Friday, April 30, 2010

Solar Frontier to install 2 MW scale solar power generation equipment at third Miyazaki plant

TOKYO, JAPAN: Solar Frontier K.K., a 100 percent subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., announced today that it will install photovoltaic power generation equipment totaling 2 megawatts (2,000 kilowatts) at its 3rd plant in Miyazaki, Japan, using its proprietary CIS thin-film solar panels.

This project at Solar Frontier’s third plant, which is now under construction and scheduled to commence operations in 2011, represents the third megawatt scale solar power generation installment the company is undertaking, with two 1 megawatt scale installations already under construction at Showa Shell Sekiyu’s Niigata Petroleum Import Terminal and at Solar Frontier’s second Miyazaki plant.

“This latest installation will contribute to the production of the world’s most ecological solar panels, offering compelling economic benefits on the world’s largest scale from Solar Frontier’s new cutting edge 3rd plant,” said CEO Shigeaki Kameda.

“It will also provide us with valuable data on the performance of our CIS panels, which we can use to make continual improvements to our products and to expand our business.”

This newest project will be subsidized under the partnership signed between Miyazaki Prefecture and Solar Frontier in November last year under which its solar power generation project at the 2nd Miyazaki Plant was also agreed, as well as the “2009 Project to Promote the Regional Introduction of New Energies (4th Solicitation of Projects)” of the New Energy Promotion Council.

“Solar Frontier is committed to providing customers cleaner and economically superior solar energy, and with this partnership with Miyazaki Prefecture, we are contributing to the development and expansion of the solar cell industry,” Kameda concluded.

Clean Edge revises solar PV market size figure upward for 2009

PORTLAND & OAKLAND, USA: Clean Edge Inc. announced updated solar photovoltaic (PV) market sizing numbers for its Clean Energy Trends 2010 report, originally published in March. An updated version of the report can be downloaded at The newly adjusted numbers reflect an upward revision of 2009 installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity – a response to Germany’s late announcement that a staggering 1.34 megawatts of PV was installed in December.

An April 9, 2010 announcement by the German Federal Network Agency revealed that Germany installed a total of 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV in 2009, with approximately 40 percent of this capacity being installed in December alone. Although Clean Edge expected Germany's December installed capacity to eclipse that of November, the magnitude of this trend exceeded its initial estimates.

Factoring in newly available intelligence, Clean Edge has updated its solar market projections originally released in March. As a result, 2009 global PV installations reached just more than 7 GW and global revenue in 2009 has been adjusted to $36.1 billion.

Projected 2019 global PV revenue has also been upwardly revised to $116.5 billion. Clean Edge’s updated total clean-energy growth projection – including biofuels, wind power, and solar power – sees the market for these three benchmark technologies growing from $144.5 billion in 2009 to $343.4 billion in 2019.

Autodesk inventor helps Utility Scale Solar save capital, speed development

SAN RAFAEL, USA: Utility Scale Solar Inc. (USS) is successfully using Autodesk Inventor software to accelerate development of its sun-tracking systems, while saving millions of dollars in capital investment.

USS credits Autodesk Inc.’s Clean Tech Partner Program, which provides software grants for emerging clean tech companies in North America, and Autodesk reseller KETIV Technologies for introducing the company to Digital Prototyping with Inventor and helping it reach its product development milestones so efficiently.

“The ability to use digital prototypes has significantly streamlined design and engineering here at Utility Scale Solar,” said Peter Childers, president and CEO of USS. “With just one or two engineers using Inventor, we can accomplish the same amount of work in three months that it would have taken 10 engineers twice as long to accomplish.

While most solar companies have focused on designing better surfaces to collect solar energy, USS has focused on optimizing the performance of the sun-tracking equipment itself. This effort has resulted in the development of the company’s Megahelion trackers and heliostats based on this new type of solar drive system. USS’ drive system, whether in single-axis or dual-axis configuration, allows any type of solar application — whether it’s a photovoltaic array, thin film modules or a mirror reflector — to smoothly and accurately follow the sun or reflect the sun onto a receiver, at lower cost and with better performance than existing mechanisms.

Since heliostat costs represent 30–50 percent of the initial capital investment for solar projects, cost-effective heliostats like the Megahelion are essential to making solar power scalable and economically competitive with other forms of power, such as coal or nuclear.

USS estimates that the efficiencies it has derived from Inventor software — specifically, being able to go from initial product development phases to ready-to-manufacture in such a short time — has allowed it to maintain business momentum and conserve two to three million dollars in capital. For example, the company uses Inventor to perform finite element analysis (FEA) simulation to test product performance and help prevent part failure, and has taken advantage of the sheet metal analysis capabilities to reduce component waste.

USS uses Autodesk Vault Manufacturing data management software to securely control and distribute information among its engineers. USS also uses Autodesk Showcase software to more effectively communicate and market its solar energy collection products with photorealistic visuals.

“The result of our team using Inventor and its suite of tools,” said Childers, “is that our core product has been fully designed and FEA test-driven under multiple operating stress scenarios, and is now ready to be manufactured.”

“Time and money are precious commodities for emerging clean tech companies,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Autodesk Manufacturing Industry Group. “We’re proud to help companies like USS embrace Digital Prototyping so that they can reduce costs and bring their innovations to market sooner.”

SEMI India unveils 'recommended best practices for solar feed-in-tariffs (FIT) and their relevance in Indian context

BANGALORE, INDIA: SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment Materials International)/PV Group, the leading industry association serving the photovoltaic supply chain, organized a panel discussion to discuss its public policy principles on Feed-In Tariffs and their relevance to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN NSM).

A SEMI/PV Group White Paper on Policy Principles and Recommended Global Best practices for Solar Feed-in Tariffs, titled ‘Advancing a sustainable Solar Future’ along with comments on its relevance to the Indian context was also unveiled.

The focus of the white paper is on best practices that would enhance feed-in-tariffs (FITs) as a mechanism to advance solar energy in markets. FIT is currently now in practice in over 30 countries and has been present for over 20 years in mature PV markets. FIT is also an effective and versatile mechanism and can be successfully integrated with any country’s existing policies.

The best practices and characteristics of FITs outlined in the White Paper include, support for technology differentiation, setting of generation cost-based rates, fair purchase and interconnection requirements, use of fixed price and long term payments and the use of predictable incentive declines.

Sathya Prasad, President SEMI India was joined by prominent solar industry leaders including K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar and Chair SEMI India PV Advisory Committee, and Dr. J. Gururaja, Honorary Executive President, REAF (Renewable Energy Advocacy Forum) on the panel with K Subramanya as the Chairperson.The session aimed at raising awareness about the relevance of Global Best Practices on Feed-in-Tariffs for promoting solar/PV expansion in the country, also addressed results of a global survey of FIT policies, drawing of comparisons between the global survey and recommended FIT practices, key comparisons between the JN NSM and global FIT best practices, current status of the Mission and the importance of its successful & effective implementation for the growth of solar/PV in India.

Setting the context, Sathya Prasad, President, SEMI India, stressed the role and importance of incorporating best practices of Feed-in-Tariffs for the growth of the PV industry in the country. He said ‘Our study suggests that the JN NSM aligns well with global Feed-in Tariff best practices and should therefore provide a good foundation for a flourishing solar/PV market, manufacturing industry and job growth in India.

With this landmark policy framework in place and the key role envisaged for solar in India’s energy future, the focus must now be to ensure the successful implementation of the mission.’

In his comments as Chair of the panel, K Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar India, said: “Germany with roughly half the sunshine levels of India has emerged over the last decade as the global market leader with more than 30 percent of all solar PV installations because of an attractive and well thought out feed-in tariff regime that incentivised the uptake of solar power systems with annual decrease in tariff tied to the total amount of installations and graduated rates for different system sizes.

“This has led individuals to warm up to solar power and helped to create a solar market which is going to sustain itself as the cost of solar decreases and nears grid parity in the next few years. In India, too, we are going in for the feed-in tariffs within the framework of the national solar mission and it is expected to drive up a large scale and rapid diffusion of solar energy in the country.”

Dr Madhusudan Atre, President, Applied Materials India, Co-Chair SEMI India PV Advisory Committee said, ‘Growth and development of indigenous technology, base of skilled human resources, Indian manufacturing capabilities and ecosystem, customer reach out through marketing and sales are critical for the growth of the solar industry in India - both for on-grid and distributed systems."

SEMI India is also organizing, for the second consecutive year, SOLARCON India 2010, the premier international solar energy focused industry event, at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad from 28 - 30 July 2010.

Tata BP Solar expands solar manufacturing capacity by 62 percent

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a clear demonstration of its commitment to India and the growth of the solar energy market, Tata BP Solar, a joint venture between BP Solar and Tata Power and the pioneer and market leader in the Indian solar industry, announced that it has added a new production line of 32 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells at its plant in Bangalore.

Added to its existing cell capacity of 52 MW, the development takes total cell capacity to 84 MW with module capacity at 125MW.

The company manufactures high quality, low-cost crystalline silicon cells (both mono- and multi-crystalline) and solar modules used to generate electricity from sunlight. Tata BP Solar cells and modules are integrated into solar products such as home lighting systems, street lights, and telecommunication towers or connected to the electricity grid to export the power generated directly from solar plants on rooftops or in open fields.

BP Solar CEO, Reyad Fezzani, commented: "Tata BP Solar has an unrivalled record of profitable growth over 20 years. Global demand for Solar is expected to grow over 80% in 2010, and in India it is likely to grow fivefold to 150MW. In the longer term the Indian market is poised to become a world-scale market by 2022 stimulated by the supportive policies announced by the Government of India."

Tata Power MD, Menon, added: "In view of the huge demand supply gap in the power sector in India, large scale use of solar energy is imperative, especially given the abundant sunshine available all over the country throughout the year. The key to growing the mass market is cost reduction which will not happen without achieving large-scale supply. Tata BP Solar is building some of India's largest solar plants. Today's development is a strong step in assuring supply to meet new opportunities coming up in India."

Tata BP Solar CEO, K. Subramanya, said: "After more than two decades of growing the Indian market in the off-grid mode, Tata BP Solar is ready with the additional cells capacity to service the new market opening up in India in the context of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission." The mission has set a target of generating 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022 and another 2,000 MW of off-grid solar installations.

He added: "We are committed to contribute to the success of India's solar mission by our quality products and solutions including our market leading guarantee of 85 percent power output from our solar panels even at the end of 25 years."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Solar Power Partners raises up to $215 million in funding

MILL VALLEY, USA: Solar Power Partners Inc., the country’s largest independent solar power producer, has closed $115 million in financing, expandable up to $215 million.

The financing comprises construction debt, term debt, and tax equity provided by US Bank and WestLB AG, as well as corporate funding from new and existing investors to support the company’s aggressive, nation-wide growth in both commercial and utility markets. Project financing remains the key issue in the execution of solar projects, and this funding allows SPP to continue adding to its operating project portfolio.

“The SPP team continues to excel in executing with key lender and investor relationships,” said Bob Powell, President and CEO of Solar Power Partners.

“SPP has accomplished what no other company of its size has managed, with over 40 major customer installations in several states. This round of funding allows us to continue our track record of project execution, and will more than double our installed system capacity. In an industry where delivering results rather than hype is scarce, SPP is focused on putting real shovels in the ground to construct projects.”

SPP provides industry-leading system modeling, design, engineering, and construction management, and long-term operations and maintenance. Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) allow customers to use clean solar energy without any upfront capital, while removing the risk of ongoing operations and maintenance. SPP’s systems to date all produce at or above the expectations of both investors and customers.

“The expandability in this financing round will enable the addition of new projects to our current development schedule. SPP has always been able to stand by our methods and our contracts, and our development team is excited about adding to our execution record,” said Todd Michaels, Senior Vice President of Project Development and Marketing.

Powell said: “Funding from our strategic investors enable us to grow our base of expertise and diversity of approach in the market. I’m proud of the extraordinary team that has helped bring solar energy to so many businesses and institutions. In the four years since the company’s inception, the SPP team has set the bar on what a true solar power producer brings to a project through vision and an energetic attention to detail that is grounded in reality. We’re pleased to add to that knowledge base with our new and existing partners.”

SwissINSO announces successful launch of solar-powered water purification unit

NEW YORK, USA: SwissINSO Holding Inc. has announced the successful launch of KRYSTALL, its first fully solar powered water purification product. SwissINSO hosted a launch event for the product on April 22nd in Lausanne, Switzerland, and is pleased to report enormous interest in it.

Over 80 people attended the event, including investment bankers, investors, scientists, commercial partners, distributors and members of the press. The exceptional turnout has resulted in numerous high-level inquiries as well as press, national television and radio coverage.

All attendees were unanimously impressed by the KRYSTALL system, its quality and the ability of SwissINSO to be the first to be able to truly integrate solar energy with water purification in response to one of the most significant issues facing the world.

During the course of the event, attendees were able to see the unit in operation firsthand, receive a detailed explanation on the process behind the product and sample the water.

KRYSTALL products will be available in a number of configurations, and will be capable of purifying over 100,000 liters of brackish water and 50,000 liters of seawater per day into high-quality drinking water.

The units are completely turnkey and self-contained in two 40-foot containers and, if desired, can be fitted with an optional automatic bottling line. Built with legendary Swiss engineering and attention to detail, each unit is fully autonomous, powered by state-of-the-art photovoltaic panels that also charge batteries for operation of the unit during darkness or cloudy conditions.

SwissINSO, CEO, Dr. Yves Ducommun said: “We are extremely pleased with the high turnout and the high number of inquiries; both confirm the pertinence of the Krystall product with respect to helping solve such an important global issue.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Solar agrees to acquire NextLight Renewable Power LLC

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. and NextLight Renewable Power, LLC have entered into a definitive agreement for First Solar to acquire NextLight, a leading developer of utility-scale solar projects in the southwestern United States.

The acquisition includes a 1,100 megawatt (MW) solar project pipeline, further solidifying First Solar’s position as a leader in the U.S. utility renewable power market.

The acquisition of NextLight includes:
* 570MW (AC) under signed power purchase agreements with western utilities, increasing First Solar’s contracted photovoltaic (PV) solar project pipeline to 2,200MW.
* 530MW (AC) of additional PV projects in various stages of development.

NextLight’s projects, ranging in size from 30MW to 290MW, expand the scope and diversity of First Solar’s pipeline. The projects are largely located on private land.

“NextLight has assembled a project pipeline that very much complements First Solar’s project portfolio. We are looking forward to having the highly experienced NextLight team join First Solar,” said Rob Gillette, First Solar chief executive officer.

“The combination of NextLight and First Solar brings best-in-class power development experience and discipline to the emerging utility-scale solar industry. We look forward to joining the First Solar organization and leveraging their expertise to deliver high-quality solar generation to our customers,” said Frank De Rosa, NextLight chief executive officer.

The transaction represents another strategic step in First Solar’s expansion in the US utility-scale power market, which began in 2007 with the acquisition of Turner Renewable Energy and continued with the acquisitions of solar project pipelines from OptiSolar in 2009 and Edison Mission Group in 2010.

“Success in today’s competitive solar market requires a complete solution for our customers’ renewable energy needs,” said Gillette. “First Solar is uniquely positioned to deliver utility scale solar power plants including project development, module manufacturing, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), project finance expertise and operations and maintenance.”

First Solar will acquire NextLight in an all-cash transaction that is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2010, pending the satisfaction of certain closing conditions specified in the merger agreement. Total consideration for the transaction is approximately $285 million, subject to certain closing adjustments as provided in the merger agreement.

DuPont expects to grow PV sales over 50 percent in 2010

WILMINGTON, USA: DuPont expects its photovoltaic sales to grow over 50 percent this year as the solar industry experiences strong growth as a result of increased market demand for new installations in Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

DuPont now expects its sales into photovoltaics to exceed $1 billion in 2011, which is a year ahead of plan, and has set a new goal to exceed $2 billion in sales by 2014.

"Our focus on delivering materials innovations that are essential to the photovoltaic industry's future growth is paying off for our customers and for DuPont," said David B. Miller, president, DuPont Electronics & Communications. "We not only have the materials that provide superior performance and reliability to photovoltaic modules, but also the ability to match those products to the specific, individual needs of our customers and we are aggressively expanding to supply those materials in the volumes required by this high growth industry."

In 2009, DuPont sales to the photovoltaic market exceeded $550 million - an increase of over 25 percent from the previous year - and outperformed the broader industry, which experienced significantly lower growth, estimated to be 10 percent or less. DuPont's growth is supported by new innovations that improve module efficiency and lifetime, and enable new photovoltaic technologies and applications, which ultimately accelerate the industry's drive to bring costs down in line with other forms of energy.

"We have seen strong demand that has led us to continue our trend of growing faster than the market due to several successful new product introductions and share gains based on a strong portfolio of materials-based offerings to global leading photovoltaic cell and module manufacturers," said Miller.

"We expect our growth momentum to continue because materials innovations are essential to delivering improved efficiency, longer lifetimes, and lower overall system costs to consumers."

Premier Power expands into Czech Republic with 19 MW EPC and JV agreement

EL DORADO HILLS, USA: Premier Power Renewable Energy Inc., a leader in development, design, engineering and construction of solar power systems for commercial, government and utility markets in the US, Spain and Italy, announced an agreement to develop 19 megawatts (Mws) of photovoltaic (PV) projects in one of the hottest solar markets in the world.

Premier Power has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Czech Republic based Plaan Czech s.r.o. to develop 19 Mws of solar PV projects throughout the Czech Republic. The first 3 Mws, which include the Jarsov (2 Mws) and Verovice (1 Mws) projects, will begin construction immediately.

The projects are being completed for local investors. The company expects the initial 3 Mws to be completed by July 2010. Premier Power and Plaan Czech will act as co-developer and engineering, procurement and constructions (EPC) partners on all projects under the agreement.

Dean R. Marks, chief executive officer of Premier Power said: “With among the most generous feed-in tariffs in the world, the Czech Republic is quickly becoming one of the hottest solar markets in the world today. We believe we are perfectly positioned to capitalize on its growth as a result of Premier Power’s proven capabilities on the European continent, and our joint development agreement with Plaan Czech. Our expansion into the Czech Republic fits with our strategy to establish a strong presence in those European markets where their governments have recognized and are promoting alternative energy, and in particular solar power.”

Bjorn Persson, executive vice president, Europe for Premier Power said: “Premier Power’s expertise in the design, engineering and construction of commercial and utility-scale solar systems, coupled with Plaan Czech’s local knowledge, engineering experience and portfolio of permitted projects in the Czech Republic, positions Premier Power to capitalize on these opportunities and become a leader in another fast-growing market.”

Petr Marek, president of Plaan Czech said: “Plaan Czech is committed to the development of solar projects throughout the Czech Republic through the utilization of best practices. Plaan Czech and Premier Power, working collectively, will be able to offer industry leading engineering, installation and asset management to our collective customers. Plaan Czech is thrilled to be working with Premier Power and is looking forward to developing a robust portfolio together.”

“The Czech Republic’s feed-in tariff is currently 0.48 Eur/kWh making it a higher feed-in tariff than in most other European markets and the contracts with the Utilities are for 20 years,” explained Alexis Issaharoff, Vice President, Business Development, and Premier Power. “While their feed-in tariff for 2011 is expected to decrease approximately five percent, the Czech Republic will continue to be one of the most promising markets in the world for 2011."

SoloPower achieves record flexible module efficiency

SAN JOSE, USA: SoloPower Inc., a leading manufacturer of high efficiency thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and lightweight flexible solar modules, announced that the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) in Golden, Colorado have confirmed that the Company’s flexible solar panels have achieved an aperture efficiency of 11 percent.

SoloPower submitted flexible modules manufactured using the Company’s proprietary low cost electroplated copper indium gallium di-selenide (CIGS) process to NREL for verification earlier this year.

The CIGS devices are laminated in an encapsulation system that provides a moisture barrier and environmental integrity. The rugged low-cost, high-efficiency module is expected to address the rapidly expanding commercial and industrial rooftop and distributed solar power generation market.

“We have focused on the development of innovative, lightweight flexible modules that are rugged and add significant value in commercial and industrial rooftop applications, utility scale ground mounted facilities, and the emerging Building Integrated PV market (BIPV). The verification of our superior aperture efficiency by NREL affirms our belief that our products will become the solution-of-choice for suppliers in this exciting market,” said Arthur Rudin, Vice President of Marketing.

Mustafa Pinarbasi, Sr. Vice President of Technology Development added: “These results are based on the Company’s simultaneous advances in many separate disciplines; including thin-film process and cell structure, roll-to-roll manufacturing, module design and implementation as well as encapsulation and testing. Our team has worked diligently to provide world-class solutions to the challenging problems encountered in all of these critical areas.”

Recent technical development
NREL has verified 11 percent aperture efficiency on the company’s current flexible modules, built on the company’s roll-to-roll volume manufacturing line.

Also using SoloPower’s patented electroplating process, the company had previously demonstrated 13.4 percent efficiency on 11.8cm2 lab cells (verified by NREL).

The company has submitted its flexible module for independent laboratory certification to standard UL1703 following successful internal verification including damp-heat testing. Internal results demonstrated minimal power degradation (<5 percent Pmax) with over 1,000 hours at 85 percent humidity and 85°C temperature.

IXYS launches IXYSSOLAR brand of handheld solar powered products

FORT COLLINS, USA & BIEL, SWITZERLAND: IXYS Corp. has launched the IXYSSOLAR brand of handheld portable products. The main feature of these products is the integration of the IXYS Solar-Bit technology to harvest sunlight or artificial light to charge their batteries.

Included in this launch is the introduction of the IXYSSOLARTM brand of rechargeable alkaline batteries. These batteries are eco friendly and offer the lowest cost AA and AAA rechargeable batteries with a true 1.5v rating.

Additionally, they provide rugged reliability, offering a wider temperature rating and lower self discharge rate when compared to other low cost rechargeable batteries. These new products feature energy harvesting, and enable hand held products to be charged without the need for ‘plug in’ charging thereby giving consumers total freedom of mobility.

As much as 84,000 tons of batteries find their way to our landfills every year with significant environmental impact. Through the use of solar charging in combination with IXYSSOLARTM Rechargeable Alkaline Batteries, we can substantially reduce this damaging practice and, at the same time, lower the cost of portable power. All of our new handheld products feature our own brand of rechargeable IXYSSOLAR rechargeable alkaline batteries. These batteries provide the convenience of rechargeability without the use of the heavy metals and toxic chemistries of other rechargeables.

“We have integrated our high efficiency Solar-BitTM cells into these products to enable users to charge the batteries whenever sufficient light is available. The net results are reduced waste with more environmentally conscious materials, longer product operating times and lower overall cost to consumers,” commented Steve Krausse, General Manager of IXYS Colorado.

This launch includes four products: a solar rechargeable flashlight, solar battery charger, AC wall charger (for our IXYSSOLAR Rechargeable Batteries) and our personal alarm device.

IXYS’ new flashlight provides hours of light with high brightness LED. With the use of rechargeable batteries and high efficiency solar cells, it is ready to use when needed.

The Solar Battery Charger uses the renewable energy of the sun to charge two AA or AAA IXYSSOLAR rechargeable alkaline batteries. By keeping a set of batteries in the unit, customers can always have power ready for their portable electronics. It uses solar energy to keep batteries ready for your wireless mouse, audio/visual products, digital cameras, toys, flashlights, remote controls and countless other electronic devices.

For customers that need faster charging we offer a new AC line charger for our IXYSSOLAR brand of batteries that will complement the solar charger.

IXYS’ pocket sized, personal alarm device provides a flashlight with continuous and flashing modes. It also includes an 80dB audible alert signal. The solar cells keep it charged and ready for use while walking, jogging, hiking, or anytime for convenience and peace of mind.

In addition to these handy IXYSSOLARTM portable devices, IXYS has also added Rechargeable Alkaline Batteries to its product line as part of IXYS energy storage strategy. These batteries are comparable to standard alkaline batteries with respect to capacity and provide the added benefits of being both rechargeable and more environmentally friendly than other rechargeable technologies.

“With this new line of portable products we are reaffirming our commitment to further reduce waste, be environmentally friendly and reduce CO2 emissions by providing energy ‘Efficiency Through Renewable Technology’. We are deploying all of our semiconductor products to these goals,” commented Dr. Nathan Zommer, CEO and Founder of IXYS Corporation. “We will showcase some of these technologies and products in the PCIM Europe 2010 show in Nuremberg Germany on May 4-6, 2010.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Phoenix Solar, MiaSole sign multi-year framework agreement for delivery of thin-film solar modules

SANTA CLARA, USA: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading photovoltaic system integrator listed on the TecDAX, has signed a framework agreement with MiaSole, a leading manufacturer of copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic solar panels based in Santa Clara, California.

The agreement, which runs until 2013, enables Phoenix Solar to extend its product portfolio with another quality supplier capable of highly cost-efficient manufacturing. In the context of this agreement, Phoenix Solar has placed an order for an initial 4.5 MWp of thin-film modules from MiaSole for delivery in the second quarter of 2010.

MiaSole's innovative production process applies different layers of copper, indium, gallium and selenium on a metal foil. This substrate is divided into cell-like sections and laminated between two hardened glass plates.

The frameless glass-glass module can be used for roofs, as well as for ground-mounted systems, and can withstand high wind and snow loads. The innovative production process allows for almost all module shapes to be manufactured, which increases the potential for saving costs on balance of systems equipment.

In the laboratory CIGS technology has already achieved the highest conversion efficiency amongst all commercial thin-film technologies. The current conversion efficiency of the MiaSole module is 10.5 percent, with higher efficiency product to be shipped at the end of 2010.

The framework agreement also includes a recycling warranty where required by regulation or financing: At the end of the lifetime of the solar modules the customer has the option of having them taken away by MiaSole and recycled or reconditioned.

"Phoenix Solar has always sought to lead the field in innovations in all aspects of system integration from the module, through balance of system to operation and maintenance services. We welcome MiaSole to our group of strategical suppliers with whom we work closely to extract maximum synergy effects as a means of continuously driving down system costs," said Manfred Bachler, Chief Technology Officer at Phoenix Solar AG.

"We are excited to enter a long-term customer relationship with a leading global solar player like Phoenix Solar," said MiaSole President and CEO Joseph Laia.

"MiaSole's products are among the most efficient, affordable and reliable products available today, and we're pleased that we been selected for this multi-year agreement."

Innovalight establishes new record with silicon ink solar cells

SUNNYVALE, USA: Innovalight, Inc., a privately-held firm selling a platform of silicon ink-based high efficiency solar cell materials and technology, announced that the company has achieved a new record of 19 percent conversion efficiency with silicon ink processed solar cells. The conversion efficiency of a solar cell is the proportion of sunlight energy that a cell converts to electrical energy.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany, an official independent solar cell testing center also measured the results on industry standard size cells made by Innovalight.

Innovalight's proprietary platform, Cougar offers a readily transferable process to crystalline silicon solar cell manufacturers that allows them to improve solar cell performance, reduce cost and boost output capacity by adding a simple step to already installed manufacturing lines. The opportunity is significant – this year close to four billion crystalline wafers will be processed into solar cells, according to Navigant Consulting, Inc., a leading solar industry research firm.

"We continue to push toward our goal of delivering over 20 percent conversion efficiency to our customers," said Homer Antoniadis, chief technology officer at Innovalight. "Our patented solar cell process with silicon ink is simple and optimized for use with silicon wafers and widely adopted industry printing tools," he added.

Dr. Antoniadis will present these results at the 2010 SNEC 4th International Photovoltaic Power Generation Exhibition and Conference which will take place from May 5-7 in Shanghai, China.

Innovalight is currently working with several solar cell manufacturing companies and is ramping production of silicon ink in Sunnyvale, California.

In February, the company was awarded a key patent by the US patent and trademark office for the manufacturing of crystalline wafer solar cells with silicon ink. Innovalight has filed for over 60 patents for silicon ink and high efficiency solar cells using silicon ink processes.

Day4 Energy to acquire ACI-ecotec GmbH & Co. KG

BURNABY, USA: Day4 Energy Inc., a leading supplier of high performance, cost-effective solar electric solutions, announced that following approval from the Day4 Energy Inc. board of directors it has entered into an agreement in principle to acquire ACI-ecotec GmbH & Co. KG, a privately owned specialized photovoltaic (PV) equipment design and manufacturing company based in Germany.

Day4 will acquire 100 percent of ACI in an all stock transaction of up to 10.8 million shares of Day4 subject to post closing adjustment. The acquisition is subject to the completion of definitive documentation, approval of these documents by Day4's directors and obtaining all required consents and approvals, including the approval of the Toronto Stock Exchange to the issue of the Day4 shares.

The combination of the Day4 proprietary and patented technology and ACI's specialized know-how and equipment allows Day4 to immediately launch the offering of its highly anticipated turn-key manufacturing technology solution for production of PV cells and PV modules based on proprietary technologies developed by Day4.

ACI's existing customer relationships, execution capabilities and solid market reputation provide Day4 with a unique opportunity to rapidly roll out its manufacturing technology offering across a wide cross section of PV manufacturers in a number of key markets. At the same time ACI's manufacturing process and equipment engineering capabilities will add significant depth to Day4's R&D team and allow the company to significantly accelerate the development of the next generations of PV technology.

Based on the patented Day4 Electrode and Guardian technologies, Day4's manufacturing solution offers PV cell and module producers an opportunity to reduce their investment and production costs while achieving sustainable differentiation in highly competitive solar markets by producing one of the industry's highest performing products that customers around the world have grown to associate with the highest levels of reliability, energy production and investment return.

With technological differentiation rapidly emerging as a critical area for most PV manufacturers, Day4's offering of a turn-key package of manufacturing technology, proprietary equipment, process, product design and technology license is a natural evolution of the company's business.

"Technology and market development has been the focal point of our strategy since the company was founded in 2001. Over the course of the last three years we have completed the industrial scale-up of our proprietary manufacturing process. We have also built a strong track record of superior field performance and quality behind the Day4 product brand. Today, we have taken the next step towards making this next generation technology platform available to partners across the industry," said George Rubin, president of Day4.

"ACI's engineering and manufacturing system integration capabilities are critical to our ability to deliver our industry leading technology platform to the PV industry. What makes this acquisition particularly attractive is the level of interest ACI was able to generate among its customers during the test marketing of the Day4 manufacturing solution package and overall business proposition."

By offering a turn-key Day4 PV cell and PV module manufacturing solution to the PV industry Day4 is looking to significantly expand the market share of products based on Day4's proprietary technology in existing as well as new and emerging markets around the world.

Furthermore, Day4 manufacturing solutions sales are expected to significantly alter the company's revenue model as manufacturing line integration services and technology royalty streams associated with the new product offering become an increasingly large component of the company's revenue mix over time.

"We are very excited about the chance to work with Day4 in this new venture to address this unique and exciting opportunity," added Karl-Heinz Menauer, CEO of ACI.

"Our established relationships with a large number of PV industry manufacturers can be leveraged for the purpose of ramping up sales of Day4 technology. In fact, our pre-marketing efforts have been met with a high degree of excitement and enthusiasm with a number of ACI customers already approaching us to join the Day4 platform. This is an opportunity for a number of these players to elevate themselves from the pack with a unique product offering, reduced manufacturing cost base and access to future technology enhancements based on this next generation manufacturing platform."

"By expanding our business to offer a complete manufacturing solution we are taking the logical and critical next step in the evolution of our company towards our ultimate goals of achieving energy cost parity and expanding the presence of Day4's innovative high performance technology in solar generation markets while making efficient use of our capital," said Dr. John MacDonald, CEO and Chairman of Day4.

The company will provide more specific financial guidance regarding the positive impacts of the transaction during its first quarter earnings conference call on May 11, 2010. The parties anticipate closing the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, in the first half of 2010.

GMP Securities L.P. provided a fairness opinion regarding the acquisition to the Day4 board of directors.

Solutia increases China presence by expanding Saflex manufacturing plant in Suzhou

SUZHOU, CHINA & ST. LOUIS, USA: Solutia Inc. will expand its manufacturing plant located in Suzhou, China. The plant is a manufacturing site for the company's world leading Saflex polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer for laminated glass.

The Suzhou plant is a full-scale production facility that currently produces Saflex interlayer for the automotive market. The new expansion includes the addition of a second manufacturing line within the existing footprint of the plant.

The new line has enhanced capabilities to serve the architectural, photovoltaic and automotive markets in China and the broader Asia Pacific region. The second production line will significantly increase the annual capacity of the Suzhou plant and is slated to be completed by the end of 2011.

“Solutia is committed to fulfilling the growing needs of our customers in China, and the expansion of our Suzhou plant is essential to that commitment,” said Jeffry N. Quinn, chairman, president and CEO of Solutia Inc.

“While we have made a number of major capital investments in our businesses over the last few years to accelerate our transformation, the Suzhou facility was the first new plant we built from the ground up. We will continue to devote substantial resources to seizing the growth opportunities in China across each of our businesses.”

Solutia's Saflex product is the most trusted name in PVB interlayer technology for laminated glazing, delivering outstanding performance and durability, backed by reliable and knowledgeable service. As a result, it is found in nearly 40 percent of laminated architectural and automotive glass worldwide. Saflex interlayers are also used to encapsulate thin film photovoltaic solar cells, providing outstanding processability and durability.

"Global demand for Saflex interlayers continues to rise around the world, especially in China," said Timothy Wessel, president and general manager of Solutia's Saflex business.

"This additional expansion improves our ability to serve the needs of laminators and glass fabricators supplying the rapidly growing Chinese automotive, architectural and photovoltaic industries and the broader Asia-Pacific markets. We look forward to collaborating with these customers, and believe our continued investment in the Suzhou plant will support significant growth in the laminated glass and solar energy markets."

Saflex recently added a customer service lab to its Suzhou site to better serve customer needs in the region.

"As plant manager, I am proud that Solutia has chosen to continue to invest in the China region," said Christina Leung, plant manager, Suzhou. "The investment in part is recognition of the efforts of the hard working men and women of the Suzhou plant. We expect to be able to rapidly expand service to the market and complete the second line expansion in 18 months."

Dow Corning, Reis ally to market breakthrough solar encapsulation technology

MIDLAND, USA: Dow Corning Corp., a global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, and Reis Robotics, a worldwide leader in system integration, jointly announced an effort to promote the new Dow Corning PV-6100 Encapsulant Series.

Reis Robotics is now a preferred supplier of equipment used in a manufacturing process that significantly increases the production rate of solar panels, effectively lowering the cost per watt of solar power.

The manufacturing process works in conjunction with Dow Corning PV-6100 Encapsulant Series, which provides protection to solar cells in a panel and can replace commonly used ethyl vinyl acetate resin. The liquid silicone-based material targets outperforming incumbent materials in durability, module efficiency, and manufacturing efficiencies providing an improved total cost for solar cell modules.

Reis, headquartered in Germany, is recognized for its technical innovations in robotics, global reach, and highly regarded reputation in the solar industry, said Gaetan Borgers, global industry director, Dow Corning Solar Business.

"We are looking for innovative collaborators who excel at providing next generation turnkey solutions to customers quickly," Borgers said. "By working with leaders in the field who share our vision of advancing the promise of solar technology, a complete manufacturing solution is possible."

"We are proud to work with Dow Corning to actualize energy efficiency gains in solar module line automation," said Dr. Michael Wenzel, General Manager, Reis Robotics. "We are confident that our proven robotics solutions will help the solar industry reach grid parity, lower production costs and achieve economy of scale."

Demonstration lines for customer evaluations will be installed at Reis' facility in Germany, as well as at Dow Corning's facility in Korea.

"This collaboration maximizes our strength as a material solution provider and Reis' strength as an equipment solution provider," said Don Buchalski, senior marketing specialist, Dow Corning Solar Business. "Our ultimate goal is to help advance solar power as a viable and sustainable option globally."

Dow Corning's encapsulant technology will help reduce the cost per kilowatt-hour of solar power by lowering the total cost of ownership through lower processing temperatures, faster throughput, lower capital and less factory space needed for the equipment.

Thyrobox M sets industry benchmark for polysilicon power supplies

Photovoltaic Technology Show 2010 Europe, WARSTEIN-BELECKE, GERMANY: AEG Power Solutions, the world’s leading supplier of power supplies to the polysilicon industry, will launch the Thyrobox M, its newest generation of products, at the Photon Photovoltaic Technology Show in Stuttgart, Germany, 27-to-29 April 2010.

With advanced process monitoring capabilities, a 0.95 power factor and more than 99 percent energy efficiency, the Thyrobox M delivers unprecedented performance, reliability and stability to polysilicon manufacturers worldwide.

“Our customers have told us that they want to increase production and enhance purity while reducing their operating costs, especially for energy consumption per kilogram of polysilicon,” said Gladwyn De Vidts, AEG Power Solutions’ Vice President Power Control Solutions Division.

“Our Thyrobox M solution improves process stability, reduces down time and provides exceptional energy efficiency. It responds to customer needs and reinforces AEG Power Solutions’ position as the technology leader in polysilicon power.”

The undisputed pioneer in polysilicon process power supplies, AEG Power Solutions commissioned the first Thyrobox, the power supply family specially developed for the polycrystalline silicon deposition process, more than 25 years ago.

Engineered with a modular design, the Thyrobox M is the world’s most compact polysilicon power supply. Depending on the type of reactor, its footprint is about 25% smaller than older Thyrobox solutions and up to 70% smaller than competing products. The compact design reduces installation, commissioning and maintenance costs for the entire energy supply as well as building costs.

Additional Thyrobox M features include:
* Warning system and troubleshooting minimize the risk of process interruptions in case of silicon rod cracks or melts.
* Integrated medium-voltage ignition enhances process stability.
* Ongoing data collection and analysis through monitoring of energy consumption and silicon rods weight increase energy efficiency.

GT Solar Introduces intros DSS450HP ingot growth furnace

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of specialized production equipment, process technology and turnkey manufacturing services for the solar power industry, has announced the DSS450HP, a high performance ingot growth furnace with a thermally optimized, second-generation hot zone for improved throughput while delivering industry-leading crystal quality.

The DSS450HP delivers faster ingot growth rates resulting in 15 percent more system throughput and reduced energy consumption compared to the DSS450 furnace. New DSS450HP systems begin shipping this month and are expected to be installed at customer sites beginning in May. Current DSS450 and DSS240 users can migrate to the new DSS450HP with a field upgrade kit.

“Our DSS450HP furnace delivers a new level of performance that lowers the cost of PV manufacturing by further decreasing cycle times in the ingot growth process,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Solar’s president and CEO. “We designed the new system so current DSS240 and DSS450 customers can easily migrate to the new platform, which underscores our commitment to protecting our customers’ investment in GT Solar DSS equipment.”

With over 1,300 systems in the field, GT Solar’s DSS ingot growth furnaces are widely used in PV wafering operations. GT Solar’s innovation and expertise in mechanical design, vacuum and high-pressure chambers, control system design, and crystal growth modeling, provide customers with a technologically advanced directional solidification furnace that consistently produces high quality ingots with optimized mass ingot yield.

PV production equipment show opens

Photovoltaic Technology Show 2010 Europe, STUTTGART, GERMANY: Baden-Wurttemberg’s regional capital, Stuttgart, will host the world’s largest trade fair for PV production equipment from April 27 to 29. The Photovoltaic Technology Show is convening for the sixth time. Last year, the event met in Munich.

Around 350 international exhibitors will present their innovations at the Stuttgart convention center and approximately 15,000 visitors are expected to attend. The trade fair is accompanied by six conferences, a comprehensive program with discussions panels, company visits, as well as the 10 GW party on the evening of April 28.

PHOTON Europe GmbH, the organizer of the Photovoltaic Technology Show, decided to switch venues from Munich to Stuttgart this year, moving the event closer to the region that many exhibitors call home: for years, Baden-Wurttemberg has been a production and innovation hub for the solar industry’s mechanical engineering branch.

Michael Schmela, editor-in-chief of PHOTON International, states: “Solar module production is increasingly shifting to Asia. However, the lion’s share of production machinery is still made in Germany. Therefore, when it comes to efficiency and quality, Asian brands can compete well with European products.”

In 2009, a year marked by economic crisis, most machinery manufacturers got off easy. After all, in 2009, the quantity of cells and modules produced increased by around 56 percent over last year. As a result, demand for machinery also increased. “Last year, we saw production reach 12.3 GW; this year it’s likely to total more than 20 GW,” says Schmela.

In Stuttgart, the solar industry will fill more than 20,000 m2 of exhibition space with machinery and consumables, along the entire value-added chain: that includes reactors for silicon production, furnaces, wafer saws and complete production lines. Exhibitors will also present deposition systems for thin-film modules and machinery for processing solar glass panes.

Stuttgart will be transformed into an industry meeting place this week thanks to the six conferences convening in conjunction with the trade fair. Thousands are expected to participate. As in previous years, PHOTON has organized a silicon conference, a conference for solar investors and two conferences on production equipment. New to the roster of events is an inverter conference.

At this event, presenters will discuss the causes of the current inverter scarcity and measures that could be taken to alleviate this shortage. Another event being held is PHOTON’s 4th Solar Electric Utility Conference on April 29: decision makers from the solar and energy industries will discuss how large quantities of solar electricity should be integrated into the existing energy supply system.

Above all, Germany is in desperate need of looking at this issue: nearly 4 GW of solar power were installed in Germany in 2009 alone, more than double the number of new PV systems installed in 2008. “This year, it could be as much as 8 GW,” says Christoph Podewils, deputy editor-in-chief at German-language magazine PHOTON – Das Solarstrom-Magazin.

Armageddon Energy announces strategic relationship with Tyco

ATHERTON, USA: Armageddon Energy, a developer of affordable modular solar energy systems, has announced a strategic investment and collaboration with Tyco Electronics, a leading global provider of engineered electronic components, network solutions, specialty products and undersea telecommunication systems.

The relationship will accelerate the commercial release of Armageddon Energy’s innovative SolarClover solar energy system, and signals Tyco Electronics’ continued commitment to developing and supporting new products for the residential solar market. The companies also signed a strategic supply agreement for the innovative plug-in electrical connectors that enable the SolarClover’s exceptionally rapid and reliable installation.

The SolarClover is a modular 1-kW AC solar energy system that can be easily installed by non-specialists, including electricians, roofers and general contractors. By significantly reducing the cost of installing a residential solar system and by lowering the minimum profitable scale of installations, the SolarClover addresses a much larger market for residential solar.

In addition, by focusing on smaller systems that offset costly peak power, the SolarClover improves financial and environmental returns for consumers and utilities. The SolarClover is scheduled for commercial release late this year.

“We are confident about the prospect for dramatic and sustained growth in the largely underdeveloped small-scale residential solar market,” said Randy Bahr, vice president of Alternative Energy Solutions for Tyco Electronics. “Tyco Electronics has the engineering expertise and worldwide manufacturing capabilities needed to support this emerging and growing market. We’re very excited to be working with an innovator like Armageddon Energy to deliver compelling products for the mainstream consumer solar power market.”

“Tyco Electronics brings a wealth of knowledge and global resources to this strategic relationship, along with an incredible focus on improving the state of the art in solar,” added Armageddon Energy CEO Mark Goldman. “Their ability to rapidly deliver new components that meet our product needs while also meeting the stringent demands placed on solar equipment is unparalleled. We’re thrilled to have their support.”

As part of the relationship, Tyco Electronics will provide components to help deliver a complete SolarClover solution to the market and will assist with safety and regulatory certifications. The companies will also share information on customer requirements in the residential solar market and cooperate on distribution to various customer segments.

Aide Solar opens solar cell and module production facility in Xuzhou, China

TEMPE, USA: Aide Solar, a large-scale producer of solar modules for residential, commercial and utility scale projects worldwide and a subsidiary of the The PANJIT Group, has announced the grand opening of its over 1 million sq. ft. solar cell and module production facility located in Xuzhou, China.

Construction of the new Aide Solar facility was completed in July, 2009 on a 600 acre campus owned by The PANJIT Group. The new Aide Solar facility features enhanced manufacturing lines that increases the company’s poly and mono-crystalline silicon PV module capacity by 40 percent to 350 MW annually to support growing customer demands worldwide.

In addition, the new facility houses 12 solar cell production lines. The opening of the new facility brings the number of Aide Solar employees to 1,184 worldwide.

“The widespread adoption of solar power continues to gain traction globally, and has increased in importance as a viable source of renewable energy,” said Jason Fang, Chairman, Aide Solar. “The opening of this facility is a demonstration of Aide Solar’s commitment to expanding our success by providing highly reliable and cost-effective solar products to meet that increasing global demand.”

The solar industry is recognized as one of the fastest growing high technology industries in the world, with GreenTech Media Research estimating annual global PV demand to reach nine Giga-watts in 2010, with one Giga-watt in North America. Aide Solar established its North America headquarters in March, 2009 to address the forecasted growth projections in the US market.

“We see the US as presenting an explosive long-term growth opportunity for solar power,” said Raymond C. Wiley, director, North America Sales, Aide Solar, USA and member of the Arizona Department of Commerce’s Green Economy Advisory Committee.

“Solar generated power is the only alternative energy technology that can be deployed and scaled to meet demand requirements in the shortest amount of time. The additional module production capacity from our new facility in China will allow us to respond to the high volume, rapid growth requirements that Aide Solar is seeing in the US and around the world.”

SOLARCON India 2010 on July 28-30 @ Hyderabad

BANGALORE, INDIA: SEMI India presents the 2nd edition of SOLARCON India 2010, a premier solar energy focused exhibition and conference in India. It combines a best-in-class international Exhibition & a three-day conference, which attracts high profile participation of solar energy leaders from all segments of the industry supply chain, academia and the government from India and around the world.

The event attracts highly focused business visitors including industry executives and professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, financiers, academics, architects/builders and other end-users.

SOLARCON India 2009 attracted over 3,500 professional visitors, over 600 conference delegates, and 68 exhibiting companies from around the world in its inaugural year

The Conference will cover both technology and business topics – Market & Policy Enablers of Solar/PV, Solar Power Plants, Financing of Solar projects, Manufacturing & Materials Innovations & Trends, Cell & Thin Film Technologies, Lighting Technology & Trends, Novel Products & Applications, Off-grid PV Opportunities and Challenges in India, Solar Thermal Technologies, R&D, Education & Training for solar/PV growth and so on.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Solaria intros solar modules for large scale and utility projects

FREMONT, USA: Solaria Corp., a global manufacturer of solar modules, has begun shipping its crystalline photovoltaic (PV) solar module to customers in North America, Europe, and Asia.

The new modules provide electric utilities, project developers and system integrators with the most cost effective and reliable PV module for large scale solar installations.

“The solar industry is entering an era where customers demand high output, low cost, long-term reliability, and reduced carbon footprint. The Solaria module meets and exceeds these criteria, raising the bar for high-performance solar products,” said Daniel Shugar, Solaria CEO.

“We’ve been testing Solaria’s new modules at our multi-megawatt facility in California,” said Eric Hafter, Chief Strategy Officer for Solar Power Inc. “The modules have been yielding excellent performance; Solaria’s high efficiency modules offer industry leading costs with the reliability and performance of traditional crystalline solar modules. Since Solaria’s modules are built to industry standards, they’re ready to install on standard trackers using conventional installation methods.”

Solaria’s crystalline module uses patented technology to provide all the reliability, performance, and quality of a standard silicon module at a lower cost. Solaria uses only proven, UL‐listed materials that are standard in the PV industry, thereby eliminating risks associated with new materials. The Solaria modules are specifically optimized for tracking systems, which increase energy harvest by 20-30 percent, with the greatest increase in electricity output coinciding with times of peak demand.

The Solaria module, available in 230 Watts, 220 Watts and 210 Watts, is the first low-concentration flat-plate module to achieve international certification. Solaria’s module is certified to UL1703 and IEC61215 standards, and its performance and reliability has been validated by independent laboratories.

In addition, according to Columbia University’s Center for Lifecycle Analysis, the carbon footprint per watt of modules manufactured with Solaria’s technology is approximately one third less than that of competing technologies, and have an “energy payback” of less than one year.

Linde enables electronics customers to lower carbon footprint by 250,000 tons in 2010

MUNICH, GERMANY: Driving the industry to shift focus from Grid Parity to Green Parity and pushing for sustainable electronics manufacturing, Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, announced that it has enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by a quarter of a million tons in 2010 by switching to on-site generated fluorine (F2) from nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). This is the same amount of CO2 produced by over 125,000 mid-size cars annually.

Prominent manufacturers of photovoltaics, semiconductor and TFT-LCD devices as well as research sectors are adopting Linde’s on-site fluorine generators as a more productive and energy-efficient alternative to the use of the greenhouse gas NF3 and other PFC (Per-Fluoro-Compound) gases for the cleaning of CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) chambers.

In 2009, Linde’s on-site fluorine was successfully tested on all the major thin-film PV OEM platforms, and Malibu and Masdar PV were among the first to announce adoption of on-site F2 as the cleaning gas of choice to manufacture large-scale PV modules – eliminating the use of NF3. Production systems for these two customers have been delivered and the elimination of NF3 from the process has begun.

“Fluorine offers the rare combination of sustainable solar module production and profitability by removing any risk of unabated emissions, reducing non-productive cleaning time and improving throughput,” says Ian Travis, Global Product Manager Fluorine for Linde Gases Division.

Interest in on-site fluorine is also growing across all sectors of the electronics industry. LG Display in Korea has benefitted from the obvious parallels between thin film solar and TFT-LCD display manufacturing, increasing the capacity of on-site fluorine generation by 20 percent in 2009 to match growth in demand for its LCD panels. To support Korea’s growth as the manufacturing hub for TFT-LCDs, Linde is making a significant investment in its F2 manufacturing infrastructure at its Inju plant.

Last year, Europe’s first on-site fluorine generators were installed at STMicroelectronics’ Crolles 300mm wafer fabrication plant in France as part of the company’s initiative to lower the environmental impact of producing semiconductors by eliminating high pressure cylinder deliveries.

A major Japanese semiconductor manufacturer has also recently chosen to replace their high-pressure cylinder supply of F2 with on-site generated F2 at their 300mm fab – reaping advantages of improved safety and lower costs. The on-site approach is also particularly suitable for locations where import and distribution networks for certain electronic materials are not as mature as in other regions. To overcome such challenges, the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences installed its first on-site F2 generator in 2009.

“Environmental concerns continue to dominate the global agenda, and the manufacturing ecosystem as a whole needs to start channelling its efforts towards reducing carbon emissions,” said Dean O’Connor, Head of Market Development & Technology at Linde Gases Division.

“Collaboration with industry leaders in photovoltaics, semiconductors, flat panel displays and academia is testament to Linde’s commitment to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.”

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SunPower/Flextronics deal presages boom in solar cell contract manufacturing

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Thursday’s announced deal between SunPower Corp. and Flextronics International Ltd. represents the early stages of a boom in solar panel contract manufacturing driven by a rapid expansion in demand, according to iSuppli Corp.

SunPower said it has partnered with Flextronics to begin manufacturing solar panels in Milpitas, Calif. by the end of 2010. The company said the California location will allow it to quickly and cost-effectively supply solar panels to solar installations at homes, power plants and commercial and public facilities throughout the Western United States. Flextronics is expected to produce 75 megawatts worth of SunPower solar panels annually.

“iSuppli believes SunPower’s move is part of an emerging trend in the solar market that closely parallels the situation in the electronics market in early 1990s,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer for iSuppli.

“Faced with rapidly exploding demand, the need to produce products close to end markets and the requirement to obtain sufficient capital, electronic OEMs in the early 1990s turned to Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) companies like Flextronics for help. This led to a massive boom in electronics outsourcing and explosive growth in the EMS business. In the early 2010s, a new EMS boom is starting up, this time in the solar panel business.”

Contract manufacturers in 2010 will manufacture 1.1 GW worth of solar panels, up 200 percent from 369 Megawatts (MW) in 2009. The remainder of production will be accounted for by dedicated solar panel makers and other firms. By 2014, contract manufacturing of solar panels will nearly quadruple, rising to 4.1GW.

The figure presents iSuppli’s forecast of global contract manufacturing of solar panels in terms of Gigawatts.Source: iSuppli, USA

One major factor causing solar panel makers to turn to EMS providers is the rapid expansion of the market. iSuppli predicts solar installations will rise to 13.6GW in 2010, up 93.6 percent from 7.0GW in 2009.

“Solar panel makers now are running their factories at 90 percent of capacity, straining their capability to meet demand,” Sheppard said. “Additional production capacity is in critical need right now. Outsourcing of manufacturing provides access to that essential capacity.”

The SunPower/Flextronics deal and other solar contract manufacturing work also allows for localized production.

“Panel production conducted close to the end-market can minimize logistics costs associated with shipping, breakage and inventory,” Sheppard observed. “In a market where every penny per megawatt counts, this can help tremendously.”

Sheppard also noted that access to capital to invest in production is challenging for panel suppliers to obtain. Outsourcing mitigates this challenge.

Finally, working with EMS providers reduces risk for companies entering the solar value chain. For example, leading solar cell maker Q-Cells SE now is working with Flextronics also as it diversifies into the panel business.

Source: iSuppli, USA

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trina Solar intros powerful utility scale solar module

CHANGZHOU, CHINA: 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, announced that its subsidiary, Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co. Ltd, is launching its new utility-scale solar module (TSM-PC14).

Trina Solar will unveil the new TSM-PC14 in May at Solarexpo 2010 in Verona, Italy. The utility-scale module is Trina Solar's most powerful module to date and is targeted to be available for sale in the European and North American markets in the fourth quarter of 2010.

With expected power output targets ranging from 265 to 290 watts, a positive power tolerance of 0/+3 percent and with a 72 cell arrangement, the large high-wattage modules are designed specifically for utility-scale installations and large scale, ground mounted systems.

Equipped with high-efficiency multicrystalline cells, the TSM-PC14 is easy to handle and install and can be used in a wide variety of applications ranging from commercial and industrial installations to utility-scale facilities.

"Built to address increasing market demand for utility-scale solar installations around the world, this is our most powerful module and an excellent addition to our premium multicrystalline portfolio," said Jifan Gao, Chairman and CEO of Trina Solar.

"Matching a competitive priced structure with proven high performance modules is the way the solar industry will achieve grid parity, and the introduction of the TSM-PC14 is a big step towards achieving this goal."

SunPower partners with Flextronics; announces Silicon Valley manufacturing facility

SAN JOSE & MILPITAS, USA: In a press conference with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Flextronics, SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced that it has partnered with Flextronics to begin manufacturing solar panels in Milpitas, Calif. by the end of this year. The announcement comes 25 years to the week since SunPower was founded in Silicon Valley in 1985.

The SunPower and Flextronics partnership is expected to create approximately 100 new jobs this year, and produce 75 megawatts of SunPower solar panels annually. The West Coast location will allow SunPower to quickly and cost-effectively supply SunPower panels to solar installations at homes, commercial and public facilities, and power plants throughout the Western US.

"I can think of no better way to celebrate Earth Day than to highlight action that is good for both California's environment and its economy. SunPower is not only enabling homes and businesses to conserve energy and save money by going solar, they are also creating jobs at a time when they are needed most," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

"Today's announcement is another example of how our state's nation-leading green policies are encouraging nation-leading green businesses to ramp up investment in California."

"We commend Governor Schwarzenegger and our state and federal leaders for creating the long-term stability and visibility we need in the solar market to open this facility," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner.

"The Governor's leadership on the California Solar Initiative, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, incentives for green manufacturing equipment and AB 32 provide us with the confidence to further invest in our home state. We look forward to working with the city of Milpitas to bring back manufacturing jobs and generate new economic opportunity in Silicon Valley, where SunPower was founded 25 years ago."

Establishing a US manufacturing facility is a direct result of SunPower's three-year agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) under the Solar Energy Technologies Program. Under the agreement, which was initiated in 2007, SunPower may receive up to $24 million of federal funding to implement improvements across the value chain that reduce solar system costs through improvements in the design and manufacture of integrated solar power systems.

Funding from the DOE supports the research and development of both the solar panel manufacturing equipment ordered for this facility as well as commercial rooftop and tracking power plant systems which will incorporate the solar panels. Four of the equipment suppliers for SunPower's solar panel manufacturing line manufacture their tools in the United States.

The equipment set used in US will also be exported to a solar panel manufacturing facility located in Europe. SunPower plans to apply a US federal manufacturing tax credit awarded to it from federal stimulus dollars by the DOE to support its investment in the manufacturing equipment purchased for Silicon Valley.

Last year, SunPower launched its new SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile product, the solar industry's most powerful rooftop system, as a result of the SAI program and less than two years after the company began receiving DOE research and development funding.

To date, SunPower has delivered T5 Solar Roof Tile installations for customers such as Agilent Technologies and Harvard University, and recently announced a contract to deliver 200 megawatts of the technology to Southern California Edison for the utility's large solar photovoltaic installation program.

"According to the California Public Utilities Commission, more applications were received under the California Solar Initiative (CSI) last month than in any month since the CSI was launched three years ago," Werner continued.

"Solar systems are affordable today for many kinds of customers in the private and public sectors. We are installing solar across the state and around the world – from rooftops to parking lots to power plants – and this manufacturing facility will help supply the growing demand for all of these applications, providing emission-free, renewable solar power."

"We are proud to have been selected as SunPower's manufacturing partner in California," said E.C. Sykes, president of Flextronics Industrial. "Today's announcement solidifies Flextronics' leading position as the clean tech supply chain partner of choice for OEMs participating in this important and rapidly growing market sector."

Mercury Solar Systems partners with NREL to advance solar energy research

PORT CHESTER, USA: Mercury Solar Systems, one of the leading solar integrators on the East Coast, has partnered with The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to advance solar energy research.

NREL will extract data for its own long-term research from Mercury Solar System's solar test-bed, the first solar photovoltaic testing facility in the Northeast. The system will be constructed on the roof of Mercury Solar Systems' corporate headquarters in Westchester County, NY, and is expected to be operational by the end of the summer. A grant from The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will help finance the project.

"Our partnership with NREL will help validate panel performance for the entire solar industry," said Lloyd Hoffstatter, VP of Engineering, Mercury Solar Systems.

"Combining several different solar panels into one system is an innovative approach to evaluate and monitor panel performance. It will also give us quantifiable engineering data to design, construct and integrate the most state-of-the-art solar energy systems for our customers, giving us a significant edge over other firms in this industry."

The 81 kilowatt (kW) solar PV system will consist of several hundred panels from eight different manufacturers. It is expected to generate 90,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) each year or approximately seventy-five percent of the building's annual electricity needs. The system will also incorporate a hybrid PV/solar hot water system.

"We believe this partnership will supply us useful information to help evaluate solar panel performance in the Northeast," said NREL Senior Engineer Ryan Smith.

“At NYSERDA we believe innovation is critical to the long-term success of our State’s energy, economic, and environmental wellbeing. We commend NREL and Mercury Solar Systems for taking on this initiative as it will not only help the industry progress but increase the number of high efficiency solar systems in the market, producing more clean energy for our residents,” said Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA.

McCormick adds more solar power from Constellation Energy

BALTIMORE, USA: Constellation Energy and McCormick & Co. Inc. announced an agreement to develop a new 1.8-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic power system at the McCormick distribution center in Belcamp, Md.

This will be the largest single rooftop solar installation in Maryland, and is the second solar installation developed for McCormick by Constellation Energy. In late 2008, the companies brought a nearly 1-megawatt solar installation online at McCormick’s Spice Mill in Hunt Valley, Md. Construction of this latest installation has been scheduled to begin in late June with estimated completion by the close of 2010.

“In order for renewables to expand and make a meaningful impact, you have to have organizations like McCormick that make a commitment to sustainability and developers such as Constellation Energy that make clean energy practical and reliable,” said Michael Smith, senior vice president of green initiatives for Constellation Energy.

“We are very pleased to be working again with McCormick on a new solar installation. This affirms that Constellation Energy’s solar model creates an affordable and realistic renewable energy solution for our customers.”

Constellation Energy will finance the project, including design and construction of the installation, and then own and maintain the solar power system for a period of 20 years. McCormick purchases energy produced by the solar installations hosted at its facilities.

Structuring solar projects in this way creates an attractive business model that creates no upfront costs for customers and provides them with firm power costs over a long term. Constellation Energy expects McCormick to save an estimated $3.4 million in electricity costs over the term of the agreement.

“We have had a very positive response to our earlier solar installations from our customers, employees and shareholders,” said Alan Wilson, chairman, president, and CEO of McCormick.

“With this new project, McCormick becomes one of the largest corporate users of solar power in the state of Maryland. This is a great source of pride and a clear sign of our ongoing commitment to the environment and sustainability in general. Sustainability makes great sense from a business perspective and is ‘Truly our Nature’ at McCormick.”

The McCormick Distribution Center solar project is currently designed to utilize 8,372 crystalline photovoltaic solar panels on the facility’s 363,000 square foot rooftop. The system is expected annually to generate power equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 195 homes in a year.

Generating that same amount of electricity using non-renewable sources would result in the release of more than 1,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and the equivalent of the emissions from more than 300 passenger vehicles annually. The project will also create a number of new green jobs, requiring approximately 17,000 man-hours during construction.

GreenFix Energy announces OASIIS -- a floating solar-thermal island

MARINA DEL REY, USA: GreenFix Energy announced the culmination of years of research and work into the development of the OASIIS technology invented and patent filed by Richard Henderson.

Richard Henderson worked over a decade perfecting a technology that utilizes current solar thermal and OTEC technology in a whole new way. Once built, this 1 to 3 Square Kilometer system will be capable of supplementing and eventually replacing fossil fuels such as coal and maybe even replace the need for nuclear in some areas.

In addition, the OASIIS system produces large quantities of agricultural, potable-water able to make unlivable land masses suddenly livable.

CTO and Inventor, Richard Henderson, had a brilliant career in engineering positions before he developed the critical technology behind OASIIS.

"It took me thinking outside of the box to solve why some really great technologies like OTEC and Solar Thermal weren’t working with the efficiency they could. The solution was to resourcefully combine them," he proudly reported.

The result was proven technologies combined to finally produce the numbers needed to make industry experts’ heads turn. Richard aided with the help of top engineers and colleagues, developed the technology for launching into a full company.

Richard then sought out investment banker and entrepreneur specialist Brad Listermann to lead the company.

“I knew we had something extraordinary and now we needed to build a company capable of building the system and creating sales in the hundreds of millions,” said Listermann.

Brad formerly founded one of the first online investment banks “NetStreet Financial” where he raised and managed tens of millions of dollars for new technology and start up companies. Brad often consulted with companies or ran the company when needed.

His track record included taking many companies public and a high success rate in the communication technologies’ like Starcom Wireless Inc. Listermann put together a team of top professionals that included JPL scientists, PhD Chemical Engineers and experienced legal and marketing leaders capable of positioning the company into a fast launch.

“We thank everyone who supported development of our unique renewable energy program. Unlike any other form of renewable energy, solar-thermal energy has proven its potential for energy independence,” said Brad Listermann.

ATEL Ventures provides $3 million capital credit line to SolFocus

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: ATEL Ventures, a provider of secured financing to emerging growth companies, has provided $3 million in equipment financing to SolFocus, a developer of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems. The equipment financing will be used for the company’s high-volume manufacturing.

“SolFocus is in full-scale commercialization of its solar systems in the US, Australia and Europe,” said Steven Rea, Executive Vice President, ATEL Ventures. “We’re pleased to provide SolFocus with this equipment financing to help them scale through this positive and fast-paced phase of growth.”

SolFocus CPV technology employs a system of patented reflective optics to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto small, highly efficient solar cells. The SolFocus SF-1100S system uses approximately 1/1,000th of the active, expensive solar cell material compared to traditional photovoltaic panels.

In addition, the cells utilized in SolFocus CPV systems have over twice the efficiency of traditional silicon photovoltaic cells. SolFocus also offers environmental benefits including next-to-no water usage, a small land footprint with dual use potential, and no permanent shadowing or wildlife corridor disruption.

Additionally, SolFocus CPV provides the shortest energy payback and lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of any solar technology. In solar-rich regions like the southwest US, the SolFocus CPV technology yields significantly more energy than other technologies with an extremely light environmental footprint.

“We have had our systems deployed in Spain since 2008. Since that time SolFocus has moved from R&D into full-scale commercialization,” explained SolFocus CEO and president Mark Crowley.

“We are now nearing completion on a 1MW installation in the high desert of Southern California which is the largest CPV installation in North America, marking a major milestone for advanced solar technology deployment. ATEL’s financing will support the ongoing scaling of our manufacturing operations.”

Headquartered in Mountain View, California and Madrid, Spain, SolFocus is venture-backed by New Enterprise Associates and Apex Ventures.

Panda Energy, Con Edison sign joint development agreement

DALLAS, USA: Panda Solar Ventures LLC, an affiliate of Panda Energy International Inc., and Con Edison Development, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Inc., have signed an agreement to develop, construct and operate utility-scale solar electric power projects in the northeast United States.

The agreement initially calls for the development of two solar photovoltaic farms, between 15-20 megawatts in size, with the prospect of additional solar projects to be announced at a later date.

Under terms of the agreement, each company will be equal partners to the joint venture. Panda will assume primary responsibility for managing the development, engineering and construction of the projects. The company will also leverage its extensive relationships with various service providers and equipment builders, and will contribute the solar projects currently under development to the joint venture’s portfolio.

Con Edison Development will assume primary responsibility for managing the operation, maintenance and financing of the solar facilities and will support the development, engineering and construction efforts. The company will leverage its extensive knowledge in the energy field to market the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS) and the electricity generated by the projects.

“We are very pleased to form a strategic alliance with one of the oldest and largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States,” said Todd Carter, president of Dallas-based Panda Energy International Inc. “Con Edison brings a substantial market presence, long-standing operations expertise and a wealth of resources to the table. We look forward to working with them to help deliver clean, renewable energy to the mid Atlantic and New England areas of the country.”

“Our two companies have very complementary skill sets,” added Mark Noyes, vice president of Con Edison Development. “Panda Energy has one of the most experienced development teams in the business, a strong track record, substantial deal flow and expertise across the entire power development value chain.”

According to industry estimates, demand for solar energy over the past 15 years has grown at an annual rate of approximately 30 percent. Solar power is expected to play a key role in the new energy economy — creating jobs, enhancing the nation’s energy independence and providing clean, emissions-free electricity. The U.S. solar market is projected to double by 2011.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

REC peak energy solar module delivers more power per square meter

SANDVIKA, NORWAY: Fourth generation module, the first commercial product from one of the world`s largest integrated solar manufacturing facilities, provides more power per square meter with efficient cell and glass design and an average increase of nine watts per module.

The REC Peak Energy Module is the first commercial product to be produced at REC’s new manufacturing facility in Singapore. This site is one of the most integrated and automated in the industry, allowing REC to increase solar cell and module volumes four fold.

“The REC Peak Energy Module is a solid investment for customers in the commercial, residential, and utility segments, helping REC to become a leading module producer,” said John Andersen, Jr., Executive Vice President REC Solar and Group COO.

With the successful start-up of the plant and this product launch, REC has combined a commitment to quality, part of the company’s Norwegian heritage, with Singapore’s high-quality manufacturing capability.

The REC Peak Energy Module delivers more power per square meter due to several design improvements. Introduction of three bus bars and improved contact between the cell and metal fingers, improves electrical flow, producing an average power gain of nine watts. The unique glass etching process completed in house, utilizes Sunarc technology to increase energy production by two percent.

The modules are easy to install with made-to-fit cables and multiple grounding points that reduce the ground wire needed in installation. Easy to lift and handle, the modules have a robust and durable design, supporting a large mechanical load (5400 pascal).

“Delivering more power per square meter, with the REC Peak Energy Series we continue to innovate, producing high-performance modules with a focus on quality and efficiency”, said ├ůsmund Fodstad, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, REC. The REC Peak Energy Module is available worldwide for purchase now.

Committed to sustainability, REC modules have an industry leading energy payback time of one year. This is being reduced with innovations such as the new fluidized bed reactor (FBR) silicon production process which uses 80 to 90 percent less energy than traditional methods. One of the world`s most integrated solar companies, REC is in a competitive position for the long term, building on a range of products and increased production volumes.

GE to study impact of high solar energy penetration on the grid

NISKAYUNA, USA: With energy experts forecasting substantial increases in solar power in the coming decades, GE researchers are working with Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, to understand how large amounts of solar can best be integrated into today’s grid.

APS, along with four partners, including GE, recently was awarded a $3.3 million High Penetration Solar Deployment grant from the US Department of Energy. The comprehensive first-of-its-kind study, which was approved earlier this month by the Arizona Corporation Commission, will take place in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The team will help identify methods and technologies to optimize grid reliability and efficiency with the high concentration of distributed solar generation.

“APS’s solar demonstration project provides a great opportunity to understand the grid’s future needs as renewable energy resources like solar become a larger part of the nation’s overall energy portfolio,” said Kathleen O’Brien, Project Leader for GE and an Electrical Engineer in GE’s Smart Grid Lab.

”Much of the focus has been on new cell developments and system improvements to make solar more cost competitive, but the larger question is how to reliably integrate the higher penetrations of solar power expected. Through this study, we hope to gain more insight and answers.”

Specifically, O’Brien said that her team wants to understand:

* What are the current and new technologies that are needed to accommodate higher penetrations of solar? And at what point will they be needed?
* What changes can utility controllers expect in how they manage power?
* How could the stability of the distribution network be affected by fluctuating solar power production?
* How can the new advanced grid features of the GE Solar Inverter improve system stability and power quality?

The utility plans to integrate 1.5 megawatts of solar power on a single “feeder”, or energy distribution area. Approximately 600 kilowatts will come from residential photovoltaic (PV) rooftop installations; 400 kilowatts will be generated from installations on commercial business properties; and 500 kilowatts will be incorporated from a utility-scale solar park installation.

The project team will leverage GE’s renewable energy and utilize grid integration expertise as well as GE’s energy power electronics. GE’s Brilliance solar inverter will be used by the utility to handle power conversion from the utility-scale solar installation. This inverter was built from the same platform of power electronics, monitoring and controls that GE uses to enhance wind energy grid integration.

Its SunIQ grid features were developed to make solar plants “smarter,” coordinating the components of a large-scale installation to behave similar to a conventional power plant. In addition to providing the solar inverter, GE researchers will be collecting data and doing power systems analysis on how the large influx of solar into this distribution network impacts the grid.

According to the US Department of Energy, solar installations in the U.S. are expected to exceed 6,000 MW by 2010, more than triple what the installed base was just two years ago. What’s particularly striking is just how rapidly solar power is growing. The cumulative annual growth rate in solar is expected to be as high as 41 percent through 2012, more than double a healthy 22% growth rate in wind power.

In recent years, the growth in renewable energy resources such as solar already has exceeded more traditional hydrocarbon sources. According to New Energy Finance, a leading provider of industry information and analysis to investors, corporations and governments, demand for solar energy has grown about 30 percent per year over the past 15 years, while hydrocarbon energy demand typically grows less than 2 percent a year. This growth, and the substantial growth forecasted for solar in the future, point to an energy portfolio that is more diverse and more renewable energy intensive.

As the world seeks cleaner, more efficient ways to generate power, distributed energy systems, or localized power systems where power is generated and delivered in close proximity to its customers, have great potential for enabling a higher penetration of clean, renewable power sources into the electrical distribution network.

Because distributed energy systems are often decentralized from the larger electric grid network, renewable energy can assume a much larger part of the overall energy portfolio for a given system. That is why the solar demonstration project with APS provides such an excellent case study for simulating how larger amounts of solar power impact the grid infrastructure.

Although 1.5 megawatts of solar by itself is not a lot of power, it will represent a substantial amount for the study area’s distributed energy system. GE researchers will be collecting and analyzing data over the next couple of years, with a full report to be completed by 2013.

Testing and evaluation is funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Solar fuel pioneered by Joule named among world’s 10 most important emerging technologies

CAMBRIDGE, USA: Joule announced the inclusion of its solar platform for renewable fuel production among MIT Technology Review’s 2010 TR10, an annual list of the world’s ten most important emerging technologies.

The distinction follows Joule’s selection to the 2010 TR50 in February, which recognized the world’s 50 most innovative companies. Alongside Google, Joule was one of only two companies to achieve both honors.

“What would an ideal renewable fuel look like? The solution being developed by Joule appears to answer that question, and has the potential to compete with petroleum on a large scale, supplying us with a clean and homegrown source of fuel that can also be deployed worldwide,” said David Rotman, editor, Technology Review.

Joule’s platform is the first to convert sunlight and waste CO2 into liquid fuels, including fungible diesel, in a direct, single-step, continuous process – eliminating the biomass dependencies and inefficient processing that have hindered biofuels. As cited by Technology Review, this elimination of the “middleman” allows Joule to achieve much higher productivities with comparatively minimal land use.

At full-scale production, Joule can generate billions of gallons of renewable diesel in a highly-efficient process that conserves natural resources and consumes waste CO2. Not only will this process meet rapidly-growing diesel demand, it will stimulate green jobs creation and help to support energy security throughout the world.

“The pressing need to replace fossil fuels has triggered tremendous research and investment in numerous alternatives, which is why we’re thrilled to be recognized for achieving the most important new advancement in the field,” said Bill Sims, president and CEO, Joule.

“We have systematically addressed each of the hurdles facing renewable fuels – from feedstock costs and limitations to inefficient, multi-step batch processing. The result is a transformative solar platform for renewable diesel production, yielding stable and predictable supply at costs competitive with crude oil – bridging the gap towards energy independence.”

“Joule was founded with a vision for the ideal renewable fuel platform, targeting unlimited scale of production with low-risk deployment and minimal environmental footprint,” said Noubar Afeyan, founder and chairman, Joule and managing partner and CEO, Flagship Ventures.

“Three years later, it’s exciting to see this vision result in an integrated system and process design for renewable diesel that can begin commercial rollout as soon as 2012. Joule is at the forefront of an entirely new category of direct solar fuels that have tremendous potential to transform the oil and energy landscape.”

Joule’s Helioculture platform incorporates proprietary, photosynthetic organisms to capture sunlight and convert CO2 directly into liquid fuels. Because the organisms act as catalysts to synthesize and secrete the fuels, Joule avoids costly steps such as large-scale biomass production and collection or other downstream refinement.

The modular, scalable SolarConverter system facilitates the entire continuous process from photon capture to product synthesis and initial separation, with no requirement for agricultural land, fresh water or crops.