Saturday, February 27, 2010

Evolution Solar announces $36 million wafer supply agreement

THE WOODLANDS, USA: Evolution Solar Corp. announced that Michael Franklin, Director of Asian Operations, has executed an exclusive contract to supply one million Chinese manufactured wafers per month to Okaya & Co. Ltd and Shinetsu Film of Japan.

The contract provides a commission payment per wafer and is initially termed for a year, with provisions for possible extensions.

“Last year, we were working with a six dollar a wafer market, which everyone knew was falling steadily. Now that the market has stabilized at three dollars per wafer, doors are opening for aggressive companies to make lucrative trading agreements worldwide. Our strategic company placement in the Far East is beginning to pay off for us. We are already in negotiations to finalize additional contracts in other countries now that purchasers have recognized the wafer market stabilization,” stated Franklin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Price erosion ratchets up competition in solar market

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Installations of Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems will soar in 2010, but a steep dive in the prices of solar components means industry competition will intensify, according to iSuppli Corp.

“Global installed watts for PV systems will grow by 64 percent in 2010, reaching 8.3 Gigawatts (GW),” said Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for photovoltaic systems at iSuppli Corp. “This will bring a return to the growth levels seen before the fall of 2008 as the worldwide recession recedes and as new geographies and segments of demand emerge.”

Despite the projected return in demand for this year, the tremendous price erosion that occurred in 2009 continues to squeeze profits. On average, crystalline module prices last year fell by 37.8 percent, solar wafer prices plunged by 50 percent and polysilicon prices crashed by a gut wrenching 80 percent.

This trend will continue in 2010, although at a slower rate. Crystalline module prices will drop by 20 percent, wafer prices will decline by 18.2 percent and polysilicon prices will fall by 56.3 percent.

“The erosion in pricing is bound to change the face of the solar industry,” Wicht said. “The freefall of PV prices represents a permanent ratcheting down of price structures that will transform the industry into a more competitive marketplace.”

Given the enormous downward shift in pricing, one major implication for the industry is that suppliers will need to continue accelerating cost reductions in order to keep up with the price declines and to repair compressed profit margins. When the cost-down programs eventually catch up with the rate of price declines, an overall improvement in the profit picture can be expected, Wicht said.

After suffering losses during much of 2009, PV profits will continue to improve in 2010, following a move into the positive during last year’s fourth quarter. iSuppli also is projecting that prices on average will pop back by more than 10 percent in the final quarter of 2010, despite declines for the entire year.

The figure presents iSuppli’s projection of pricing for various segments of the PV supply chain.Source: iSuppli, USA

The growth of PV installations in 2010 will be led by a newly energized German market, which recovered from sluggish performance in the first half of 2009 to achieve gradual growth in the second half—a trend expected to continue for the first six months of this year.

The German market, however, could stall again by summertime, if the feed-in-tariff (FIT) designed to encourage the adoption of PV systems is trimmed by the Merkel government. The position in the overall PV market held by Germany—which accounted for 50 percent of total worldwide PV installations in 2009—is of such importance that the collective PV demand accruing from other countries will not be sufficient to compensate for a German FIT reduction of 15 percent if that were imposed in mid-2010.

Elsewhere, installations will continue to rise in both the established and the emerging regions, according to iSuppli.

“Several new growth markets will come into play in 2010, the most significant of which are the United States, Italy and latecomer China,” Wicht said. “Together, these three markets will account for 50 percent of the growth projected to occur in 2010.”

The PV space will also feature more players this year, led by South Korea’s Samsung and LG Electronics— already the world’s largest LCD panel makers and possessing vast experience at moving into new areas of operation—as well as Taiwan’s TSMC foundry and US engineering giant Bechtel.

Source: iSuppli, USA

Global Solar Energy's thin film CIGS achieves 13.2 percent efficiency

TUCSON, USA: Global Solar Energy announced that the US Department of Energy’'s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, confirmed 13.2 percent aperture area efficiency for a module made by Global Solar Energy applying its production-line thin film solar material.

Global Solar Energy is the first manufacturer to exceed the 13 percent milestone using thin film on a flexible substrate. This benchmark advances the thin film photovoltaic market and underscores Global Solar Energy’s leadership as the only manufacturer of Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) cells on a flexible substrate in full-scale production.

“Global Solar Energy is the first company to exceed the 13 percent efficiency target using thin films on a flexible stainless steel substrate, and joins a small number of PV companies who have met this high efficiency milestone for large thin film power modules,” said Dr. Ryne P. Raffaelle, Director of NREL’s National Center for Photovoltaics. “This result is remarkable, given that the module was made using standard production equipment and manufacturing processes at Global Solar Energy.”

Global Solar Energy, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency CIGS solar products, has been selling CIGS thin-film products on a flexible substrate for over six years and bringing the low cost, high efficiency and high-performance of CIGS technology to a variety of applications. From portable solar chargers, to traditional glass modules, to next generation building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products, Global Solar Energy'’s cells are the enabling technology behind several growing market segments.

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work the Global Solar Energy team has applied, which has enabled us to be the first company to achieve the milestone of a 13.2 percent NREL-verified module efficiency,” said Dr. Jeff Britt, chief executive officer, Global Solar Energy.

“This achievement elevates us into the ranks of the few thin film companies to surpass this efficiency and is the culmination of a year of steady and rapid improvement in efficiency and yield at our production plants in both Arizona and Germany. Global Solar Energy continues to be a standard bearer in this growing industry, and the quality and outstanding performance of our products have clear benefits for our customers.”

Solyndra signs distribution agreement with DC power systems

FREMONT, USA: Solyndra Inc., a manufacturer of innovative cylindrical photovoltaic (PV) systems for commercial rooftops, announced it has signed a new North America distribution agreement with DC Power Systems, a full-service distributor of renewable energy products, headquartered in Rohnert Park, California.

“DC Power Systems has an outstanding reputation in renewable energy and they offer their customers a wide range of technology and service capabilities,” said Chris Gronet, Solyndra CEO and founder. “They clearly are the type of innovative, value-added distributor that we seek when authorizing a company to offer Solyndra products.”

“With a great cost to output ratio, Solyndra is an excellent non-penetrating PV system choice for our commercial installers,” said Daniel Marino, Executive Vice-President of DC Power Systems. “Coupling the flexibility of their module and mounting system with our strong technical support and design capabilities gives customers an exciting rooftop solar solution. DC Power Systems is pleased to be working with Solyndra as we move forward.”

CPV Consortium elects new board members

SUNNYVALE, USA: The CPV Consortium, a non-profit concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar industry organization, has added two respected solar industry veterans to its board: Andreas Bett, PhD and Martha Symko-Davies, PhD. The appointments come at a time when the Consortium has commissioned the University of California, Berkeley to undertake an economic analysis of the CPV carbon footprint, cradle-to-cradle.

The CPV Consortium is dedicated to supporting the development and optimizing the success of CPV technology as a mainstream energy source for distributed and utility-scale deployments. It is a global organization comprised of members from all segments of the CPV industry including system manufacturers, cell suppliers, power generators, tracker suppliers, system integrators, project developers, universities and research laboratories.

Dr. Bett is a deputy director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy ISE, where he leads a department focused on materials for solar cells and technology. Dr. Symko-Davies is a senior supervisor of research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Both have been elected by the members of the CPV Consortium to serve on the board of directors.

“With the appointments of Drs. Bett and Symko-Davies, the CPV Consortium gains decades of expertise from the highest levels of solar industry research and development,” said Nancy Hartsoch, director of the CPV Consortium. “Their insight from Fraunhofer, the DOE and NREL will broaden the perspective of the organization, and hopefully facilitate the benefits that public and private cooperation can bring to an emerging technology at a critical time for CPV commercialization.”

Dr. Bett is one of the most respected CPV experts in the world. His Fraunhofer department includes the group “III-V-epitaxy and solar cells,” which is one of the largest and most esteemed groups active in research and development for CPV cells, modules and components. He is also an active member in the IEC which develops standards for CPV. Bett is currently the chair and main organizer of the 6th International Conference on Concentrating Photovoltaics, which will be held in April 2010 in Freiburg, Germany.

Dr. Symko-Davies has worked for NREL since she received her doctorate in 1997. Symko-Davies is currently the manager of the PV Technology Incubator, a position she has maintained since its inception three years ago. While at NREL, she has held a variety of positions including photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing technology technical manager and high performance PV project manager. Symko-Davies is also an IEEE PVSC organizing committee member and APS member. She has authored and co-authored over 30 publications about the PV industry, and CPV technology throughout her career.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bluetooth SIG brings Bluetooth to the smart grid

KIRKLAND, USA: Now more than ever, technology is paving the way for the formation of clean energy initiatives including the Smart Grid. As this efficient, intelligent delivery of energy evolves, users and utilities will enter into a two-way communication model that will allow smart meters to provide real-time energy consumption data directly to the user for up-to-date monitoring.

The next step in this clean energy initiative is to identify the importance and increase the use of wireless technology, specifically Bluetooth technology, which would allow users to remotely monitor and control their energy use.

In order to achieve this next step and much more, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced the formation of the Smart Energy Study Group. The team, made up of three sponsoring member companies including CSR, Broadcom and Emerson, will work together to address Smart Energy initiatives sponsored by governmental entities and other organizations interested in energy management throughout the world.

“With the formation of the Smart Energy Study Group, the Bluetooth SIG and its member companies will work together to tackle Smart Grid technology and increase the presence of Bluetooth technology in this fast growing industry,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG.

“Wireless technology is a key component of the battle to improve the Smart Grid. With proper short-distance wireless connectivity technology, the meter-to-device relationship will be one that allows users to remotely track, monitor, and adjust their energy use based on utility scales.”

The Smart Energy Study Group will begin immediately studying all aspects of the smart energy market and possible implications of Bluetooth technology in this arena. To do this, the group will review current available information on Smart Grid wireless technology, formulate a strategy for Bluetooth Smart Energy and make recommendations based on their findings.

Why Bluetooth for the smart grid?
Bluetooth wireless technology maintains a significant lead in wireless technology penetration in mobile phones – the chosen device for remote monitoring and control of smart grid meters.

With the recent adoption of Bluetooth low energy wireless technology, manufacturers of in-home meters and monitors will be able to build wireless devices that run on button-cell batteries and still utilize all of the benefits Bluetooth technology has to offer.

“The formation of the Smart Energy Study Group will bring to light and expand the impact that Bluetooth technology will have on the clean energy industry,” said Foley. “We have the opportunity to make a difference in the way our country and the world controls energy use and it’s imperative that we do all we can to integrate wireless technology into the mix – it will not only benefit the wireless market, but it has the potential to revolutionize the clean energy market as well.”

Cupertino Electric completes solar projects for two prominent cities in bay area

SAN JOSE, USA: Cupertino Electric Inc. (CEI) Energy Alternatives announced the completion of a 360 kilowatt (kW) Design/Build solar photovoltaic (PV) installation for the City of Pleasanton and a 36,190 Watt Design/Build solar PV installation for the City of Novato. Both of the city-based solar systems are mounted on the rooftops of the cities’ respective corporate yards.

“We are excited to unveil our largest renewable energy project to date to reduce our collective environmental impact and energy costs,” said Daniel Smith, Director of Operations for the City of Pleasanton. “We chose Cupertino Electric not only for its competitive pricing, but also for its history of safety and ability to reliably design and build complex solar projects.”

“The CEI-installed PV system at our corporate yard is a major component of the City of Novato’s renewable energy initiative,” said Michael Frank, City Manager for the City of Novato. “The Design/Build services offered by Cupertino Electric’s Energy Alternatives Division ensured an integrated approach to the project.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Affordable solar power arrives in Texas

DALLAS, USA: For less than the monthly cost of most cell phone plans, many North Texans can now use renewable solar energy to help power their homes.

TXU Energy’s new solar program, in cooperation with SolarCity, a national leader in solar financing, design, installation, monitoring and related services, will provide North Texas homeowners with solar power systems that can allow them to save money on energy costs from day one.

The program will include a solar lease option that includes installation, monitoring, repairs and insurance for a low monthly fee. As an example, a 4-kilowatt residential solar system, appropriate for a typical 3-4 bedroom home, would initially cost approximately $35 a month, with no upfront cost. Customers could purchase the same system outright for $26,000, not including rebates or federal tax incentives.

The new solar program is only available in Texas through TXU Energy.

“Texans want affordable renewable energy choices, and we’re providing them the choices they want at a cost they can afford,” said Jim Burke, CEO of TXU Energy.

“We all have a vested interest in our shared environment,” said Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas). “I applaud TXU Energy and SolarCity for taking the lead to provide Texans with clean, renewable power.”

“Our solar lease provides North Texas homeowners the ability to adopt clean power for less than they previously paid for electricity, and save money from day one,” said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. “We expect this offer to significantly increase the adoption of solar power in Texas.”

“Texas is leading the nation in alternative energy sources. Solar power is an excellent source of energy but making it affordable has been difficult until now,” said Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving). “With the help of TXU Energy, the citizens of North Texas will be able to afford solar power and will have another option to lower their energy bills.”

“Today marks a new chapter in bringing renewable energy to Texas on a mass scale,” said Jim Marston, founding director for the Texas office of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “Thanks to leading companies like TXU Energy and SolarCity, advancing sustainable energy practices is taking a big step forward today.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Natcore signs deal with Chinese consortium to take its solar technology from lab to power grid

RED BANK, USA: Natcore Technology Inc. has reached an agreement with a consortium in China to form a joint venture company to develop and manufacture film-growth equipment and materials using Natcore's proprietary Liquid Phase Deposition (LPD) technology.

The technology would be used in the production of solar cells.
Natcore has signed a letter of intent with the Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone to form the new company, "Natcore China," with rights to manufacture anti-reflective (AR) film growth equipment and materials. Natcore China will be 55% owned by Natcore Technology, with the Hi-Tech Zone and its partners holding the remaining 45 percent ownership position.

Natcore's technology was developed at Rice University in Houston. LPD applies an AR coating in a room-temperature chemical bath, making the solar cells significantly cheaper and cleaner to produce. Existing technology uses a furnace and a vacuum to apply the coating to solar cells, requiring larger amounts of energy and expensive silicon to achieve the thickness needed to withstand the firing.

"This agreement is a major milestone in the growth of Natcore Technology," notes President and CEO Chuck Provini. "Not only does it fully fund our remaining R&D and production costs for AR film equipment, but it immediately plugs us into a network of end-users in China, which is the world's largest and fastest-growing producer of solar cells. In short, it helps move us out of the lab and closer to achieving our goal of making solar energy efficient enough to be affordable to the world."

Natcore China will be funded by an initial $3 million investment consisting of US$500,000 contributed by Natcore Technology, and US$2,500,000 contributed by the Chinese Partnership. Natcore China will have the exclusive right to develop, manufacture and sell solar cell AR film-growth equipment in China, and a three-year exclusive right to manufacture such equipment for sale outside of China.

Natcore Technology and the Chinese Partnership have begun drafting a definitive agreement incorporating the principles reflected in the executed letter of intent. Completion of the agreements is subject to regulatory approval.

The Chinese Partnership will consist of the Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone and two Chinese firms, including a major producer of polysilicon and a manufacturer of industrial equipment used in the solar industry. Natcore's partners project that the joint venture company will eventually create as many as 500 jobs in manufacturing and R&D.

Other key elements of the joint venture include:
* Operation in China as a local company, with all intellectual property protections accruing to such a position.
* A fast-track development program initiated upon signing of a definitive agreement, with a projected timeline of 10 months to first product shipments.
* Early integration of Natcore's LPD film-growth technology into existing solar cell production lines, in advance of final equipment development.
* The ability to fast-track revenues by accepting lead orders in China and throughout the world.

"We had always envisioned a joint venture operation in China as part of our long-term business plan, after we had completed development of our AR film growth equipment," notes Brien Lundin, Natcore's Chairman and co-founder. "But well before that could come to pass, we were approached by the Hi-Tech Zone with their offer to completely fund our AR film growth development program, and give us majority ownership in the joint venture."

"We will retain control, enjoy a ready-made solar cell customer network and open up new avenues for funding of potential future joint ventures," he adds. "It was an opportunity we couldn't refuse."

Under the agreement, Natcore China will complete the engineering and production of self-contained, self-replenishing film-growth equipment that will recycle the chemicals and water used in Natcore's LPD process. Until that is accomplished, however, the Chinese Partnership envisions the incorporation of the technology into existing solar cell manufacturing lines through manual replenishment of the chemical bath. In this way, Natcore China would be able to serve its first solar cell customers, which may include members of the Chinese Partnership, before final product development is completed.

One of the key advantages of the Natcore LPD process is its relatively low environmental impact. "Pollution control and toxicity are very big issues in China now," says Provini. "Our ability to not only reduce the cost of solar cell manufacturing, but to also do so in a much more environmentally friendly manner, is a very important benefit to our new partners and their customers."

Johns Manville in supply agreement with SolarFrameWorks for crystalline solar panel solutions

DENVER, USA: Johns Manville (JM), a leading global manufacturer of an extensive line of energy-efficient building products, has reached an agreement with SolarFrameWorks, a premier photovoltaic solutions company, for SolarFrameWorks to supply its proprietary Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) CoolPly solar roofing components to JM. Johns Manville will market these products through its business entity, the JM E3 Company, more informally known as JM E3co.

“SolarFrameWorks CoolPly product provides a solution that requires no penetration of a roofing membrane to attach crystalline solar panels to a roofing system. Avoiding roof penetrations maintains the integrity of the roof system, which reduces the risk of leaks,” said Fred Stephan, vice president and general manager of the Roofing Systems business for Johns Manville. “This partnership further strengthens JM’s leadership in sustainable roofing. We are excited to partner with SolarFrameWorks to incorporate their lightweight, flexible and durable components into our single ply, built-up and modified bitumen roofing membrane systems.”

SolarFrameWorks BIPV CoolPly versatility allows maximum kilowatt power density with crystalline photovoltaic modules when installed as large arrays and around HVAC units and vents while maintaining high wind ratings. Additionally, the tilt and proprietary air cooling chamber maximize the per kilowatt-hour energy output of the solar panels by keeping photovoltaic (PV) panels cooler to obtain the best possible efficiency. CoolPly™ is available in both thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for compatibility with these roofing membranes.

“Supported by JM’s 150 years of commercial roofing experience and SolarFrameWorks’s expertise in photovoltaics, this agreement is our next step in offering a range of new solar-energy producing roofing products to our customer base,” said Tim Swales, vice president of research and development for JM.

According to Patrina Eiffert, CEO of SolarFrameWorks: “Johns Manville not only brings leadership, integrity and quality to the solar industry, it brings deep relationships with its customers that have withstood the test of time. When JM is on the roof they will be there and take great care of their customers for decades to come. BIPV CoolPly™ unifies the solar and roofing industries with an optimal solution that best serves the building owner. JM has the vision to bring that value to its customers.”

Israel to set up feed-in tariff for residential and small industrial PV systems

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: Israel's Minister of National Infrastructure (MNI) has authorized the ministry's new policy for up to 50kW size PV installations for residential and small industrial installations. This is part of a policy memorandum that will integrate Renewable energy into Israel's energy production.

A feed-in-tariff will be set by the Israeli Public Utilities Authority and energy companies all hoping the process will be quick. Prior to hearings, it has been anticipated that the tariff would be 1.61 NIS (0.31 €).

According to the authorized quotas, in the periphery of Israel (including the Arava and Negev regions) industrial installations up to 50kW, installations of residential arrays (up to 4kW) will be uncapped until December 2014.

A special 30MW quota has been reserved for public buildings roofs with an emphasis on educational institutions. Industrial installations (15-50kW) that are not to be installed in the periphery or on public buildings roofs are to be capped at 50MW.

"The new policy removes almost all the restrictions from installing domestic facilities of up to 4KW and thus promotes the green rooftops vision," said the Minister Dr. Uzi Landau.

Vladimir Budyansky, Quantum Business Group CEO was quoted saying: "This is a good policy. This is a big step in rectifying the terrible atrocity that was created by previous regulations and tariffs. Now the market has legitimate expansion borders, there is an understanding in the MNI of the importance of PV installations and renewables, coupled with an opportunity to empower the periphery of Israel, that has been less prominent, yet has the most promising climate conditions for the Renewables industry.

"The periphery has all the conditions to assist Israel in achieving its 2020 goal. We at Quantum have foreseen this almost natural turn of events and have set up our organization's HQ in Beer Sheva, the capital of the Negev and Arava region to set an example, and be right in the middle of things."

Source: Solarbuzz

CNPV signs long-term strategic partnership with Photovoltaic Experts

LUXEMBOURG & DONGYING, CHINA: CNPV Solar Power SA, a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products from the production of ingots, wafers and cells to the assembly of PV modules that designs, manufactures and supplies highly efficient and cost effective crystalline solar photovoltaic modules, today announced that it has entered into a long-term strategic partnership sales agreement with Photovoltaic Experts GmbH, a German leading photovoltaic company as a competence center for Photovoltaic Power Plants, develops and sells Turn-Key- Photovoltaic Power Plants.

Under the terms of this strategic agreement, CNPV will supply Photovoltaic Experts GmbH with a total of 30MWp of PV Modules from 2010 to 2012, which includes 5MWp of scheduled delivery during 2010. The remaining 10MWp and 15MWp are scheduled for delivery in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

"We are very pleased to announce this new strategic partnership with Photovoltaic Experts GmbH. Our strategic partnership with Photovoltaic Experts GmbH is a significant success for us in aligning ourselves with a proven multiregional energy developer with growing opportunities in established and emerging photovoltaic markets. This new contract will significantly help to grow new projects in markets such as the Germany, France and Spain solar markets," stated jointly Zhang Shunfu, CNPV's CEO and B. Veerraju Chaudary, CNPV's COO, CTO & Member of the Board. "We look forward to continuing to expanding our relationship with one of our loyal strategic partners Volthaus by providing high quality modules, premium service and a low cost industry leading platform."

Photovoltaic Experts GmbH from Konstanz Germany is proud of this new strategic sales agreement with CNPV. We consider this as a continuation of our good relationship with CNPV to use their high quality modules in our projects and to offer their premium service to our customers in Germany, France and Spain," commented jointly Gordan Hasmann and Felix Gudat, Managing Directors of the Photovoltaic Experts GmbH.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rapid growth projected for chemicals and materials in solar cells and modules

BOSTON, USA: The market for advanced chemicals and materials used in photovoltaic solar cells and modules will grow 27 percent to reach $3.1 billion in 2010 and approximately $15 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Linx-AEI Consulting, a leading international consulting firm serving the PV and electronics industries.

Chemicals & Materials for Photovoltaic Cells and Modules 2010 is the third edition of this report that examines emerging materials requirements in solar cell and module production and quantifies the global markets for these advanced chemicals and materials. According to the report, the driver of growth in the PV market will be the global end market demand for solar power, which is expected to grow from 5.8 GW to 38 GW by 2015.

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

Entech Solar enters into preferred stock agreement of up to $5 million

FORT WORTH, USA: Entech Solar Inc., with plans to become a leading developer of renewable energy technologies, has entered into a preferred stock purchase agreement with Socius Capital Group LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, doing business as Socius Energy Capital Group, LLC. Pursuant to the purchase agreement, Entech Solar will receive up to $5 million in capital over the next two years.

The Company agreed to sell up to 500 shares of its Series G Preferred Stock, in one or more tranches from time to time. The tranches will be sold at the Company’s sole discretion, at a purchase price of $10,000 per share, for an aggregate issue price of up to $5 million.

With each tranche, Socius will also receive five-year warrants to purchase shares of the Company’s common stock. The exercise price of the warrants will equal the closing bid price of the Company’s common stock on the date the Company provides notice of a tranche to Socius.

Funding under the agreement with Socius is subject to the satisfaction of a number of conditions, including the effectiveness of a registration statement that the Company will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the common stock that Socius may purchase under the warrants. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Entech Solar will pay Socius a commitment fee of $250,000 payable in cash or in the Company’s common stock.

“We are pleased to secure a financing source that will support the Company’s continued development of its renewable energy technologies for commercial, industrial and utility markets,” commented David Gelbaum, CEO and Chairman of Entech Solar. “The flexibility of this committed financing will improve the Company’s ability to achieve critical milestones as we progress through product development.”

“At Entech Solar, we are designing and developing a new generation of concentrating solar modules that have the potential to be truly disruptive in the concentrating solar space – with improved efficiencies, reduced costs, smaller size, and additional applications. These modules will provide both electricity and thermal energy as part of our ThermaVolt product line and electricity-only as part of the SolarVolt product line. The Company also recently launched and is selling a patented tubular skylight technology that provides superior light output and optical efficiency for commercial and industrial green building initiatives.”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Report on China PV market development

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "China PV Market Development" report to its offering.

One constant in what many have called the miracle of China's enormous economic growth over the past 30 years has been a reliance on export economies. The development of the PV industry has been no exception. Since the industry's modest beginnings in 2002, domestic cell and module manufacturers have exported more than 95 percent of their products to overseas markets relying on the favorable energy policies of European governments to drive demand for Chinese production.

As China has rapidly vaulted to the top of global solar cell manufacturing capacity, it has done so largely due to unprecedented demand from countries like Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United States, among others. As 2008 drew to a close and the realities of one of worst global economic crises since the Great Depression began to crystallize, domestic Chinese manufacturers in many industries scaled back production, laid off workers, and some even stopped operations completely.

It was in this context that the Chinese government, recognizing the need to support this critical growth industry with domestic demand, began to seriously consider national solar incentives. With many other markets stalling due to a lack of financing and uncertain policy regimes, China will likely be one of the key growth markets for the solar sector in both the near- and long-term.

Understanding the structure of the solar market in China and how it will grow will be key to understanding global demand trends as well as opportunities for investment and partnerships in this emerging market.

In 2007 China announced goals to install 300 MW of PV by 2012 and 1.8 GW by 2020. Given recent policy developments and project announcements, China will be well on its way to exploding past those goals and in fact is expected to announce new targets later this year. Depending on the timing of these announcements and the success of several pilot projects, the Chinese market has very real potential to ramp well beyond 1 GW in 2011.

Friday, February 19, 2010

WMECo selects first solar energy site

SPRINGFIELD, USA: Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo) announced its plan to develop the first of several large-scale solar energy facilities.

The selected site on Silver Lake Boulevard combines two parcels of land owned by WMECo and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA) at the William Stanley Business Park. The eight-acre site will accommodate up to 1.8 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity.

WMECo officials joined local officials and PEDA representatives in announcing the agreement to combine these brownfield properties into one of the largest solar facilities in New England.

"Today's announcement provides tangible evidence that large-scale solar is becoming a reality in the Commonwealth," said Peter Clarke, WMECo president and chief operating officer. "We're delighted to be working in partnership with Pittsfield on this exciting project," Clarke said.

"Solar energy facilities like these will provide the platform necessary to demonstrate that solar can play a viable role in meeting the renewable energy needs of the Commonwealth while contributing to the economic development of the region," Clarke said.

"On behalf of the City and PEDA, we're pleased to partner with WMECo in bringing cost effective renewable energy to the Berkshires," said Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto.

"Integrating renewable energy projects with the redevelopment of these brownfield properties is a win-win for our City and a valuable contribution toward the Commonwealth's energy and environmental objectives," Ruberto said.

The Commonwealth has a goal to install 250 megawatts of solar by 2017. Under the landmark Green Communities Act (GCA), each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar generation, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

WMECo is the first utility to receive DPU approval and is currently authorized to install 6 MW of solar. The Company's solar program reflects a close collaboration with the Attorney General's office and other key Massachusetts and industry stakeholders.

WMECo's Silver Lake Boulevard project combines a six-acre parcel owned by the utility and a two-acre parcel in the William Stanley Business Park. A WMECo substation is situated between the two parcels, providing an efficient connection to the utility's local distribution system.

Large-scale solar energy facilities are still relatively new to Massachusetts and New England. Approximately 10 MW of solar generation is currently on-line in the Commonwealth. Comprised of approximately 1,100 individual photovoltaic systems, the largest one is approximately 500 kilowatts (0.5 MW).

WMECo's first solar project can be as large as 1.8 MW and the Company expects it to cost considerably less than existing photovoltaic systems.

The project will bring $10-12M of construction to the region and is expected to contribute more than $200,000 of annual property tax revenue to the city of Pittsfield. Pittsfield is one of the two Gateway Communities in WMECo's service territory and is home to some 24,000 WMECo customers.

Local permitting for the project is underway and WMECo expects to begin construction in the second quarter of this year. The Company continues to evaluate other sites for the remaining scope of its 6 MW solar program.

WMECo's solar program focuses on larger-scale facilities (1 MW or greater), emphasizing landfill, brownfield and utility-owned properties as ideal locations.

Such properties typically have few alternative uses and are very compatible with the construction of solar energy facilities. WMECo also seeks to develop the market for larger-scale solar facilities -- the company's program makes extensive use of competitive bidding and relies heavily on the expertise of the solar industry.
WMECo has currently qualified 16 solar firms to bid on its projects.

The Company is also evaluating 25 sites owned by municipalities and private developers located in WMECo's service territory. The Company expects to draw upon these prospective sites as it develops additional projects during 2010. WMECo will complete the remainder of its 6 MW program by 2012.

Suntech energizes schools in Lebanon's largest solar initiative

DUBAI, UAE & WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd recently supplied solar panels for 19 remote schools in Lebanon working with local partner and Lebanese integrator Asaco General Trade & Contracting.

Sponsored and facilitated by the Country Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Demonstration Project for the Recovery of Lebanon (CEDRO), established through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the combined systems represent the largest solar initiative in Lebanon.

"Suntech is proud to support this initiative," said Nader Jandaghi, Suntech's Director of Middle East. "CEDRO's adoption of solar power for these schools will brighten the lives and enhance the learning of children who will define Lebanon's future. Together, we want to power a world where everyone has direct and dependable access to nature's most abundant energy resource."

Because of the locations of the schools in rural villages spread across the Bekaa Valley and Northern Lebanon, grid power can be intermittent and unreliable. In the past, teachers and administrators at these 19 schools have persevered through the blackouts; now they will be able to rely on the sun to provide classroom and library lighting as well as reliable access to a computer or fax/copy machine. Integrator Asaco designed custom systems using Suntech solar modules for each of the 19 schools, with power outputs ranging from 1.2kWp to 1.8kWp.

"This is the largest set of solar projects in Lebanon to date -- not only in terms of power output but also because of the large number of sites spread across the country," said Ramzi AbuSaid, CEO of Asaco.

"CEDRO set reasonable and challenging system design objectives. We had to integrate several power sources at each site, including grid power, the solar systems, and even diesel generators in some cases, and leverage each of their attributes to ensure that the schools have dependable power at all times. Each power system is very efficient and takes maximum advantage of the clean electricity generated through Suntech's high-performing solar modules."

"For over 20 years, and ever since the war, electrical power failure in the public grid has been a chronic problem for us," explained Joseph Nakleh, Principal of the Anna Intermediate Public School.

"We experienced blackouts on average for six to twelve hours each day. As a public school, we didn't have the budget to fund an alternative power source, so over time we adapted to the frequent grid power failures. Unfortunately, this was affecting the quality of educational services that we strive to provide our students. The new system is not only an excellent solution since it finally solved our electricity issues, but it will serve as a tangible, everlasting example for our students about the good uses of green power."

GT Solar, Jiangxi Sornid announce new order worth over $20 million

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of specialized production equipment, process technology and turnkey manufacturing services for the solar power industry, and Jiangxi Sornid Hi-Tech Co. Ltd have signed a new contract totaling more than $20 million for GT Solar’s market-leading GT-DSS450 ingot growth furnaces and ancillary equipment and services. The order was booked in GT Solar’s current fourth fiscal quarter and revenue is expected to be recognized in subsequent periods.

“We are committed to becoming a leading supplier of high quality multi-crystalline silicon wafers to the solar industry,” said Mr. Lou Hong, chairman, Jiangxi Sornid Hi-Tech Co., Ltd. “GT Solar is a valued partner and their ingot growth furnaces produce high quality ingots that meet our customers’ expectations.”

“We are seeing an increase in bookings for our GT-DSS450 furnaces in China as customers begin to add new production capacity to position themselves for the next phase of growth in the worldwide solar industry,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Solar’s president and chief executive officer. “Over the past year we have significantly expanded our service and support capabilities in China to better serve our growing base of customers in this key strategic market. We are pleased to have this repeat order from Sornid.”

With over 1,300 systems in the field, GT Solar’s DSS ingot growth furnaces are widely used in the solar industry and are known for their reliability and for consistently producing high quality crystal.

Solar stocks face grayer skies

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Jim Cramer of CNBC and chairman of (where I write a column) recently said he's not a believer in solar plays because they require government subsidies, and governments around the world are out of "moola." The article below appears in today's

Back on Sept. 3, I wrote that the solar industry was headed for crisis in 2010 and that as many as half of the more than 200 solar manufacturers, who at the time were mired in red ink with selling prices above $2.00 per watt, might not survive. Prices have dropped since then, erasing already razor-thin margins.

Late last year, a few announcements supported my prediction:

General Electric said it planned to close its only US solar panel factory because production costs had exceeded sale prices. The factory can produce 34 megawatts.

Evergreen Solar said it would move panel production from its factory in Devens, Mass., to China in 2010 in order to cut costs.

BP solar unit announced it would close its solar panel factory in Maryland and outsource that work to a contract manufacturer. In October, BP said it had hired Jabil Circuit to assemble panels at a Jabil factory in Poland.

Then this month, China-based Jinko Solar withdrew its IPO plans due to "poor market conditions." Just weeks before, another China-based polysilicon manufacturer, Daqo New Energy, pulled its $80 million IPO.

Meanwhile, a lot of companies are losing money:

Evergreen Solar reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $98.1 million after an $82.4 million loss in the third quarter.

Renewable Energy reported a fourth-quarter net loss of 1.05 billion Norwegian kroner ($177.5 million), compared with a net profit of 1.11 billion kroner a year earlier.

China's JA Solar reported a fourth-quarter net loss per diluted American depositary share of 0.80 yuan (or 12 cents), compared with a net loss per diluted ADS of 2.31 yuan (or 34 cents) a year earlier.

Akeena Solar reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.7 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $9.2 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.

Energy Conversion Devices reported a fourth-quarter loss of $39 million, or 92 cents a share, compared with earnings of $13 million, or 31 cents a share, a year before.

MEMC Electronic Materials swung to the red in the fourth quarter on a plunge in gross margin and weaker sales.

These are just a few examples. In some cases business was better last quarter, but that's before changes in German incentive programs (feed-in tariffs) expire in 2010.

Also, these are large publicly traded companies, and many are Chinese with government stimulus packages assuring their survival. What about the plethora of small, privately held companies?

In fact, I suspect the Chinese will attempt to dominate the solar industry by increasing supply on the market at low prices to drive out competition. Already, JA Solar, despite a loss in the past quarter, announced it will increase capacity from 875 MW in 2009 to 1100 MW in 2010. In 2010 the solar industry will exhibit capacity utilization of 25.7 percent, and inventory will be stretched to 133 days.

Meanwhile, amorphous silicon solar cell manufacturers are in trouble. With polysilicon so cheap, why would someone want to purchase amorphous silicon panels with efficiencies half those of polycrystalline panels, which can now be purchased from China for $1.65 per watt?

Solar start-ups a few years ago that purchased turnkey equipment have no intellectual property, and every other customer of the equipment suppliers became an instant competitor selling the same product using the same process and equipment. Companies need to differentiate themselves.

Venture capital money has dried up in the solar market. Solar companies and suppliers are not investing in new technology that will enable them to compete against low-priced product coming out of China.

For example, a company I founded last year, SolarPA, announced that its room-temperature spin-on nanoparticle antireflection coating can increase efficiency by up to 10 percent, thereby reducing manufacturing costs by up to 10 percent.

Companies such as Applied Materials, Air Products and Covidien all expressed interest, but none followed through. Instead of investing outside the company, they prefer to do in-house research and development.

In fact, Covidien even sent out press releases last week announcing that its new process will increase efficiency by 0.7 percent, yet it never moved forward with an opportunity from SolarPA for a 10 percent increase. Does it come as a surprise that Chinese solar companies have expressed an interest?

Clearly there is a lot of anticipation in the solar industry, but programs related in the U.S. stimulus package are misguided. We need money to manufacture here and create jobs here. Last March, I wrote an article in Seeking Alpha titled, "Which Is Worse: Buying Solar Panels from Eurasia or Oil from OPEC?" A year later, I ask the same question, because nothing has changed!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dr. Jürg Henz takes on regular CEO position of Oerlikon Solar

PFAFFIKON, SWITZERLAND: Dr. Jürg Henz, who was appointed as interim CEO of Oerlikon Solar on 31 October 2009, now takes on the function regularly.

"I am convinced of Oerlikon's thin film solar technology and will now contribute in a leading position to realize its potential to the full", says Dr. Henz.

"It is a positive signal for customers, employees and investors that Dr. Henz now executes this function without any restrictions. With this step, Dr. Henz ensures management continuity which is necessary to bring Oerlikon Solar forward", comments Thomas Babacan, COO of Oerlikon Group.

Oerlikon Solar expands into Spanish market

TRUBBACH, SWITZERLAND: Oerlikon Solar, the world's leading supplier of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) production equipment, today announced that Gadir Solar is using its amorphous thin film silicon PV technology at the solar fabrication plant located in the bay of Cadiz, Spain.

Gadir Solar's plant, one of the largest in Europe, began operation in October 2009. The company is ramping up in record time its annual production capacity of 40 MW, which is capable of producing about half a million PV panels per year. The amount of annually produced amorphous silicon PV panels will generate enough power for approximately 8,000 homes.

"We chose Oerlikon Solar because of its well-established track record of ramping up new thin film solar factories on time and on budget as well as its strong commitment to improving on the scalability and cost benefits for the technology. We were, and continue to be, extremely impressed with their ability to meet our requirements and in Oerlikon Solar's clear upgrade path to ensure our competitiveness in the market," said David Naranjo Villalonga, CEO of Cadmos/Gadir Solar.

"We are committed to providing the most efficient solar solutions for the Mediterranean region. Introducing amorphous panels to our production plant means we can offer the highest standards of quality and reliability."

Driving down cost
Technology innovation is driving down the cost and improving the performance of solar technologies. Solar PV is becoming a mass production technology, and like flat-screen TV's, continued innovation and cost reductions is likely to occur over the next five to 10 years.

Oerlikon Solar customers are looking beyond the short-term supply market conditions, and are targeting the market for 2012 and beyond, when their micromorph factories will be in full production at production costs that enable grid-parity level PPA prices.

"This opens another important market for our leading thin film solar PV technology," said Jürg Henz, CEO of Oerlikon Solar. "European countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain could claim about 80 percent (Solarbuzz, PV Marketshare Forecast 2010, Sept. 2009) of PV market share this year and we see tremendous opportunity in offering companies like Gadir Solar industrial proven mass production solutions for the thin film PV industry - the fastest-growing segment of PV.

Fastest time to market
Oerlikon Solar leads the thin film solar equipment sector with 12 factories in production in seven countries and the fastest time to market. It has dramatically increased the efficiency level of thin film silicon and has developed end-to-end manufacturing solutions to facilitate customers' entry into thin film silicon PV module manufacturing.

Oerlikon Solar provides its customers with unparalleled experience in both installing and ramping up PV module factories, using its highly competitive amorphous silicon and high-efficiency micromorph tandem production equipment technologies. The company invests significant R&D resources using non-hazardous substances and materials to achieve further performance improvements and cost reductions and has a business model that will lessen perceived technology risk, compared with other start up thin film producers.

Thin film solar offers a cost-advantage over traditional crystalline silicon, and is making strong efficiency gains. Coated with thin film silicon, amorphous panels are a cost effective alternative to traditional PV technologies and are expected to outpace future cost reductions in existing technologies.

IEC/TÜV certified Swiss quality
Oerlikon Solar is the first thin film silicon technology provider to have IEC/TÜV Rheinland master certification for its entire family of thin film silicon solar technologies, including both amorphous and micromorph.

The certification ensures that modules produced by Oerlikon Solar's customers are manufactured to the highest quality standards and can endure the most challenging real world environmental conditions. With more challenging credit markets, certification also makes Oerlikon Solar projects more predictable and bankable.

Gadir Solar achieved IEC/TÜV Rheinland certification for the combination of durability and performance in December 2009.

Satcon selected for 25 solar installations in Greece

BOSTON, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility scale power solutions for the renewable energy market, has been selected by EasyPower S.A. to supply 2.5 megawatts of its PowerGate Plus 100 kilowatt solar PV inverter solutions across 25 installations on the island of Rhodes, Greece.

The solar power plants will be developed and constructed by EasyPower S.A. and are expected to generate enough solar energy to supply 1.2 percent of the islands electricity demand. The installations will be owned by EasySolar S.A., RNA Power S.A., and Diachrisi Iliakis Energeias S.A. as part of a 2.5MW project.

At present, the island’s power is made by diesel generators which can produce up to 194.4MW during peak demand periods. Rhodes’ energy consumption surges during the summer months as the population of the island swells by 300 percent. The solar installations will provide critical peak demand support, enhancing grid stability while delivering cost effective renewable energy for the population in addition to supporting the island’s year round base load demands.

“The project in Rhodes presents unique design challenges that require we develop a complete solution that can be scaled across 25 distributed locations,” said Nikos Savouris of EasyPower.

“Each power plant can directly contribute to the stability of the entire island’s power grid. With this in mind, and with the responsibility of providing reliable and cost effective energy for community of the island, we designed a system that will enhance each plant’s performance, along with its stability and durability, while reducing the carbon footprint from electricity production on the island throughout the years.”

Each plant is composed of Satcon’s PowerGate Plus solutions, combined with two-axis trackers and high efficiency monocrystalline modules and could generate in excess of 225,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.

“Satcon’s proven technology, their innovative features, and their ability to address the particular requirements of the local grid made their PowerGate Plus solutions the obvious choice for us,” continued Savouris. “We expect that, based on our previous experience with other Satcon projects, we will maximize the performance and durability of these power stations and exceed investor expectations.”

“These installations demonstrate the increased penetration of large scale solar power generation into today’s island and urban energy grids,” said Peter Deege, Satcon’s General Manager for Europe. “Our experience in utility scale and island grid solar solutions combined with EasyPower’s design, engineering and construction expertise will ensure that these solar plants are a secure and cost effective renewable energy source for the island. We are honored to be selected by EasyPower.”

Mitsubishi develops PV inverter technology to maximize solar power output

TOKYO, JAPAN: Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has developed the world's first technology to maximize output power in photovoltaic (PV) systems by incorporating a new maximum power-point tracking (MPPT) system in PV inverters. The technology, which works with a single PV inverter, achieves the maximum power point even when part of a PV array is hidden by shadow or dust.

PV system characteristics such as output power are greatly influenced by the amount of sunlight and temperature. Conventional PV arrays, which are groups of PV modules connected either in series or parallel, use MPPT systems to help achieve their maximum output-power points.

However, if part of a PV array is hidden by shadow and the rest is still in sunlight, resulting in multiple peak points, a conventional MPPT system has difficulty tracking the maximum point. Especially in urban areas where PV systems are likely to be installed near buildings or other obstructions of sunlight, shadow can greatly decrease output power.

The technological breakthrough by Mitsubishi Electric allows the MPPT system to automatically measure the PV array's output power characteristics and then control the array to operate at its maximum output-power point, thereby ensuring that the PV system receives maximum output power from the array. In some cases, this technology will be able to more than double the output power compared to a PV inverter equipped with a conventional MPPT system.

Mitsubishi Electric will continue its research and development with aims to incorporate this technology in its products in the near future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mitsubishi Electric achieves 14.8 percent conversion efficiency in thin-film silicon solar cell

TOKYO, JAPAN: Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has achieved a very high photoelectric conversion efficiency of 14.8 percent in a 5mm x 5mm thin-film silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell.

Photoelectric conversion efficiency is the rate at which sunlight energy is converted into electric current, with higher rates meaning more output. The thin-film silicon PV cell developed by Mitsubishi Electric has a triple junction structure that utilizes a majority of the solar spectrum for higher efficiency.

At present, crystalline silicon is used commonly for PV cells. Due to their relatively high photoelectric conversion efficiency, crystalline silicon PV modules are widely used in applications with limited surfaces, such as on the roofs of residential houses. The price of silicon wafers can fluctuate greatly, however, due to changes in market demand.

Thin-film silicon PV cells are garnering attention because they use just 1% the amount of silicon material required for crystalline silicon PV cells, which helps to save resources as well as reduce costs.

Although thin-film silicon PV cells are lower in photoelectric conversion efficiency than crystalline silicon PV cells, their lower product costs offer benefits for midsized and large industrial PV systems, such as those used in factories, electric power utilities and municipalities. In addition to expected growth in these fields, there is great upside potential in other fields if their efficiency can be improved in the coming years.

Multi-junction layers offer an efficient way of raising conversion efficiency in thin-film silicon PV cells because each layer absorbs different wavelengths of sunlight. It is extremely difficult, however, to adjust the characteristics of each layer in the multi-junction structure, so most thin-film silicon PV cells today are only single or double layered.

Mitsubishi Electric, however, has met a technological breakthrough to achieve 14.8% photoelectric conversion efficiency, according to its own evaluation, by using a triple-junction configuration in which the first layer absorbs short wavelengths and the third layer absorbs long wavelengths, thereby enabling the use of a wide solar spectrum from visible light to infrared rays. Key technologies that help to make this possible include:

* Semiconductor materials that tune to a particular frequency of the spectrum.
* High-quality film-deposition processing for each layer.
* Texture fabrication applied to transparent electrodes for optimal confinement of sunlight.

Mitsubishi Electric intends to further continue its research and development with aims to raise the photoelectric conversion efficiency of its thin-film PV cells by improving cell structure, materials, processing and other factors, aiming to develop advanced PV systems that contribute to sustainable, low-carbon societies.

Mitsubishi Electric sets two world records in solar cell conversion efficiency

TOKYO, JAPAN: Mitsubishi Electric Corp. has set two world records for photoelectric conversion efficiency in polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, achieved by reducing resistive loss in the cells. Photoelectric conversion efficiency is the rate at which sunlight energy is converted into electricity, with higher rates meaning more output.

In response to the growing demand for PV systems that help tackle global warming, the global production of PV cells has reached 5,500 megawatts (MW) in the fiscal year ending March 2009 (FY2009), and is expected to reach 8,000 MW in FY2012.

With the use of crystalline silicon PV cells continuing to increase, PV cell manufacturers are looking for ways to improve the conversion efficiency of these cells to gain more output power from limited surfaces. At the same time, PV cell manufacturers are trying to achieve more output power while reducing the thickness of PV cells, thereby reducing their dependence on silicon and the related risk of sharply fluctuating prices for this material.

One of the world records, which Mitsubishi Electric has now renewed for the third consecutive year, is a 19.3-percent efficiency rating for photoelectric conversion of a practically-sized polycrystalline silicon PV cell of 100 squared centimeters or larger, with the PV cell measuring approximately 15 cm x 15 cm x 200 micrometers. The rating is 0.2 points higher than the company's previous record of 19.1 percent.

The second world record, achieved with the same technologies in an ultra-thin polycrystalline silicon PV cell measuring approximately 15 cm x 15 cm x 100 micrometers, is an efficiency rating of 18.1 percent, a 0.7-point improvement over the company's previous record of 17.4 percent.

The conversion efficiency rates have been confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), in Japan.

Mitsubishi Electric will be developing mass-production technology to deliver these high conversion rates in commercial PV modules. The company also aims to increase the output of its PV systems by combining this technology with PV inverters capable of high-efficiency conversion of DC current to AC. By improving the efficiency of its PV systems, Mitsubishi Electric expects to contribute to environmental preservation as well as sustainable societies.

Solyndra signs distribution agreement with Advanced Green Technologies

FREMONT, USA: Solyndra Inc., a manufacturer of innovative cylindrical photovoltaic (PV) systems for commercial rooftops, has signed a distribution agreement with Advanced Green Technologies, a worldwide renewable energy solutions and building-integrated solar energy products provider, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Advanced Green Technologies offers innovative rooftop solar technology and are known for their strong, solutions-based service team," says Chris Gronet, Solyndra CEO and founder. “Their comprehensive support capabilities are a great addition to our North America distribution network.”

"Advanced Green Technologies has built our reputation by providing building-integrated renewable energy products and working through the value chain to create efficiency that offers our customers the highest returns from renewable sources,” said Michael Kornahrens, President of Advanced Green Technologies. “Solyndra’s rooftop solar energy systems are a great solution that offers our customers the benefits of low levelized costs of electricity, especially when coupled with energy saving cool roofs.”

NV Energy, NextLight Renewable Power announce 25-year PPA for solar project

LAS VEGAS, USA: NV Energy and NextLight Renewable Power, LLC, have announced a 25-year contract for the purchase and sale of energy to be produced at NextLight’s 50 MW Silver State Solar Power photovoltaic facility near Primm, Nevada.

Silver State Solar Power is located on Bureau of Land Management land, and will interconnect at NV Energy’s Bighorn substation adjacent to the project site. The project will use solar photovoltaic technology to generate clean, emissions-free energy. Slated to commence construction as early as December 2010, the project will employ up to 230 workers during construction and is targeted for initial energy deliveries in May 2011.

NV Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Yackira said the addition of a significant amount of solar resources is very important to the company and its customers, as it complies with the Nevada Renewable Energy Act that requires 6 percent of the total renewable energy credits to come from solar resources. “We are pleased to be part of NextLight’s project and taking another step forward in utilizing the abundant solar resources in our state for the benefit of our customers,” he said.

Frank De Rosa, NextLight’s CEO, stated: “NV Energy is a key strategic partner in the region and has the vision to bring renewable energy into the mainstream of electricity generation. Southern Nevada has all of the attributes necessary to make this a successful solar project: suitable land, superior insolation, ready access to transmission, a skilled workforce and a business-friendly climate.”

The Silver State Solar Power project is one of more than 41 proposed or existing renewable energy facilities that are benefiting NV Energy customers in Nevada. NV Energy currently has more than 1,200 megawatts of geothermal, solar, biomass, waste-heat recovery and wind energy under contract that are either in commercial operation or in the project development stage.

The specific terms of the NextLight power purchase agreement were not disclosed. The long-term agreement stems from NV Energy’s 2009 Request for Proposals for renewable energy and requires approval by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bosch Solar Energy and Linde to establish new 'solar cluster' in Germany

MUNICH, GERMANY: Linde Nippon Sanso (LNS), a company of The Linde Group, and Bosch Solar Energy, have announced an extension of their collaboration at Bosch’s new crystalline Si solar cell manufacturing site in Arnstadt, Germany.

Under the new agreement, LNS will supply silane and ammonia gas, both critical materials in the fabrication of Bosch’s high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) cells.

Bosch currently operates three manufacturing facilities in the Erfurt/Arnstadt area applying both crystalline and thin film silicon technologies. When fully-ramped the crystalline facilities alone will have an overall capacity of 630 MWp (megawatt peak) – putting the Erfurt/Arnstadt area firmly on the map as a strong European ‘solar cluster’. Linde is the main gas technology supplier to all of the production lines.

“Linde’s technology leadership in high-efficiency gases for PV manufacturing and our ability to provision these safely, has helped us bolster our collaboration with Bosch Solar Energy,” says Andreas Guenther, President LNS. “We value the opportunity to support Bosch’s capacity expansion and partner in the establishment of the Erfurt/Arnstadt as an important PV manufacturing site in Europe.”

Taking into account Bosch Solar Energy’s current and Masdar’s new thin-film plant, the overall capacity of the Erfurt ‘solar cluster’ currently stands at more than 300MWp and is projected to reach at least 700MWp by 2012, rivaling the well-established Thalheim ”solar valley.”

Over the past four years Linde has built a leading position in gases and chemical supply to both crystalline and thin-film silicon PV module manufacturers, in key markets including Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Taiwan and India. To date, Linde has partnered customers on projects with a target capacity of more than 6GWp (gigawatt peak).

GT Solar announces Richard J. Gaynor as CFO

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of specialized production equipment, process technology and turnkey manufacturing services for the solar power industry, announced that Richard J. Gaynor has been appointed chief financial officer, effective March 1. Gaynor fills the CFO position vacated by his predecessor in May 2009.

Gaynor brings to GT Solar a wealth of financial management experience over the last 23 years at global public technology companies. Most recently he was CFO at Sonus Networks, a provider of voice over IP infrastructure solutions for wireline and wireless service providers. Prior to Sonus Networks, he served as CFO at Sycamore Networks (SCMR), a global provider of intelligent optical networking hardware and software products.

“We are delighted to have an executive of Rick Gaynor’s caliber and experience on board to lead our finance organization during our next stages of development and growth,” said Tom Gutierrez, president and chief executive officer. “Rick brings extensive financial control and international tax experience to GT Solar and he has been an effective leader at other global R&D-oriented technology companies. I look forward to him serving a key role on the senior leadership team at GT Solar in the years ahead in support of our strategy and initiatives to deliver value to our shareholders. We welcome Rick to the team.

“I also want to acknowledge the strong contributions by our vice president of finance, Rich Johnson, over the last eight months in leading the finance organization during our search for a new CFO,” said Gutierrez. “We are grateful for his dedication to GT Solar during the transition and fortunate to have his continued services as a key member of the finance team as our newly named vice president and chief accounting officer.”

“This is a great opportunity to lead the financial organization for a market-leader like GT Solar,” said Gaynor. “I look forward to working with Tom and the rest of the organization to build upon the success that GT has achieved to date and develop a financial strategy to support the organization’s next stages of growth.”

Oerlikon Solar expands into Spanish market

TRUBBACH, SWITZERLAND: Oerlikon Solar, the world’s leading supplier of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) production equipment, announced that Gadir Solar is using its amorphous thin film silicon PV technology at the solar fabrication plant located in the bay of Cadiz, Spain.

Gadir Solar’s plant, one of the largest in Europe, began operation in October 2009. The company is ramping up in record time its annual production capacity of 40 MW, which is capable of producing about half a million PV panels per year. The amount of annually produced amorphous silicon PV panels will generate enough power for approximately 8,000 homes.

“We chose Oerlikon Solar because of its well-established track record of ramping up new thin film solar factories on time and on budget as well as its strong commitment to improving on the scalability and cost benefits for the technology. We were, and continue to be, extremely impressed with their ability to meet our requirements and in Oerlikon Solar’s clear upgrade path to ensure our competitiveness in the market,” said David Naranjo Villalonga, CEO of Cadmos / Gadir Solar.

“We are committed to providing the most efficient solar solutions for the Mediterranean region. Introducing amorphous panels to our production plant means we can offer the highest standards of quality and reliability.”

Driving down cost
Technology innovation is driving down the cost and improving the performance of solar technologies. Solar PV is becoming a mass production technology, and like flat-screen TVs, continued innovation and cost reductions is likely to occur over the next 5 to ten years. Oerlikon Solar customers are looking beyond the short-term supply market conditions, and are targeting the market for 2012 and beyond, when their micromorph® factories will be in full production at production costs that enable grid-parity level PPA prices.

“This opens another important market for our leading thin film solar PV technology,” said Jürg Henz, CEO of Oerlikon Solar. “European countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain could claim about 801 percent of PV market share this year and we see tremendous opportunity in offering companies like Gadir Solar industrial proven mass production solutions for the thin film PV industry – the fastest-growing segment of PV.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Solar innovator Innotech invests in Germany

BERLIN, GERMANY: The photovoltaic industry in Eastern Germany has received a further boost from Norwegian solar company ITS Innotech Solar. The company has acquired land for a new investment in the Eastern German city of Halle, with plans to construct a factory to increase power of solar cells. ITS was assisted in the investment process by Germany Trade & Invest.

ITS' investment will initially create 80 new jobs in the region with plans to double its amount of employees in the future. The company, headquartered in Narvik, Norway, purchases solar cells and uses industrial production techniques to increase the power output and guarantee the quality of the cells.

Innotech Solar CEO, Thor Christian Tuv, said: "Germany provides us with the ideal conditions to strengthen our business activities. A thriving photovoltaic industry cluster and outstanding infrastructure here are essential for us. We are sure the Halle site gives us a unique competitive advantage that will allow us to continue our company's extraordinary growth."

The decision to invest in Germany is a testament to the country's well-developed PV industry. With the highest concentration of photovoltaic companies, suppliers, and research institutes, Germany's industry posted over EUR 9.5 billion in revenues in 2008. The country's market size also makes it an attractive location.

In 2009, Germany had roughly half of all global PV installations, coming in at approximately 3.0 GW. This trend is expected to continue. Manufacturers benefit from the "Made in Germany" reputation for high quality products, a well established industrial infrastructure, large equipment supplier base, and qualified workforce.

The country's infrastructure also played a key role in ITS' decision to invest in the Halle site. Proximity to the Leipzig-Halle airport and direct access to the German Autobahn connect the company to the world's number one infrastructure, according to a World Economic Forum study.

Innotech Solar was assisted in the investment process by Germany Trade & Invest and the Investment and Marketing Corporation (IMG) Saxony-Anhalt.

Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.

SunPower announces agreement to acquire SunRay

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp. recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire SunRay Renewable Energy, a leading European solar power plant developer with offices in Europe and the Middle East, including a principal project office in Rome.

SunPower will acquire SunRay from its shareholders, which includes its management and Denham Capital. Upon closing the transaction, SunPower will acquire a project pipeline of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects totaling more than 1,200 megawatts (MW) in Italy, France, Israel, Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece. The pipeline consists of projects in various stages of development. SunRay's power plant development and project finance team consists of approximately 70 employees.

"SunRay has a proven track record of developing bankable solar power plants in a complex environment," said Howard Wenger, president of SunPower's utilities and power plants business group.

"This acquisition is consistent with our long-term company strategy to develop a strong brand and complementary channels to market. SunRay's exceptional team and pipeline will add to our significant internal investment in North American power plant development. It also complements our European engineering, procurement and construction business that serves a broad range of development partners."

"SunRay has developed an impressive pipeline of utility scale projects throughout Europe," continued Wenger. "We congratulate SunRay on receiving the European Solar Deal of the Year award today from Project Finance magazine for the largest solar PV power plant financed in 2009, the 24 MW Montalto power plant in Italy, which launched SunPower's relationship with SunRay. This acquisition further demonstrates our confidence in the Italian market and regulatory environment, and will accelerate the growth of our European and Middle Eastern power plant business."

"Our experience working with SunPower on Montalto and several other power plants in Italy convinced us that SunRay will be joining the global solar technology, performance and quality leader for solar power plants," said Yoram Amiga, CEO of SunRay Group.

"Our combined experience globally will allow us to offer our customers reliable energy delivery at competitive prices. Denham has been a great partner, providing both capital and advice at an important stage in our company's development. We are pleased to have worked with them."

"The SunRay Renewables team has proven itself unparalleled in its ability to develop, finance and construct world class solar projects," said Scott Mackin, partner in Denham Capital.

"The marriage of that team with the superior technology of SunPower will create a formidable platform of new, socially and environmentally responsible and highly efficient solar PV projects in many countries around the world. We are delighted to have supported the initial development of SunRay's portfolio, including the initial phase of the award-winning Montalto project, the largest in Italy. This project was completed in partnership with SunPower, and we are confident that the two firms will continue to expand on their success together."

"SunRay has a strong pipeline in Italy, with several power plants already permitted for delivery in 2010," said Gian Maria Ferrero, vice president of SunPower's Europe, Middle East and Africa utilities and power plants business unit.

"Italy has demonstrated sustainable, strong growth in both rooftop and ground-mounted solar systems, bringing new jobs to the market and private investment into new power resources without the need for major new transmission investment. The growth of the Italian market has validated our prior acquisition of Solar Solutions, now SunPower Italia. SunPower and SunRay will seek to build on our success throughout Southern Europe and into the Middle East and Africa as demand for new power resources increases."

The total consideration for the acquisition is approximately $277 million, including $235 million in cash and $42 million in a letter of credit and promissory notes. SunPower has sufficient cash to close the transaction and does not intend to raise equity capital to finance the acquisition.

The company will provide specific financial guidance regarding the positive impacts of the transaction during its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2009 earnings conference call in March. The parties anticipate closing the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, in the first half of 2010.

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to SunPower with regard to this transaction and provided a fairness opinion regarding the acquisition to its board of directors.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saudi Arabia launches solar energy program

WASHINGTON, USA: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has begun building the first solar-powered water desalination plant, the first step in a three-part program to introduce solar energy into the Kingdom.

The program, launched by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), aims to help stabilize future power and water supplies inside Saudi Arabia through the creation of solar-powered desalination facilities.

Water desalination is critical to providing clean drinking water around the world. Today, Saudi Arabia produces 18 percent of the world's desalinated water. By building water desalination plants that run on solar energy, the Kingdom can reduce operational costs and in turn, reduce consumer costs.

Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad, KACST Vice President for Research Institutes said, "The solar energy program will reduce the cost of producing desalinated water and of generating power for use in the Kingdom, an oil-dependent nation, which has launched a national energy efficiency program."

Saudi Arabia is a prime location to harness solar energy because of its year-round sunshine. The sun in Saudi Arabia emits about 7,000 watts of energy per square meter over an average of 12 hours every day. KACST and IBM have developed a research center to determine how best to harness and repurpose this solar energy and is preparing to implement this state-of-the-art technology.

IBM sets world record by creating high-efficiency solar cell made from earth-abundant materials

ARMONK, USA: IBM has built a solar cell -- where the key layer that absorbs most of the light for conversion into electricity, is made entirely of readily-available elements -- that set a new world record for efficiency and holds potential for enabling solar cell technology to produce more energy at a lower cost.

Comprised of copper (Cu), tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), sulfur (S), and/or selenium (Se), the cell's power conversion demonstrates an efficiency of 9.6 percent -- 40 percent higher than the value previously attained for this set of materials. In order to achieve progress in solar cell research, IBM is leveraging its world-class expertise in microprocessor technology, materials and manufacturing.

"In a given hour, more energy from sunlight strikes the earth than the entire planet consumes in a year, but solar cells currently contribute less than 0.1 percent of electricity supply -- primarily as a result of cost," said Dr. David Mitzi, who leads the team at IBM Research that developed the solar cell.

"The quest to develop a solar technology that can compare on a cost per watt basis with the conventional electricity generation, and also offer the ability to deploy at the terawatt level, has become a major challenge that our research is moving us closer to overcoming."

The IBM researchers describe their achievement of the thin-film photovoltaic technology in a paper published in Advanced Materials this week, highlighting the solar cell's potential to accomplish the goal of producing low-cost energy that can be used widely and commercially.

The solar cell development also sets itself apart from its predecessors as it was created using a combination of solution and nanoparticle-based approaches, rather than the popular, but expensive vacuum-based technique. The production change is expected to enable much lower fabrication costs, as it is consistent with high-throughput and high materials utilization based deposition techniques including printing, dip and spray coating and slit casting.

Currently available thin film solar cell modules based upon compound semiconductors operate at 9 to 11 percent efficiency levels, and are primarily made from two costly compounds -- copper indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride. Attempts to create affordable, earth abundant solar cells from related compounds that are free of indium, gallium or cadmium have not exceeded 6.7 percent, compared to IBM's new 9.6 efficiency rating.

Over the past several years, IBM researchers have pioneered several breakthroughs related to creating inexpensive, efficient solar cells. IBM does not plan to manufacture solar technologies, but is open to partnering with solar cell manufacturers to demonstrate the technology.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Kyocera achieves world record conversion efficiency for multicrystalline solar modules

KYOTO, JAPAN: Kyocera Corp. announced that it has achieved a new world record of 16.6% module efficiency (aperture-area efficiency of 17.3 percent) for multicrystalline silicon solar modules using 54 cells in the development stage.

To achieve this record, Kyocera further improved its proprietary "Back Contact" technology and module design to optimize the performance of each cell, thus increasing overall energy conversion efficiency. Kyocera, which possesses a fully-integrated production system — from processing raw silicon material to manufacturing cells and modules — continually advances its technology to yield higher energy efficiency from its solar cells and modules.

Kyocera's Back Contact technology moves electrode wiring that is typically arranged on the surface of the cell to the back side, thus increasing the light capturing surface area to maximize energy conversion efficiency. Kyocera has achieved an energy conversion efficiency of 18.5 percent for individual solar cells in the development stage.

Since starting its solar energy business in 1975, Kyocera has made continuous advancements in solar technology in order to help deliver the blessings of the sun to the world. Constantly seeking ways to enhance its solar cell manufacturing, Kyocera has enlarged the cell size to increase the energy yield per cell, and minimized the thickness of cells to decrease the amount of raw material required.

Specifications of back contact module
Module efficiency: 16.6 percent (total area 13,379 cm2)
Conversion efficiency (aperture area): 17.3 percent (aperture area 12,753 cm2)
Number of cells: 54 solar cells (cell size: 150mm x 155mm)
Type of cell: Multicrystalline photovoltaic cells

*Aperture-area efficiency is limited to the inner surface area of a module where the cells are arranged, whereas, module efficiency includes the framing area of the module. Based on research by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (Japan), current as of December 2009.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Linde achieves growth, invests in innovation despite over-capacity in PV industry

MUNICH, GERMANY: Defying the impact of a depressed economy on market movements, the Linde Gases Division of The Linde Group closed 2009 with more than 6GWp (Gigawatt peak) of production capacity across its global photovoltaic (PV) customer base.

Linde demonstrated increased market traction securing multiple new contract wins and renewals with leading thin-film and crystalline manufacturers worldwide including GS Solar and Suntech in China, Euro Multivision, Indo Solar and Solar Semiconductor in India, and Bosch, Malibu and Masdar in Germany.

Winding down 2009 on an optimistic note, Linde is training its sights on a promising 2010-11 with an aggressive focus on innovation to help PV module manufacturers to drive down costs and reduce carbon footprint.

The company is collaborating with customers in Asia and Europe to achieve sub-$1 per Watt thin-film silicon costs, and is pushing the boundaries of innovation in on-site fluorine generation, silane production and turnkey installations of bulk and specialty gases supply systems.

On the back of stronger demand in Europe, and booming markets in China, India, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States, Linde sees three key trends impacting industry growth during 2010-11:

1. With imminent reductions in feed-in tariffs, the industry will have to deliver technologies that reduce cost/watt.
2. Cost and technology leaders in PV manufacturing will continue to invest in capacity extension despite oversupply.
3. Government stimulus packages will be received with cautious optimism, unless viably disbursed and sustained in the medium term.

Dean O’Connor, Head of Market Development & Technology at Linde Gases Division, said: “In 2009, the tough got going. While the industry was suffering with over-capacity, Linde took a keen focus on bolstering customer relationships and investing in innovation to address the cost, efficiency and sustainable manufacturing of photovoltaic cells. Linde’s breakthrough onsite fluorine (F2) generation technology has already established a new benchmark for green PV manufacturing.

“With industry experts echoing growth predictions, we see 2010 as the ‘Year of the Agile’ (in the PV industry),” added O’Connor. “The entire ecosystem of the industry will have to mobilise, and only the nimble manufacturers, suppliers and policy-makers will come out winners.”

Charles Annis, vice president at DisplaySearch, said: “During the first half of 2009 the PV industry struggled through its first major down turn in the ‘Solar Cycle’ in years. But PV demand proved highly resilient in the second half. End market demand exceeded 6GW in 2009 and is forecast to grow another 30 percent in 2010. Top tier solar module manufacturers have returned to high profitability, encouraging them to move forward with investment plans that are expected to increase cell manufacturing capacity from 17GW in 2009 to over 23GW in 2010.”

While the Copenhagen discussions in December achieved a near global consensus on the need to reduce carbon emissions, Linde was already urging the thin-film PV industry to shift focus from Grid Parity to Green Parity – encouraging manufacturers to reduce the carbon footprint of PV module manufacturing to deliver truly green energy.

In 2009, the Company launched The Linde Technology Centre in Shanghai to drive R&D initiatives in China and the Asia-Pacific region to improve gases-related industrial processes and develop green technologies geared towards future and sustainable applications. Linde also has two existing R&D centres in the US and Europe to support those regions.

Over the past four years, Linde has built a leading position in gases and chemical supply to both crystalline and thin-film silicon PV module manufacturers, in key markets including Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Taiwan and India. To date, Linde has partnered customers on projects with a production capacity of more than 6GWp.

2010 outlook for renewable energy

WASHINGTON, USA: Top executives in the renewable energy sector gathered to applaud 2009’s strong renewable energy development but emphasized the need for Congress to swiftly enact key policies to continue accelerated growth across the entire sector in order to add jobs and boost economic growth in 2010.

Executives stressed that if these policies are not enacted, the renewable energy sector could face a downturn in investment and jobs in 2010. Participants in today’s press conference represented the full scope of the renewables sector, including Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA); Linda Church Ciocci, Executive Director, National Hydropower Association (NHA); Robert Cleaves, President and CEO, Biomass Power Association (BPA); Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA); and Rhone Resch, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The renewable energy leaders called for Congress to pass a strong national renewable energy standard (RES) with clear near- and long-term goals, along with expansion and extension of credit incentives, and comprehensive legislation. These policies will maintain American competitiveness and attract tens of billions of dollars of investment in clean energy production and manufacturing facilities.

A major new study conducted by Navigant Consulting, Inc. reveals that a 25 percent by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more renewable energy jobs than a no-national RES policy scenario.

“The RES is the best way to provide the certainty that companies need to expand wind manufacturing nationwide,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The importance of building a strong renewable energy manufacturing base in the US cannot be overstated. The US has a historic opportunity to fortify the clean energy economy but is committing unilateral economic disarmament by not giving itself the policy tools to do so.”

“Policy matters in tapping hydropower’s tremendous growth potential in every state, which will lead to the creation of well-paying, family-supporting jobs,” said Linda Church Ciocci, Executive Director, NHA. “We need a strong RES, tax incentives and other support policy if we are to double hydropower’s contribution to America’s energy portfolio.”

“Thousands of jobs in the biomass power industry could be lost if Congress fails to extend the production tax credit for biomass power that recently expired late last year. These tax credits are literally the life-line to many biomass power facilities that provide long-term high paying jobs in rural areas currently facing unemployment levels as high as 15 percent,” said Robert Cleaves, President of the Biomass Power Association.

“Congress should support all American sources of renewable energy by renewing the production tax credit for biomass power and passing an aggressive national renewable electricity standard. Policies that promote the growth of America’s renewable energy sector will move the United States closer towards energy independence, create thousands of long-term clean energy jobs, and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy.”

“The United States has been the world leader in geothermal energy production and in the past years our industry has seen renewed growth, even despite the recession. This is a testament to the support of federal and state policies and highlights the potential for our country to continue to lead the world in geothermal production and technology,” said Karl Gawell, Executive Director, GEA.

“This year Congress enacted stimulus legislation with a historic group of incentives supporting geothermal and other renewable technologies. Now in its 2011 budget, the Administration proposed additional measures, including ramping up incentives for the domestic manufacturing capacity needed to supply a growing geothermal power industry. The keys to sustain this growth will be adopting longer-term measures to support an increase in both new projects and the manufacturing and supply infrastructure. That means extending the stimulus bill’s tax incentives through 2016, adopting a strong renewable electricity standard, and other measures to keep the US a leader in geothermal energy.”

“One of the fastest ways to create jobs in America is to invest in clean energy,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “These are quality jobs and they can’t be outsourced. From plumbers to electricians to construction workers, the solar industry created nearly 20,000 jobs last year with the support of the stimulus bill. We proved that we can create much-needed job growth now with the right policies in place. But we can only keep up that momentum if Congress enacts a jobs bill that promotes deployment of solar and other clean energy technologies.”

Spire ranked 9th fastest-growing public company in Massachusetts

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) modules and turnkey manufacturing lines, solar cells and solar systems, has been ranked number nine on the Boston Business Journal’s Book of Lists 2010 as one of the Fastest-Growing Public Companies in Massachusetts over the last three years.

Spire’s percent of revenue growth from 2006 to 2008 was 240 percent.

“Spire is very familiar with being on Boston Business Journal’s prestige Book of Lists, said Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO. “They are a respected publication with a long history in our state; we are honored to make their list again this year.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trina Solar announces new technology to boost conversion efficiency with square monocrystalline cells

CHANGZHOU, USA: Trina Solar Ltd, a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products from the production of ingots, wafers and cells to the assembly of PV modules, has achieved a breakthrough in its development of monocrystalline cell technology.

As part of the Company's ongoing research and development strategy, Trina Solar has developed a square monocrystalline cell with enhanced power output using its proprietary improved cell manufacturing process.

Using specially designed metallization and passivation techniques, the advanced cell structure is expected to significantly boost cell conversion efficiency, achieving up to 18.8 percent efficiency in test laboratory production. In addition, this technology is expected to improve module output due to increased light absorbing surface area of the square shaped cell.

"We are excited to announce this breakthrough in monocrystalline cell efficiency, which demonstrates the competence of our R&D team and the centrality of product development at Trina Solar," said Jifan Gao, Trina Solar's Chairman and CEO. "Trina Solar will continue to advance its extensive R&D program, aiming to develop solar cell conversion efficiencies of more than 20 percent over the coming two years."

EXPO Solar 2010 offers timely outlook for global PV market

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Over 3 bustling days, from 3 to 5 February, 2010, the photovoltaic market was all abuzz at one spot, at KINTEX, Korea. After its huge success last year, EXPO Solar came back this year to get even more enthusiastic welcome and responses from exhibitors and visitors.

After a very difficult year in 2009, the PV market is witnessing some signs of recovery all over the world. As the global PV market begins its path to recovery, solar professionals headed to EXPO Solar 2010 to gauge the market sentiment.

Across three days, the event attracted an average of 10,000 visitors per day and brought over 1,000 key buyers from major PV markets including Germany, Italy and the US

World-class electronics giants Samsung and LG showed their seriousness about solar by participating in EXPO Solar 2010 -- their first-ever participation in an event of its kind.

Samsung Electronics unveiled its c-Si solar cells with 18% efficiency and modules with 255Wp for the first time to the international market. LG Electronics introduced its thin-film solar cells with world's top-level efficiency of 11.1 percent.

Over 300 market-leading companies participated including Schmalz, Schmid, TEMPRESS, TIGO ENERGY, KLA-Tencor, Synova SA, EFD (a NORDSON company), Coherent, Jonas & Redmann Photovoltaics Production Solutions, Kaco New Energy, NPC, Vector Japan, Trina Solar, Astronergy, ET Solar, C.E.E.G, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Nexolon, SKC, LST Energy, Dyesoltimo, Jusung Engineering, SFA, AMC, EO Technics, Paru, GNR, D-Solartech and Samyang Reduction Gear.

Exhibitors reported results that exceeded expectations. "The visibility and exposure we generated at this event among key influencers has been invaluable for us as we expand our business to Asia and the world," said Jerome Mazet, APAC Marketing Manager of Trina Solar.

Commenting on the continued growth of EXPO Solar, Jeffrey Choi, Chairman of the EXPO Solar Organizing Committee, said, "More than 65 percent of the exhibitors of EXPO Solar 2010 have not only booked their space for the 2011 event, but doubled their booth size."

The next EXPO Solar will be held from 16 to 18 February, 2011, at KINTEX, Korea.