Thursday, June 30, 2011

Avian Securities announces expansion of its equity research platform into renewable energy

BOSTON, USA: Avian Securities LLC has announced the further expansion of its equity research platform into Renewable Energy research. We would like to welcome two senior analysts who join our team of research professionals covering an increasingly broad base of technology companies.

Mark W. Bachman joins Avian as a Senior Research Analyst covering renewable technology stocks. Mark has been actively covering the renewable energy sector since 2007, and was most recently a Managing Director at Auriga USA. Prior to Auriga, Mark spent six years as a Principal and Senior Equity Analyst at Pacific Crest Securities where he covered both renewable energy technology and semiconductor capital equipment stocks starting in 2003.

Mark started his Wall Street career as a sell-side research associate at Thomas Weisel Partners in 2000 covering semiconductor-related technologies. Mark’s prior industry experience includes positions at Wind River Systems and Intel. Mark holds a B.S. in Finance from California State University, Sacramento, and a MBA from the University of Washington.

Robert Spandau joins Avian as a Senior Research Analyst working on the renewable technology team. Robert has been actively researching the renewable energy sector since 2006, and was most recently publishing sell-side research at Auriga USA. Prior to Auriga, Robert worked as a buy-side analyst at Susquehanna where he researched alternative energy and semiconductor technology stocks. Roberts’s prior industry experience includes positions at TDK, Applied Materials, Schlumberger, and Genus; he also served as a nuclear power trained surface line officer in the United States Navy. Robert earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from US Naval Academy.

Avian Securities is a FINRA & SIPC member firm with key offices in Boston and New York specializing in brokerage services and equity research for institutional investors. Avian assists its clients in their development of a more complete understanding of new trends in the technology marketplace and important strategic changes for more established technology companies. Through unbiased in-depth analysis of end markets and key technologies, Avian provides customers with insightful commentary regarding investment opportunities.

Avian Securities specializes in the following subsectors within its Research Universe: LCD, RFID, LEDs, Handsets, Wireless Equipment, Wireline Equipment, Networking Equipment, Renewable Energy, Storage Systems, Memory, Processors, HDDs, SSDs, PCs, Tablets, Servers, and their sub-components.

Spire expands solar representation to South Korea

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp. announced that JEIS Holdings Co. Ltd (JEIS) of Ansan-City, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea will represent Spire's solar products and services throughout the country.

“The Korean solar industry has been on the rise for many years,” said Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire. “Our VP of Business Development in Asia, Jae-Bok Young, has worked very hard to identify the company that best fits Spire’s needs in Korea and has successfully secured the representation of JEIS.”

He continued: “The Korean Government has implemented one of the largest stimulus programs to encourage the use of green energies. It has also created substantial Solar Feed-in Tariff programs. With JEIS located in Korea, Spire can better address these opportunities and provide direct service to its customers throughout the nation.”

Everything you wanted to know about solar cells – Part 2

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network, USA.

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Manufacturing a solar cell requires a substantial investment in equipment and materials. Since there are a variety of types of solar cells, each requires its own set of materials and manufacturing equipment. For example, there is nearly no synergy in equipment to make a crystalline silicon solar cell versus a thin film amorphous silicon solar cell.

The top 13 vendors of solar equipment registered sales of $6.3 billion in 2010, representing 61 percent of the $10.3 billion market, as shown in Fig. 1.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Monocrystalline/polycrystalline solar cell manufacturing steps
Fig. 2 is an illustration of the steps to manufacture a crystalline/polycrystalline solar cell.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Etching and texturing
Wafers are cleaned with industrial soaps and then etched using hot sodium hydroxide to remove saw damage. The texturization helps reduce the reflection of sunlight. Left untreated, the surface of the PV cell can act like a mirror, reflecting more than 30%of the light that strikes it. The same process doesn’t work as well in the case of polycrystalline wafer.

Light with an 80 percent probability of being absorbed by a flat surface will have a 96 percent chance of being absorbed by a textured surface. Texturing has become routine on high-quality solar cells. Chemical etching creates texturing on the cell's surface. It makes a pattern of cones and pyramids, which capture light rays that might other-wise be deflected away from the PV cell, and redirects them down into the cell.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Semprius secures $20 million in funding for production of advanced solar modules

DURHAM, USA: Semprius, Inc., a leading innovator in high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, recently secured $20 million in its first tranche of Series C venture fundraising.

Siemens Venture Capital led the investment round and was joined by ARCH Venture Partners, Applied Ventures, Illinois VENTURES, Intersouth Partners, In-Q-Tel and GVC Investment. Semprius will use the funding to construct a pilot HCPV module production plant, which will allow the company to scale up and optimize its process for subsequent large-capacity plants.

“Demand for CPV is expected to grow exponentially over the next several years to greater than 6 gigawatts by 2020,” said Joe Carr, president and CEO. “Semprius modules offer the superior conversion efficiency, low cost and high reliability needed for our customers to meet this demand and are a perfect option for achieving grid parity with fossil-based electricity.”

Semprius builds its modules using novel processes that combine extremely tiny solar cells with low-cost, efficient optics that concentrate the incoming sunlight more than 1,000 times. Despite the high level of concentration, Semprius modules remain cool for improved long-term reliability and performance.

In addition to its highly efficient cell technology (greater than 40 percent NREL-certified), Semprius utilizes an automated manufacturing process, leveraging standard manufacturing equipment and commodity materials, to dramatically reduce capital and labor costs.

“Semprius modules have been under on-sun testing for several years now with excellent field performance,” said Carr. “From our proprietary micro-cell technology to the enclosure and everything in between, we’ve designed our modules to be efficient, low-cost and reliable.”

Solar market demand increased, but price remained low still

TAIWAN: EnergyTrend recently discovered among PV manufacturers a common sentiment of “evident increased demand while price remained low”. According to this week’s survey, the spot price remained stable, compared with that of last week. The price stopped falling to new low, signaling a market bottom.

In addition, manufacturers across supply chain, including mid and small solar cell manufacturers, started to see increased orders, inferring that recovery of market demand of 3Q11 may be in sight.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

According to EnergyTrend’s survey, the lowest polysilicon price reached $48/kg, and the average price declined by 1.16 percent to $51.0/kg. In addition, the average prices of multi-Si wafer and Mono-Si wafer respectively declined by 4.21 percent and 0.28 percent to $2.002/piece and $2.5/piece. Moreover, the lowest solar cell price remained at $0.75/Watt, and average price dropped by 0.25 percent to $0.803/Watt.

Solar cell manufacturers pointed out that clients now request high conversion efficiency, which caused increasing mono-Si solar cell demand. As a result, the mono-Si cell price barely decreased. Furthermore, the average module price still stayed at $1.293/Watt, and manufacturers indicated that inventory clearance is still in the process, but the price has stabilized, which will help the price stabilization of 3Q11.

EnergyTrend believes that the European debt crisis has temporarily lessened, which can help the recovery of the European market demand. Total installation volume from March to May in Germany has set a record low, and manufacturers intentionally lowered the volume in an attempt to influence German government’s planned subsidy cut in the mid year. Therefore, it is expected that the cut might be smaller than previously planned if not totally foregone.

On the other hand, Italy will announce the list of manufacturers for 1.2 GW solar project plan in mid July, which can further help the European market demand of 3Q11. Apart from the European market, the US market also will receive enormous benefit from the new subsidy plan, making the US solar market demand remain strong. The Japanese government, on the other hand, plans to increase the use of renewable energy, which will help the domestic market development.

In addition, China and India, two major emerging solar markets, are also expected to start materializing their market potentials. EnergyTrend believes that the recovery of major global markets altogether will reverse the price downtrend in 3Q11.

DUNMORE to showcase solar module cost reduction strategies at Intersolar North America 2011

BRISTOL, USA: Overcoming the solar industry's number-one strategic challenge, driving down the cost of solar modules, will be DUNMORE Corp.'s focus at the upcoming Intersolar North America 2011 conference.

Reducing costs to make solar power competitive with fossil fuels is the key to gaining wider market acceptance. During the Intersolar exhibition, DUNMORE will offer advice on material choices, manufacturing and certification processes that can cut the cost of producing solar modules.

The company will detail its FastCert program, which helps module manufacturers bring new products to market faster and at a lower cost. FastCert streamlines solar module development from concept through qualification and production. Drawing on its 40-plus years of manufacturing and material science experience, DUNMORE helps solar module producers optimize designs, quickly earn certification from standards bodies such as Underwriters Laboratories and the International Engineering Consortium, and identify reliable, economical material sources.

"The only way for solar to reach the cost levels it has to reach is by attacking expenses at every facet of solar module development," said John Jordon, DUNMORE vice president. "FastCert is designed to uncover savings everywhere in the design, certification and manufacturing processes without compromising performance."

Besides FastCert, DUNMORE will also be demonstrating its DUN-SOLAR photovoltaic backsheets, including its FPE fluorinated products, TPE backsheets using DuPont Tedlar and PPE+ all-polyester constructions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

IFC helps expand solar power generation infrastructure in India's Rajasthan state

NEW DELHI, INDIA: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is working with India's Rajasthan state to explore the state's prospects as a solar manufacturing and power generation hub, establish research facilities, and help bring down energy costs.

IFC and Rajasthan state government are co-hosting a conference today titled, Rajasthan as a Solar Component Manufacturing Hub, that brings together policy makers, sector experts, international investors, and global and local solar manufacturing companies to share the latest insights on solar manufacturing opportunities in the state.

"Through interactions and in-depth discussions with major players, we hope to draw on their experience and network to help Rajasthan emerge as an attractive investment destination for solar manufacturing. This event is vital to understanding the needs of the private sector," said Purushottam Agarwal, Commissioner, Bureau of Investment Promotion in Rajasthan.

Participants shared their views on incentive packages, support for infrastructure needs, identification of suitable zones for solar manufacturers, and exploring public-private partnerships to encourage solar sector development in the state.

"Rajasthan is one of the highest daily solar insulation recipients worldwide. A growing pipeline of generation projects, broad mineral base, relatively low labor cost, and a significant allied industry base are contributing to the state emerging as one of the leading markets for solar manufacturing," said Hemant Mandal, IFC's Senior Energy Specialist in South Asia.

Clean energy is a global strategic priority for IFC and it has led many innovative renewable energy investments in South Asia in recent years.

The conference is part of a three-year knowledge partnership between IFC and the state government to develop Rajasthan as a preferred investment location across key infrastructure sectors, helping increase employment and overall development. Ernst & Young also supports the knowledge partnership.

Rajasthan accounts for 80 percent of the total allocation made so far under India's National Solar Mission plan. The state has assigned top priority to stepping up private investment in solar power and has already taken several steps in this direction. India announced the National Solar Mission in January 2010, with a phased implementation approach of working with state governments, policy makers, regulators, and power utilities to help establish solar energy leadership.

Custom CVD Equipment process solutions for solar market

RONKONKOMA, USA: CVD Equipment Corp. and Airgas Inc. are stepping up their positions in the renewable energy process equipment marketplace.

Together, CVD Equipment's customized equipment process solutions and Airgas' specialty gas products offer complete custom solutions for today's novel process requirements. This teaming of two established companies creates a new dimension to provide solutions for the renewable energy industry.

CVD Equipment designs, develops and manufactures customized equipment and process solutions for research and production applications including MOCVD (B:ZnO) and APCVD (F:SnO2) TCO glass coating systems for solar and low-E applications, sulfurization/selenization, POCl3 and Rapid Thermal Processing, Silicon precursor Q/C and other industrial coatings.

It operates under the following divisions: CVD/First Nano, Stainless Design Concepts (SDC) and Conceptronic and primarily focus on accelerating the commercialization of tomorrow's technologies by helping innovators transition from R&D to production system solutions.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Renewable energy market in India

NEW YORK, USA: announced that a new market research report is available in its catalogue: Renewable Energy Market in India.

India's renewable energy efforts began in the 1970s and have gathered pace with the growing realization that renewable energy is not something that India can do without.
Today, renewable energy is considered necessary for a growing India where once it was considered more of a climate change obligation that developing countries were 'required' to meet. This requirement has transformed into India's own need with the growing realization that renewable energy has multiple advantages apart from being ecologically benign.

India will face an uphill task trying to cover its energy gaps with the energy needs growing three to four times over the next 20 years. This will not be made easy if India keeps looking at fossil fuels to meet its requirement, if the rising prices of these fuels are anything to go by.

Moreover, the fossil fuels have been unable to meet the 'energy inclusion' needs of the Indians, where we still find infrastructural constraints blocking development in far flung rural areas or difficult to reach areas. Renewable energy taps the resource base at these areas to enable self sufficiency meet their energy need. There are ample examples of how small hydro electric plants, village biogas plants, etc. have ushered in this much needed change.

The government effort needs a special mention here, because this is one factor which has kick started and will continue the engine running. The policy is two folds, one the one hand it 'mandates' states to start increasing the share of renewable energy, on the other hand it has introduced a number of incentives right from tax benefits, duty cuts, finance, monitoring and supervision, expert technical assistance, to aiding technology transfer. A direct result of these efforts has been the growing investment in this sector in India and a large potential for development.

A number of domestic companies have risen to take advantage of this scenario and have established their name in the international arena. A number of foreign firms have realized that they can help bridge the technology gap that India is suffering from and have stepped in to invest in India.

The government has stepped up investment in R & D and the local communities and entrepreneurs have also not lagged behind ensuring that they ride the 'renewable energy wave' and India's large pool of skilled technical manpower has helped in this regard. But the need to increase this pool quite rapidly has emerged to keep it in consonance with the growing energy needs. Right now, some specialist positions are being filled in with manpower from allied infrastructural sectors.

One of the biggest advantages that India can boast of is the huge potential of renewable energy in India. India is grossly underutilizing its current potential, for a country with one of the largest cattle populations, abundant sunlight for close to 300 days in a year; innumerable untapped streams with perennial flowing water the potential for development are immense to say the least.

India has gained momentum in terms of economic growth and its strong fundamentals were visible in the current economic recession. Asia Pacific (spurred by India and China) continued to be a growing consumer of energy and this trend will rise exponentially as the global scenario normalizes.

Renewable energy definitely finds a prime place in the factors that will drive India's growth in its journey from a developing to a developed country.

New Energy bolsters patent protection for SolarWindow

COLUMBIA, USA: New Energy Technologies Inc. announced that, as part of the company’s ongoing pathway to commercialize its SolarWindow technology, capable of generating electricity on see-thru glass windows, four new patent applications have been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Including previous patent submissions, a total of 10 new patent applications have been filed for SolarWindow, and 18 International and US patent filings have been submitted for protection of New Energy’s MotionPower technology, engineered to generate electricity from vehicles as they slow or come to a stop.

“We recently announced plans to advance our alternative energy technologies, SolarWindow and MotionPower, towards manufacturability and commercialization. An important precursor to commercial launch of these first-of-their-kind technologies is the protection of valuable intellectual property related to our underlying inventions,” explained John A. Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies.

“With a total of 28 new patents filed internationally and in the United States, I’m proud to announce that we are making important strides in safeguarding the technological breakthroughs which make it possible to create meaningful commercial products from our early inventions.”

South African solar water heater market - target of 1 million installations by 2014

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of Frost & Sullivan's new report "South African Solar Water Heater Market" to its offering.

Target of 1 million Installations by 2014 to help the Solar Water Heater Market Sizzle

Due to South Africa's current electricity crisis, solar water heaters have been proposed as a means of mitigating energy consumption and promoting energy efficiency. Phenomenal interest in this market since 2007, has poised it on the path of more growth, following the rebate system initiated to catalyse mass interest, and the potential release of mandatory building codes that will stipulate the installation of solar water heaters on new buildings.

Growth within the solar water heater market is caused by a combination of factors, notes the analyst of this research. Namely, the increase in electricity price that is lowering the payback period of the product; the looming electricity crisis which will see load-shedding and thus a lack of domestic hot water supply in particular; environmental awareness; and the subsidisation of solar water heater products which are lowering their previously dauntingly high initial costs.

The rebate system developed by Eskom has provided the initial steps toward a government-supportive framework to rollout solar water heaters on a mass scale nationwide. Although teething problems have been experienced, the rebate programme is one of several mechanisms that will help propel the target set in 2007 to install one million solar water heaters nationwide by 2014.

Research indicates that 18 percent of national electricity usage can be attributed to domestic water heating. Most of this domestic water heating occurs during the peak times at which Eskom struggles to supply electricity due to the extra strain on the power supply. Solar water heaters have been adopted internationally as a method to curb energy usage on the grid during peak times, as well as mitigate carbon emissions, remarks the analyst.

Over 21 countries currently have incentivising policies to encourage solar water heaters, and Eskom's Demand-side Management programme is set to encourage the rollout of a million solar water heaters to be installed in South Africa by 2014, which would be the equivalent of building a 2,000 MW power station.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Valtech displays full line of consumable products used in PV industry

POTTSTOWN, USA: Valtech Corp., a leading global manufacturer of various consumable products used in the photovoltaic industry will be displaying their full line of high-performance epoxy adhesives, custom molded polymers, and formulated cleaning detergents at Intersolar North America, July 12-14, 2011, Moscone Center, San Francisco (Booth 9115).

Valtech's epoxy adhesive systems exceed the performance requirements in photovoltaic and semiconductor wafer production using both annular (ID) slicing and wire saw slicing processes. The two-component quick-curing temporary adhesives provide outstanding performance in maximizing production throughput and in reducing the amount of stress between the crystalline material and the adhesive, thus reducing the amount of edge chips that can occur during slicing.

In addition, the adhesives prevent loading onto the saw blades, eliminating saw marks, increasing saw blade life, and improving slicing yields. Complete removal of the adhesive from the squared ingot bricks is achieved by applying direct heat, and through detergent wash for finished sliced wafers.

The company's custom molded polymer slicing beams are a unique alternative to glass plates for the mounting of silicon ingots for processing into wafers. The mounting beams offer several significant process advantages, as well as overall cost reduction in silicon wafering, including a grooved mounting surface to ensure consistent adhesive thickness and reduced processing time and adhesive usage compared to conventional glass plate mounting systems. In addition, the beams eliminate the need for intermediate aluminum and glass plates, allow for easy removal of wafers, and are able to be mounted directly to the wire saw fixture using standard screws.

The aqueous detergents are made with the highest purity raw materials for pre-and final cleaning of sliced silicon wafers in mechanical ultrasonic and in-line methods. The detergents are supplied in concentrated form for dilution with deionized water and are available in a wide variety of formulations including regular and low foam, which provide excellent cleaning characteristics while leaving no organic or inorganic residue after rinsing.

KYOCERA brings modern solar energy solution to historic New Jersey property

SCOTTSDALE, USA: Kyocera Solar Inc., NJ Solar Power LLC and Solar Power Partners Inc. announced the completion of a 1.16 Megawatt (MW) solar energy system at The Masonic Home of New Jersey. The completed installation will be inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this summer.

Designed and installed by NJ Solar Power, LLC on property owned by the Masons since the mid-1800s, the photovoltaic system consists of 5,656 Kyocera KD205 modules. The panels are ground-mounted in a single, contiguous design utilizing UniRac structures and four PV-powered, PVP 260-480 inverters. With an estimated yearly power production of 1,547,412 kilowatt hours (kWh), the utility-tied system is enough to power 145 average homes. The site required special zoning permits to guarantee the protection of the buildings and surrounding landscape.

A power purchase agreement (PPA), provided by Solar Power Partners, Inc. (using institutional financing and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates) will allow the Burlington Property to purchase the electricity without incurring the initial cost of system installation. The project is the latest in a series of east coast installations for Solar Power Partners, a Larkspur, California-based developer and owner.

The full-service integrator — NJ Solar Power — was the east coast workforce for this project and will continue to service the Masons throughout the life of the solar panels. “Our company is committed to providing cost-effective energy that is environmentally and socially responsible, as are our partners in the project: Kyocera and Solar Power Partners,” stated Bill Hoey, CEO of NJ Solar Power. “This bicoastal collaboration proved highly successful and will yield excellent results for the Masons.”

The conversion to solar energy also serves as a cost-cutting measure for the Burlington Lodge Masons. “The Masons have a long history of being responsible global citizens — their conversion to solar energy will minimize both their carbon footprint and utility expenses,” commented Bob Powell, president and CEO of Solar Power Partners. “Making the PPA available for the members of the Burlington Lodge ensures that they will have access to clean energy at a stable rate for years to come.”

As the cost of traditional fossil fuels increase, so does the market for sustainable energy solutions. Kyocera, with a 35-year history of innovation in the solar industry, continues to provide high quality solar modules to meet this global demand.

“To meet increasing market demand, Kyocera continues to seize opportunities for growth and innovation in solar energy while developing key partnerships with industry leaders to provide clean alternatives to fossil fuel-generated electricity,” said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar. “The Masons’ progressive approach in converting their historic facilities to renewable energy and working with Solar Power Partners and NJ Solar Power made this a rewarding venture.”

Donauer Solartechnik modernizes brand and website

GERMANY: A modernized brand appearance is set to differentiate Donauer Solartechnik more clearly from its competitors. In time for the Intersolar Europe the specialist wholesaler from Gilching has reworked its company logo, adapted its corporate design and defined a new brand core. The new website,, aimed at customers and investors, will be launched simultaneously.

“The modernization of the Donauer brand stands not only for the strengthening of its position on the market, but also for a new strategic orientation. In a changing market it is extremely important to sharpen one’s company profile and adjust to the individual needs of the customer”, explains Rudolf Donauer, Managing Director and founder of the company. At the same time, the new branding represents the business areas specialist wholesaler, off and on-grid projects and e-mobility as an integrated whole.

Promise of quality is focal point
“Following our foundation 15 years ago, we are now making a crucial step towards strengthening our position in relation to the competition,” reports Rudolf Donauer. This can be clearly seen: the existing logo has been modernized and the corporate design adapted accordingly.

Further, the brand INTERSOL for assembly systems and solar heat is now better integrated into the Donauer brand thanks to the addition of “by Donauer”. The new slogan, “Our ‘good’ is better”, emphasizes the guarantee of quality which Donauer gives its customers. The brand values of “friendly”, “smart” and “competent” typify the motivation and performance of the staff and the continual development of the company.

New navigation for website
The specialist wholesaler from Gilching has also thoroughly reorganized its website. This is not just an optical “facelift”, but rather a significant expansion of the information provided. Each area of the business is now directly accessible via a slideshow.

With the aid of the new navigation system, visitors to the website are more easily and quickly able to find their way around the website to the information they are looking for. The homepage includes a wide range of downloads with information about products and manufacturers for customers.

Suntech's Just-Roof receives CEIAB approval for premium BIPV feed-in tariff in France

MONTBONNOT, FRANCE: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced that Just-Roof, Suntech's best-selling building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product, has been approved by CEIAB in France and qualifies for the highest solar feed-in tariff for end customers.

CEIAB, France's Evaluation Committee for BIPV products, has added Just Roof into the list of recommended, reliable building-integrated solar products for residential buildings. As a CEIAB-approved BIPV product, clients that choose Just Roof for their solar installations now qualify for the highest feed-in-tariff available in France.

Jean-Yves Lindheimer, head of Suntech's French operations headquartered in Grenoble stated: "This approval from CEIAB is another positive milestone for Just-Roof in France and is testimony to the reliability and quality of our BIPV system. This assures our partners and customers that Suntech's best-selling BIPV product is indeed the right choice."

In January 2012, commercial and residential buildings in France will need to comply with the RT 2012 law, which regulates the carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption of buildings. Suntech's Just Roof system integrates seamlessly into rooftops and is an excellent solution to help buildings comply with the new regulations.

The recently released second-generation Just-Roof combines the high efficiency of Suntech's cell technology with ease of installation, and is ideal for renovations and new buildings.

Friday, June 24, 2011

European solar incentive cuts initiate global PV market shift

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Continued government policy adjustments are causing major shifts in the sizes, growth rates and customer segment mix of photovoltaic (PV) markets in 2011, according to the conclusions of three new Regional Downstream PV Market reports issued by Solarbuzz.

Specifically, European markets, led by Germany and Italy, have absorbed Feed-In Tariff (FIT) rate cuts of up to one-third between January 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011. These reductions have caused Q1’11 demand in Germany, the world’s largest PV market, to collapse to less than half of its Q1’10 size. In addition, overall European full year demand is expected to flatten in 2011 after increasing more than 170 percent from 2009 to 2010. These policy adjustments have particularly hit large ground-mount systems on agricultural land. Even though investment returns across the range of residential and commercial roof-mounted installations remained attractive in 1H’11, end-customers did not start to respond to fast-falling prices until June.

Europe PV demand share slips, while Asia Pacific and US grow significantly over next five years
Europe is now projected to represent 65 percent of world PV demand in 2011, down from 82 percent in 2010, while the US will grow from 5 percent to 9 percent. The top five Asia Pacific markets led by Japan and China accounted for 11 percent of global demand in 2010, a share that will grow to 16 percent in 2011. The market share of these Asia Pacific countries is projected to increase steadily to reach at least 26 percent by 2015, while the US share rises to 14 percent by that year. In contrast to the European challenges, PV project pipelines in the US, China and India collectively now stand at a huge 25 gigawatt (GW).

“Project development activity is intense in these countries,” said Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz. “Successful delivery of these pipelines will first require a host of incentive mechanisms. Regulatory, financing, project structure and permitting issues must be overcome.”

European distribution margins held up better than expected during 2010 and early 2011, as project margins collapsed, causing a refocusing of business models and channels to market. Europe benefited from sharply lower prices during 1H’11 which, in particular, helped maintain Italian demand impetus. The avoidance of mid-year FIT reductions in Germany will now aid demand recovery in 2H’11. Chinese module supplier prices in Europe were as much as 25 percent below their European and Japanese competitors back in Q1’10. This discount steadily reduced to a low of only 10 percent in February 2011. However, it spiked again toward the end of Q2’11.

2010 China PV demand more than doubles
In China, domestic demand more than doubled in 2010, with Ningxia and Jiangsu once again the two largest provincial markets, while the utility segment accounted for 49 percent of the national market. In 2010, China was the second largest market in the Asia Pacific region, second only to a rejuvenated Japan whose 111 percent Y/Y growth was driven by residential demand, accounting for 82 percent of the market.

Strong solar policy support already in place before the Fukushima nuclear disaster indicates that the Japanese market is projected to grow to between 1.3-1.5 GW in 2011.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

Chinese module suppliers gain share in US market
In the US, soaring utility demand is redefining end-market, product mix and channels to market. Chinese module manufacturer market share increased to 37 percent in 2010, led by Suntech Power, Trina Solar and Yingli Solar, with their share building again during Q1’11. In 2010, distribution channel shipment share saw a small drop to 23 percent, while project developer and direct utility procurement emerged as formidable new channels. In 2011, the US market is projected to reach around 2 GW, growing to as high as 6.4 GW by 2015.

“With the US utility segment projected to soar to 54% of the total market in 2012, significant changes in module supplier, inverter manufacturer, project developer, distributor, and system integrator market shares are likely to occur over the next five years,” added Stevens.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

Satcon selected by BIOSAR Energy SA for 20 MW of utility-scale solar projects in Southern Europe

BOSTON, USA: Satcon Technology Corp., a leading provider of utility-scale power solutions for the renewable energy market, has been selected by BIOSAR Energy SA, one of Europe’s leading photovoltaic (PV) solar energy development companies, for multiple utility-scale power plants across Italy, Greece and Bulgaria.

BIOSAR will deploy thirty-two 625 kilowatt (kW) Equinox inverters, Satcon’s next-generation utility-ready solution. With a peak efficiency of 98.5 percent and the industry’s widest thermal operating range, Equinox enhances system-wide energy harvest and solar plant yield, enabling the large-scale solar industry's highest return on investment (ROI) and the industry's lowest Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).

“BIOSAR is one of the region’s most successful solar energy companies and the largest and most successful EPC in the Balkans,” said Dr. Kostas Daniilidis, managing partner of SDL Solar. “These sites will showcase the state of the art in system design and technology, and will achieve the highest levels of performance and reliability. In addition, Satcon inverters’ significantly low consumption will provide more assurance to BIOSAR when offering Performance Ratio Guarantees to investors.”

Built upon Satcon's industry-leading PowerGate Plus inverter family, the world's most widely-deployed large-scale solution, Equinox's advanced utility-ready features enable remote control of real and reactive power, low-voltage ride through and power factor control. The solution supports fast communications, allowing it to be easily integrated into SCADA systems through standardized communication interfaces.

“The BIOSAR projects continue to demonstrate the strength of the Mediterranean solar market, and in particular, the significant growth in demand for utility-scale solutions," said Steve Rhoades, Satcon’s president and CEO. “Together with SDL Solar, we have built a strong foundation to showcase our industry leading utility-ready solar solutions in the region. We are honored to be selected by BIOSAR and to be a part of these innovative utility-scale solar projects.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chinese PV market - intense competition proves to be growth bottleneck for market

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of Frost & Sullivan's new report "Chinese Photovoltaic Market" to its offering.

Strong government support ensures fast-track growth for Chinese PV market
The Chinese photovoltaic market is expected to continue to witness steady growth from 2011 to 2017. The development of the Chinese solar power market is heavily dependent on demand from the international market. Nearly 90 percent of photovoltaic products made in China are consumed by the international market, represented by Germany, Spain, and other European countries. To reduce dependency on the international market, the Chinese Government is taking positive action to encourage the growth of the domestic market.

In addition to the allowances and subsidies, the government is trying to formulate more perfect feed-in-tariff policies and speed up grid construction to provide photovoltaic projects with grid connection convenience. The installed capacity is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 60.9 percent from 2010 to 2017. This high growth rate is largely due to strong governmental policies to strongly encourage the use of solar power.

The growth rate for total revenue and installed capacity for Chinese photovoltaic market is mainly decided by the three different sub-segmented markets: crystalline silicon market, thin-film market, and concentrator silicon market, notes the analyst of his research service. Total revenue and installed capacity is projected to be steeply increasing but with gradually shrinking growth rate; the market share is estimated to be gradually taken by thin-film and concentrator silicon technologies from traditional crystalline silicon technology.

Fossil fuel reserves are depleting rapidly and rising awareness levels among the public is driving the gravitation toward renewable energy. Multiple environmental problems such as greenhouse gas emissions have resulted as a fallout of industrial development. Solar energy can be an unlimited resource and China has it in abundance, especially in the southwest area. This, hence, is the major focus of the Chinese solar power market.

WESCO and Suntech help California school system save money

GOODYEAR & SAN FRANCISCO, USA: WESCO International Inc., a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications MRO and OEM products, construction materials, and advanced supply chain management and logistics services, together with Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, recently completed a 625 kilowatt-peak (kWp)solar project for the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) in California.

Altogether, 2,272Suntech solar panels cover nearly one acre, comprising a 503kWp carport array and26Kw parray on the roof of the CCCOE office in Pleasant Hill, California, as well as a 96kWp ground-mounted installation located at Lucille Mauzy School in Alamo, California.

Over the next 25 years, the solar installation is expected to generate more than 15 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and to save the CCCOE millions of dollars in electricity costs. The CCCOE plays a leadership role in the delivery of quality education to more than 166,000 K-12 students in Contra Costa County.

"These installations will not only reduce our electricity bills, but will serve as a strong example for the local community and the students we serve about the importance of taking responsibility for our planet's future," said John F. Hild, Director, General Services of the Contra Costa County Office of Education. "In this case, the smart financial decision was also the right thing to do."

WESCO teamed with general contractor, Roebbelen Contracting, on the project that featured solar panels, inverters, and other installation components manufactured in the US. The installations were some of the first to use Suntech solar panels made in Goodyear, Arizona. The project also represents WESCO's first major project with Suntech, and now the two companies are working together on additional megawatts of installations in northern California, all with solar panels from Suntech's Arizona manufacturing facility.

As a full service distribution provider, WESCO sees solar as an important opportunity for future growth. "WESCO believes strongly in promoting clean sources of energy like solar power. Working with key partners like Suntech and Roebbelen Contracting on large scale solar projects furthers our commitment to becoming a leading national distributor of solar PV products providing clean energy solutions to our customers," said Jeff Stroin, WESCO Distribution's regional VP.

Suntech's manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Arizona, features highly-automated manufacturing and product testing equipment and currently produces Suntech's 280W multicrystalline solar panels for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation. All modules produced at the facility are backed by an industry-leading 25-year power output warranty and are compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects.

The 117,000 square foot manufacturing facility opened in October 2010 with 40 employees, and has expanded steadily since. Suntech Arizona just brought on a third production shift, growing to about 107 employees, and remains on-target to employ 150 employees by the end of 2011.

"This is a great way to kick-off our partnership with WESCO, and we look forward to working together on several megawatts of solar installations this year," said Steve Chan, President of Suntech America. "It's rewarding to see our US-manufactured products installed just down the road from our North America headquarters here in San Francisco. Over the last four years, our US operations have grown from one person to now about 200 people. We're still just getting started, and projects like this will allow us to continue to grow."

PV inverter market toward globalization: What will be the next drivers?

FRANCE: The solar industry is driving innovation and new product introductions from the photovoltaic inverter market place. This innovation is moving fast at all levels, including components and especially the integration of new functionalities. Inverter companies around the world are working fast to introduce new products to increase conversion to green energy.

These technology opportunities come hand in hand with the consumption of capital which is evident like the recent IPO registration from Enphase. These activities and changes were predicted and reported in Yole Développement's latest analysis, PV INVERTER TRENDS.

Other interesting points in our report are seen at the semiconductor level. For example, SiC devices were introduced into the PV inverter two years ago, first as a diode option, now with JFET or MOSFET as a mainstream product. In addition, GaN technologies are and will have a role to play in the battle for better efficiency and improved performance. We envision a strong migration from the incumbent Silicon devices to the Wide Bandgap technologies in the coming years with SiC or GaN covering more than 30 percent of the PV inverter device market in 2017.

Yole’s PV Inverter Trends report provides a global understanding of the PV inverter industry: components technological trends, players positioning, market evolution and strategy of several types of players.

Solar market demand poised for rebound; Inventory clearance and capital market condition hold sway

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend’s latest survey, the market price decline has slowed down, while demand showed some signs of recovery. In terms of polysilicon price, the lowest price has come to $47/kg, but the main closing price has stabilized.

In terms of silicon wafer and solar cell, although the price continued to drop, the extent has narrowed. As for module, the price only decreased slightly, compared with that of last week. In addition, the inventory problem still exists. EnergyTrend found that top-tier manufacturers have increased their production utilization and taken a positive attitude toward the market demand of 2H11. EnergyTrend believes that the market demand is poising for a recovery in 2H11, but it requires close attention to track the extent.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

According to EnergyTrend, the lowest price of polysilicon has come to $47/kg, and the average price has decreased by 1.30 percent to $51.6/kg. In terms of wafer, the average price of multi-Si wafer and mono-Si wafer respectively declined by 4.52 percent and 3.65 percent to $2.09/piece and $2.505/Watt. The spot market price remained low because of the currently low contract price.

As for solar cell, the lowest spot price remained at $0.75/Watt, but the average price merely decreased by 2.31 percent to $0.805/Watt. Moreover, the average price of module has continuously declined by 0.39 percent to $1.293/Watt, but the lowest price stayed at $1.25/Watt.

Therefore, EnergyTrend believes that inventory clearance still takes time, and the speed of inventory clearance depends on the market recovery. In addition, the lowest price of PV inverter has come to $0.19/Watt, and the average price slightly dropped by 1.24 percent to $0.239/Watt.

EnergyTrend believes that global capital market condition, especially the Euro zone, will have an influence on solar industry in 2H11. Since the European market is still the largest market for solar energy and the solar market demand is closely tied to the capital market, the financial health of European countries will directly affect the outlook of solar market.

On the other hand, British banks have withdrawn considerably huge funds from the short-term loan market of Euro zone. The Euro zone might encounter a credit crunch, and banks without sufficient capital might have to file bankruptcy, leading to another financial crisis. As a result, it is possible that the stagnated solar market demand caused by the 2008 financial crisis will be repeated.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Real Goods Solar and Alteris Renewables to merge

BOULDER & WILTON, USA: Real Goods Solar Inc. and Earth Friendly Energy Group Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Alteris Renewables Inc. have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create a multi-state solar integration powerhouse.

Real Goods Solar will issue 8 million unregistered shares of its Class A common stock to Alteris equity holders for 100 percent of Alteris' outstanding equity. The number of shares to be issued could be increased from an earn-out based on Alteris' 2011 financial performance and achieving certain milestones.

Real Goods Solar has reported strong internal growth and profitability for seven consecutive quarters. During the twelve months following the merger Real Goods Solar expects to report revenue approaching $200 million.

Real Goods Solar also announced today that Bill Yearsley has joined the company as CEO and has been elected to the board of directors. In his career, Yearsley was chairman and CEO of the Construction and Aggregate Group, and an executive director of Redland PLC, a $4.2 billion revenue company traded on the London Stock Exchange. Redland had over 20,000 employees operating in 34 countries in the construction contracting and materials sector.

Yearsley has extensive acquisition experience, having completed over 40 transactions and was very active in finalizing terms of the Alteris transaction. He is an early investor of a fund that develops utility grade biomass electric generation plants in North America. His residence located in Colorado produces most of its electricity from a hybrid system comprised of wind generation and photovoltaics.

Reporting to Bill Yearsley will be Real Goods Solar's president, John Schaeffer, who will become president of Residential; Alteris' head of Commercial, Ron French, who will become president of Commercial; and CFO, Erik Zech. Steven Kaufman, current CEO and board member of Alteris, will join Real Goods Solar's board and will leave his operating position at Alteris. David Belluck, chairman of Alteris and general partner with Riverside Partners, based in Boston, who is the controlling investor of Alteris, will also join Real Goods Solar's board. Jirka Rysavy, Chairman of Gaiam Inc., will continue as Real Goods Solar's chairman.

The merger will bring together two pioneers and leaders in the solar industry, each with more than 30 years of experience in their respective markets. Combining a widely recognized and reputable consumer brand with a premier commercial customer base, a strong array of financing solutions and in-house engineering expertise, this merger will create a leading renewable energy integrator. Real Goods Solar will be well poised to capitalize on strong solar installation growth with more than a dozen offices, covering both coasts with national design-build-finance-operate capabilities.

The merger is subject to approval by Real Goods Solar's shareholders and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2011. Gaiam, Inc., the creator of Real Goods Solar who holds a majority of Real Goods Solar's voting securities, has indicated that it will vote in favor of the merger. For accounting purposes, Alteris' financial results will be consolidated with Real Goods beginning immediately. Real Goods Solar was advised by Stifel Nicolaus Weisel and Alteris Renewables by Canaccord Genuity.

Everything you wanted to know about solar cells – part 1

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: The solar market is huge. After a relatively moderate 2009 where installations grew by only 24 percent, the global PV market roared back to life in 2010, where the 17 GW of installations exceeded the previous years’ 7.1 GW by a stunning 139 percent. With an average annual growth forecast at greater than 40 percent, opportunities to get into the market have never been better.

Part 1 of “Everything you wanted to know about Solar Cells” discusses the different technologies and the market implications for existing and future equipment and materials suppliers to solar cell manufacturers. Part 2 will describe the manufacturing processes of each type of solar cell and the equipment and materials used in production.

How they work?
Nearly all solar cells work the same way – a semiconductor material utilizing a p-n junction to convert sunlight into electricity, as shown in Fig. 1.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Light travels in packets of energy called photons. The generation of electric current happens inside the depletion zone of the PN junction. The depletion region is the area around the PN junction where the electrons from the N-type silicon, have diffused into the holes of the P-type material.

When a photon of light is absorbed by one of these atoms in the N-Type silicon it will dislodge an electron, creating a free electron and a hole. The free electron and hole has sufficient energy to jump out of the depletion zone. If a wire is connected from the cathode (N-type silicon) to the anode (P-type silicon) electrons will flow through the wire. The electron is attracted to the positive charge of the P-type material and travels through the external load (meter) creating a flow of electric current.

The hole created by the dislodged electron is attracted to the negative charge of N-type material and migrates to the back electrical contact. As the electron enters the P-type silicon from the back electrical contact it combines with the hole restoring the electrical neutrality.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BioSolar receives USDA BioPreferred product label enabling potential high volume sales to government entities

SANTA CLARITA, USA: BioSolar Inc., developer of a breakthrough technology to produce bio-based materials from renewable plant sources that reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, reported that the company’s recent application for USDA’s BioPreferred Product Label had been approved on June 17, 2011. USDA’s BioPreferred program designates categories of biobased products that are preferred by Federal agencies when making purchasing decisions.

BioPreferred certification of semi-durable films requires a minimum certified Bio-percentage of 45 percent. The BioBacksheet test samples received the highest possible rating of 95 percent based on its extensive and innovative use of renewable bio-materials.

"This is a very significant development for BioSolar. USDA’s BioPreferred certification will be particularly important for our intended sales to government entities,” said Dr. David Lee, BioSolar’s CEO.

According to a USDA website, the purpose of the USDA BioPreferred program is to promote the increased purchase and use of biobased products. To the extent that the BioPreferred program achieves its purpose, the increased purchase of biobased products may be expected to reduce petroleum consumption, increase the use of renewable resources, better manage the carbon cycle, and, may contribute to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts. The program is also expected to promote economic development, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farm commodities.

USDA BioPreferred program has two major initiatives: USDA certifies and awards labels to qualifying products to increase consumer recognition of biobased products. Secondly, USDA designates categories of biobased products that are afforded preference by Federal agencies when making purchasing decisions.

In order to get the BioPreferred certification from the USDA, the company’s BioBacksheet had to be analyzed by Beta Analytical Inc., the only test laboratory authorized by the USDA to perform ASTM-D6866-11, which is a test for renewable content of a material. Simply speaking, the test determines the age of the various parts of the carbon content of the test material. Since the renewable carbon is much younger than the fossil carbon, it is possible to determine the percentage of biobased contents.

As part of the company’s government sales and marketing plan, the company will be exhibiting with Rowland Technologies, its manufacturing partner, at GOVgreen Conference to be held at Washington DC later this year. GOVgreen is intended to be the marketplace for government purchase decision makers looking for green solutions.

SEMI India PV Advisory Committee tackles JN-NSM implementation challenges

SAN JOSE, USA: SEMI announced the expansion of the SEMI India Photovoltaic (PV) Advisory Committee to include representatives from AES Solar Energy; Department of Energy Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; Siemens; SunEdison Energy India and Websol Energy Solutions.

The expanded PV Advisory Committee represents greater coverage throughout all states in India and provides full representation of the entire solar ecosystem, including: cell and module makers; equipment suppliers; engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies; power plant developers; balance of system suppliers; academic institutions and consultants.

“The role of the SEMI India PV Advisory Committee is to act as the collective voice of the Indian PV manufacturing industry," said Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India. “We are already jointly working on challenges and opportunities surrounding the implementation of the National Solar Mission such as workforce development.”

During a recent meeting in May, SEMI India PV Advisory Committee members determined Committee priorities for 2011, which focused on raising the visibility of the solar industry in India through workforce development and industry collaboration, as well as identifying concrete ways of supporting the timely implementation of the National Solar Mission.

The SEMI India PV Advisory Committee represents companies from manufacturers, equipment and materials suppliers and academia, and connects the complete PV supply chain in India. The 15 members represent: Tata BP Solar, Applied Materials India, Lanco Solar, Solar Semiconductor, Moser Baer India, Titan Energy Systems, Oerlikon Solar, Websol Energy Solutions Ltd., SunEdison Energy India Pvt. Ltd., AES Solar Energy Pvt Ltd., Department of Energy Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and Siemens Ltd.

The prospects for the solar industry in India will be highlighted at the upcoming SOLARCON India 2011, to be held November 9-11, 2011 in Hyderabad. SOLARCON India is a unique platform to meet, learn, interact, and network with leading solar experts, innovators, industry leaders and policy makers in India and from around the world. It is the only exhibition and conference lead by key Indian solar industry leaders for the Indian solar market.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cost of solar panels lower than ever, Americans optimistic about future of technology

SANTA CLARA, USA: In advance of June 21, when the northern hemisphere will celebrate the summer solstice, Applied Materials announced the results of its third annual solar energy survey.

"The solstice is a time to recognize the power of the sun and raise awareness of the significant advancements that have been achieved with solar power technology and use, especially in the past few years," said Dr. Charlie Gay, president of the Applied Materials Solar division.

The cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has dropped 70 percent since 2008, from $4 per watt to $1.25 per watt this year, and is expected to reach $1 per watt in the next couple of years. As a result, electricity produced by solar PV panels will cost the same as traditional sources of residential power in 19 countries, including Italy and Spain and Brazil, and California by the end of 2011.

Applied Materials forecasts that by the year 2020, more than 100 countries - representing 98 percent of the world's population, 99.7 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product and 99.2 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions - will have access to solar power at the same cost as current residential power.

Dr. Gay added: "We've reached a critical inflection point in the cost of solar energy. In 2010, 32 megawatts of solar PV were installed worldwide, which is equal to the total amount of solar capacity installed in the history of the technology. This tremendous growth, coupled with new technologies that are making panels more efficient and scalable, has made solar power more affordable than ever before."

Americans overestimate US solar power leadership and contribution to energy mix
When asked about renewable power sources-including solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and biomass-the survey found 32 percent of Americans believed solar energy is the most efficient renewable energy source, that is, the most easily converted from a raw material into useable energy. One-fifth (21 percent) of Americans believe the US is the solar energy leader, when in fact Germany, Spain, Japan and Italy use more solar power than the US and China is by far the global leader in solar manufacturing.

Today, less than one percent of US energy consumption is sourced from solar energy. More Americans understand that solar energy makes up a small portion of the US energy use mix (one-fifth in 2009 compared to one-third in 2011 believe solar energy provides anywhere from zero to five percent of US energy consumption). Still, 51 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that solar energy makes up more than 5 percent of total US energy consumption.

One in four Americans would consider installing solar panels on their home
The survey found that more than a quarter (27 percent) of Americans would consider installing solar panels on their home. While 48 percent of consumers are not likely to consider solar installations at this time, a significant number (80 percent) of those surveyed would be motivated to take a closer look at using solar power, especially if there were more opportunities for cost savings-both in the front end installation and as a long-term investment. Leading factors that would make consumers more likely to install solar panels include:

* Government incentives to help offset the installation costs (65 percent),
* Increase in the home's value (54 percent),
* Having more information (49 percent),
* Ability to sell excess power to an energy company (47 percent).

The likelihood to consider installing solar panels is higher among younger consumers. Almost one-third (32 percent) of those 18 to 44 would consider installing solar, compared to 27 percent of those 45 to 64 years old, and 15 percent of Americans age 65 and older (15 percent). The vast majority of consumers (72 percent) would expect the energy savings from solar panels installed on their homes to equal the cost of installation in 10 years or less.

Munich Re plans 2.5-MW SunPower solar power system

PRINCETON, USA: Munich Reinsurance America (Munich Re) and SunPower Corp. announced that SunPower will design and build a 2.5-megawatt solar power system at Munich Re's Plainsboro, N.J. facility.

SunPower will install its high-efficiency solar panels on a carport structure that will provide shade for the facility's parking lot while reducing annual electricity costs by almost $500,000. Most importantly, the Munich Re solar energy system will benefit the environment with an annual carbon footprint reduction equivalent to removing more than 400 cars from the road, according to estimates provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Munich Re is committed to the development of regulations and products designed to cut greenhouse gases. Convinced that one of the best ways to lead is by example, the company adopted a carbon-neutral strategy for its reinsurance activities. The company achieved carbon neutrality in its Munich headquarters in 2009, and targets 2012 to be carbon neutral throughout its worldwide reinsurance group operations.

"The success of our core business is inextricably linked to environmental protection, so a sustainable approach is an indispensable component of our business strategy," said Tony Kuczinski, president and CEO of Munich Reinsurance America. "With the benefit of SunPower's experience and technology, our solar carport system will maximize the solar power generated onsite, optimizing our savings and reducing the need for the public utility to burn fossil fuel. It's good for business, our community and the environment."

"SunPower solar panels, the most efficient available, are guaranteed to perform for 25 years, delivering more solar energy per square foot than all other solar panels on the market today," said Tom Leyden, MD at SunPower. "As a result, Munich Re will enjoy significant long-term economic benefits of this solar carport system, maximizing the return on their investment. The system will also help New Jersey meet its renewable energy goals."

Construction on the system will begin this year, and it will be operational in the second half of 2012. Munich Re will sell the solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) and environmental benefits associated with the system, enabling the regional utilities to meet their renewable portfolio standard requirements.

ABB wins $25 million solar order in Italy

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND: ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won an order worth $25 million from Switzerland-based Etrion Corp. to supply a turnkey power and automation solution for two photovoltaic solar power plants with a combined capacity of 10 megawatts (MW) under construction in the Puglia region of Italy.

The Helios ITA3 project comprises two 5 MW photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants to be located near Brindisi and Mesagne on Italy's southeastern coast. When completed in August this year, the plants will have an annual generating capacity of up to 16.8 gigawatt-hours of electricity, avoiding approximately 6,700 tons of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 3,600 European cars.

ABB is responsible for the design, engineering, erection, civil works and commissioning of the plants, as well as for connection to the local power grid and will deliver the turnkey electrical and control solution within an extremely short time span of thirteen weeks. Key products to be supplied include trackers, inverters, low-voltage equipment, medium-voltage switchgear, transformers, cables, distributed control systems, remote monitoring systems, auxiliary systems and video surveillance systems.

The equipment is designed to minimize power losses and maximize efficiency, and includes high-efficiency inverters, reliable dry-type transformers and technologies for the accurate control and remote monitoring of the plant. "Our pre-assembled, factory-tested electrical balance-of-plant modules combined with our domain expertise and proven track record in project execution enable us to deliver an optimized solution in a short span of time" said Franz-Josef Mengede, head of ABB’s power generation business.

Etrion develops, builds, owns and operates solar power plants and has an installed capacity of 47 megawatts in Italy. Etrion Corporation is part of the Lundin Group of publicly traded, natural resource companies.

Australia’s first utility-scale solar power station to be built in Moree

AUSTRALIA: Leaders in solar and large-scale renewable energy, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), BP Solar and Pacific Hydro welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that their joint proposal to build Australia’s first utility scale solar project, the 150MW Moree Solar Farm in the NSW Tablelands, has been selected as part of the Solar Flagships Program.

“This is an exciting day for the consortium partners who are looking forward to working closely with the Federal and NSW State Governments to deliver this landmark project,” said Javier Huergo, of FRV and a Director of Moree Solar Farm. The Moree Solar Farm project is part of the Australian Federal Government’s Solar Flagships Program which will commit $1.5 billion to support the construction and operation of solar power stations around Australia.

When completed, the Moree Solar Farm will comprise around 650,000 PV panels and produce enough power for around 45,000 households (or roughly a town the size of Darwin), leading to an annual displacement of around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 through generation of renewable electricity.

Subject to final approvals, construction is scheduled to commence in mid 2012.
Tony Stocken of BP Solar and a director of Moree Solar Farm, said, “The Moree Solar Farm will pave the way for more utility scale solar power production in Australia by demonstrating that this proven technology has an important role to play helping Australia transition to a low carbon emission future.”

While the Moree Solar Farm will be the first of its kind in Australia, utility scale solar PV power stations have been successfully operating in the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, China and other countries for many years and Australia has a higher level of solar resource than any of these countries.

The town of Moree was chosen for its intense solar resource, one of the best in Australia, and the availability of suitable land closely located near an adequate substation to enable connection to the state’s power grid.

The Moree Solar Farm brings together three of the world’s leaders in renewable energy, utility scale project delivery and operation.

Independent power producer FRV is the majority equity holder in the consortium. BP Solar will be acting as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor for the project, and will retain a minority equity stake in the project. Pacific Hydro, one of Australia’s leading renewable energy businesses, will also be holding a minority shareholding in the project.

In addition to providing a blueprint business model for the roll-out of utility scale solar across Australia, the Moree Solar Farm will provide a significant boost to the local economy creating or sustaining hundreds of jobs during the four-year construction phase, with the potential to create many more indirect jobs across Australia.

“The local community has been incredibly supportive of the proposal - welcoming the consortium’s plans from the beginning and providing fantastic feedback which helped with the design of the project”, said Lane Crockett of Pacific Hydro and a Moree Solar Farm Director.

“The Moree Plains Shire is extremely excited that Moree has been chosen as the best location for Australia’s first solar power plant of this size”, said Katrina Humphries, Mayor of Moree Plains Shire.

“In recent months we have met with the consortium on many occasions and built great relationships, even friendships. The consortium members have gained the trust of the Moree local community and incorporated the community’s ideas into their final plans. We look forward to continuing this relationship and working closely with them in the future.”

Phoenix Solar Singapore signs contract for two solar parks in Thailand

SULZEMOOS, GERMANY: Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd in Singapore, a subsidiary of Phoenix Solar AG, which is a leading system integrator listed on the German TecDAX, has signed a contract with Solarta Co Ltd for two photovoltaic power plants in Thailand. The two power plants have a peak power of 9.7 and 6.2 megawatts and are located to the north west, around two hours’ drive from Bangkok.

Phoenix Solar Singapore will be working closely together with the Thai company Process Engineering Services Co Ltd (PESCO) on this large project. Phoenix Solar is responsible for planning the two power plants and will be supplying the solar modules, inverters and cables. PESCO will carry out the construction on site.

Construction work on the Sai Yai and Sai Thong solar parks started already in June. The power plants are to be connected to the grid of Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), the local energy supplier, by the end of the year.

The project sites receive around 1,850 kWh of sunlight per square metre annually. The electricity yield from more than 67,000 SCHOTT solar modules and SMA inverters is anticipated to be more than 25,000 megawatt hours a year. This is enough to supply around 10,000 Thai households with green electricity.

Solarta Co. Ltd as the principal is a joint venture between Yanhee Solar Power Co Ltd and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PLC, an independent power producer.
Thailand has had a remuneration system for renewable energy since 2006, consisting of a basic feed-in tariff and an "adder" tariff. During the first ten years, solar electricity produced by these two projects will be remunerated at a rate of around 25 euro cents (converted from Baht) per kilowatt hour fed into the grid. From year eleven onwards, the prevailing wholesale tariff will apply, which is currently around seven euro cents.

Dr Supot Sumritvanitcha, MD of Yanhee Solar Power Co Ltd, stated: "We chose Phoenix Solar and PESCO because of their strong reputation for product and construction quality and on-time completion. They deliver the ideal combination of high-tech German engineering and technology with local construction and management know-how."

"We are delighted by this strategically important project in Thailand. Our intention is to concentrate our projects business more on the regions of Asia, the Middle East and the USA. Following our first megawatt project in Saudi Arabia, the two projects in Thailand are another important milestone for us," commented Dr Andreas Hänel, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Solar AG.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dyesol partners with Tata Steel to produce world’s largest dye-sensitized solar module

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Dyesol, a global supplier of dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) technology, announced its joint research effort with Tata Steel created the world’s largest DSC module. This advancement showcases Dyesol’s DCS research leadership and brings the companies closer to offering photovoltaic building materials to the world via Tata Steel’s unmatched global distribution.

“This marks a milestone as Dyesol brings solar generation into the $400B global building envelope market,” said Marc Thomas, CEO of Dyeso. and GM of Global Glass Business. “This project represents a significant transformational step from prototyping one-off devices to a continuous production process.”

The module, created at Dyesol and Tata Steel’s joint research site in Wales, measures ten feet by one foot. The two companies recently announced they will increase staff to 50 from 30 at the research center.

DSC represents the emerging third generation of solar technology. With lower material cost to manufacture and better energy yield in low and diffuse light conditions, DSC promises to make solar generation ubiquitous by incorporating generation into building, auto and industrial materials.

The technology can be incorporated into roofs, facades, and window products, eliminating the need to add additional surface area for solar generation. Due to its ability to capture diffuse light, DSC can be used on all sides of a building to generate power. The company is focused on supporting its global partnerships with top tier corporations in the roof, façade and window markets.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Henkel demos comprehensive product line for front- and back-end PV assembly

ROCKY HILL, USA: At Semicon West and Intersolar North America, July 12 through 14, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Henkel Corp. will demonstrate its broad capabilities for photovoltaic manufacturing to exhibitors interested in both front- and back-end production processes.

Henkel's two booths, #5965 at Semicon West and #5329 at Intersolar North America, will exhibit the latest adhesive, sealant, and cleaner technologies for photovoltaic manufacturing and installation.

The Henkel booths will present the company's full line of adhesive and sealant products for front- and back-end solar applications from silicon wafer production to module assembly to mounting. Henkel offers products for all solar design sub-segment architectures including traditional crystalline modules, thin film, flexible BIPV, concentrators, and reflective CSPs.

At the Semicon West booth, Henkel will focus on products for front-end processes that create the electrically conductive layer of the photovoltaic module: wafer production, stringing operations, and electrical systems. At the Intersolar North America booth, the company will focus on back-end processes designed to make the module durable, reliable and water/weathertight.

Henkel products include structural adhesives, elastomers, thermally and electrically conductive materials, die attach adhesives, potting compounds, sealants, printable inks, molding compounds, maskings, solders, and cleaners. These products are specifically designed for applications including ingot bonding, wafer cleaning, solar cell bonding, housing assembly, glass/PMMA lens bonding/sealing, junction box potting/fixturing/bonding/sealing, module framing/mounting, electrically conductive bonding, frameless sealing/module mounting, laminating to plastic or metal panels, laminating to flexible roofing membranes, and weather/UV protection.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Historic $1-per-watt solar modules just months away

EL SEGUNDO, USA: The photovoltaic (PV) industry appears set to achieve a major milestone with the selling prices of crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules projected to drop to $1 per watt by the first quarter of 2012, a significant benchmark level that could forestall a widely feared dip for solar installations next year and stimulate demand instead, according to new IHS iSuppli research.

An assessment of this magnitude, bold in its purview and implications, comes in the wake of an accelerated, rapid decline in pricing for deals following the Intersolar Trade Fair, site of the world’s largest PV exhibition, held last week in Munich, Germany.

Going into Intersolar, spot prices from the top Chinese brands, among the major players in the market, had been running at $1.49 per watt for mainstream c-Si modules. By the time Intersolar wound up, prices had fallen to $1.30 per watt, ostensibly hastened by the market’s fear toward a flat—or worse, negative—market in 2012.

“The recent price decline was quickened by top-tier module brands dropping prices to aggressively position themselves, in the face of fears that the industry could be headed toward a down market next year,” said Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst, photovoltaics, at IHS. The drops in pricing were spurred by the recent price slide in cells and wafers, with wafers being quoted in the $2.30 per-piece range, down from $3.50 in March.

The figure shows the IHS iSuppli outlook for the cost of both silicon and non-silicon content, gross margins and prices from top-tier module players, covering the second quarter for each year from 2011 to 2014. While gross margins are projected to range between 10 to 12 percent this quarter, the intense competition in the space will slash margins to between 5 and 9 percent by the second quarter of 2012, IHS iSuppli research indicates.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Solar implications: Bright days ahead?
What this means for the market could be momentous and far-reaching, said Mike Sheppard, analyst for photovoltaics and financial services at IHS. “This trend and milestone is significant in that it opens the door for certain installations to potentially drop to $2.00 per watt, in what one hopes would be an important driver for stimulating demand. Not only could such a development ward off a dip predicted in solar installations for 2012, it also signals that deep-pocketed and lower-cost structured companies will be getting aggressive about pressuring competition out of the market during the next year.”

Another interesting discussion at Intersolar was whether the vertically integrated business model that washed across the PV industry will continue to flourish, even as margins get compressed in this round of price cuts. Can a vertical operation invest in wafers, cells and modules on the one hand, finance downstream projects on the other, and also continue to run world-class operations at each level?

After margins are cut, it will be much more difficult for such vertically integrated operations to sustain the competitive advantage that they once enjoyed, IHS believes. Though many vertical operations will continue to thrive, the space likely will find increased competition from another breed of player—the so-called specialists that will be able to aggressively invest in just one area, and more important, hold their own against their vertically integrated rivals.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Solar industry signals mixed message in early June; spot price reached new low but likely to rebound in 2H11

TAIWAN: According to the latest survey by EnergyTrend, PV spot prices have reached new low at the Intersolar Europe 2011. Though the price of polysilicon remained at $50/kg at the exhibit, it dropped below $50/kg concurrently in China. The Si wafer price has fallen below $2.0/piece while the solar cell price has decreased to around $0.7/Watt.

Moreover, the module price has gone down to below $1.2/Watt which indicated the inventory problem still existed. On the other hand, EnergyTrend also conducted a survey on PV manufacturers’ capacity utilization, and found that a number of manufacturers’ capacity utilization has risen and they take a positive attitude toward the market trend of 2H11.

Therefore, EnergyTrend believes that the market demand might show a mild recovery, but top-tier manufacturers are in a better position to receive most orders while second-tier manufacturers still require more endeavor to compete with top-tier players.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

According to EnergyTrend's survey, the lowest price of polysilicon has remained over $50/kg, but the average has decreased by 5.19 percent, to $52.28/kg. Although the price stayed at $50/kg during Intersolar Europe, but it dropped below $50/kg concurrently in China. In addition, Chinese polysilicon makers’ capacity expansion plans are still in progress. Hence, EnergyTrend believes that it is likely for the price to reach $45/kg this year.

In terms of Si-wafer, price pressure continued to disturb manufacturers and the average price of multi-Si wafer remained around $2.2/piece. The price of multi-Si wafer decreased by 3.1 percent to $2.189/piece from last week. Since the demand for mono-Si wafer has mildly recovered, the price decreased merely by 0.08 percent to $2.60/Watt.

In terms of solar cells, the lowest surveyed spot price has fallen to $0.72/Watt, and the average has dropped by 5.5 percent to $0.824/Watt. Moreover, the average price of module has consistently declined by 2.77 percent to $1.298/Watt. The lowest price has come to $1.25/Watt, and some manufacturers even offered $1.2/Watt to speed up their inventory clearance. As a result, it is believed that the module price will continue its downward trend in the short run.

As for PV contract price, manufacturers now make alterations to the polysilicon contracts in response to the fast changing market. According to EnergyTrend, a number of surveyed manufacturers now provide provisory clause for buyers to choose between negotiable or non-negotiable contracts and the price difference is between $5/kg~$10/kg.

Furthermore, there are short term contracts for module recently, but they are more focused on low quantity with reasonable prices. The contract prices of solar cell and Si wafer tended to follow the spot price, which caused a sharp price decrease in the upstream sector of the PV industry. The polysilicon contract price has slumped by 14.25 percent to $55.2/kg; the multi-Si wafer contract price has collapsed by 23.9 percent to $2.283/piece; the solar cell contract price fallen by 19.22 to $0.853/Watt; and module price has decreased merely by 3.13 percent to $1.455/Watt.

EnergyTrend believes that the capital market condition, recovery of German and Italian markets, and growth of Chinese and American markets will determine the market trend of 2H11. Since the demand in PV industry is closely tied to the financial market, the European debt crisis and the US Fed’s QE2 policy will affect the whole economic perspective and money flow which in turn affects market demand of 2H11.

On the other hand, some manufacturers’ capacity utilization has recovered. However, since the total demand has not picked up in the PV supply chain, EnergyTrend believes that the market still signals a mixed message. Although top-tier manufacturers indicated the recovery has occurred, second-tier manufacturers’ capacity utilization ratio is the key indicator to determine whether the market demand will trend upward in the later half of 2011.

Smart energy solution and home security top priorities for Australia

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Broadband service providers keen to grow their business by offering additional connected home services should target the home security and monitoring, smart energy control and media sharing markets, according to new Ovum research.

However, the independent telecoms analyst finds that to translate this opportunity into revenue growth, broadband providers must first jump the hurdle of consumers’ unwillingness to pay for additional services.

As part of the research, Ovum surveyed consumers to gain insight on current uptake of additional connected home services from broadband providers, and which offerings consumers are most interested in receiving.

Currently email, technical support and PC security are the most common additional services to be taken by customers from their broadband provider. However, the research found that although uptake of home security and monitoring, smart energy control and media sharing services is currently fairly low, they offer good potential, as consumers expressed strong interest in receiving them in the future.

“When it comes to home security, where broadband providers could potentially offer services such as monitoring and control via smartphones, our research found that 22 percent of the Australian respondents would be interested in receiving this service. At the same time, only 17 percent of respondents would be willing to pay more than a month for $5 per month for it,” said Michael Philpott, principal analyst.

Philpott commented: “The strong interest from consumers shows the potential this market offers to broadband providers. However, to realise it they will need to get their price right, as with all connected home services, low willingness to pay is a major factor. According to our survey, just six per cent of Australians that expressed an interest would be willing to pay some of the high monthly fees that are currently on the market.”

Smart energy solution is a very hot topic in Australia with 29 percent of respondents showing interest, which would help them to control and monitor the amount of energy they are using. “However, most Australians are not yet willing to pay, with 42 percent of them stating they want it for free,” finds Philpott.

Another 20 percent said a media sharing service, connecting all the devices used by the home owner would be something they would potentially like to receive from their broadband provider.

“Although starting from a low base, media sharing is another service with significant potential, in Australia. However, pricing is again an issue, with almost 50 percent of the consumers surveyed stating that they would expect to get this service for free.”

Soitec and Schneider Electric sign MoU with Masen on integrated partnership on CPV technology in Morocco

RABAT, MOROCCO: Soitec, a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, and Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management, today announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Masen (Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy), lead player in the Moroccan Solar Plan, on an integrated partnership on Concentrix technology in Morocco.

Completion of the project will create a CPV segment serving domestic needs and generating exports of electricity and power plants, thereby contributing to a strategy of controlled energy costs over the long term for Morocco and to the achievement of a plan to build a manufacturing facility in the country.

The Franco-Moroccan initiative marks the first utility-scale project under the Mediterranean Solar Plan in one of the 43 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), a partnership uniting Europe with countries in the Mediterranean Basin.

The memorandum of understanding between Soitec, Schneider Electric and Masen is part of the Moroccan Solar Plan. It is supported jointly by the Moroccan and French governments. It has four key components:

* Research & development, involving joint work on CPV R&D subjects for technology sharing, based in part on provision of a demonstrator by Soitec.
* Industrial integration, through development of a local supply chain for CPV system components, including trackers, and opportunity analysis on setting up a CPV modules assembling factory in Morocco.
* Training, involving transfer of Soitec's CPV know-how to Masen, and joint analysis by all stakeholders on the feasibility of setting up a master's syllabus on management of renewable energies in partnership with Moroccan universities.
* Pilot projects, where two Moroccan CPV pilot projects of 5 MW each, with two different generation systems. All or part of the electricity generated will be exported under the MSP.

The two pilot projects, under study, total 10 MW and will proceed as follows. The first, scheduled for completion in early 2012, involves development, on the technology platform at Masen's Ouarzazate site, of a 5 MW demonstration unit twinned with Soitec and Schneider Electric facilities in France.

A joint basis for research & development will thus be established, facilitating a strategy of knowledge sharing between the partners. The second project involves construction of another 5 MW section using next-generation modules at a site to be approved by the partners.

"This multidimensional pilot partnership on CPV, a promising solar power technology, fits in perfectly with Masen's vision on integrated development of the Moroccan Solar Plan. This kind of project will undoubtedly be having a positive impact on the sector, and on regional integration, which we're eager to participate in, alongside organisations like Soitec and Schneider Electric, which share our aims," remarked Masen chairman, Mustapha Bakkoury.

"We are delighted to be working together with Schneider Electric and Masen on this major initiative in the MediterraneanBasin and France as part of this program to develop the production of solar-generated electricity. Our technology is in the process of being adopted on a large scale in the San Diego region of the United States, where climate conditions are similar and where our technology has proven to be the best suited to regions with abundant sunshine. We are working very closely alongside Masen on rollout of solar power plants in Morocco and to promote the economic development of the region," commented André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, Soitec's chairman and CEO.

"Schneider Electric has a sixty-year history of working in Morocco, and is delighted to be contributing to the Moroccan Solar Plan. We'll be working jointly with Soitec to address the needs expressed by Masen," noted Laurent Bataille, Schneider Electric's renewable energies director. "Schneider Electric will be harnessing its international expertise in intelligent energy management systems for solar power plants, and its unique know-how in access to renewable energies, to ensure that this Moroccan cooperative project is a resounding industrial, technological, innovative and human success."

Concentrix technology has been optimized for high-capacity industrial-scale solar power plants. The technology is ideal for use in areas with high direct normal irradiance (DNI), such as Saharan Africa, southern Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and the Southern and Southwestern United States.

Soitec solar plants have already been built in more than ten countries, including the US Sun Belt, where their two-axis sun-tracking system delivers record yields. Concentrix technology is the most competitive solution on the market, offers the best design for use in sunny regions, is environmentally friendly and delivers the highest efficiencies on the market.

Schneider Electric's renewable energies access offering covers all needs, from electricity generation through to network connection. It includes feasibility studies, power distribution architecture design, the supply of all types of equipment including junction boxes, inverters, prefabricated transformer substations, MV transformer substations, the supervision system and video surveillance, as well as operation and maintenance of the system.

In taking full responsibility for system operation and maintenance, Schneider Electric assures the operator of installation availability. Specifically, Schneider Electric provides preventive maintenance to forestall dysfunction, and implements control devices at strategic points throughout the system. This equipment outputs information on system operation (inverter and generator module status, deviation warnings with alarm signals, etc.), enabling the operator to take realtime action to remedy fault conditions and promptly resume normal system operation.

Is trouble brewing for solar equipment and material manufacturers?

Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPLOI, USA: I noted in an Insight article last week that by clever misrepresentation of the current situation of slowing demand in solar installations, top tier Chinese solar manufacturers are able to secure financing in the multi-million dollar range under the guise that their cells and modules and only their cells and modules have bankability. Large Chinese government or government-owned banks are extending billions of dollars in loans to domestic firms.

I also noted that China-based first-tier solar firms Suntech, JA Solar, Trina Solar, and Yingli Green Energy, plan to expand total annual capacity by 40GW in 2011. However, global demand for solar cells in 2011 might only be around 15GW, hence an oversupply is very likely. The overcapacity I speak about is real-world overcapacity, not the imaginary-world undercapacity of bankable solar promulgated by the first-tier firms.

If an equipment or materials company has customers in the first-tier group, anticipate another banner year in 2011. According to analysis by The Information Network, the top equipment manufacturers for 2010 were:Source: The Information Network, USA.

The top 13 companies sold 61.4 percent of the total equipment to solar manufacturers in 2010, and there are dozens of smaller companies that sold the remaining 38.6 percent ($4 billion) of the market in 2010.

According to SolarBuzz, Sharp declines in book-to-bill ratios are currently being posted by equipment suppliers that have been over-dependent on c-Si expansions in Europe, tier 2 c-Si spending from China, and speculative thin-film investments. The book-to-bill ratio compares new-order-intake to revenues-recognized within a given period. It is the ratio of demand to supply in the equipment supply chain. SolarBuzz expects the book-to-bill ratio to drop and be below parity (less bookings, more billings) for the remainder of 2011.

That being said, 2011 will be a tough year for solar equipment manufacturers. Equipment manufacturers (and material manufacturers because of the 15 percent demand growth in 2011) will need a “hook”. I’ve mentioned in previous articles that by offering technology to increase yield and reduce costs by more than 10 percent, privately held SolarPA is well positioned to license its technology to these manufacturers.