Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RASIRC relocates to larger facility

SAN DIEGO, USA: RASIRC, the steam purification company, has relocated its global operations to a significantly larger facility. The new 19,500 square foot space includes a class 1,000 cleanroom for manufacturing products for the photovoltaic industry. RASIRC products deliver ultra-pure water vapor for semiconductor, photovoltaics, nanotechnology, and other manufacturing applications.

“Rapid growth in RASIRC products required a new facility to handle higher volumes,” said Jeffrey Spiegelman, RASIRC founder and president. “This expansion allows us to handle the increased production and doubles our R&D lab space.”

RASIRC is experiencing continued growth in demand for its products, particularly Steamers for photovoltaic passivation films for the solar industry and humidity control for semiconductor manufacturing. In the solar industry, RASIRC products deliver ultra-pure steam that is needed to form oxidation layers that improve solar energy capture efficiency.

In addition, steam can be used in conjunction with phosphorous or boron doping to improve the emitter profile. For the semiconductor industry, ultra-pure steam is used for generating oxide films on semiconductor wafers in diffusion and rapid thermal processing. Additional uses include wafer cleaning of next generation films and atomic layer deposition for high K layers. RASIRC reduces costs, improves quality, and dramatically improves safety associated with these applications.

"RASIRC has grown rapidly over the last five years," said Spiegelman. “The transition from an R&D to a manufacturing company is demonstrated by the increase in our orders from both new and repeat customers. The market validation of our products has enabled us to move into a new and larger facility, significantly increase staffing levels, and enabling us to fund development of further innovation.”

The new RASIRC address is 7815 Silverton Avenue, San Diego, CA 92126.

Enphase installations outperforming PVWatts estimates by 8 percent

PETALUMA, USA: Enphase Energy released results from a field performance study demonstrating that Enphase installations on average perform 8 percent higher than their PVWatts calculator predictions.

Also introduced is a performance estimation tool in Enlighten, Enphase’s web-based monitoring and analysis software. This new feature allows installers to more accurately analyze the performance of their Enphase installations. Both are part of an expanding Enphase effort to enhance installers’ and system owners’ understandings of microinverter technology and the factors affecting PV system performance.

Field performance study
The study examined energy production data from over 143 Enphase systems installed by Real Goods Solar, Solar Universe and Astrum Solar in California and the Eastern US. This data was compared to performance forecasts generated by the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) PVWatts calculator, based on geographic location, system design factors and product specifications for each installation. PVWatts is the leading performance forecasting tool for residential and small commercial solar applications.

The results show that Enphase installations on average outperform PVWatts by 8 percent, with a majority of sites outperforming by 10 percent or more. A review of similar published PVWatts studies, such as the 2009 study authored by Gostein, et al., indicates that solar installations using traditional central inverters actually underperform PVWatts estimates by 8 percent on average. When considered together, these results indicate that Enphase Microinverters can improve the performance of solar installations by 16 percent on average.

“Enphase Microinverters increase energy production versus standard inverter technology, and this study further confirms it,” said Raghu Belur, VP of products and co-founder of Enphase Energy. “This level of superior system performance is one of the key benefits of the Enphase Microinverter System enjoyed by system owners.”

Enlighten performance estimation tool
This new Enlighten enhancement allows installers to register solar energy system design information, such as location, azimuth, tilt, module type and additional parameters, in order to generate the corresponding PVWatts production estimation right in Enlighten.

“Integrating estimation tools into Enlighten provides a whole new dimension of information for our installers,” added Belur. “By adding integration with estimation calculators such as the PVWatts system, we’ve enabled our installers to hone their estimates and provide the most accurate and informed recommendations to their customers.”

Applied Materials announces breakthrough system to drive next wave of solar manufacturing

SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Materials Inc. announced its new Applied Baccini®Pegaso solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing platform that enables customers to bring their novel, high-efficiency cell designs into mass production.

The Pegaso platform fabricates electrical circuits on both sides of a solar cell - a process that includes multiple screen-printed metallization steps, metrology and sorting. Advancing the state-of-the-art in cell manufacturing, the breakthrough Pegaso system delivers high yield and cell output - over 20 million solar cells per year - at the lowest overall cost-per-watt of any cell manufacturing system available.

"We are very impressed with Applied's Baccini Pegaso technology. The system is producing the highest efficiency cells with the lowest breaking ratio of any cell line in our facility, at high throughput and with consistently high yield," said Dr. Wen-Whe Pan, president of Gintech Energy Corporation. "Our customers are also very pleased with the production samples we've produced using the Applied Pegaso system and we're looking forward to continuing our partnership with Applied into the future." Gintech Energy Corp., located in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan, is one of the largest solar cell manufacturers in the world.

Key to the Pegaso platform's groundbreaking performance are its proprietary "smart" technologies that bring a new level of precision and control to the cell manufacturing process. The system's adaptive wafer-handling mechanism, based on planar motor technology, shuttles wafers between two independent tracks to optimize wafer output and enable continued operation during maintenance.

The revolutionary Pegaso-XPTM dual print head incorporates a sophisticated closed-loop metrology system that adjusts printing parameters "on-the-fly" from wafer to wafer to achieve near micron-level accuracy and repeatability for fully optimized cell performance.

"The next wave of cost-per-watt reduction in the solar PV industry will be achieved through major changes in cell technology and manufacturing sophistication to simultaneously improve efficiency and factory output," said Dr. Mark Pinto, executive VP and GM of Applied's Energy and Environmental Solutions Group. "We're honored that a technology leader such as Gintech Energy has chosen Applied's Baccini Pegaso technology to accelerate its cell efficiency roadmap."

Importantly, the Pegaso platform features "future-proof" modular architecture that enables customers to rapidly add modules for additional processing capability. This can reduce the time, cost and risk of implementing emerging cell technologies, such as advanced back contact and selective emitter schemes. The Pegaso system is also backed by Applied Global Services, the largest and most comprehensive support capability to the crystalline silicon solar industry.

Increasing pressure from downstream to lower price, polysilicon price unstable

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, polysilicon price is beginning to show signs of relaxation, with some manufacturers already quoting prices lower than $50/kg. This development is unsurprising; wafer and cell makers all experienced losses in Q2, according to the released quarter’s financial reports. As a result, pressure from downstream wafer and cell makers to lower price increases daily. Si wafer price for Q4 is estimated at $48-45/kg, and cell manufacturers are expecting wafer price to range from $1.9 to 1.85/piece.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

As market demand has been weaker than expected, downstream makers’ demand for spot goods has decreased significantly as well, putting immense pressure on spot price. Although the mainstream spot price of polysilicon remains at the $50/kg threshold, some manufacturers have already quoted $47/kg. Thus, EnergyTrend believes that it is highly likely that the average price of polysilicon for September will fall below $50/kg. This week’s average concluded polysilicon price was $50.5/kg, a decrease of 1.14 percent.

As for mono-Si wafers, since mono-Si wafer capacity still does not exceed that of multi-Si and its market demand is relatively stable, first-tier manufacturers’ price quotes remain the same. However, second and third-tier manufacturers’ price quotes have decreased, in turn lowering this week’s ASP to $2.592/piece, a 1.07 percent decrease. With regard to multi-Si wafers, Si wafer manufacturers are already experiencing tremendous pressure from downstream clients to lower price.

While first-tier manufacturers like SAS and GET have maintained $2/piece pricing, second-tier manufacturers’ prices have already slid to approximately $1.95/piece this week. Multi-Si ASP for this week was $1.958/piece, a 1.95 percent decrease. EnergyTrend expects that first-tier manufacturers will be unable to hold on to $2/piece pricing; Si wafer manufacturers will face a grim challenge on their performance in 3Q11.

In terms of cells and modules, according to EnergyTrend, first-tier manufacturers’ capacity remains at satisfactory levels, but price quotes continue to fluctuate due to the less-than-expected market demand. EnergyTrend’s survey indicates that this week’s cell and module prices show a slight decline, with cell ASP at $0.748/watt and module ASP at $1.188/watt, representing decreases of 0.13 percent and 2.38 percent, respectively.

Looking towards 3Q11, EnergyTrend indicates that in terms of profit, the situation appears bleak for wafer and cell manufacturers. Unless polysilicon price decreases significantly, thus allowing clients to lower production costs, the majority of wafer and cell manufacturers will be unable to avoid losses in 3Q11.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Linde to boost nitrogen production at Ohio air separation plant

MURRAY HILL & NEW PROVIDENCE, USA: Linde North America, through one of its US affiliates, will upgrade its supply network in the US Midwest by significantly increasing production at its Delta, Ohio, air separation plant.

Linde North America, a member of The Linde Group, a world-leading gases and engineering company, will add a 575 ton per day nitrogen liquefier, which will capture spare molecules the plant is already producing. The liquefier will have the latest in design technology from Linde Engineering to ensure it uses the least amount of electricity possible.

“Adding this liquefier is a major step in Linde’s modernization goal of making our national network of plants more reliable, sustainable and energy efficient,” said Pat Murphy, president of Linde North America. “This kind of continuous improvement helps Linde provide customers with the products they need to keep their businesses operating at peak performance.”

The liquefier is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2013. It will replace existing nitrogen production from an older Linde air separation plant in the Midwest.

The Delta plant has been operating since 1997, supplying oxygen and argon by pipeline to two adjacent steel producers, and by truck to hospitals and to industrial customers such as welding shops and foundries throughout Ohio. Delta’s liquid nitrogen will be delivered by tanker truck to customers in the food processing, metals, chemicals and automotive industries.

The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 49,100 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2010 financial year, it achieved sales of EUR 12.9 billion ($17.9 billion). The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services.

OPEL Technologies connects in new ways on the web

SHELTON, USA & TORONTO, CANADA: OPEL Technologies Inc., a leading global supplier of high concentration photovoltaic solar panels and solar tracker systems and a semiconductor developer announces that it offers some new ways for shareholders and customers to connect with the company on the web.

Interested parties can find OPEL on three Internet websites.
1) For OPEL Technologies Inc. a new website is launched at
2) For OPEL Solar Inc. the website remains the same at or
3( For ODIS Inc. a new website is launched at

The new websites are under development; so over time more enhancements that showcase the extraordinary work of our companies will continue. Visitors to any of the websites can connect to all of the company websites, as they are linked for ease of navigation.

As previously stated, the purpose of the name changes is to better reflect the two distinct segments of the company's businesses and to avoid confusion caused by the former name only reflecting the solar side of the business.

"The name change to OPEL Technologies better exemplifies the scope of our expanding company. The organization has exhibited significant growth and recognition in each of its distinct business divisions, and it is important to establish a parent company that captures each group's mission as they gain momentum and growth in the future," says Leon M. Pierhal, OPEL's CEO.

OPEL is committed to providing the most up-to-date Company information to customers, shareholders and all interested parties as accomplishments occur and contribute to the successful growth of the businesses.

Real Goods Solar intros PowerSavings plan

SAN RAFAEL, USA: National solar powerhouse Real Goods Solar recently introduced new financing and purchasing options available to homeowners throughout California and Colorado that offer all of the benefits of solar power typically with no upfront investment.

The new Real Goods Solar PowerSavings Plan provides flexibility that makes going solar easier and more affordable then ever before. Unlike other power purchase programs currently on the market, it gives homeowners an affordable option to own the system after six years. A typical homeowner can now add solar to their home for no money down and pay less monthly than their current electric bill.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), while solar energy use is on the rise in the United States, it still makes up less than 1 percent of total energy produced. Cost is often cited as one of the key reasons US consumers are resistant to embracing renewable energy. Growing awareness about proven, off-the-shelf technology concerns about rising fossil fuel costs, energy security and supplies, coupled with Real Goods' new PowerSavings Plan, mean that deployment of solar energy will likely expand significantly in the country.

"It is more affordable than ever for homeowners to go green with solar power," said John Schaeffer, founder residential president of Real Goods Solar, "By having options that allow residential customers to live a more sustainable lifestyle with solar power with zero cash outlay, we are eliminating cost as a hurdle for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and their dependence on fossil fuels. With lower utility bills and zero money down, going solar is a no brainer."

Monday, August 29, 2011

8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar sign generation interconnection agreements (GIA) with Imperial Irrigation District (IID) for 355 MW of solar PV power

FOLSOM, USA: 8minutenergy Renewables, which holds the second largest solar PV portfolio in California and in the United States, and its partner Gestamp Solar, a top five global solar developer, announced that they have signed a Generation Interconnection Agreement (GIA), with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) for 355 Megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar PV power.

8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar's five joint projects, comprising 355 MW, have successfully completed IID's Transitional Cluster Phase I and Facility Study phases and are ready for construction.

One of the first solar PV GIA's signed in Imperial Valley, California, the agreement sets in motion a series of major investments by 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar to a quarter billion dollar upgrade of the IID power network, which will bring much needed jobs and revenues to the region. 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar's first five joint projects are expected to create more than 1,000 construction and 55 permanent jobs in Imperial County.

Over the life of 8minutenergy's 12 total solar farm projects in the Imperial Valley, the ongoing fiscal and economic benefits are projected to produce: $2.3 billion in total economic output, 240 new jobs, $1.5 billion in direct expenditures, $50 million in additional property taxes, and a $12.3 million net fiscal impact on the general fund.

"The approval of GIAs is an important milestone for 8minutenergy, Imperial County and the state of California," said Martin Hermann, CEO of 8minutenergy. "This agreement represents two years of effort by our team, our partner Gestamp Solar, and many other parties. We thank the IID and county representatives of the Imperial Valley, for their support in helping to bring clean energy to the people of southern California."

The first of 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solars' joint projects is the Chocolate Mountains Solar Farm, a 50 MW utility-scale solar PV farm that will generate enough clean, safe, reliable electricity to power over 25,000 households. The company expects Commercial Operation Dates (COD) for Chocolate Mountains and its Calipatria II solar PV farms in the next 15 months.

Construction, commissioning and synchronizing to begin transmitting energy to the grid are projected for the fourth quarter of 2012 or early 2013. All 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar projects are considered in-state resources and are located on disturbed, low-productivity and irrigated farmland.

"As of today, less than ten percent of all renewable energy projects in the state's pipeline have attained a GIA," added Tom Buttgenbach, President of 8minutenergy. "This agreement confirms the validity of our approach, and further cements the viability of 8minutenergy's portfolio."

"Gestamp Solar is excited that its projects with 8minutenergy have obtained the GIA," stated Pablo Otin, VP and US country manager for Gestamp Solar. "We look forward to spearheading the engineering, construction, procurement and operations for the five projects, and to transmitting power soon."

"IID is pleased that 8minutenergy is demonstrating its commitment to Imperial County through the development of a number of new solar generation facilities, and helping fund the necessary build-out of IID's transmission facilities," commented John Pierre Menvielle, VP, IIID Board of Directors. "8minutenergy's investment will confirm Imperial County's position as the preferred location for renewable energy development in the Southwest, and IID's position of leadership in developing the infrastructure necessary to deliver renewable energy to major population centers."

"GIA approval for 8minutenergy's projects marks a major step in bringing new jobs and a sustainable utility-scale solar PV export industry to the people of Imperial Valley," said Gary Wyatt, Imperial County Supervisor, District 4.

8minutenergy has assembled one of the largest preconstruction development teams focused exclusively on utility-scale solar PV projects in California, with 50 people working on its portfolio, including over 20 in-house industry experts. Their proprietary processes cover the entire spectrum of preconstruction development for utility-scale solar PV projects -- from power grid analysis, land site selection and development, to selecting technologies for engineering.

These unique processes identify optimal sites and validate them for economic viability and permitting. By communicating with all concerned parties throughout the process, 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar minimize potential obstacles.

Friday, August 26, 2011

SunPeak selects Suntech for 23MW power plant in Southern California

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, has been selected by SunPeak Solar, LLC, a California-based, privately-owned solar energy project developer, to supply 28.7MW (DC) of solar panels for a 23MW (AC) solar power plant in Niland, California.

SunPeak Solar's subsidiary Imperial Valley Solar Company (IVSC) 1, LLC will oversee the project's construction including the installation of about 100,000 units of Suntech's 285/290W Vd-Series modules with advanced SuperPoly silicon processing technology.

The SuperPoly technology produces high-quality silicon ingots and wafers using modified multicrystalline silicon casting equipment that improves module performance by up to 10 percent. The 72-cell Vd-Series module comes with Suntech's industry-leading 25-year power output warranty - including 0/+5 percent positive power tolerance - that warrants 6.7 percent more power than the standard industry warranty. The product meets UL1703, IEC 61215, and IEC 61730 standards.

Constructed on a 123-acre lot located adjacent to the Imperial Irrigation District's (IID) Niland electric substation and natural gas turbine facilities, the solar power plant will generate enough energy to power approximately 14,000 homes within the utility's service area in Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties. The project will support IID's plan to comply with California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires electricity service providers to meet 33 percent of retail electricity sales with renewable sources by the end of 2020.

The solar power plant will also help IID meet daily peak electricity demands, as last year IID reached its highest peak demand ever of 1,004 MW. The solar project will potentially provide for approximately 2.29% of the utility's peak demand, supplying decades of clean electricity primarily during peak demand hours.

"We're excited to support SunPeak Solar in helping IID meet its RPS goals and satisfy growing peak power demands," said Mick McDaniel, Vice President of the Utility Sales Division for Suntech America. "This well-designed project demonstrates how solar power can efficiently complement existing grid assets, while maximizing value for grid operators and off-takers. Solar electricity serves as an effective hedge against volatile fuel prices and can significantly reduce the aggregate costs of electricity generation."

The North American Development Bank (NADB) will provide a $77.4 million credit facility to support the project. To date, NADB has helped finance 150 infrastructure projects worth more than $3.26 billion, benefiting an estimated thirteen million people throughout the US-Mexico border region.

"We are very pleased to participate in this project that will provide a cleaner energy alternative to citizens in Southern California," stated NADB MD, Geronimo Gutierrez. "We have been working to build partnerships in the renewable energy sector, with both public entities and private companies and with the signing of this loan, we are opening a new chapter in the evolution of the Bank that will help us move forward in the development of renewable energy projects."

Puchheim solar park commences operations

GERMANY: On August 24, 2011 Gehrlicher Solar has start operations of another solar park: in Puchheim, west of the city of Munich, 14,280 modules from the manufacturer First Solar are now producing solar energy, which is transformed into net-compatible alternating current by two central inverters from SMA.

The plant with a peak performance of 1.1 MWp will produce about 1.2 million kilowatt-hours per year of solar power. This can supply about 300 three-person households. The CO2 savings is about 600 tonnes per year.

Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brasil to build PV system in soccer stadium

SALVADOR da BAHIA, BRAZIL: In August 2011, Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brasil S.A., a joint venture of the German photovoltaics specialist Gehrlicher Solar AG and the Brazilian environmental technology group Ecoluz Participações S.A., was awarded an international tender by the Brazilian utility Coelba. The contract includes planning and construction of the first photovoltaic system on a soccer stadium in Latin America.

Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brazil will install a solar power system with power of 403 kWp on the roof of Pituaçu Stadium in Salvador da Bahia, the third largest city in Brazil. The project involves the use of two module technologies: On the one hand, flexible, very light-weight thin-film modules made by United Solar Ovonic (Uni-Solar) with total power of 238 kWp are installed on the canopy covering the grand stands. In addition, monocrystalline modules made by Yingli Solar capable of producing total power of 165 kWp are mounted onto the locker room and some parking lot roofs.

Construction will start in September 2011; the system's grid connection is scheduled for December 2011. Guillermo Barea Herranz, chairman of the board of directors of Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brasil: "We are very pleased to have convinced Coelba with our concept.” Ricardo da Silva David, director of Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brasil, adds: “This contract is very important to us, in particular against the backdrop of plans for outfitting all twelve 2014 Soccer World Cup venues with solar power systems."

Financing for the system is supported by power producer Coelba and the government of the State of Bahia, the owner of Pituaçu Stadium. A portion of the green electricity generated is intended to be used for operating the stadium in the future and thereby reducing the running energy costs. Tender procedures for the 12 venues of the 2014 Soccer World Cup are still in progress.

REC extends temporary shutdown of production capacity

SANDVIKA, NORWAY: Renewable Energy Corp. ASA (REC) has extended temporary shutdown of its production capacity. REC had earlier announced temporary shutdown of production capacity in Norway throughout the third quarter.

Market prices have stabilized but not recovered over the last few months, and REC has therefore decided to extend the capacity shutdowns in Norway until year end. The shutdowns represent approximately 45 percent of the wafer capacity in Norway, and include the oldest wafer plants at Herøya and the multi wafer plant in Glomfjord in addition to the cell plant in Narvik. Approximately 600 employees are expected to be affected by the extended temporary lay-offs. REC continues to evaluate the appropriate plant structure in Norway going forward.

REC Silicon's facilities in the US, and the integrated wafer, cell and module production facility in Singapore continue to operate at full capacity.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Magnolia Solar demos high-voltage waveguide solar cells at SPIE Solar Energy and Technology conference

WOBURN & ALBANY, USA: Magnolia Solar Corp. announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Magnolia Solar Inc., has demonstrated high-voltage InGaAs quantum well waveguide solar cells, a unique structure capable of improving the performance of photovoltaic modules.

Dr. Roger E. Welser, Magnolia's CTO, summarized the latest technical results at the Solar Energy and Technology Conference in San Diego, CA on August 21, 2011. The presentation, titled "High-Voltage Quantum Well Waveguide Solar Cells," was part of a special session of the 2011 SPIE Optics and Photonics Symposium focused on Next Generation Cell Technologies for Solar Energy Conversion. The work has been done in collaboration with colleagues at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Kopin Corporation, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Dr. Welser stated: "The absorption of photons, and the generation of electrical current, is reduced in conventional thin-film solar cell designs. Using a waveguide to help trap scattered light inside the cell can dramatically increase the amount of current that can be generated. In the past, the challenge with implementing waveguide solar cell structures has been maintaining the voltages necessary to achieve high conversion efficiency. In this work, we demonstrated InGaAs quantum well waveguide photovoltaic devices with record-high operating voltages."

Dr. Ashok K. Sood, president and CEO of Magnolia Solar, stated: "This is a major milestone for Magnolia Solar, as we continue to make progress towards demonstrating ultra-high efficiency thin-film solar cells. The aim of the work summarized in the SPIE conference is to increase both the current and voltage output of single-junction cells by using a quantum-structured active region and incorporating advanced light-trapping strategies. With this patent-pending approach, we are seeking to achieve high solar electric conversion efficiency over a wider range of operating conditions.

"While our initial work has employed III-V materials, future efforts will also focus on lower-cost thin-film materials such as next-generation copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film structures. We look forward to entering the next phase of development and will continue to update our shareholders as we move ahead."

Renewable energy experts have identified a ‘Green Gap’ amongst the British public

UK: New research conducted by utility and environmental consultancy Gemserv has identified huge demand from British households to ‘Go Green’ and produce their own energy.

Gemserv’s study of over 2000 British adults found that 61 percent of homeowners would consider installing means to generating their own energy, whether that is by using solar PV panels, installing air source heat pumps, using biomass fuel or harnessing the power of nature by using hydro power.

Experts have dubbed the gulf between consumers’ eagerness to embrace renewable energy technologies and their lack of knowledge about it - ‘The Green Gap’. If we were able to bridge the ‘Green Gap’ we could potentially save approximately 15 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Despite the UK’s appetite for renewable energy, Gemserv’s research found that the widespread lack of awareness about installation, cost savings and benefits is stopping people from reducing their carbon footprints.

In these challenging economic times, expense was understandably a big consideration, 57 percent of homeowners who would not consider installing any of the renewable initiatives from a list they were shown said it is too expensive and 32 percent of people were unsure how much money they could save and/or earn from renewable energy sources. A further 65 percent of Brits weren’t aware of the government’s financial incentive for generating renewable energy.

There is also considerable confusion around the government’s landmark Green Deal. With the majority of consumers (54 percent) unable to correctly identify that the Deal is related to energy efficiency initiatives. Worryingly, 14 percent of consumers thought the Green Deal related to protecting national forests and outdoor spaces and 9 percent, increasing the number of hybrid cars on the UK roads.

Gemserv’s research also indicated that there is more to do to gain consumer buy-in to the government’s Carbon Plan, as there is still a sizeable proportion of the population that remains unmoved by environmental concerns. The UK’s 26 million homes are responsible for 14 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions, yet, over a quarter (28 percent) of British homeowners would not consider installing energy efficiency measures in their homes, such as double glazing, efficient boilers or loft and wall insulation, despite the associated cost savings.

CEO of Gemserv David Thorne says: “I am encouraged by some of these findings as I am delighted that nearly half the population would like to install renewable energy technologies; what worries me is the lack of fundamental awareness surrounding it. To bridge the Green Gap it’s essential we continue to educate consumers and break down some of the myths surrounding the Green Deal, energy efficiency and microgeneration.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SunPeak Solar selects Suntech for 23MW power plant in Southern California

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd has been selected by SunPeak Solar, LLC, a California-based, privately-owned solar energy project developer, to supply 28.7MW (DC) of solar panels for a 23MW (AC) solar power plant in Niland, California.

SunPeak Solar's subsidiary Imperial Valley Solar Company (IVSC) 1, LLC will oversee the project's construction including the installation of about 100,000 units of Suntech's 285/290W Vd-Series modules with advanced SuperPoly silicon processing technology.

The SuperPoly technology produces high-quality silicon ingots and wafers using modified multicrystalline silicon casting equipment that improves module performance by up to 10 percent. The 72-cell Vd-Series module comes with Suntech's industry-leading 25-year power output warranty - including 0/+5 percent positive power tolerance - that warrants 6.7 percent more power than the standard industry warranty. The product meets UL1703, IEC 61215, and IEC 61730 standards.

Constructed on a 123-acre lot located adjacent to the Imperial Irrigation District's (IID) Niland electric substation and natural gas turbine facilities, the solar power plant will generate enough energy to power approximately 14,000 homes within the utility's service area in Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties. The project will support IID's plan to comply with California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires electricity service providers to meet 33 percent of retail electricity sales with renewable sources by the end of 2020.

The solar power plant will also help IID meet daily peak electricity demands, as last year IID reached its highest peak demand ever of 1,004 MW. The solar project will potentially provide for approximately 2.29 percent of the utility's peak demand, supplying decades of clean electricity primarily during peak demand hours.

"We're excited to support SunPeak Solar in helping IID meet its RPS goals and satisfy growing peak power demands," said Mick McDaniel, VP of Utility Sales Division for Suntech America. "This well-designed project demonstrates how solar power can efficiently complement existing grid assets, while maximizing value for grid operators and off-takers. Solar electricity serves as an effective hedge against volatile fuel prices and can significantly reduce the aggregate costs of electricity generation."

The North American Development Bank (NADB) will provide a $77.4 million credit facility to support the project. To date, NADB has helped finance 150 infrastructure projects worth more than $3.26 billion, benefiting an estimated thirteen million people throughout the US-Mexico border region.

"We are very pleased to participate in this project that will provide a cleaner energy alternative to citizens in Southern California," stated NADB MD, Geronimo Gutierrez. "We have been working to build partnerships in the renewable energy sector, with both public entities and private companies and with the signing of this loan, we are opening a new chapter in the evolution of the Bank that will help us move forward in the development of renewable energy projects."

Declining PV price and profit margin may trigger solar industry meltdown in US and Europe

TAIWAN: The latest survey conducted by EnergyTrend, the green energy industry research division of TrendForce, indicates that while spot prices for polysilicon and Si wafer have remained at $50/kg and $2/piece, the polysilicon and Si wafer manufacturers have been experiencing price pressure from downstream makers. In fact, TrendForce indicates that downstream manufacturers’ spot price targets for September 2011 are under $50/kg for polysilicon wafer and lower than $2/piece for multi-Si wafer.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Based on TrendForce’s survey, downstream PV makers remain conservative toward the market outlook for PV demand, creating a price pressure for polysilicon manufacturers. However, the polysilicon manufacturers have not reacted with any major quotation changes, and the lowest spot price remained at $50/kg. As a result, this week’s polysilicon average trading price slightly declined by 0.8 percent to $51.1/kg.

On the other hand, Si wafer prices have shown different trends: mono-Si wafer price has increased by 0.65 percent to $2.62/piece. As for the multi-Si wafer prices, currently Si wafer makers have also experienced a significant price pressure; although top tier manufacturers’ price quotation remained at $2/piece, second-tier manufacturers’ price has dropped to $1.95/piece, with the average price of multi-Si wafer decreasing by 0.5 percent to $1.997/piece.

In terms of solar cell and module, TrendForce indicated that even though PV market demand has recovered partially, the market supply still exceeds its demand. While the worldwide production capacity for solar cell and module remains greater than the market demand and Chinese manufacturers continue to expand their capacity, oversupply of solar cell and module persists. On the other hand, as strong demand for high conversion efficiency product persists, the price quotations for related products have remained unchanged.

Consequently, solar cell and module prices were only slightly adjusted this week. TrendForce indicates that the average price for solar cell has slightly dropped by 0.27 percent to $0.749/Watt while the average price of PV module has slightly declined by 0.9 percent to $1.217/Watt. Moreover, due to a consistent decline in crystalline-silicon PV module, the average price of thin film has declined by 1.34 percent to $0.957/Watt.

In addition, TrendForce continues to monitor the potential meltdown of the US solar industry. After REC and Q-Cells’ announcement for closing their production lines, TrendForce anticipates a rapid profit margin decline will increase the management pressure for both American and European manufacturers. If the market price does not recover significantly to improve PV maker’s profit margin, American and European manufacturers with weak business performances may not survive this wave of global solar industry changes.

SEMI India launches solar PV technical training programs

BANGALORE, INDIA: SEMI India, the Indian arm of the global industry organization, SEMI, today launched a solar PV work force development initiative, with a three-day short course on “Solar PV Power Systems: Concepts, Operation and Applications” in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Workforce development was identified as a priority action area for 2011 by SEMI India’s PV Advisory Committee, comprising key executives from India’s solar PV industry. The short course in Jaipur will be the first in a series of courses that SEMI will organize, in technical collaboration with NCPRE (National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education, IIT Bombay) and offer in different centres across the country.

Need for solar skill/workforce development programs
SEMI India’s workforce development initiative aims to address the needs of SEMI member companies and of the wider solar PV industry in India by offering high quality training programmes delivered by leading academic and industry experts and expanding awareness about state of the art solar/PV technologies, applications and practices among engineers and technical personnel.

The rapidly developing solar/PV industry in India, motivated by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) as well as State government policies, is already experiencing a severe shortage of adequately trained and skilled technical manpower in achieving its early goals. Further phases of the JNNSM and the roll out of State government solar policies across the country will accentuate the need for trained technical personnel across all expertise segments from design, engineering and manufacturing to installation, operation and maintenance of solar PV systems.

Globally, the solar and renewable energy industries are seen as major engines of job growth. “Renewable energy technologies generate more jobs per megawatt of installed capacity, per unit of energy produced, and per dollar of investment, than the fossil fuel based energy sector” according to University of California studies. Various European and US studies suggest that in the range of 25 to 30 direct jobs are created for every MWp of PV installed.

The EPIA & Greepeace “Solar Generation 6” Report, 2011, estimates that more than 228,000 people were employed in the solar energy sector in 2009 and projects that the solar electricity sector will become a powerful jobs motor, providing green-collar employment to almost 1.7 million people by 2020 and 2.63 million by 2030.

In India, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has estimated that there will be close to 100,000 jobs in PV by 2020. Industry sources suggest that if all job linkages are considered, PV jobs in India could far exceed this figure.

M.M. Vijayvargiya, director (Technical), Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corp. Ltd (RRECL) said: “With the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission being operationalized, India is poised to take a huge leap in the solar/PV space. The inauguration of this training initiative today in Jaipur is an important step in addressing the needs of this key energy sector in India. We are pleased that this programme has been launched in Jaipur as Rajasthan is emerging as a leading destination for solar power generation and manufacturing in the country.”

Prof. Chetan Singh Solanki, IIT Bombay, said: ““We are pleased to join hands with SEMI in addressing the work force requirements of the Solar/PV industry. Solar as an energy source presents great opportunities for innovation as well as job growth across all segments. At NCPRE, we are focusing on manpower training for solar/PV at all levels: from the level of research programmes to technician training. Efforts are being made to conduct training programs and create PV course content in the form of both text and video. This training material will be available through the NCPRE web page and the distance education program (CDEEP) of IIT Bombay.”

Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, added: “It is an honor for us to collaborate with the prestigious National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education established at IIT Bombay under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of the Government of India in rolling out this key initiative. India is emerging as a top market and destination for solar technology and manufacturing because of global demand, and central and state government incentives for the promotion of the industry.

“Our estimates suggest that this industry will need 10,000+ technicians in the next five years as well as skilled engineers in various aspects of solar/PV technology and manufacturing. Some of the world’s top thin film and crystalline technology companies are emphasizing their activities in India and leading Indian and global manufacturers have unveiled aggressive expansion plans for the Indian market.

“We are also most happy to announce that we will be offering a second short course on “Grid Connected Solar PV Systems”, in technical collaboration with the NCPRE, during SOLARCON India 2011 - the premier solar focused technology and business event to be held from November 9-11 at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre in Hyderabad.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Suniva helps power Science Education Center in Avon

NORCROSS, USA: Suniva Inc., a US manufacturer of high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells and modules, today announced that it is helping power the Walking Mountains Science Center’s Buck Creek Campus in Avon, Colorado.

The new campus, which opened to the public on August 20, features a 33 kW solar system comprised of Suniva’s high efficiency solar cells and modules as well as other sustainable innovations. The Suniva solar cells will provide more than a third of the annual campus electrical requirements.

With a mission to inspire environmental stewardship through natural science education, the Buck Creek Campus is utilizing solar thermal and geothermal energy in addition to the Suniva solar electric array. Visitors will be able to see and learn about the latest innovations in green building and design, including active and passive solar, vegetative roofs, alternative building materials, geothermal and each of these systems will become part of the educational programs at the campus.

Using these technologies, the campus will use 85 percent less energy than a typical project of the same size. The campus will also utilize a building dashboard, which will help monitor and manage building energy and water use in real-time via a portal and the web.

“Our goal was to design a campus that could obtain LEED Platinum certification and exceed its requirements, making Walking Mountain Science Center the greenest school in Colorado,” said Brian Sipes, project architect and principal at Zehren and Associates. “Suniva’s solar array was not just an add-on to the project; it was deeply integrated at the beginning of the project to create a more sustainable building.”

“Working closely with RA Nelson, the general contractor, we chose Suniva because its high efficiency, low cost solar cells and modules will create the greatest amount of energy on the available roof space,” said Jason Perez, CEO of Conundrum Technologies. “As a less tangible, but equally important benefit, Suniva and Walking Mountain Science Center both embody growth through innovation, science and research.”

BNB Renewable and Enfinity co-develop 9.8 MW solar system at Campbell Soup plant

EXTON & ATLANTA, USA: BNB Renewable Energy Holdings and Enfinity America Corp. have announced plans to co-develop a portion of BNB's distributed generation (DG) pipeline in the USA.

The first of several anticipated projects under this joint development agreement is the previously announced 9.8MW solar project which is under construction on 60 acres of land at the Campbell Soup Co.’s production facility in Napoleon, Ohio. The ground-mounted project is the largest commercial “inside the fence” (where all the electricity generated by the installation is utilized by the host operation) solar array currently under construction within the USA. The project is expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2011.

Under the terms of the agreement Enfinity is responsible for arranging the financing of the project and will co-manage the installation, contracts and future operations with BNB. Bostonia Partners (Boston), which is a financial advisor to BNB and specializes in renewable energy finance, established the partnership between BNB and Enfinity.

Campbell will purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated by the Napoleon, Ohio system, which is expected to provide approximately 15 percent of the soup plant’s annual electricity requirements. FirstEnergy Solutions (Akron, Ohio) will purchase the Solar Renewable Energy Credits from the project. The project will eliminate approximately 250,000 metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions in the region, creating a positive environmental impact.

SunWize to distribute AUO solar modules, including new inverter integrated AC module

KINGSTON, USA & HSINCHU, TAIWAN: AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) and SunWize Technologies have reached an agreement for distribution of AUO’s solar PV products in North America. SunWize will distribute AUO’s full line of solar PV products to its vast network of solar installers.

AUO’s product line includes the newly released AC Unison, a high-efficiency AC module with an integrated microinverter. AC Unison is designed for simple plug-and-play installation, high performance and great rooftop aesthetics. It offers long-term warranty that covers both the inverter and the module. Other AUO products include GreenTriplex, an all black monocrystalline module with high power output, and EcoDuo, a multi-purpose polycrystalline module manufactured to AUO’s strict quality standards.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange and a world leading high-tech manufacturer, AUO has aggressively moved into solar PV manufacturing with full vertical integration, from raw polysilicon processing all the way to finished PV modules with integrated microelectronics. AUO’s upstream manufacturing capabilities and SunWize’s downstream distribution strength will form a strong partnership that will benefit North American solar installers.

“We are pleased to be AUO’s distribution partner in North America for their innovative products. The AC Unison simplifies solar system design, installation, and maintenance, saving installers time and money, and giving them the assurance of a long-term warranty for both the module and inverter,” said David Kaltsas, chief strategy officer of SunWize Technologies. “SunWize was impressed throughout our comprehensive evaluation of AUO’s products and manufacturing facilities.”

“We are dedicated to providing customers high energy yield and high-efficiency solar cells, modules, and integrated solar system solutions,” said James Chen, vice president of AUO Solar Business Group. “Customers can purchase AUO’s high quality PV products and experience reliable service through SunWize anywhere in North America.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Suntech reports Q2 2011 financial results

WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced financial results for its second fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2011.

* Total net revenues were $830.7 million in the second quarter of 2011, representing a sequential decrease of 5.3 percent, and an increase of 32.9 percent year-over-year.
* Total PV shipments increased 2 percent sequentially, and increased 48 percent year-over-year.
* GAAP gross profit margin was 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011. Excluding a $91.9 million charge related to the MEMC settlement, non-GAAP gross margin was 15.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011.
* Net loss attributable to holders of ordinary shares was $259.5 million, or $1.44 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Excluding the one-time charges related to the MEMC settlement and discontinued operations at CSG Solar in Germany, non-GAAP net loss attributable to holders of ordinary shares was $33.8 million, or $0.19 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Each ADS represents one ordinary share.
* Suntech achieved 2.4GW of PV cell and module capacity, and 1.2GW of silicon ingot and wafer capacity as of the end of the second quarter of 2011. PV cell capacity includes 600MW of capacity that is operated by a Suntech joint venture.

"In a competitive market environment, our core operations performed well as customers continued to demonstrate their preference for Suntech's superior quality and highly bankable solar products," said Dr. Shi, Suntech's chairman and CEO.

"With 48 percent shipment growth year-over-year, we achieved our shipment guidance and continued to improve our position in the Americas and emerging solar markets. Our pipeline to supply bankable utility-scale solar projects continued to build during the quarter, most notably with our 190MW partnership with Solarhybrid in Europe, and a recently-inked 200MW agreement for multiple projects in North America. We are also gaining traction in China's utility solar market, which has been stimulated by the introduction of a national feed-in-tariff."

"Operationally, we implemented a number of initiatives to improve our supply flexibility and lower our cost structure. Specifically, we discontinued a long term agreement with MEMC and expanded internal wafer capacity to 1.2GW. We also continued to drive solar innovation with the launch of two new high performance product lines that we are shipping in large-scale today."

"Looking forward, we anticipate the highly competitive market environment to continue for the next few quarters. Nonetheless, we are confident that with our ongoing investment in expanding our channels, and the strength of our global solar brand, track record and highly bankable offering, we are well positioned to maintain our industry leadership," added Dr. Shi.

Friday, August 19, 2011

OCI selects newest generation SDR reactors from GT Advanced Technologies

MERRIMACK, USA: GT Advanced Technologies Inc. has received $33 million in additional bookings from Korea-based polysilicon producer OCI Company, Ltd, resulting from OCI’s exercise of an option under a previously announced contract to support its Phase 4 expansion. The additional bookings raise the value of the original contract, which was announced on May 18, 2011, to $269 million for polysilicon production equipment and technology.

The original contract was based on pricing related to an option for OCI to purchase GT’s newest generation SDR reactors, if the new reactors met OCI’s technical and performance requirements after their internal testing. OCI recently decided to purchase the newest reactors, triggering the increase in bookings. The additional $33 million will be included in GT’s backlog for its Q2 FY12, which ends on October 1st, 2011.

“We are pleased that OCI has elected to purchase our newest SDR reactors as part of their Phase 4 capacity expansion project,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Advanced Technologies’ president and CEO. “Our SDR reactors continue the innovation track record of our polysilicon production equipment business by improving throughput and lowering operating expenses for our customers.”

OCI’s Phase 4 expansion will add 20,000 metric tons of additional capacity when it is completed bringing OCI’s total production polysilicon capacity to 62,000 metric tons annually. OCI currently ranks among the world’s top three polysilicon producers with all of its capacity based on GT’s SDR reactors. GT Advanced Technologies’ polysilicon production equipment includes the PV industry’s most productive and energy efficient CVD reactors.

Westinghouse Solar receives 4th US patent for solar installation technology

CAMPBELL, USA: Westinghouse Solar Inc., a designer and manufacturer of solar power systems, today announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued the company its fourth US patent covering key aspects of its easy-to-install solar panels. The company currently has over 30 patents either issued or pending approval, including related patents issued in Australia, India, Korea and Mexico.

This latest patent, US #7,987,641, which was issued on August 2, 2011, relates to the company's Andalay technology, in which the racking and mounting components are integrated into the solar panel itself. Other related patents issued to Westinghouse Solar cover wiring and grounding for solar panels – features that are particularly important for "plug-and-play" AC panels. These patented features make Westinghouse Solar panels much more reliable and easy to install – thereby reducing costs for both installers and customers.

Since 2007, Westinghouse Solar has sold more than $100m worth of solar power systems using the Andalay technology. The Andalay technology is incorporated in the new 235 watt Westinghouse Solar AC panels – which are currently on the market at attractive price points. The Andalay technology is also at the core of Westinghouse Solar's Flat Roof Solar Power Systems, which are optimized for lightweight, non-penetrating installations on commercial rooftops.

"Our engineering team started developing this integrated solar panel technology in 2002, and we started filing for patents in 2004. At the time, solar panels were selling for $4 per watt and nobody really cared about reducing installation costs. Now with solar panel pricing down in the $1.50 per watt range, reducing installation costs are widely perceived as the biggest opportunity to reduce overall system costs and increase margins," said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar.

"We expect that our growing portfolio of intellectual property related to solar panels with built-in racking, wiring and grounding will become increasingly valuable both to us and our licensees."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spire awarded patent for nano-PV devices

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp. has been awarded a patent for its invention of a nanophotovoltaic (Nano-PV) device which, when applied to biological cells such as cancer, can control and/or limit their growth.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued Spire Corporation U.S. Patent No. 7,955,965 entitled “Nanophotovoltaic Devices.” Spire’s invention provides Nano-PV devices having sizes in a range of about 50 nanometers to about 5 microns, and a method for their fabrication. The devices functionalized to target specific cells and then are selectively activated by light to generate an electrical charge to kill or interfere with cell growth.

Roger G. Little, Chairman, CEO, and co-inventor, said: “This being our third patent issued from our original invention, we have combined our understanding of photovoltaics with our experience in the biomedical field. We are excited to have received this patent and are enthusiastic that it makes an impact in medicine.

“This patent further strengthens our intellectual property portfolio in our optoelectronic and biomedical market areas. It is a testament to the creativity of our research staff.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

US PV installations forecast to soar 166 percent in 2011

EL SEGUNDO, USA: US photovoltaic (PV) installations in 2011 will rise a spectacular 166 percent to a total of 2.4 gigawatts (GW), with California leading the country in the amount of power derived from renewable solar energy, according to a new IHS iSuppli Photovoltaic Market Tracker report.

The number of US PV installations this year is projected to climb to approximately 49,000—up from 39,000 in 2010. Of the 2.4GW in solar power expected to be installed this year, ground installations will contribute approximately 1.4GW, commercial installations 710 megawatts (MW) and residential installations 270MW.

“Thanks to the implementation of many utility-scale projects this year, the US growth rate in 2011 will be more than double the 80 percent expansion level of 2010, when photovoltaic (PV) installations amounted to just slightly over 900MW,” said Mike Sheppard, analyst for photovoltaics at IHS. “Next year, new solar installations will reach an estimated 3.1GW, on the way to some 5.5GW by 2015. And while a downturn next year is forecast for Europe, growth will be good stateside because of healthy support from the US Department of Energy in the form of loan guarantees to help stimulate the market and help secure a lower cost of capital for large projects.”

Among US states, California will be the leader by a wide margin in solar power this year, accounting for 967 megawatts (MW). Tiny New Jersey is expected to be second with 263MW, followed by Arizona with 243MW, New Mexico with 139MW and Nevada with 118MW. The remaining Top 10, in descending order, are Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Colorado. With large projects coming through the year, Nevada will enter the Top 10 for the first time this year, crashing into the Top 5. Meanwhile, New Jersey, though in second place, may encounter hiccups in light of waning political support from the state’s governor.

The figure below shows the top US states for PV power with their projected installation capacity in 2011.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Overall in terms of renewable energy, many states are indicating significant growth potential through 2020, in line with the entire country’s Renewable Portfolio Standard regulations requiring the increased production of energy from renewable sources.

Michigan, Kansas and Washington all have established targets to derive 10 to 20 percent of their total power needs from photovoltaic or renewable sources by 2015 to 2020, even though no progress appears to have been made as of 2010 toward reaching this goal, IHS iSuppli research shows. New Mexico is further along this path, with large projects that will help the state reach its 10 percent target by 2020.

Growth in renewable energy will be fastest over the next four years in New York, where the five-year compound annual growth rate ending in 2015 is expected to be at 29 percent. Colorado, however, has the largest potential for expansion: While the state in 2010 derived 5 percent of its power from renewable power, that rate is set to grow to 27 percent by 2020—representing growth of approximately 22 percent.

There are also more states within the country that have renewable energy targets extending all the way to 2030, indicating it will be some time before the market peaks.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Demand for high conversion efficiency solar product remains while recent price trends are polarized

TAIWAN: According to the latest survey conducted by EnergyTrend, Chinese PV manufacturers are conservative about the market outlook. As a result, the polysilicon price continues to experience downward pressure, while the bottom line of its price quotation remains at $50/kg. The main trading price has declined between $50/kg and $52/kg; and the average price of polysilicon has slightly dropped by 1.98 percent to $51.51/kg.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

In addition, the Si wafer price is undergoing a different situation compared to the polysilicon price quotations. The spot price of mono-Si wafer has recovered with the price ranging between $2.5/piece and $2.8/piece, multi-Si wafer price ranged between $1.90/piece and $2.4/piece. Based on the average price quotation, the price of mono-Si wafer has increased by 0.42 percent to $2.603/piece, while the price of multi-Si wafer has declined by 0.3 percent to $2.007/piece.

In terms of cells and modules, EnergyTrend indicated that the visibility of module market demand still remained low and major manufacturers have not reduced production output. As a result, orders from secon and third tier PV manufacturers have plunged sharply and the price trend continued to hover in the low end. According to EnergyTrend’s survey, the average price of solar cell has declined by 3.72 percent to $0.751/Watt while the average price of module continued to decrease by 2.31 percent to $1.228/Watt.

Based on EnergyTrend’s survey, the demand prospects for the late third quarter to fourth quarter of 2011 remains unclear. However, the high conversion efficiency product demand remained strong, with orders in the European market continuing to grow. Manufacturers indicated that while the price remained low, product examination standards are tightened and European clients continued to show great demand for high conversion efficiency products.

As a result, the Si wafer prices were polarized this week, with the multi-Si wafer price in consistent decline, while the mono-Si wafer price rose.

Smart grid to become €6.8 billion industry in Europe by 2016

BOSTON, USA: The smart grid market in Europe will experience considerable development over the next five years, as utilities across the region work to meet rigorous efficiency mandates and integrate an ongoing build-out of renewable energies into the grid. GTM Research’s latest report forecasts the cumulative European smart grid technology market to hit €3.1 billion in 2012, with that number set to increase 120 percent to €6.8 billion in 2016.

GTM Research’s The Smart Grid in Europe 2012: Technologies, Market Forecasts and Utility Profiles is the definitive market resource on the European smart grid. At over 130 pages, the report offers strategic insight into the technology, economic and competitive dynamics propelling growth in the region. The report also compares smart grid evolution in Europe with that of the US, China and Japan, and profiles the smart grid integration models/pilot projects of Europe's most active utilities, including EDF, ENEL, E.ON, GDF Suez, RWE, Iberdrola, Endesa, Centrica, Vattenfall, EDP, Dong Energy and Fortum.

“There is a confluence of progressive policy, technology advances and utility necessity propelling the smart grid in Europe,” said Geert-Jan van der Zanden, the report’s author. “We expect an integrated rollout in the region over the next five years that will lead to substantial deployment for each of the smart grid’s major market segments: advanced metering, distribution automation, integration of renewables, electric vehicles and utility IT systems.”

As this integrated rollout takes shape, the report examines national markets and utilities that will emerge at the center of opportunity.

“While the majority of national markets in Europe are advancing smart grid goals, few if any have meaningfully engaged the end-consumer,” said van der Zanden. “The next step for these countries and their utilities is to demonstrate the value of home energy management or demand response technologies to their customers; consumer engagement is the key variable in the final business case for smart grid in Europe.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SPI Solar to serve as developer of 4.4 MW utility-scale solar energy facility in Greece

ROSEVILLE, USA: SPI Solar, a leading vertically integrated photovoltaic solar developer and engineering, procurement and construction services provider, announced that it has successfully completed the acquisition of the necessary contracts and permits to serve as developer of a 4.4 megawatt fixed-ground-mount solar energy facility (SEF) which will be located in Evros, a North Eastern region of Greece.

SPI became the developer of record for the project by acquiring a 100 percent limited partnership interest in the project, which was already in early-phase planning with another entity. The SEF will be a fixed-tilt ground-mount utility-scale facility (on approximately 25 acres) selling power to the Greek Public Power Corp. through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Prior to executing the agreements, SPI worked with Global Energy Services to identify the build-ready project, and with SDL Solar to perform on-site technical due diligence and qualify the project for development. GES will work closely with SPI to also provide project oversight during the construction of the SEF. Additionally, SPI intends to perform operations and maintenance of the completed facility over the term of the PPA. SPI’s proprietary monitoring application, Solar PowerViewTM will be used to monitor the system and ensure optimal system performance and energy production. The SEF will use LDK’s high-performance solar modules.

The SEF will be located in Evros, in Northeastern Greece, approximately 100 miles north of Alexandropoulos and just six miles from the Turkish border. Construction is scheduled to begin in November 2011. Consistent with SPI’s business plan as a SEF developer, it is the Company’s intention to sell the project during the construction phase or upon commissioning.

“This is our first project in Greece and we are excited about initiating what we believe will be the first of several projects there,” said Stephen Kircher, CEO of SPI. “The system design-build requirements for this project are a perfect match to our skill set and experience. We will also be creating jobs over the course of this project’s development which is a plus for the Greek economy. We look forward to the successful execution of this project and to more projects in Greece and selectively throughout Europe.”

ODIS Inc. affiliate to present at SPIE conference

SHELTON, USA: OPEL Solar International Inc. announced that its wholly-owned US affiliate company, ODIS Inc. will present two papers on the Planar Optoelectronic Technology at the SPIE Optics and Photonics Conference to be held August 21-25 in San Diego, California.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics to advance light-based technologies. The society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. Dr. Geoffrey Taylor, Chief Scientist at ODIS, and members of the ODIS Team will present a paper in two sessions of the conference.

"The SPIE Conference is one of the most premier Optics and Photonics Conferences in the world today," said Leon M. Pierhal, CEO of OPEL. "Dr. Taylor and his team have presented regularly at this conference, and this year is no exception. Two invitations were extended in recognition of continuing achievements of POET to make a significant mark in semiconductor technology."

The first session is 'Design of microdisk modulators and detectors for high-speed integrated WDM systems'. A new modulator structure for intensity or phase modulation is described. The modulator is an integrated component within a Planar OptoElectronic Technology (POET) circuit that enables the integration of complementary transistors for logic and control. Modulation is obtained through the control of charge density in a modulation doped quantum well which results in a blue shift of the fundamental absorption edge. A microdisk geometry is used to achieve a small footprint, resonance-enhanced operation, and low switching energy. The device is ideally suited for on- and off-chip WDM interconnections which maximize the bandwidth potential of optical waveguides.

The second session is 'Resonant optoelectronic thyristor switches as elements for optical switching fabrics'. Optical switching nodes are described that are suitable for high density optical switching fabrics. The basic element for the optical switch is an optoelectronic thyristor which has three properties considered essential for the switching fabric. First it is binary with on and off states. Second, it is a static storage element. Third, it may be written with optical and electrical inputs.

The thyristor is configured as a microdisk and two coupled thyristors constitute a 2x2 switch. Multiple wavelength fabrics may be considered with negligible crosstalk (-20dB) between channels. The routing pattern is written sequentially and optically prior to data transmission.

POET creates high-performance devices by fusing light and electronics together on a single chip. Specifically, POET is a III-V semiconductor technology that enables monolithic fabrication of IC chips containing both electronic and optical elements.

By offering components with dramatically lowered cost, together with increased speed, density, and reliability, POET could potentially allow ODIS to alter the landscape for a broad range of applications, such as for server farms, tablet computers and smartphones.

Edwards intros GXS series vacuum pumps optimized for solar laminator apps

CRAWLEY, ENGLAND: Edwards, a leading global supplier of vacuum and abatement equipment and services, introduced the GXS 450 and 750 series of dry vacuum pumps optimized for solar laminator applications. The new GXS series delivers higher throughput and productivity, while at the same time, providing a lower cost of ownership.

“Our GXS range of pumps incorporate our proprietary screw technology and an industry-leading, high-energy drive to deliver excellent vacuum performance and low cost of ownership,” said Mike Boger, strategic marketing manager, Edwards. “With chamber purge speeds of 450 m3/h and 750 m3/h, these latest additions have been optimized to deliver the rapid vacuum performance required for high throughput solar lamination processes, while still offering the robust performance, low maintenance requirements, long service intervals and advanced temperature control that has made the GXS range an industry standard.”

The GXS 450 and 750 pumps provide faster chamber evacuation for enhanced laminator throughput and higher productivity. An optional booster package is also available to further enhance process chamber evacuation times and reduce the lamination cycle time. The closed-loop temperature control prevents pump fouling, and the pumps’ low running power reduces their overall cost of ownership. As with all Edwards’ dry pumps, the absence of oil eliminates the cost of the oil itself, as well as the downtime, labor and disposal costs associated with required oil changes.

The low running power of the GXS pumps helps reduce operating costs and environmental footprint. At the same time, its compact size saves valuable fab floor space and allows the pump to be placed closer to the laminator for simpler installation and more efficient operation. The pumps’ low noise and low vibration also facilitate placement close to the tool to minimize impact on the fab working environment.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ascent Solar in major strategic alliance with TFG Radiant Group of China

THORNTON, USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. and TFG Radiant Group have signed a more than $275 million plus royalties long-term, multi-faceted, strategic partnership that includes (i) investments by TFG Radiant in Ascent and (ii) a joint development agreement between TFG Radiant and Ascent to establish manufacturing facilities to be located in East Asia. Under the agreement, TFG Radiant has committed $165 million for the initial East Asia FAB, bringing the total deal value to about $450 million plus royalties.

TFG Radiant has purchased 6,400,000 shares of Ascent stock at a price of $1.15 per share ($7.36 million), which represents a premium of 56% relative to the closing price of Ascent stock on August 12, 2011. In addition, under certain conditions (including Ascent obtaining the approval of its shareholders together with TFG Radiant meeting certain performance requirements relating to the initial FAB construction) TFG Radiant will receive the right to purchase an additional 9,500,000 shares of Ascent stock, at a price of $1.55 per share ($14.7 million).

In connection with the investment, TFG Radiant has the right initially to appoint one member to Ascent’s Board of Directors, and entitlement to appoint a second member if TFG Radiant’s ownership percentage increases in the future pursuant to the exercise of its stock purchase option.

Ascent has agreed to exclusively license its technology for fabrication and distribution of flexible, lightweight copper, indium, gallium, diselenide (“CIGS”) photovoltaic modules to TFG Radiant for East Asia. The East Asia territory includes China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, and Singapore. Ascent retains all rights for the US and rest of the world.

Pursuant to the strategic alliance, in addition to continuing to ramp its existing FABs and improve its technology, Ascent will develop a next-generation PV production line in Colorado. Based on Ascent’s technology, TFG Radiant will build its first fabrication facility in China, with a projected direct investment of over $165 million. This FAB is expected to have an initial annual production capacity of 100 MW.

TFG Radiant will cover consulting costs for Ascent personnel in helping to install and bring online the FAB in China. Ascent will receive partial ownership of the China FAB and royalties on all sales from that FAB. TFG Radiant also has the right to build, at its cost, multiple additional FABs for the East Asian markets and Ascent will receive partial ownership, royalties and consulting fees for all such FABs.

Ascent will receive license fees and non-recurring engineering fees from TFG Radiant. In addition, Ascent will receive milestone payments tied to the achievement of certain production and cost goals. The total of such milestone payments could exceed $250 million over multiple years.

Saint-Gobain Solar launches new solutions at EU PVSEC 2011

CHAINEUX, BELGIUM: To enhance the efficiency of the solar module manufacturing process and save costs for module makers, Saint-Gobain Solar is launching its SolarBond Membrane for photovoltaic (PV) panel lamination at the 26th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) Sept. 5-9, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany (Booth # B7/B42).

Constructed from a modified silicone-rubber material, SolarBond Membrane demonstrates outstanding durability through repeated lamination cycles. Used as a process aid in securing and sealing all module components with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) adhesive film, the membrane is highly resistant to EVA outgassing at the high heat exposure (up to temperatures of 220˚C) used in the module lamination process. It also retains its inherent flexibility and tear-resistance through repeated handling, protecting both the module and equipment to increase service life and lower costs.

At the show, Saint-Gobain Solar will also feature SolarBond InFrame, an intelligent, innovative and instant solution for solar module manufacturing and SolarBond Frame Tapes for a flexible, durable hold in framing solar modules. The revolutionary technology has been selected as one of the top three contenders for the “PV Materials Enabling” category of the SOLAR Industry Awards 2011. Winners will be announced at EU PVSEC.

In addition, SolarBond InFrame will be the focus of a presentation given by Geoffrey King, Market Manager, Renewable Energy, Saint-Gobain Solar (11:45 am – 12:00 pm on September 7; Hall B2G). King will discuss the ways in which this innovative framing material will impact the future of solar module manufacturing.

The company will also be highlighting its SolarBond Frame Tapes for framing modules at the show. The bonding tapes combine the flexible durability of an elastomeric foam substrate and the strength of acrylic adhesives to eliminate production delays associated with curing.

“With the launch of SolarBond Membrane, our showcase of other high-performance products and the SolarBond InFrame technology presentation, we’re looking forward to a busy and productive exhibition,“ said Geoffrey King, Market Manager, Renewable Energy, Saint-Gobain Solar.

ANTARIS SOLAR receives UL certification on PV solar panels

MECHANICSBURG, USA: ANTARIS SOLAR, an international provider of solar photovoltaic panels, announced that Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has certified the company’s AS M and AS P series of PV modules (photovoltaic modules) in accordance with its strict standards. The AS M series offers high efficiency monocrystalline solar panels with a power output of 190 watts and more, and the AS P series encompasses regular and black polycrystalline modules with a power output of 230 watts and higher.

UL certification requires an extensive set of electrical and mechanical tests of the modules over several months. Under the UL certification program, testing ensures internal compliance with current safety standards. The modules were exposed to several rounds of testing, including accelerated stress testing under various climate conditions, mechanical impact tests, wind, snow, fire, rain, and arcing. The ANTARIS SOLAR modules passed all the safety requirements to receive the certification.

In addition to the UL certification, the AS M and AS P modules have been certified by TÜV Nord, a major German testing body for quality and safety assurance. The AS M series modules also demonstrated above-average robustness and performance in a recent module comparison test conducted by TEC Institute for Technical Innovations in Germany.

ANTARIS SOLAR Founder and CEO Dr. Michael Goede stated: “Receiving our certifications is an important milestone for our company so that our customers can be assured that our products comply with all safety standards. We are very excited to be able to bring our products to the US after success in European markets.”

Ford and SunPower to let focus electric customers 'Drive Green for Life'

DEARBORN, USA: Ford and SunPower Corp. have teamed up to offer customers a rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners to "Drive Green for Life" by providing customers with enough clean, renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicle.

"Under the 'Drive Green for Life' program, Focus Electric owners can reduce their total cost of ownership by generating enough energy from their high efficiency SunPower rooftop solar system to offset the electricity required to charge the vehicle at night," said Mike Tinskey, Ford director of Global Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure. "It's an eco-friendly solution that perfectly complements our plug-in products and other green initiatives."

"SunPower's innovative partnership with Ford is a win-win for customers, providing a comprehensive sustainability program," said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. "By taking advantage of this program, Focus Electric customers can receive the added benefit of installing a SunPower solar system, the highest-efficiency, most reliable on the market today, generating the electricity needed to charge their vehicles."

The 2.5 kilowatt rooftop solar system is comprised of the SunPower E18 Series solar panels that produce an average of 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. These high-efficiency solar panels generate approximately 50 percent more electricity than conventional panels and utilize a smaller footprint on the roof. The system was sized to accommodate a customer who drives about 1,000 miles per month.

The complete SunPower solar system is offered at a base price of less than $10,000, after federal tax credits. Local and state rebates, along with other incentives, may drive the system cost down even more, depending on a customer's location. Included in the purchase is a residential monitoring system, which includes the ability to track the performance of their solar system on the web or through an iPhone application. Affordable financing options for the solar system are available through SunPower. This price point does not include local sales tax.

Interested Focus Electric customers will be contacted by a participating SunPower dealer who will visit their home to begin the installation process. SunPower leads the industry with more than 400 dealers in the US, and can support the initial Focus Electric roll out in all 19 markets.

In addition to the Focus Electric, the SunPower rooftop solar system will be compatible with the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle Ford is rolling out in 2012.

Two complementary charging solutions for Focus Electric owners
By partnering with SunPower, Ford now offers Focus Electric owners two complementary charging solutions to make the overall experience of owning an electric vehicle easier. In January , Ford announced an agreement with consumer electronics leader Best Buy to offer a 240-volt home charging station for the Focus Electric and future electric vehicle owners.

"The goal of working with both SunPower and Best Buy was to offer Focus Electric owners solutions to charging needs that help lower the vehicle's overall cost of ownership," said Tinskey.

Power of choice
Electrification is an important piece of Ford's overall product sustainability strategy, which includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year.

In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. This diverse range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.

Solar installations to grow 15.5 percent, but revenues remain flat through 2016

BOSTON, USA: Solar subsidies have been capped, cancelled, and cut over the past several years, but solar installations have continued to rise – driven primarily by increased demand from one market: Germany. However, as manufacturers approach near-term limits on cost reductions, German demand will begin to decline. As a result, demand will shift to Asia and North America and the solar market will grow in terms of megawatts installed, but revenues will stay flat as price declines outpace volume growth.

A new report from Lux Research finds that solar demand will shift to a broader range of markets over the next five years, based on analysis of levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and internal rate of return (IRR) across 156 countries, states, and regions. Japan, China, and India will emerge to drive significant volumes, and the US will come forth as a heavyweight given the government’s support of tax equity through 2016 and a myriad of state-level programs.

“The global solar market for grid-connected systems will grow from 15.8 GW in 2010 to 37.5 GW in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 15.5 percent,” said Lux Research Analyst Matt Feinstein. “However, price declines will outpace volume increases, at least at first – the industry will actually shrink on a revenue basis from $64.4 billion in 2010 to $56.9 billion in 2012 before recovering to $65.4 billion in 2016.”

Among the report’s key findings:

Leading IRR markets like New Jersey, Australia, and Greece attract attention in 2011: With subsidies, a surprising number of markets have IRRs worthy of investment by project developers today. Today, the most attractive markets for residential are Australia (52 percent subsidized IRR), Greece (32 percent) and Ontario (27 percent), while the most attractive commercial markets are New Jersey (42 percent), Portugal (37 percent) and Hawaii (34 percent). On the utility ground-mount side, Portugal (81 percent) tops the list, followed distantly by New Jersey (58 percent) and Cyprus (44 percent). By 2016, viable investment targets will increase dramatically, to encompass 45 residential markets, a whopping 88 commercial markets, and 85 utility markets.

Subsidies and grid parity aren’t necessary to generate positive demand: An anticipated future increase in the cost of retail and wholesale power is all that’s necessary to generate positive demand – even in countries without subsidies. Brazil, for example, is projected to reach a 12 percent unlevered, unsubsidized IRR for commercial mc-Si systems at the end of 2016 – even though solar will not yet have reached grid parity. Indeed, of 55 geographies demonstrating unsubsidized IRRs above 10 percent at the end of 2016, only 10 will have reached grid parity.

Commercial systems reach grid parity fastest, with 10 geographies there by 2016: The number of commercial rooftop markets reaching parity will grow from one in 2010 to ten in 2016, including the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Hawaii will be the first to accomplish residential grid parity in 2011; by 2016, a total of seven other residential markets will follow, including Italy, Denmark, and Ukraine. For utility ground mount, the number remains small.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Production capacity advances in China and Korea triggered price decrease

TAIWAN: According to the Energy Trend’s latest survey, polysilicon spot price has shown a significant decrease. However, the polysilicon price quotation remained at $50/kg, and trading prices ranged between $51/kg and $53/kg. Following last week’s downward trend, this week’s average price came to $52.55/kg, a 2.92 percent decrease.Source: Energy Trend, Taiwan.

The mono-Si wafer trading prices have also declined, ranging from $2.5/piece and $2.6/piece; the multi-Si wafer trading prices were between $1.95/piece and $2.05/piece. Both multi-Si wafer and mono-Si wafer average prices have also decreased by 1.85 percent and 1.52 percent, respectively, arriving at the price of $2.013/piece and $2.592/piece.

This week, the cell and module market prices remained high at $0.9/Watt due to Europe’s strong demand for high conversion efficiency solar cell. However lower quality products have encountered a fierce price competition, with the price reaching as low as $0.7/Watt. The survey also revealed that average solar cell price dropped by 2.01 percent to $0.78/Watt while the average module market price declined by 1.19 percent to $1.242/Watt.

Since the demand prospects for the late third quarter to fourth quarter of 2011 remained unclear, manufacturers have taken a conservative attitude towards the polysilicon inventory level. Medium and small-scale manufacturers, dominating the spot market are becoming stringent in monitoring inventory control since they are unable to weather market changes as well as their top-tier counterparts.

On the other hand, as polysilicon production capacities are about to increase in China and Korea, the downstream PV manufacturers believe that polysilicon price pressure will rise, in turn affecting manufacturers’ procurement intentions. EnergyTrend therefore projects that the polysilicon price is expected to reach $45/kg by the end of 2011.

New government incentive delivers massive upside to China solar market

EL SEGUNDO, USA: The Chinese government’s new feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentive program is expected to give a major boost to the country’s solar industry, potentially increasing installations by a combined 1.5 gigawatts (GW) in 2011 and 2012, according to the new IHS iSuppli Photovoltaics (PV) Service report.

China’s PV installations previously were expected to amount to 1GW in 2011 and 1.4GW in 2012. However, the FIT could cause installations to increase by 50 percent, compared to the previous forecast in 2011 to reach 1.5 GW. Installations in 2012 then could rise by 71.4 percent compared to the preceding outlook to reach a total of 2.4GW. This will result in a 1.5GW upside for installations during the two-year period, as presented in the figure.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

“The Chinese government’s release of its nationwide FIT is sending a very positive signal to the country’s solar industry—a signal that ultimately will increase PV installations by huge margins during 2011 and 2012,” said Glenn Gu, senior analyst for photovoltaics at IHS. “The establishment of the FIT has increased the confidence level among players in the China PV supply chain by guaranteeing the return on investment for many existing solar projects. PV companies are expected to take full advantage of the policy to accelerate the construction of solar projects and increase investments in future endeavors.”

FIT for growth
China’s National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) released its FIT document on July 24, marking the first-ever nationwide PV FIT in the country.

A FIT promotes the use of solar energy by guaranteeing that utility companies will buy excess electricity produced by solar installations at homes and businesses. This helps individuals or organizations to defray the upfront costs of investing in a PV system. Extensive use of FITs has helped Germany to become the world’s leading country for PV.

Devil in the details
Despite the strong impact of the NDRC move, the documentation provided by the government seems too simple to serve as an announcement of a formal FIT scheme and leaves several unanswered questions.

For one, the document doesn’t mention the subsidy period. Furthermore, only a single FIT rate is offered for all PV projects installed in the different regions of China and for all installations methods.

Also, the source of subsidy capital may not be sufficient to fund all PV installations.

According to the NDRC document, FIT capital comes from a Renewable Energy Tariff account raised from the public. However, the Renewable Energy Tariff account itself has been suffering from a deficit since 2010, and the deficit is expected to widen starting in 2011.

IHS predicts this account will remain in deficit until 2014 because the majority of capital will be used to subsidize other renewable energy projects, such as wind and biomass projects, installed across the country.

Finally, the document doesn’t address the issue of grid connection issue, which always has been a bottleneck constraining the development of renewable energy in China. The announcement of the nationwide FIT is likely to spur “solar fever” across the nation, especially in China’s western provinces. But should the grid prove unready, the FIT scheme will be meaningless, as no electricity could be transferred to the grid.

Despite these unanswered questions, the NDRC document will pave the way for a more detailed FIT program to be released in the future.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

LDK Solar partners with Datang International on PV project

XINYU CITY, CHINA & SUNNYVALE, USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd, a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic products, has signed an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement with Datang International Power Generation Co. Ltd to develop a 20 Megawatt (MW) solar project in the Qinghai province, China.

Construction of the first 10 MW will commence this month and the project is expected to be completed at the end of September 2011.

“"We are pleased to partner with an industry leader such as Datang on this PV project. This contract expands LDK’s presence within China's growing PV market," stated Xiaofeng Peng, chairman and CEO of LDK Solar.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

aleo solar AG agrees long-term partnership with British housing association

GERMANY: aleo solar AG has joined a consortium with LCE (Low Carbon Exchange) and Tigo Energy and on 2 August 2011 signed a framework agreement with the UK housing association Alliance Homes.

The consortium, trading under the name LCX Solar Ltd., will offer Alliance Homes a comprehensive service portfolio from a single source. aleo solar will supply premium modules and inverters for rooftop solar installations, with an average output of 2.5 kW for installation in social housing projects. The management of LCX is able to draw on over 25 years of experience in UK social housing projects, and will be managing the operational aspects of the UK organisation.

Alliance Homes will take delivery of 3 MW totalling 1,200 buildings. The aleo modules, certified for the UK market in accordance with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) last year, are to be installed by December 2011 at the latest. Other housing associations are also able to source modules via the LCX consortium. This means interested housing associations can avoid the costs of tendering for services. Other marketing activities in the UK will be handled by Alliance Homes and Low Carbon Exchange.

The UK government is guaranteeing a feed-in tariff of £0.433 per kWh until April 2012. In the UK, social housing projects are under public or semi-public administration and offer a major potential for the further propagation of photovoltaic technology.

Solar Gard specialty films to be acquired by Saint-Gobain

SAN DIEGO, USA: Bekaert and Saint-Gobain have signed an agreement regarding the sale of Bekaert's Specialty Films activities to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, an Ohio, US-based corporation of the Saint-Gobain group. The transaction covers the production facilities in San Diego (US), Zulte (Belgium) and Suzhou (China), the operations under development in China, and all sales and service centers worldwide. The deal involves all employees currently working in the Specialty Films platform, which is known as Solar Gard Specialty Films.

Solar Gard Specialty Films is a market leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of window films and other specialty films for automotive, architectural, photovoltaic and custom coating applications.

Saint-Gobain, a market leader in each of the segments where it plays, offers opportunities for synergies that will help strengthen Solar Gard’s leadership position particularly in the architectural and energy market where both companies are committed to building a more sustainable future through the development of energy-efficient products and solutions for professionals and communities around the world.

Bekaert acquired the Specialty Films business in 2001 and under the current management team have developed it into a global market leader. While the business continued to grow successfully, technological synergies within Bekaert have proven to be limited over time. The future growth of Solar Gard can therefore be best secured within the Saint-Gobain group that sees significant product and market synergies for Solar Gard with its Innovative Materials businesses (Performance Plastics and Flat Glass Activities).

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. Bekaert and Saint-Gobain expect to close the deal in the course of 2011. Subject to final determination of transaction costs and other expenses, Bekaert expects the transaction to result in a capital gain of approximately EUR [10 million], and in a reduction of Bekaert’s consolidated net debt of approximately EUR [80 million].