Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Current US utility PV contracts exceed 5 GW

CAMBRIDGE, USA: With over 5 GW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) currently under contract through 2015, US utilities are becoming a key driver of future growth for the global PV industry.

These utilities are claiming their position as the industry’s next critical demand center with state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) looming and global PV players shifting their sights from saturated European feed-in tariff markets to the large-scale potential of the US PPA market.

“Utility PV in the U.S. is a $1 billion market in 2010 and is projected to reach $8 billion by 2015,” said Shayle Kann, the report’s author and GTM Research’s MD of Solar Research. “Solar industry players across the value chain have taken note, flocking to the market en masse to take advantage.”

At present, US-based First Solar holds more than 40 percent of all contracted PPA capacity in development nationwide, with other US-based developers SunPower, Sempra Generation, LS Power and SunEdison combining for an additional 22 percent of contracted capacity. While these domestic developers represent first movers in the market, global players are looking for a foothold -- and employing a variety of strategies to achieve it.

“Foreign entrants like Iberdrola Renewables and juwi solar, with robust PV portfolios abroad, are parlaying their experience to earn utility market share stateside,” said Kann. “In addition, PV manufacturers such as Sharp, Solyndra, and GCL Solar are seeking their own entry into the project development market, often as an opportunity to secure sales channels for their own products.”

While all of this makes for a vibrant U.S. utility market, the sector is still nascent, with less than 250 MW currently operating and a number of challenges looming in the coming years.

Financing bottlenecks caused by slow economic recovery and the potential non-extension of the US Treasury cash grant will be an obstacle to timely project completion. In addition, competitive PPA bidding processes have led to contracts being signed at untenable price points for project developers.

These projects will rely heavily on stark PV price declines over the coming years in order to reach completion.

Actuant signs agreement to acquire Mastervolt

MILWAUKEE, USA: Actuant Corp. announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the stock of Mastervolt. The purchase is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, and is expected to close within 30 days.

Total consideration for the transaction is approximately €115 million ($150 million) which will be funded from the Company’s cash and revolving credit facility. Mastervolt generated approximately €85 million ($110 million) in revenue in the past twelve months.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, privately held Mastervolt is a designer, developer and global supplier of highly innovative, branded power electronics. Its products provide the technology associated with the efficient conversion, control, storage and conditioning of power and are utilized in various end markets including solar photovoltaic (PV), marine and specialty vehicles.

In the solar market, Mastervolt is focused primarily on high-quality and high-yield inverters for sub-segments of the on-grid market in Europe. Inverters serve as the critical link in a solar PV system, connecting the solar panels to the electric grid, efficiently converting direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).

In the marine and specialty vehicle markets, Mastervolt provides integrated power systems which include battery chargers, inverters, generator sets, batteries, switchboards and electrical propulsion. Mastervolt provides “green” solutions to the marine market with its hybrid and electric propulsion, lithium-ion batteries and digital switching technologies.

Robert C. Arzbaecher, Actuant’s CEO, stated: "Mastervolt represents a great addition to Actuant’s Electrical segment, repositioning it toward higher growth and product technology. Its focus on innovation, strong management team and asset light operating model are an ideal fit with Actuant.

"With two-thirds of its revenues derived from the solar product line, Mastervolt meaningfully extends our presence in this market with its inverters, a crucial component of any PV installation. Their strong presence in marine complements our Marinco brand and provides a platform to globalize the market leading products of both businesses through their respective established distribution channels.

"Mastervolt CEO Paul Kenninck and his management team have done an outstanding job creating a growth platform and we look forward to them joining the Actuant team.”

“Mastervolt’s business has historically grown faster than Actuant’s stated 1.5-2.0X GDP growth objectives,” continued Arzbaecher. “Given increasing global energy demands and the focus on renewable energy sources, we expect this trend to continue. In addition, Mastervolt furthers the diversity of our global energy related served markets, which include oil and gas, nuclear, wind, and now solar.”

McDermott Will & Emery LLP and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek N.V. served as Actuant’s legal counsel for this transaction. Kempen & Co. acted as advisor to Mastervolt, while Lexence N.V. provided legal counsel.

Renewable distributed energy generation market to triple in size by 2015

BOULDER, USA: The global electric power industry is evolving from a financial and engineering model that relies on large centralized power plants owned by the utilities to one that is more diverse – both in sources of generation and ownership of the generation assets.

Renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG), which includes both distributed solar photovoltaics (PV) and small wind power, is an emerging mode of operations that is a growing alternative to the traditional centralized power generation infrastructure.

According to a new report from Pike Research, the RDEG market will experience strong growth over the next several years, with total system revenues increasing from $50.8 billion in 2009 to $154.7 billion by 2015. During this period, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that annual RDEG capacity additions will increase from 5.9 gigawatts (GW) in 2009 to 15.1 GW in 2015.

“The economics of sub-utility scale renewable energy continue to improve at a rapid pace,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus. “This downward price curve is fueling demand for distributed solar PV and small wind systems as an alternative to centralized power generation. But the transition to a more distributed system is no small matter, and it requires the evolution of policies, technologies, and business models.”

Asmus adds that, while RDEG currently represents a very small part of the global electric power generation capacity – just 0.2 percent – it has the potential to play a much larger role in the future. Although Europe and the United States are the largest markets for RDEG today, China and India are huge potential markets.

Pike Research anticipates that Europe will continue to be the largest market for RDEG during the 2010-2015 forecast period, but China will see the largest market growth as the cost of renewable energy approaches that of conventional energy.

Intevac to acquire Solar Implant Technologies

SANTA CLARA, USA: Intevac Inc. has acquired Solar Implant Technologies (SIT).

SIT has developed a novel concept for a compact ion implant module to provide improved doping of silicon photovoltaic cells. Ion implant, a proven technology in semiconductor manufacturing, has recently been adapted for use in the manufacturing of photovoltaic cells to improve the conversion efficiency of silicon cells.

However, the equipment currently available in the market generally does not meet the productivity or capital cost of ownership needs of the solar industry. We believe the combination of Intevac’s high productivity platform, Lean Solar, with SIT’s ion implant module, once productized, will allow the solar industry to reduce the cost per watt of solar modules by enabling the high rate production of higher conversion efficiency cells.

“This technology acquisition is a key element of our equipment strategy to provide a suite of process technology solutions on our high productivity Lean Solar platform to enable lower manufacturing costs for solar cell manufacturers," said Kevin Fairbairn, Intevac president and CEO.

“SIT’s innovative ion implant module is a breakthrough design that specifically demonstrates the benefit of designing a solution for a market need,” Fairbairn concluded.

Konarka’s Power Plastic achieves record 8.3 percent efficiency certification from NREL

LOWELL, USA: Konarka Technologies Inc., an innovator in development and commercialization of Konarka Power Plastic, a material that converts light to energy, announced that the National Energy Renewable Laboratory (NREL) has certified that Konarka’s organic based photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells have demonstrated a record breaking 8.3 percent efficiency.

This is the highest performance recorded by NREL for an organic photovoltaic solar cell.

“The progress Konarka has achieved this year with regard to solar cell efficiency is unprecedented, representing a significant milestone for the industry,” commented Howard Berke, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Konarka. “This unsurpassed NREL certification opens new doors for the commercial production of cost-effective, efficient electricity for numerous large scale applications.”

Konarka Power Plastic is a patent-protected thin film solar material that converts light to energy. The unique material is lightweight and flexible, lending itself to a wide range of applications where traditional photovoltaics are not effective.

The latest certification results are for Konarka’s large area single-junction solar cell with a surface area of 1 square centimeter. This efficiency rating far exceeds previous single-junction organic photovoltaic cell measurement on that surface area and represents the world record for OPV efficiency.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Amtech announces $68 million in new solar orders in November

TEMPE, USA: Amtech Systems Inc. announced that its solar subsidiary, Tempress Systems, Inc., has received approximately $68 million in new solar orders for its diffusion processing systems from existing customers in China and one new customer in Taiwan. Amtech’s fiscal 2011 began October 1, 2010.

J.S. Whang, CEO of Amtech, commented: "These latest orders further demonstrate our ability to provide excellent product and service to the industry and the quality and depth of our expanding solar customer base. We believe the intense effort by our customers and the solar industry to increase cell efficiency will continue to drive demand for our superior diffusion technology.

"We continue to see excellent quotation activity and remain focused on continued successful execution of our solar growth strategy."

Czech Republic’s largest open-area plant goes online

DRESDEN, GERMANY: With 17,500 modules, SOLARWATT AG has built its largest open-area plant in the Czech Republic to date in the South Bohemian town of Frymburk.

The solar power plant with a total output of 4.2 MWp has been supplying the E.ON Czech Republic grid with solar energy since the middle of November. The monocrystalline modules were installed without a hitch in a construction period of only 10 weeks.

Like the solar power plant in Frymburk, SOLARWATT will also be bringing all of its ongoing projects in the Czech Republic to a successful conclusion. Doing so is not a matter of course, since the conditions for investments in large solar parks have drastically deteriorated with the change of government in the Czech Republic.

For instance, a profit tax of 26 percent will be imposed on all income from the feed-in tariff for photovoltaic plants at 30 kilowatts and up with retroactive effect back to 1 January 2009.

ET Solar announces 50MW module supply agreement with PM Service

NANJING, CHINA: ET Solar, a PV system turnkey solution service provider and integrated manufacturer of downstream PV products, recently announced a large annual module supply agreement with PM Service Srl. (PM Service). Under the agreement, ET Solar will supply 50MW of mono and multi-crystalline PV modules to PM Service in 2011.

Headquartered in Florence, PM Service is a fast growing PV product distribution and consulting company with an extensive national sales and marketing network in Italy. ET Solar has been PM Service’s major PV module supplier for about 3 years and this agreement has the largest annual supply volume.

Dennis She, CEO of ET Solar, commented: “The transaction is an important step to take our relationship with PM Service to the next level. Over the past three years, ET Solar and PM Service were very successful with the co-marketing strategy to grow our market share in Italy. We look forward to replicating our past success as we enter into 2011 when the Italian PV market development intensifies.”

Massimo Innocenti, chairman of PM Service, added: “As one of the leading PV product distributors in Italy, we view supplier relationship as a critical factor to our growth. With an excellent track record with ET Solar, we have strong convictions that we will continue to strengthen our competitive position and expand our footprint in the fast growing Italian PV market.”

Andrea Parrini, CEO of PM Service, said, “We are particularly excited with the integration roadmap that ET Solar is executing now. Higher level of integration will further ensure product quality and customer satisfaction.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First standardization steps in PV inverter industry

LYON, FRANCE: Yole Développement has announced its comprehensive analysis on the first standardization steps in the PV inverter industry. Yole Développement’s analysts evaluate the market forecasts and positioning of the different business players.

This updated version of Yole Développement’s PV inverter trends report presents a comparison between what Yole Développement had previously anticipated and what really happened; and also the new integration that will take place in an inverter. Last year, the analysts described the evolution of the four main parameters of an inverter (size, efficiency, cost and reliability).

They will see in this report, that the inverter – as important as it is – is more than ever considered as the sub-system of a more important one: the PV plant.Source: Yole Développement, France.

Yole Développement has also reviewed its position on some aspects, especially the micro-inverters, which the company anticipated more promising than what has really appeared in 2010.

PV industry: what are the technical trends?
In addition, technology development is being investigated– advanced cooling system for large size inverters, gallium nitride-based devices for conversion, laminated Busbars for conduction… –which are all anticipated to provide promising results.

This year Yole Développement also included details on the integration of new functionalities, because it is what the company has seen all along 2010.

Functionalities tend to improve the global return on investment (RoI) of the PV plant, as well as efficiency and reliability or reducing cost:

* Anti-theft.
* On-site aging effect measurement.
* Voltage, current, temperature monitoring.
* Protection, in case of maintenance.
* Communication.

Yole Développement’s analysts had anticipated that monitoring at cell-level would appear early 2011, but actually, it will not appear until 2 or 3 years from now. ”The main reason for this delay is that it does not rely on inverters-like manufacturers, but on cell manufacturers, who are not ready yet to provide such technical solutions”, explains Brice Le Gouic, Market Analyst at Yole Développeement.

At the plant level (PV inverter environment), architectures are slowly getting standardized, especially on the European market where feed-in tariffs (FIT), although less interesting, define a typical size of installation (3kW in France and Italy, about 5kW in Germany).

Last year, it was difficult to establish an exact architecture of the industrial buildings-based PV plants: this year, Yole Développement’s analysts have seen mainly two “types” of architectures:

* Using up to 20kW inverters for installations up to 100kW.
* Using large inverters for more than 100kW.

The main consequence is a decrease of 20 to 50kW power range from inverter manufacturers and new-comers on the market, which does not target this value as a priority.

Two major events in PV industry in 2010
The 2010 market has faced two major events:
* Decrease of FITs in most attractive countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain).
* Acceleration of signed contracts which has generated a shortage situation of largest PV inverter makers, like SMA, Kaco or Fronius.

As a main consequence to this shortage situation, these big players have responded by increasing their production capacity or focus on a specific market.

The other main consequence was the delivery time (up to six months in some cases), which has become an opportunity for new players to enter the European market:

* Re-inforcement of US players.
* Entry of other players who used to be in train or UPS business.
* Arrival of Asian players, each with a competitive advantage: cost (for Chinese players), efficiency and reliability (for Japanese players).

In parallel to those major events, global PV market has increased, and PV inverter market has grown as well: Yole Développement estimates it to reach €3 billion by the end of 2010, mainly driven by Europe. USA is keeping on growing, especially on the large building installations and China has planned significant projects to fit with their expansion and to also get rid of their stock.

As an opposite trend, inverter cost is decreasing considerably and today’s market in Europe (from a distributor or integrator perspective) hardly accepts over 0.24€/W solutions. Chinese makers (like Sungrow) can thus easily access the market while Japanese competitors meet issues.

Another important trend that Yole Développement has validated in 2010 is the new comers’ strategy to first establish on the large sized inverters and then enter the residential one: ABB, Ingeteam or Schneider are concretes examples of it.

Last but not least, all the power optimization solutions are meeting issues to penetrate the market, for several reasons:
* Too expensive solutions.
* Not very well defined position in the supply chain.
* No clear advantages in dynamic conditions.

However, those players are pushed by impressive investments and according the sales done by a majority, it is still hard to understand how their value is created and will be profitable, even if some of them seem to show good results.

Of course, improving the efficiency of a PV plant is an added value.

And now, the most challenging point will be to know their position in the supply chain: will they be a “unique type” of player, assuming that each of them claims a different technology and different advantages? Or will they be vertically integrated by the inverter makers?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day4 Energy signs agreement with NSP for supply of PV cells

BURNABY, USA: Day4 Energy Inc., a leading global provider of solar photovoltaic (PV) products and solutions, announced an agreement with Neo Solar Power Corp. (NSP) of Hsinchu, Taiwan, one of the leading PV cell producers in the world, to provide Day4 Energy (Day4) with its high performance PV solar cells through 2011.

"We are delighted to align ourselves with Day4 and provide our cells to one of the most innovative solar technology providers on the market." states Dr. Sam Hong president and COO of NSP.

"Their advanced technology and manufacturing processes clearly demonstrate the potential of the Day4 brand in establishing a new standard for performance and quality in module manufacturing. This agreement shows international clients' confidence in NSP products. NSP will continue to improve product quality and efficiency to provide better and more advanced solutions to our customers" concluded Dr. Hong.

To further deepen its PV cell supply, Day4 began working with NSP in early 2010. After several months of co-operation, both organizations determined it would be mutually beneficial to establish an official arrangement to cover the upcoming year.

"The confirmed co-operation from NSP strengthens Day4's cell supply through 2011 ensuring both Day4 Energy, as well as our Day4 solarSYSTEMS manufacturing franchise partners, have everything required to be successful" says George Rubin, president of Day4 Energy. "We look forward to expanding on the foundation of successful cooperation we have put in place during the past year with NSP," concluded Rubin.

SunEdison interconnects Europe's largest single operating PV solar power plant

BELTSVILLE, USA: SunEdison, a leading worldwide solar energy services provider and a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, has successfully interconnected a 70 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Northeast Italy, near the town of Rovigo. The deployment, which is now the largest single-operating PV solar power plant in Europe, was completed and interconnected in a nine-month time period.

The Rovigo solar power plant was acquired by First Reserve through a previously announced joint venture between First Reserve Corporation and SunEdison. Investment programs managed or advised by Partners Group AG and Perennius Capital Partners SGR have invested in the project with the First Reserve joint venture.

First Reserve recently announced the execution of a euro 276M project finance facility for the project with some of the leading European banks, including Banco Santander, Unicredit Corporate Banking, Dexia Crediop, Natixis, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole.

SunEdison, a minority investor in the joint venture with First Reserve, will manage the ongoing operations and maintenance of the Rovigo plant.

“With construction completion in less than one year, we believe this deployment signifies a new milestone for the industry and will become the standard for future mega projects,” said Carlos Domenech, President of SunEdison.

“SunEdison has once again demonstrated its capabilities and expertise in developing large-scale solar projects while helping government agencies promote renewable energy initiatives.”

“SunEdison has proved it is highly efficient and reliable as a leader in executing large scale solar projects like Rovigo,” commented Mark Florian, Managing Director of First Reserve Energy Infrastructure.

“We are proud to add this flagship project to our energy infrastructure portfolio and look forward to developing new opportunities for our joint venture with SunEdison in the future. The combination of a strong regulatory environment, a stable tariff regime and reliable solar exposure are attractive characteristics for the Italian solar market.”

“The deployment of the Rovigo project within this timeframe was made possible thanks to the commitment of our project partners and local and regional authorities,” said Pancho Perez, General Manager of SunEdison EMEA. “This project is a fine example of SunEdison’s commitment to the continued development of the solar PV sector in Italy and the EMEA.”

In a letter to Carlos Domenech, the Italian Minister for Economic Development, Paolo Romani, congratulated SunEdison’s achievement. The Minister referred to the challenges of energy supply in Italy and the project’s importance to economic growth and success.

The Rovigo solar plant will create significant environmental benefits over its expected lifetime. In its first year of operation alone, the system is expected to generate enough energy to power more than 16,500 homes and prevent the emission of more than 40,000 tons of CO2, equivalent to the removal of 8,000 cars from the road.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

China's PV Industry is a huge underdeveloped market

BEIJING, CHINA: CCID Consulting Co. Ltd has released a report on China's PV industry.

Global PV market sustains a high growth momentum
For the year 2009, the newly-added installed photovoltaic power capacity neared a total of 5,800MW around the world and the global market continued its high-speed growth at a rate of 46.6 percent.

Due to a tight supply of silicon, the production cost of silicon solar cells has been on the rise during the last few years, while thin-film solar cells, including α-Si, μc-Si, CdTe and CIGS, have been increasing their market share with their improved cell conversion efficiency and cost advantage as a result of large-scale production.

In terms of newly-added installed capacity, Germany tops the list with a newly-added installed photovoltaic power capacity of 3,000MW, and its market share has risen from 41.1 percent in 2008 to 51.7 percent in 2009.

This is partly attributable to the slowdown in the Spanish market which enjoyed the fastest growth in 2008. In 2009, Spain reduced subsidies to photovoltaic power generation, resulting in a sharp drop in its newly-added installed photovoltaic power capacity from the previous year's 2,500MW to 60MW.Newly-Added Installed Photovoltaic Power Capacity and Growth Rate in 2009.

China's PV industry is among the world's largest
In 2009, China's solar cell output reached 3,850MW with an annual growth rate of 93 percent, which was above the world average.China's Solar Cell Output, 2005-2009.

China's PV enterprises are mostly in midstream and downstream sectors
China's solar cell enterprises are mostly in the midstream and downstream sectors of the industry chain, where competition is ever increasing..

By the end of 2008, China had 37 polysilicon plants, 143 silicon bulk/silicon bar plants, 138 silicon wafer plants, 357 solar cell component plants and more than 1,000 solar power product plants.

Competition grows as it goes farther to the downstream (featuring solar cell components and solar power products) end, for numerous enterprise have been attracted to the downstream sectors due to their smaller investment, shorter construction cycle, lower requirements for technology and fund and easier marketing.

For the moment, China's solar cell market is dominated by major manufacturers including Wuxi Suntech Power Holdings, China Sunergy, Yingli Solar and Trina Solar, among which Wuxi Suntech Power Holdings has become one of the world's top solar cell manufacturers.

These enterprises featuring advanced production technologies, large-scale production capacities and stable product quality have access to adequate raw material supplies and have a strong competitive advantage. In addition, most of them have been listed on domestic and international stock markets, thus they can improve their financing channels to expand production and enhance their products' competitiveness. Among them, Wuxi Suntech and Yingli Solar have also entered the upstream sectors to develop a vertical structure.

China's newly-added installed photovoltaic power capacity sees explosive growth
Boosted by a series of subsidy policies, China's installed photovoltaic power capacity saw an explosive growth in 2009 with a total newly-added installed photovoltaic power capacity of 120MW. The figure equals the country's historical total.

Currently, photovoltaic power is mainly applied to communications and industrial fields, rural and remote areas, photovoltaic grid-connected inverter systems and solar power products in China.China's Solar Cell Installed Capacity, 2005-2009.

Low cost and low energy consumption are future trends for the development of China's PV industry
As to the future trends of the photovoltaic industry, reduction of production cost and energy consumption will be desired in the production of silicon solar cells, and it can be achieved with advancement in the research on the new generation of polysilicon technologies, higher-performance, larger and slimmer silicon wafers as well as technical upgrades towards automation and intellectualization.

Besides, next-generation solar cells will come into being along with the development of new materials, new structures and new technologies. Currently, quantum dot solar cells, quantum well solar cells, dye sensitization cells, hot photovoltaic cell and organic thin-film solar cells are emerging for the purpose of reducing production costs and energy consumption and increasing the photoelectric transformation efficiency and the proportion of renewable energy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Solyndra announces strategic collaboration with Sika

MUNICH, GERMANY: Solyndra Inc., a manufacturer of cylindrical photovoltaic (PV) systems for large industrial and commercial rooftops, announced a multi-year sales agreement with Sika Services AG, a manufacturer of roofing materials headquartered in Baar, Switzerland. The companies will work together to promote Sika’s highly reflective roofing products together with Solyndra’s rooftop photovoltaic systems.

“Sika has a strong reputation as a supplier of roofing materials and photovoltaic systems worldwide. We are pleased to work together with them to develop a powerful combined offering for the challenging environment of the commercial rooftop solar market,” said Clemens Jargon, Solyndra’s President EMEA and Managing Director, Solyndra Gmbh.

“Their knowledge of rooftops and materials combined with our expertise in solar systems will help us work together to generate the highest amount of energy from commercial and industrial rooftops.”

“We have found the lightweight, non-penetrating Solyndra system to be an excellent complement to our highly reflective rooftop materials and as interest in reflective, cool roofs, grows in Europe our two companies will work together to present a strong combined offering to our customers,” said Heinz Meier, Sika’s Corporate System Engineer Solar.

“Both companies have built their reputations by providing durable, lasting systems that will protect and generate power from rooftops for more than 20 years at the highest level of quality.”

The agreement will initially focus on markets in Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, where Sika has a leading position providing roofing solutions including highly reflective membranes.

New figures show Pennsylvania exceeds its goals for solar

HARRISBURG, USA: Pennsylvania is now one of the leading states in the nation for clean solar energy, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said, while highlighting new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

NREL's latest open photovoltaic survey ranks Pennsylvania third nationally in the number of solar projects operating today and fourth in installed capacity. According to NREL, the state now has 2,434 projects—behind only California and New Jersey—that account for 38.5 megawatts of generating capacity, or enough to power about 5,800 homes.

Hanger noted that because the survey relies on voluntarily submitted information, the state is actually doing much better than NREL's data shows. In reality, there are more than 3,000 projects online statewide that total 40-plus megawatts of capacity.

Regardless, Hanger said, the report shows that Pennsylvania has met its goal of becoming a top-five state for solar – and has done so ahead of schedule.

"When Governor Rendell took office, he said Pennsylvania was going to be a leader in the green economy," said Hanger. "NREL's latest survey shows we've done that and we've done it sooner than many thought was possible. We thought we'd be a top-five state for solar by 2011, but we've done it faster because of the pro-solar-growth, pro-solar-jobs policies and investments we've made.

"In 2004, we passed a portfolio standards law that attracted some of the world's leading renewable energy companies to our state. It also provided the assurance small businesses and entrepreneurs needed to get into the solar business or start their own companies. We also made smart, critical investments in the industry so more projects could get off the drawing board and become a reality. We now have hundreds of companies here doing work in the solar field and thousands of workers meeting the need for this clean form of energy."

The secretary said Pennsylvania now has about 600 solar businesses and another 130 megawatts worth of projects in the pipeline that should be completed by the end of 2011. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, Pennsylvania has 6,700 people working in solar jobs—second to California among all states.

He said Pennsylvania's growth was made possible because of large-scale projects across the state, as well as a growing number of homeowners and small businesses that are choosing to use solar to meet their energy needs.

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare began installing a three-megawatt system on its northeast regional distribution center in York County that, when finished, will represent the largest rooftop system in North America.

In August, Crayola LLC powered up an $11.5 million, 15-acre solar farm that will produce 30 percent of the energy needed to power the company's operations in eastern Pennsylvania. The crayon maker has already announced plans to double the size of the solar system within in the next two years.

Hanger also pointed to the success of Pennsylvania's PA Sunshine Rebate Program, which has enabled more Pennsylvania homeowners and small businesses to lower their energy bills with the help of the sun's power. The $100 million PA Sunshine Program has provided more than $94 million in rebates to fund more than 4,855 solar electric and hot water projects that are either completed or under construction.

"Pennsylvanians are eagerly moving toward solar because they recognize the environmental benefits in the form of cleaner air and water, and the fact that it's a smart move for their pocketbooks, too," said Hanger.

"A homeowner or business that installs a solar system today is locking in a fixed price—currently between 12- to 20-cents per kilowatt-hour—for the energy that system will create over the next 25 years. If you pay a utility for your electricity, I'll bet you won't pay in 2035 what you're paying today.

"Solar also makes greater sense because of how sharply the technology has dropped in price recently. The median installed costs for small business and residential PV projects here dropped from about $9 per watt in 2008 to as low as $6 per watt in August; the lowest-cost projects are as much as $1 per watt less than this most recent figure. Large solar projects of one megawatt or more now cost under $4.50 per watt. That's a competitive price and explains why solar is so attractive for so many."

The secretary also noted that solar power emits zero air pollution, which cuts soot, smog, mercury and heat-trapping pollution that can sicken and kill Pennsylvanians. In addition, solar power helps to keep the power grid reliable by providing more power on the hottest days of the year when very high demand can cause brownouts and blackouts.

Solar3D submits patent application for breakthrough 3-D solar cell

SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, announced that it has filed a patent application for its innovative solar cell design and methods of fabrication.

“With the filing of this patent, we are poised to create something truly exciting,” said Jim Nelson, CEO, Solar3D. “Many industry observers and analysts have said that for the solar industry to truly make a difference, the developers of the next generation solar technologies will have to step up. This application represents our intention to step up and make a real difference in the world.”

Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, the company’s innovative solar cell technology utilizes a 3-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. The company’s management believes that this breakthrough solar cell will be dramatically more efficient, resulting in a lower cost per watt that will make solar power affordable for the world.

According to Nelson, “Our objective is grid parity or better. By re-engineering the solar cell to manage the light and extract all of its available power, we intend to make it: (1) significantly more efficient and (2) production friendly. In doing so, we attack the economic issue from both sides to deliver electricity at a substantially reduced cost per kilowatt hour.

“While our 3-D technology can be applied to various photovoltaic materials, such as gallium arsenide, we are currently focused on using silicon, an abundant material with a very mature production industry. We intend to push silicon to its theoretical limits.”

“We believe that the Sun, an infinite source of energy, should be used to provide a substantial percentage of electricity used by the world. By combining micro-photovoltaics with advanced light management technology into a novel 3-dimensional solar cell, we believe that will be possible,” Nelson concluded.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Energy announces plans to accelerate commercialization of its proprietary SolarWindow technology

COLUMBIA, USA: New Energy Technologies Inc. announced plans to advance its efforts to commercialize the company’s novel SolarWindow technology, in order to accelerate to-market the ‘first-of-its-kind’ product capable of generating electricity on see-thru glass windows.

Electrical power is generated on glass by spraying New Energy’s SolarWindow coatings onto surfaces using commercially available equipment. Through the Company’s patent-pending process, company researchers spray SolarWindow coatings onto glass at room temperature, eliminating expensive and often cumbersome high-temperature or high-vacuum production methods typically used by current solar manufacturers.

Unique to SolarWindow, glass surfaces remain see-thru, and generate electricity in both natural and artificial light conditions. In artificial light, New Energy’s SolarWindow technology outperforms today’s commercial solar and thin-films by as much as 10-fold under low-intensity irradiance. This feature was recently demonstrated at a public unveiling of SolarWindow.

At the SolarWindow debut, company scientists demonstrated the technology’s ability to generate ‘voltage’ to power lighting, and also revealed SolarWindow’s capacity to produce ‘current’ necessary for powering mechanical devices and appliances.

“Our demonstration of SolarWindow’s ability to generate both current and voltage on glass surfaces, while remaining see-thru, is an incredible technical achievement and marks a pivotal maturation point for New Energy, where we have transitioned from early research towards product development, and eventual commercial launch,” explained John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies.

“SolarWindow is a fantastic product under development, which not only promises to deliver significant environmental benefits to consumers, but also bears enormous commercial opportunity for all of our stakeholders. The prospect of creating a technology capable of turning otherwise passive window panes into see-thru power generators in an estimated 5 million commercial buildings and 80 million detached homes in America, is very exciting.”

“In upcoming quarters and the year ahead, we anticipate undertaking significant efforts to accelerate our SolarWindow towards commercialization. Our priorities include the development of additional patent protection, improved manufacturability, increased power production, advanced power output modeling, and attracting management-level talent able to help advance our breakthrough technology from the research-bench to commercial market,” concluded Conklin.

Evergreen Solar receives certification qualifying String Ribbon solar panels for UK market

MARLBORO, USA: Evergreen Solar Inc., a manufacturer of String Ribbon solar panels with its proprietary silicon wafer technology, has received the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate from the United Kingdom's British Board of Agrément, qualifying the company's ES-A series panels for solar projects supported by the Renewables Cash-Back Scheme.

The ‘Renewables Cash-Back Scheme’ has been active in the UK since April 2010. Homeowners and communities who install low carbon electricity, including solar panels, are paid for the electricity they generate, even if they use it themselves. Solar projects are required to use MCS certified panels installed by MCS accredited installers to be eligible for funding.

In May 2010, Evergreen Solar announced that its ES-A series panels received IEC 61701 salt mist certification making the panels ideal for coastal installations. Given the fact that the UK has more than 31,000 kilometers (19,000 miles) of coastline, Evergreen Solar's ES-A panels are well-suited for UK-based projects.

"The MCS certification is a major step forward in expanding our business in the UK and a testament to the quality and workmanship of Evergreen’s solar panels which are known for delivering more electricity with less impact on the environment," said Peter Rusch, Evergreen Solar’s VP of Sales for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

"Given the fact that many UK solar projects will be installed on or near the coast, our IEC 61701 salt mist certification is likely to make the ES-A series the panel of choice for these projects."

The MCS is an internationally-recognized quality assurance scheme which demonstrates the quality and reliability of products by satisfying rigorous standards. Product certification involves testing of products and an assessment of the manufacturing processes, materials and staff training.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Auto parts manufacturer expands to solar market

TORONTO, CANADA: Ontario's growing clean energy economy is helping auto parts maker Samco Machinery Ltd expand its business and create up to 60 jobs by adapting its auto parts plant to manufacture solar energy components.

Toronto-based Samco is updating its machinery and investing in new equipment to manufacture solar racking equipment in partnership with US-based SunEdison. Solar racking equipment is used to hold solar energy panels and angle them towards the sun. The Ontario-made equipment will serve the growing demand for solar panels in the province and across North America.

By shutting down all dirty coal-fired generation and moving to renewable energy sources like wind, solar and water, Ontario is becoming a world leader in the clean energy industry. Ontario's clean energy economy is attracting investment, creating jobs and cleaning the air we breathe.

In recent months, Ontario has attracted over $1 billion in private sector investment and created more than 1,400 jobs through clean energy investments.

Attracting clean energy manufacturing plants is part of the province's Open Ontario Plan to build a clean energy economy that creates jobs and protects our environment.

"We applaud Samco Solar for seizing this new business opportunity in Ontario's clean energy economy. This is a great success story, benefiting all Ontarians by helping create the new solar projects that will produce clean energy, transform and modernize our electricity system and strengthen our economy," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy.

"Ontario's commitment to adding new sources of renewable energy has helped stimulate our business and create manufacturing jobs. Working with a solar powerhouse like SunEdison has provided Samco with a significant opportunity for expansion into the energy sector," said David A. Pichard, Vice President Solar Business Development, Samco Machinery Ltd.

"As we grow our solar business both in Ontario and globally, SunEdison is pleased to work with Canadian partners like Samco Machinery Ltd. We've been impressed with Samco's expertise and level of professionalism. Their skilled workforce and their enthusiasm for solar manufacturing have made them an important player in the Ontario solar industry," said Jason Gray, Vice President, Canada for SunEdison.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Moore’s Law established in solar market

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Because of their capability to bring the beneficial dynamics of Moore’s Law to the solar market, global shipments of Photovoltaic (PV) Module Level Power Management (MLPM) systems are set to explode during the coming years, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp.

Global MLPM installations are forecasted to reach 7.8 Gigawatts (GW) by 2014, managing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of a whopping 204.3 percent, up from just 30 megawatts in 2009.

The figure presents iSuppli’s forecast for MLPM systems for the period of 2009 through 2014. MLPM systems consist of two types of products: micro-inverters and optimizers.Source: iSuppli, USA.

“The Silicon Valley mantra of smaller, faster, cheaper hasn’t really applied to the Photovoltaic (PV) market—until recently, that is, when MLPM systems started being employed in solar installations,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer at iSuppli.

“Rather than reducing costs the way microchips do—by becoming smaller and faster—PV systems historically have achieved the ‘cheaper’ part of the equation by delivering on the three efficiencies of solar technology: efficient energy conversion, efficient manufacturing methods and efficient use of materials. However, the PV market is beginning to take a page from Moore’s Law with the arrival of MLPM systems.”

Harvest sun
MLPM systems are beginning to gain favor because of the increased energy harvest that they enable at the individual module level, instead of at the total module string level.

Depending upon the location of installation, such as “shadowing” conditions, MLPM solutions can harvest 3 percent to 20 percent more kilowatt hours of PV electricity during the course of a year. And while they cost significantly more per watt than traditional inverters, that gap is rapidly narrowing.

Micro-inverters perform the same general functions as traditional inverters except that they work on a per-module basis rather than for a string of modules. Optimizers perform the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) algorithm and are often used in conjunction with a string inverter that has been cost-reduced by removing the MPPT function.

Applying Moore’s Law
How does Moore’s law play a factor in these systems?

The Bill of Materials (BOM) for MLPM systems are more chip intensive than that of regular inverters. Micro-inverters also are adopting some of the latest advanced semiconductor technologies, such as Gallium Nitride (GaN) power components.

Being chip intensive is actually helping these systems by allowing them to drive out costs, as they benefit from functional integration and the lower power draw from the constantly evolving chip-process technologies.

The use of chips is also allowing MLPM system providers to offer much longer lifetime warranties than traditional inverters, to 15 years and beyond—which more closely aligns with the payback lifetime of PV installations.

The US residential installation market, in particular, has fallen in love with micro-inverters as they make it easier to design a PV system for a specific roof.

Optimizers have found an interesting interim market in which they are being used to boost the harvest of already installed modules that have dropped below installation warranty levels. Optimizers also are being used to create so called smart panels—a possible margin-enhancing path for module suppliers.

iSuppli believes that traditional string and central inverters will continue to be preferred in many regions and applications, especially utility-scale projects, but that MLPM solutions are set to seriously penetrate the rest of the installation market.

Source: iSuppli, USA.

Martifer Solar, Silverado Power announce one of the largest North American solar PV PPAs in 2010 with Southern California Edison

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Martifer Solar and Silverado Power have signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Southern California Edison for 113 MWp of solar PV projects.

These joint-venture projects, slated for completion in 2013, are primarily in Los Angeles County, and are forecasted to supply clean power to thousands of homes via a 20 year contract with Southern California Edison (SCE). This news closely follows an announcement today of the projects from SCE.

“This is an important milestone for Martifer Solar, since it will allow us to significantly expand our PV portfolio in a market with great growth potential,” said Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar.

The Martifer Solar-Silverado Power joint-venture projects received the largest allocation of SCE’s Renewable Standard Contract program, representing over 40 percent of the contracted capacity.

The 113 MWp agreements consist of nine projects within close proximity to major utility lines in Southern California. The deal is part of a growing portfolio of over 400 MW of utility-scale projects in development for Martifer Solar and Silverado Power within the United States.

“These projects are a first step in bringing local job growth to Los Angeles County by building clean energy generation facilities,” said John Cheney, CEO of Silverado Power.

The Renewable Standard Contract program is a voluntary effort from SCE to procure renewable power from small to mid-sized generation facilities. Hans Isern, Vice President of Engineering for Silverado Power, stated “We are excited to work with SCE to bring cost-competitive renewables online quickly. SCE’s Renewable Standard Contract program offers an important mechanism to meeting California’s renewable and distributed energy goals.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chinese companies dominate solar manufacturing spending in 2010

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Chinese companies are expected to lead the world in the expansion of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity in 2010, accounting for seven of the 10 biggest gainers in the industry, according to iSuppli Corp.

Collectively, the seven Chinese companies are set to expand their Photovoltaic (PV) cell and module manufacturing by 6.4 Gigawatts (GW) in 2010, representing 71.8 percent of the total 8.98GW increase among the Top 10.

“While European countries like Germany are leading the world in solar installations, China has built a dominant position in the manufacturing of cells and modules that are used in these systems,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer for iSuppli.

“With Chinese cell and module manufacturers now engaged in a race to expand manufacturing, the country is certain to maintain and expand its dominant position.”

The biggest expansion will be undertaken by China’s LDK Solar Co. Ltd., which will add a total of 1.42GW worth of module and cell manufacturing in 2010. The company will bring on 1.3GW of c-Si module capacity and 120 Megawatts (MW) of c-Si cell manufacturing capacity.

“LDK is adding enormous amounts of capacity as it tries to keep pace with fellow Chinese solar suppliers,” Sheppard observed.

No. 2 among the capacity adders will be Renewable Energy Corp. of Norway, with 1.09GW of new manufacturing.

“REC is reinvigorating its cell and module business with a giant new campus in Singapore, causing its production capacity to rise,” Sheppard added.

The table presents iSuppli’s ranking of the world’s Top 10 largest companies ordered by PV cell and module manufacturing capacity expansions in 2010.Source: iSuppli, USA.

In terms of c-Si cells, JA Solar of China is poised to lead in manufacturing expansion, with 700MW of the 1GW in total additions allocated for that technology. If the spending for ingots, wafers, polysilicon is added, iSuppli estimates that the PV industry will spend approximately $11 billion on production equipment this year.

The spending is being driven by the doubling of sales for solar panels as well as pent-up demand induced by the slowing of capital expenditures in 2009.

For their part, thin-film companies have been relatively small spenders this year, as many in their ranks had plenty of manufacturing capacity to absorb.

First Solar allowed efficiency improvements—rather than spending on new equipment—to drive capacity growth this year. Spending on thin-film capital equipment is slated to accelerate in 2011, assuming that companies follow through on announced plans.

Source: iSuppli, USA.

SolarReserve and GCL form solar PV energy partnership to develop and build distributed PV projects

SANTA MONICA, USA: As part of its continuing effort to offer affordable, clean energy to consumers, SolarReserve LLC announced a joint venture with GCL Solar Energy Inc. (GCL) to develop, build and operate solar photovoltaic facilities in the United States.

The joint venture, GCL-SR Solar Energy, LLC, holds more than 1,100 megawatts of photovoltaic development projects in its portfolio, primarily in the 5 megawatt (MW) to 20 MW size range proposed on 40 different sites secured across the United States. The joint venture expects to start construction on up to 400 MW of photovoltaic projects in the near term.

“We are delighted to be embarking on this important joint venture with SolarReserve,” said Hunter Jiang, Chairman of GCL Solar Energy, Inc. “GCL will bring expertise in photovoltaic technology and EPC experience which, coupled with SolarReserve’s development experience, establishes a company that will deliver viable, cost effective projects for our utility customers.”

“This joint venture with GCL to develop distributed photovoltaic projects represents a natural fit for SolarReserve,” said Kevin Smith, SolarReserve’s CEO.

“This combination will leverage GCL’s PV technology expertise with SolarReserve’s capabilities in identifying and developing attractive solar energy projects. The photovoltaic projects will complement our portfolio of almost 3,000 megawatts of large-scale solar thermal power projects which will utilize the molten salt power technology SolarReserve has under exclusive license from United Technologies Corporation.

“To attain our nation’s renewable energy goals, we’re going to need to deploy a number of viable renewable energy technologies, including solar thermal and photovoltaic. Our large scale solar thermal project activities will be maintained independently of our joint venture on photovoltaic projects with GCL.”

Under the terms of the joint venture, SolarReserve will be responsible for all aspects of project development, while GCL will oversee PV vendor selection, construction and long-term financing for the photovoltaic projects. The joint venture will be headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., with Kevin Smith assuming the role of president of the new venture, in addition to his CEO role at SolarReserve, LLC.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suntech to acquire 375MW of wafer manufacturing capacity

SAN FRANCISCO, USA & WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd is in the process of acquiring 375MW of ingot and wafer slicing capacity in China.

The wafer manufacturing capacity is being spun off from a subsidiary of Glory Silicon Technology Investments (Hong Kong) Limited, in which Suntech holds an equity investment. Suntech will acquire the remaining 70 percent shares of the capacity for a total cash consideration of approximately $127 million, which is the total consideration after an offset of approximately $80 million of liabilities owed to Suntech.

Post the acquisition, Suntech will own 100 percent of the 375MW of wafer manufacturing capacity in China. Suntech will take operational control in the fourth quarter of 2010 and it is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings.

Suntech chairman and CEO, Dr. Zhengrong Shi, stated: "The acquisition of wafer manufacturing capacity is the next step of our vertical integration, which will enable Suntech to balance dual goals of large scale and low cost. The proximity of the manufacturing facility, operating experience of the management team and ample capacity make this an ideal acquisition for Suntech."

"Over the next 12 months, we intend to expand internal wafer capacity to 25 percent to 50 percent of our total cell and module capacity. This should enable us to significantly reduce wafer cost, and improve profitability," Dr. Shi continued.

"Going forward, we also plan to leverage Suntech's global R&D resources to drive innovation and efficiency improvements in ingot and wafer manufacturing processes."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

KYOCERA starts supplying solar-powered recharging stations for electric bicycles

KYOTO, JAPAN: Kyocera Corp. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Kyocera Communication Systems Co. Ltd announced the development of its new "Solar Cycle Station" — an environmentally friendly solar-powered recharging station for electric-assisted bicycles that uses the company's high performance solar modules. The system, which was codeveloped by the two companies, is sold in Japan by KCCS starting this month.

The stations utilize solar modules to generate clean energy for recharging the battery of electric bicycles, but are also connected to the regular power grid, via a DC-AC converter, ensuring stable service during cloudy weather and for recharging during the night. Furthermore, the stations are equipped with conventional outlets so that they can be used as a power source in the event of a power outage or emergency.

In recent years, the popularity of electric bicycles has grown immensely due to a growing awareness of environmental issues which has led more and more people to seek ways to use alternative means of transportation, as well as the expanded use of electric bicycles at rental shops as fun and relaxing recreation in tourist areas.

However, with the expanded use comes a growing need to construct more recharging stations. By using solar modules to generate the power for these bicycles Kyocera aims to provide an economical and ecological solution.

Kyocera is continually searching for new and interesting applications for solar energy, and has been providing solar modules for cars, boats, parking lot "Solar Grove" shading structures, as well as more conventional residential and large-scale solar power generation.

Suntech reports Q3 2010 financial results

SAN FRANCISCO, USA & WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd has announced financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2010.

Q3 2010 highlights
* Total net revenues were $743.7 million in the third quarter of 2010, representing growth of 19 percent sequentially and 57.2 percent year-over-year.
* Total PV shipments increased 25.3 percent sequentially and 107.1 percent year-over-year.
* Gross profit margin for the core wafer to module business was 18.2 percent in the third quarter of 2010.
* Consolidated gross profit margin was 16.4 percent in the third quarter of 2010.
* GAAP net income attributable to holders of ordinary shares was $33.1 million, or $0.18 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Each ADS represents one ordinary share.

"The third quarter was a highly productive period for Suntech," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, chairman and CEO. "Shipments and revenues each hit new quarterly records and we reached production capacity of 1.6GW. We are on track to achieve our goal of 1.8GW cell and module capacity by the end of this year."

"In the third quarter, we continued to diversify our sales globally and participated in high profile solar projects across Europe, the Americas, and Asia Pacific. In Europe, we supplied a 5MW project in Thiva, which is one of the largest grid connected solar projects in Greece.

"In Asia Pacific, we were selected for phase two of a 44MW project in Thailand. And we recently opened our module manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona, which will help us to service the accelerating demand in the Americas. Indicative of our rapid market penetration, we sold more product in the Americas in the third quarter of 2010 than we did in the full year 2009," Dr. Shi continued.

"We are also pleased to announce we are in the process of extending our vertical integration into the wafer segment of the solar value chain. As we expand our internal wafer manufacturing capacity, we are confident we will have an improving earnings profile as we benefit from lower wafer cost. Upstream integration is in line with Suntech's strategy to continue to reduce the cost of solar energy and stimulate greater global adoption of clean, renewable energy," said Dr. Shi.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cost is king in battle for solar dominance

BOSTON, USA: In the face of renewed pricing pressures, solar device manufacturers have had to refocus on minimizing costs and maximizing performance to maintain profit margins.

Advances in crystalline silicon technology, and the falling cost of the polysilicon raw material, have only increased the pressure on manufacturers of emerging thin-film technologies, including thin-film silicon (TF-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) – many of which are under the gun to improve margins or face extinction, according to a new report from Lux Research.

The report, titled “Module Cost Structure Breakdown: Can Thin Film Survive the Crystalline Silicon Onslaught?,” compares incumbent multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) technology (representing roughly 80 percent of the crystalline silicon market) on a $/W basis against three challengers: thin-film silicon (TF-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

The report surveys process changes and cost reduction efforts that module developers have undertaken, and forecasts which technology will gain a long-term cost advantage at the module level.

“Crystalline silicon is dominant by volume and remains the cost/price benchmark for solar modules. Cadmium telluride is limited in efficiencies, but is the absolute leader in cost. We project these two technologies will continue to be highly profitable,” said Ted Sullivan, a senior analyst for Lux Research, and the report’s lead author. “The profitability of thin-film silicon is much dicier, but CIGS is positioned to outplace crystalline silicon in profitability by 2013 as leading developers improve process stability.”

To forecast how module developers would reduce the key components of cost – capital, materials, utilities, and labor – Lux Research built detailed cost-of-goods-sold (COGS) models for the four key technologies – mc-Si, TF-Si, CdTe and CIGS – through 2015, including both glass and flexible substrates for CIGS. Among the report’s key observations:

Multicrystalline silicon remains highly profitable as COGS decline. The dominant technology will continue to be profitable throughout the value chain as vertically integrated players drive cost from $1.45/W in 2009 to $0.93/W in 2015, assuming poly pricing at $70/kg. Efficiency will be a key driver of cost reduction, rising from 14 percent in 2009 to 16.1% in 2015.

Oerlikon will give thin-film silicon new legs. Improvements enabled by Oerlikon’s new ThinFab line will push thin-film silicon efficiencies from 9 percent to above 11 percent. Significant improvements in output will cut depreciated capex per watt, and help to reduce TF-Si costs from $1.32/W in 2009 to $0.80/W in 2015.

CdTe technology remains the long term leader in terms of COGS. Led by First Solar, CdTe has a significantly lower cost structure than mc-Si, and its cost reductions will march onward, keeping it the most profitable solar technology, as COGS falls from $0.80/W in 2009 to $0.54/W in 2015.

Costs for select CIGS technologies drop dramatically. CIGS sputtered on glass – which is Lux Research’s benchmark given its critical mass of developers – will see COGS plummet from $1.69/W to $0.76/W as efficiency improves from 10 percent to 14.2 percent, and factory nameplate capacity and yields grow, allowing the top developers to earn gross margins over 30 percent.

“Module Cost Structure Breakdown: Can Thin Film Survive the Crystalline Silicon Onslaught?” is part of the Lux Solar Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Solar Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

Solergy launches next-generation CPV with record-breaking 32.9 percent efficiency

MILAN, ITALY: Solergy Inc., developers of the next generation of high concentrated photovoltaic technology (HCPV), announced the launch and introduction of two unique flagship products: Solergy CPV and Solergy Cogen CPV.

In addition to the company launch, Solergy and the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) jointly announced their agreement to install a Cogen CPV power plant at the Pantelleria Airport in Sicily. The installation will be a collaborative test site for the innovative use of Solergy's CPV and cogeneration technology to generate both solar electricity and heat at an airport facility.

The announcements took place on the eve of the EnerSolar+ Conference in Milan, Italy, where Solergy will be exhibiting the company's unique CPV systems featuring an all-glass optical concentrating lens – the world's first. The all-glass optics, high-precision tracking and optimized basic energy unit ensure that Solergy's system consistently produces more energy than any other PV or CPV product in existence.

"We are excited to launch our company and present our CPV products to the world. We have dedicated the past three years to developing a system we believe not only addresses the challenges CPV has faced in the past, but takes a significant leap forward in terms of performance, reliability, and technological innovation," said Yoav Banin, CEO and co-founder of Solergy, Inc.

ENAC selected Solergy as the exclusive partner for the test site after a thorough and rigorous assessment of the company’s technology proved it to be one of the most innovative systems available. The installation will generate electric power for the airport, as well as power the air conditioning system. The project is expected to start in the first quarter of 2011.

“We are pleased to announce our letter of intent to work with Solergy on this unique and important project," said Alessandro Cardi, Central Director of Airport Infrastructure at ENAC. "Solergy’s combination of high efficiency and cogeneration make it especially well-suited to serve the significant electricity and air conditioning requirements of our airports. We strive to make Italy’s airports greener, and are confident that this project can then serve as a model for achieving clean energy self-sufficiency in other airports in Italy.”

Solergy has two products, Solergy CPV and Solergy Cogen CPV, both of which use Solergy's unique design and engineering to deliver the highest level of energy output in the industry today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leading smart grid companies join forces to launch Smart Energy Demand Coalition in Brussels

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: To highlight the critical role of energy users in the Smart Grid, leading utilities, technology companies, and industry groups launched the Smart Energy Demand Coalition (SEDC) at the European Union's Strategic Energy Technology Plan Conference.

SEDC members include founding members eMeter and VaasaETT, as well as Landis+Gyr, EDF (EDF.FR), ENEL (ENEL.MI), Gas Natural Fenosa (BMAD: GAS), the Climate Group, Vodafone (LSE: VOD, Nasdaq: VOD), Universidad Comillas (Madrid), the European Smart Meter Investment Group, the Demand Response and Smart Grid (DRSG) coalition, The Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA), Capgemini (Euronext: CAP), Entelios, Jouleasset, Schneider Electric (Euronext: SU), the ZigBee Alliance and Silver Spring Networks.

The SEDC is a not-for-profit industry association based in Brussels and consisting of utilities, electricity retailers, and providers of services and technologies related to demand response, energy efficiency, smart meters and smart grids.

The Coalition is willing to share expertise and information with industry participants, regulators and policymakers, media and consumer associations regarding the deployment of smart meters and communications systems seeking to enable energy providers to offer their customers time-based rates with off-peak discounts, thereby allowing consumers to save on their electricity bills by varying their demand in response to price signals. Additional benefits are provided by smart grids, which automate substations and circuits used for electricity distribution.

The association will be led by Executive Director Jessica Stromback, currently a Senior Partner at global energy think tank VaasaETT. Chris King, founder of DRSG, a similar group in the United States, and a leading industry expert who has spoken at several industry events in Europe as well as testifying before the US Congress on smart energy demand and smart meters, will initially chair the SEDC.

"Regulators across Europe are presently debating and finalizing requirements for smart meter and smart grid deployments, including the platforms on which demand response and energy efficiency programs will be built, helping influence the ability of electricity customers to contribute to the advancement of the EU's aggressive 2020 climate change objectives," said Stromback.

"Our goal is to provide useful information on price responsive loads, program and technology experience, market structures and rules, including information on market participants' roles, consumer needs and actions, enabling technologies, and specific programs as appropriate."

Balancing consumption with generation could be said to form the heart of the intelligence of the Smart Grid. To a certain extent the success of the "smart" grid is therefore dependent on the ability of utilities to make energy demand "smart", using such tools as feedback, pricing, automation etc. Despite their central position within a new Smart Grid future - European demand centered programs are lagging well behind other global markets.

Billions of Euros are currently being spent on the development and rollout of a variety of Smart Grid related technologies throughout Europe. These include Smart Metering, wind generation, solar generation, electric vehicles and heat pumps, etc.

Yet, in comparison to the funding, standardization initiatives, regulation, publicity and special interest activity surrounding and supporting these technologies – relatively little attention is paid to the development and support of the demand side programs which will be essential for successfully integrating them into the grid – and are the heart of the Grid's "intelligence".

"As we've seen in numerous Smart Meter pilots and rollouts throughout Europe, technological development without, program development, cannot provide adequate customer benefits to justify costs," said Chris King, Chief Regulatory Officer at eMeter. "eMeter has several projects in Europe and has been working with regulators in EU countries on smart meter and related best practices. We are excited about
putting the focus on consumers and the benefits created by smart energy demand."

The SEDC has an annual smart energy demand conference for all industry participants to share success stories and learnings in programs ranging from pilots to large-scale rollouts.

The SEDC also has members-only meetings for EU program and policy planning and development, quarterly information sharing and networking webinars, an extensive database of demand side research and consumer-related information, and regular communications, including a bimonthly organization newsletter and special bulletins on policy and industry developments.

CTDC in co-operation agreement with Goldpoly to secure supply of solar cells

HONG KONG: Technology Development Group Corp. (CTDC) has signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Goldpoly International Ltd to establish a solid and long-term relationship for supply of solar cells, and jointly build up the vertically integrated PV value chain.

Pursuant to the Agreement, both companies agreed to form a solid long-term relationship for supply of solar cells. Goldpoly agreed to provide CTDC with high-quality polycrystalline PV cells not less than 100 megawatt per year from beginning of 2011 at the lowest price in the market and CTDC agreed to preferentially purchase the solar cells from Goldpoly as its major supplier.

CTDC and Goldpoly will jointly develop the vertically integrated PV industry chain. CTDC is developing the down-stream chain of the industry, including PV modules manufacturing and PV application solutions, while Goldpoly is focusing on PV cells production to integrate the industrial mid-stream chain.

“We are delighted to partner with Goldpoly, which is another significant step for CTDC following the acquisition of PV modules manufacturer,” said Alan Li, chairman and CEO of CTDC.

“The co-operation enables us to obtain stable and sufficient supply of polycrystalline solar cells and to reduce our production cost of PV modules, which will in turn increase our profit margin. Looking forward, we are confident to cooperate with Goldpoly successfully to build up the vertically integrated PV chain.”

Hung Chao Hong, chairman of Goldpoly, said: “We are excited to have CTDC as our partner. Such strategic cooperation essentially represents the development trend of two leading solar enterprises in Fujian Province and will enhance both parties’ competitive position in the market.”

GET to receive GT Solar milestone system to reach 1GW capacity

TAOYUAN, TAIWAN: Solar wafer company Green Energy Technology announced that it will reach milestone capacity 1GW with milestone system from GT Solar International Inc. (SOLR) the 2000th crystalline ingot growth furnace.

“GET and GT Solar have developed a trusted partnership over many years,” said Hurlon Lin, president of GET. “GET respects intellectual properties and contracts with partners therefore have made GET a high-tech company with integrity. GET is recognized for producing very high quality multicrystalline wafers and GT Solar’s crystalline growth furnaces help us achieve these results.”

“GET was our first customer in Taiwan for our DSS crystalline growth systems and we value the partnership that has developed over the years,” said Tom Gutierrez, president and CEO of GT Solar.

GET annual capacity in November reaches 850MW in ingot growing and 800MW in wafer slicing. GET keeps receiving customer requests 50 percent more than GET capacity can offer. The company’s schedule to reach 1.5GW by 2Q11 remains the same and further planning will be made according to market demands.

Platina acquires 10MW operational solar PV projects in Italy

LONDON, UK: Platina Partners LLP, a private equity fund manager specialising in renewable energy infrastructure investments and special situation buyouts, has acquired 10MW of solar photovoltaic projects from the Degennaro Group, an Italian construction firm.

The PV projects become Platina’s first operational plant in Italy, supporting an investment strategy focused on assembly of a portfolios of operational renewable electricity generation projects across Europe.

Following this investment, Platina’s portfolio includes 162MW of renewable energy projects in operation, including 31MW operational solar PV projects, a further 82MW in construction and over 400MW of projects in development. Since Platina was established in 2002, it has invested in a combined construction and operational portfolio of over 900MW.

The 10 plants are located in the Puglia region of southern Italy and are 1MW each. The first plant was grid-connected in November and all plants are expected to be connected by the end of 2010. The Degennaro Group, a recognised family-owned construction group in the region, developed the projects, is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) contractor and will be the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contractor for the plants.

The investment is the 12th from the European Renewable Energy Fund which Platina closed in March 2010. Platina continues to consider European investment opportunities for the remaining uncommitted funds.

Joseph Muthu, partner of Platina Partners, said: “We are delighted with this investment and the opportunity to work with a strong local partner in the Degennaro Group. We have been seeking the right opportunity to invest in Italy and see it as one of the key European solar markets. Italy has now surpassed the US in terms of solar PV installation and this growth has been driven by an excellent support regime. In Puglia, there are plenty of PV projects with planning consent but no grid connection. Clearly this investment in operational plant does not suffer from this bottleneck.”

Daniel Degennaro, CEO of Degennaro Group (“DG Group”), said: For DG Group, this transaction represents a very important acknowledgment as developer, EPC and O&M contractor in the Italian photovoltaic industry, a market in which DG Group has progressively focused its activity in recent years and is planning to further strengthen its position in the near future. The strategic decision of Platina to retain us as O&M contractor is a further recognition of our expertise and know-how in the sector.

L&B Partners S.p.A.,was the Financial Advisor to DG Group in this transaction and the legal advisor was L&B Partners Studio Legale Associato.

Gold River Productions (GRPS) discusses its PV, solar roof

SALT LAKE CITY, USA: John Ohlin, president and CEO of Gold River Productions Inc. (GRPS) reported that the company's patent pending technology of a monolithic, photovoltaic solar roof has been embraced by the SIP's industry.

"SIP stands for structural insulated panel which is an emerging construction technology particularly in commercial construction," Ohlin reported. "An Executive at SIP school and the SIP Association has been in extensive discussions with our CTO on how our patent pending PV roof will enhance the advancement of building projects within this market segment."

"The potential market for our patent pending monolithic, PV solar roof is huge. In the US alone in 2010, $2.4 trillion dollars of commercial and civil construction (the major market for our technology) is in the "post bid" phase," he reported.

"The roof portion of these projects is between 5-10 percent of the total cost, which means that the total available market for our PV solar roof equals between $120 billion to $240 billion in the US alone," he said.

"Our technology will allow solar roofs to be installed in 60' free span lengths, with an R value in excess of R-42. Photovoltaic solar cells, producing up to 13 watts of power per hour per square foot are integrated into the exterior skin of the monolithic, structural insulated roof panels," he stated. "At full production, our machinery will be able to produce in excess of one million square feet of PV solar roof panels per month; generating potential sales for AeroQuest in excess of $30 million per month."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PST and DEI launch large scale silicon tetrachloride converter for polysilicon market

MESA & HOUSTON, USA: Polycrystalline Silicon Technology Corporation (P.S.T.) has announced the most advanced silicon tetrachloride hydrochlorination technology in the polysilicon industry.

The P.S.T. hydrochlorination converter for a 7,500 MTY (metric tons per year) polysilicon plant is P.S.T.’s latest advancement based on P.S.T.’s 45 years of technology, engineering, construction, and innovation in the polysilicon industry.

For solar and semiconductor grade polysilicon producers installing 10,000 MTY or larger production lines, the P.S.T. 7,500 MTY converter is a powerful technology advancement. It offers fewer controls, a smaller plant footprint and fewer operations' personnel. The 7,500 MTY converter follows the initial installation of P.S.T.’s 1,500 – 5,000 MTY hydrochlorination units between 2004 and 2008.

Leo Rogers, president of P.S.T. remarks, “When fewer chemical units are used in the manufacture of polysilicon, the advantages are lower capital and operating costs over plants with multiple smaller unit operations and, in addition with fewer operational units, simpler operations result which lead to lower on-site chemical buffer storage capacities and thus safer operations.

The 7,500 MTY silicon tetrachloride to trichlorosilane converter is a continuously operated in-line system which avoids the frequent shut-downs required by thermal converters. Current clients have described the previous P.S.T. converters as robust and very reliable."

“Dynamic Engineering's high yield designs and advanced trichlorosilane purification make the P.S.T./DEI technology portfolio the most integrated and cost effective polysilicon production technology in the market today,” states Kevin Drumm, president of Dynamic Engineering, Inc.

The P.S.T. silicon tetrachloride to trichlorosilane 7,500 MTY (polysilicon production) hydrochlorination technology as well as the smaller P.S.T. hydrochlorination units are offered as stand-alone systems as well as being an integrated part of the full chlorosilane technologies offered by P.S.T. and P.S.T.’s alliance partner Dynamic Engineering Inc.

Friday, November 12, 2010

German PV market analysis

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "German Photovoltaic Market Analysis" report to its offering.

Photovoltaic industry has proved its long-term viability and environmental benefits globally. Both developed as well as developing economies around the globe have acknowledged its potential and are increasingly installing PV energy solutions for a greener and healthy environment.

In addition, decreasing PV module costs are working as catalysts for new installations and this was transformed in 3.8 GWp of new solar PV installations in Germany in 2009.

According to our research, German Photovoltaic Market Analysis, Germany has been the global leader in photovoltaic industry in the past decade. The energy import dependency, limited fossil and nuclear resources, mandatory GHG emission reductions, and vast availability of solar radiation across the nation have infused solar photovoltaic industry developments in the country.

However, economic slowdown and weak economy has forced the government to drastically cut subsidies for the industry and driven authorities to formulate FIT cuts. It is anticipated that these amendments will have their long-term effects on industry developments and annual installations will limit to around 5 GWp by 2014.

At the segment level, commercial installations have been leading the industry followed by residential installations. Attractive incentives and long term economic benefits encouraged investors to opt for commercial (mainly rooftop) systems installations and uplifted overall industry developments.

However, in coming years, it is anticipated that residential PV installations will orchestrate substantial increase in market share as proposed FIT cuts will shift consumer preference from large-scale installations to small and medium scale system developments.

Global and China solar (PV) cell and polysilicon industry report, 2009-20

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global and China Solar (PV) Cell and Polysilicon Industry Report, 2009-20" report to its offering.

Surviving the recession in 2009, the PV cell industry is heading for a boom in 2010, which is attributable to two reasons: firstly, the price dive of polysilicon has led to a slump in the price of PV cells, reducing the cost of the entire system and stimulated the market demand on a large scale; secondly, as industrial subsidy policies worldwide are likely to be adjusted in the second half of 2010, enterprises are trying to take full advantage of such policies before they are changed.

In particular, manufacturers in the Chinese Mainland and Taiwan experienced the strongest growth, with their revenues in 2010 H1 higher than that of 2009 throughout. Since polysilicon holds the highest proportion in PV cell cost, the gross margins of PV cell manufacturers in 2010 H1 increased by multiple times.

Despite the sluggish economy and bleak market in 2009, Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese enterprises still managed to expand capacities. By contrast, enterprises in Japan, US and Europe missed the opportunities in the first half 2010 because of their cautiousness.

Among the world's top eight wafer manufacturers, SolarWorld is a Germany enterprise, PV CRYSTALOX is a Germany-UK joint venture, GET and Sino-American Silicon Products are both Taiwan-based, REC originates from Norway, while the rest three are Mainland Chinese enterprises.

In the first half of 2010, European enterprises delivered average performance, while their Chinese counterparts achieved outstanding performance. European enterprises were so obsessed with complete industry chains, both cell and module manufacturers endeavored to manufacture wafers by themselves, and increasingly reduced their purchase of wafers.

Chinese enterprises, on the contrary, had never hesitated to purchase wafers, especially when the production capacity was insufficient, which led to excellent achievements.

Between 2008 and 2009, considerable amounts of solar polysilicon capacities were released, resulting in the oversupply which made the spot price plummet from $500 to $50. The price dive of polysilicon spurred the capacity expansion of downstream solar cell industry, which, in turn, stimulated the explosive demand for polysilicon. Meanwhile, the low price of polysilicon propelled polysilicon manufacturers to control capacity expansion and reduce output.

According to customs statistics, Chinas import volume of polysilicon reached 3,731 tons in August, up 78.8 percent year on year and 1.33 percent month on month. The accumulative import volume hit 26,745 tons from January to August, up 109 percent over the same period of 2009. The export volume of polysilicon touched 190 tons in August, and the accumulative export volume was 1,536 tons from January to August.

In 2010, polysilicon has been in short supply again, and the spot price has been soaring, to almost $100 in recent days. However, with governments reduction in solar subsidies and polysilicon manufacturers capacity expansion, further polysilicon price hikes are unlikely to occur, and the prices are expected to fluctuate between $70 and $150.

Polysilicon industry features lower threshold technically and financially, and it is the cost control ability that dominates. The cost of small-sized enterprises approximates USD50/kg, while that of large-sized enterprises or ones with unique technologies can be reduced to $25 or below.

Large-sized polysilicon manufacturers generally own unique technologies or supply chain cost advantages, and their EBITDA would touch 40 percent or more even when the spot price is set $50/kg. While for small-sized manufacturers in China, the spot price of $50/kg may indicate loss.

Hemlock, the world's No.1 polysilicon manufacturer, is a joint venture of US-based Dow Corning (63.25 percent), Japan-based ShinEtsu (24.5 percent) and Mitsubishi Materials (12.25 percent). ShinEtsu is the world's largest electronic-grade polysilicon manufacturer, and Mitsubishi Materials is also a large polysilicon enterprise.

Corning is the world's largest TFT-LCD glass substrate manufacturer with rich experience in silicon chemical industry. The Germany-based Wacker is the world's second largest organic silicon producer with the annual revenue close to EUR4 billion. The Norway-based REC runs its business throughout the whole solar industry chain. REC developed its polysilicon business through the acquisitions of Komatsu Electronics SGS and ASiMI, whose production bases are both located in the US.

Apollo Solar Energy appoints new CEO

CHENGDU, CHINA: Apollo Solar Energy Inc., a leading vertically integrated miner, refiner and producer of high purity tellurium (Te), tellurium-based compounds and other metals for the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry and specific segments of the electronic materials market worldwide, has appointed Dr. Jingong Pan as its CEO.

According to the employment agreement between Dr. Pan and the company, Dr. Pan will be entitled to receive an annual base salary of RMB 660,000 and has been granted options to acquire 1,000,000 shares of the company's common stock which will vest in equal annual installments over the thirty-six month period.

Dr. Pan, age 45, has been a member of the company's board of directors since March 2010. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. From 2000 to 2002, Dr. Pan served as a General Manager of Flaming Sun (USA) Corp., and from 1997 to 2000, served as Vice President of Anton USA (Bank of China Group).

Dr. Pan received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Harbin Institute of Technology, Masters degrees from the Harbin Institute of Technology and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

"We are very pleased to appoint Dr. Pan as our new CEO," Prof. Zhiming Cao, chairman of the nomination committee of board of the company commented, "since Dr. Pan has tremendous knowledge about solar PV industry and an excellent record of management experience in both China and US. We expect Dr. Pan will play a
leading role in the company and promote Apollo's management to a new level."

"I'm also very pleased to take the position of CEO of Apollo," Dr. Jingong Pan stated. "It is an honor to work with Apollo in further developing the renewable energy industry in China. I selected Apollo as a strategic partner for my career development because I believe Apollo is a pioneer in the thin film solar PV section with significant resources, technologies and network."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oerlikon Solar racing team continues on global zero emissions race through North America

TRUBBACH, SWITZERLAND: Oerlikon Solar is the main sponsor of the Oerlikon Solar Racing Team participating in the Zero Emissions Race with its Zerotracer electric vehicle.

The Zero Emissions Race promotes sustainable mobility and transportation, aims to generate popular enthusiasm for the use of renewable energy sources for vehicles, and sets the highest environmental standards for the future.

The competing teams will race around the globe in 80 days. After having crossed the Pacific Ocean, the teams will continue their race in Vancouver, Canada on Friday, November 12, and will head to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. From there, they will pass through Mexico City and arrive in Cancun, Mexico for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

"The goal of the race for Oerlikon Solar is to spread the message that there is progress in innovation for more efficient and sustainable mobility for the future," says Jürg Henz, CEO of Oerlikon Solar.

“Powered by the electricity generated from Oerlikon Solar’s innovative Swiss engineering thin film silicon solar technology, the Zerotracer is a perfect example of how electric vehicles can be fun to drive, desirable in design and sporty in performance, all while fighting global warming.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

India-US agreement for setting up joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre

NEW DELHI, INDIA: An agreement for setting up Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre was signed between Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India and US Department of Energy during the US president, Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi.

Dr. M.K.Bhan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology and Timothy Roemer, US Ambassador to India signed the agreement.

The agreement would facilitate establishment of India-US Clean Energy Research and Development Centre to facilitate joint research and development and deployment for clean energy technologies.

Initial priority areas to be addressed will be solar energy, second generation biofuels and building efficiency. The Centre will involve active participation of academic and private sectors of both countries working in a consortia mode.

The consortium will be self-selecting teams with entities or individuals from national labs, academic institutions, private sector, NGOs etc. Awards will be made to consortia which have knowledge and experience to undertake first-rate collaborative research programmes. The consortia will leverage existing resources and physical infrastructure and bring together talent from both countries.

The agreement will be valid for 10 years to be renewed for periods of five years so long as bilateral S&T agreement is in force. Government of India will provide equivalent of $5 million each year for five years and the same amount of $5 million would be provided by the US Government each year for five years.

XsunX reaches 15.1 percent conversion efficiency with CIGS thin-film solar technology

ALISO VIEJO, USA: XsunX Inc., a developer of hybrid, thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) solar cell technologies and manufacturing processes, has further enhanced the conversion efficiency levels of its cell devices to 15.1 percent based upon the company's CIGSolar technology.

With other market-ready thin-film technologies functioning within the range of 8-11 percent for solar modules, the CIGSolar technology illustrates conversion efficiency that may soon lead to gains over current technology.

"The rate at which we're experiencing percentage point gains is truly incredible considering only weeks ago we announced surpassing 14 percent conversion efficiency," said Tom Djokovich, CEO, XsunX. "Our confidence that small area co-evaporation processes is the key to delivering the best performance CIGS thin-film cells continues to be strengthened."

CIGS thin-film researchers have concluded the theoretical limit for CIGS solar technology tops at 29 percent conversion efficiency, although the highest percentage ever achieved was 20 percent in a laboratory setting.

"It's important to remember that we are developing our technology on the same size substrates we intend to use in our commercial systems, about the same size as a silicon solar cell, so the efficiency levels we achieve in the laboratory we believe will be transferable to what we can offer the market," adds Tom. "Unlike current solar developers, we don't anticipate having to struggle with the challenges of scaling product while maintaining laboratory efficiencies."

XsunX has achieved 15.1 percent in a relatively short period of time and with less cost compared to other CIGS efforts that spanned many years and incurred significantly higher capital demands for less than similar results.

This rapid success, coupled with the technology's perceived value as an alternate for the use of silicon solar cells, has accelerated the industry's interest levels which have not only led to additional license discussions for XsunX but has also allowed the Company to work towards executing its plan to develop JV License agreements to deliver the technology package through existing manufacturers.

This combination of leveraging existing branded manufacturers to deliver its systems and having branded module assemblers integrate the CIGSolar technology into their products allows XsunX to significantly reduce the need for debt or equity financing necessary to build factories directly while also providing bankability for its technology through proven manufacturers of solar modules.

Deposition of the CIGS cell layers was conducted on full size 125 mm square substrates. Test configurations used to measure efficiency are identical to that used by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and XsunX test equipment is calibrated to the standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards.

Natcore confirms solar power output gain using new passivation process

RED BANK, USA: Scientists at Natcore Technology Inc. have been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the company's method to passivate the surface of standard commercial silicon solar cells on which a silica film has been grown using Natcore's liquid phase deposition (LPD) process.

Passivation is the process of filling the dangling atomic bonds at the surface of the solar cell, as well as reducing the numbers of defects that always exist in the upper region of the cell body. It is critical to enabling production of long-term, high-performance silicon solar cells.

Following an advance announcement on September 15, Natcore's R&D team at the Ohio State University now report that measurements of the effect of the Natcore surface passivation process on an important parameter called surface recombination velocity, or SRV, show that the SRV has been improved a factor of more than 25 times compared to its value for an untreated cell.

This result translates shows that Natcore's LPD passivation process achieves the same level of performance as the current industry standard technique. Importantly, it will be less costly to use in full-scale production compared to the hydrogenated silicon nitride passivation process now used in every silicon solar cell manufacturing line in the world.

In Natcore's refined LPD process, this necessary passivation is achieved using the same production steps normally applied to the solar cell to create its top and bottom metal contacts; no additional heating cycles are required. The synergistic nature of Natcore's technology with existing cell fabrication steps will greatly simplify the standard silicon solar cell manufacturing process.

Very importantly, recent developments in silicon solar cell manufacturing R&D have shown that significant gains in cell performance can be achieved with ever-thinner silicon wafers by passivating the rear surface of the cell with a layer of silica underneath the full-coverage aluminum back contact.

This step has not yet been included in actual manufacturing because it presently requires the deposition of the silica film by thermal vacuum processes that are too cumbersome and costly to implement. Natcore's new technology eliminates the need for that vacuum furnace, however, thereby lowering cost and environmental harm.

Natcore's patent-pending process can be implemented in a cost-effective manner as a simple add-on to equipment that already exists on the production floor. In the near future, Natcore will pursue discussions with existing suppliers of such equipment both at home and abroad to develop beta test sites in selected cell manufacturing facilities prior to full scale introduction of the technology to the global market.

"This is a significant advance in the performance of standard solar cells, and we're thrilled by it," says Natcore president and CEO Chuck Provini.

"Nevertheless, we continue to maintain our focus on our joint venture in China, our thin-film applications and, particularly, the development of our tandem solar cell. An all-silicon tandem solar cell would bring the greatest gains in solar cell efficiency to date. It remains our ultimate goal, and our scientists working at Rice University continue to make important progress toward achieving it."