Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Siemens receives PV power plant order in USA

ORLANDO, USA: Siemens Energy Inc. has been selected by Syncarpha Capital to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for a 3-megawatt-peak (MWp), ground-based PV power plant in Eastampton, New Jersey. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2011 and the plant is scheduled to go online in September 2011.

Syncarpha Capital, an investment company launched to capitalize on opportunities in the alternative energy sector, will finance the solar power plant. Utilizing proven Siemens technology and plant performance guarantees, the solar facility will help to satisfy New Jersey's rapidly growing demand for renewable power.

"Siemens is proud to partner with Syncarpha Capital to install solar generating capacity in New Jersey, and we look forward to working in concert on what we expect to be the first of many such projects," stated Thomas Mart, director, PV, Siemens Energy, Inc. "This order plays an important role in the continued development of our photovoltaic business."

Solar power is part of Siemens' Environmental Portfolio. In fiscal 2010, revenue from the Portfolio totaled about $35 billion, making Siemens the world's largest supplier of environmentally friendly technologies. In the same period, our products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 270 million tons, an amount equal to the total annual CO2 emissions of the megacities Hong Kong, London, New York, Tokyo, Delhi and Singapore.

FuelCell Energy announces 70 MW order from POSCO Power and $9 million charge to Q2 2011 earnings

DANBURY, USA: FuelCell Energy Inc., a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power plants, announced a two-year order for 70 megawatts (MW) of fuel cell kits from POSCO Power.

The total value of the order and other commitments for services is estimated to be at least $129 million with delivery of fuel cell kits beginning in October 2011 and occurring monthly through October 2013. Payment terms include a down payment and progress payments during the term of the contract, with approximately 40 percent of the contract value received by October, 2011. POSCO Power is an independent power producer in South Korea and subsidiary of POSCO, a global steel producer.

"Fuel cells address the needs of the South Korean market for ultra-clean and efficient power that is generated continuously," said Soung-Sik Cho, president and CEO, POSCO Power. "We expect fuel cells to play a significant role in meeting the new and renewable power needs for South Korea under the Renewable Portfolio Standard and we want to ensure that POSCO Power is positioned to meet the demand."

South Korea adopted a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2010 to promote clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, and develop a local green-industry to promote economic growth. Beginning in 2012, 350 MW of renewable energy per year is mandated through 2016, and 700 MW per year through 2022. Fuel cells operating on natural gas and biogas fully qualify under the RPS and earned a prominent position within the RPS pricing mechanism due to their efficient and reliable generation of ultra-clean power.

"This is the largest order ever received by FuelCell Energy, almost doubling product sales and service backlog and enabling us to maintain production at an annual rate of 55 MW," said Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc. "Higher production levels will drive product costs down further as we achieve manufacturing and purchasing efficiencies."

"Our relationship with POSCO Power is an excellent example of the market for fuel cells where value is placed on ultra-clean baseload distributed generation and where we have a strong local partner to grow the market."

POSCO Power recently completed construction of a fuel cell module assembly facility, which utilizes FuelCell Energy proprietary fuel cell components. POSCO Power stacks the fuel cell components to create the fuel cell module and adds electrical and mechanical balance of plant to complete the power plant. The POSCO Power fuel cell module assembly and balance of plant facilities are designed for 100 MW annual capacity.

In addition to the revenue generated by the sale of fuel cell kits, FuelCell Energy receives a royalty for each complete power plant built and installed by POSCO Power, under a licensing agreement signed in 2009. Future potential royalty payments to FCE are not included in the $129 million estimated order value.

This announcement follows an order in June 2009 for 30.8 MW of fuel cell modules and components valued at approximately $58 million. Including this order, POSCO Power has ordered 140 MW of fuel cells.

Q2 2011 charge to earnings
FuelCell Energy has committed to a repair and upgrade program for a select group of 1.2 MW fuel cell modules produced between 2007 and early 2009. Second quarter 2011 earnings will be impacted by a non-recurring charge of approximately $9 million, which will be accounted for as an increase to cost of goods sold. The program will begin in the third quarter of 2011 and no additional charges are anticipated. The estimated cash impact in fiscal 2011 is $3 to $5 million.

The program will ensure that this group of modules is achieving expected performance levels. The performance shortfall is due to the type of sealant and design utilized, not the stack itself. In total, 16 modules totaling 19.2 MW will be affected with 14 of the modules located in South Korea and the remaining two modules located in the USA. Completion of the program is expected by mid-2012.

"We understand the cause of the performance shortfall and are confident that it impacts only a subset of our fleet as different designs and sealant material are used for the remainder of the modules in the fleet," said Chip Bottone. "The performance for these 1.2 megawatt modules did not meet our objectives. Subsequent advancements in sealant technology combined with a different design prevent this performance shortfall from occurring in our current generation of 1.4 megawatt fuel cell modules or any of our sub-megawatt modules."

FuelCell Energy will release second quarter 2011 earnings on June 6, 2011, after the market close. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected.

Donauer Solartechnik establishes new e-mobility business area

GILCHING, GERMANY: Donauer Solartechnik Vertriebs GmbH established the new business area of e-mobility in May against the background of the rapid development taking place in the field of electromobility worldwide. The product portfolio includes system solutions and components associated with electromobility.

A core concern of the new department will be the series production of solar bike ports. These solar charging stations for electric bicycles and scooters operate on solar power alone and are entirely independent of the electricity grid. The Gilching-based specialist wholesaler also supplies high-quality e-bikes and e-scooters. Solar car ports, charging stations for electric cars and battery technology for e-mobility are also part of the portfolio of this business area.

The head of the new department is Spencer Hippe. A specialist in trade and commerce, he occupied leading positions at the Metro Group for the last ten years and mainly worked for Metro Cash and Carry Deutschland in Munich. Spencer Hippe will assume responsibility for the e-mobility business area at Donauer Solartechnik with immediate effect. The new business area will represent another strong division of the Donauer Group across Europe that will act through company's subsidiaries, according to Donauer Solartechnik.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cleaner Air Solutions to install over 3MW of SolarEdge Systems in UK as part of new partnership

Intersolar Europe 2011, HOD HASHARON, ISRAEL & DURHAM, UK: SolarEdge Technologies, a leading global provider of end-to-end solar power optimization systems, and Cleaner Air Solutions, one of the largest providers of solar PV systems in the UK, announced a new distribution partnership increasing SolarEdge’s activities in the UK. In the first quarter of 2011 Cleaner Air Solutions ordered 3MW of SolarEdge power optimizers and solar inverters. The run rate is expected to rise through the spring and summer.

SolarEdge installations harvest up to 25 percent more energy than traditional PV systems, tracking the MPP of each module individually. In addition, installers benefit from a new form of design freedom which enables the installation of PV systems on rooftops across multiple roof facets and with partial shading. PV owners such as property management companies and social housing organizations will benefit from increased energy output, and from employing more rooftops for PV.

The possibility of monitoring PV systems at module level and in real time is another significant novelty which helps save on maintenance and operation costs while giving added peace of mind to installers and end-users. The SolarEdge PV monitoring solution is complete with a built-in safety mechanism which automatically switches off DC voltage once the system is disconnected.

“SolarEdge offers a great opportunity to bring PV to everyone,” says Terry Skee, Commercial Director at Cleaner Air Solutions. “We expect higher return on investment with the added energy output provided by SolarEdge.”

“We are very impressed by Cleaner Air Solutions’ commitment to PV market growth in the UK. We recognize the high level of professionalism of Cleaner Air Solutions and its team and are looking forward to a successful partnership” says Zvi Lando, VP Global Sales at SolarEdge.

Suntech and solarhybrid in strategic partnership

SCHAFFHAUSEN, SWITZERLAND: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and solarhybrid AG, a leading solar project developer, announced a strategic partnership for the supply of up to 190MW of solar panels to solarhybrid in 2011.

Under the terms outlined in the agreement, Suntech will become solarhybrid's key partner and will supply solar panels for the majority of solarhybrid's German project pipeline in 2011. Five solar power plants, which solarhybrid is developing in Germany, will be equipped with 172MW of Suntech solar panels. Two additional projects that solarhybrid is currently developing in Italy (10MW) and Slovakia (6MW) will also be powered by Suntech solar panels.

The strategic partnership builds on Suntech and solarhybrid's collaboration on the 24.2 MW Finow Tower I project in Germany in 2010.

"As the world's largest producer of solar panels, Suntech is a strong partner and we already have an established track record of fruitful collaboration," explained Tom Schroeder, CEO of solarhybrid AG. "For successful international solar projects we need reliable partners who can deliver high efficiency solar panels, and industry leading warranty and performance - in a word, we need 'bankability'. Suntech delivers all of these elements and that's why we're pleased to expand our relationship."

Vedat Guergeli, VP of Sales & Marketing, Suntech Europe said, "We are very pleased to develop even closer cooperation with solarhybrid. That this well-established and successful project developer trusts Suntech modules validates our strategy of focusing on product reliability and superior customer support."

Phoenix Solar inaugurates two solar parks with total peak power of 18 MW

SULZEMOOS, GERMANY: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading photovoltaic system integrator listed on the German TecDAX, celebrated the inauguration of two solar parks in Jocksdorf und Preschen, together with its financing partner KGAL GmbH & Co. KG, on 20 May 2011. The solar parks are located on a former military airbase and will supply green electricity to more than 4,300 four-person households in future.

A large number of guests from politics and the business community took part in the ceremony. In her opening speech, Anita Tack, Brandenburg’s Environment Minister, underlined how important the expansion of renewable energies for Germany's future is:

"Today Brandenburg is already sourcing 15.6 percent of its primary energy requirements from renewable energies. This brings annual savings on CO2 to almost 10 million tons. Brandenburg is viewed as a role model for an ambitious energy and climate protection policy, and has made it possible to convince entrepreneurs, investors and scientists to translate their ideas into reality here in particular. In the meantime, a branch of industry has successfully developed on this basis, with more than 12,000 jobs, 3,000 of which are in the photovoltaic sector alone," he said.

In other speeches, District Administrator Harald Altekrüger, Eberhard Müller, the Mayor, Dr. Klaus Wolf of KGAL and Ralph Schneider of Phoenix Solar AG underscored the special features of both projects and gave an insight into the development, construction, expected electricity yields and the significance of the solar parks for the region.

KGAL commissioned Phoenix Solar AG with building the solar parks and has incorporated them into a fund for institutional investors. "We have been realising projects with Phoenix Solar for our investors for many years now. With both these projects as well, we relied on the experience and professionalism of our partner Phoenix Solar and have successfully added to our investment portfolio in the field of renewable energies," explained Dr. Klaus Wolf, member of KGAL’s Board of Directors.

Phoenix Solar was responsible for the turnkey construction of both power plants in the capacity of EPC contractor. As the solar power plants had to be built on a military conversion site of just under 60 hectares (approximately 150 acres), Phoenix Solar first task was to remove all munition remains before it could start with the installation.

"We are proud of being able to revitalise a conversion site in Brandenburg and put it to sustainable use through our solar parks. We will continue our work in the region, thereby making an active contribution to climate protection," stated Ralph Schneider, executive VP of Solar Energy Investments at Phoenix Solar. At the end of the operating lives of the solar parks, now fixed for 20 years, the conversion of the site will enable it to be used for urban development.

The solar parks were already taken into operation in 2010.

The Jocksdorf power plant was built in 22 weeks and the solar park in Preschen in 12 weeks. Both power plants, which are situated on a former military airbase, are separated by a runway which is three kilometres long and therefore, belong to different neighbouring municipalities. Favourable irradiation of an annual average 1,050 kilowatt hours per square metre makes this region in the east of Germany ideal for the construction of photovoltaic power plants. The solar parks save around 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

REC to reduce production of cells, wafers and modules from July 1

SANDVIKA, NORWAY: Renewable Energy Corp. ASA (REC) intends to reduce production of wafers, cells and modules, from July 1st 2011, as a response to the current market conditions.

REC will initiate a process with the trade unions, with the intention to halt production at the oldest wafer plants at Herøya, Norway, and at the solar cell plant in Narvik, Norway. Further, REC-branded modules will not be manufactured under contract by third parties in the third quarter.

These measures are expected to reduce REC's wafer production by approximately 125 MW in the third quarter, representing 30 percent of the wafer capacity in Norway in the quarter, while cell and module production will be reduced by approximately 50 MW in the same period. Such reduction in production is expected to affect approximately 300 employees at Herøya and 200 employees in Narvik, through temporary lay-offs. Polysilicon production in the US and wafer, cell and module production in Singapore will not be affected by these measures.

Subject to market conditions, REC will evaluate the appropriate production levels going forward. REC is therefore at this time not prepared to indicate the expected effect of the reduction in capacity utilization on the annual production volumes in 2011.

Due to the weak wafer and module market and lower selling prices for these products, RECs second quarter operating results are expected to be reduced to a level well below the previous quarter.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New development in production of flexible thin-film solar cells

GERMANY: Thin-film solar cells can also use light, flexible substrates, which significantly increases their range of applications. Until now, however, such cells have been difficult and time-consuming to manufacture. The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) has achieved a breakthrough in the development of efficient web coating of thin-film solar modules made of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) on plastic film.

The researchers from Stuttgart have already completed the most important production steps in one go, using a continuously running system. The next phase is to complete all the steps in the same system, which will make the manufacturing process considerably more efficient. The solar cells have already achieved 10.2 percent efficiency.

Until now, the manufacture of flexible thin-film modules has been labour intensive and time consuming. Every single layer is deposited individually in a separate system. ZSW has now combined these steps in a single system. The researchers’ goal is to produce fully integrated solar modules with even greater efficiency. Mass production could help to create a new generation of affordable, flexible photovoltaic modules.

ZSW has been developing CIGS thin-film solar cells from the roll since 2010, using a twelve metre web-coating system in one of their technical labs. A temperature-resistant plastic polymer film called polyimide is used as the substrate. The film is 0.0025 centimetres thick and 30 centimetres wide.

“The unique feature of this web-coating system is that all coating steps take place simultaneously in the same vacuum,” explains Prof. Michael Powalla, board member at ZSW and head of the Photovoltaics Division. “While the back contact is applied at one end of the system by means of cathode sputtering, the co-evaporation of the CIGS absorber and the deposition of the transparent front contact layer are located elsewhere in the system.”

In the current development stage, the molybdenum back contact, the four elements for the CIGS absorber and the zinc oxide window layers can be deposited. The development and integration of a new buffer layer is still in progress. The monolithic cell interconnection will also be fully integrated at a later point in time.

Flexible thin-film solar cells on plastic film have enormous potential: they enable many new areas of application where it is important for the cells to be both lightweight and flexible. Solar cells on T-shirts and jackets, modules on cars and light aircraft are just a few examples. It is also advantageous to bond the solar foil to a glass substrate. Such modules would weigh half as much as standard modules which are typically framed using two glass panels – making them ideal for roofs that aren’t capable of bearing heavy loads.

The web-coating system was financially supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety (BMU) through the CISROLL investment project.

ZSW is one of the leading institutes for applied research in the area of photovoltaics, renewable fuels, battery technology, fuel cells and energy system analysis. In collaboration with Würth Solar, the institute successfully developed CIGS thin-film photovoltaics to series production maturity. There are currently around 200 scientists, engineers and technicians employed at ZSW’s three locations in Stuttgart, Ulm and Widderstall.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cimetrix announces joint workshop with SYSTEMA at InterSolar Europe

Intersolar Europe 2011, SALT LAKE CITY, USA: Cimetrix Inc., a leading provider of factory automation and equipment control software solutions for the global semiconductor, photovoltaic, and electronics industries, announced today that SYSTEMA GmbH and Cimetrix will hold a host connectivity workshop at the InterSolar 2011 Conference, in Munich, Germany, on June 8, 2011, from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM.

The workshop will focus on how equipment developers and solar cell manufacturers can establish host network interfaces using the PV2 (PVECI) connectivity standard. This standard, based upon the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) SECS/GEM standard, defines the interface between photovoltaic production equipment and the Manufacturing Equipment System (MES). Using this interface enables the PV industry to adopt sophisticated quality assurance, traceability, and advanced process control strategies, supporting the industry’s focus on reducing the cost per kilowatt of power.

“The SYSTEMA-Cimetrix partnership provides a unique combination of industry expertise and integration experience,” stated Dave Faulkner, executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Cimetrix. “SYSTEMA GmbH is a world-class systems integrator with deep experience establishing solutions in semiconductor and photovoltaic fabrication facilities. Cimetrix supplies factory automation software products worldwide to the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. Our expertise in SEMI connectivity standards and tool control used to develop precision equipment is a perfect complement to SYSTEMA’s outstanding manufacturing systems integration solutions.”

“SYSTEMA GmbH enjoys a very strong working relationship with Cimetrix, and we look forward to jointly delivering industry-leading integrated automation and manufacturing system solutions to our customers. Our business domain expertise and proven system solutions for the semiconductor and PV industry, coupled with Cimetrix’s state-of-the-art factory automation software, will be a key differentiator for our customers’ quest in driving down manufacturing cost, without compromising flexibility or speed,” said Manfred Austen, SYSTEMA's CEO.

CSS adds several additional contracts

MINEOLA, USA: Clear Skies Solar Inc., a full-service renewable energy provider to commercial, industrial and agricultural clients, has received an additional $375k in signed residential and commercial contracts.

Ezra Green, CEO of Clear Skies Solar, said: "We have been delivering this continuous stream of good news in order for our shareholders to recognize that we have made serious and effective changes to our sales and operations model. Announcing closed contracts, needless to say, is important news to deliver, but from time to time we will also discuss projects that we are confident will materialize into signed contracts. Some projects that haven't gone to closing, such as LOI's, we might feel are material events that should be shared with the shareholders, but again, we will be focusing our shareholder communications on the signed and closed contracts.

"As we close the month of May with more than $7 million in closed sales for 2011, we have shown our model is working and we will be duplicating the process in other markets in the near-term future. Successful companies know that expansion needs to be tempered in order to build a solid and sustainable growth model. In the Northeast, we have established that plan for success, and we are now taking the steps necessary to duplicate that process into new markets. We have operated for years on the West Coast, completing a number of large and complicated commercial projects which reflects our ability to complete a project anywhere anytime."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Suntech and solarhybrid announce strategic partnership

SCHAFFHAUSEN, SWITZERLAND: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and solarhybrid AG, a leading solar project developer, announced a strategic partnership for the supply of up to 190MW of solar panels to solarhybrid in 2011.

Under the terms outlined in the agreement, Suntech will become solarhybrid's key partner and will supply solar panels for the majority of solarhybrid's German project pipeline in 2011. Five solar power plants, which solarhybrid is developing in Germany, will be equipped with 172MW of Suntech solar panels. Two additional projects that solarhybrid is currently developing in Italy (10MW) and Slovakia (6MW) will also be powered by Suntech solar panels.

The strategic partnership builds on Suntech and solarhybrid's collaboration on the 24.2 MW Finow Tower I project in Germany in 2010.

"As the world's largest producer of solar panels, Suntech is a strong partner and we already have an established track record of fruitful collaboration," explained Tom Schroeder, CEO of solarhybrid AG. "For successful international solar projects we need reliable partners who can deliver high efficiency solar panels, and industry leading warranty and performance – in a word, we need 'bankability'. Suntech delivers all of these elements and that's why we're pleased to expand our relationship."

Vedat Guergeli, VP of Sales and Marketing, Suntech Europe, said: "We are very pleased to develop even closer cooperation with solarhybrid. That this well-established and successful project developer trusts Suntech modules validates our strategy of focusing on product reliability and superior customer support."

RASIRC steamer used in Fraunhofer ISE'S MWT-PERC solar cell manufacturing process

IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conference 2011, SAN DIEGO, USA: RASIRC, the steam purification company, announced that its RASIRC Steamers were found by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) to yield 20.2 percent efficiency in the production of back-contact silicon solar cells.

Fraunhofer used the Steamer to deliver ultrapure water vapor for both its metal wrap through (MWT) and passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) solar cell manufacturing processes. Fraunhofer's goal is to increase solar photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency, thereby maximizing the amount of sunlight that can be converted into electricity. New solar cell concepts based on industrial-level production processes, such as the RASIRC Steamer, are being explored. Fraunhofer ISE is the largest solar energy research institute in Europe.

The RASIRC Steamer removes volatiles, ionic contaminants, and other impurities from steam generated from DI water so the steam can be used for critical solar cell manufacturing processes. Yield is increased because metals, hydrocarbons, and particles are rejected by the non-porous membrane to deliver steam with purity in the parts per trillion (ppt). Throughput is increased with continuous unattended 24/7 operation. Compared to pyrolytic torches, there is no thermal build-up with increased flow rate, it's safer as hydrogen and oxygen are eliminated from the oxidation process, it operates at significantly lower temperature, and handles a wide range of pressures and flow rates.

Fraunhofer applies both MWT and PERC processes for increasing efficiency in its solar cells. In the MWT concept, the external front-contacts are transferred to the backside of the solar cell. As a result, more sunlight is incident on the front surface and the solar cell efficiency increases. In the PERC concept, both the optimized reflection of the solar cell backside as well as passivation of the rear surface contribute to higher efficiencies. The screen-printed aluminum back-contact is connected to the p-type silicon material using local laser alloying–the so-called Laser Fired Contact (LFC) process.

“It has been a very productive and positive experience working with the engineers from Fraunhofer ISE,” said Jeffrey Spiegelman, president of RASIRC. “It is very exciting to be an important part in bringing MWT/PERC cells to mass production.”

Lanco Solar to build 75 MW solar PV project in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Lanco Solar, a fully owned subsidiary of Lanco Infratech Limited - the fastest growing business conglomerates in India with interests in power, construction & EPC, infrastructure and renewable, announced that in consortium with Juwi Renewable India Ltd, it has received LOA”Letter of Award from Maharashtra State Power Generation Co. Ltd (Mahagenco) for building of a 75MW crystalline technology based photovoltaic solar power project in Dhule district in the state of Maharashtra.

The project value is Rs. 884.18 crores. The project would be fully commissioned by mid February 2012.

“It is a strategic win for us. Not only it puts us firmly as the top solar power developer in the country but also helps us considerably in securing our supply chain, competitively,” said V. Saibaba, CEO, Lanco Solar.

“This pioneering initiative by Mahagenco and Government of Maharashtra reinforces India’s position as a fast growing solar market globally along with the commendable initiatives of MNRE under the National Solar Mission. It would also considerably help in attracting new industries and talent into this space to reduce installation costs and help the country in its solar agenda.”

SEMI PV Group and VDMA release global PV manufacturing equipment book-to-bill report

SAN JOSE, USA: SEMI, the global trade association for the nano and microelectronics manufacturing, and VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau), the German Engineering Federation, released their new quarterly Worldwide Photovoltaics (PV) Equipment Market Statistics report. It is the industry’s only book-to-bill report based on direct inputs from PV equipment manufacturers around the world.

“The PV equipment industry has been demanding accurate sales and order data on a global basis to better understand key business trends, market share, and regional dynamics to better benchmark and plan their businesses,” said Bettina Weiss, executive director, SEMI PV Group. “That’s why we set up a comprehensive report together with VDMA covering bookings and billings data by quarter, by market region, by supply chain segment and by equipment type.”

The new report revealed that both bookings and billings have increased in all quarters of 2010. “Sales in Q4 were twice as high as in Q1. Newly received orders have been well above sales throughout the year,” assessed Dr. Eric Maiser, managing director of VDMA Photovoltaic Equipment.

“With a book-to bill-ratio of 1.13, the industry is still in expansion mode, despite markets becoming more volatile,” reported Weiss. “Equipment manufacturers are doing very well.” Asia is by far the biggest contributor to PV equipment sales with close to an 80 percent share. Detailed information on bookings and billings is available to program participants.

Program combines strengths of both associations
The Worldwide PV Equipment Market Statistics report is jointly produced by SEMI and VDMA. The joint report combines the secure, proven methodology and global scope of the SEMI Book-to-Bill report for semiconductor equipment with VDMA’s current PV reporting system that has provided bookings and billing information to German PV equipment manufacturers for over two years.

“SEMI has a long history of administering data collection programs and has a great reputation in the chip industry for it. Their worldwide presence and access to a broad international community is key for the success of our joint program,” said Maiser. Weiss added, “VDMA’s statistical department covers data for all sectors of the German machinery industry, including PV. Their PV equipment program structure has been successful in Germany, a good reason for adopting it for our joint program. This way, we could create the first truly global capital equipment book-to-bill for the photovoltaics capital equipment market.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Munro Distributing forms strategic alliance with LG Solar

RAYNHAM, USA: Munro Distributing Co., a leading supplier of clean energy solutions and electrical supplies, announced the launch of a new product line and the immediate availability of LG solar panels.

Munro’s solar division, which facilitates the procurement of residential and commercial solar electric and thermal systems, has leveraged its expertise and market presence to form a strategic distribution alliance with LG Electronics, one of the most trusted names in the electronics’ industry.

LG Electronics Inc. (LG) is a global leader and technology innovator in consumer electronics, mobile communications and home appliances. LG solar modules are ideally suited for residential and commercial grid-connected applications.

Resulting from decades of innovation, special anodizing methods and best-in-class quality control measures, LG solar modules are uniquely positioned to produce electricity consistently even in harsh environmental conditions such as rain, wind and snow for a period of 25 years. LG’s easy-to-handle and reliable modules are an exciting addition to Munro’s product line and will provide their customers with cost-effective, efficient modules from a steadfast and reputable manufacture.

“Offering LG’s monocrystalline and multicrystalline modules speaks to our Company’s commitment to provide customers with reliable products from reliable partners. In partnering with LG, our goal is to offer customers the benefit of cutting edge technology coupled with the peace-of-mind that is inherent when dealing with one of the world’s leading producers of electronics equipment,” said Glenn Maltais, VP Market Development and Sustainability at Munro.

Munro’s renewable energy professionals are available to assist novice and experienced solar patrons through value-add services designed to meet a wide range of needs. Munro provides contractors with a host of services relating to system design, installation, product selection, federal grants, state rebates and energy efficiency.

Global PV module inventories reach record level

ENGLAND: Global PV module inventory levels have reached over 10 GW in Q2’11, the highest amount recorded to date, according to the latest analysis from IMS Research. High inventory levels, as well as lower incentive levels in key European markets, have contributed to rapidly decreasing prices during the quarter.

A sudden slowdown in completed installations due to the halting of the Italian market, as well as a slower than expected start to the year in other key European markets, has led to a sharp increase in stock levels throughout the supply chain. Inventory levels at manufacturers, distributors, integrators and installers have all climbed during the first half of 2011.

Most of this record inventory has already been shipped by module manufacturers and is located in distribution and sales channels. IMS Research estimates that almost 8 GW of modules are currently shipped by suppliers, but yet to be installed and connected to the grid.

“Throughout 2010, when all products were moving quickly through the supply chain, channel inventory typically stood at four to five GW; which is roughly equivalent to one quarter’s production. Generally speaking, a module will take around three months to be shipped, transported and make its way through distribution channels before being installed, so this figure appears reasonable” commented PV Research Analyst, Sam Wilkinson. “Many in the industry consider today’s inventory level to be shocking. However, it represents an increase of only around three to four GW over ‘normal’ levels.”

As well as the large channel inventory of modules, supplier inventory has also grown quickly in early 2011; most suppliers are reporting that year-to-date production has far exceeded shipments. The resulting increase in modules held in stock by suppliers has taken the total PV module inventory over the 10 GW mark.

IMS Research predicts that further declines in average PV module prices will lead to a strong recovery in the PV market, in particular led by growth in Germany and the USA; high inventory levels will begin to be corrected in Q3’11.

Polysilicon price trending down to $50/kg due to high inventory level and low visibility of market demand

TAIWAN: Based on the latest survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the market demand is yet to pick up, therefore the inventory still remained at a high level. As a result, the polysilicon price has significantly dropped. The average spot price of polysilicon has decreased by over 10 percent, come to below $60/kg. Moreover, the average price of solar cell has decreased to below $0.95/Watt. Manufacturers indicated that the market’s confidence is as low as the financial meltdown in 2008.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

According to EnergyTrend’s survey, the polysilicon price has come to 52/kg at the lowest, and the average polysilicon price has quickly decreased by 12.71 percent, to $58.875. EnergyTrend indicated that the polysilicon manufacturers are barely able to survive the huge price pressure, and the closing price is approaching $50/kg. In addition, Si wafer manufacturers are also under price pressure. The average price of multi-Si wafer and mono-Si wafer has respectively fallen by 9.87 percent and 6.08 percent, to $2.42/piece and $2.8/piece.

Furthermore, the solar cell price has decreased to $0.85/Watt at the lowest, and the average price has slightly dropped by 0.84%, to $0.95/Watt. Compared with that of polysilicon and wafer, EnergyTrend believes that the slash in solar cell price has reached to the manufacturers’ maximum tolerance. Before the upstream players show obvious price responses, the cell price might only reflect a slight decrease.

Besides, due to low demand in the module market, the average price of module has continued to decrease by 3.27 percent, to $1.36/Watt. Also, the average price of thin film has decreased by 3.21 percent, to $1.055/Watt. Finally, the average price of PV inverter has fallen by 5.06 percent, to $0.244/Watt.

EnergyTrend believes that inventory turnover is still the key factor for the PV market demand recovery. Cumulative ready-for-sale inventory in Italy is around 3.5GW, and 1.5GW~2GW in other regions. On the other hand, inventory problems also exist in the polysilicon, wafer and solar cell fields. EnergyTrend estimates that it will take one to two months to digest the total inventory in stock as if all inventories were converted to equivalent cell capacity.

Apart from high inventory level, many countries have curtailed feed-in tariff policies, which resulted in a decreasing IRR ratio. Therefore, EnergyTrend believes that since many factors affected market demand and oversupply still remained, the market demand would not recover in the short run.

SANYO to demo HIT solar modules and energy storage at Intersolar 2011

MUNICH, GERMANY: SANYO Component Europe GmbH is very pleased to announce that it will be showcasing a variety of its energy creation and energy storage technology at Intersolar 2011, the world's largest solar technology trade show, to be held from June 8th to June 10th at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre in Germany (Stand 540 Hall A3). In keeping with SANYO's tradition for presenting a fun and interactive exhibition experience, this year also sees the introduction of a new host of attractions to be featured alongside these new products.

At Intersolar, SANYO will be displaying a number of models from its highly-acclaimed HIT*1 solar module series. HIT solar modules are based on thin mono crystalline silicon wafers surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers to deliver high conversion efficiency, outstanding temperature characteristics and higher output power on a given roof area compared to conventional crystalline modules, allowing users to maximize the benefits they receive from the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) subsidy schemes.

On display will be the HIT N240, SANYO's most efficient HIT solar module to date with a conversion efficiency of 21.6 percent, the HIT HD250, with a conversion efficiency of 20.8 percent, and the HIT Double bifacial solar module series.

In addition, SANYO will also be exhibiting its pioneering "Smart Energy System" (SES), incorporating its technologies for energy creation (solar modules), energy storage (rechargeable batteries) and energy saving (efficient energy usage) to optimally control energy usage and maximize efficiency in the system.

The SES is ideal for a wide variety of energy storage applications, from small scale residential systems to large scale storage systems, bringing a wide variety of benefits ranging from electricity cost reductions for individual consumers by increasing self-consumption of electricity and reducing the usage of electricity from the grid to grid stabilization for grid operators and utility companies. Samples of the battery management system and battery modules used in residential systems will be on display at the SANYO booth.

SANYO is committed to providing energy storage that meets the needs of the European market, one of the most important markets for its solar business. With its solar, lithium-ion battery and battery management technology, SANYO is pleased to pave the way for the future of local production and consumption of energy in the post-incentives era and is striving towards the realisation of a low carbon society.

Applied Materials delivers strong Q2 results

SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Materials Inc. reported results for its second quarter of fiscal 2011 ended May 1, 2011. Applied generated orders of $3.19 billion, net sales of $2.86 billion, operating income of $677 million, and net income of $489 million or $0.37 per share. Non-GAAP operating income was $685 million, and non-GAAP net income was $501 million or $0.38 per share.

“Applied delivered one of the best quarters in the company’s history, including record net sales in our solar business,” said Mike Splinter, chairman and CEO. “While near-term economic conditions have tempered our growth expectations, our outlook for the year remains strong driven by our customers’ plans to invest in the advanced technologies needed to meet growing demand for mobile devices and consumer electronics.”

Splinter added: “Earlier this month, we announced the planned acquisition of Varian Semiconductor to strengthen our leadership in the semiconductor industry and deliver value to our customers, shareholders and employees worldwide.

“We exceeded our guidance for net sales in the second quarter and delivered earnings per share at the high end of the range,” said George Davis, chief financial officer. “During the quarter, we also raised our dividend by 14 percent to 8 cents per share and generated operating cash flow of more than $700 million.”

New Berlin office of M&I Bank announces silver level LEED certification on its one-year anniversary

NEW BERLIN, USA: M&I Bank has announced that the New Berlin office, which opened one year ago, has earned LEED-NC (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – New Construction) certification at the Silver Level by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

"We were anticipating certification, and we were very pleased when the USGBC announced it as LEED Silver," said David Drake, vice president, operations support, and leader of M&I's MiPlanet corporate steering committee. "Certification at this level is recognition of meeting an even higher standard, and it reflects M&I's commitment to sustainability."

Some of the unique energy-efficient elements at the New Berlin office include a geothermal heating and cooling system, LED light fixtures, automatically controlled time relays, solar lighting tubes, and a rain garden system.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

United Solar hosts grand opening at new manufacturing facility in Ontario, Canada

AUBURN HILLS, USA & LASALLE, CANADA: United Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD), a global leader in flexible, lightweight solar products and systems, announced that it will host a grand opening ceremony today at its new manufacturing facility at 6135 Morton Industrial Parkway in LaSalle, Ontario, Canada. With this project, United Solar is deploying $8 million of capital equipment and investing an additional $4 million in facilities improvement and equipment relocation for a total investment at the LaSalle plant of $12 million.

"United Solar's investment is moving Ontario forward as a clean energy leader as we are becoming a destination point for renewable energy projects and manufacturing," said The Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy. "Projects like this are helping Ontario replace dirty, smog-producing coal, create thousands of jobs and leave a healthier future for our children and grandchildren."

The Honourable Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, said, "Today's announcement is further evidence that Ontario's clean energy industry continues to build momentum. Our feed-in tariff program is attracting international companies to our province and creating jobs for Ontario families."

United Solar will manufacture its proprietary thin-film solar laminates in the 7,000 square meter facility specifically for sale in the Ontario market. The plant will have an initial annualized capacity of 15 megawatts, but will be designed with the ability to quickly ramp to 30 megawatts once higher market demand is established. The opening of this manufacturing plant will result in the hiring of up to 80 people.

SANYO and InSpec selected as contractors for PV system and smart energy system

SAN JOSE & PORTLAND, USA: SANYO North America Corp. (SANYO) and InSpec Group (InSpec) announced a new 679-kilowatt solar system to be designed and installed by InSpec for the Oregon Sustainability Center in Portland, Oregon.

The project also includes a 30-kilowatt hour large-scale lithium-ion battery storage system, which will be connected in line with the rooftop PV system, capable of supplying DC electricity for applications such as LED lighting. InSpec will be managing the solar and smart energy system design and installation for the building which is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2013, and will employ SANYO solar modules and batteries.

The photovoltaic system will use SANYO's world-leading conversion efficiency solar modules and SANYO's newly developed "Smart Energy System" featuring large-scale lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The announcement marks the first time that SANYO's large-scale lithium-ion battery storage system will be installed in a new commercial building in combination with the SANYO solar panels in the United States.

The Oregon Sustainability Center aims to have 100 percent of the energy used by the facility produced by renewable energy sources. To accomplish this goal, the center will install a 679-kW solar system featuring SANYO HIT Power and SANYO HIT Double solar panels, using wafers manufactured from SANYO's Salem Plant, SANYO Solar of Oregon, LLC, allowing for maximum power distribution per square foot.

"The Oregon Sustainability Center is proactive in their use of green building materials, and the choice of SANYO HIT modules makes sense, as they are perfect for these types of powerful rooftop system installations, where space is limited," said Charles Hanasaki, president of the Solar and Smart Energy Division. "We value our partnership with InSpec because they share our vision of helping customers to achieve a reduction in energy consumption from non-renewable sources and improving efficiency of energy used."

Yasuyoshi Kawanishi, president of SANYO Solar of Oregon, LLC, added, "Living in Oregon, our engineers are inspired by sustainability, and it makes us proud that our work is becoming a part of Oregon, especially in a landmark building like the Oregon Sustainability Center."

InSpec worked with SANYO to propose the solar power generation and battery storage system for the facility. InSpec is the project manager for the energy systems, and will be leading each step from procurement to installation to ensuring successful equipment operation. Specific activities overseen by the company include the procurement of the various parts necessary for the systems, such as solar panels, batteries, as well as the racking and inverter systems, the design and installation of the system in the facility and the final checks to ensure proper system operation.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Solar module dynamics shift to rooftops requiring technology innovations

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Yingli Green Energy (YGE) chairman and CEO, Miao Liansheng, remarked in his earnings call of May 20 that ”As a result of policy changes, demand in Europe is shifting from ground-mounted segment toward rooftops.”

In 2010, 65 percent of global sales of 17 GW of solar modules were installed in Europe. The shifting of that much volume from solar farms to rooftops is going to require major technical changes, primarily because the sun’s position in the sky will change gradually over the course of a day and over the seasons throughout the year.

Anyone familiar with rooftop installations will observe that they are usually fixed to the roof, facing a particular direction. Solar farm installations utilize solar tracking systems to continually orient solar panels towards the sun. However, using tracking systems on rooftops in order to simulate the optimum efficiency of solar modules in a solar farm is hugely debated for several reasons.

a) While a rigid, standalone solar installation is a very reliable and uncomplicated source because the panels don’t move, adding a solar tracking system means adding moving parts and gears, which will require regular maintenance of the solar system and repair or replacement of broken parts.

b) Trackers are structurally less rigid then permanent mounts and hence can be vulnerable to storm damage.

c) Most important for rooftop installations, there are high costs and long payback times.

A 2010 article in Solar Choice notes that a 10KW installation in Sydney, Australia has an upfront cost of AU$10,000 with a payback time of nine years. Nevertheless, looking at the shape of the output of the solar cell using a tracker versus a fixed installation, the benefits are obvious.Source: Solar Choice.

Privately-held SolarPA has shown that it can use a coating of its proprietary nano-materials on top of a completed cell to obtain a similar result, as show in the graph below:Source: Solar Choice.

Not only is the efficiency higher by above 20 percent at grazing incidence of sunlight (such as dawn and dusk), but the efficiency of an uncoated cell at 90 degree incidence to the sun (such as noon) is higher by 9.4 percent when coated with its NanoCoat.

Most important, the cost of the coating is only about 3 cents per watt, about 3 percent of the production cost of a solar cell, and insignificant compared to the upfront cost of a tracker.

The enhancement in efficiency is also going to be critical to the success of non-Chinese solar cell/module manufacturers. In 2010, while 65 percent of solar cells were installed in Europe in 2010, only 13 percent of solar cells were manufactured there. Greater China manufactured nearly 60 percent of the worldwide solar cells in 2010 and exported more than 90 percent.

US and Taiwanese solar cell producers have reported large sequential drops in revenues in this latest quarter while foreign manufacturers Jinko Solar (JKS), Canadian Solar (CSIQ) , and Yingli expects second quarter shipments to exhibit double-digit growth.

GT Solar ships 3000th DSS multicrystalline ingot growth furnace

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of polysilicon production technology, and sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the solar, LED and other specialty markets, announced that it has shipped its 3000th DSS multicrystalline ingot growth furnace. Taiwan-based Gigastorage Corporation will install the milestone system, a DSS450HP, in its multicrystalline wafer production facility in Hsinchu.

“Achieving the milestone shipment of our 3000th DSS ingot growth furnace is a testimony to the reliability and longevity of our DSS architecture that continues to deliver sustained value to customers eight years after its market introduction,” said Tom Gutierrez, president and chief executive officer of GT Solar. “We are pleased to recognize Gigastorage Corp., a valued GT customer, as the recipient of our 3000th DSS furnace.”

GT Solar introduced its first DSS crystallization system, the DSS240, in 2003. The DSS architecture was designed to accommodate future advancements in crystalline growth process technology. Customers can easily upgrade their existing furnaces to achieve higher levels of performance and throughput.

The latest generation DSS650, which the company announced in January 2011, continues this commitment to delivering higher levels of productivity and efficiency while lowering the cost of manufacturing. The DSS240 was capable of producing multicrystalline ingots of 240 kilograms. That same customer could upgrade those DSS240 furnaces to the DSS650 level of performance with minor equipment and process changes and start producing ingots greater than 625 kilograms.

Swiss researchers boost efficiency of flexible solar cells to new world record

SWITZERLAND: Scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have further boosted the energy conversion efficiency of flexible solar cells made of copper indium gallium (di)selenide (also known as CIGS) to a new world record of 18.7 percent – a significant improvement over the previous record of 17.6 percent achieved by the same team in June 2010. The measurements have been independently certified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany.

It's all about the money. To make solar electricity affordable on a large scale, scientists and engineers worldwide have long been trying to develop a low-cost solar cell, which is both highly efficient and easy to manufacture with high throughput. Now a team at Empa's Laboratory for Thin Film and Photovoltaics, led by Ayodhya N. Tiwari, has made a major step forward.

"The new record value for flexible CIGS solar cells of 18.7 percent nearly closes the "efficiency gap" to solar cells based on polycrystalline silicon (Si) wafers or CIGS thin film cells on glass", says Tiwari. He is convinced that "flexible and lightweight CIGS solar cells with efficiencies comparable to the "best-in-class" will have excellent potential to bring about a paradigm shift and to enable low-cost solar electricity in the near future."

One major advantage of flexible high-performance CIGS solar cells is the potential to lower manufacturing costs through roll-to-roll processing while at the same time offering a much higher efficiency than the ones currently on the market. What's more, such lightweight and flexible solar modules offer additional cost benefits in terms of transportation, installation, structural frames for the modules etc., i.e., they significantly reduce the so-called "balance of system” costs.

Taken together, the new CIGS polymer cells exhibit numerous advantages for applications such as facades, solar farms and portable electronics. With high-performance devices now within reach, the new results suggest that monolithically-interconnected flexible CIGS solar modules with efficiencies above 16 percent should be achievable with the recently developed processes and concepts.

At the forefront of efficiency improvements
In recent years, thin film photovoltaic technology based on glass substrates has gained sufficient maturity towards industrial production; flexible CIGS technology is, however, still an emerging field. The recent improvements in efficiency in research labs and pilot plants – among others by Tiwari's group, first at ETH Zurich and since a couple of years now at Empa – are contributing to performance improvements and to overcoming manufacturability barriers.

Working closely with scientists at FLISOM, a start-up company who is scaling up and commercializing the technology, the Empa team made significant progress in low-temperature growth of CIGS layers yielding flexible CIGS cells that are ever more efficient, up from a record value of 14.1 percent in 2005 to the new "high score" of 18.7 percent for any type of flexible solar cell grown on polymer or metal foil.

The latest improvements in cell efficiency were made possible through a reduction in recombination losses by improving the structural properties of the CIGS layer and the proprietary low-temperature deposition process for growing the layers as well as in situ doping with Na during the final stage. With these results, polymer films have for the first time proven to be superior to metal foils as a carrier substrate for achieving highest efficiency.

Record efficiencies of up to 17.5 percent on steel foils covered with impurity diffusion barriers were so far achieved with CIGS growth processes at temperatures exceeding 550°C. However, when applied to steel foil without any diffusion barrier, the proprietary low temperature CIGS deposition process developed by Empa and FLISOM for polymer films easily matched the performance achieved with high-temperature procedure, resulting in an efficiency of 17.7 percent.

The results suggest that commonly used barrier coatings for detrimental impurities on metal foils would not be required. "Our results clearly show the advantages of the low-temperature CIGS deposition process for achieving highest efficiency flexible solar cells on polymer as well as metal foils", says Tiwari. The projects were supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), EU Framework Programmes as well as by Swiss companies W.Blösch AG and FLISOM.

Scaling up production of flexible CIGS solar cells
The continuous improvement in energy conversion efficiencies of flexible CIGS solar cells is no small feat, says Empa Director Gian-Luca Bona. "What we see here is the result of an in-depth understanding of the material properties of layers and interfaces combined with an innovative process development in a systematic manner. Next, we need to transfer these innovations to industry for large scale production of low-cost solar modules to take off." Empa scientists are currently working together with FLISOM to further develop manufacturing processes and to scale up production.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Semiconductors for solar and wind installations grew to $1.4 billion in 2010

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Riding on the coattail of huge increases in alternative energy installs in 2010, semiconductors used in these applications saw double digit growth, according to a new report from The Information Network, titled: Semiconductors for Alternative Energy Technologies: Opportunities and Markets.

The market for semiconductors for solar and wind grew 25.4 percent in 2010, reaching revenues of $1.4 billion. Revenues from these two alternative energy technologies will grow another 26.5 percent in 2011.

Renewable, alternative energy technologies continue to grab the attention of private industries and world governments. Semiconductors are used in these technologies to convert the energy or power to something functional, such as converting solar energy into electricity.

Semiconductors used in products such as inverters, include MOSFETs, IGBTs, SiC, microcontrollers, DSPs and discretes. The overall global market for PV inverters well more than doubled in 2010, driven by main European markets. While the top 10 inverter suppliers were European, IC manufacturers of these devices have a more global presence.

Alternative energy technologies analyzed in the report are: Solar, wind, fuel cells, storage, geothermal and nuclear.

GT Solar announces ASF100 advanced sapphire growth system

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of polysilicon production technology, and sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the solar, LED and other specialty markets, announced the ASF100 advanced sapphire growth system. The ASF100 increases yielded output of sapphire material by producing a larger, 100 kilogram sapphire boule in the same chamber as previous versions of the furnace.

“We have received an enthusiastic response from early adopter customers for our ASF sapphire growth systems as they enter the market to provide high quality sapphire material for the fast-growing LED industry,” said Cheryl Diuguid, VP and GM of GT Solar’s sapphire equipment and materials group. “Our advanced sapphire crystallization systems are built on a highly scalable and reliable architecture that lets customers quickly ramp to volume production with a lower capital investment compared with other competing crystallization technologies.”

With over 40 years of proven sapphire production and crystalline growth process technology, the ASF100 provides a highly automated, low risk operating environment, capable of producing consistently uniform sapphire boules that yield high quality material ideally suited for high brightness (HB) LED applications. “With competing crystallization technologies customers entering the sapphire crystallization market are forced to choose between systems that provided quality or systems that offer high throughput,” continued Diuguid. “Our ASF100 offers high quality and high volume so customers get both in one system.”

Since the commercial introduction of the ASF system in the fall of 2010, GT has booked more than $450 million in orders from new entrants and existing sapphire producers. The ASF100 advanced sapphire furnace offers a proven path to producing high-quality, large-area sapphire substrates for markets that demand the highest grade material.

ARC Energy strongly denies all GT Solar Hong Kong and GT Solar Crystal Systems LLC litigation claims

NASHUA, USA: Advanced RenewableEnergy Co. LLC (ARC Energy) issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Daniel Lyman, secretary and general counsel:

“ARC Energy has reviewed the Complaint filed last week by GT Solar Crystal Systems LLC and GT Solar Hong Kong, Limited and found it completely without merit. ARC’s sapphire crystallization equipment and processes are entirely our own. We will defend against this action vigorously and we intend to win.

“GT’s action will not distract ARC Energy’s commitment to providing its customers with the most advanced technologies and best possible products and services. Nor will it distract us from our mission to deliver innovative, highly automated, sapphire crystal growth equipment and services which dramatically reduce production costs.”

Sulfurcell will be Solecture: Ten years of excellence in CIS-technology and solar construction

BERLIN, GERMANY: On the ten-year anniversary of its founding, CIS thin-film pioneer Sulfurcell will be renamed Soltecture. The Berlin-based company’s new name reflects the excellence of the company’s integrated solar solutions.

“The renaming is a logical step that takes the evolution of our company into account. The new name ‘Soltecture’ gets to the heart of our core competencies and stands for superior performance in solar, technology, and architecture. With the renaming we are signaling and underlining the development of the company from module manufacturer to a provider of optimum integrated PV system solutions.”

Soltecture (Sulfurcell) can look back on a ten-year history of success in CIS thin-film technology. Soltecture has been a pioneer in the PV thin-film space since its founding and continues its technological leadership today. From the early module market introduction of thin-film modules based on CIS semiconductors in 2005 and the ramp-up of three fabrication lines to recent record efficiencies of 13 percent with innovative CIGSe technology, Soltecture stands for excellence in thin-film.

Soltecture has received multiple awards for its cutting-edge research and product development. In 2010 Eurosolar awarded the company the badge of the German Solarprize and the Germany-wide initiative “Land of Ideas” recognized Soltecture (Sulfurcell) as an exemplary and sustainable company. Furthermore, the UK’s Guardian newspaper listed Soltecture among the “hottest 100 clean technology companies in Europe” in the years 2009 and 2010.

Technology roadmap: 14 percent efficiency, 90 percent yield in 10-16 months
Soltecture achieves worldwide peak results with CIS solar modules based on CIGSe semiconductors. The company unveiled the new high-efficiency modules to the public at the end of 2010. TÜV Rheinland officially confirmed the output of 94 watt or 12.6 percent aperture efficiency. Only weeks later 13.0 percent has already been achieved. Industrial mass production of the new products has begun. During continuing shift operation (24/7) within just three months of the start of production, a yield of over 80% has been achieved. More than 4 out of 5 high efficiency solar modules produced are meeting the required specifications.

The rapid increase in yields in Soltecture’s state-of-the-art mass production and the marginal deviance in module power (90W +/- 3W) confirm process stability, which is widely recognized as an extraordinary challenge in thin-film module production.

This rapid advancement affirms Soltecture’s position as one of the leading players in the CIS thin-film space and the ambitious roadmap for the company. In the coming 10-16 months, module-efficiency will be increased to more than 14%. Production yields will increase to over 90%. Based on successful quality control and on the background of series production readiness, the sales and distribution of the new modules have already begun.

Highest efficiency potentials with CIGSe-modules in thin-film space
Since the end of 2008, Soltecture has begun work on second generation technology, which deploys a CIS layer based on selenium instead of sulfur (indicated by the abbreviation CIGSe instead of CIGS). In the laboratory this technology has been proven to yield the highest efficiencies in the thin-film space.

CIGS- and CIGSe modules are produced with the same equipment in Soltecture’s 35MW production plant in Berlin, Germany. Only for the CIGSe coating process, new specially developed equipment is being used. Yearly production capacity for the product line CIGS is 20MW; the capacity for CIGSe is currently being expanded from 5MW to 15MW.

Soltecture’s research and development work as well as its highly flexible production line in Berlin provides the ideal framework for the development and production of the thin-film products of the future.

From manufacturer to integrated system solution provider
In ten years, Soltecture has evolved from a leading manufacturer of high-performance thin-film modules to a provider of integrated system solutions. Soltecure offers standardised solutions for intelligent integration of their high-performance and optically aesthetic thin-film modules for construction challenges such as roofs, factories, and modern facades.

“With their engineering expertise and years of experience in solar technology our engineers constantly develop new PV solutions that are perfectly adjusted for solar architecture,“ explains Henrik Kruepper, executive director and chief sales officer at Soltecture. “We offer our clients solar integration from one source and that makes us successful in the market.“

These developments have been made possible by the trust of international investors. In recent years, renowned international investors including Intel Capital, Climate Change Capital, and the Vattenfall Europe- and GdF Suez-supported BEU Fund have provided Soltecture with growth financing amounting to more than 110 million Euros.

In the newest financing round on January 2011 investors led by Intel Capital provided 18.8 million Euros for the further development of the company’s innovative CIGSe techology. With this fresh capital, Soltecture is forging ahead with development of production machinery and increasing the capacity of its fully-automated manufacturing facility for the new CIGSe modules.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ascent Solar to exhibit at Intersolar 2011 in Munich, Germany

Intersolar Europe 2011, THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of state-of-the-art, flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules, announced that it will be exhibiting at booth number A4-161 during the upcoming Intersolar 2011 trade fair on June 8-10, 2009 in Munich, Germany.

Intersolar 2011 is expected to attract up to 60,000 professional attendees with 50 percent from abroad. Ascent will have samples of its WaveSol modules on display including integrated products that demonstrate the unique capabilities of its technology.

SDG&E signs new contracts with Soitec for 125 MW of solar power in San Diego

SAN DIEGO, USA & BERNIN, FRANCE: San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and subsidiaries of Soitec Solar Development, LLC, a renewable energy company managed by Soitec (Euronext Paris), announced the signing of two additional 25-year contracts for a total of 125 megawatts (MW) of solar energy to be generated in the utility’s service territory. The energy will be produced using Soitec’s Concentrix concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology with solar modules manufactured in a new Soitec factory to be built in the San Diego area.

These new agreements are separate from the three San Diego contracts the two companies signed in April for 30 MW of CPV-generated solar power. Combined, the five contracts SDG&E recently signed with Soitec represent five separate projects capable of generating a combined total of 155 megawatts of clean, renewable solar power, or enough energy to supply more than 60,000 homes. Both of the new proposed projects will be located in San Diego County and will be situated near SDG&E electric substations.

“Our projects with Soitec will bring local jobs to the community and will help us to meet our renewable energy goals,” said James P. Avery, SDG&E’s senior vice president of power supply. “We are very confident in our choice of technology and in Soitec’s plans for a solar panel manufacturing facility in the San Diego region.”

Today’s announcement confirms the attractiveness of Soitec’s renewable energy technology – which generates large amounts of power with industry-leading efficiency and low environmental impact – in areas such as Southern California with abundant sunshine.

“These new contracts with SDG&E reinforce Soitec’s decision to build its new manufacturing site in the San Diego area, and confirms the importance of the U.S. market for our company,” said André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Soitec. “We are very pleased to have a direct role in bringing ‘home grown’ solar energy to the people of San Diego.”

Soitec’s new manufacturing facility will have an annual production capacity of 200 MW and will supply all of SDG&E’s projects with Soitec’s exclusive Concentrix CPV technology, which produces power at a much higher efficiency relative to standard solar panels. At full capacity, Soitec’s San Diego operations facility will generate up to 450 direct jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs. The factory location is expected to be announced this summer, with completion within 18 months of construction start.

The power contracts require approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.

Solarion AG starts construction of new plant in Zwenkau near Leipzig

GERMANY: With a ground breaking ceremony Solarion AG started the construction of an integrated solar cell and module factory in the presence of the Saxon State Minister of Economic Affairs, Labor and Transport, Sven Morlok. On a three hectares site in the new industrial park Zwenkau-South (section of the industrial park Leipzig-South) Solarion’s first production facility for mass manufacturing of thin-film solar cells and modules is being developed.

“Today’s ground breaking ceremony constitutes an important and future-oriented event for Saxony’s solar industry and the further development of the location. Especially in the world of today in which renewable energies become increasingly essential for a sustainable, safe and affordable energy supply, completely new chances are opening up for Saxony’s solar industry. At the same time the event is a sign for excellent growth perspectives after the difficulties during the last years for the industrial sector,” Minister Morlok emphasizes in his greeting.

The company in Leipzig invests about 40 million Euros in the plant and creates 90 new jobs. As a whole, 140 employees will be working in the plant with a production area of 12,000 square meters. The annual production volume is designed for 20 megawatt. At the beginning of 2012 the factory goes into operation.

“The construction project is an important step to shift our R&D efforts from the pilot production phase into mass production. Photovoltaic has great perspectives and with our proprietary technology we will develop an important market share“, Dr. Karsten Otte, CEO of the Solarion AG, said. The investment of the new plant is promoted by funds of the Free State of Saxony.

In the plant, Solarion produces highly efficient and at the same time cost-effective thin-film solar modules using copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS). This technology has the highest efficiency potential in the photovoltaic thin-film sector. Thanks to the advanced material qualities as well as the patented manufacturing processes Solarion aims at a leading position on the photovoltaic market.

Among others the commitment of the large Asian group Walsin Lihwa Corp. facilitated the introduction of series production. With 40 million Euros its wholly owned subsidiary Ally Energy acquired an interest in October last year with 49 percent. Within the context of an extensive technological cooperation both companies will further develop the thin-film technology.

By means of Solarion’s ground breaking ceremony at the same time the development of the new industrial park Zwenkau-South is being initiated. The area with a size of 15 hectares is being developed by the Weidenhammer Packaging Group (WPG) together with the administration union BöhlenLippendorf. The WPG, one of the both leading suppliers of composite cans, composite drums and plastic containers worldwide, considerably extends its previous Zwenkau production facilities in the industrial area and now is delighted to be able to welcome the first neighbor.

“As a company that has been located in Zwenkau since 2006 we are fully convinced of the advantages of this location. The new industrial area provides us space for further growth of our plastics business. All the more, we are extremely pleased that with Solarion another globally acting company could be won for ‘Zwenkau South’. We are looking forward to a good neighborhood and cooperation”, adds Ralf Weidenhammer, MD of the Weidenhammer Packaging Group.

Amonix celebrates milestone at Southern Nevada manufacturing facility

NORTH LAS VEGAS, USA: Amonix Inc., the leading designer and manufacturer of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems, celebrated the completion of the manufacturing ramp-up of its 214,000 square foot manufacturing facility on North Pecos Road in North Las Vegas, with Nevada state and local officials and the Company’s manufacturing services partner – recognized clean tech solutions provider Flextronics (NASDAQ: FLEX).

The facility manufactures Amonix CPV solar power systems and now employs over 300 local residents in management, technical and production jobs. The Amonix systems manufactured at the facility are made in part with electricity generated by an Amonix 7700 system.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was presided over by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and other local officials.

“This is exactly the kind of project we’ve envisioned to get Nevada to its goal of generating 25 percent of its power from renewable sources and efficiency improvements by 2025,” said Governor Sandoval. “The facility’s construction and operation have created renewable energy jobs. As a stable, clean source of energy, it will support broad economic growth that walks lightly on the environment.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “Nevada is fortunate to have such abundant natural resources like solar, wind and geothermal energy. The opening of this state-of-the-art plant proves that we can and should be manufacturing the tools to harvest that energy right here in Nevada in order to create good-paying jobs. Amonix has chosen to open this plant in Nevada thanks in part to the tax credits included in the Economic Recovery Act. These are the policies we must continue pursuing as we work together to ensure Nevada leads the nation in clean energy jobs.”

“Nevada’s future is in clean energy, and this facility demonstrates how we can create jobs and expand the availability of solar energy materials at the same time,” said Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. “America’s energy security depends on our ability to harness the sun and other renewable resources to power homes and businesses nationwide, and Amonix and its workforce are doing their part to help us meet this critical challenge. I am pleased to have supported federal funding for this new manufacturing facility that is contributing to our local economy and providing good local jobs, while also serving as a shining example of how solar and other clean energy technologies are not only good for the environment, but good for business.”

"We at the City of North Las Vegas are thrilled Amonix is off to such a strong start," said North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck. "They have exceeded our expectations for job creation, strengthening our belief that clean-energy jobs are key to a prosperous and sustainable future."

“We’ve partnered with Amonix for a number of years already, and we are very pleased that they selected Nevada for one of their major solar equipment manufacturing plants,” said Tom Fair, NV Energy’s vice president of renewable energy. “Thanks to good business partners like Amonix, our state has one of the highest per capita uses of solar energy in the nation, and our portfolio of solar resources now totals nearly 300 megawatts of approved projects.”

In addition to bringing private sector clean energy jobs to Southern Nevada, the facility will bring $560 million of overall economic impact to Southern Nevada in the next five years, according to the Nevada Development Authority. The nearly $18-million project was financed with a $5.9 million investment tax credit from the Recovery Act awarded to Amonix in 2010 and another $12 million in private capital.

“We are pleased to be celebrating a milestone today at our North Las Vegas facility. We committed to creating 278 green jobs, and I am proud to say that today, over 300 Nevadans are back to work making the world’s most efficient solar systems right here in Nevada!” said Brian Robertson, CEO of Amonix. “We would not be here today without the efforts of elected officials, including Mayor Buck, and organizations like the Nevada Development Authority who championed this project both for the employment and economic benefits it brings to area residents, and the statement it makes about Nevada’s commitment to renewable energy. We are thrilled to be up and running in the City of the North Las Vegas.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Intersolar Europe presents latest trends in PV

MUNICH, GERMANY: Technological developments in the area of photovoltaics are advancing daily. As a result, the cost of solar power is falling and new concepts are being developed for generating electricity in the future. Photovoltaics plays a major role at the world's largest exhibition for the solar industry, Intersolar Europe in Munich.

From June 8-10, 2011, around 2,000 companies will showcase the latest trends and developments in this field alone, with photovoltaics once again occupying a large part of the exhibition. Approximately 300 of these companies work in both photovoltaics and solar thermal technology. In an exhibition space covering 165,000 square meters, a total of 2,200 companies from around the world will present their products and services in the areas of photovoltaics, PV production technology and solar thermal technology.

Faced with the environmental challenges that go hand in hand with supplying energy to an increasing global population, numerous incentive programs across the globe have emerged for developing renewable energy - most recently in India and China for example. At the same time, the German feed-in tariff is falling. Therefore, researchers and industry are working against the clock to achieve grid parity - the point at which electricity from photovoltaic installations can be sold at a competitive price.

Greater efficiency for greater performance
The rise in solar module efficiency is particularly encouraging as regards improving the performance of solar installations. As recently as February, researchers at Freiburg's Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE posted a new record for the efficiency of large-area, easy-to-manufacture silicon solar cells, reaching 19.3 percent - these cells could soon emerge on the market.

Researchers are pursuing different avenues to increase solar cell efficiency. Selecting optimal silicon material and developing new innovative production methods and technologies both play their role in boosting efficiency. Such methods include improving emitters, for example, which collect the electric charge carriers. This was also the approach adopted by researchers at Fraunhofer ISE, who developed an aluminum-doped emitter for their record breaking module. Nanotechnology and pioneering laser processing techniques, which are used for example in optimizing the rear surface structure of the solar cell, are also paving the way for innovative and highly efficient systems.

Improved production plants for high output modules
The last 20 years have witnessed some irrefutable technological advances in photovoltaics. In 1989, the world record for the efficiency of multicrystalline silicon solar cells stood at 14.5 percent. In 2004, this rose to 17.7 percent and the 20 percent mark is already in sight for 2011. Developments in this field are first and foremost thanks to improved production methods. For example, improved silicon crystallization processes in modern plants can alone raise module efficiency by at least 0.4 percent.

This year, Intersolar Europe is therefore once again dedicating an entire hall to innovations in production technology for photovoltaic cells and modules. In cooperation with the SEMI PV Group, the global industry association of equipment and material manufacturers specializing in photovoltaics, Intersolar Europe will host 200 national and international exhibitors in hall A5 where they will showcase products and services in the PV production technology field across 11,000 square meters of exhibition space.

An structured insight into a diverse market
It must be pointed out that the examples listed are just a taste of the technological advances in this extremely diverse industry. In addition to developments in the field of crystalline silicon solar cells, consumers today are confronted with an array of alternative systems, particularly thin-film technologies based on CIS/CIGS, cadmium telluride and the new copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS).

Around 2,000 exhibitors will present their latest developments in the fields of photovoltaics and PV production technology at Intersolar Europe, giving visitors a unique overview of the global developments in the industry. The exhibition's accompanying program will also shine a light on the industry's world-class innovations and give visitors the chance to delve deeper into the diverse exhibition themes.

On June 8, 2011, the Intersolar AWARD will be presented for the fourth time running. The award pays tribute to companies, products and services in the categories of "Photovoltaics", "Solar Thermal Technology" and "PV Production Technology". Visitors wanting to discover the latest trends and newest products should go along to Intersolar Europe's Innovation Exchange which will provide an overview of the latest innovations. Here, exhibitors are given fifteen minutes to present their innovations - this will run in parallel throughout the entire exhibition.

Innovations in application
Intersolar Europe not only focuses on technology itself, but also shines the spotlight on innovative applications and system solutions, such as those involved in using unconventional surfaces for photovoltaic installations. Alternative surfaces for photovoltaic installations - such as carport roofing - are currently taking center stage in the industry.

Solar carports are a worthwhile alternative to conventional surfaces because no additional ground sealing is required and they offer huge potential. The largest installation of this type is located in Italy and is already boasting an output of six megawatts. Furthermore, the costs are only slightly higher than those for free-standing installations. The industry is currently developing multiple new ideas so that, in the future, the power generated from the carports may be used directly or indirectly for parked electric vehicles.

The future of photovoltaics will also feature, for example, in Intersolar Europe's Special Exhibition "PV ENERGY WORLD" in hall B5, booth B5.130, where the German energy mix of the future will be explained. The four thematic areas of "Smart Grid", "Smart Building and E-Mobility", "Smart PV Cities" and "Smart PV Technology and Economy" will illustrate how to increase the share of solar energy in German energy consumption in the future.

Munich welcomes the international solar industry
From June 8-10, 2011 the international solar industry will convene at the New Munich Trade Fair Center for Intersolar Europe 2011. The world's largest exhibition for the solar industry will feature 2,200 international exhibitors presenting their products and services across 165,000 square meters of exhibition space, spanning 15 exhibition halls and an outdoor exhibition area.

Over 75,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to attend Intersolar Europe 2011, all eager to find out about the latest products and services in the fields of photovoltaics, PV production technology and solar thermal technology.

Intersolar Europe 2011 will take place from June 8-10 at the New Munich Trade Fair Center.

GT Solar receives $228 million order for polysilicon production equipment and technology from South Korean polysilicon producer OCI

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Solar International Inc., a global provider of polysilicon production technology, and sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the solar, LED and other specialty markets, announced that it has received its largest order to date for polysilicon production equipment and technology totaling $228 million from South Korea-based polysilicon producer OCI Co. Ltd.

The production equipment will be incorporated into OCI’s new Phase 4 production facility. The order will be included in GT Solar’s backlog for its current Q1 FY12, which ends on July 2, 2011.

“OCI is a long-time valued partner and we are proud that our polysilicon production technology has been selected for their new production facility,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Solar’s president and CEO. “We continue to drive down the cost of polysilicon production by delivering technology that improves throughput and lowers operating expense."

OCI expects to complete construction of its 20,000 metric ton Phase 4 production plant by the 4th quarter of 2012. When the plant becomes fully operational it is expected to increase OCI’s total production polysilicon capacity to 62,000 metric tons annually.

GT Solar’s polysilicon production equipment includes the industry’s most productive and energy efficient CVD reactors and a full range of technology including hydrochlorination, filament and product processing equipment to provide a complete end-to-end production solution.

PV market demand yet to materialize, as price decline continues

TAIWAN: Though the uncertainties about the Italian policy change have been resolved, the end market demand has not materialized. As the wait-and-see attitude in the PV market remains, an obvious price decrease appeared once again. According to EnergyTrend’s survey, the spot price of polysilicon first dropped to under $70/kg, and the price pressure has shifted to polysilicon manufacturers.

On the other hand, the average spot price of solar cells also decreased below $1.0/Watt, which showed that the market demand is still low. Manufacturers indicated that the market visibility is so low that the price is not the most important determinant at this stage, and that the material procurement will depend on the amount of sales orders.

Furthermore, the price of polysilicon has decreased by 7.25% to 67.45/kg. EnergyTrend believes that under the circumstance of high polysilicon price, polysilicon manufacturers have to share their profits with clients. However, a huge price pressure of Si-wafer still remains, so the average price of multi-Si wafer has dropped by 7.09%, to $2.685/piece, and that of mono-Si wafer has fallen by 9.43 percent to $2.978/piece.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Besides, the solar cell market spot price remains at $0.9/Watt with the lowest surveyed price dipping below $0.9/watt in the market. The average solar cell price has decreased by 5.34 percent to $0.957/Watt. Moreover, due to a weak demand in the module market, the average price has consistently decreased by 3.23 percent to $1.406/Watt. Finally, the average price of thin film has fallen by 5.3 percent to 1.09/Watt, affected by a continued decrease in the PV module price.

In terms of contract price, according to EnergyTrend’s survey, the gap between contract price and spot price of polysilicon has increased to $3.0/kg. Under the circumstance of a decreasing spot price, re-negotiation and longer lead time have occurred in the contract market.

Moreover, due to a decrease in the market spot price, the contract prices of wafer, cell, and module have been under pressure and follow the spot market price. The contract price of polysilcion has decreased by 3.11 percent to $64.375/kg; multi-Si wafer has fallen by 11.76 percent to $3.0/piece; solar cell has dropped by 9.74 percent to $1.056/Watt; and module has reduced by 7.17 percent to $1.502/Watt.

IBM teams with Bureau of Energy Efficiency to prepare for India’s first smart grid project

NEW DELHI, INDIA: IBM announced a collaboration with The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in India to create the country’s first smart grid project. Together, they will create a cost benefit analysis for smart grid activities as part of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE).

A BEE project, NMEEE is one of eight national missions that promote innovative policy and regulatory regimes, financing mechanisms, and business models that help sustain the market for energy efficiency.

Through this project, IBM plans to apply its deep services expertise to help determine smart grid readiness in India. The company will lay out a strategic assessment framework with an Indian perspective that looks at the adoption of new smart grid technologies, and identifies alignments in policy and regulatory frameworks to make each solution possible. It will help BEE determine global smart grid potential and also create toolkits for regulators and utilities for assessing benefits of smart grid investment decisions.

“With the growth of the economy and the enhanced demand for energy, efficient use of energy resources and their conservation takes center stage—this is vital in restricting wasteful consumption while sustaining development,” said Kapil Mohan, IAS, Deputy Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, “Saving energy is a national cause and we need to work in unison to make India an energy efficient economy and society so that not only do we remain competitive within our own market but also internationally.”

As a part of this collaboration, IBM will generate the smart grid business case and tools that will help calculate the return on investment for all smart grid projects being rolled out country-wide and also within the ISGAN (International Smart Grid Action Network), of which BEE is a member.

The ISGAN network facilitates cooperation in smart grid policy and standardizes, regulates and finances technology research development and demonstration, workforce skills and knowledge development, including consumer participation at all levels. ISGAN participants include Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, European Commission, France, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“There is a huge demand for power grids that are energy efficient, intelligent and secure. Through this collaboration with BEE, our aim is to help overcome inefficiencies in the existing grid and move toward more sustainable energy networks,” said Avinash V. Joshi, director, Communications Sector, IBM India/South Asia. “The anticipated growth of the Indian power sector is substantial and this project will advance smart grid adoption across the country.”

The acceleration of smart grids in an emerging market like India is vital. With an estimated 1 million people around the world moving into cities each week, experts predict population in the world’s cities will double by 2050. Governments, regulators and utility companies need to ensure that our cities and villages will survive under the crush of demand for access to the power grid. Adding generation capacity and building additional analog utility grids is not the most efficient answer. By contrast, smart grids improve energy system performance, reduce energy loss and enhance customer service.

The infusion of digital intelligence also enables the power grids to automate, monitor and control the two-way flow of energy across all aspects of the energy value chain—from power plant to plug. Smart grids use sensors, smart meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automate, monitor and control the flow of energy and providing timely and detailed information on energy consumption, thereby empowering consumers to be more efficient in their energy use. A smart grid will seamlessly integrate all sustainable energy technologies—from electric vehicles to solar systems and wind farms—and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Utilities around the world are adopting smart grid technology to make the power infrastructure robust, self-healing, adaptive, interactive and cost-effective.

Solar3D makes rapid progress on technology development

SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, announced that its technology development is ahead of schedule.

Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, the company’s innovative solar cell technology utilizes a 3-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. Solar3D’s management believes that this breakthrough solar cell design will dramatically change the economics of solar energy.

Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, said: “Our fast progress has pushed us past the primary design and simulation phase onto fabrication research and planning activities. Our team is spending more time in the lab and clean room preparing for the actual building of a prototype. We are quite excited about our breakthroughs and the speed of our progress.

Key elements of the progress include the following elements:

* Completed the design of the optical Light Collector element that funnels light into the light trapping 3D micro-photovoltaic element.
* The engineers are now close to completing the design of a complete prototype cell that will allow us to calculate the overall conversion efficiency.
* Orders are being placed for items required in the manufacturing process, such as etching masks and materials. We believe our design for manufacturability using existing high-speed semiconductor processes will be the key to the affordable mass production of Solar3D cells.

Nelson continued: “Our effort is focused on completing the prototype so that we can initiate conversations with a fabrication partner in the semiconductor business. We have made substantial preparation to begin those discussions. We are getting closer and closer to making our superefficient 3-dimensional silicon solar cell a reality.”

Which is worse: Buying solar panels from China or oil from OPEC?

Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network.

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Greater China continues to increase production of solar cells while exporting more than 90 percent of its product, according to a report, Opportunities in the Solar Market for Crystalline and Thin Film Solar Cells, recently published by The Information Network, a New Tripoli, PA market research company.

Greater China manufactured nearly 60 percent of the worldwide solar cells in 2010 and exported more than 90 percent. As the world moves to alternative energy sources, it begs the question '“Which is Worse: Buying Solar Panels from China or Oil from OPEC?”

Nine of the top 15 solar panel makers in the world are from China. With the Chinese renowned for low-cost manufacturing, can the non-Chinese solar manufacturers compete against the likes of Suntech Power, JA Solar, Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar, Gintech, Motech and Canadian Solar?Total cell production from the China/Taiwan region increased 152 percent, from 5,630 MW in 2009 to 14,193 MW in 2010, representing 59.4 percent of global production, up from 50 percent in 2009.

While 65 percent of solar cells were installed in Europe in 2010, only 13 percent of solar cells were manufactured there. Production increased 49 percent in Europe in 2010, while global production increased 110 percent. Production in North America increased 93 percent in 2010.

To make matters worse, China is adding another 14GW of capacity in 2011.

Clearly, the Obama energy stimulus package must include ways to generate jobs here in the US. The alternative energy program in the US needs an Energy Czar to enable job production, and I volunteer my services.