Friday, July 29, 2011

Trade-off between profitability and inventory clearance biggest challenge for solar cell manufacturers

TAIWAN: According to the latest survey conducted by EnergyTrend, manufacturers indicated that they are conservative about September orders and the PV market of 3Q11. On the other hand, the spot price of polysilicon remained at a high level. The Chinese market demand still stayed high while other markets showed signs of slowing.

According to EnergyTrend, downstream manufacturers are conservative about spot price trend of polysilicon, primarily because most orders from large manufacturers are signed on contractual terms, and few make purchase on the spot market. The second tier and third tier manufacturers are the main active participants on the polysilicon spot market, but their combined purchase volume is much less than top tier manufacturers’. Therefore, it is estimated that the current spot market situation can not support polysilicon manufacturers to raise the price.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

This week’s survey shows that the polysilicon price remained stable with the main trading price between $52/kg and $54/kg. Notably, the trading price in the Chinese market is slightly higher than other areas, ranging from $55/kg to $58/kg with the average price of polysilicon remaining at $54.55/kg. In terms of Si wafer price, the average market spot price of mono-Si wafer stayed stable, and the main trading price stayed between $2.6/piece and $2.65/piece.

The current trading price of multi-Si wafer remanded between $1.95/piece and $2.1/piece, but the top tier manufacturers’ price has increased to $2.0/piece. Comparatively speaking, the average price of multi-Si wafer has slightly risen by 0.05% to $2.051/piece while that of mono-Si waver has increased by 0.04% to $2.632/piece.

As for solar cells and modules, due to strong demand for high conversion efficiency solar cells, the price remained relatively high with the highest price above $0.9/Watt. In addition, from perspectives of the production line, the output volume of solar cell with conversion efficiency under 16.4 percent accounts for 10~20 percent.

Although the demand for high conversion efficiency solar cells stays strong, manufacturers still need to take selling lower conversion efficiency product into consideration. Therefore, with the pressure of trading price adjustment for lower efficiency products still remaining, trade-off between profitability and inventory clearance is the biggest challenge for solar cell manufacturers.

According to EnergyTrend, cell prices fluctuated this week and lower priced products has dragged down the average price by 0.62 percent to $0.797/Watt. On the other hand, the average price of module, affected by Chinese manufacturers’ price quotation, has continuously decreased by 0.78 percent to $1.265/Watt.

According to current market situation, manufacturers indicated that they put much focus on the Chinese local governments’ subsidies. To date, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Qinghai provinces have announced their local subsidies. Among those, the subsidy of Qinghai government attracted wide attention of Chinese PV manufacturers.

However, EnergyTrend believes that fund availability is the key determinant factor for the subsidy program’s future success. Furthermore, subsidy releases show the Chinese local governments’ support for local PV industry developments. In particular, Jiangsu and Shandong, their PV industry developments have reached a certain scale. EnergyTrend indicates that the subsidy release can help locally based manufacturers to overcome challenge of the oversupply market.

Notably, the Qinghai government attempts to support its PV industry growth through the new subsidy in the hope of making Qinghai province become a big PV production base and market place. Currently, the Qinghai government has achieved the fundamental goal. However, the Chinese market is now the world’s biggest PV production base. At this stage, the accumulated production capacity in the southeast China can fully already meet the projected annual domestic market demand through 2020.

Additionally, the northwestern China has also released new subsidy policy that might further spur the production output. Therefore, EnergyTrend believes that the risk of Chinese PV industry forming a bubble may increase, if the oversupply situation continues or even worsens without guidelines.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spire expands its solar PV advanced technology center

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp. announced that it has begun the expansion of its Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Lab at its corporate headquarters.

Spire’s ATC Lab houses solar module manufacturing equipment that is at the forefront of technology, including a fully functioning PV module production line. This facility is used by customers for the development and qualification of new and advanced crystalline silicon and thin film modules. Also, the facility provides support for the development and qualification of new materials for module encapsulation, glass types, cell structures, and associated electronics.

The ATC Lab is being expanded with new Spire equipment for customer evaluation and factory training. The new equipment includes a larger laminator, for laminations up to 1.8 meters by 3.4 meters, Spire’s next generation assembler, the Spi-Assembler 8000, Spire’s Electroluminescence crack detection system, the Spi-EL Tester and Spire’s next generation simulator, the Spi-Sun Simulator 4600A.

“We are very pleased to expand our ATC Lab as a means of introducing our new equipment as well as support our customers and new entrants into the PV industry,” said Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire. “We will also continue to provide engineering evaluation of prototype modules and module certification for systems integrators.”

Suntech solar panels now available for Ontario Solar FIT program

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, is now offering solar panels that satisfy local content requirements for solar projects in Ontario, Canada. Using 100 percent Ontario-refined silicon, Suntech's qualifying 225Wp and 275Wp solar panels will help local partners receive approval under Ontario's microFIT and FIT Programs.

As of January 1, 2011, the Ontario microFIT and FIT Programs require solar projects to utilize 60 percent domestic content. Suntech's high-quality solar panels can now contribute 10 percent and 11 percent compliance to the microFIT and FIT Programs respectively, thus enabling solar project developers to achieve the required 60 percent threshold. Solar project developers can now apply to receive approval for their domestic content plans using Suntech solar panels.

"With Suntech 225Wp and 275Wp solar panels, we have a world-class option for delivering solar projects in Ontario," said Eric Kalmbach, COO of NorthGrid Solar Inc. "Ontario FIT compliance enables us to continue providing the high level of excellence we demand from our suppliers. Competition is healthy for the solar industry in Ontario and globally. It leads to better quality and, most importantly, helps to drive down the cost of solar electricity, which ultimately encourages even further investment."

Suntech's qualifying solar panels utilize 100 percent Ontario-refined silicon produced by Calisolar Inc., a privately held, vertically integrated manufacturer of solar silicon, wafers and cells.

"Readily available, high-quality solar silicon is critical to the solar value chain and growth of the solar industry," commented Calisolar CEO Sandra Beach Lin. "Suntech has been working with us for three years and continues to invest resources and effort to make our operations in Ontario world class. This is a great opportunity for our two companies to help meet Ontario's renewable energy goals while creating 75 high-quality jobs in Ontario."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

First Solar PV modules receive new IEC certification for effectiveness in coastal environments

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. announced that its advanced thin-film solar modules have received a new international certification confirming that the company's technology can be used in a variety of operating conditions, including coastal environments.

First Solar's photovoltaic (PV) modules have passed the International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) 61701 salt mist corrosion test, which studies module performance in coastal environments characterized by corrosive salt mist.

"This certification further demonstrates the robustness and versatility of First Solar's PV technology," said John Kufner, First Solar director of global module product management. "The data shows that our modules can be expected to produce clean electricity in coastal marine environments without any performance concerns."

The IEC 61701 accreditation applies to First Solar's Series 3 modules.

All First Solar modules are backed by a 25-year performance warranty and covered by an industry-leading, prefunded collection and recycling program.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Solar sets world record for CdTe solar PV efficiency

TEMPE, USA: First Solar Inc. announced that it set a new world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell efficiency, reaching 17.3 percent with a test cell constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials. The test cell's performance, confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), far surpassed the previous record of 16.7 percent set in 2001.

"This is a significant milestone that demonstrates the ongoing potential of our advanced thin-film technology," said Dave Eaglesham, CTO at First Solar. "This leap forward in R&D supports our efficiency roadmap for our production modules and will recalibrate industry expectations for the long-term efficiency potential of CdTe technology."

"This achievement is a direct result of our industry-leading investment in research and development and our commitment to continuous improvement," said Rob Gillette, CEO of First Solar. "First Solar's innovation in both module technology and balance of systems engineering continues to drive us closer to grid parity."

The average efficiency of First Solar modules produced in the first quarter of 2011 was 11.7 percent, up from 11.1 percent a year earlier, and the company has recorded full-module efficiencies over 13.5 percent, with a 13.4 percent module confirmed by NREL. First Solar's module efficiency roadmap sets a goal for production-module efficiencies of 13.5-14.5 percent by the end of 2014.

First Solar utilizes a continuous manufacturing process which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, which contributes to the company's industry-leading energy payback time and the low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar PV modules. First Solar also implemented the industry's first comprehensive, prefunded solar module collection and recycling program.

Anyone wishing to dispose of First Solar modules can request collection at any time, at no additional cost, and First Solar will pick up the modules and recycle up to 90 percent (by mass) of the material for use in new products, including new solar modules and new glass products.

LDK Solar’s module lab takes part in Intertek Group’s SATELLITE program

XINYU CITY, CHINA & SUNNYVALE, USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd, a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) products, announced that its PV Module Lab located in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, in the People’s Republic of China, has officially taken part in Intertek Group’s SATELLITE Program, a data acceptance program, which can help manufacturers reduce compliance costs and decrease time to market for new products.

By joining the SATELLITE Program, LDK Solar’s Test Lab becomes officially recognized by Intertek as a qualified and authorized SATELLITE laboratory.

Intertek developed its SATELLITE Program in response to the ever increasing market requirements for product certification. Conducting tests in customers' own labs, on their own schedule, customers obtain Intertek's market–leading certifications for their products.

Under the SATELLITE Program, customers can choose the level of service that's right for their compliance and sales goals. When the testing results meet all certification requirements, Intertek will issue the requested certificate, such as ETL based on UL1703 standards.

The practice under the SATELLITE Program can greatly reduce the testing/certification lead time, thus facilitating the timely introduction of new products into the market place.

“We are very pleased to establish this strategic partnership with Intertek”, stated Xiaofeng Peng, chairman and CEO of LDK Solar. “By joining the SATELLITE Program, LDK can save time testing modules while streamlining costs. Most importantly, participating in the SATELLITE Program is another example of LDK Solar’s continued dedication to ensuring module quality and customer satisfaction.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Phoenix Solar AG to build solar power plants in France with a total peak power of 24 megawatts

SULZEMOOS, GERMANY: Phoenix Solar AG, a leading international photovoltaic system integrator listed on the German TecDAX, has been commissioned by Paris-based Akuo Energy as the EPC contractor in charge of building two solar power plants in France. Akuo Energy is a French independent power producer specialised in renewable energy production from sun, wind, water and biomass all over the world.

Akuo Solar, its subsidiary, is one of the three largest operators of solar power plants in France. The two solar parks have a peak power of almost 12 megawatts each and will be generating around 36 million kilowatt hours of green electricity a year in the future.

"So far France is Phoenix Solar AG’s most important market in 2011. Together with the solar parks in Le Castellet and La Rouchouse, we have already generated a contract volume of well over EUR 100 million this financial year in France. I am also delighted that this is our first opportunity of working together with Akuo Energy", said Dr. Andreas Hänel, CEO of Phoenix Solar AG.

Work on the two power plants is scheduled to start during the summer. Completion has been planned for the end of the year and grid connection in 2012.

"Clean renewable energy is the best way of covering our energy needs of today and tomorrow. At the same time, it helps us to avoid harmful CO2 emissions and gives us independence from increasingly expensive fossil energy sources", explained Romain Forest, Akuo Solar’s MD. "We chose Phoenix Solar because they have the degree of commitment and the know-how we need for realising these flagship solar power plants."

Grupo Clavijo completes France's largest PV plant

SPAIN: The Spanish Grupo Clavijo company has finished installing the fixed structures on France's largest photovoltaic solar farm in Curbans in the Provence-Alps-Côte d'Azur region on more than 130 hectares of land (the equivalent of 130 football fields). The statistics of this farm show the magnitude of this project.

Total installed power: 33 MW
Total investment: € 80 million
Energy supplied: 30,000 inhabitants.

The solar farm was assembled and installed over 15 months by a workforce of 80 people, 25 of whom occupied new positions created specifically for the project. The installation will provide CO2 emissions savings of up to 120,000 tons per year.

Grupo Clavijo was founded in 1961. The firm's main headquarters are in Viana (Navarre). It has three business divisions, one of which specialises in renewable energies, specifically the design, manufacture and assembly of fixed structure and single and dual axis solar trackers. All its products (like those used in Curbans) feature the most advanced technology. One example is the innovative, patented, azimuthal brake installed in many of its trackers.

The firm is present all over the world, with more than 150 MW installed in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Canada and the USA among other countries. It also has production plants in the United States, Canada, Mexico, as well as the factory in Navarre, which was recently extended by more than 1,000 m2 with a continuous profile line.

Grupo Clavijo's internationalization strategy involves expanding in the countries where it already has a foothold and entering new markets which are investing in photovoltaic solar power such as India and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, among others.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Capstone and SunPower hold dedication ceremony for Amherstburg solar park

TORONTO, CANADA: Capstone Infrastructure Corp. and SunPower Corp. will celebrate the completion of the 20-megawatt Amherstburg Solar Park at a dedication ceremony in Amherstburg, Ontario.

“The completion of the Amherstburg Solar Park marks an important milestone for Capstone Infrastructure as our first development project and our first solar power facility,” said Michael Bernstein, president and CEO, Capstone Infrastructure. “We are proud of the quality of the Amherstburg Solar Park and the contribution it will make to renewable energy in the Province of Ontario. We are also delighted to be part of the local community.”

The facility, which commenced commercial operations on June 30, 2011, is one of the largest solar power installations in Canada and is expected to produce enough green electricity annually to power approximately 4,000 homes. It was designed and built by SunPower, a world leader in solar power systems.

“We are delighted to partner with Capstone Infrastructure to help Ontario meet its growing electricity demand with clean, locally produced power,” said Howard Wenger, president of SunPower’s utility and power plants group. “SunPower’s high efficiency photovoltaic technology is competitively priced for electric utility power plant applications, fast to install and reliably delivers clean power during peak demand periods.”

The Amherstburg Solar Park features SunPower’s high-efficiency solar photovoltaic panels, which generate up to 50 percent more electricity than conventional solar panels and up to four times as much power as thin-film solar technology. The solar panels are installed on SunPower’s proprietary single-axis T20 Tracker system, which positions the panels to follow the sun during the day, increasing daily energy production by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt installations. Electricity generated by the facility will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under the Province of Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program at a guaranteed price for the next 20 years.

Amherstburg Solar Park facts
* Number of solar panels: 57,906.
* Number of trackers: 6,434.
* Geographic footprint of facility: approximately 1 square kilometre.
* Number of jobs created during construction: approximately 100.
* Estimated contribution to carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions reduction: electricity generated by the project each year will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 27,0031 tonnes or the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions from more than 5,000 passenger vehicles each year.

Strong 2010 European PV market growth of 169 percent set to give way to 14 percent contraction in 2011

LONDON, UK: Rapidly falling prices in 1H’11 have been unable to stimulate the faltering European PV market, according to the latest Solarbuzz European PV Markets Report. Signs of a strengthening market in June 2011 were hit by cancellation of the anticipated mid-year incentive tariff reductions in Germany.

“For the past decade, Europe has played a dominant role in creating the demand growth that has fueled global manufacturing capacity expansion,” noted Alan Turner, VP of European Market Research for Solarbuzz. “This was underpinned by aggressive, uncapped feed-in tariff (FIT) programs that are now being scaled back to reduce costs. Policy adjustments are becoming more frequent, creating uncertainty for investors in PV systems.”

The downturn in European major markets in 1H’11 left module shipments from manufacturers running well ahead of end-market demand. The resulting increase in downstream inventories quickly spread to the upstream, causing production plans to be reined in. Desperate to stimulate growth, crystalline silicon module price offers from manufacturers have reached new lows of €0.75-1.00/W.

PV incentive tariff policy changes shape market growth
Market growth of 169 percent across Europe in 2010 was led by three countries: Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. Each country delivered gigawatt-scale markets and, combined, represented 89 percent of European demand. Italy’s market share is forecast to rise from 32 percent in 2010 to 39 percent in 2015 to become the largest market in Europe, while the combined share of the two largest markets, Italy and Germany, is forecast to fall to 71 percent in 2015 from 80 percent in 2010.

Growth of the Italian market in 2010 came despite installed system prices up to 33% higher than in Germany, depending on system size. Even with high prices, solar PV project investment returns (IRRs) up to 20 percent could still be realized, a clear indicator both of the generous level of incentive tariff rates and the headroom for future tariff reductions.

France, Spain, Belgium and Greece constituted a strong second-tier of markets in the 100-1000 MW size range in 2010. Here, forecast project Internal Rate of Returns (IRRs) will generally meet or exceed customer expectations in most major market segments in 2011. However, by 2012, only in Greece will this be the case for large ground-mounted installations. Smaller markets offering growth potential include Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the UK.

Based on an assessment of countries over the next 18 months, incentive tariffs for residential systems are set to fall by at least an average 17 percent, with commercial roof-mounted systems of 100 kW falling by 23 percent and ground-mounted 1 MW installations falling by 34 percent. Residential tariffs in Greece and the UK show the least reduction among the major markets in Europe through 2012, according to current policy plans, while tariffs for large ground-mounted systems fall to the lowest levels in Belgium, Spain and France.

Over the next five years, customer segmentation changes across Europe will see the residential segment double its share. In addition, investor groups’ share will fall by almost half, while commercial (including agricultural) customers remain the dominant market segment.Source: Solarbuzz, 2011 European PV Markets.

By June 2011, average distributor prices for crystalline silicon modules from Chinese producers had fallen to an average €1.28/W. This is 20 percent down from the average distributor prices of €1.60/W at the end of 2010, following relatively stable pricing through 2010 with a slight upturn during the second half of the year. By contrast, their European and Japanese counterparts saw prices start to decline in July 2010 and have continued ever since, reducing their price premiums of 20-25 percent for most of Q1’10 to 10-15 percent for most of Q1’11.

Module sales in 2010 were split 38 percent from manufacturers/brokers to installers, 37 percent via the wholesaler channel and 25 percent direct.

Downstream PV companies prepare for lower market growth expectations
Tightening of PV incentive policies across Europe is creating an extremely challenging time for downstream companies. Many are now facing over-valued inventories, weaker sales and potential cash flow problems. Sales channel positioning, geographical diversification and acquisition activity feature strongly in the current re-assessment of business models, but so too does differentiation by the larger wholesalers through a relentless pursuit of higher module quality.

Longer term, major regulatory challenges lie ahead before grid parity can stimulate self-sustaining markets, despite fast reducing solar electricity costs. Over the short term, German utilities are concerned that PV generation capacity is creating unacceptable risks for its overall grid stability. As a result, utilities are placing intense focus on electricity storage and smart-metering technology, which will add costs, complexity and cause delay to PV deployment.

Turner added: “The uncertainty over the path of European incentives, industry pricing and regulatory constraints will ensure that this region is now entering a very challenging period. Business models that worked based on a limited number of high growth European markets together with high prices will be sorely tested as this region changes to a more fragmented market structure with considerably tighter downstream margins.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PV prices continue to go up, but momentum slows

TAIWAN: According to the latest price survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the polysilicon spot price continues to increase, and current trading price has stayed between $52/kg and $54/kg. Notably, the trading price in the Chinese market is slightly higher than other markets ranging from $55/kg to $58/kg.

The main spot price of mono-Si wafer stays between $2.6/piece and $2.65/piece due to its high market demand. Also, the main spot price of multi-Si wafer stays between $1.95/piece and $2.1/piece.

According to EnergyTrend, PV manufacturers take a wait-and-see attitude toward the market in 3Q11. Currently, they put more focus on the order demand of 3Q11 to evaluate the market development. On the other hand, although most of PV spot prices went up, the extent has narrowed. It might signal the end market demand is less than expected, and the price trend of 3Q11 could reverse.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

This week’s survey shows that the average price of polysilicon has risen by 1.53 percent to $54.55/kg. While the average price of multi-Si wafer increased by 1.79 percent to $2.05/piece, the average price of mono-Si wafer has stayed at $2.631/piece. On the other hand, the solar cell market demand is spurred by increasing clients’ need and the demand for high conversion efficiency product remains large; hence, the current high price has stably remained.

However, manufacturers are having difficulties raising the price of lower conversion efficiency products due to pricing pressure from lower demand for such products. Nevertheless, the average price of solar cell has slightly increased by 2.3 percent to $0.802/Watt. Furthermore, the average price of module market has slightly declined by 1.39 percent to $1.275/Watt. Affected by market price in India, the thin film market price has decreased slightly by 0.3 percent to $1.000/Watt.

According to current market trend, EnergyTrend believes the oversupply still remains. As far as the supply chain is considered, the price rebound first occurred in the upstream, namely, the polysilicon sector. Although Si wafer manufacturers sought to keep up with the price trend, the price recovery of Si wafer could not overhaul the price increase of polysilicon.

Currently, major Si wafer manufacturers not only mix substitute materials to reduce cost, but also try to renegotiate terms with their suppliers. However, the efforts to gain support from suppliers appears to be futile. Hence, EnergyTrend believes that the Si wafer manufacturers’ profit in 3Q11 may be compromised.

On the other hand, participants of Intersolar North America Exhibit, completed last week, indicated that system and power plant projects drew relatively more attention at the event. Compared with other markets, the North American market demand still remains strong, and it is estimated that the market demand for system installation will reach as high as 2GW this year. Therefore, system manufacturers are now aiming for the potential growth of the North American market as the next major market development.

According to EnergyTrend’s survey, although major project bids of the US focus on large scale utility plant establishments, smaller projects such as rooftop systems will also benefit from state governments and the federal government’s subsidies.

EnergyTrend indicates that since European governments have cut the subsidies for large solar energy power plants substantially, the rooftop system market will be the major market driver from now on. In addition, the US market might resemble such a market trend in the future. The conversion efficiency plays an important role in developing rooftop systems, and thus it is expected that the manufacturers including Taiwanese makers with advanced technology will be in a better position to grasp new business opportunities.

REgeneration Finance funding 3.26 MW solar project for Arizona School District

BUCKEYE, USA: REgeneration Finance, LLC, an experienced solar finance and development firm, has initiated construction on 3.26 MW of photovoltaic solar installations for Buckeye Elementary School District in Buckeye, AZ.

GV Enterprises, a local project management firm, along with CORE Construction, a leading national construction company with a regional office in Buckeye, and solar consultant Natural Power & Energy, began installation of the systems earlier this month. The project’s seven sites consist of six schools and one district office.

Buckeye Elementary School District weighed multiple financing options for its solar project before selecting REgeneration Finance’s power purchase agreement alternative. Under the agreement, REgeneration Finance will develop, own, operate and maintain the solar project while selling the electricity generated by the photovoltaic installations to Buckeye Elementary School District – an agreement that ultimately proved to be the least risky and most cost effective option for the school district.

“Buckeye Elementary School District is pleased to be able to bring solar photovoltaic generation to its schools,” stated John Drew, Project Manager and spokesman for the District. “Given the issues that other generation sources are seeing, a solar PV system with little or no impact to the environment and minimal maintenance is a real plus. BESD and its construction team are looking forward to teaming with REgeneration on this project.”

REgeneration Finance will take full financial responsibility for the construction and operation of the project, and will serve as the long-term owner of the photovoltaic systems. Buckeye Elementary School District will purchase the electricity generated by the installations at a predetermined rate from REgeneration Finance, but assumes no risk for the development or ongoing maintenance of the project. The project, consisting of both elevated ground-mount and roof-mount installations, is estimated to provide approximately 70 percent of the school district’s annual electricity consumption.

“REgeneration Finance is committed to taking full advantage of all federal and state incentives to provide school districts around the country with the most cost-effective solar projects possible,” said Laurance Friedman, REgeneration Finance’s CEO. “This project for Buckeye Elementary School District will create local jobs, provide the school district with a long-term energy hedge and contribute to ‘greening’ our nation’s energy supply.”

The project is made possible by a utility rebate from Arizona Public Service as part of its Renewable Incentive Program. It will use locally-made PowerOne inverters and be built with local labor provided by CORE Construction Services of Arizona Inc.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gross profit feels pinch in PV price war

ENGLAND, UK: A period of highly competitive pricing from PV module suppliers has led to gross margins declining by over 25 percent in the last six months, according to the latest analysis from IMS Research. Suppliers have been forced to engage in a tough price war, but have not been able to reduce their costs as quickly as their prices; their margins have been the victim.

IMS Research’s latest quarterly report on the industry reveals that suppliers have reduced prices by around 15 percent in the last six weeks in order to compete in an industry that is currently plagued by oversupply. Average crystalline PV module prices had been close to $1.80/W in the first quarter of 2011; however, a sudden change in market dynamics has resulted in sharp price declines, and the same modules are now being consistently priced below $1.40/W.

Rapid reductions in the price of cells and wafers have helped to offset PV module price declines and ease the impact on suppliers’ margins. However, whilst polysilicon spot prices have fallen by over 30% since the end of 2010, contract prices have held relatively stable so the average prices have fallen at a far slower rate. Average polysilicon prices stubbornly remaining above $50/kg have limited the ability of downstream suppliers’ to reduce their costs.

“Vertically integrated Chinese Tier-1 suppliers of crystalline PV modules have some of the most competitive cost structures in a wide field of manufacturers, and had been producing with gross margins in the high twenties in 2010,” commented Sam Wilkinson, senior market analyst at IMS Research.

“Margins have already fallen from their peak in Q3’10. Current pricing levels are putting huge pressure on these suppliers’ margins; we believe their average gross margins could fall below 20% by Q3’11, with Tier-2 suppliers’ margins even lower.”

IMS Research estimates that the total gross profit generated by the global PV module supplier base, which had averaged around $2.5 billion per quarter in 2010, declined sequentially by close to 40 percent in the first and second quarter of 2011, due to reduced margins and declining shipments. A rebound in demand is predicted in the second half of 2011, which will help suppliers’ profits to recover. IMS Research predicts that total PV module supplier gross profit will grow once again in Q3 and Q4’11.

Applied Nanotech licenses solar ink technology to Sichuan Anxian Yinhe Construction and Chemical Group

AUSTIN, USA: Applied Nanotech Holdings Inc. has signed a license agreement for its solar ink and paste technology with YHCC. This is the first license agreement to arise out of the strategic relationship with YHCC previously announced in February 2011.

Under the terms of the license, Applied Nanotech will receive an upfront payment of $2 million and an ongoing royalty of 3 percent on sales of solar inks and pastes by YHCC. The first $1.5 million of the upfront payment is payable no later than August, 2011. The remaining $500,000 is payable in April, 2012, assuming certain technical specifications have been met. The license agreement grants YHCC an exclusive license for Applied Nanotech's solar ink and paste technology in Asia, excluding Korea and Japan.

YHCC has begun construction on a manufacturing facility to produce solar inks in its technical park in China. Applied Nanotech's aluminum pastes are the first products that YHCC will begin producing and is expected to be manufacturing and selling these pastes in 2012.

This license agreement gives Applied Nanotech exposure to the fast growing solar manufacturing market in Asia. The photovoltaic solar industry generated $82 billion in global revenues in 2010, with Asia dominating the solar manufacturing marketplace and China alone manufacturing nearly 60 percent of the worldwide solar cells in 2010.

Applied Nanotech's solar inks will be the first products introduced in the strategic partnership with YHCC. The parties are continuing discussions related to other collaboration opportunities.

"YHCC has shown a tremendous amount of interest in our solar inks since we began developing our relationship. We are pleased that YHCC has recognized the disruptive nature of our technology and have committed to make the commercialization of our solar inks the highest priority," commented Dr. Zvi Yaniv, CEO of Applied Nanotech.

"We are pleased to have completed the first license agreement with YHCC, which marks our third licensee that will have products in the market and generating royalties in 2012," said Doug Baker, CEO of Applied Nanotech Holdings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Semprius awarded state and county incentives package to build solar module pilot production plant in North Carolina

HENDERSON, USA: The North Carolina Department of Commerce announced that Semprius Inc., a leading innovator in high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, received an incentives package to build a pilot production plant in Henderson, N.C.

The incentives package includes a State of North Carolina Job Development Investment Grant, and grants from the Golden LEAF Foundation, Vance County, the One North Carolina Fund, and the North Carolina Community College System, and totals more than $7.88 million. The incentives package comes on the heels of Semprius securing $20 million in its first tranche of Series C venture fundraising led by Siemens Venture Capital earlier this month. Semprius will use the incentives package and venture funding to construct the pilot HCPV module production plant beginning later this month.

The first phase of the pilot plant will be 50,000 square feet and employ 60 people. Semprius plans to expand within the next several years to 150,000 square feet and will eventually employ 256 people at the pilot production plant. Semprius will make an $89.7 million capital investment in the pilot plant, and the plant will draw $120 million in investment to the region.

“Semprius chose to bring their business to North Carolina because our investments in education and job training ensure they can find the work-ready employees they need,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “This company is on the cutting edge in the solar energy field and we welcome them to North Carolina, the smart grid capital of the world.”

Semprius builds its HCPV modules using novel processes that combine extremely tiny solar cells with low-cost, efficient optics, and improve long-term reliability and performance. Semprius also utilizes an automated manufacturing process, leveraging standard manufacturing equipment and commodity materials, to dramatically reduce capital and labor costs.

“Demand for CPV is expected to grow exponentially over the next several years to greater than 6 gigawatts by 2020,” said Joe Carr, president and CEO of Semprius. “We have designed our modules to be efficient, low-cost and reliable, gathering energy from the sun that is converted into electricity in a clean, efficient manner.”

The Semprius pilot production plant, expected to be operational in August 2012, will have an initial capacity of 5 megawatts (MW) and is expandable to 35 MW as needed.

“Semprius HCPV modules can concentrate the sun more 1,000 times for highly efficient conversion into electricity,” said Carr. “We believe HCPV solar technology is leading us toward achieving grid parity with fossil-based fuels, and we’re proud that the state of North Carolina and Vance County find our technology as important to the future of clean energy as we do.”

Conergy expands Indian manufacturing footprint

BANGALORE, INDIA: Addressing India’s need to turn to renewable energy sources, Conergy Energy Systems (India) Pvt Ltd, one of India’s most successful solar energy companies, has expanded its manufacturing footprint with a new solar PV and solar thermal facility in Bangalore.

Productivity gains expected with new plant
Conergy (India) expects increased output and improved operational efficiencies by shifting its solar PV and thermal production to the White Field factory from its old site in the NGEF Ancillary Industrial Estate in Mahadevapura, Bangalore. The decision to move was prompted by considerations of larger volume requirements and long term production efficiencies.

Srinivasan, chief operations officer of Conergy Energy Systems (India), said: “By moving to the new site, Conergy has increased its annual production capacity from 10 MW to 25 MW for solar PV modules. At least 50 new jobs have been created and over 2 million euros was invested by Conergy on the new 5,000 sqm plant.”

Conergy’s solar energy solutions for both stand-alone and grid-connect applications offer high outputs at attractive price-performance ratios and consist of products primarily made in India. Most of the volume produced from this plant is designed to cater to the local and export market. This unique product advantage in combination with a strict compliance to global technical quality standards has helped Conergy achieve a strong market position in India.

Conergy (India) will produce its entire stand alone solar PV portfolio from this new factory which consists of 5Wp to 230Wp Multi/Polycrystalline PV modules, solar water heating systems and solar off grid systems. This new facility is ISO 9001-2008 and ISO 14001 certified while the company’s SunTechnics range of SPV modules are IEC and CE-certified. Production from this facility is expected to support Conergy’s continued expansion into India’s high-growth solar energy market.

India a role model for solar energy
“The goal for the new factory is to manufacture solar PV modules and solutions that exactly meet the needs of the Indian solar energy market and adhere to local content requirements,” according to Prakash Shetty, president of Conergy Energy Systems (India).

“Clean energy is now very high up on the agenda of both the private and government sectors in India. After the Fukushima and Gulf of Mexico catastrophes, clean energy has once again become a global priority. With the comprehensive feed in tariff support structures the National Solar Mission and individual states have provided, India can be a role model for solar energy in the region. With Conergy’s new plant, we hope that we can contribute to the strategic transformation of India’s power generation industry, create jobs and facilitate economic development in this very important and very new industry.”

SEKISUI JUSHI and KYOCERA co-develop multi-purpose 'solar power shelter' for public apps

KYOTO, JAPAN: Sekisui Jushi Corp., Kyocera Corp. and its wholly-owned domestic solar energy sales subsidiary Kyocera Solar Corp. announced the co-development of the Eco-Shell* — a multi-purpose solar power shelter which uses a Kyocera solar power generating system for the roofing material and energy-conserving LEDs for lighting.

The new product is intended for use in public places where shelters provide cover against the sun and rain such as bus and taxi stops, benches and walkway coverings. It will go on sale from July 20, exclusive to the Japanese market, targeting municipalities and private companies.

The shelter combines SJC's conventional multi-purpose shelter unit with a Kyocera solar power generating system and energy-efficient LED lighting to create an eco-friendly weather covering alternative to those often found at bus stops and other public spaces. Once the product goes on sale later this month, the two companies will propose its use for a wide range of applications across Japan.

Across Japan energy reduction countermeasures are starting to be made in earnest due to the effects of the March 11 earthquake and resulting nuclear power situation. Furthermore, environmental awareness in urban planning has also been receiving a lot of attention. The electricity generated from the shelter's solar power generating system can be used for surrounding electrical needs, such as lighting for advertising displays, with excess power being sold to the power utility companies, thus helping to meet expected power shortages in Japan during the summer. Furthermore, the shelter uses low-energy LED lighting to reduce both power consumption and CO2 emissions at night.

Moreover, the shelters can be used as emergency power supplies in the event of a disaster, as the shelter has an independent power outlet that could be used to charge mobile phones or other vital electronics.

SolarPA achieves 1 percent absolute efficiency increase on Motech solar cells

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Using its proprietary nanocrystal coating on completed solar cells from Motech, SolarPA (New Tripoli, PA) has improved the absolute solar cell efficiency by 1 percent, turning cells with an average efficiency of 17.3 percent into cells with an average efficiency of 18.3 percent.

"The breakthrough enables any polycrystalline solar cell plant, not just Motech’s, to automatically increase its output by 1 percent," noted Dr. Robert Castellano, CEO of SolarPA. "More importantly, marginally efficient cells, such as those at 15 percent and often scrapped, can become usable for installation into a panel."Source: The Information Network, USA.

The company is currently evaluating different technologies to deposit its NanoCoat at production throughputs. These technologies include dip coating and screen printing. NanoCoat application is completely non-disruptive to the production line, and coated after a cell is made.

"Our technology is instrumental to US and European solar cell manufacturers to compete against low-cost products coming out of China," added Dr. Castellano. "With the Chinese renowned for low-cost manufacturing, can the non-Chinese solar manufacturers compete against the likes of Suntech Power (STP), Yingli Green Energy, Trina Solar, Solarfun, and Canadian Solar?

This year, we expect that more than 20 GWatts of solar cells will be installed, up from 14 GWatts in 2010. Moreover, the Chinese solar cell manufacturers produce more than 50 percent of the worldwide cells and export more than 90 percent. Five of the top 10 solar panel makers in the world are from China.

There is a constant struggle by solar manufacturers to keep production costs down and increase solar cell efficiency. First Solar has been an industry leader in this regard with its CdSe thin film solar cells. Amorphous silicon manufacturers continue to promote themselves as low-cost manufacturers, while at the same time pulling out all stops to get efficiency above 10 percent to remain competitive.

US-based SunPower is moving to produce cells at a competitive cost to the Chinese of $1.08 per watt in Q4. But the drive to lower cost is aided by a large manufacturing plant in Malaysia.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Global thin film solar PV market dominated by Asia

LONDON, UK: In 2006 the global thin film solar PV manufacturing equipment market was worth $384 million, but grew at a rate of 70.3 percent p/a to 2010, to reach $3.2 billion, according to a new report available on companiesandmarkets.com. A reduction in manufacturing costs and improvements to technology are expected to drive the global thin film solar PV manufacturing equipment market to $4.3 billion (2015), and $15.7 billion (2020).

Thin film solar PV manufacturing equipment worldwide
Over the last five years, 7.5GW (20 percent) of the global production capacity added to the PV manufacturing industry was for thin film photovoltaic manufacturing equipment. TFPV production differs from that of traditional c-SI (crystalline silicon) PV technologies, as it uses different deposition processes and production equipment. To manufacture TFPV, thin vapors are deposited on to semiconductor layers, minimising raw material requirements.

China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and other southeast Asian economies are expected to dominate the future TFPV manufacturing market, although strong competition is expected from Germany, Italy, Spain, the Americas and Eastern Europe.

Equipment manufacturers profiled within the thin film photovoltaic research report include: Apollo Solar Energy Technology, BTU International, Centrotherm Photovoltaics, Coherent, Edwards Vacuum, Gebr. Schmid, GreenSolar, Grenzebach, Leybold Optics, Manz Automation, Mirle Automation, Oerlikon Solar, Pall Corporation, Roth & Rau, Singulus, Smit Ovens, Tokyo Electron, ULVAC, Veeco Instruments and Von Ardenne Anlagentechnik.

Suntech unveils high-efficiency and innovative solar module for Israel

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd has unveiled the Suntech 300W Vd series, a new generation high-efficiency solar module, for Israel, available immediately.

Powered by Suntech's SuperPoly processing technology, a superior silicon casting and wafering process that produces higher-quality multicrystalline wafers, the module achieves up to 15.5 percent conversion efficiency, well above the 13-14 percent efficiency of conventional polycrystalline solar modules.

The introduction of Suntech's 300W Vd series reaffirms Suntech's commitment to offer industry leading solar products for Israeli customers.

"The new module delivers 10% more power than conventional polycrystalline products leading to lower balance-of-system and installation costs per watt," said James Hu, Suntech's president for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. "Israel's excellent solar resources make solar power a viable and highly cost competitive energy solution that can help the country move towards energy independence."

Suntech's new 300W Vd is a 72-cell module comprised of 6-inch black square cells that delivers one of the highest power per weight ratios in the industry. The module features a +/- 5 percent power tolerance and exceptionally low oxygen content leading to strong resistance to light-induced degradation.

In addition, the modules are built to withstand all weather conditions including 3.800 N/m2 (~270 km/h) wind load and 5.400 N/m2 (~55 kg/m2) snow loads, well above IEC standard requirements. The product is ideally suited to rooftop installations where weight, power, and aesthetics are key customer considerations.

The 6-inch square cells in the new product contain minimal oxygen content and achieve 18 percent conversion efficiency. Suntech's in-house R&D and wafer production team developed the technology based on a hybrid wafer manufacturing process that combines the high efficiency of monocrystalline wafers with the cost-effectiveness and reliability of polycrystalline wafers.

With lower energy consumption during ingot production, the STP 300-24/Vd solar modules are even more environmentally friendly and reduce the energy payback time by almost one-third compared to conventional monocrystalline modules. The new solar module also features an anti-reflective surface trapping the sunlight into the cells combined with a hydrophobic self-cleaning surface structure.

Suntech's new 300W Vd series solar module is available immediately for Israeli customers.

PROINSO bags four new projects in India

INDIA: PROINSO has sealed four new supply projects reaching 33 MW in India Two projects located in the city of Charakana (Patan District of Gujarat) and another two in Maharashtra District.

The four new projects confirm PROINSO´s commitment to enter the Indian solar photovoltaics market, and added to the first sale PROINSO made last month in India for a 2 MW project in the state of Maharastra, Mumbai capital, now make a total supply of 35 MW.

PROINSO and MECASOLAR -member companies, of OPDE Group-, will open an office in India by the end of this year.

Both companies will be attending the forthcoming edition of Intersolar INDIA to be held from 14 to 16 December in Bombay.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

AppliCad launch at InterSolar a huge success

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: AppliCad's first foray into the solar market has proved to be a huge success with the launch of their new Solar Wizard software at the InterSolar US show in San Francisco.

SolarWizard is a 3D modelling program that calculates solar radiation and shadows on a 3D model of the client's structure and helps determine the optimum location of solar assets such as PV arrays and solar thermal equipment. It should not have been a surprise having developed most of the modelling tools for the roofing industry during the past 20 years or so, the solar application was an easy and quite logical extension.

Ray Smith, MD of AppliCad, says: "The show in SF was a fishing trip for my company. We knew we had a great solution but being new to the solar market we were a little unsure how close we were to meeting the needs of integrators and distributors in this industry. We are very excited by the prospects for our new software."

Given the ready availability of aerial image libraries to the construction sector, accessible via the web and from specialist vendors, the re-designed image digitising tools in the new AppliCad enable every consultant, integrator or installer to prepare accurate client proposals from the desk without the need for an expensive site visit.

This results in huge savings in time and gas and improves turn-around time from initial enquiry to professional proposal. It also saves money spent on third party service providers doing this for the contractor, who can now do it without any additional cost or delay.

The entire client structure can be modelled in 3D along with the immediate surrounds, and the interference effects of shadows from these items explored in detail. The new calculators create very precise results displayed in very easy to understand maps of shadow and solar radiation on the 3D structure for any location in the country.

The high performance report generator then connects all the calculated data and images to report in MS Word. The Word templates provides enormous flexibility to the operators who can create the most detailed reports with as much artistic flair and imagination as they can muster.

Integration with other stakeholders is an essential component for running a professional roofing or cladding business. The new AppliCad now exports data in various text file formats including XML.

Friday, July 15, 2011

PV equipment spend to fall by nearly half in 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: PV equipment spending for c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film panels is forecast to decline sharply in 2012 to $7.6 billion, down 47 percent Y/Y from a record level of US$14.2 billion in 2011, according to the latest Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. This decline in equipment spending will impact 2H’11 PV equipment revenues and also result in lower corporate guidance for 2012.

The collapse in equipment spending—coming immediately after Y/Y revenue growth rates of 84 percent in 2010 and 33 percent in 2011—is a consequence of ambitious c-Si cell/module and thin-film capacity expansions committed during 2010 and 1H’11 by tier 2 and tier 3 PV manufacturers. Coupled with market oversupply and strong inventory build through 2H’11, this capacity-demand imbalance will usher in a significant cell manufacturer shakeout phase during 2012 to 2014.

Equipment spending for Q2’11 reached $3.6 billion, declining 3 percent Q/Q. This represents the first negative growth rate for PV equipment spending since Q2’09, indicative of an inflection-point within the current PV capital equipment spending cycle. The PV book-to-bill ratio also dipped below parity in Q2’11, continuing its sequential Q/Q downward trend from a high of 1.74 posted back in Q2’10, as new order intake reflected the slowdown in capacity planned for 2012.

According to Finlay Colville, senior analyst at Solarbuzz: “Strong double-digit bookings and revenue growth through 2010 created a misleading picture for PV equipment suppliers. This was caused in part by aggressive expansion plans of second-tier c-Si manufacturers, and by the quantity of new thin-film fabs that were financed through the recent thin-film investment cycle. An artificial peak in equipment spending was created during 2010 and 2011, providing a short-term pull on equipment that was out-of-sync with the long-term requirements of the industry.”

Equipment suppliers to the c-Si cell/module segment will be the hardest hit, with Q/Q revenue declines of 21 percent, 12 percent and 37 percent forecast from Q4’11 to Q2’12. Thin-film spending declines will follow a similar downward trend, as the second thin-film investment phase draws to a close during 2H’11. Only c-Si equipment suppliers with an established upstream product portfolio and strong market shares (e.g. GT Solar, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials, and Jinggong) have been sheltered from the drop-off in equipment bookings during 1H’11.

Fig. 1: PV Equipment Spending Forecast Scenarios (US $ million)Source: Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly.

Cell manufacturer shakeout prioritizes tier 1 expansions and upgrade tool spending
Expansions across all tier categories will provide 51 GW and 66 GW of annualized capacity during 2011 and 2012, accumulated from over 300 manufacturers. However, by filtering out the manufacturing capacity that is both cost-competitive and market-leading, the true significance of these capacity levels becomes apparent. Tier 1 cell manufacturers will account for 24 GW and 34 GW of capacity in 2011 and 2012, more than sufficient to meet global demand over this time period.

The cell manufacturer shakeout is a key factor driving the scale of the revenue reset and the phasing of equipment spending during the 2012-2015 period. Equipment spending from tier 2 and tier 3 PV manufacturers is forecast to decline 60 percent Y/Y in 2012. By 2015, tier 1 companies will account for more than 70 percent of all PV equipment spending.

“Tool suppliers will increasingly focus on securing preferred-supplier status with tier 1 manufacturers,” added Colville. “Additionally, competition will intensify ahead of the next spending upturn as suppliers from adjacent market segments (e.g. semiconductor and display) exploit the opportunity to enter the PV equipment supply-chain.”

Business case for BIPV

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "The Business Case for Building Integrated Photovoltaics" report to its offering.

As the conventional solar panels business becomes increasingly commoditized, the solar panel industry is seeking out new ways to add value to their products. Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) represents one strategy for achieving this.

In the past, the business case for photovoltaics has been made entirely on the basis of return on investment, with the primary performance factor at the solar panel level being efficiency. From a strategic perspective, what BIPV brings to the table is a range of new ways that will enable solar panel makers to distinguish their products in the marketplace to a degree that has not been possible up to now.

BIPV also cuts through the boundaries that have existed between building materials and solar panels, thereby both expanding the solar panel market and creating the potential for novel hybrid products that are both solar energy sources and cladding, roofing, windows, etc.

These hybrids both radically change the cost models for solar and also create the need to rethink the value proposition that solar panels of the BIPV kind can bring to the table. In particular, for first time BIPV will enable PV panels that will be judged on their architectural merit and not just on functionality. In light of the impact that BIPV promises to have on the solar market NanoMarkets believes that the time is right for a serious analysis of the business cases that are appropriate to BIPV.

In this report we provide a thorough examination of the key factors that prove out BIPV as a viable product offering and provide readers with a clear understanding of how manufacturers can assign value to the aesthetics of solutions, the particular selling points of specific markets and how they can best justify their products to the various customer segments.

This analysis draws on both NanoMarkets long experience of analyzing the PV industry and the strategies the firms in the BIPV market. It will provide valuable insight to firms currently active in the BIPV sector, those planning to enter it, and the investors who back them.

Sopogy signs MOU for solar project in Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Sopogy Inc., the world’s leading developer of micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, and MAI Development Co. Ltd, an established Thai conglomerate focusing on manufacturing, construction, real estate, energy and government services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of an six-megawatt solar power plant in Bau Yai, Nakorn Ratchasima Province to provide electricity to the Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand (PEA) in 2012.

In addition, Sopogy has granted MAI Development exclusive distribution rights for MicroCSP systems in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

MAI Development holds 45 power purchase licenses to supply 360 megawatts of electricity produced from solar energy to the PEA for an estimated value of over $500 million.

"Sopogy's proven solar technology with thermal energy storage and localized approach will help Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam achieve clean energy goals and create local jobs," said Phatthanasret Chayutthanabun, president, MAI Development.

"We are delighted to be partnering with MAI Development," said Darren T. Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy. "MAI's commitment to solar thermal energy, strong track record in Thailand, and excellent governmental relations within Southeast Asia make the company an ideal partner for Sopogy."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Q-Cells to complete 60 MW project for Starwood Energy Group

BITTERFELD-WPLFEN, GERMANY: Q-Cells, one of the world’s largest photovoltaic companies, has been issued a full notice to proceed with construction activities of a 10 Megawatt project as final part of a combined 60 Megawatt project in Ontario, Canada. Q-Cells will implement this project on a turn–key basis for Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC, a private investment firm focused on energy infrastructure projects.

Investor of the project is Starwood SSM3, an affiliate of Starwood Energy Group Global. The Starwood SSM3 project builds on the success of Starwood SSM1, a 20MW AC project that came online in October 2010, and Starwood SSM2, a 30MW AC project expected to be completed during Q3 2011.

The solar plant Starwood SSM3 is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2011. Q-Cells acts as prime contractor as the company already did in case of the two preceding projects and on top of that delivers operations and maintenance services post-completion. The combined 60 MW AC project, when complete, will be the second largest in North America and among the largest in the world.

Starwood SSM3, once built, will provide power for up to 4,000 Ontario homes, generating its power predominantly during the middle of the day, a time of highest demand on the local power grid. The facility will also reduce yearly carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to displacing 1,900 cars and light trucks each driving 12,000 miles per year or to planting more than eight million trees in Ontario's forests.

"Our winning partnership with Starwood in Sault Ste. Marie exemplifies Q-Cells' unique offering in blending its leading and processes with local partnerships for the utility-scale market," said Marc van Gerven, MD of Q-Cells North America. "We look forward to rolling out our market strategy and offering for the commercial and residential markets with the same rate of success."

ARC Energy defends proprietary sapphire technology; countersues GT Solar for anticompetitive conduct

NASHUA, USA: Advanced RenewableEnergy Co. LLC (ARC Energy), a provider of innovative c-axis sapphire growth technologies and turnkey solutions for the LED industry, last week filed an Answer and Counterclaim in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Superior Court against GT Solar International, Inc. and various of its subsidiaries (GT Solar).

In its filing, ARC vigorously denies that any of ARC’s products or technologies make use of any proprietary GT Solar technology and has countersued GT Solar for anticompetitive conduct. ARC Energy’s Counterclaim asserts that GT Solar has made knowingly false and defamatory statements about ARC Energy’s business and products for the unlawful purpose of inhibiting sales of ARC Energy’s sapphire crystal growth system into the fast growing LED market.

Additionally, ARC states that GT Solar’s allegations are baseless and that ARC’s proprietary c-axis CHES sapphire technology is different from, and superior to, other sapphire growth technologies, including GT’s. ARC Energy’s technology for growing sapphire crystals on the c-axis affords several advantages over a-axis technologies. C-axis wafers are the optimum orientation for LED applications and c-axis growth leads to higher material utilization and lower overall costs compared with conventional technologies.

Daniel Lyman, ARC Energy’s secretary and general counsel said: “We must defend our right to continue to develop and deliver new and innovative technologies that have very real potential to help solve important energy problems worldwide. We must also defend the rights of our customers to choose the technologies and products best suited to give them an advantage in the marketplace.”

DelSolar completes largest solar installation at US Foodservice facility

GURGAON, INDIA: DelSolar Development USA, a subsidiary of DelSolar Co. Ltd., completed a 1.15 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project for US Foodservice in La Mirada, CA, which is currently the largest in a series of similar projects for the broadline food distributor.

The solar system installed at US Foodservice-Los Angeles, which was co-developed with SunExpress, utilized 4,998 pieces of DelSolar's D6P230A3E multi-crystalline 230Wp PV module. It included a 1,124 kW rooftop section, and two canopies of 16 kW and 10kW, which will together generate approximately 1,656,774 kWh/year, equivalent to the annual energy consumption of about 150 US homes.

"US Foodservice is committed to ensuring our company, products, services and partnerships make a credible, honest and robust contribution towards creating a sustainable economy," said Gene Steffes, division president, US Foodservice-Los Angeles. "We are safeguarding the environment, minimizing waste, conserving resources, recycling materials and providing customers with environmentally preferable products. The solar panel installation is both good for business and the right thing to do."

US Foodservice is one of America's leading foodservice distributors, providing the finest quality food and related products to more than 250,000 customers, including independent restaurants, government operations, healthcare and hospitality entities, educational institutions and prominent multi-unit restaurant companies.

Stephen Torres, director of DelSolar Development USA, added: "This is the largest PV Solar turn-key solution that DelSolar has completed in the North America, and the largest solar installation at any U.S. Foodservice facility. DelSolar continues to demonstrate its turn-key capabilities in large commercial and utility-scale projects, as well as the advantages of its vertically integrated solution model."

The project was partially funded thru the California Solar Initiative (CSI) incentive program. The La Mirada project created over 50 jobs in construction and installation related services, helping to foster the recovery of local economy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leading smart grid authorities share best practices, lessons learned and insight from China and India

PISCATAWAY, USA: IEEE, the world's largest professional association advancing technology for humanity, announced the July edition of the IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter, offering exclusive information on Smart Grid. The July issue of the IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter brings forth articles from international Smart Grid experts, sharing their insight, information and lessons learned:

* John McDonald, IEEE Fellow and Director of Technical Strategy and Policy Development for GE’s Digital Energy business, presents valuable lessons learned through Smart Grid field deployments, which practitioners can build upon to improve future project performance to achieve a smarter grid;

* China’s Approach to the Smart Grid is discussed by IEEE members Jinyu Wen, who leads the Smart Grid Operation & Control Research Group in the China State Key Laboratory of Advanced Electromagnetic Engineering and Technology, and Haibo He, who is a member of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island;

* In the article, What the Smart Grid Means—and Doesn’t Mean—for India, Rahul Tongia, principal research scientist at the Center for Study of Science, Technology, and Policy in, Bangalore, notes the nation’s unique grid requirements where the most important technologies will be those that help constrain peak demand and peak load growth at reasonable cost, while cutting losses. Dr. Tongia works closely with utilities in India and the Indian government on smart grid issues;

* The role of the Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse web portal is described by IEEE Fellow Saifur Rahman, who directs the Center for Energy and the Global Environment, and is editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy. His co-author is IEEE member Manisa Pipattanasomporn, an assistant professor at the Advanced Research Institute working on multiple research grants from the US National Science Foundation, the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Energy on topics related to smart grid and microgrids.

Due to increasing demand in Mainland China, polysilicon price continues to rise

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend’s latest survey, polysilicon spot price trend remains going upward. Currently, the main trading price is between $53/kg and $55/kg.

Manufacturers indicated that the polysilicon spot price has shown a strong increase, primarily due to the rising Chinese market demand. On the other hand, electricity shortage occurred in Eastern China, and the industrial sector may be influenced in the future. Therefore, polysilion production output might be limited, which will also stimulate the Chinese market demand.

In addition, due to high demand for mono-Si wafer, the average spot price has stayed at above $2.6/piece. Furthermore, the main trading price of multi-Si wafer is between $2.0/piece and $2.1/piece. Although manufacturers pointed out that they wished their clients could share the reduced profit due to current market situation, clients refuse to accept price increase at this stage. Unless a large number of contingent orders take place, the possibility of price recovery is quite low. Therefore, the price changes may just fluctuate slightly in the short run.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

According EnergyTrend, the average price of polysilicon has increased by 4.81 percent to $53.73/kg. The average prices of multi-Si wafer and mono-Si wafer have respectively risen by 1.16 percent and 0.19 percent to $2.014/piece and $2.631/piece. On the other hand, the spot price of solar price has shown a slight change as well. Due to the increasing demand for high conversion efficiency product, the sales price has stayed at a high level.

However, for products of which conversion efficiency is below 16.5 percent, the trading price ranges from $0.78/Watt to $0.8/Watt, and average price has risen by 0.38 percent to $0.784/Watt. Furthermore, the average price of module has merely declined by 0.39 percent to $1.288/Watt. Manufacturers indicated that the inventory clearance is still in process, the demand has not obviously picked up yet. Therefore, the price trend reversal is still simmering.

According to current market situation, oversupply remains. Since GCL and OCI have announced that they will follow through the original expansion plans, the total combined annual capacity will increase from 4.8K to 8.8K tons, which equal to 1.7 pieces of 6” Si wafer (200μm) or equal to 6.8 GW solar cell.

In addition, due to low sales price, Si wafer manufacturers will face the net loss. Under this circumstance, Si wafer manufacturers will mix low grade material to reduce production cost, so the regular polysilicon shipment is lower than what would have been required.

EnergyTrend believes that the polysilicon oversupply might happen in the future, and the price will be further adjusted. Hence downstream manufacturers might benefit from decreased polysilicon price. However, as for Taiwanese polysilicon manufacturers, whose capacity scale and cost competiveness are generally inferior less than those of Chinese, Korean, and other international giants, so they might face a more serious challenge when the price adjustment of polysilicon takes place.

Suntech extends limited product warranty to 10 years

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar photovoltaic panels, has extended the limited product warranty for defects in materials and workmanship for its standard product offering from five to 10 years. With the new warranty extension, Suntech reaffirms its commitment to providing valuable customer support for its residential, commercial, industrial, and utility customers globally. The new extended warranty is applicable for all standard panels shipped out after April 1st, 2011.

"Solar panels are a long-term investment, and our customers want to work with a bankable partner that will stand behind its products," remarked Andrew Beebe, Suntech's chief commercial officer. "Suntech's extension of the limited product warranty minimizes performance risk for our customers, and will ultimately help to drive down the levelized cost of solar electricity for consumers, reaffirming our commitment to our customers."

In addition to the limited product warranty, all of Suntech's photovoltaic standard modules come with an industry-leading 25-year power output warranty that warrants 6.7 percent more power than the standard industry warranty. In addition, Suntech solar panels feature 0 percent/5 percent positive power tolerance, which means that they will meet or exceed their nameplate power capacity, compared to the industry standard of -3 percent/+3 percent power tolerance. Suntech solar panels are built to withstand all weather conditions.

Banks, investors, and customers welcome the new warranty terms, as it further strengthens Suntech's commitment to product quality and to improving the value of solar installations.

United Solar reaches 16.3 percent efficiency with nano-crystalline technology

AUBURN HILLS, USA: United Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD) and a leading global manufacturer of light-weight, flexible thin-film solar modules, announced that it has achieved a world record efficiency of 16.3 percent for thin-film silicon solar technology.

This achievement is higher than the previous record of 15.4 percent, also reached by United Solar. United Solar attained a small-area (0.25 cm2) initial cell efficiency of 16.3 percent using a triple-junction structure incorporating the recently patented Nano-Crystalline silicon technology.

The cells will be sent to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), an official US Department of Energy laboratory, for independent testing and confirmation. Earlier this year, United Solar announced that NREL had confirmed that the company's Nano-Crystalline technology achieves 12 percent initial conversion efficiency in a large-area encapsulated cell (400 cm2), also a world-record for thin-film silicon solar technology.

"This represents another substantial milestone for the company as we continue to develop our technology through a focus on conversion efficiency," said Jay Knoll, Interim president of Energy Conversion Devices, United Solar's parent company. "Our core technology can now reach conversion efficiencies of 16.3 percent in the lab, an increase from 15.4 percent, leading the way in thin-film silicon technology development."

The results will be reported at the Intersolar North America Conference in San Francisco, California by Dr. Subhendu Guha, Chairman of United Solar, on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at the session on "Thin-Film – Technological Advancements."

Dr. Subhendu Guha named chairman emeritus of United Solar

AUBURN HILLS, USA: Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD), the global leader in flexible, lightweight solar products and systems, announced that Dr. Subhendu Guha has been named Chairman Emeritus of United Solar, ECD's wholly owned subsidiary, effective July 15, 2011.

Dr. Guha, 69, who was previously chairman of United Solar, has served ECD for 30 years. In this new role, Dr. Guha will focus his attention on research and development activities to advance the company's technology roadmap.

"Subhendu Guha is an industry pioneer and has been the driving force of United Solar for many years," said Jay Knoll, Interim president of Energy Conversion Devices. "We are pleased to accommodate his request to reshape his role and turn over his administrative responsibilities to our next generation of technology leaders, all of whom Subhendu has mentored. We are confident in this group and excited that Subhendu has committed to continue with us in his new role both as a counselor and technologist."

"I am excited by the opportunity to return to the lab and focus my attention on advancing the company's technology," said Dr. Guha. "We have a dedicated team of world-class technologists and an achievable technology roadmap that will enhance our laminate efficiency and overall competitiveness. I have confidence in our core group of leaders to achieve our technology goals, and I look forward to working with them."

Effective July 15, 2011, the company's PV technology group will be led by Jeffrey Yang, Ph.D., 66, who has been appointed senior VP of Technology. Dr. Yang has 33 years experience with ECD, primarily as a leader of the solar R&D lab. A pre-eminent researcher and scholar in the field of thin-film silicon photovoltaics, he has been instrumental in the company's pioneering research activities, including setting multiple world records in cell conversion efficiencies.

Dr. Yang has published more than 250 papers in scientific journals and international conferences and is a co-inventor on more than 20 patents.

SEMI publishes new PV standard for silicon feedstock

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: SEMI announced a new standard to specify silicon feedstock for photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing. SEMI PV17-0611 covers virgin silicon feedstock materials produced by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) processes, metallurgical refining processes, or other processes.

CVD processes include the so-called “Siemens process,” fluidized bed processes, powder processes, and other processes using distilled silane or halosilane compounds. These specified materials are intended for growing of single crystalline ingots and casting, or other methods of growing multicrystalline Si, used for producing Si wafers for solar cells.

There are now a total of 17 published SEMI Standards for photovoltaics manufacturing, and there are over 25 additional PV standardization efforts underway. Since 2007, over 400 PV industry experts in more than 20 task forces have developed and published SEMI PV standards covering equipment, materials, and test methods used in crystalline cell, module and thin-film manufacturing processes.

SEMI PV17-0611: Specification for virgin silicon feedstock materials for PV apps
The increasing number of players in the market for PV silicon feedstock materials has introduced a wide variety of material grades— which require considerable efforts from both suppliers and end users to achieve a common understanding of the material specifications, as well as the impacts of the different materials on the quality and performance of the resulting PV product.

SEMI PV17 specifies the feedstock materials to be used for growing silicon ingots, creating a well-defined reference in a growing market by reducing many individual specifications to the four categories defined in the standard. It also defines the terms used, which will minimize misunderstandings between supplier and user. The standard also will help to reduce variations of material quality.

“The SEMI Standards PV Silicon Materials Task Force developed this standardized specification for solar grade feedstock materials, which will allow manufacturers to produce consistent silicon solar cells,” said James Amano, senior director, SEMI Standards and EHS, “We are pleased that the specification received input from major polysilicon suppliers from around the world. Industry consensus is very important to the standards development process.”

By using this specification, polysilicon and cell manufacturers can specify chemical (donor concentration), dimensional (chunk, rod, bricks), and packaging characteristics on their purchase orders for feedstock materials. In addition, PV17-0611 also lists the test methods to validate the specified characteristics.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lux Research ranks energy storage suppliers for electric vehicles

BOSTON, USA: The hype around electric vehicles has fueled interest in energy storage technologies, and has attracted an increasing number of competitors to an already crowded market. Soon, it will be impossible for all of these companies to survive, making strong partnerships a necessity.

In its latest report, Lux Research ranks technology developers in both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors on the Lux Innovation Grid to help determine which will make the strongest potential partners as the electric vehicle market matures.

The report, titled “Using Partnerships to Stay Afloat in the Electric Vehicle Storm,” maps the current web of relationships among energy storage developers, integrators, and automakers, and analyzes supply and demand for energy storage in electric vehicles. It then ranks companies on the Lux Innovation Grid, a proprietary framework to help readers assess the relative performance of potential partners.

“The electric vehicle value chain is growing so integrated that battery makers must have strong partnerships with one or more automakers,” said Kevin See, a Lux Analyst and the report’s lead author. “These relationships are necessary to build credibility and drive new business, as illustrated by Li-ion battery-maker LG Chem, whose strong partnerships propelled it to the top position in our rankings.”

To assess the partnership potential of energy storage developers targeting the electric vehicle market, Lux Research assigned scores for each company’s technical value, business execution, and maturity. Based on these scores, analysts plotted each company’s relative potential on the Lux Innovation Grid, which comprises four quadrants: Dominant, High-Potential, Long-Shot, and Undistinguished. Among the report’s highlights:

* LG Chem Power leads the Li-ion battery-maker pack. LG Chemical subsidiary LG Chem Power sits atop the grid’s Dominant quadrant, with strong technical value, due to its high-energy lithium-manganese-spinel-based cells and strong cycle life – at costs that are among the most competitive in the market. Its multitude of supply partnerships with the likes of GM, Eaton, and Ford, however, are what justify the company’s strong business execution score.

* A123 and Ener1 garner more headlines than momentum. Media darlings A123 and Ener1 land well out of the Dominant quadrant of the Lux Innovation Grid. Motivated by the potential for major automotive supply deals, both were originally building significant manufacturing capacity. But despite a few minor partnerships, neither has scored a major deal that will drive significant revenue.

* Among supercapacitor suppliers, Maxwell stands alone. Maxwell leads the Dominant quadrant of the Lux Innovation Grid for supercapacitors. Its high score for technical value derives from cost competitiveness and strong device performance, while its high business execution score stems from multiple partnerships – among them, supply deals for applications including hybrid buses and micro-hybrids, and more recently in starter modules for commercial diesel vehicles.

“Using Partnerships to Stay Afloat in the Electric Vehicle Storm,” is part of the Lux Electric Vehicles Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Electric Vehicles Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.

Suntech launches two high-performance solar products in the Americas

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, has launched two new high-performance solar panels immediately available for purchase in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Both products deliver higher power outputs and provide a superior levelized cost of solar electricity for Suntech customers.

The first product, Suntech's HiPerforma 245 watt (W) module for residential, commercial, and utility-scale electricity generation, utilizes Suntech's advanced Pluto cell processing technology, which features a proprietary metallization process that reduces shading on the cell surface and allows cells to absorb more sunlight to generate more electricity.

The second product, the new Suntech 290W Vd Series module for utility-scale electricity generation, utilizes Suntech's SuperPoly processing technology, a superior silicon casting and wafering process that produces higher-quality multicrystalline wafers. The improved wafer enables higher power output and strong resistance to light-induced degradation.

"These advanced solar technologies represent major steps forward in our mission to drive down the cost of solar electricity generation," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder and CEO. "Our R&D investments have grown from $15 million in 2008, to $29 million in 2009, and $40 million in 2010. Our team's 450 full-time global R&D professionals are working around the world to provide our customers with superior, high-performance solar products for every application."

Suntech HiPerforma 245W module with Pluto cell processing technology
Suntech's new 245W HiPerforma multicrystalline module utilizes Suntech's advanced Pluto cell processing technology, inspired by the PERL (Passivated Emitter Rear Locally Diffused) technology developed by the University of New South Wales in Australia, which holds the world record for silicon solar cell conversion efficiency at 25 percent.

The revolutionary Pluto cell processing technology features a proprietary front surface metallization process that creates grid contacts thinner than 30 microns wide, about a quarter the size of traditional screen-printed cells. These ultra-thin metal lines – made primarily of copper instead of silver – reduce shading on the cell surface, allowing the cells to absorb more sunlight and generate more electricity. Suntech's advanced Pluto cell processing technology improves solar cell efficiency by up to 10 percent compared to traditional screen-printed solar cells.

The advanced Pluto cell processing technology confers performance advantages to all types of silicon substrates – a unique capability among most advanced solar cell technologies – that allows Suntech to produce high-performance solar cells and modules with different types of multicrystalline and monocrystalline wafers. In 2009, Suntech set two world records for multicrystalline module conversion efficiency, independently verified by the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems in Germany.

This new 60-cell HiPerforma 245W multicrystalline module offers the following benefits to customers:
* Expected to generate 2-5 percent more power per watt peak (kWh/kWp) over time, due to a superior spectral response and high shunt resistance;
* Suntech's industry-leading 25-year power output warranty, with 0/+5 percent positive power tolerance that warrants 6.7% more power than the standard industry warranty; and
* Built to withstand all weather conditions, including 3.800 N/m2 (~270 km/h) wind load and 5.400 N/m2 (~55 kg/m2) snow loads, above IEC standard requirements. The product meets or exceeds UL1703, IEC 61215, and IEC 61730 standards.

"Trinity Solar applauds Suntech's introduction of the Pluto product line to the US," said Ed Merrick, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Trinity Solar, a leading designer and integrator of solar electric systems in New Jersey.

"Suntech's HiPerforma 245W module with Pluto cell processing technology nicely fills the wattage gap that exists today between 235W and 270W modules. Our preliminary view is that this multi-use product, usable on both residential and commercial installations, will translate into a reduction in balance-of-systems costs, a reduction in inventory levels, and allow us to compete more effectively as we drive to grid parity. We are thankful for Suntech's continued innovation and look forward to bringing their new and improved products to our customers."

"Now that our Pluto cell processing technology has reached large-scale production, we're excited to offer this new multicrystalline module in North and South America," said Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech's CTO as well as director of the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics, at the University of New South Wales in Australia. "This advanced cell technology was designed specifically to work well with different grades of silicon wafers, providing Suntech the flexibility to develop competitive products for all major market segments. Given the Pluto cell processing technology's advantages, we're rapidly scaling-up production capacity and targeting to enter 2012 with 450MW running at full utilization."

Suntech 290W Vd-series module with SuperPoly silicon processing technology
Suntech's new 290W Vd-Series multicrystalline module utilizes advanced silicon ingot casting techniques commercialized internally along with the expansion of Suntech's internal silicon wafer production capacity. With this enhanced product, Suntech has successfully commercialized a laboratory silicon casting technology that produces high-quality multicrystalline wafers using modified multicrystalline casting equipment. In addition to higher power output, the technology achieves lower oxygen content for multicrystalline wafers leading to strong resistance to light-induced degradation.

The 72-cell multicrystalline product comes with Suntech's industry-leading 25-year power output warranty, with 0/+5 percent positive power tolerance, that warrants 6.7 percent more power than the standard industry warranty. In addition, the modules are built to withstand all weather conditions including 3,800 N/m2 (~270 km/h) wind load and 5,400 N/m2 (~55 kg/m2) snow loads, above IEC standard requirements. The product meets or exceeds UL1703, IEC 61215, and IEC 61730 standards.

"Backed by Suntech's industry-leading warranty, the new Suntech 290W multicrystalline module achieves higher conversion efficiencies compared to conventional multicrystalline wafers," said Dr. Stuart Wenham. "Our Vd-Series multicrystalline module has been one of our best-selling products for many years, and these are the types of incremental innovations that empower our customers to achieve a lower levelized cost of electricity."

Both of Suntech America's new products will be on public display for the first time at Intersolar San Francisco, at Suntech's Booth #8722, from July 12th to July 14th.

Solar3D optimizing 3-dimensional solar cell design for low-cost mass production

SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, announced that it is consulting with outside manufacturing experts to optimize the prototype design for low-cost mass production.

Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, said: “Creating a solar cell that is significantly more efficient than current technology is only half of our mission. It is essential that we make it as inexpensively as possible. The use of experts from the outside has helped us make slight modifications to the design that will save significant operating and capital expense.”

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

“We are still ahead of schedule and making progress faster than anticipated,” continued Nelson. “By optimizing the prototype design in the early stages, we save time and money as we move into the production phase of our plan next year. As a result, we believe we will be able to contribute significantly to the industry’s pursuit of the SunShot initiative outlined by Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, to bring the cost of solar electricity to grid parity.”

AEG Power Solutions intros Protect PV.500 solar inverter in US

Intersolar North America 2011, DALLAS, USA: AEG Power Solutions (AEG PS), a global provider of innovative premium power electronics, is highlighting its high-efficiency, full-featured utility-scale inverter at Intersolar North America. Launched in Europe and Asia in April, the Protect PV.500 Inverter – with an efficiency greater than 98 percent and flexible grid management features – is ideal for utility-scale deployment. AEG Power Solutions is a subsidiary of listed holding company 3W Power (Euronext Amsterdam 3WP, Frankfurt 3W9, ISIN GG00B39QCR01, WKN A0Q5SX).

"As grid requirements vary from project to project, the Protect PV.500 is designed so that changes can be made easily," said Kaivon Mortazavi, VP of North America for AEG PS. "With four different ways to provide reactive power control, adjustable settings for Low Voltage Fault Ride Through, provisionable ramp parameters for start and stop operations, and remote power control, its flexibility is unmatched."

The Protect PV.500 has an operating direct current (DC) input range of 400 to 1000 V with a maximum DC current of 1,060 A. The rated power at the inverter output contactor is 510 kVA with a power factor of 0.9 inductive to 0.9 capacitive. It is also available as part of a fully integrated 1 MW equipment shelter with two Protect PV.500 inverters, communications equipment, MV transformer and switchgear. The two inverters can be set up in Copain mode where they operate as a highly-efficient team.

Derived from the highly successful PV.250, the Protect PV.500 features a power stack with advanced-design measuring and control technology. The device control is fully digital and communication-enabled, so parameters can also be monitored and controlled remotely via the Internet. AEG PS products include such features as low-loss chokes, high-quality components and double coating of all printed circuit boards (PCBs) making them reliable for decades to come.

"Building on our successful inverter business in Europe, we are pleased to present the Protect PV.500 in the United States," explains Enrique De La Cruz, VP and GM of Solar Solutions SBU at AEG PS. "We offer solar plant developers reliable, high efficiency inverters for a flexible design of MW utility-scale power plants."

Monday, July 11, 2011

SUNGEN supplies highest quality modules

HONG KONG: SUNGEN, headquartered in Hong Kong, is a fully owned subsidiary of the ANWELL Group, a Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) list corporation specializing in high precision equipment used for large scale manufacturing production. ANWELL was founded in 2000 and hires more than 3000 employees across the globe and has more than 500 IPs in the group. To date, it has sold equipment and products to more than 60 countries around the world. When you buy a recordable optical disc in the market, it is very likely that was manufactured by an Anwell.

SUNGEN was formed in 2007 is now one of the world's leaders in amorphous silicon thin film manufacturing. It employs ANWELL's proprietary product technology with a current production capacity of 150MW and growing to over 1GW in 2013. SUNGEN has regional offices in Australia, China, Europe, India, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, South-East Asia and the USA.

SUNGEN is a vertically integrated company providing turnkey solutions to the PV industry; including equipment design and build, solar modules and systems. Our global presence ensures that we can provide around the clock service to our customers. Our silicon thin-film modules are manufactured by our factory in An Yang, China with a fully automatic production system.

Silicon thin film was invented in 1975 with the state of the art semiconductor technology. The earliest solar farm with silicon thin film models has been operating successfully for more than 27 years. Compared to crystalline modules and other thin film technologies, there are several unique advantages for thin film silicon solar panel which results in more power generation each year:

* The thermal coefficient of thin film silicon is less than half of the conventional silicon modules which delivers better power performance during high temperatures.
* The weak light effect of silicon thin films allows it to generate power when the light intensity is low (i.e. working earlier in the morning and until later in the afternoon).
* Thin film is the only thin film technology that is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
* It consumes far less energy in the production process than convention crystalline silicon modules.
* Thin film silicon module is less sensitive to shadow which makes it perfect for BIPV and roof top installations.
* The micro texture on the TCO film diffuses the light into the film which make thin film silicon less sensitive to mounting angle.

By 2012, SUNGEN will offer tandem modules with aSi as a top cell and ucSi as a bottom cell which can produce up to 160W per module. The aSi top cell converts the visible lights into electricity while the bottom cell converts the infrared component of the solar spectrum into electricity. This will maximize the conversion efficiency leading to higher power module capacity. SUNGEN believes silicon thin film systems will be able to reach grid party in most countries of the world before 2015.