Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spire’s Spi-Sun Solar Simulator to go to European Joint Research Center at ISPRA

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp. announced that it will provide the Spi-Sun Simulator 4600SLP to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy (JRC ISPRA). Spi-Sun Simulators are now used in more than 30 testing laboratories around the world to qualify PV modules.

The European Solar Test Installation (ESTI) lab in Ispra, Italy began certifying solar modules almost 20 years ago, based on their own industry standard “Ispra 503”. Eventually this standard was adopted by the International Electro Technical Commission (IEC) as the basis for the crystalline modules standard (IEC 61215), and later as the thin-film modules standard (IEC 61646).

Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire, said: “With a Class AAA rating, Spire’s Simulators have become the industry standard for PV module testing, as demonstrated by utilization in over thirty test labs worldwide. Our proprietary method of controlling the Simulator's pulse length, its large irradiance range, and its superior spectral control provide test labs with a powerful tool for assessing PV module performance during development or qualification. Spire’s Simulators are also ideally suited for production manufacturing environments, and there are currently hundreds used in manufacturing facilities throughout the world.”

Italian market demand ceasing, European demand may be lower than expected in 2011

TAIWAN: According to the weekly price survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the spot price for solar cells still appeared to be in two extremes. The price of polysilicon has still remained at a high level, but the extent of the increase has shrunk. Moreover, the price of Si wafer has slightly decreased, and the price of solar cell has faced a price war and come to $1.2/Watt.

The survey shows that in the upstream sector of the solar industry, the price of polysilicon has increased by 0.7 percent, to $85.8/kg. In addition, the average price of Si wafer has constantly decreased.

The average price of multi-Si wafer has dropped by 3.3 percent and come to $3.43/piece; the average price of mono-Si wafer has stayed the same, compared with that of last week. In terms of solar cells, due to weak demand, the spot price has reduced by 1.4 percent, to around $1.2/Watt this week, which signaled that manufacturers are facing pressure for price reduction.

Moreover, the price of module has wildly fluctuated, mainly because some manufacturers tried to put inferior goods on sale, distorting the market price. Though the lowest price came to $1.55/Watt, the average price has stayed at $1.61/Watt.

According to EnergyTrend’s survey, due to ceased Italian market demand, the inventory level in the European market has continued to rise. Some manufacturers have already taken a conservative attitude toward the European market demand in 2011, and believed that the actual demand is lower than expected in early 2011.

On the other hand, Japanese market planned to launch a subsidy for 1GW photovoltaic system to offer power supply for the Japan earthquake area. So far, the specific content and schedule have not been finalized yet, and the Japan is conventionally a more closed market. Therefore, it is forecasted that only Japanese manufacturers can get the benefit from such subsidy policy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Energy efficient data center technologies to represent 28 percent of total market investment by 2015

BOULDER, USA: The energy costs of information technology (IT) are becoming increasingly visible for enterprises in a variety of industries. In the past, energy consumption was not seen as a priority issue in the data center and the split of responsibilities between IT and facilities organizations within the enterprise made it easy to skirt the issue of energy efficiency.

However, according to a recent report from Pike Research, this dynamic is changing quickly, and the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that by 2015, global investment in energy efficient data center technologies will represent 28 percent of the $150 billion data center infrastructure market.

“The green data center has evolved in response to concern over energy use, but it is also connected to the broader transformation that data centers are undergoing,” says senior analyst Eric Woods. “Data centers of the future will be more energy efficient, more adaptable to new business needs and new technology opportunities, and virtualized to ensure optimal use of IT resources, space, and energy.”

As part of its analysis, Pike Research has identified seven key trends that are shaping the future of the green data center:

Taming Moore’s Law – IT managers are recognizing the energy and environmental costs of the continuing expansion of computing power, and are actively looking for ways to counteract them.
The Virtualized Data Center – Over the next five years, data centers will move toward a totally virtualized environment that can provide computer services from both public and private cloud models.
Dynamic Infrastructure – The life cycles of power and cooling infrastructure will become more aligned with the IT assets it supports.
Integrated Management and Monitoring Systems – More dynamic data centers will require more sophisticated management tools and a holistic view of the entire ecosystem.
Business Value – The relationship between the data center and the business it serves is changing. If the data center is to be part of a broader sustainability program, then its true cost must be more visible to the business.
New Metrics – Power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings are a first step for new data center metrics, but PUE hides as much as it discloses and more work will be needed to define an acceptable measure for the productivity of the data center.
From Modular Design to the Green Data Factory – Modularization in data center design will be combined with more flexible approaches to provisioning. This is part of a broader shift to an industrialized view of the data center.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Worldwide annual solar cell production more than doubles in 2010

AACHEN, GERMANY: The annual survey of cell manufacturers published in the March 2011 issue of PHOTON International shows that the PV industry increased global cell production to 27.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2010, which is as much as the output of the previous 4 years combined. This incredibly large volume means an increase of 118-percent over the 12.5 GW produced in 2009 – the highest annual growth rate since PHOTON International started tracking cell production in 1999.

PV companies have reported similarly ambitious plans for this year. The 199 companies listed in the survey boasted around 37 GW of cell production capacity at the end of 2010, and they want to boost that by over 80 percent to roughly 67 GW by the end of this year, while increasing output by about 90 percent to 51.4 GW.

"The solar industry is ready to take responsibility for replacing dangerous nuclear power today," says Michael Schmela, editor-in-chief of PHOTON International. "Solar has proven that it can grow fast, it’s getting big and it is already much less expensive than most people think," he adds.

To put things into perspective, the 27.2 GW of PV cells produced last year are roughly equal in capacity to 27 typical nuclear reactors. The PV electricity generated annually by these cells would be around 27 terawatt hours (TWh), or 27 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), if they were installed in today’s major solar markets.

"Even in a country with as little irradiance as Germany, the leading PV market, this is enough to replace the output of around three nuclear reactors," says Schmela. "If this year’s PV production plans are realized, the output could not only generate as much electricity as about six nuclear plants in Germany, but it could also completely shave peak power demand during summer days in Italy."

According to Schmela, »All that’s needed to quickly increase the share of solar power in the global energy mix is modest and sustainable funding levels.« Today, large utility-scale PV power plants can already generate electricity at around 15 euro cents per kWh in Germany – the level of offshore wind power feed-in tariffs. In Southern Italy, tariffs of only around 12 euro cents per kWh are needed for large-scale PV systems, rather than the 33 euro cents paid today.

"The image of expensive solar power is outdated," says Schmela. "As governments rethink their energy supply strategies in light of the terrible Fukushima nuclear plant accident, they have to look beyond gas and wind, making sure that they integrate solar power in their alternative scenario as well," he adds.

Monday, March 28, 2011

David W. King to succeed Amy Zhang as CFO of Suntech

WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced that David W. King will succeed Ms. Amy Zhang as Suntech's Chief Financial Officer.

King will join the company in April 2011 and will overlap with Ms. Zhang in early April for transitional purposes. Post the transition, Ms. Zhang will leave Suntech and resign her position on the Board of Directors to pursue other opportunities.

"I would like to thank Amy for the integral role she has played guiding Suntech's transition to a global leader in solar," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's Chairman and CEO. "We are grateful for her service both as an executive and member of the Board and wish her well in her future endeavors."

Commenting on King's appointment, Dr. Shi stated: "It is a great pleasure to welcome David to Suntech where his strong executive credentials and global business perspective will be an excellent fit with our organization. A seasoned CFO from a multi-billion dollar U.S. public company, David also brings a valued background from a business culture that promotes sustainability and social responsibility. I believe that his strategic vision and financial acumen will be great assets to our management team and will help Suntech to continue to grow and compete successfully around the world."

King is the former CFO and treasurer of Tetra Tech Inc., a leading provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction, and technical services addressing the resource management, energy and infrastructure markets. Prior to Tetra Tech, King served as VP of Finance and Operations of Walt Disney Imagineering, and earlier, as VP and CFO of the Asia Pacific region for Bechtel Group, Inc., a global engineering, construction and project management company.

Cutbacks in European PV incentives set stage for reductions in module shipments in 2H’11

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Following very strong growth of 139 percent in 2010, global solar photovoltaic (PV) demand is off to a weak start in 2011. Preliminary estimates of Q1’11 end-market demand in Germany show it running at less than 50 percent of its Q1’10 level. The gradual price reductions seen so far this year have been insufficient in energizing the market. However, in Q2’11 global demand is still projected to reach 7.4 GW, representing 77 percent Y/Y growth, according to the latest Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

During Q1’11, module manufacturers have been expanding sales channels, taking on a broader range of smaller distributors and brokers in order to both place increased production volumes and obtain better factory gate prices. As a result, total downstream inventories in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the US, have built to unsustainable levels at the end of Q1’11.

By mid-year 2011, the top five European markets will see Feed-in Tariff (FIT) cuts, some as high as 45%. Consequently, Q2’11 demand will be stimulated by the rush to beat mid-year FIT declines, especially in Germany and Italy. There will also be steady growth in other European markets, US, Canada, China, and India.

In 2011, module manufacturers are planning to raise shipments by 55 percent, while full-year demand is projected to increase by just 12 percent. After the demand peak in Q2’11, the industry will face an exceptionally challenging 2H’11, as it addresses a supply/demand imbalance. A period of negative production growth will be necessary to avoid excessive inventory build.

Any major changes to government PV policies as a consequence of the nuclear disaster that has followed the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are not expected to impact demand until 2012. At the same time, the disaster’s impact on the nine major plants engaged in polysilicon, wafer and cell production in Japan so far appear to be minimal.

“2011 will be a challenging year for the industry as it manages a slowdown in the market,” said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “Europe will not be the growth engine it has been in recent years, and manufacturers will need to access new markets or be exposed to the risk of rising inventories or production cuts during a period of falling prices.”

By Q4’11, the market share of Chinese, Taiwanese, and other Rest of World (ROW) producers is projected to increase to 74 percent, up from 66 percent in Q4’10. The leading thin film manufacturer, First Solar, and the lowest-cost Asian producers will be the least vulnerable to reductions in shipments during 2H’11, but all manufacturers can expect to face extreme price pressure by the year-end.

The lower cost Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers will continue to benefit from an increase in outsourcing of production from the major Japanese and Western solar manufacturers.Fig. 1: Solarbuzz Projected Cell Production Market Shares in Q4'11Source: Solarbuzz.

Petra Solar appoints Dan Brdar as COO

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, USA: Petra Solar, a pioneer and market leader in smart solar technology for utility companies that combines distributed solar energy generation with building a Smart Grid infrastructure, announced the appointment of Dan Brdar as Chief Operating Officer.

Brdar will assume this vital role with responsibility for the strategic and operational leadership of the company’s sales, marketing, operations, and engineering organizations.

“I am delighted to have Dan join the Petra Solar executive leadership team in the critical role of Chief Operating Officer,” said Petra Solar president and CEO, Dr. Shihab Kuran. “Petra Solar’s innovative SunWave system provides our utility partners with a powerful platform that transforms the way solar power is produced and delivered. I have no doubt that Dan’s extensive expertise, strategic vision and proven leadership will help Petra Solar continue our positive momentum and business performance, capitalize on the enormous growth opportunities that exist in today’s global market, and set a trajectory toward even greater levels of success for the company.”

Brdar brings with him over 30 years of combined technology development, new product introduction and sales leadership experience in a variety of executive positions. Prior to joining Petra Solar, he served as president, CEO and Chairman of the Board of FuelCell Energy, the world’s leading stationary fuel cell manufacturer with five facilities for production and service located in three countries.

At FuelCell, Brdar led the growth strategies, financial planning and capital creation efforts, new product and market development initiatives, and provided strategic direction to manufacturing, engineering and service operations. While there, Brdar was responsible for raising over $100 million in corporate funds from institutional investors and partners, converting negative product gross margins to positive via a 51% improvement, leading a 220% increase in the manufacturing production rate, and driving a record sales order backlog.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Europe continues to dominate solar market in 2011

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Despite brewing trouble for the solar industry in the region, Europe in 2011 will continue to account for the lion’s share of photovoltaic (PV) installations in the world, claiming 68.6 percent of the global total, according to the latest IHS iSuppli research.

Comprising nine of the world’s 15 major solar markets, European PV installations this year will amount to 14.3 gigawatts (GW), more than two-thirds of the global level of about 20.9 GW. Europe will be home to the world’s two largest solar markets—Germany, with an estimated 7.1 GW; and Italy, with 4.1 GW—as well as seven other important PV territories including, in descending order, France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Spain, Greece and Bulgaria, as shown in the table.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

In comparison, the United States—the third largest solar market worldwide—is projected to see 2.1 GW of PV installations in 2011, IHS iSuppli research indicates.

Notwithstanding Europe’s majority hold on global solar installations, its 68.6 share of market in 2011 will be a step down from 80.0 percent last year, when European installations reached 13.8 GW. Growth for the region also will decelerate this year, declining to 4.3 percent, down from a notable 146 percent expansion in 2010. In particular, bad news and uncertainty from specific European markets will serve to dampen overall PV prospects in 2011 for the continent.

The good news vs. the bad
While Europe is continuing its dominance, the region faces challenges in one of its key countries: Italy.

“Italy had been expected to be the star performer of the European market in 2011,” said Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for PV systems at IHS. “However, on March 3, the Italian government changed its solar policies, implementing changes in its tariffs that make the PV market in the country less attractive to investors starting in June. While the Italian government is expected to fundamentally continue to support PV, installations in the country will decelerate in 2011 compared to earlier expectations—although they won’t stall.”

Installations in Italy in 2011 will amount to 4.1 GW, up 14.6 percent from 3.6GW in 2010.

Compared to Italy, the PV market situation is weak in Germany. Investors are still hesitating and awaiting lower system prices. System prices must reach 2.0 to 2.2 euros per watt to spur installations of large systems.
Slow demand in Germany already caused inventory at wholesalers to increase, a phenomenon that is now slowing down orders.

Although Germany is currently at the forefront of the global PV trade, the market here is expected to peak before four years are out, Wicht added. By 2015, German solar installations will stand at 5 GW, less than the country’s 2010 level.

In addition to the uncertainty facing the German PV sector, measures are under way to reduce the business proposition for solar investors in Spain, France and the Czech Republic, IHS iSuppli analysis shows.

In the case of Spain, the government is set to reduce the funding of existing solar power parks by approximately 30 percent. In early March, France implemented a new scheme supporting new installations of 500 megawatts (MW) per year. In addition, earlier accorded projects will be built. Estimates for France call for 1.3 GW to be installed in 2011. And in the Czech Republic, where state support for ground-mounted plants will end in March, PV installations for the year will contract severely, falling to 350 MW from 1.3 GW in 2010.

Looking ahead, the highest-growth PV markets in Europe will be Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and the United Kingdom. By 2015, however, the United States will become the world’s single largest solar market, overtaking Germany, which will drop to second place after years of being at the pinnacle.

Friday, March 25, 2011

SRC, Masdar host solar technology scientists in Abu Dhabi

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, USA & ABU DHABI, UAE: Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology announced Abu Dhabi’s first world-class gathering of solar experts and university researchers for a forum on photovoltaics (PV).

The March 27-28 event is designed to explore the route for development of cost-effective systems capable of achieving 25 percent energy conversion from solar resources in Abu Dhabi by the year 2020.

The Forum on Solar-Electrical Energy Systems 2020 conference brings more than 40 of the leading commercial and university researchers from North America, Europe, Asia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates as presenters. Topics will range from New Materials and Nanostructures for PV to Industrial and Commercial-Scale PV Systems and System Integration Challenges.

Research directions needed for Abu Dhabi’s solar future and potential smart grid will also be discussed in detail. The forum is a collaboration of SRC and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

“The forum’s rich representation from many of the top research organizations globally is a testament to the commitment of Abu Dhabi, and the Masdar Institute in particular, to attracting the best talent and guiding its future in renewable energy,” said SRC president Larry Sumney. “This forum provides the type of collaboration in basic research that leads to critical next steps in creation of world-class technologies.”

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, president of Masdar Institute, said: “At Masdar Institute we take a collaborative approach to developing a wide range of clean technology solutions. Advancing semiconductor technology is a vital component of the clean technologies of the future, and we are delighted to co-host this forum with the Semiconductor Research.”

SRC, the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, is partnering with Masdar Institute to encourage university research in fields of renewable technologies. While the Masdar Institute conference will be by invitation only, the results are expected to drive a wide number of research initiatives for solar energy breakthroughs in Abu Dhabi that will be guided by the semiconductor and solar industries at Masdar Institute and other education institutions.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Satcon selected by Solar Cells Hellas for 20.5 MW of PV inverter solutions

BOSTON, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility-scale power conversion solutions for the renewable energy market, announced that it has been selected by Solar Cells Hellas for the installation of 20.5 megawatts (MW) of ground-mounted PV inverter solutions for projects that will be constructed in various locations throughout Southern Greece.

Solar Cells Hellas will equip the multiple installations with Solar Cells’ crystalline PV modules and Satcon inverters. SDL Solar, a Satcon authorized distributor, and Satcon will supply 10 units of PowerGate Plus 500kW inverters, the world’s most widely deployed utility-scale inverter, and 31 units of Equinox 500kW inverters. The PV power plants are expected to be installed and put into operation throughout 2011 with the final inverter delivery in September of 2011. The multiple installations will produce enough electricity to power approximately 8,200 homes.

Satcon’s PowerGate Plus solution family is the world’s most widely deployed utility-ready solar PV inverter with over 1.5 gigawatts (GW) installed worldwide, including over 1 GW installed of the PowerGate Plus 500 kW model alone. Equinox is Satcon’s third-generation central inverter and delivers an industry-leading 98.5% peak efficiency combined with the industry’s widest thermal operating range.

Dimitris Panagakos, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Solar Cells Hellas, said: “Solar Cells Hellas will develop and construct a total of 170 MW of its own projects and 130 MW on behalf of its group of investors in Greece and Bulgaria through 2014. The company has secured financing from Greek banks and is committed to use Greek component suppliers whenever possible in order to support Greece’s developing PV market. Solar Cells Hellas intends to establish a long-term partnership with Satcon based on its proven reliability and efficiency in utility-scale projects.”

“As we continue to expand our global market share in each of the key large-scale solar markets, our partnership with SDL Solar enables us to drive the next generation of utility-ready solar growth in Greece,” said Steve Rhoades, Satcon's president and CEO.

“With its attractive feed-in tariff policy and high solar irradiation levels, Greece is emerging as one of the leading markets for advanced large-scale solar installations. Together, Satcon and SDL Solar brought the industry’s most advanced technologies and system expertise to Solar Cells Hellas to realize their vision of state-of-the-art utility-scale PV power in Greece.”

Dr. Kostas Daniilidis, managing partner of SDL Solar, stated: “Together with Satcon, we aim to acquire a significant share of the PV market in southeast Europe through strategic partnerships, such as our existing relationship with Solar Cells Hellas.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spire to deliver 20MW solar PV module line to Brazil

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp., a global solar company providing capital equipment and turn-key manufacturing lines to produce photovoltaic (PV) modules announced that it is providing a 20 megawatt (MW) solar PV module line to Tecnometal Equipamentos (Tecnometal) of San Paulo, Brazil.

“We worked Bruno Topel, a solar pioneer of Heliodynamica in San Paulo, many years ago and now we are pleased to be working with him again at Tecnometal,” said Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire. “Brazil is quickly expanding its investments in green energy. We are pleased to provide this state-of-the-art production line to Tecnometal to allow them to capture an early market position in solar energy.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

American Chemical Society National Meeting 2011 to feature BioSolar’s BioBacksheet technology

SANTA CLARITA, USA: BioSolar Inc., a developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, reported that its innovative BioBacksheet material technology will be presented at 241st American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting & Exposition at Anaheim, California during the week of March 27, 2011.

The paper titled, “Plastic Materials from Bio-based Nylon 11 and Filled Nylon 11,” was co-authored by Dr. David Lee, BioSolar’s President and CEO; Dr. Stanley Levy, the company’s Chief Technology Officer and BioSolar’s Scientific Advisor Dr. Charles Carraher Jr., a renowned scientist in the field of chemistry and materials.

Dr. Lee commented: “We are honored to have Dr. Carraher represent BioSolar at this prestigious ACS Meeting. Dr. Carraher’s unmatched scientific knowledge and leadership in the field of bio-based polymer materials have been the foundation for BioSolar’s recent success in the commercialization of the world’s first bio-based photovoltaic backsheet.”

Dr. Carraher is currently Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Associate Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies. Dr. Carraher was previously Dean of the College of Science at FAU, Chair of the Science Division at the University of South Dakota, and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Wright State University.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being named a Fellow in the American Institute of Chemists, selected as part of the inaugural class of Fellows for the ACS-PMSE and ACS-PC, and given the Florida Award in 1992, awarded to recognize outstanding chemists in the southeast region of the US and recognized as a fellow in the American Chemical Society in 2010.

Dr. Carraher's research has led to the creation of over 70 new families of polymers as well as new methods for their synthesis and characterization. His primary areas of research related to the BioSolar business include high strength materials, modification of biomaterials, use of natural materials as structural and coatings materials, geo-membranes, identification of materials, synthesis and characterization of biomedical and bioactive materials, conductive and semiconductive polymers, thermally stable materials and high temperature superconductors. He is the inventor and holder of a number of basic patents including the initial chemical synthesis of nucleic acids.

Over the course of his distinguished career, Dr. Carraher has published over 60 books and 1,000 articles, chaired numerous national and international committees, served as science advisor to Senator McGovern, and helped shape the American education system from K-12 to post-graduate education in the field of polymer chemistry and materials. Dr. Carraher holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

BioSolar recently announced that BioBacksheet, the company’s first commercial product, obtained UL material certification, which is a required step before commercial solar panels using BioBacksheet can be submitted for panel certification or recertification under UL 1703.

Impact of Japanese disaster on PV industry

Charles Annis – Vice President, Manufacturing Research, Solarbuzz

KYOTO, JAPAN: The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Northeast Japan on March 11 and the tsunami that followed later killed thousands and devastated huge parts of the country. In the process, multiple nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were damaged; two of them have already partially melted down, and the cooling system at a third has failed.

Despite the extreme gravity of the situation in Northern Japan, much of Japan’s industrial heartland in the central part of the country did not suffer significant damage, and have power and water at normal levels. With the exception of M. Setek’s facilities, Japan’s solar manufacturing industry appears to be mainly intact.

The three largest polysilicon producers in Japan are Tokuyama, Mitsubishi and M. Setek:

* Tokuyama’s facilities are in Yamaguchi prefecture in the western part of the country.

* Mitsubishi’s plant is in Yokaichi in Mie Prefecture in middle of Japan.

* However, M. Setek’s factory is in Soma Fukushima, an area hard hit by the disaster.

The largest wafer producers in Japan are Kyocera and TKX. Both companies’ facilities are in Kansai in central Japan. M. Setek is the third-largest PV wafer focused maker, and its factory is also in Fukushima.

The three largest cell makers are Sharp, Kyocera and Sanyo. All three companies have their main facilities in Kansai or close by in the middle of Japan.

M. Setek, which is now owned by AUO, announced that it is stopping production at its Fukushima plants. Its facilities were not damaged by the tsunami, but are stopping operation due to lack of electricity and water. AUO stated that production would resume in about a week.

M. Setek’s customers will likely be inconvenienced. And the entire Japanese economy will be limping along for a while, which may cause some minor shipment and short-term pricing issues for PV components. Even so, Solarbuzz does not expect Japan’s tragedy to have any major impact on the PV supply chain, since Japan now accounts for less than 10 percent of worldwide polysilicon, wafer and cell production capacity. \

Solarbuzz is forecasting that manufacturing capacity will be more than sufficient supply in all upstream segments, which should absorb any supply constraints.

However, Japan’s disaster could have much broader implications on the debate about how to balance renewable, nuclear and conventional energy sources. How much influence it might have will, unfortunately, probably be tied to how serious the situation is with the damaged reactors. Pictures of citizens being checked for radiation, and the struggle by technicians to keep the reactors from melting down amidst explosions is certainly not good public relations for the nuclear power industry.

There is no silver lining in this horrific situation. But Japan’s disaster may become an important point in the debate on the true cost of various electricity generating technologies. It may help swing the pendulum further away from nuclear and more towards solar and other renewables.

Source: Solarbuzz.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ascent Solar signs distributor agreement with Sunload Mobile Solutions GmbH

THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., a developer of flexible thin-film solar modules, announced today that Sunload Mobile Solutions will act as an Authorized Distributor of Ascent Solar's lightweight, flexible, high-power thin-film CIGS modules for Electronic Integrated (EIPV) applications in Europe.

This agreement with Sunload will give Ascent Solar access to multiple opportunities within Europe’s rapidly expanding off-grid battery charging and portable power markets.

Ascent Solar president and CEO, Farhad Moghadam, stated: "We are pleased to announce our agreement with Sunload Mobile Solutions. This relationship establishes a partnership through which we expect to market our lineup of flexible, lightweight CIGS modules for off-grid portable power. The innovative European market represents a significant opportunity for Ascent’s portfolio of products. We welcome Sunload Mobile Solutions to our network of distributors.”

New solar installation on the roof of the world

WUXI, CHINA & SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced it will develop a 10MW solar installation on the roof of the world that will generate decades of clean electricity for thousands of residents of the Tibetan Plateau.

Located in Chek Kang village in the Sangri County, Shannan Prefecture, Tibet, the solar power plant will be one of the highest on earth at around 4,000 meters above sea level. With target completion by the middle of the 2011, the facility will generate around 20,000MWh of renewable electricity per year to help facilitate sustainable economic development in Tibet.

Historically, the mountainous region has relied heavily on hydroelectric resources for much of its baseload power production. However, shifting weather patterns in recent years have caused more frequent droughts and reduced water volumes in hydroelectric reservoirs. These changes have led to peak power shortages that are an impediment to the region's continued economic growth. The new 10MW solar power plant will help to alleviate peak power shortages and serve as a strong complement to existing hydroelectric resources.

"With intense sunlight and cool temperatures, Tibet is extremely well-suited for the utilization of advanced photovoltaic technology," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder, chairman and CEO. "We're proud to invest in preserving the region's fragile ecosystem by providing an economically-viable and sustainable solution for electricity generation. From the desert sands of Arizona to the peaks of the Himalayas, anyone can look up and harness nature's cleanest and most abundant energy resource."

Suntech has been active in rural electrification projects in Tibet. Over the last few years, Suntech has donated more than fifty independent solar systems for schools, community centers, and houses throughout the region. In 2008, Suntech installed a solar system at Mt. Everest base camp to provide trekkers with clean and reliable access to power. In gratitude, a team of mountaineers carried a Suntech flag to the very peak of the world.

"As we approach grid parity, we're seeing a groundswell of appetite for multi-megawatt projects in Asia and emerging markets around the world. I'm confident that China will really turn some heads this year and perhaps even become a gigawatt market," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi. "In this exciting transitional period, we will continue to diversify our global footprint to drive solar industry growth everywhere under the sun."

World solar PV narket grew to 18.2 GW in 2010, up 139 percent Y/Y

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations reached a record high of 18.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. This represents growth of 139 percent over the previous year, according to the annual PV market report, Marketbuzz 2011, issued by Solarbuzz, a California-based solar energy consultancy, and a part of The NPD Group.

The PV industry generated $82 billion in global revenues in 2010, up 105% Y/Y from $40 billion in 2009. Companies throughout the PV chain successfully raised more than $10 billion in equity and debt over the last 12 months.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

In 2010, the top five countries by PV market size were Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Japan, and the United States—representing over 80% of global demand. European countries represented 14.7 GW, or 81 percent of world demand in 2010. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic, which collectively totaled 12.9 GW. In 2010, the Japanese and US markets grew by 101 percent and 96 percemt, respectively. In all, over 100 countries made some contribution to soaring global PV demand last year.

Worldwide solar cell production reached 20.5 GW in 2010, up from 9.86 GW a year earlier, with thin film production accounting for 13.5 percent of total production. Producers in China and Taiwan continued to build share, and now account for 59 percent of global cell production, up from 49 percent last year. The top two cell manufacturers in 2010 were Suntech Power and JA Solar, who tied for the first position, followed closely by First Solar.

The top eight polysilicon manufacturers had 145,200 tonnes per annum of capacity in 2010, while the top eight wafer manufacturers accounted for 45 percent of global wafer supply. The excess of production over market demand caused crystalline silicon factory gate module prices to drop 14 percent in 2010, significantly less than the 38 percent reduction of the previous year.

After addressing 2010 outcomes, the Marketbuzz 2011 report sets out three scenarios for supply, demand, and prices over the next five years. By 2015, Solarbuzz projects the European market share to fall to between 45-54 percent as North America and several Asian markets grow rapidly. The US will be the fastest growing major country market over this period. Over the next five years, factory gate module prices are projected to drop between 37 percent and 50 percent from 2010 levels.

In the short term, assumptions about the immediate policy environment remain critical to outcomes over the next 24 months.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

“The industry has now entered a phase of tightening incentive terms across important European markets. Cuts in unit tariffs will be far more rapid than the industry’s pace of cost reduction,” said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “While some key markets will decline in size as a result over the next two years, the US, Canada, China, and Japan are some of the major countries that still offer growth potential. In addition, the rush to beat mid-year tariff reductions will ensure strong first half 2011 demand performance in Italy and Germany.”

Stevens added: “Planned manufacturing capacity expansions will ensure the industry has adequate cell supplies over 2011 and 2012. However, the potential for excess supply taken together with already planned subsidy cuts will make both years challenging for the industry.”

Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Solar to build solar module factory in Mesa, Arizona

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. announced it will build its new US manufacturing center in Mesa, Ariz. First Solar will invest about $300 million in the factory, which will create approximately 600 jobs and will include four manufacturing lines with a capacity to produce more than 250 megawatts (MW) of advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules per year.

The new factory, in combination with First Solar’s recently expanded facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, will increase First Solar’s US production capacity to more than 500MW per year.

Construction will begin in the second quarter of 2011 and is expected to last a year, creating an average of 400-500 construction jobs. Module shipments are scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2012. The facility is located on a 135-acre site that was previously home to a General Motors vehicle testing facility and is designed to accommodate future expansion.

The facility will include a 3MW rooftop solar installation as well as an extensive ground-mounted PV testing facility. The factory will utilize First Solar’s continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, which contributes to the industry-leading energy payback time and low carbon footprint of systems utilizing First Solar’s thin-film modules.

“Supportive state and federal policies have provided the visibility needed for the US to become our fastest-growing market, and the Mesa factory will enable us to meet that growing demand,” said Bruce Sohn, President of First Solar. “Programs such as Department of Energy loan guarantees and the solar investment tax credit are crucial to helping the renewable energy industry quickly reach the scale needed to compete with fossil fuels. Over the long-term, programs like these facilitate the market growth and investment that will support the future expansion of this factory.”

“First Solar’s presence in Arizona has been a great engine in driving our renewable energy sector forward,” said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. “And now its plans for a 135-acre technology campus — with 600 quality jobs and the potential for hundreds more — will propel Arizona into its second century, while promoting the Arizona Commerce Authority’s plan for business attraction, retention and expansion. We are grateful that First Solar’s leadership has confidence in my Cornerstones of Reform — including the Arizona Competitiveness Package.”

“The US has always led the world in innovation and Arizona is proud to be on the leading edge of the energy evolution,” said Arizona Senator John McCain. “First Solar’s announcement to build a new factory in Mesa and deploy their domestically manufactured modules in solar projects like Agua Caliente in Yuma County will not only create job opportunities for Arizonans but also represents another important step toward greater energy security.”

“First Solar’s investment is significant for both Mesa and our region,” said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. “The location also confirms the Gateway area’s potential to become a major center of economic growth, innovation and high-wage jobs.”

The new Mesa facility is approximately 30 minutes from First Solar’s corporate headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., where it employs about 200 associates. First Solar also is currently building two utility-scale PV projects in Arizona, the 290MW Agua Caliente project in Yuma County for NRG Energy and the 17MW Paloma Solar Plant in Gila Bend for APS, which are expected to create more than 500 construction jobs. First Solar’s North American project pipeline includes more than 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of projects expected to create approximately 2,000 construction jobs and drive $6 billion of infrastructure investment over three years.

Like all of its PV modules, the entire production output of the Mesa factory will be part of First Solar’s comprehensive, prefunded solar module collection and recycling program, the first of its kind in the industry. Anyone wishing to dispose of First Solar modules can request collection at any time, at no additional cost, and First Solar will pick up the modules and recycle up to 90 percent (by mass) of the material for use in new products, including new solar modules and new glass products.

54mm, 1U, 600W and 850W power supplies added to Power-One's PFE family of Platinum efficiency level supplies

CAMARILLO, USA: Power-One Inc., a leading provider of renewable energy and energy-efficient power conversion and management solutions, announced the introduction of two new members to its PFE series Platinum-efficiency AC-DC front-end power supplies, the PFE600 and PFE850.

These products provide a 12VDC output with 5V or 3.3V pin-selectable standby. Exceeding CSCI Platinum targets, the new PFE600 and PFE850 products, with their high efficiency and extremely low power dissipation are among the world's greenest power solutions available.

The PFE600 and PFE850, along with the previously released PFE1100, can be used in data centers, servers and storage equipment. With power levels of 600W, 850W and 1100W, all in the same slim 54mm (2 1/8") width package, the Power-One PFE series offers high levels of flexibility and scalability, while providing extremely reliable power at the world's best efficiency.

"The PFE series of power supplies offer an incredible amount of power and functionality, in one of the smallest packages available," said Mike Cusanelli, Director of Marketing for Power-One's AC-DC Power Products. "With its power density, efficiency, scalability, flexibility and reporting functionality, the PFE series is unmatched in the market."

Higher efficiency means less energy wasted within the product, and less energy used in cooling infrastructure. Switching from an ordinary power supply to a Power-One PFE supply should pay for itself in a few short months.

The PFE series of power supplies feature highly accurate real-time monitoring of input and output parameters, voltages, currents, temperatures, and true power readings. This enables data center managers to optimize server usage to reduce load power, further increasing the energy gains beyond those of the power supply itself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home energy management vendors battle home automation vendors for utilities’ $2 billion business

SCOTTSDALE, USA: Home energy management systems (HEMS) will see moderate growth through 2013, according to ABI Research. But starting in 2014, shipments of these systems are expected to accelerate rapidly until by 2016, nearly 44 million will hit world markets, when they will generate revenue of about $2 billion.

Sam Lucero, M2M connectivity practice director with the analyst firm, explains: “We see utilities as the largest channel for HEMS going to market. Utilities have been focusing their efforts on smart meter deployments. But in the next few years, HEMS will ramp up to deliver the utilities ‘demand response’ benefits on top of their smart meters. This trend will start to have real impact in 2014.”

Utilities will not be making HEMS systems themselves: two groups of vendors provide the actual systems (although the consumer may only deal directly with the utility.) One of these groups is small private HEMS vendors. They now face increasing competition from home automation vendors that offer HEMS as one part of their overall product lineups.

Competing against the home automation vendors won’t be easy, says Lucero. He recommends that, “The pure-play HEMS vendors should differentiate their offerings to focus on the specific needs of utilities, tying their systems effectively into the utilities’ back-end operations. They should also form close relationships and partnerships with the smart grid value chain, and demonstrate a level of vertical energy market expertise that impresses the utilities more than do the home automation vendors.”

The home automation vendors are likely to counter that homeowners are already using their systems (or soon will be) and that further specialization is redundant. They can point to their greater variety of paths to market: retail, service provider, dealer-installer, utility. They can partner directly with smart grid too, in the way that Control4 has partnered with Silver Spring Networks.

HCL Technologies announces expansion to smart grid partner ecosystem

SUNNYVALE, USA & NOIDA, INDIA: HCL Technologies (HCL), a leading global IT services provider, announced a significant expansion of its smart grid partner ecosystem by forging strategic alliances with two leading data management software firms focused on the smart grid market: eMeter and Tridium. The creation of smart grids includes the modernization and digitization of aging power grids.

These partnerships enable the integration of real-time data management and analytical software with HCL's comprehensive suite of services to help utilities transform their existing infrastructure from traditional power grids to smart grids more efficiently. Additionally, the partnerships will further accelerate HCL's strategy to become an end-to-end integration services provider to the utilities companies.

According to Pike Research, the smart grid managed services market is expected to become a multi-billion dollar market by 2015. In 2011, the market reached $821 million, a 75 percent growth rate over 2010.

"HCL has made a global commitment to utilities customers in enabling them to address their most pressing challenges by helping them assess and roll-out smart grid programmes in all the major power markets," said Rajeev Sawhney, the Global Head of Public Services for HCL Technologies. "Through the partnerships with these industry leaders, we aim to build on our domain competencies and offer best-in-class smart grid solutions that give our customer maximum value and competitive advantage.

The new HCL partnerships include:
- Working with eMeter, a leader in energy data management, to increase the efficiency of data processing at utilities by providing a more secure, reliable distribution and consumption of energy.

- A partnership with Tridium, a global leader in open platforms, application software frameworks, automation infrastructure technology, energy management and device-to-enterprise integration solutions, to help HCL increase operational efficiency of utilities by building and automating smart energy consumption management and control systems. Tridium's Niagara Framework(R), a software platform that integrates diverse systems and devices operates in real-time to integrate the diverse building systems of a utility to ensure environmental sustainability.

"eMeter is very excited about working with HCL," said Lisa Caswell, VP Worldwide Alliances at eMeter. "Together we will be able to showcase the best of both firms and offer a true end-to-end smart grid solution to utilities companies in a very competitive market."

"The Tridium Niagara Framework is an ideal development platform for HCL that will add another layer of innovation and support to their industry leading smart grid product solutions and turnkey services," said Marc Petock, Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications, Tridium. "We look forward to helping HCL deliver next-generation smart grid services to their end customers."

HCL's smart grid lab
Recognizing that an array of technologies are required to efficiently run a smart grid network, HCL Technologies has identified and partnered with eMeter, Tridium and other companies and is working extensively with each partner in HCL's Smart Grid Lab.

The HCL Smart Grid Lab assists customers in developing a Smart Grid solution adoption roadmap, identification of best suited solution, collaborating with partners in testing solution models, reducing risk, and meeting time-to-market, etc.

China Nuvo Solar provides information on Freya Energy’s unique large format lithium ion cells and batteries

WEST PALM BEACH, USA: China Nuvo Solar Energy Inc. provided more information on Freya Energy’s large format lithium ion cells and batteries in response to inquiries from shareholders.

Freya has developed for manufacturing and sale, SAFE, large format lithium ion cells and batteries for high-power and high-energy applications. Freya’s unique technology solves the problem of lithium ion batteries venting and catching fire, and permits the use of the highest energy cathodes available, while providing greater safety than low energy cathodes such as Lithium iron phosphate.

The secret is in Freya’s cell separator. All cells have separators. The separators are thin film sheets inside the cells, which separate the positive cathode from the negative anode. The separators have to be electrically insulating, but have to allow lithium ions to flow from one electrode to the other. Freya’s unique composite technology turns the separators into multi-function safety devices.

Overcharge protection: Freya cells and batteries have overcharge protection, which protects the cells from damage during continuous overcharging. This protection, which is unique in the industry, eliminates the risk of fire and/or explosion, and the cells are not damaged. Freya’s cells will continue to work after abuse.

Thermal shutdown protection: The Freya thermal shutdown technology prevents thermal runaway by shutting down and discharging cells, if the cells reach excessive temperatures. Freya’s unique capability leaves the cells discharged and inert. Competitive separators leave cells frozen in a fully charged state, which is dangerous.

Structural failure protection: The Freya technology is thermally stable. The separator does not shrink or melt at temperatures as high as 180°C. And the Freya technology is chemically stabile. All commercial separators available to date soften or dissolve in their electrolyte at elevated temperatures, which can lead to dangerous shorting.

Penetration protection: Freya cells do not fail catastrophically if penetrated. Freya cells and batteries can survive being hit by a bullet, or pierced by a flying piece of metal in an accident, without danger of catching fire or exploding.

In addition to these protections, Freya’s technology provides an intrinsic overcharge protection feature without the need for battery management electronics. Competitors depend on expensive, and failure prone, battery management electronics to prevent overcharging.

The Freya separator is a complex combination of polymers that offer bonding, very low shrinkage, thermal shutdown, thermal stability and the very unique property of electrical conductivity at elevated voltages. Only Freya cells and batteries offer this complete protection.

Richard Fox, CEO of Freya, commented: “Concerns over safety have limited the use of lithium-ion cells and batteries in larger applications. Traditional lithium-ion cells are prone to venting and fire. Competitors using lower-energy chemicals reduce the risk of venting and fire, but also reduce the energy in the batteries. We are very encouraged about the commercialization of our technology, as evidenced by the multi-million dollars in order commitments we have received, subject to the delivery of satisfactory prototypes.”

As announced on March 9, 2011, the companies have executed a non-binding Letter of Intent through which China Nuvo Solar is set to acquire one hundred percent of the outstanding common stock of Freya. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions including, among other things, the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements as well as the approval of both company's boards of directors and any necessary stockholder or regulatory approval.

Latest solar price survey

TAIWAN: According to the weekly price survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the solar cell spot price showed extreme responses. In the upstream sector of the solar energy industry, the prices of poly silicon and wafer have remained about the same with a slight increase, while the prices of cell and module have reduced.

The survey shows that in the upstream sector of the solar industry, the price of poly silicon has increased by 0.51 percent, to $78.5/kg. In addition, the average price of Si wafer has remained the same as last week. The average price of poly silicon wafer has come to $3.72/piece. In terms of solar cell, the spot price has reduced to around $1.23/Watt this week, a decrease of 3.46 percent compared with that of last week. Moreover, the average price of module has dropped by 1.7 percent to around $1.62/Watt.

As for the contract price in March, most contract prices of poly silicon are set by quarterly, and have been set up as the price of the first quarter. Therefore, the price has stayed the same this month. In terms of silicon wafer price, although it shows an increasing trend, the magnitude has substantially reduced to 0.11~0.13 percent. In terms of solar cell and module, the contract price of module stayed at $1.67/Watt, while the price of solar cell has slightly increased by 0.64 percent, to $1.26/Watt.

Due to unsettled changes of Italian solar policy, with the guideline of the new policy having not come out, not only the Italian market demand momentum but also the price trend of solar cell and module are obviously affected. In the short run, wafer manufacturers might be probably under the pressure of price reduction demanded by clients.

On the other hand, although Japan earthquake has caused a tragic disaster, the solar cell production is primarily located in the western Japan. However, because financial support for domestic reconstruction may have crowd-out effect on the solar market, EnergyTrend is concerned about an obvious decrease in Japanese market demand. Plus, the European market and the Japanese markets turned bear, EnergyTrend believes that the worldwide solar energy demand in the second quarter of 2011 might be lower than expected.

Lightwave Logic to collaborate on advanced solar energy capture initiative with The University of Alabama

NEWARK, USA: Lightwave Logic Inc., a technology company focused on the development of a Next Generation Non Linear Optical Polymer Materials Platform for applications in high speed fiber-optic data communications and optical computing, announced that the State of Alabama slated to fund a two-year research and development program on advanced solar energy capture and organic photovoltaics.

The University of Alabama will explore the advanced energy capture properties of the company's Perkinamine class of dyes and other novel proprietary structures inspired by the original Perkinamine design.

The Perkinamine-based dyes possess a panchromatic absorption (absorbing light across a wide range of wavelengths) from the near infra-red to the visible spectrum and into the near ultraviolet. This property enables these dyes to efficiently capture a wide range of solar radiation.

The Perkinamine-based dyes have also been developed to provide exceptional thermal stability and environmental stability that allows integration into existing electronic material manufacturing protocols that often require high temperature (250 ºC) processing. The electro-optic applications of Perkinamine™ dyes rely on laser irradiation to produce the desired non-linear optical responses and were developed to be phenomenally photostable (non-bleaching).

Jim Marcelli, CEO of Lightwave Logic, said: "This exciting initiative further demonstrates the enormous value of our core material's technology platform that has utility across a wide range of applications. If successful, it will add an additional leg to our growth strategy."

Anthony J. Arduengo III, Saxon Prof. of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry at University of Alabama and leader of the UA initiative commented: "While the ultimate goals of our previous non-linear optic collaboration and this new photovoltaic effort are separate, their mutual reliance on similar synthetic feedstocks and methodology will provide considerable synergy for material production and process development. If successful, this effort will open vast opportunities for application of Lightwave's materials and technology to solar energy capture."

Canadian Solar to build third SkyPower Solar Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario

TORONTO, CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc. and SkyPower Ltd announced a third engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement to build a 10.5 MW solar park in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Canadian Solar is one of the world's largest solar power companies.

SkyPower is Canada's largest owner and developer of large-scale solar projects and most recently was awarded 148.3 MW through thirteen power purchase agreements by the Ontario Power Authority under the Feed-in Tariff Program.

This EPC agreement is in addition to two previous EPC agreements signed by both companies in December 2010. SkyPower closed financing with Deutsche Bank on these projects late last year. The previous 18.5 MW EPC agreement consists of a 10.5 MW solar park in Napanee, home to First Light I, (SkyPower's first solar project and Canada's first fully operational solar park). The second project is an 8.5 MW solar park located on Thunder Bay International Airport Authority land with the third being the 10.5 MW project in Thunder Bay on Fort William First Nation land.

Once fully operational, the combined total for these projects is approximately 30 MW of nameplate capacity and are expected to create hundreds of new clean energy jobs to further accelerate both the Canadian Solar EPC turn-key business and the successful completion of these SkyPower solar parks in Ontario.

"In continuing with the growth of Canadian Solar and our working partnership with SkyPower, this next collaboration strengthens our position as a leader in turnkey solution providers for utility scale and commercial systems in Ontario," said Dr. Shawn Qu, CEO and president of Canadian Solar. "We see great synergy in manufacturing the solar panels and incorporating them into an overall system design to optimize performance and value for our customers while contributing to the reduction of our carbon imprint as a by-product of our joint achievements."

The construction of all three projects is expected to reach completion by third quarter 2011. Together, they are expected to generate approximately 28 million KWh in their first full year of operation and almost 600 million kWh total over the next 20 years. This is equivalent to producing enough electricity to power almost 50,000 homes and a CO2 offset of removing almost 90,000 cars off the road over the initial 20 years of the project.

"As Canada's largest developer and owner of solar projects, we are pleased to expand our relationship with Canadian Solar and once again select them to build this important project," said Kerry Adler, president and CEO of SkyPower. "We look forward to the completion of these three solar projects as we continue to build out our extensive solar pipeline across the Province, which will to bring an abundance of economic, environmental and health benefits to the communities where we are actively building."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

National Semiconductor intros new SolarMagic ICs for microinverter, power optimizer and charge controller systems

SANTA CLARA, USA: National Semiconductor Corp. has introduced 10 new SolarMagic integrated circuits (ICs), the first in a series developed to reduce cost, improve reliability and simplify design of photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Ranging from the industry's first full-bridge gate driver to a micropower voltage regulator, the new ICs are well-suited for a variety of photovoltaic electronic applications, including those found in microinverters, power optimizers, charge controllers and panel safety systems.

"National now offers an extensive portfolio of analog and mixed signal ICs that provide manufacturers of microinverters with the robust, renewable energy grade ICs they need to ensure long-term operation," said Bill Mazotti, Solar IC Business Unit director at National. "National's solutions for the photovoltaic space now include components for power optimizers, microinverters and inverters."

The new SolarMagic ICs are the first developed to meet photovoltaic renewable energy-grade qualification requirements. Each IC is engineered specifically for demanding rooftop environments that range from extreme cold to severe heat, and each passes rigorous testing with enhanced reliability specific to solar requirements. In addition, the ICs ensure long-term operation, developed to meet and exceed the 25-year life expectancy of photovoltaic modules.

Collectively provided as a complete design, SolarMagic ICs increase energy harvest, reduce cost per kilowatt-hour and improve safety in junction boxes and other types of enclosures. Used independently, the ICs provide high voltage and high current gate drive for microinverter or power optimizer designs.

A full set of reference designs and application notes help the designer quickly develop a complete photovoltaic system. Each reference design includes an evaluation board, bill of materials and schematic.

National is showcasing the entire line of SolarMagic ICs in its booth at the Intersolar Europe Conference in Munich, Germany, June 8-10.

Technical features of National's new SolarMagic ICs
MPPT controllers - For distributed PV power optimization applications providing maximum power point tracking (MPPT), National offers the SM72441 and SM72442 programmable MPPT controllers. Features include voltage and current diagnostics, integrated four switch buck-boost converter control, overvoltage/overcurrent protection and an I2C interface.

Gate drivers – For power processing circuitry in power optimizers, microinverters and charge controllers, National offers the SM72295 full-bridge and SM72482 dual 5A compound gate drivers. The drivers can drive four discrete MOSFETS in a full-bridge configuration and each includes a high side overcurrent sense amplifier with high sink and source current capabilities.

Voltage regulators - For a variety of bias rail applications used in power optimizers, microinverters and charge controllers, National offers the SM72485 switching regulator with constant-on-time technology that enables an operating range up to 100V at high conversion efficiency. National also offers the SM72238 5V low drop out (LDO) regulator for lower power.

Sensing and detection - National offers a variety of products for ancillary circuits commonly found in distributed PV power optimization and battery charging applications for protection, sensing, supervisory, and control. The SM72240 is a supervisory reset circuit. The SM72375 is a dual micropower rail-to-rail input CMOS comparator. The SM72480 is a preset temperature switch and sensor that provides the industry's best accuracy. The SM72501 precision CMOS, RRIO, wide supply range amplifier provides low offset voltage along with low input bias current.

National's 10 new SolarMagic ICs are available now in a variety of industry-standard electronic packages. Priced in quantities of 1,000, the ICs range from $0.50 to $4.10.

BIPV technologies poised to thrive on back of escalating environmental concerns

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of Frost & Sullivan's new report "Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Technology Market Penetration and Roadmapping" to its offering.

“Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Technology Market Penetration and Roadmapping”
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is an application of solar photovoltaic technology. This research service offers insights on the roadmap and penetration prospects of BIPV, and recommendations for stakeholders to enhance their penetration in the market.

Research overview
This Frost & Sullivan research service titled Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Technology Market Penetration and Roadmapping offers insights on the roadmap and penetration prospects of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

The study provides recommendations for stakeholders to enhance their penetration in the market along with an overview of key drivers and challenges, region-wise technology adoption and demand-side analysis. In this research, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following: first generation PV technologies and second generation thin film technologies.

This analysis is available through our Technical Insights program. With this program, clients receive industry-leading market research along with comprehensive, objective information that allows your company to mitigate risk, identify new opportunities, and drive effective strategies for growth.

Technology overview
Although BIPVs are largely untapped compared to other microgeneration solutions, pressing environmental issues are propelling the technology to the forefront. With the alarm bells ringing louder over climate change and global warming, there is growing concern over issues such as energy consumption, pollution, and rampant depletion of non-renewable resources.

Rising environmental awareness is evident not only among the general public, but also in the commercial sector where corporate social responsibility (CSR) is viewed as an essential activity as well as an investment in goodwill. Green initiatives spearheaded by the US government under the leadership of Barack Obama and agile strategies deployed by the European Union to ramp up energy efficiency have energized R&D activities in the field of photovoltaics (PVs), biofuels, and so on, notes the analyst of this research service.

With these countries striving for radical change in the renewable energy domain in terms of both cost-effectiveness and efficiency, greater allocation of funds for the implementation of green and smart technologies in new buildings is expected. Additionally, tax benefits and incentives are driving some of the green technologies such as BIPVs.

From the perspective of cost, first generation PVs score over second generation PVs. Thin-film technology is being developed to bring down the prices of PVs; however, it is still in a nascent stage and can only become cheaper when large-scale manufacturing commences. If thin-film technologies can match up to the conversion efficiency of first-generation PV in a span seven to ten years, then it could displace crystalline technology.

Within this time frame, third-generation PV could be expected to enter the BIPV market in a very small way with slightly improved conversion efficiency. Current PV modules are mostly designed for autonomous PV systems. Therefore, there is no particular set of products that are being produced specifically for BIPV.

As BIPV products for every building are unique, material manufacturers find it difficult to design and produce standard building products for mass production. Only a few companies have so far come up with standard BIPV products for roof top materials such as solar roof shingles.

Development of specific BIPV products will allow for easier integration and better aesthetics. Certain building components such as shades, roofs, and facades could be standardized to encourage the development of BIPV products. Thin-film developers must partner with glass or coatings manufacturers to promote BIPV panels as a standard construction building product. Electricity prices have seen an upward trend during the past few years.

Eventually, grid parity will be achieved and microgeneration through BIPV will ensure competitive prices. This is seen as a factor that will induce demand for PV systems and other renewable energy sources, going forward. Solution providers must focus greater attention on R&D to roll out smarter grids, meters, and software, concludes the analyst. Also, spirited R&D collaboration among peers would be a surefire route to wider adoption within the next five to seven years.

Power-One ships inverters from new China factory

CAMARILLO, USA: Power-One Inc., a leading provider of renewable energy and energy-efficient power conversion and power management solutions, has commenced shipping inverter products from its Shenzhen, China manufacturing and design facility.

Production is located in the same manufacturing park as Power-One's existing factory for its traditional power conversion products. The new facility will have the capacity to produce 1 GW of central inverters by the end of 2011.

In late 2010, Power-One announced the launch of its central inverters specifically designed for the emerging Asian market. The 250kW and 500kW utility grade central inverters have a number of key features, including: a very high efficiency of 98.3 percent, longer MTBF (mean time between failures) due to being electrolytic capacitor free, compact size and weight, touch screen display, and a 1000 Voc (open circuit voltage) rating.

Power-One has received China Quality Certificate (CQC) certification for sales to the Chinese market, and its new central inverters will also be manufactured to meet the demands of the rapidly growing Indian photovoltaic market.

"Asia represents a significant wind and solar growth opportunity for Power-One and we are excited that our Shenzhen facility is now shipping inverters to meet the needs of our regional customers," said Alex Levran, President of Renewable Energy Solutions at Power-One. "The Shenzhen factory will allow us to strengthen our presence and expand our products designed for the large and growing Chinese and Indian markets."

Monday, March 14, 2011

PV book-to-bill in Q4'10 remains above parity; ahead of record revenues in 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: In Q4’10 (ending December 31, 2010), the PV Book-to-Bill posted a three-month average of 1.10, according to the PV Book-to-Bill analysis featured in the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Across the entire year, the 12-month average in 2010 reached 1.27 compared to 0.97 for 2009.

Finlay Colville, senior analyst at Solarbuzz, said: "The latest PV Book-to-Bill figures reflect the ongoing investments across both c-Si and thin-film segments, which are driving strong capacity expansions planned for 2011. Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers are expanding to reach vertically-integrated GW+ status on the back of still strong order books. Conversely, investments into a-Si/uc-Si and CIGS thin-film technologies represent the continued push by new entrants to find low-cost alternatives to First Solar’s exclusive challenge to c-Si dominance in the market today."

Working closely with the PV equipment supply-chain, the Solarbuzz PV Book-to-Bill analysis maps out quarterly spending profiles by all PV manufacturers with the relevant bookings and revenues assigned to the appropriate process tool manufacturers.

The Book-to-Bill ratio compares the total amount of orders received to the total amount of product shipped and billed within a given period. It is the ratio of demand to supply in the equipment supply chain. A PV Book-to-Bill ratio of 1.10 for Q4’10 means that US$110 of orders was received by PV equipment suppliers for every US$100 of product shipped.

The consolidated PV Book-to-Bill analysis yields an averaged figure based on industry-wide equipment investments across established and emerging technologies. However, tier 1 cell manufacturer trends can be a more appropriate leading indicator to assess the impact of production equipment used to meet end-market PV demand.

Colville added: “Tier 1 designated c-Si cell and thin-film panel producers satisfied 75% of PV demand during 2010. Equipment supply to this crucial midstream solar cell manufacturing segment highlights the portion of overall PV capacity expansion that is most likely to drive the level and timing of any panel oversupply during 2H’11.”

For the tier 1 segment, the PV Book-to-Bill ratio was higher at 1.39 during Q4’10, with a 12-month average of 1.26. Early indications are that this segment’s Book-to-Bill ratio will dip below parity during Q2’11. This would represent the first sign of capacity expansion slowdown by leading PV producers and the beginning of a downturn in revenues on offer to leading PV equipment suppliers through 2H’11 and 1H’12.

Fig. 1: Consolidated PV Book-to-Bill at the End of Q4’10Source: Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly.

PV book-to-bill updated quarterly
Photovoltaic capital equipment spending trends can now be tracked clearly by the PV Book-to-Bill, featured within the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Added in November 2010, this analysis provides key performance indicators that track quarterly changes in the order books of the global equipment supply chain.

The trends across the various Book-to-Bill metrics capture the overall health of PV manufacturing and offer a means of forecasting the size and timing of announced capacity expansion phases. The PV Book-to-Bill figures are updated quarterly, and include data relating to the preceding three-month period.

In addition to releasing consolidated updates each quarter, detailed findings will be featured within forthcoming editions of the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, with the next release due out April 2011. Analysis will also be provided on an ad-hoc basis in support of Solarbuzz PV equipment reporting throughout the year, to better understand key developments and trends impacting strongly on the PV equipment supply chain.

Shams 1 solar project secures financial close

ABU DHABI, USA: Shams Power Co. announced the financial close of Shams 1, one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) projects and the first of its kind in the Middle East. The $600 million closing marks the largest solar project transaction to date and combines financing from 10 regional and international lenders.

Demonstrating strong interest from lenders, the financing – a non-recourse 22-year door-to-door fully amortizing structure – was oversubscribed with commitments totalling more than US$900 million. Shams 1 lenders included BNP Paribas, KfW, Mizuho, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Natixis, Société Générale, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, The Bank of Toyko-Mitsubishi, Union National Bank and WestLB. BNP Paribas acted as financial advisor.

“The dynamic deal team was able to leverage knowledge across the sponsor group resulting in an innovative structuring and a ground-breaking financing for a landmark deal,” said Derek Rozycki, executive director, Structured Finance and Capital Markets at Mubadala, the parent company of Masdar. “Going forward, we will continue to leverage our extensive expertise in international capital markets and our knowledge of the region to support these types of leading edge financing deals.”

The joint venture between Masdar (60 percent), Total (20 percent) and Abengoa (20 percent) will develop, build, operate and maintain the plant which will be located in Madinat Zayed, approximately 120 kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition to the strong solar irradiation in the area, the location was chosen to supplement ongoing efforts to develop the western region of Abu Dhabi by providing renewable power, as well as new jobs and a strengthened economy.

“With this financial close we are going one step forward toward the completion of the Middle East’s largest solar power plant,” said Philippe Boisseau, president, Total Gas & Power. “We are pleased to partner with Masdar and Abengoa in this ambitious project. We are on schedule and the work is going well in Madinat Zayed.”

As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, Shams 1 will directly contribute toward Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving 7% renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020.

Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, CEO of Masdar, added: “Shams 1 is a milestone project for the region and will be a core contributor to Abu Dhabi’s long-term renewable energy objectives. As the first utility scale, commercial solar power project in the Middle East, Shams 1 represents the realization of the vision that the Abu Dhabi leadership has for renewable energy in the Emirate. We thank our partners for their support and continued collaboration.”

Further validating the strength of the project, Shams 1 was recently awarded the “Middle East Renewables Deal of the Year 2010” by Project Finance.

Based on Abengoa’s concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, the Shams 1 technology is unique – a result of a strong technical cooperation between Masdar, Total and Abengoa. Different from photovoltaic (PV) solar power, CSP technology generates solar thermal electricity by focusing sunlight, concentrated by mirrors, to heat a coolant which then generates high-pressure steam that drives a conventional steam turbine, resulting in an efficient, reliable and clean solution. Conversely, PV solar technology generates power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity when the energy of sunlight is absorbed by a solar panel and transferred to a semiconductor.

Masdar holds a strong portfolio of experience in solar power, both in the region and internationally. In Abu Dhabi, the Masdar Institute campus is currently powered by a 10MW PV field, while an array of innovative solar technologies are also being tested at Masdar. Internationally, Masdar is part owner of Torresol Energy, a joint venture commercial developer of CSP plants. Currently, Torresol is developing three solar power plants in Spain, all of which are expected to be running in 2011. Further, in Germany, Masdar PV is a leading manufacturer of innovative thin-film photovoltaic products and solutions, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Masdar.

Shams 1 will be one of the largest concentrated solar power plants in the world, extending over an area of 2.5 km², with a capacity of approximately 100 MW and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors. Construction began during Q3 2010 and is expected to be completed in approximately two years.

Green Energy Technology announces seven-year polysilicon supply agreement with OCI

TAIWAN: Green Energy Technology, a leading multi-crystalline solar wafer company, announced a seven-year polysilicon supply agreement with polysilicon supplier OCI Company Ltd - a leading chemical producer in Korea.

The agreement will cover supply of $509 million worth of polysilicon from OCI to GET from 2012 to 2018.

With strong supports from global suppliers and clients, GET had ramped ingot and wafer capacity to 1GW in 2010, and is expanding to 1.5 GW in 2Q2011 steadily. GET will keep expanding capacity and securing feedstock accordingly to balance between long-term material partners and global brand-name customers.

GET annual shareholders' meeting has scheduled to hold on June 10, 2011.

Soitec announces major US CPV solar power project

BERNIN, FRANCE & SAN DIEGO, USA: Soitec, a world-leading supplier of advanced solutions for the electronics and energy industries, announced that its Concentrix concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology has been selected by Tenaska Solar Ventures to produce 150 megawatts (MW) of clean energy for San Diego Gas & Electric.

The new CPV solar power plant, named Imperial Solar Energy Center (ISEC) West, will be constructed on a 1057-acre site in Southern California's western Imperial County, and is expected to be completed in 2015. To support the project, Soitec will build a new factory in the San Diego region to manufacture its proprietary CPV modules. With an annual production capacity of 200 MW, the new CPV manufacturing facility will supply CPV modules not only to ISEC West, but to other utility-scale solar power projects throughout the desert southwest of the US.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) signed a 25-year power-purchase agreement with a subsidiary of CSOLAR Development LLC, a renewable energy company managed by Tenaska Solar Ventures that will develop and operate the ISEC West solar power plant. The ground-mounted concentrated photovoltaic power plant will have a capacity of 150 MW of solar generated electricity.

The ISEC West project will produce enough electricity to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 55,000 California homes. Concentrated photovoltaic technology converts sunlight directly into "clean" electricity via concentrator optics and high efficiency solar cells that neither produce noise nor emit greenhouse gases.

Additionally, CPV technology requires no water for ongoing operations, a crucial consideration for the water-constrained Imperial Valley. Finally, the ISEC West project represents a significant economic investment in Imperial County, one that will create hundreds of jobs in the area.

"The start of construction of the Sunrise Powerlink has triggered a wave of proposed new utility-scale solar and wind projects in the Imperial Valley region," said James Avery, SDG&E's senior vice president of power supply.

"What is unique about this contract is that not only will the Imperial Valley benefit from the jobs created to construct the solar plant, San Diego will benefit from the approximately 450 new jobs that will be created at the new manufacturing facility that will be located here in the region. SDG&E's voluntary commitment to obtain 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020 is creating new jobs in both the Imperial Valley and here in San Diego, and we are proud of this accomplishment."

Concentrix CPV solar power systems are more efficient and perform better than conventional solar systems, particularly at locations with extremely hot ambient temperatures and dry weather conditions.

Because of the very low temperature coefficient of its multijunction solar cells, a CPV system's performance is much less affected by temperature than any other photovoltaic technology. Additionally, a CPV system's two-axis tracker produces a high and constant power production output throughout daylight hours.

According to Dave Fiorelli, president of Tenaska's Development Group: "The ISEC West solar power plant will demonstrate Concentrix CPV scalability, and commercial viability of this innovative technology for utility scale deployment. We are excited to work with Soitec and SDG&E to bring clean energy to the homes and businesses of Southern California."

"Soitec is extremely pleased that Tenaska Solar Ventures chose our Concentrix CPV technology for the ISEC West solar power plant," adds Andre-Jacques Auberton-Herve, CEO and chairman of the Board of Soitec. "Our CPV systems are perfectly suited for the very high solar irradiance prevalent in the Imperial Valley. As a CPV leader, we are very committed to the US market and look forward to increasing our presence in the San Diego community by contributing to the emerging renewable energy ecosystem in the region."

The ISEC West project has applied for a US Department of Energy loan guarantee. Upon receipt of the guarantee and closing of its agreement with Tenaska, Soitec will implement capacity investments to construct its San Diego area factory and pursue options for related financing.

The factory location is anticipated to be announced this summer, with completion expected within 18 months of construction start. Soitec's delivery of the CPV systems to the ISEC West solar power plant will begin in early 2013 and finish in 2015. At full capacity, Soitec's San Diego operations will generate up to 450 jobs in the local area.

Friday, March 11, 2011

JA Solar announces investment agreement with City of Hefei to establish 3GW advanced PV production facility

SHANGHAI, CHINA: JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd, one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-performance solar cells and solar power products, has signed a strategic investment agreement with the city of Hefei, in China's Anhui province, to set up a new state-of-the-art photovoltaic production facility for solar cells and PV products. The facility is expected to be located in the Hefei High-Tech Industrial Development Zone in the City of Hefei.

Construction will take place over a multi-year period and, when fully completed, the facility is expected to have a manufacturing capacity of 3GW of solar cells and PV products. The first phase of construction is expected to begin in 2011, with production expected to commence in 2012.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Hefei High-Tech Construction and Investment Group, a government-affiliated investment company, and a number of domestic Chinese banks, are expected to provide financing of up to RMB 13.5 billion over a four-year period at competitive commercial loan rates for the construction of the new solar cell and PV product manufacturing facility.

By establishing this new facility in the city of Hefei, JA Solar expects to benefit from the city's progressive policy environment for clean energy companies, access to the region's well-trained low-cost labor market, and Hefei's central location as a regional hub for logistics and transportation.

"As the world's leading supplier of high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells, we are delighted to work with the City of Hefei to establish this new state-of-the-art PV manufacturing site, in which we will employ the world's most advanced solar technology for the manufacturing and development of high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and PV products. With lower labor costs and a favorable investment climate in Hefei translating into lower operational costs, we anticipate this new facility will serve to enhance JA Solar's future profitability and market share," said Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar.

"This new facility complements JA Solar's long-term growth strategy as a world leader in solar cell technology and manufacturing. With this new capacity we will also be well-placed to meet the strong demand from our strategic partners globally for JA Solar's products."

Suntech reports Q4 and full year 2010 financial results

WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter and full year ended December 31, 2010.

Q4 2010 highlights
* Total net revenues were $945.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, representing growth of 27.1 percent sequentially and 61.9 percent year-over-year.
* Total PV shipments increased 19.8 percent sequentially and 87.3 percent year-over-year.
* Gross profit margin for the core wafer to module business was 17.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
* Consolidated gross profit margin was 16.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
* Net income after taxes before non-controlling interest and equity in earnings of affiliates was $61.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.
* Suntech realized $24 million equity income from the earnings of the recently acquired wafer business in the fourth quarter of 2010.
* Equity in earnings of affiliates in the fourth quarter of 2010, inclusive of the $24 million equity income from earnings of the wafer business, increased to $322.9 million.
* Net income attributable to holders of ordinary shares was $383.4 million, or $2.02 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Each ADS represents one ordinary share.

Full year 2010 highlights
* Total net revenues were $2,901.9 million in 2010, representing 71.4 percent growth year-over-year.
* Total PV shipments were 1,572MW, representing 124.5 percent growth year-over-year.
* Gross profit margin for the core wafer to module business was 18.6 percent.
* Consolidated gross profit margin was 17.4 percent.
* Net income attributable to holders of ordinary shares was $262.3 million, or $1.44 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Each ADS represents one ordinary share.
Suntech achieved 1.8 GW of PV cell and module capacity, and 500MW of silicon ingot and wafer capacity as of December 31, 2010.

"2010 was another landmark year for Suntech and the solar industry," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, chairman and CEO. "We surpassed our shipment and revenue targets by setting new solar industry records for both quarterly and annual solar panel shipments.

"We maintained a strong position in established markets, while continuing to diversify into regions that will drive the next stage of growth in the solar industry. Within Europe we entered new partnerships with industry leaders such as Siemens and became the first company to ship more than 1,000MW in the region. We achieved a leading market share in the Americas and were recently selected to supply a 150MW (AC) project for Sempra Generation, just down the road from our new Arizona manufacturing facility. And we continue to gain ground in key growth markets such as Australia, China, India and Thailand.

"We successfully closed our acquisition of a wafer production facility, which will drive cost reduction and margin expansion in 2011. The integration is progressing well and the wafer acquisition is already generating returns for Suntech. In the fourth quarter, Suntech achieved $24 million equity income from the wafer business. With the rapid expansion of wafer capacity -- to 1.2GW by the end of 2011 -- and subsequent wafer cost reductions, we expect this contribution to grow through the course of the year.

"Our investment in the Global Solar Fund continues to generate value. GSF investee companies successfully completed 95MW of projects during the fourth quarter resulting in an increase in the fair value of GSF's investments. The eventual sale of these projects should be a source of cash for Suntech going forward.

"The opportunities ahead of us have never been greater. We are confident that our investments in our global sales channels, integrated manufacturing capabilities and technology initiatives will expand our position as the global market leader."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Latest solar price survey

TAIWAN: According to the weekly price survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the solar cell spot price has remained unchanged. The average price stayed at around $1.27/Watt, but the price of poly and wafer still show an increasing trend. Notably, there is a dramatic increase in price of poly silicon, the average price reached $78.1/Kg.

The survey shows that in the upstream sector of the solar industry, the price poly silicon has increased by 4.69 percent to $78.1/Kg, and $91/Kg at the highest point. In addition, the average price of Si wafer has increased by 1~1.5 percent, while the average price of multi-Si wafer has come to $3.72/piece. The price of mono-Si wafer has increased to $3.92/piece and the price of thin film has generally increased to $1.315/Watt.

Due to unsettled changes of Italian solar policy and unsolved inventory problem, uncertainties about solar market condition rose affecting manufacturers’ willingness to pull in procurement. Although recent adverse market factors in Europe have not impacted manufacturers badly at this stage, the outlook of market demand in the second half of 2011 remains unclear.

Towada Solar selects Semitech PLC to enable connectivity of its Qool technology solar panels

SINGAPORE: Semitech Semiconductor, a provider of power line communications solutions that enable the transformation of the electricity grid into a smart grid, today announced that its SM6401 power line communications (PLC) SoC has been designed into a solar module monitoring system by TOWADA Group's Qool Technology.

Highlighting the ability to remotely manage energy at a range of up to 5 KM, Towada Solar debuted the new solar monitoring system at the recent PV Expo 2011 in Tokyo.
Headquartered in Akita, Japan, Towada Solar Company is a leader in residential solar panels and PLC platforms that let users remotely manage and control solar modules.

By allowing connectivity via PLC between utilities and homeowners, utilities and solar producers can now communicate power information in real time, collect power generation information and provide an energy management platform that benefits all involved.

"Through communicating power generation information between households and the smart grid, we allow consumers to maximize the efficiency of the solar modules and know first-hand how much energy is being produced and provided to the power grid," said Mr. Noboru Yuze, CEO of Towada Solar Co., Ltd. "Semitech's SM6401 is the perfect fit, as it makes this connectivity possible in an extremely reliable fashion -- even over long distances."

Solar modules must be carefully managed to provide optimal performance. This involves communications to enable remote control and real-time monitoring. Remote control is used to control the degree of tilt to maximize sun exposure, as well as to control individual panels or an entire field. Real-time monitoring enables maintenance monitoring, detection of silicon degradation/cell replacement need, weather conditions, theft detection and power output and efficiency.

"We are excited that we are able to deliver value to innovative smart energy companies such as Towada Solar," said Mike Holt, Semitech's vice president of marketing and sales. "Communication is the key to the successful management of solar energy systems, and Semitech's PLC products permit our customers to design efficient and sustainable energy solutions."

Due to harsh noise and variations in equipment and differing standards, communications over the power grid are difficult. Semitech uses modulation and signal processing technology that is not only adjustable in speed, but also 'frequency agile' to deliver highly robust and reliable communications.

Semitech's available products include the SM2200 OFDM power line communications transceiver, the SM2101 FSK/BPSK transceiver and the SM6401 power line communications system on a chip.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monumental turnkey sale of 160-180 MW/year output PV solar cell manufacturing facility

FARMINGTON HILLS, USA: Hilco Industrial has been appointed as the exclusive agent to handle the sale of the world-class Evergreen PV solar panel facility in Devens, Massachusetts.

The offering of this facility represents a rare opportunity for a company seeking to develop PV solar cell manufacturing capacity at a greatly reduced cost, translating into a dramatically reduced cost per watt of manufacturing to become very competitive with the cost of off-shore producers.

Evergreen’s Devens facility has perfected three areas of production to an unsurpassed level of efficiency in a state-of-the-art facility designed to ensure 100 percent uptime. The products of this facility are extremely high quality wafers, solar cells, and solar panels with a rated output of 160 MW per year with actual output at over 180 MW per year. Evergreen (Devens) represents approximately 10% of the US capacity and the original cost of this facility was in excess of US$425 Million in 2009.

Currently, the facility is in operation and has a scheduled phased shut down in mid-March 2011. Due to the limited time before the scheduled shutdown commences, Hilco Industrial requests an immediate expression of interest in order to provide additional details for this unique opportunity.