Friday, September 30, 2011

Suntech selected by Cupertino Electric for 35MW of solar projects

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced that it has supplied solar panels for two solar power plants in central California.

Built and engineered by Cupertino Electric Inc.'s (CEI) Energy Alternatives Division, the 20MW (AC) and 15MW (AC) projects, located in Helm and Five Points, Calif., respectively, feature more than 150,000 of Suntech's multicrystalline solar panels for utility-scale electricity generation.

Construction of the two fast-track projects began in earnest in April 2011. The projects were designed and built by Cupertino Electric for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) under the utility's five-year, 500MW clean energy initiative. The PG&E program includes up to 250MW of utility-owned solar generation.

"Suntech's ability to deliver large volumes of high-quality solar panels, backed by meaningful guarantees, helped us to meet PG&E's fast-paced schedule," said Tim Jensen, project executive with Cupertino Electric, Inc. "Our successful delivery of this project to PG&E was made possible by the contributions of reliable subcontractors and suppliers like Suntech."

"Solar is one of the fastest generation assets that you can build, as demonstrated by Cupertino Electric with these two well-designed and well-executed projects," said Mick McDaniel, VP of Utility Sales Division for Suntech America. "Although the economics will continue to improve, solar technology is ready today to provide cost-effective, large-scale solutions for electricity generation."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Constellation Energy begins construction on Maryland's largest solar PV power system

BALTIMORE, USA: Constellation Energy announced that its retail energy business affiliate has started construction on a 16.1 megawatt DC grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) solar installation in Emmitsburg, Md.

Part of the state of Maryland's Generating Clean Horizons initiative, the approximately $60 million solar facility will be financed, owned and operated by Constellation Energy. Renewable electricity produced by the system will be purchased by the state of Maryland's Department of General Services and the University System of Maryland under 20-year solar power purchase agreements.

"Our state's growing 'green' sector is vital to our ability to create jobs and compete in the new economy," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "I'd like to thank Constellation Energy for their commitment to helping us move toward our renewable energy goals. Together, we will continue to make Maryland a leader in the nation's efforts for clean energy, bring more green jobs to our communities and create a more sustainable future."

Constellation Energy employs approximately 75 people to construct the solar installation, and expects that workforce to reach a peak of 150 people during the height of construction. The system is scheduled for operation in early 2012 and is expected to produce more than 22 million kilowatt hours of emissions-free electricity per year. Generating the same amount of electricity using nonrenewable sources would result in the release of 15,170 metric tons of carbon dioxide or the equivalent emissions from 2,975 passenger vehicles annually, according to US EPA data.

"Projects like this are part of Constellation Energy's commitment to provide clean energy products and services for our customers, both in Maryland and nationally," said Mark Huston, head of Constellation Energy's retail energy business.

"Constellation Energy's new 70-megawatt Criterion Wind Project, located in Garrett County, Md., meets the clean energy needs of approximately 23,000 households. We look forward to developing additional renewable projects that will help Maryland meet its environmental goals."

Currently, the largest solar photovoltaic power system under construction in Maryland, the ground-mounted installation will be comprised of approximately 220,000 advanced thin film PV panels from First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) situated on 100 acres of land leased from Mount St. Mary's University. In addition to the 16.1- megawatt system, Constellation Energy is developing an approximately 1.3-megawatt solar power system on the site that will supply power directly to the university.

"This partnership with Constellation Energy supports our sustainability goals here at the Mount," said Thomas H. Powell, president of Mount St. Mary's University. "We continue to lead the way as responsible stewards of the environment, by recognizing the importance of clean, renewable energy for our students and the community."

In addition to PV technology, First Solar is providing engineering, procurement and construction services for the project.

"First Solar is excited to be working with Constellation Energy on Maryland's largest PV project," said Frank De Rosa, First Solar senior VP of project and business development for North America. "Utility-scale PV solar is a clean, affordable source of renewable energy in many parts of the United States beyond the Southwest, where it is typically thought of."

In February 2009, the Maryland Energy Administration, in partnership with the University System of Maryland and the Department of General Services, approved the award of four renewable energy projects under the Generating Clean Horizons program to spur the development of large-scale, commercial renewable energy projects. Under the initiative, the state issued requests for proposals for long-term power purchase agreements from renewable sources delivering clean power to the grid by 2014.

Constellation Energy currently owns and operates approximately 100 megawatts of solar installations that have been completed or are under construction for commercial and government customers throughout the United States. By structuring its solar projects as power purchase agreements, Constellation Energy requires no upfront capital from its customers and is able to provide power at a fixed cost that is less than projected market rates.

SK Group, HelioVolt announce investment, expansion alliance

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA & AUSTIN, USA: SK TIC and SK Innovation, members of the SK Group, Korea's energy, chemicals and telecommunications giant, and HelioVolt Corp., a US based manufacturer of high-efficiency thin-film photovoltaic modules, announced that the companies have reached an agreement to collaborate on technology development and global manufacturing expansion.

The SK Group has invested $50 million to expand HelioVolt Austin's manufacturing operations and has begun collaboration to develop HelioVolt's global capabilities.

"We believe in the value of long-term investing in alternative energy and are happy to be able to leverage SK leadership across our many complementary industries in order to create an outstanding global partnership with the HelioVolt team," said Dr. SH Park, CEO of SK TIC. "SK's technical and engineering expertise will provide HelioVolt with tremendous market, manufacturing and supply chain access," emphasized Dr. DS Kim, SK Innovation's CTO.

HelioVolt's significant technical progress and rapid module cost reduction are providing SK, through this partnership, an opportunity to play an important role in the rapidly growing global renewable energy market.

"The solar energy market is going through a transition period—one that is creating unprecedented opportunities for world-class leadership," said Dr. BJ Stanbery, HelioVolt's chairman of the Board of Directors and company founder. "We welcome SK's manufacturing, engineering and operational expertise in order to accelerate commercialization of our technology and business expansion to deliver the most cost-effective and efficient solar power."

In connection with the transaction, Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as exclusive placement agent to HelioVolt.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High-efficiency cells set for rapid growth, propping up solar industry profits

EL SEGUNDO, USA: In a development that could slow the downward spiral of prices and profit margins in the solar industry, the market share of high-efficiency crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic (PV) cells is expected to more than double by 2015, according to the latest IHS iSuppli PV Perspectives Market Brief.

High-efficiency units in 2015 are expected to account for 31 percent of global c-Si solar cell shipments, up from just 14 percent in 2011, as presented in the figure below. The remaining shipments will consist of standard-efficiency cells utilizing older technology.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

High-efficiency solar cells employ advanced conversion techniques to increase solar efficiency by anywhere from 0.3 to as much as 5 percentage points. For example, a standard module that is 15 percent efficient could attain a boosted efficiency rating ranging from 15.3 percent to 20 percent by using advanced conversion techniques.

“Conversion efficiency initiatives were not a priority during the past two years as the PV industry focused on increasing production to meet surging demand,” said Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst for PV systems at IHS. “However, given the continuing retreat of solar prices—down at least 25 percent this year—top module and cell suppliers are realizing that higher-efficiency techniques could be a key competitive weapon, allowing them to achieve market differentiation by offering superior products. This represents a fundamental shift in strategy that could allow the PV industry to slow price erosion and suppliers to improve profitability.”

Conversion changes
Solar cell conversion techniques involve letting in a greater amount—or a broader spectrum—of light while reducing recombination losses, in which holes and electrons recombine before being extracted. While most conversion techniques have been around for many years—one or two decades in some cases—it is only now that the technologies have achieved serious attention for broader commercial implementations.

The most prominent of the new technologies are those that minimize front-side metal contacts known as busbars and fingers. While the contacts are vital to the solar cell’s operation, they also block the sun at the same time.

A broad array of solar conversion technologies is available today, including back side contacts, heterojunction cells, passivation layers, selective emitter technology, new light-trapping techniques, smaller front-side metallization and bi-facial cells. There also are various efforts occurring in the research and development stage, including hot-carrier technologies, 3-D cell structures and new energy-conversion layers based on rare-earth materials and silicon nanoparticles.

Conversion challenges
The biggest challenge in switching to higher-efficiency cells is the loftier price involved in producing them. This could entail a panel price markup of 10 to 15 percent.

However, negative perceptions on conversion viability appear to be changing as the techniques become less risky and more cost effective to implement. The transformation is thanks to the advocacy work of research labs like ECN and Fraunhofer, equipment companies like Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) and Manz Automation AG, and cell materials suppliers like DuPont, which recently bought Innovalight and its Silicon Ink technology to expand its portfolio.

In early 2011, the leading producers of high-efficiency cells were California-based SunPower Corp. and Japan’s Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. However, several other players also are expected to roll out their offerings during the course of this year.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Suntech recognized as new sustainability champion by World Economic Forum

WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, was recognized by the World Economic Forum as a New Sustainability Champion in its recent report entitled 'Redefining the Future Growth: The New Sustainability Champions'. Suntech was the only solar company to be named New Sustainability Champion, underscoring its commitment and achievement to continually lead the renewable energy industry in terms of sustainability and innovation.

"Suntech is honored to be recognized as a New Sustainability Champion by the World Economic Forum," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder and CEO. "As we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, this recognition reaffirms Suntech's vision to be a sustainable, responsible company delivering energy choices for tomorrow. In the next ten years, Suntech will perpetually make strategic investments to accelerate humanity's transition towards a more sustainable and responsible way of living."

The report, prepared with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), takes into account criteria covering sustainability, innovation, scalability, geography and company size. Additionally, the World Economic Forum and BCG analyzed over 1,000 businesses around the world and identified 16 fast-growth companies, including Suntech, who demonstrated ability in tackling challenges of performance, innovation, sustainability and growth.

"Suntech stands out as a New Sustainability Champion, a company fully committed to business excellence and the improvement of society," said Jerry Yu, director, Center for Global Growth Companies, World Economic Forum. "Together with World Economic Forum, we are confident that Suntech will continually inspire and lead the next generation of companies around the world to be more sustainable, innovative, and environmentally responsible."

Suntech recently launched the first global edition of its Sustainability Report 2010, which showcases the company's successes and opportunities with sustainable business initiatives. Known for its technology leadership, all of Suntech's R&D programs have a clear goal - reduce the cost of harnessing solar energy and increase the performance of solar cells and panels to ultimately make solar affordable for everyone, everywhere. However, Suntech's commitment to sustainability goes beyond its products.

The company works closely with industry partners around the world to take responsibility for the complete environmental lifecycle of its products and operations. In January 2011, Suntech was also awarded the "Global Leader Award 2011" from Murphy&Spitz recognizing Suntech's exceptional EH&S practices.

Solar price continues to drop, alarming sign for market

TAIWAN: The polysilicon industry has seen several changes recently that have been the focus of the industry. Firstly, not only has GCL-Poly Energy’s announced production capacity expansion exceeded expectations, but it is rumored that the company is considering cooperation with Foxconn. Meanwhile, the future trend of polysilicon price is unknown.

According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, European and American manufacturers who were unwilling to give in on price are beginning to show signs of concession in terms of long-term contract price for 2012, with the lowest quotes down to $40/kg. As for Asian and other second-tier makers, price is expected to reach $40/kg in Q4 of this year. Although polysilicon price has been adjusted noticeably, downstream manufacturers indicate that this is a reflection of the oversupply situation and not a positive development.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

In terms of raw materials, EnergyTrend indicates that as polysilicon manufacturers are shipping aggressively, more and more makers are dumping their excess contract goods on the spot market. This has caused spot price to plummet, and some manufacturers have already quoted prices lower than $40/kg.

However, related manufacturers indicate that this selling price is not the cause of the current status of the spot market. Weak demand and polysilicon makers insisting that clients honor their contracts are the main factors that have caused low price and oversupply on the spot market. Although polysilicon manufacturers have also quoted US$40/kg contract prices, makers indicate that unless demand rises, there will continue to be few transactions.

With regard to the Si wafer spot market, prices as low as US$1.5/piece have been quoted in hopes of attracting buyers. However, this strategy has not had noticeable results, mainly due to the fact that solar cell manufacturers’ material from long-term contracts is enough to fulfill current demand. The low price is driven by traders and manufacturers trying to get rid of excess inventory. Notably, the previous mono-Si wafer price uptrend has reversed, and mono-Si wafer price is already the same as multi-Si wafer price for September.

As for this week’s spot price quotes, polysilicon, Si wafer, and solar cell price are all showing downward trends. In terms of polysilicon, the lowest transaction price was $40/kg, while the quoted price was $39/kg, with an ASP of $46.58/kg, representing a 4.18 percent decrease. With regard to Si wafers, the multi-Si wafer price decreased noticeably this week, with a low of $1.6/piece and an ASP of $1.814/piece, representing a 3.05 percent decrease.

The mono-Si wafer price approached $2/piece, with ASP decreasing by 1.52 percent to $2.398/piece. As for solar cells, the lowest multi-Si solar cell price was $0.66/Watt; the lowest mono-Si solar cell price remained at $0.72/Watt, while ASP decreased by a slight 1.81 percent to $0.704/Watt.

Looking towards the future, EnergyTrend believes that price war for the polysilicon industry has begun, and major manufacturers will be using economies of scale to push newcomers out. When price reaches $40/kg, the polysilicon industry will enter elimination phase; the development of Chinese manufacturers will be a point of focus.

Manufacturers that are unable to acquire enough capital will be eliminated, and the status of the industry may improve as a result of elimination of unsustainable enterprises. On the other hand, if current expansion strategies are executed as planned, the industry will remain in a state of severe oversupply.

Tenaska Solar Ventures chooses First Solar to construct Imperial Solar Energy Center South

OMAHA, USA: In a major step in the development of the Imperial Solar Energy Center South, Tenaska Solar Ventures, the solar energy affiliate of Tenaska, has selected First Solar to be the technology provider and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project.

First Solar will provide EPC services, using advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules for the solar generating plant to be located on approximately 950 acres in the southern part of Imperial County.

"The selection of First Solar to design and build Imperial Solar Energy Center South is a significant milestone in the development of new renewable sources of energy for Southern California," said Bart Ford, Tenaska, VP of Development. "First Solar is among the most respected and experienced manufacturers of solar energy systems in the United States, and we are pleased to obtain the company's services for our Imperial Solar facility."

The proposed Imperial Solar Energy Center South will be a ground-mounted PV solar power generating system with a capacity of approximately 130 megawatts (MW) of electricity. PV technology converts sunlight directly into electricity with panels using semiconductors that do not produce noise or emit any greenhouse gases. When operating at peak times, the project will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of at least 44,000 California homes. The electricity produced by the project will be sold under a 25-year power-purchase agreement to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

"We are excited to work with Tenaska on this project, bringing our industry-leading engineering, construction and operations expertise in utility-scale solar projects to the Imperial Valley," said Jim Lamon, First Solar senior vice president of EPC and Operations and Maintenance.

First Solar, formed in 1999 and headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., is a world leader in the manufacture of advanced, thin film PV solar modules, with over 4 gigawatts (GW) of working installations worldwide and factory production of 2 GW of modules per year, and is a premier provider of comprehensive PV solar systems.

The project is expected to create about 250 jobs at peak construction and four to five direct, long-term jobs to support ongoing operations. Construction is expected to begin in late 2011, with commercial operation in 2014.

Tenaska Solar Ventures will manage the Imperial Solar Energy Center South project for CSOLAR IV South, LLC, which will develop, own and operate the project. Both Tenaska Solar Ventures and CSOLAR IV South, LLC are affiliates of Tenaska. Tenaska is an energy company based in Omaha, Nebraska, with a proven track record of developing, constructing, owning, and operating state-of-the-art electric generation and cogeneration plants.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

IEEE 2030 standard establishes smart grid interoperability reference work and knowledge base

BANGALORE, INDIA: The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) has achieved an important milestone with the approval of the IEEE 2030 – IEEE Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS), End-Use Applications, and Loads – during the IEEE-SA Standards Board meeting in September.

IEEE 2030 establishes a globally relevant Smart Grid interoperability reference model and knowledge base that can be used by utilities who are developing their infrastructure roadmaps, by manufacturers who are planning Smart Grid systems and applications, by scientists who are conducting research, by governments who are crafting regulations and by standards-development organizations (SDOs) who are writing additional standards for Smart Grid.

The IEEE 2030 Working Group and final balloting process had diverse global representation, with participation from countries all over the world including Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, as well as from North America, Europe and Latin America.

“Volunteers from around the world addressed ways to integrate their respective technologies as well as the technical vocabularies, business cycles and capitalization structures into the framework. The participants in this process successfully avoided the barriers that often result when countries, companies and industries pursue individual and potentially incompatible approaches to technologies that have global relevance,” said Dick DeBlasio, IEEE 2030 Working Group chair, chief engineer at the National Renewable Energy Lab facility of the US Department of Energy and IEEE Smart Grid liaison to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“The result is the world’s first system-of-systems, foundational standard that has been created from the ground up to inform Smart Grid interconnection and interoperability, and it happened in a rapidly paced, two-year development environment that demanded the integrated contributions of hundreds and hundreds of people from across the Smart Grid’s three primary disciplines: power systems, communications and IT (information technology).”

IEEE 2030 is available for purchase at IEEE Standards Store.

IEEE 2030 provides alternative approaches and best practices for Smart Grid work in India and worldwide, and defines terminology, characteristics, functional performance and evaluation criteria and the application of engineering principles for Smart Grid interoperability of the EPS with end-use applications and loads. Additionally, it defines design tables and the classification of data-flow characteristics necessary for interoperability, with emphasis on functional interface identification, logical connections and data flows, communications and linkages, digital information management, cyber-security and power generation usage.

Work has already commenced on three IEEE 2030 extensions:

IEEE P2030.1 – Guide for Electric-Sourced Transportation Infrastructure – is intended to establish guidelines that can be used by utilities, manufacturers, transportation providers, infrastructure developers and end users of electric-sourced vehicles and related support infrastructure in addressing applications for road-based personal and mass transportation.

IEEE P2030.2 – Guide for the Interoperability of Energy Storage Systems Integrated with the Electric Power Infrastructure – is intended to help users achieve greater understanding of energy storage systems by defining interoperability characteristics of various system topologies and to illustrate how discrete and hybrid systems may be successfully integrated with and used compatibly as part of the electric power infrastructure.

IEEE P2030.3 – Standard for Test Procedures for Electric Energy Storage Equipment and Systems for Electric Power Systems Applications – is intended to establish a standard for test procedures around verifying conformance of storage equipment and systems to storage-interconnection standards.

GT Advanced Technologies receives order for large optical sapphire blank for gravitational wave telescope

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Advanced Technologies Inc. announced that its subsidiary, GT Crystal Systems, has received an order for a large, low absorption, optical sapphire blank for the Large-Scale Cryogenic Gravitational Wave Telescope (LCGT) program located in Japan.

The LCGT will use the sapphire optic to measure changes in gravitational waves resulting from cosmic events. The LCGT is an extremely sensitive instrument that requires sapphire that contains an almost perfect crystalline structure, without bubbles or inclusions, throughout the optic. The sapphire must also be very low in optical absorption to prevent any heat from occurring, which can cause thermal expansion and hence thermal lensing.

GT Crystal Systems HEM sapphire has extremely low absorption properties at wavelengths of 1.064 um, which is significant because many future, high-power laser systems operate at this wavelength. GT HEM sapphire has been measured to have laser absorption values lower than 40ppm/cm at this wave length.

“The intrinsic sapphire quality required for the LCGT is very high and only the purest and most perfect sapphire can be used for this demanding application,” said Cheryl Diuguid, GT Advanced Technologies’ VP and GM of the Sapphire Equipment and Materials Group. “We are honored to have been selected for this exciting program. It is a true testament to the quality of the sapphire material we produce using our advanced sapphire furnace technology.”

The sapphire blank will be approximately ten inches in diameter and six inches thick. Delivery of the blank is scheduled for the early calendar 2012. GT’s HEM Sapphire was selected for the LCGT program as a result of past performance in other similar low absorption applications such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) located in the United States.

Scientists are using gravitational wave telescopes to observe black holes and other objects in the distant Universe that cannot be observed with more traditional optical and radio telescopes. Gravitational waves are of interest to cosmologists as they may offer a possible way of observing the very early universe. Precise measurements of gravitational waves will also allow scientists to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Westinghouse Solar releases affordable rooftop solar kits

CAMPBELL, USA: Westinghouse Solar Inc., a designer and manufacturer of solar power systems, released its all-in-one rooftop solar kits. The combination of affordable pricing -- along with the ease of installation that the Westinghouse Solar Power System provides -- makes these new kits very appealing to contractors and do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners who, until now, have been put off by the high price of a rooftop system.

Each rooftop solar kit includes Westinghouse Solar AC panels with integrated racking and inverters, roof brackets with fasteners, roof flashings, and panel splices. All that needs to be added is wiring to the rooftop and a circuit breaker installed in the home's electrical service panel. Westinghouse Solar recommends that an electrician or other licensed professional provide an electrical code-compliant connection into the service panel.

"What has been lost in the recent news about the solar industry is that solar panels are less than half the price they were just two years ago. These cost reductions are terrific news for consumers. Now, paybacks in many states are less than five years – after which homeowners get free electricity from their system," said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar. "What these dramatically lower prices mean is that 'going solar' is now a terrific investment and, like in Germany, the rooftop solar industry has the potential to grow faster than any other market segment."

The combination of low solar panel prices, low installation costs and federal and state solar incentives makes paybacks surprisingly short in some locations, even when professionally installed by an electrical contractor.

For example, a simple four panel installation in Hawaii is less than $1,500 after federal and state incentives, and at an electric rate of $0.40/kwh will save $660 a year with a two year payback. A similar four panel system in New York is less than $900 after federal and state incentives, and at an electric rate of $0.20/kwh will save $230 a year with a four year payback.

In California, historically the largest solar market in the US, a four panel system is approximately $2,300 after federal incentives (not considering state incentives), and at an electric rate of $0.30/kwh will save $450 a year with a five year payback. Many DIY customers do the system installation themselves and simply hire an electrician to run the wires from their rooftop solar panels to their home's electrical box – making the paybacks even faster.

Reducing the costs of "going solar"
As the costs for solar panels have declined, installation costs have become the biggest factor for homeowners. Technology pioneered by Westinghouse Solar – specifically its AC solar panels with integrated racking, wiring, grounding and inverters – has made it much easier for contractors and DIY homeowners to install systems, further reducing installed costs.

"We began our retail trials about two years ago with Lowe's Home Improvement stores. There was a lot of interest from both homeowners and contractors – usually electricians and home improvement specialists," said Jeff Kiel, executive VP of Sales and Marketing for Westinghouse Solar. "What we learned was that the two key issues were, obviously, cost – but also 'out of the box' simplicity. Equipment costs are literally half of what they were two years ago, so we have made terrific progress on that front. Moreover, our second-generation AC panels are now packaged in a complete kit with all the mounting hardware needed for a typical rooftop system. It's like buying a ready-to-assemble furniture kit from Ikea. Everything you need except wiring and ordinary tools is included."

Kits for different rooftops
Westinghouse Solar kits are available in three sizes. The 20-panel contractor kit provides enough power for about 70 percent of a typical home's energy needs. The four-panel "starter" kit is perfect for small installations – for example, on the sunny roof of a garage. The single panel "try it" kit is great for people who want to experiment with solar out for themselves on a budget. All Westinghouse Solar panels are modular so that homeowners can easily add onto the system in the future.

Westinghouse Solar kits are available from home improvement retailers, electrical distributors, contractors and local solar installers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

John Lefebvre appointed president of Suntech America

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd has appointed John Lefebvre as the president of Suntech America. Based at Suntech America's headquarters in San Francisco, Lefebvre is charged with extending Suntech's market leadership position throughout North and South America. He will report directly to Suntech's chief commercial officer Andrew Beebe.

"John brings the ideal mix of industry experience and proven business development capabilities to lead Suntech America through the next phase of our industry's growth," said Beebe. "As we enter a grid parity environment, markets throughout the Americas, particularly the US and Canada, are major strategic priorities for our global organization. This appointment will help to solidify our leadership position in what will remain a key regional driver of our global growth."

"I'm honored to join the Suntech team and plan to accelerate the company's remarkable trajectory throughout North and South America," said Lefebvre. "I've been working with Suntech and their local teams for years now, and understand why and how Suntech has become the US and global market leader."

For the past four years, Lefebvre served as VP of Sales and Business Development at SolarCity, a leading full-service solar provider for homeowners, businesses and government organizations, as well as a Suntech customer. In that role, Mr. Lefebvre was responsible for all of the company's sales, channel partnerships and corporate partnerships, including end-to-end management of SolarCity's residential, government and commercial sales activities, and strategic channel management.

Production cutbacks insufficient to prevent solar module inventory build up

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Continued solar module overproduction will lead to sustained price pressure across global photovoltaic (PV) markets, already reeling from factory gate prices now down 33 percent Y/Y, according to conclusions in the latest Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

Preliminary analysis from Solarbuzz shows Q3'11 global demand growing by less than 1 percent Q/Q, but up 20 percent Y/Y. European markets are projected to account for 58 percent of Q3’11 global demand, down from 78 percent in the same quarter last year. Among the largest PV markets, the US and China are seeing the fastest rates of growth among major markets in Q3’11.Source: Solarbuzz, USA.

While some manufacturers have started to cut back their production and shipment plans, tier-one Chinese companies have maintained their full year shipment guidance. If manufacturers meet their 2H’11 guidance, global shipments are forecast to exceed end-market demand by 4.4 GW.

Price cuts have started to stimulate 2H’11 end-market demand, but to date, this has occurred more slowly than expected. “Anticipating that falling prices could stimulate demand by year-end, downstream companies across Europe face the unnerving decision of whether to build inventories at the end of Q3’11,” said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. “Any over-estimate of that demand ahead of an expected 15 percent German feed-in tariff reduction at the start of 2012 would likely result in further year-end inventory write-downs.”

After taking into account the changing supply mix, crystalline silicon factory-gate module prices are now projected to fall 18 percent in Q4’11 Q/Q, reflecting price and supply mix changes. These reductions will also stimulate large cuts in thin film prices in Q4’11. Meanwhile, Q2’11 gross margins for the major cell, wafer and polysilicon manufacturers have already dropped on average by more than 50 percent compared to the prior quarter.

Heading into 2012, the industry is braced for another challenging year. Analysis in Solarbuzz Quarterly shows manufacturers are preparing to raise cell capacity by 50 percent over 2011 levels, while end-market demand is forecast to increase by less than half that level.

Stevens added: “This is a strikingly similar equation to the supply/demand balance that existed 12 months ago and resulted in collapsing prices through the PV chain. In contrast, though, margins are already at a breaking point, thereby increasing the likelihood of more company consolidations and liquidations next year.”

Failure to cut back production will result in soaring module inventory levels to almost 22 GW by the end of next year. In order to maintain the same level of inventory days as projected for the end of 2011, forecast production would need to be cut back by approximately 11 GW.

Canadian Solar supplies 5.1 MW of solar modules to EOSOL's solar power plant in South West of France

PARIS, FRANCE: Canadian Solar Inc., one of the world's largest solar companies, announced that it has supplied solar modules to EOSOL Energies Nouvelles' new ground-mounted solar plant. Canadian Solar provideda total of 21,560 solar modules for an installed capacity of 5.1 MW.EOSOL EN's new power plant called "Le Petit Chataignier" has been built in La Genetouze in the South West of France on an area of 89,300 m². The new solar power plant was inaugurated on September 22, 2011.

EOSOL EN previously selected Canadian Solar's high-quality, high-performance solar modules for three other installations in France with an overall installed capacity of more than 16 MW.

This new project in La Genetouze, in the department of Charente-Maritime, adds another 5.1 MW to this and has been installed in a record time of five months. Other collaboration partners of EOSOL EN within this project were TSK, 3E, a technical construction auditor, BIOTOPE for ecological engineering and biodiversity management, ERDF as electric line constructor and the bank Credit Agricole.

M. Bruno BERNAL, president of EOSOL Group, said:"Canadian Solar has proven to be an excellent partner with its high quality modules and its efficient customer service for our previous projects in France. That's why we logically selected them to become our partner for this important and strategic project in La Genetouzeand we plan to extend our successful cooperation."

Dr. Shawn QU, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, said: "This project is a testament to the high quality work by EOSOL EN and its partners, including Canadian Solar. We are proud that our modules were selected again to be part of this landmark project and look forward to continuing to work with EOSOL EN to promote the expansion of solar energy in France."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Petra Solar launches IntelliView platform

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, USA: Petra Solar, a NJ- based technology company providing reliable, cost-effective smart energy solutions to the electric supply industry, announced the launch of its IntelliView smart energy platform. IntelliView provides utilities with a suite of state-of-the-art services to manage a wide range of smart grid applications.

“IntelliView uniquely combines smart grid network infrastructure management with renewable energy management services for our worldwide utility partners,” said Dr. Shihab Kuran, president and CEO of Petra Solar. “The robust platform is scalable to future smart grid applications, including energy efficiency, energy conservation, grid reliability and smart microgrids.”

The IntelliView smart energy platform provides critical analysis of smart grid application data to enable remote command and control of large distributed energy systems. With the Network Management System (NMS) as a foundation module, users have a dashboard view of all elements of the communications network. Alerts, performance summaries, and mesh networking diagnostics are provided for problem identification and resolution on an exception basis.

The Energy Management System (EMS) module of IntelliView enables a centralized view of a virtual power plant consisting of a large installed base of SunWave smart solar systems distributed over a broad geographical area. The user can perform essential analysis required for ensuring peak generation and maximizing their investment. IntelliView’s modular design creates the platform for additional data-analytics modules, coupling critical network management with smart energy applications.

The Petra Solar Network Operations Center (NOC) also expands its smart energy services offering from support of SunWave smart solar systems to the option for full remote 24/7 operations of Petra Solar designed smart grid networks. Utilities can leverage the expertise of the Petra Solar highly trained technical staff to be the first line of defense in managing, monitoring and troubleshooting the system. This model allows utilities to focus on other key functions of their operations, while deriving full benefits from their investment in the Petra Solar designed smart grid system.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Smart grids spur massive demand for Li-ion batteries

EL SEGUNDO, USA: The expected proliferation of electrical smart grids during the next decade will generate nearly $6 billion worth of demand by 2020 for lithium ion batteries used mainly in energy storage systems, according to the IHS iSuppli Rechargeable Batteries Special Report.

From its starting point in 2012, the market for lithium ion batteries in smart grids is set for rapid growth, as presented in the figure below. Worldwide revenue from sales of lithium ion batteries for smart grids will surge to $5.98 billion in 2020, up by a factor of more than 80 from $72 million in 2012.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

“Smart grids require rechargeable batteries to adjust to fluctuations in demand and to optimize the delivery of electric power throughout the system,” said Satoru Oyama, principal analyst for Japan electronics research for IHS. “With their inherent advantages compared to alternative technologies, lithium ion batteries are uniquely suited for use in smart grids. Because of this, lithium ion is set to emerge as the dominant rechargeable battery technology for electrical smart grids during the coming years.”

Smart grid energy storage comes in multiple form factors, ranging from single-home systems to a cluster of homes or a building, to uninterruptible power systems for corporate information technology (IT) operations, to large-scale systems used by grid operators.

Energy storage is used for purposes running from grid stability to backup power for IT, to extending wind and solar energy capture into the evening.

Lithium lights up the grid
An advantage to lithium ion batteries is that they maintain full capacity even after a partial recharge. Furthermore, they are considered to be more environmentally safe than other battery technologies.

Beyond smart grids, lithium ion batteries are employed in a wide range of applications, including mobile handsets, notebook PCs, tablet computers, and hybrid and electric vehicles.

On the grid
A smart grid is a utility electricity delivery system that employs computer and communications technology to improve the flexibility and efficiency of power distribution.

In conventional power grids, power flows just one way, going from large-scale power generators to users. Smart grids, in contrast, can accommodate and control electricity that is generated both by big utilities and by individual consumers and businesses. This makes smart grids a key element in utilizing and redistributing the energy generated by solar systems installed by electricity users.

Development of smart grids is being spurred by various government initiatives throughout the world. For example, the United States has budgeted $4.5 billion for the purpose. Meanwhile, China is expected to become the largest smart grid market in the world, with $586 billion set to be invested in the electrical power supply infrastructure during the next 10 years.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Awareness of renewable energy and energy efficiency low in India

BANGALORE, INDIA: According to a first-of-its-kind survey conducted by Mercom Capital Group titled ‘India Renewable Energy Awareness Survey,’ only 56 percent of Indian consumers have heard of ‘renewable energy’ or ‘clean energy’, and only 27 percent of consumers have heard of ‘energy efficiency’. Although awareness was low, 71 percent of Indian consumers surveyed are willing to pay higher rates for electricity from renewable energy sources.

Mercom Capital Group, a global clean energy consulting and communications firm, surveyed more than 500 commercial, residential and rural consumers in India that resulted in strong evidence that consumers are willing to pay more for uninterrupted power and the opportunity to use renewable energy.

A surprising finding was that 65 percent of consumers in India are willing to pay more for uninterrupted power. There is a common misconception in India that consumers will not pay more for power, which has been the driving force behind state government policies that have been reluctant to raise power prices to reflect rising costs. This has led to decreased revenue among the power utilities, huge losses, continued power cuts and lack of financial resources to invest in power projects and infrastructure.

With policies like ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’ being implemented and renewable energy gaining importance as a future energy source in India, understanding the perceptions of consumers about renewable energy is a vital factor for these policies to succeed.

“Policies are implemented from the top down without any input or buy-in from consumers,” commented Raj Prabhu of Mercom Capital Group. “There seems to be a general lack of education and awareness among consumers on these issues. How do you expect consumers to support and adopt renewable energy if they don’t understand what it is? Energy efficiency tends to cost a fraction compared to new supply but unless consumers are educated about these programs the adoption will be slow and ineffective.”

Some of Mercom’s survey findings included:

* When asked about benefits of renewable energy, 81 percent pointed out ‘good for environment’ as a benefit, 54 percent said ‘no power cuts’ and 47 percent said ‘lower energy bills’ was a benefit of renewable energy.

* Solar was the most identified form of renewable energy with 92 percent of the consumers having heard of it, mainly due to the prevalence of solar water heaters. Only 49 percent of consumers had heard of wind energy.

* 82 percent of survey respondents overwhelmingly support renewable energy projects and 90% said government should support renewable energy.

“Overall we found a general lack of education and understanding about renewable energy and energy efficiency,” continued Raj Prabhu of Mercom Capital Group. “For any policy or program to achieve broad success, there needs to be a sustained education and communications initiative to get the consumers’ buy-in.”

A total of 509 respondents were interviewed for this survey. The survey was conducted face-to-face due to limitations of technology in some areas surveyed.

This survey was conducted in areas around Bangalore and Mysore cities. Rural areas covered: Villages of Akkihebbal, Sindhugatta, Balagatta and Vasanthapura. Residential areas covered: Bangalore – Basaveshwaranagar, Mysore – Yadavagiri, T.K. Layout, Bogadi and Bamboo Bazaar. Industrial/Commercial areas covered: Bangalore – Rajajinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Shivananda Circle, Seshadripuram and Peenya. Mysore – Hebbal, Belavadi and Metagalli.

SEMI releases worldwide PV equipment market statistics report

SAN JOSE, USA: SEMI, the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the micro- and nano-electronics industries, today reported that worldwide photovoltaic manufacturing equipment billings reached $2.03 billion for the quarter ended on June 30, 2011.

Billings increased 17 percent quarter-over-quarter, after declining 19 percent in Q1’11. Worldwide bookings, however, extended last quarter’s decline, down 18 percent from the previous quarter to $1.79 billion, reaching a five-quarter low. For the first time in the past six quarters, the book-to-bill ratio dipped below parity to 0.88.

“We are pleased to offer the PV equipment market statistics data to provide our members and the industry-at-large primary market data and to monitor the cyclical trends in the industry,” said Bettina Weiss, executive director of the PV Group at SEMI. “Photovoltaic equipment billings remain higher than levels a year ago. However, bookings have dropped significantly consistent with the softening of market demand and the over capacity situation.”

The worldwide PV equipment billings and bookings data is gathered jointly with the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) from about 50 global equipment companies that provide data on a quarterly basis.Source: SEMI & VDMA, Sept 2011.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Isolux Corsán builds largest PV solar power plants in the UK

SPAIN: Isolux Corsán has successfully finished building and commissioning three photovoltaic solar power plants on a budget of approximately € 40m. They are currently considered to be the largest in the United Kingdom, with a total installed capacity of 15MW.

The three solar power plants are located in Langform, Churchtown and Manor, where 22,000 crystalline modules are set on fixed arrays, each with 5MW installed capacity. The company delivered them after completing their engineering, procurement and construction (EPC). Development and investment was arranged by Banco Santander and a local partner.

This project is Isolux Corsán's first photovoltaic venture in the UK. It was rolled out in less than ten weeks. The link-up with the Western Power Distribution electricity grid was established before the latest change in regulations this summer, which reduced photovoltaic feed-in tariffs in the UK. The Group has already shown its ability to complete major infrastructure projects in record time. It built the 72-MW Rovigo PV power plant, the largest in Europe, in just eight months.

With this new venture, Isolux Corsán has reaffirmed its leadership amongst the major builders of photovoltaic solar plants in the world, accumulating a total installed capacity of 290 MW already online. The company's development of photovoltaic projects starts with processing the licences and paperwork, goes on to the engineering and the construction, and stretches to the commissioning and then the maintenance of the infrastructure throughout its operational life.

Its excellence in project management and engineering is recognised by the principal official certification bodies for R&D (UNE 166002), quality (ISO 9001), environmental management (ISO 14001) and occupational health and safety (OSHAS 18001).

Walmart to generate solar energy at over 75 percent of its stores in California

WEST SACRAMENTO, USA: Walmart announced its plan to install solar panels on up to 60 additional stores in California, expanding the company's solar portfolio to more than 75 percent of its stores in the state, making California the first state in the nation where Walmart has devoted this level of commitment to renewable energy.

"California presents a great opportunity for Walmart to make significant progress toward our sustainability goals by installing solar power on more than 130 store rooftops throughout the state," said Kim Saylors-Laster, Walmart VP of energy. "Walmart has reduced energy expenses by more than a million dollars through our solar program, allowing us to pass these savings on to our customers in the form of everyday low prices."

When complete, Walmart's total solar commitment in California is expected to:
* Generate up to 70 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable energy per year, which is the equivalent of powering more than 5,400 homes;
* Avoid producing more than 21,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 4,100 cars off the road; and
* Provide 20 to 30 percent of each facility's total electric needs.

"Walmart's effort to expand and accelerate its solar power initiative program here in California demonstrates their commitment to sustainability. These kinds of projects create jobs, reduce costs for businesses by lowering power bills, and protect the environment," said Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. "We appreciate Walmart's leadership and encourage other businesses to follow Walmart's lead."

"Walmart's commitment to renewable energy in California is commendable," said Gwen Ruta, VP for corporate partnerships at Environmental Defense Fund. "These projects are a win-win for the environment and our economy, and help move our country toward a cleaner energy future."

"Walmart has undertaken one of the most ambitious solar initiatives of any company in the US, and tripled the scale of its initial project with us," added Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's CEO. "Walmart is setting an example that far more companies in the US can follow; it is possible for many businesses to pay less for solar power than they currently pay for electricity."

Walmart's investment in solar power is anticipated to create hundreds of jobs in California through its partnership with SolarCity, which will own, install and maintain the new solar power systems. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company has added more than 500 new full-time jobs since it initiated its first Walmart solar project, and expects to hire hundreds more before the end of the year.

"Our solar efforts in California have proven to be a great way for Walmart to build our renewable energy program," said Mack Wyckoff, senior manager of renewable energy at Walmart. "We are confident that we will continue to grow our solar energy program in the US and around the world because of the initial success we have had in California."

Walmart is using a number of renewable technologies around the world to make progress towards the goal of being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

UNI-SOLAR powers one of the largest residential solar installations in the world

AUBURN HILLS, USA: United Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD) and leading manufacturer of UNI-SOLAR light-weight, flexible thin-film solar modules, announced that its UNI-SOLAR brand photovoltaics have been used for one of the largest known residential solar installations in the world.

The solar installation is located in Chatsworth, California at the residence of Carl Harberger, an esteemed Sustainable Building Designer. United Solar provided 259 UNI-SOLAR brand flexible, lightweight photovoltaic modules for the 24 kilowatt (kW) solar installation. California-based solar installation company, ADR Solar Solutions Inc., completed the project in July 2011. The solar panels will power the majority of Harberger's home systems that are typically powered by natural gas, including lighting, electronics and heating and air conditioning systems.

"ADR Solar Solutions, Inc. have designed and installed commercial and residential solar systems for the last 17 years. We are thrilled to have added to our achievements the UNI-SOLAR installation in Chatsworth, Ca, making it one of the world's largest residential installations," said Ms. Nancy Palmer, ADR's manager of Sales and Marketing. "UNI-SOLAR was the only application considered for this installation and is not only working as anticipated, but is a beautiful addition to the design of this state of the art home. ADR Solar Solutions Inc. will use UNI-SOLAR on many upcoming projects with confidence and look forward to a rock solid relationship."

Harberger chose UNI-SOLAR panels because of the many unique features of the product. UNI-SOLAR's flexible and non-penetrating solar panels provided a perfect fit on the curved rooftop surface. Harberger took advantage of the rebates offered by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power as well as US federal tax credits.

"United Solar is proud to be chosen for this opportunity, providing enough solar energy to power Mr. Harberger's nearly 6,000 square foot home. This is a perfect example of how UNI-SOLAR lightweight solar laminates can be integrated directly into a residence for a cost-saving and renewable energy solution," said Steve Szamocki, senior VP of Sales-Americas of United Solar.

United Solar has more than 25 years experience in the industry of solar power generation, and is the largest manufacturer of lightweight, flexible solar panels in the world.

lpha and Omega Semiconductor offers efficient solutions for solar micro-inverters

SUNNYVALE, USA: Alpha and Omega Semiconductor Ltd (AOS), a designer, developer and global supplier of a broad range of power semiconductors, announced new AlphaMOS solutions that are optimized for emerging DC to AC power inverter applications. The new line up of products is ideally suited for use in solar micro-inverter modules, which are becoming the popular topology in residential and portable solar applications.

Traditional solar setups involve a single inverter for an entire panel array, and thereby are only as efficient as the least performing panel. In contrast, micro-inverters are installed on each panel and can be individually tuned to optimize performance and produce more energy. As the limited space for many solar installations constrain arrays sizes, it is imperative to maximize the performance from every panel. Among the many topologies employed by solar vendors, most solutions require MOSFETs to deliver the power harnessed from the panels to the load or grid.

"Solar energy systems endeavor to capture as much power as possible, and therefore, require high efficiency MOSFETs that minimize conduction and switching losses," said Stephen Chang, senior product marketing manager at AOS. "AOS AlphaMOS solutions are designed to dissipate less power through very low Rds(on) and Qg in order to maximize the performance of solar applications."

For primary DC side control, AOS offers 40V to 100V AlphaMOS medium voltage MOSFETs with ultra-low Rds(on) and gate charge (Qg) in the industry standard TO-220 green package. These devices are 100 percent UIS and Rg tested to ensure high reliability.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

IDC MarketScape assessment of smart building energy analytics vendors

FRAMINGHAM, USA: IDC Energy Insights announced the availability of a new IDC MarketScape report providing a comprehensive evaluation of leading Smart Building Energy Analytics vendors.

The report, IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Smart Building Energy Analytics 2011 Vendor Assessment (Document # EI230178), is unique in the market and is intended to help stakeholders in developing a short list of vendors in the Smart Building Energy Analytics market. It includes the following vendors: BuildingIQ, EnerNOC, GridPoint, Hara, IBM, Optimum Energy, SCIenergy (formerly Scientific Conservation), and Serious Energy.

The Smart Building Energy Analytics segment has shot to the top of the smart building technology market in terms of interest based on a combination of factors including an influx of venture capital funding for startups as well as the entrance of big names like IBM. Recently, Smart Building Energy Analytics software has evolved to provide sophisticated customizable dashboards that meet the demand for data visualization to display the relevant, and often disparate, data for each stakeholder in the smart building management effort.

Currently, differentiation is tied to a solution's analytics and optimization capabilities and strategies; the more sophisticated the underlying analytics, the greater the automation and control for energy management. The strength of a particular vendor lies in the proprietary algorithms that drive HVAC controls to maximize energy efficiency efforts. Optimization functionality ranges from data aggregation for work order tracking to adaptive, real-time automation and control of energy-consuming assets within a facility.

Real-time adaptation through control of facility assets will enable the most sophisticated optimization of a building and produce a facility that is truly intelligent and reactive to external and internal changes in occupancy, weather, energy prices, and/or demand signals.

"The Smart Building Energy Analytics market is changing rapidly and will continue to mature and evolve in the near term. These applications are increasingly becoming valuable investments as facility managers and owners look for cost-effective, innovative solutions to drive down costs and achieve corporate goals tied to energy management," says Casey Talon, research analyst, IDC Energy Insights. "Facility managers and owners must evaluate their goals and determine the appropriate scope of data analysis and level of control they want to transfer to third-party software and services providers, based on the configuration of their building management systems."

Energy's transformation from a fixed to a variable cost of commercial building management has prompted an evolution in facilities management in which stakeholders across organizations are taking on new roles in energy management. Building managers, information technology personnel, and the C-suite are collaborating to achieve a wide array of corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and budgetary goals by investing in Smart Building initiatives, bringing a new level of transparency and control over energy consumption.

Smart Buildings are the next generation of commercial and industrial facilities that utilize advanced automation and integration to measure, monitor, control, and optimize building operations and maintenance. Smart Building Energy Analytics are a type of software solution that brings heightened visibility into facility operations and maintenance to enable a new level of sophistication in building management, providing an interface that enables adaptive, real-time control for optimizing building and asset performance for improved energy efficiency.

GLC, Foxconn join forces, polysilicon solar industry to face cut-throat market

TAIWAN: Based on the current state of the solar energy market, the global demand outlook for Q4 is not optimistic. Currently, inventory levels for the European market continues to increase, and demand was not as high as expected from the China and Japan markets. Therefore, manufacturers are eager to adjust their stock levels.

According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, as raw material makers are continually stuffing inventory to downstream clients, manufacturers are focused on clearing their stock, to the extent that some vendors expressed that this was their number one priority. This situation will cause market price quotes to continue decreasing, and as a result, the spot market is in a state of disorder.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

As for raw materials, according to EnergyTrend, demand from downstream manufacturers has not increased, but shipments from upstream polysilicon makers have not ceased, creating immense pressure for Si-wafer and solar cell manufacturers in terms of inventory levels. In order to decrease losses, both sellers and buyers continue with price and supply negotiations. Some manufacturers are cutting their losses and ending contracts to ease inventory pressure, but the majority of makers are unloading their excess inventory on the spot market. This has caused polysilicon price to continue falling.

Upstream polysilicon manufacturers, protected by long-term contracts, will continue to enjoy acceptable prices and profits in the short-term. However, when the price difference becomes too large, manufacturers will have to adjust their long-term contracts, which will in turn negatively affect polysilicon makers. According to EnergyTrend research, polysilicon price for this week approached the US$40/kg threshold. Current ASP is $48.61/kg, representing a 1.56 percent decrease.

As for Si wafer, solar cell, and PV module, the price survey also showed a decline. The lowest price of multi-Si wafer almost reached $1.7/piece and mono-Si wafer price fell to $2.0/piece. On the other hand, the lowest price of multi-Si solar cell has come to $0.67/Watt, and that of mono-Si solar cell has declined to $0.72/Watt as well. The Si wafer price has also exhibited significant decline this week.

The average multi-Si wafer price dropped by 2.81 percent to $1.871/piece while the average mono-Si wafer price has fallen 2.29 percent to $2.435/piece. Furthermore, the average solar cell price has slightly declined by 0.42 percent to $0.717/Watt. The average price of thin-film has declined by 0.54 percent to $0.927/Watt.

In terms of the PV market perspective, since the global solar market has entered the state of severe price competition and low margins, if GCL and Foxconn's joint effort to manufacture solar cell and module materializes, it is estimated that they will rapidly gain a considerable market share over cost advantage.

As a result, solar cell and module manufacturers might face considerable competitive pressure. EnergyTrend indicated that it might accelerate the speed of the global solar industry restructuring, and only the manufacturers with competitives advantages--low manufacturing cost and technology--will be able to survive.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JinkoSolar addresses environmental concerns related to Zhejiang Jinko facility

SHANGHAI, CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd, a fast-growing, vertically-integrated PV manufacturer with production facilities in China, addressed environmental concerns related to its facility in Haining city, Zhejiang Province, China.

Recent reports indicate that Zhejiang Jinko Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of JinkoSolar, discharged a small amount of solid waste containing fluoride into a nearby brook. In response to the concerns of local residents and in full cooperation with the local government’s investigation, Zhejiang Jinko has temporarily suspended production at its facility in Haining until the impact of any possible environmental damage has been assessed and remedied. An initial investigation conducted by the local environmental protection authority indicates that the issue may have been caused by the company’s transitory storage of waste as it sought a new waste management contactor to comply with the environmental authority’s latest policy.

During this time, unexpected and extreme rain conditions may have caused a small amount of waste containing fluoride to flow into the nearby brook via the factory’s drainage system.

This unfortunate incident has greatly impacted the management team of JinkoSolar. The Company takes pride in its environmental compliances, and has met or exceeded all requirements for ISO 14001 certification. Additionally, JinkoSolar ensures that all its factories are equipped with state of the art machines designed for minimal environmental impact. The Company’s investigation team is carrying out an in-depth examination of the Zhejiang factory to identify the root cause of the incident and is also seeking a third party agency to conduct joint investigations.

The halt in production is not expected to have material impact on JinkoSolar’s operations and module delivery commitment to its customers. JinkoSolar’s main factory in Shangrao, Jiangxi, is in full operation and has enough stocks to keep producing and meet customer demands. The Company will update the market as the situation evolves.

IXYS releases 2nd generation IXOLAR SolarBIT products for energy harvesting

MILPITAS, USA & BIEL, SWITZERLAND: IXYS Corp. announced the release of its 2nd generation IXOLAR SolarBIT products, which are made of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells. The IXOLAR SolarBITs are ideal for charging many types of battery-powered off the grid products. The products are offered as a component so customers can assemble them at ease to incorporate solar charging into their products.

The wide range of applications include remote sensors, battery powered lights, wireless self powered security devices and systems, and hand-held consumer products such as flashlights, mobile phones, cameras, PDAs, MP3 players and more. They are also suitable for industrial applications, portable instrumentation, portable battery powered tools, portable medical devices, automotive toll transponders, portable radios and for charging emergency back-up batteries.

“With cell efficiency of up to 22 percent measured at a wafer level, SolarBIT products offer the ability to extend run time even in low light conditions, plus increase battery life and run time in a small footprint which can be easily accommodated in the design of portable products,” says Nathan Zommer, IXYS CEO and chairman.

“The design allows the connecting of SolarBITs flexibly in series and/or parallel to perfectly meet application power requirements. This is part of our cleantech product strategy to provide sustainable energy solution for the industry and the consumer. Some of our solar based products are featured in our website, showcasing the versatility and applications of our SolarBIT products.”

IXYS’ new IXOLAR product mix offers multiple current and voltage ranges to accommodate differing application requirements. In addition, IXOLAR products have a very good response rate over a wide wavelength range and therefore can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications.

The form factor of 2nd Generation IXOLAR SolarBIT products as such KXOB22-12X1, KXOB22-04X3, and KXOB22-01X8 is as small as 22mm x 7mm x 1.6mm, which permits easy integration into miniature products. Typical voltage and current ratings are 0.5V/44.6mA, 1.5V/13.38mA, and 3.4V/3.8mA, respectively.

GDF SUEZ opens new PV facility

PARIS, FRANCE: Eric Besson, Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy, officially opens the new photovoltaic facility in Bollène in the presence of Gérard Mestrallet, chairman and CEO of GDF SUEZ, and Michel Margnes, chairman of the executive board and chairman and CEO of Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR).

This official opening illustrates the Group's ambitious strategy for developing renewable energy. Totalling 4 MWp of power generation capacity, the Bollène photovoltaic facility has 17600 solar panels and covers a surface of 10 hectares. The renewable energy output corresponds to the annual electricity consumption of close to 1,450 households (excluding heating). This plant was built thanks to the assistance of INEO, subsidiary of GDF SUEZ. INEO supports CNR in the building of its renewable facilities (solar and wind farms).

The Group operates almost 40 MW of photovoltaic power. GDF SUEZ has a production capacity in France of 8,119 MW of installed power, almost 60 percent of which comes from renewable energy sources. With almost 1,000 MW of installed power, GDF SUEZ is France's leading wind power player. Wind power development is one of the Group's key priorities. By 2016, GDF SUEZ aims to produce close to 2,000 MW of onshore wind power in France. The Group has also submitted its tender to the French government tender offer to generate 3,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2015. As France’s second player in hydraulic energy with output of 3,731 MW, GDF SUEZ aims to increase its hydroelectric capacity by at least 1,500 MW by 2016.

At the official opening, Gérard Mestrallet, chairman and CEO of GDF SUEZ, commented: "This development illustrates the know-how of CNR and of the GDF SUEZ group across all renewable energy technologies in France. It also demonstrates the continued investment we are making in France to offer our customers and all our stakeholders a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of power."

Eric Besson, Minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy, said: “I’m here to express my support to the development of renewable energy in France, I’m glad that we can now rely on an incentive mechanism, that will foster solar energy development in the long run, thanks to a competitive industry. The new tender offer whose requirements where officially published yesterday will enable to pursue this impetus.”

Tianwei New Energy supplying 10MW PV modules to China Datang Corp.

CHENGDU, CHINA: TIANWEI New Energy has signed a 10MWp solar module supply agreement with China Datang Corporation. In September and October of 2011, the 10MWp modules are arranged to be delivered to Datang’s solar project in Delhi, Qinghai Province, China. This project is the first ground mounted project collaborated by TIANWEI and Datang.

With a strongly consequent growth, China is expected to become one of the world’s major photovoltaic industry markets. Due to its abundant solar resource and significant energy demand, Qinghai has already been the most important PV market in China. This ground mounted solar power project is defined to be the demonstrate example in Qinghai. This agreement signed by Datang and TIANWEI definitely brings benefits for the two companies to win the power market share

SK Group, HelioVolt ally on global manufacturing, technology development

SEOUL, KOREA & AUSTIN, USA: SK TIC and SK Innovation, members of the SK Group, Korea's energy, chemicals and telecommunications giant, and HelioVolt Corp., a US based manufacturer of high-efficiency thin-film photovoltaic modules, announced that the companies have reached an agreement to collaborate on technology development and global manufacturing expansion. The SK Group has invested $50 million to expand HelioVolt Austin's manufacturing operations and has begun collaboration to develop HelioVolt's global capabilities.

"We believe in the value of long-term investing in alternative energy and are happy to be able to leverage SK leadership across our many complementary industries in order to create an outstanding global partnership with the HelioVolt team," said Dr. SH Park, CEO of SK TIC. "SK's technical and engineering expertise will provide HelioVolt with tremendous market, manufacturing and supply chain access," emphasized Dr. DS Kim, SK Innovation's CTO.

HelioVolt's significant technical progress and rapid module cost reduction are providing SK, through this partnership, an opportunity to play an important role in the rapidly growing global renewable energy market.

"The solar energy market is going through a transition period—one that is creating unprecedented opportunities for world-class leadership," said Dr. BJ Stanbery, HelioVolt's chairman of the Board of Directors and company founder. "We welcome SK's manufacturing, engineering and operational expertise in order to accelerate commercialization of our technology and business expansion to deliver the most cost-effective and efficient solar power."

In connection with the transaction, Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as exclusive placement agent to HelioVolt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DuPont Apollo collaborates with Loxley to complete 8.7 MW solar farm in Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND: DuPont Apollo, a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont specializing in silicon-based thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, announced the completion of an 8.7 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar farm project in collaboration with Loxley Plc, one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates engaged in the trading and sales of information technology and telecommunication equipment, through a newly formed venture, L Solar 1 Co. Ltd.

This project represents a new milestone in Thailand’s progress toward meeting the country’s goal of fulfilling 20 percent of its total energy consumption needs with renewable sources by 2022.

Located at Prachin Buri Province of Thailand, 180 kilometers away from Bangkok, the 8.7 MW solar farm covering 215 rai of land (approximately 344,000 square meters) is composed of leading-edge DuPont Apollo thin film photovoltaic modules. With the completion of its system installation, the solar farm will be grid-connected by the fourth quarter of 2011 and has an average production capacity of 12,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The electricity generated from this solar farm will supply electricity to the grid through the Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand (PEA), under Thailand’s current Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) added tariff scheme.

“We chose DuPont Apollo thin film PV modules for this project due to their high quality and reliability and the modules’ superior temperature coefficient which is especially suitable for Thailand’s hot climatic conditions with abundant sunshine,” said Piboon Piboontum, VP, Loxley. “We are excited about working with DuPont Apollo to bring this ground-mounted solar farm to Thailand to fuel the country’s continuous economic expansion and meet growing demand for electricity in a way that will generate less greenhouse gas emissions than if the country were to depend on fossil fuels alone.”

With increasing concerns over global warming, the Thai government has previously pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector by up to 30 percent by 2020. This installation is expected to offset approximately 6,270 tonnes of emissions annually.

“DuPont Apollo is honored to contribute to the monumental L Solar 1 project of Loxley with our innovative, high energy yield thin film PV modules to meet the renewable energy targets of Thailand.” said David Chu, chief executive officer -- DuPont Apollo. “With our thin film PV technology uniquely suited for sunbelt countries, we hope the success of this project will act as a catalyst for further PV developments in Thailand.”

To help advocate the use of PV technology, the L Solar 1 project includes an education center at the solar farm which is open to external visitors interested in learning about PV technology innovations and the benefits of solar energy.

L Solar 1 Co. Ltd (L Solar 1) is a joint venture between Loxley Public Company Limited, MFC Energy Fund, Leonics Co. Ltd and Dr. Prasert Shusang, a private investor. L Solar 1 was established in 2009 with sole focus on VSPP projects, which allow up to 10MW of electric power to be produced and sold to the Thai grid for a favorable price.

ZYTECH Solar increases productive capacity in Spain

SPAIN: Zytech Solar will manufacture 20MW in Spain; and Italian customers will obtain an additional 10 percent savings on the price.

The Spanish photovoltaic module manufacturer Zytech Solar has increased its productive capacity in Spain where it will manufacture 20MW of photovoltaic modules annually. The Spanish production plant has enabled Zytech Solar to be awarded the Factory Inspection of modules manufactured in Europe as per the new Conto della Energia that regulates the subsidies per solar photovoltaic energy in Italy.

The Italian certifying entity ICIM -“Istituto di Certificazione Industriale per la Meccanica”- inspected the Zytech Solar factory in accordance with the requirements stipulated in the “quinto conto” relative to Italian energy in order to award the aforementioned certification.

Zytech Solar is one of the first Spanish companies in obtaining this certificate, which endorses its European production. This way, Italian customers will obtain an additional 10% savings on the normal rate, which is a subsidy granted only to installations constructed using modules manufactured in the European Union, which results in a quicker amortisation of the investment and therefore, in another added value to the excellent quality price ratio of their products.

Also, Zytech Solar has certified their photovoltaic modules with the TÜV Nord, a milestone that falls under their policy of guaranteeing the maximum quality and the best service to their customers in the different markets in which they have a presence. All these certificates include annual inspections at the Spanish production plant, which guarantees that the photovoltaic modules are manufactured under the most stringent quality controls.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Intergraph advances smart grid at Westar Energy through DoE investment grant

HUNTSVILLE, USA: Intergraph, a global leader of integrated operational support and infrastructure management solutions for the utility and communications industries, is providing its InService Outage Management Systems (OMS) and Mobile Workforce Management (MWFM) solutions to Westar Energy Inc., the largest electric energy provider in Kansas, USA.

This implementation was partially funded by the US Department of Energy's smart grid investment grant in recognition of Westar Energy's SmartStar Program, which provides Westar's customers the power to better manage personal energy use while helping the company improve reliability using smart grid technology.

Westar Energy sought a solution that would help promote its new SmartStar Program green initiatives to increase operational efficiency, improve asset utilization and performance, promote efficient data maintenance, and create new functionality using advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and metering data management system (MDMS) integration.

Intergraph's InService system will provide Westar Energy a unique geospatial map to be shared by both dispatchers and field personnel using mobile devices, and which will allow coordination between dispatcher and crews. With InService MWFM, Westar will be able to effectively manage routine equipment inspections and short-cycle crew order work management. This complete InService package offers Westar integrated restoration circuit map displays and routes, dispatches and tracks field crews during storm restoration processes.

Westar Energy Inc., an investor-owned utility, is equipped with energy centers that include wind, coal, nuclear energy, natural gas and landfill gas generation. Headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, USA, Westar employs approximately 2,400 people and serves more than 687,000 customers in east and east-central Kansas. Operating and coordinating 35,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, Westar Energy's centers generate more than 7,100 megawatts of electricity.

"Intergraph's Smart Grid Command Center has been proven to improve situational awareness in the control center," says Bill Campbell, senior VP, Intergraph Security, Government & Infrastructure. "As a solution provider, Intergraph's software technology, experience and innovative vision to implement and deploy an industry-leading outage management and mobile system creates a platform for future smart grid implementations in large utilities across the United States."

Toyota intros 2012 Prius plug-in hybrid

RICHMOND, USA: Toyota, the world leader in hybrid passenger cars and SUVs, introduced the Prius Plug-in Hybrid at the annual Green Drive Expo, as the newest member of the Prius Family.

Joining the popular third-generation Prius Liftback and the new Prius v, the new Prius Plug-in combines the benefits of the standard Prius model's hybrid vehicle operation with extended electric vehicle (EV) driving and more affordable pricing than pure electric or range-extender type vehicles.

The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which offers seating for five, is expected to achieve a manufacturer-estimated 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in combined driving and 49 MPG in hybrid mode.

Toyota has sold more than one million Prius models in the United States since the first-generation model was introduced for model-year 2001. The recent introduction of the larger Prius v and now the Prius Plug-in Hybrid brings this eco-focused model range to four distinct vehicles, including the Prius c, which will debut in 2012.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow true EV operation and performance for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, along with quick home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. Operating in EV mode, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid provides the quick, smooth quiet driving of a pure electric vehicle.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the same five-passenger seating and luggage space as the standard Prius model.

The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid retains the Hybrid Synergy Drive of the standard Prius model and will seamlessly switch into hybrid operation at a pre-determined state of battery charge. A newly developed 4.4 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack replaces the standard Prius model's nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery and fits under the rear cargo floor, and the vehicle adds an easy-to-use external charging cable.

A full charge using an external AC outlet takes approximately 2.5 to 3.0 hours using a 120v household outlet or 1.5 hours using a 240v outlet. The included 120v charging cable connects to the charging port inlet located on the right-rear fender.

In addition to offering Entune, Toyota's new multimedia system, available smartphone applications developed for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid include Charge Management, Remote Air Conditioning System, Charging Station Map, Vehicle Finder and Eco Dashboard.

Introduction of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid follows an extensive test-fleet program involving 125 early prototypes in the United States. Toyota applied experience from that test phase, along with input from participants, to finalize engineering and improve features for the production model.

GT Advanced Technologies announces commencement of DSS MonoCast beta shipments and production testing partnership with Korean PV manufacturer Nexolon

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Advanced Technologies Inc. has begun final production testing for its new DSS MonoCast ingot growth technology with Korea-based PV manufacturer Nexolon.

The program will allow GT to validate and optimize MonoCast product performance in an actual PV wafer production environment and to finalize product specifications prior to the commencement of volume shipments. GT expects to begin taking orders for its new MonoCast systems in October. Initial lead time for commercial deliveries is expected to be three months.

“GT has already installed a Beta version of its DSS MonoCast upgrade at Nexolon’s Iksan, Korea, manufacturing facility. Final production testing of the technology is expected to demonstrate the stability and performance of the MonoCast system and validate its readiness for volume production,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Advanced Technologies’ president and CEO. “The breakthrough MonoCast material yield and higher cell efficiency results we have reported with our technology development partners, and our reputation for delivering production-ready products that perform as promised has created significant customer interest.”

In April, GT announced that the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education had achieved cell efficiencies of greater than 19 percent with cells processed on GT’s MonoCast wafers using the Center’s advanced cell architecture.

“We continue to focus our product development on innovative technologies that improve material quality for greater cell efficiency and lower overall manufacturing costs,” said Vikram Singh, GT Advanced Technologies’ vice president and general manager of its photovoltaic business unit.

“MonoCast will also be offered as an upgrade to the more than 3,100 DSS units in the field today. In addition to delivering cost efficient MonoCast materials that produce solar cells with higher efficiency than cells made from traditional multicrystalline wafers, the upgrade automates more of the crystal growth process through advanced thermal process control features resulting in more repeatable run-to-run control.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Intertek supports increased trade and global market access for solar product manufacturers

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Intertek, a leading provider of quality and safety solutions, said that ongoing development in solar power technologies will fast-track the demand for global industry standards as the company prepares to attend and provide expert commentary at the APEC Solar Technology and Conformance Initiative meetings held in San Francisco, California, from September 15-16, 2011.

The APEC Solar Technology and Conformance Initiative brings together public and private sector representatives from across the APEC region and North America to discuss ways of improving trade for solar power technology through standards development and conformity assessment services.

Through this initiative, discussions will be held to determine the best ways to help eliminate trade barriers which may slow production, impact product quality or increase costs along the solar product supply chain. Intertek has supported manufacturers, owners and operators in the solar industry with a broad range of services, including safety certification, performance, reliability, and bankability testing.

Intertek has an established presence in North America, Europe and Asia and is committed to finding solutions to facilitate trade by working closely with companies located in the APEC member economies who manufacture or support solar product intended for export around the world.

During the APEC Solar Technology Standards Conformance Initiative, Intertek’s Dr. Paul Robusto, Business Development Manager, Solar Energy Products, will contribute to the discussion during a panel on “Facilitating Solar Technology Deployment through Conformity Assessment.” Dr. Robusto will address standard development including the new IEC and UL standards impacting Flat Panel and Concentrated Photovoltaic Module testing and certification.

GE Technology to help MPX double its solar energy production in Brazil

SCHENECTADY, USA: GE and MPX, a division of EBX Group, owned by businessman Eike Batista, announced an agreement that will double the output of MPX’s first solar power plant in Brazil. The announcement signifies an important step for both MPX and GE in helping provide clean, renewable energy to the people of Brazil and marks GE’s entrance into the Brazilian solar energy market.

Currently the plant in Taua, Fortaleza, Ceara state, has 4,680 solar panels capturing sunlight and turning it into 1 megawatt (MW) of clean energy, which MPX estimates is enough to power 1,500 households in the region. With this new expansion, GE will provide an additional 1-MW solar power plant, which includes the company’s thin film panels, Brilliance inverters, transformers and SunIQ monitoring and control system.

“MPX is a pioneer in solar energy in Brazil and has invested in developing solar energy for the medium and long term. Working with GE, we plan to grow our business at this plant to 50 MW,” said Eduardo Karrer, the CEO of MPX.

Today, the first MPX solar power plant in Brazil covers an area of 12,000 square meters. The project already has received a $5.8 million in investment, including approximately $695,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

“Today’s announcement with MPX signals our entry into the Brazilian solar industry,” said Marcelo Soares, president and CEO of GE Energy Latin America. “GE is committed to providing innovative solutions for our customers’ challenges, and we look forward to working with MPX in the solar arena.”

Approximately 360 kilometers from Fortaleza, MPX Taua is connected to Brazil’s national electrical grid through a local substation. For the second phase, the Taua solar plant has been authorized by the National Electrical Energy Agency (ANEEL) and licensed by the Ceara state Environment Department (SEMACE) to expand its capacity up to 5 MW. The project developed by MPX for the solar power plant is expected to reach 50 MW, and the partnership between GE and MPX is expected to continue with this future expansion.

Downstream manufacturers hesitant, multi-Si price of $45/kg in sight

TAIWAN: Regrettably, the EU PVSEC has ended without any uplifting news. According to EnergyTrend, the green energy research division of TrendForce, the German market’s installation volume for June to August was approximately 2GW, with a projection of around 1GW for September. Thus, Germany is expected to see another wave of downward adjustments in the middle of the year, estimated at over 10 percent.

Subsequently, yearly subsidies will show an overall decrease of over 20 percent for 2012. As the European market currently relies heavily on Germany and Italy for support, EnergyTrend expects that the aforementioned developments will have a significant impact on the growth of the European market.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

In terms of raw materials, according to EnergyTrend’s survey, the current polysilicon contract inventory level is far higher than the actual order demand. Therefore, some manufacturers start to close out all their stocks for cash, in order to alleviate the inventory and financial pressure. EnergyTrend believes that the situation will not improve in the short term.

EnergyTrend estimates that the polysilicon spot price will come to $45/kg in 4Q11. Moreover, if the spot price and contract price gap widens, buyers must re-negotiate with sellers to close price gap. If the market demand remains stagnant, manufacturers might still close out their contract inventory, causing a even higher price pressure on the polysilicon makers. EnergyTrend’s survey indicates that the polysilicon price was between $54/kg~$42/kg, and the average price has decreased by 1.26 percent to $49.38/kg.

After the conclusion of EU PVSEC, EnergyTrend indicated that the Si wafer, solar cell, and module prices have fallen below the previous bottom line prices. The lowest prices for multi-Si wafer remained at $1.8/piece, while the mono-Si wafer price threshold remained at $2.4/piece. Moreover, the solar cell trading price has declined to $0.7/Watt, while the lowest surveyed price has dropped to $0.68/Watt.

The lowest surveyed price for PV module is hovering over $1.0/Watt. According to EnergyTrend, Si wafer average price has not changed from last week, while the solar cell average price declined by 1.1 percent to $0.72/Watt and the PV module average price decreased by 1.32 percent to $1.124/Watt.

Looking toward Q4, EnergyTrend expects the following target prices: multi-Si wafer $1.85-1.75/piece; battery $0.7-0.65/Watt; module $1.0/Watt. EnergyTrend believes that as the market is not conducive to demand recovery, future price decreases are inevitable and the Q4 profit outlook for manufacturers is unfavorable. As middle manufacturers’ profits suffer, manufacturers that were more profitable in 1H11 may be pressured to satisfy clients by adjusting price.

Phoenix Solar successful in winning several contracts in Italy

SULZEMOOS, GERMANY: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading international photovoltaic system integrator listed in the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, reports a number of orders from Phoenix Solar Srl, its Italian subsidiary, in the Components & Systems segment. In addition, Phoenix Solar Srl has been commissioned to build a rooftop solar power plant with a peak power of 227 kilowatts.

"Despite the difficult market environment, our Italian subsidiary is successful in the trading business. We are also particularly pleased that all the power plants built by Phoenix Solar in Italy were connected to the grid by the deadline of 31 August 2011 and are therefore eligible for the feed-in tariffs valid up until then," said Ulrich Reidenbach, chief sales officer of Phoenix Solar AG.

Phoenix Solar Srl is delivering solar modules of First Solar for an independent power producer to build two solar power plants with a peak power of 1.7 and one megawatt respectively. Under a second contract, the company will supply MiaSolé modules to an Italian investor to be used in the construction of a solar power plant with a peak power of one megawatt in the vicinity of Rome.

In addition, Phoenix Solar AG's Italian subsidiary has won the contract to build a rooftop solar power plant with a peak power of 227 kilowatts. The photovoltaic plant, which will use Trina and MiaSolé modules, is to be completed and connected to the grid before the end of the year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Solar module price cuts stimulate massive growth in US PV project pipeline

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Large cuts in factory gate module prices over the summer have resulted in a significant increase in photovoltaic (PV) project development activity in the US. After standing at 17 gigawatts (GW) two months ago, the US non-residential pipeline has now increased to 24 GW.

The September 2011 edition of the United States Deal Tracker database released by Solarbuzz this week identifies 1,865 non-residential projects totaling 25.9 GW either installed, being installed or in their development phase since January 1, 2010. Development phase projects include pre-RFP, going through the RFP process, or planned without RFP.

California currently accounts for 61 percent of the total US project pipeline, stimulated by the state’s aggressive 33 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard target, and benefiting from the recent trend of solar projects reallocated from concentrated solar power to PV. The top six state pipelines in megawatt terms are California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, New Jersey, and New Mexico; in total, 44 states now contribute to the pipeline.Source: Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker.

Utility-driven project activity is now evident across 35 states, while other non-residential projects below 1 MW remain an important segment of the market, accounting for 771 projects being monitored. The fast-developing non-residential segment has created an important and growing opportunity for project developers, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies. The top 12 project developers currently account for 51 percent of the total pipeline.

The collapse in US factory-gate module prices over the past four months is only now starting to impact utility project prices, much more than system sizes below one megawatt. One-fifth of the installed system prices above one megawatt are now $3.75 per watt STC DC (Standard Test Conditions, Direct Current) or below.

“Utility expectations for improved installed pricing measured either in per watt peak or kilowatt hour have vastly increased over the past quarter,” said Craig Stevens, President, Solarbuzz. “The result is more RFPs and an acceleration of PV orders.”

For those projects in the pipeline that have selected their module suppliers, the top three suppliers in MW terms are First Solar, SunPower and Suntech Power. Yingli Green, Sharp and SolarWorld are increasing their presence in non-residential projects. The leading inverter suppliers to the pipeline remain Advanced Energy and SatCon Technology.