentives provided by state and local incentive programs, was $4.00/W in 2008, down slightly from its peak in 2006 but still a near-record-high. Total after-tax incentives for residential systems, on the other hand, were at an historic low in 2008, averaging $2.90/W, their lowest level within the 11-year study period.

The drop in total after-tax incentives for both commercial and residential PV from 2007 to 2008 more than offset the cost reduction over this period, leading to a slight rise in the net installed cost, or the installed cost facing a customer after receipt of financial incentives.

For residential PV, net installed costs in 2008 averaged $5.40/W, up 1 percent from the previous year. Net installed costs for commercial PV averaged $4.20/W, a 5 percent rise from 2007.