Monday, April 30, 2012

Suntech files 2011 annual report on Form 20-F

SAN FRANCISCO, USA & WUXI, CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, announced the filing of its 2011 annual report on Form 20-F with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its 2011 audited financial statements.

The 20-F can be found in the Investors section of Suntech's website under "SEC Filings".

LDK Solar reports financial results for Q4 of fiscal 2011

XINYU CITY, CHINA & SUNNYVALE, USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd, a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic products, presented its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2011.

Q4 highlights
* Net sales of $420.2 million;
* Shipped 197.1 megawatts (MW) of wafers, 255.5 MW of cells and modules in the fourth quarter;
* Produced a total of approximately 2,317.8 MT of polysilicon during the fourth quarter; and
* Produced a total of approximately 149.6 MW of cells during the fourth quarter.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 were $420.2 million, compared to $471.9 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011, and $920.9 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

Gross loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was $275.2 million, compared to gross loss of $17 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, and gross profit of $251.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

Gross margin for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was negative 65.5 percent, compared to negative 3.6 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, and positive 27.3 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

During the preparation of its fourth quarter 2011 financial results, LDK Solar's management determined that an inventory write-down and provision for firm purchase commitment of $232.6 million was required as a result of the significant drop in market price for polysilicon, wafers and modules during the fourth quarter. As a result, gross margin and results from operations were negatively impacted in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.

Loss from operations for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was $531.4 million, compared to loss from operations of $77.1 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011, and income from operations of $203.8 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. Apart from the inventory write-down and provision for firm purchase commitment, LDK Solar's management determined that a provision for doubtful receivables and prepayments of $179.2 million was required in view of deteriorating solar market which negatively affected our customers and suppliers.

Operating margin for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was negative 126.5 percent compared to negative 16.3 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, and positive 22.1 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

Income tax benefit for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was $45.1 million, compared to income tax benefit of $1.7 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011 and income tax expense of $40.5 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

Net loss attributable to LDK Solar's shareholders for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 was $588.7 million, or a loss of $4.63 per diluted ADS, compared to a net loss of $114.5 million, or a loss of $0.87 per diluted ADS for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 and net income of $145.2 million, or $1.09 per diluted ADS for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. The number of shares for calculating diluted ADS was approximately 127.2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011.

LDK Solar ended the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 with $244.1 million in cash and cash equivalents and $565.1 million in short-term pledged bank deposits.

"The solar industry experienced a tremendous supply and demand imbalance throughout the value chain during the fourth quarter. Our results reflected the negative effects of this dislocation in the PV market," stated Xiaofeng Peng, chairman and CEO. "Weak market demand and rapidly declining average selling prices reduced our revenue and adversely impacted our margins in the quarter.

"In 2012, we expect that excess capacity and further policy uncertainties in Europe and the US will result in continued intense competition within the solar industry. As such, we remain focused on improving our cost structure by driving down production costs and closely managing our operating expenses. PV applications are increasing globally with improved affordability for solar electricity. We continue to believe that the considerable opportunities to meet global energy needs with solar power will drive long-term market growth."

For the first quarter of fiscal 2012, LDK Solar estimates its revenue to be in the range of $190 million to $230 million, wafer shipments between 140 MW and 150 MW, cells and module shipments between 170 MW and 180 MW, in-house polysilicon production between 1,800 MT and 1,900 MT and in-house cell production between 40 MW and 50 MW.

For fiscal 2012, LDK Solar estimates its revenue to be in the range of $2.0 billion to $2.7 billion, polysilicon production between 12,000 MT and 15,000 MT, of which shipments to 3rd party customers are expected to be between 6,000 MT and 8,000 MT, wafer production between 2.7 gigawatts (GW) and 3.3 GW, of which shipments to 3rd party customers are expected to be between 1.5 GW and 2.0 GW, in-house cell production between 1.2 GW and 1.6 GW, and module production between 1.2 GW and 1.6 GW, with cell and module shipments to 3rd party customers between 1.0 GW and 1.3 GW and inverter shipments between 200 MW to 250 MW.

LDK Solar expects PV system project construction to be in the range of 400 MW to 600 MW and to recognize between 270 MW and 360 MW through project sales and EPC services for 3rd party customers.

Heliatek sets new world record efficiency of 10.7 percent for its organic tandem cell

DRESDEN, GERMANY: Heliatek GmbH, technology leader in the field of organic solar films, continues to set new world records for organic solar cells. The company has commissioned SGS, an accredited and independent testing facility, with a measurement campaign of its latest organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells. The result of this campaign is a new world record for OPV with 10.7 percent cell efficiency on 1.1 cm2. It also confirms the superior low light and high temperature performances of OPV compared to traditional solar technologies.

The key to Heliatek’s success is the family of small organic molecules – oligomers – developed and synthesized at its own lab in Ulm, Germany. Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO of Heliatek, explains: “Heliatek is the only solar company in the world that uses the deposition of small organic molecules in a low temperature, roll-to-roll vacuum process. Our solar tandem cells are made of nanometers thin layers of high purity and uniformity. This enables us to literally engineer the cell architecture to systematically improve efficiency and lifetime.”

The measurement campaign of SGS included efficiency measurements under standard testing conditions (STC) of the solar industry as well as performance measurements at low light and high temperatures of up to 80 °C. The test results not only set a new world record for OPV with 10.7 percent cell efficiency, but the additional measurements highlight the superior performance of Heliatek’s OPV cells under real life conditions.

The measurement results for low light established that the efficiency not only remains constant, but even increases gradually. At an irradiation of 100 W/m² the efficiency is 15 % higher compared to the standard efficiency measured at 1,000 W/m². Additionally, the measurements at high temperatures confirmed that the efficiency remains constant. This behavior is unique for OPV technology in contrast to traditional solar technology which efficiency drops 15 percent to 20 percent at elevated temperatures.

These technology advantages translate into a higher harvesting factor under real life conditions. First outdoor tests have shown that the harvesting factor of Heliatek’s organic solar cells is 15 percent to 25 percent higher than crystalline and thin film solar.

“When Heliatek was founded in 2006, the technology roadmap set out ambitious milestones for efficiency, and yet we have hit every single one of them,” says Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek. “Thanks to the close cooperation between our research teams in chemistry and physics, we are now on our path to achieving 15 percent efficiency within the next few years.”

Heliatek is currently working on its first roll-to-roll manufacturing line installed in Dresden, Germany, to go in production in the third quarter of 2012. It has also kicked off a third financing round to raise €60 million from current and new investors for a new roll-to-roll 75 MWp production line.

NRG Energy, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar celebrate 100 MW milestone for 290 MW Agua Caliente solar project

PRINCETON, DES MOINES & TEMPE, USA: Representatives from NRG Energy Inc., MidAmerican Solar and First Solar Inc. gathered with federal and local officials at the 290 megawatt (AC) Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Ariz., to celebrate the project’s first 100 megawatts (MW) being delivered to the grid, making it North America’s largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in operation.

Once completed in 2014, Agua Caliente will be one of the world’s largest PV power plants, supplying enough clean, renewable solar energy to power more than 225,000 homes. The project’s construction phase is creating an average of 400 jobs, with over 80% of the workforce coming from Arizona.

“Getting to this milestone of our first 100 megawatts at Agua Caliente illustrates the success of public-private partnerships to stimulate the construction of these large-scale solar projects, creating hundreds of construction jobs and providing clean, renewable power to thousands of homes,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar. “Large-scale projects like this also help drive down the price of solar, which will make it even more cost-competitive with conventional electricity generation in the near future.”

The event included site tours and media Q&A led by project owners NRG and MidAmerican Solar, and project developer First Solar—three companies with complementary development capabilities and strong commitment to expanding the benefits of clean energy to more Americans.

“Agua Caliente will provide a positive impact on the environment and create jobs. Projects such as Agua Caliente will play a central role in our nation’s long-term electric energy supply and in our national transition to cleaner energy sources,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar.

First Solar designed and is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a long-term power purchase agreement for all of the project’s generation, which is projected to offset approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking over 40,000 cars off the road annually.

“First Solar is proud of the rapid progress we are making to bring Agua Caliente’s clean power to the grid,” said Jim Lamon, First Solar senior VP of Engineering, Procurement and Construction and Operations and Maintenance. “We are very pleased to be working on this and other projects with energy leaders like NRG and MidAmerican Solar. And we’re grateful for the robust support at the local, state and federal levels that enabled us to realize this project.”

Agua Caliente was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference.

Solar Trust of America secures new credit facility

OAKLAND, USA: On April 26, 2012, Solar Trust of America LLC received final approval from US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to obtain a replacement debtor-in-possession financing from Mason Capital Management LLC.

The new DIP facility provides the company with up to $25 million of available borrowing capacity in addition to $18.4 million for letters of credit. “The new loan will provide the necessary funding to maximize value through a longer and more robust asset sale process than was provided for under the prior DIP,” said Ned Kleinschmidt, president and chief restructuring officer of STA.

The process will culminate with an auction currently scheduled for late June 2012, with the exact date yet to be determined and subject to approval by the Bankruptcy Court.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sunray Solar, Clean Power Finance partner to offer consumers a more affordable solar solution

LAKEWOOD, USA: Sunray Solar, a leader in simple, affordable solar solutions, has partnered with Clean Power Finance to bring more affordable financing options to homeowners interested in clean low cost energy solutions.

As a leading provider of residential financing for the solar industry, Clean Power Finance will provide unparalleled support, enabling both organizations to expand into more markets throughout the United States.

The partnership with Clean Power Finance supports Sunray Solar's focus on delivering the absolute best solar solutions available while extending the company's ability to offer affordable solar power to more consumers. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, residential installations in the United States grew by 21 percent toward the end of 2011, and analysts and industry experts expect to see continued demand for residential solar in 2012 and beyond.

Customers of Sunray Solar enjoy a variety of cost and energy saving benefits, including free installation, monitoring and maintenance of the solar system . The Clean Power Finance partnership will allow Sunray Solar to expand its existing financing and maintenance options for homeowners, which include the ability to purchase the power generated by the system for a much lower rate than consumers typically pay their utility, and locking in much lower monthly electricity rates for 20 years.

Sunray Solar works with the leading solar vendors and is one of only a small few solar providers in the northeast that can offer experienced, field and customer service, keeping all functions in-house and never outsourcing.

"This partnership supports Sunray Solar's commitment to provide customers with first class service," said Troy Lambe, founder and CEO of Sunray Solar. "Clean Power Finance's track record in consumer solar financing is unprecedented and it was extremely important to us that their transparent, non-exclusive model supported our brand and business. Collaborations like this will help fuel Sunray Solar's continued success in the growing residential solar market."

Clean Power Finance connects investors and capital markets with qualified solar EPC's , creating partnerships with the likes of Sunray Solar with a suite of online solar sales and design software tools and white label residential solar finance products that Sunray can brand and market as their own "Sunray Financial Services".

"Sunray Solar and Clean Power Finance are committed to expanding the residential solar market by making competitive, energy finance products available to consumers. "This partnership will help many more homeowners across the Northeastern US realize the economic benefits of clean, renewable solar energy."

Solutia demos advanced automotive glazing technologies

2012 SAE World Congress, DETROIT, USA: Solutia Inc. was selected by the Society of Automotive Engineering's panel of automotive technology experts to display at its "Innovators Only" exhibition during the 2012 Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) World Congress, held April 24 through April 26 in Detroit.

Solutia's booth featured the award-winning Saflex S series advanced solar absorbing polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayers, Saflex Q series advanced acoustic PVB interlayers and XIR reflective film products. Visitors, including automotive engineers, technologists, corporate executives and academic students, were able to participate in a novel, hands-on solar heat reduction demonstration showcasing the benefits of Saflex S series advanced solar absorbing interlayers and the company's newly acquired XIR reflective films. In addition, participants were able to "hear the difference" that Saflex Q series advanced acoustic interlayers make in automotive glazing applications.

"XIR reflective films and Saflex solar/acoustic interlayers address challenges across multiple disciplines, from electric vehicle range and efficiency to noise vibration and harshness (NVH) reduction and safety," said Tom Selm, global business director for Solutia's Advanced Interlayers division. "These product technologies also yield a more comfortable cabin environment for passengers by reducing the rate at which the sun heats up a vehicle."

When a vehicle starts off cooler or gains less heat while driving, the air conditioning (A/C) system uses less power to achieve and maintain a desired cabin temperature. This allows automotive designers to use smaller and lighter A/C systems, which also allows electric vehicles the ability to increase the driving range for each charge.

Comfort and weight savings may also be achieved with the use of Saflex Q series advanced acoustic interlayers in automotive glazing applications. Wind and road noise transmitted through car windows are a major source of a vehicle's interior noise, can diminish driver satisfaction with ubiquitous audio and hands-free systems and may increase driver fatigue. Using laminated glass made with an advanced Saflex Q series acoustic interlayer, designers can reduce interior noise without increasing the windscreen weight. Switching from an ordinary windscreen to one made with Saflex advanced acoustical interlayer immediately reduces wind and road noise by up to three decibels.

Automotive laminated glass incorporating XIR film, Saflex S series and Saflex Q series technologies are drop-in interlayer solutions that can provide improved cabin comfort, fuel efficiency and CO2 emission reductions on most internal combustion (ICE) vehicles. Solutia's interlayer products can be used in automotive glazing applications, including the windscreen, sunroof, back lites and side laminate applications.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hanwha SolarOne obtains $180 million term loan facility

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Hanwha SolarOne Co. Ltd has obtained, through the company's wholly owned subsidiary Hanwha SolarOne Hong Kong Ltd, a three-year $180 million syndicated term loan facility led by The Korea Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd, KEB Hong Kong Branch, KDB Asia Ltd, and KEB Asia Finance Ltd. The loans will be denominated in US dollar and will be guaranteed by Hanwha Chemical Corp.

Jay SEO, CFO of Hanwha SolarOne, said: "This new $180 million term loan facility will provide SolarOne with important additional funds to sustain further developments in technology and downstream projects, plus enhance our existing marketing and branding strategies to boost customer awareness and sales for SolarOne products. The new term loan facility will also give us additional financial flexibility in the current business environment. We are very pleased to have further diversified our banking relationships globally."

Spire ships 250th 4600SLP simulator

BEDFORD, USA: Spire Corp.has completed and shipped its 250th Spi-Sun Simulator 4600SLP. The 4600SLP provides a light source that closely matches the solar spectrum to measure electrical characteristics and output power ratings of PV modules.

The system combines International Standard Class AAA performance with a unique long pulse-width that permits more accurate measurement of thin film and high efficiency crystalline silicon modules. The unit is also available as part of an integrated Module QA Tester, which performs high voltage isolation and ground continuity testing as well.

Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire, said: “Sun simulators are among the most critical pieces of equipment in the module manufacturing process. They are used to determine module power, which directly influences a module’s selling price. Therefore, accuracy and reliability of this equipment is paramount to a manufacturer’s success.

“Spire’s Sun Simulators are considered the gold standard in the PV industry since they offer the highest levels of accuracy and product throughput. The 4600SLP’s versatility has made it a staple for both large-scale module manufacturers and certification laboratories worldwide. Shipment of our 250th unit is a testament to the industry’s acceptance of our equipment and of Spire as the world leader in PV module performance measurement.”

Little concluded: “We have provided the industry with over 600 simulators since we began offering PV module metrology instruments. We continue to maintain our leadership position with the introduction of our new advanced 5600SLP simulator, and continue to develop our expertise in metrology by offering state-of-the-art equipment.”

Annual worldwide revenues from frequency regulation services will surpass $27 billion by 2022

BOULDER, USA: Frequency regulation services, which balance the fluctuations between electricity generation and electrical load and manage the variability in the grid’s frequency output, have traditionally been tied to the wholesale energy market. Today, a second key driver has emerged: intermittent renewable energy.

Solar PV, wind, and other intermittent resources are causing frequency instabilities on the electrical grid that require more extensive regulation capability across a wider swath of the grid. In addition, in the face of energy security concerns, major economies are mandating changes in energy mixes globally, altering the mix of technologies available to deliver frequency regulation.

New opportunities in the frequency regulation sector are emerging in countries that are liberalizing or deregulating electricity markets, and additional opportunities are developing in fully deregulated markets that are changing market rules to differentiate the quality of frequency regulation delivered by various technologies.

According to a new report from Pike Research, the amount of frequency regulation required globally is expected to increase over the next decade, thanks to increased volatility in both generation and load. The total value of the frequency regulation market will grow from $19.5 billion in 2012 to $27.2 billion in 2022, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.5 percent.

Under a more aggressive scenario, revenue from frequency regulation services could reach $56.8 billion in 2022.

“The key factors that will influence the expansion of the frequency regulation market are the rate and robustness of economic recovery, the growth in intermittent renewable energy, and the liberalization of electricity markets,” says research analyst, Anissa Dehamna. “The mix of technologies delivering these services will change the most in markets that are deregulated and, more specifically, in deregulated markets that differentiate the quality of frequency regulation services delivered.”

Whereas the cost of technology typically decreases over time, that is not the case for a service like frequency regulation. Indeed, with greater economic activity (and thus demand for energy), more and more diversity in generation assets globally, and increased market liberalization, the expectation is that the value of frequency regulation will increase over time. This means that on a per unit basis (per megawatt hour, in this case), Pike Research expects that a unit of frequency regulation will be worth more in 2022 than in 2012.

Q.CELLS successfully completes Europe's largest solar project

BITTERFELD-WOLFEN, GERMANY: Q.CELLS has completed the solar project Brandenburg- Briest to full extend. It is the largest solar installation in Europe. With the last outstanding financial installment being placed by the financing bank, the commercial part of the mega project has now been finished. Q.CELLS had completed the entire construction of the mega solar park in an astounding eight weeks at the end of 2011.

“We are very pleased by this lighthouse project to have demonstrated our experience and outstanding competence in the systems business”, said Clemens Jargon, head of marketing, sales and product management at Q.CELLS. “Our customers and their banks continue to rely on the high quality of our products also in the current situation.”

In Brandenburg-Briest, what was once a former military airbase covering some 200 hectares is now “home” to approximately 383,000 of Q.CELLS’ crystalline solar modules. With a total output of 91 MWp, Brandenburg-Briest produces enough electricity for over 22,500 households’ annual requirements, making it the largest solar power plant in Europe. The plant will also reduce annual CO2 emissions by approximately 50,000 tons.

The Briest solar part is subdivided into three different sections. Brandenburg-Briest West and Brandenburg-Briest East have a total output of 60 MWp: located on land that belongs to the municipal authorities of the town of Brandenburg, they were transferred to the ownership of Hamburg-based asset management company LUXCARA in November 2011. The third section at the site produces 31 MWp and is located in the communal district Briest-Havelsee. It was bought by Berlin-based MCG Management

Capital Group for its own stock. Q.CELLS had developed the project together with the company “Module 24”.

“Q.CELLS sets benchmarks when it comes to constructing large-scale plants, for example by deploying the megawatt-block standard that we had developed”, says Frank Danielzik, director, Systems and Operations Germany. “With those standard blocks we ensure higher power output for the plant operator, we speed up the pace of construction work and at the same time minimise operating costs.” This principle was also applied for the design of the Bandenburg-Briest solar park.

In the systems solution field, Q.CELLS provides its customers with an extensive range of services, from site and project development to support when securing financing, from professional and fast installation to the management, maintenance and upkeep of power plants when in operation. The company has been demonstrating the extent of its expertise on the international markets, for example in North America. Q.CELLS has realised large-scale solar projects totalling to a cumulated power output of 548 MWp, of which around 20% were installed in North America.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

REC Systems builds and sells 6 MW solar power plant

SANDVIKA, GERMANY: REC Systems, a business unit of Renewable Energy Corp. (REC), has sold a 6 MW solar power plant that it successfully developed, financed, and constructed in Bitterfeld, Germany to two investment companies in the Chorus Group.

Originally developed by Grüne Energien GmbH, REC Systems took full control of the project in September 2011 – when it was less than 50 percent developed – and provided the necessary project development, financing, and streamlined construction. REC completed construction of the plant in December 2011, ensuring the plant’s eligibility for the higher 2011 feed-in tariff.

The ground-mounted system in Bitterfeld consists of 27,096 high performance REC modules installed on an area of 13 hectares, with an annual capacity of approximately 6,101 MWh and 3,435 tons of CO2 emissions saved each year.

The project was sold to two investment companies in the Chorus Group, with project financing from DKB AG (Deutsche Kreditbank AG). “We are extremely happy to acquire yet another state-of-the-art solar power plant from REC Systems,” said Thomas Laumont, MD, Chorus Cleantech Management GmbH. “REC Systems’ management of the development and building of this project ensures the reliability of this solar power plant for the years to come.”

“Chorus is a knowledgeable and experienced investor in solar energy plants, valuing REC’s efficient modules and high-quality solutions. We are delighted to be their partner once again,” said Terje Pilskog, Senior Vice President, Systems and Business Development, REC.

This is not the first investment in REC modules by Chorus. In 2011, Chorus acquired several systems built in Italy by REC Systems using REC modules.

tenKsolar announces global strategic partnership with Hanwha

MINNEAPOLIS, USA: tenKsolar, a photovoltaics (PV) solutions leader, announced the completion of its $15.5 million financing round led by Hanwha of South Korea together with ESB Novusmodus of the United Kingdom, creating a global footprint for tenKsolar as a next generation solar company.

Hanwha owns a controlling stake in Hanwha SolarOne, a fully vertically integrated global provider of total solar energy solutions and a leading manufacturer of high-quality photovoltaic materials, cells and modules. ESB Novusmodus is a major European cleantech fund backed by Irish state utility, ESB.

Dallas Meyer, founder, president and CTO of tenKsolar, said: "We are pleased to have Hanwha as our global partner. Their worldwide presence together with the European partnership of ESB Novusmodus provides tenKsolar a truly strategic investor base as we fundamentally improve solar."

Chris Eberspacher, global CTO of Hanwha Solar, said: "Hanwha is clearly committed to applying its expertise and resources across the broad PV value chain by actively investing in fundamentally differentiated, high-impact technologies. And as part of this endeavor, we highly value our partnership with tenKsolar in our combined efforts to develop and provide industry-leading products to our customers."

Robert Schrimpff, partner of Novusmodus, said: "We're very impressed with tenKsolar's innovative and holistic approach to achieving solar PV efficiency. It allows them to provide PV at the lowest possible cost. At a time when the majority of the market is seeing negative gross margins, tenKsolar is able to be both highly cost competitive and profitable. We look forward to helping them grow."

According to tenKsolar CEO Joel Cannon: "We design solar PV to be a utility-grade generation asset and we are out to revolutionize the delivery of solar energy. Highest reliability, lowest energy cost, complete safety, and built-in storage compatibility define tenKsolar systems."

Government 'hurting' industry and consumers with latest feed-in-tariff cuts

UK: Ministers were accused today of hurting both industry and consumers as the countdown begins to the July 1 feed-in-tariff reductions. Homeowners have just over 60 days left to secure an eye-catching return on investment if they go ahead with a solar PV installation on their property.

As of July 1, the Government is slashing the feed-in-tariff subsidies available for domestic schemes of less than 4kW from the current 21p to an expected rate of 15.7p. It may be as low as 13.6p but no higher than 16.5p. Under the present FIT rate, the return on investment is more than 10 per cent and is index linked and tax free, fixed and guaranteed for 25 years.

However, when the rate reduces to 15.7p – or the 13.6p rate if deployment in March and April is between 150 and 200MW – the potential return on investment will drop to between 4 and 6 per cent.

David Hunt, a director with leading renewable energy company Eco Environments, said: “This is the final chance for consumers to secure a fantastic return on investment if they go ahead with a solar PV installation before July 1. After this date, the FIT rate will drop dramatically to 15.7p and potentially lower still, which will make a domestic solar PV scheme appealing only to the really green investors rather than those who are coming at it mainly for the eye-watering financial returns.”

Last year, the feed-in-tariff rate for domestic schemes under 4kW was slashed from 43.3p to 21p and, should the new rate fall as low as 13.6p this would amount to a 68 per cent fall in the rate since December. The rates are due to reduce further still in October this year.

While the industry has responded as best it can by reducing the cost of solar panels and installation during this period, it would be completely “untenable” for them to keep pace with the level of the Government’s FIT reductions as product prices are not coming down at anything like that rate.

Hunt added: “The Government would like to have us believe that the draconian slashing of the feed-in-tariff rates during the past six months is about providing medium to long term certainty in the market.

“Back in the real world, the Government’s chaotic handling of the FIT rates is killing tens of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry and taking away from consumers one of the best financial investments available to them during extremely uncertain economic times.

“Perhaps, the ministers responsible will one day explain why they have been so hell-bent on hurting both industry and the consumer with their reckless policies.”

Polysilicon price continues to fall, may reach $20/kg in 2012

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, polysilicon spot price is closing in on major vendors’ manufacturing cost – this week’s spot price has already fallen below the $23/kg mark, but vendors indicate polysilicon price is gradually stabilizing.

TrendForce believes polysilicon price may hit $20/kg this year, but as first-tier makers are standing firm on price, second and third-tier manufacturers are unable to make a move on their own. Thus, TrendForce expects polysilicon price will stay above $20/kg.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Industry players indicate, polysilicon price will continue to fall mainly due to continuous production. Unwilling to hold on to too much inventory, contract-bound makers continue to sell raw materials. Without a significant improvement in market demand, this much supply will likely keep polysilicon market price low, maintaining the downward trend.

Vendors indicate the four main polysilicon suppliers are all highly cost competitive, leaving little breathing room for smaller makers. While there are some manufacturers that want to stabilize price, others are aggressively pushing price down to expedite the elimination of weaker suppliers. Makers with cost advantage and capacity covered by contracts will adjust their product retail prices in accordance with their main competitors. TrendForce expects the market price will be led by the price-cutting makers – with manufacturing cost around $19-20, suppliers will still see 5-10 percent profit margins.

In 2012, TrendForce forecasts contract price will be around $26-28, while spot price will see a low of $19.5-22.5. Polysilison suppliers are unlikely to follow in the footsteps of cell and wafer makers, especially since installation volume is expected to increase slightly this year. Furthermore, as there has been little news of polysilicon makers resuming halted production, it is probable polysilicon price will stay above $20/kg.

Market rumors indicate some polysilicon manufacturers plan to hold downstream clients to their contracts, which has caused makers to clear excess raw materials more quickly. Some polysilicon makers have offered contract prices below $30/kg, putting pressure on spot price. This week’s lowest polysilicon spot price was $21/kg, and average price was $22.776/kg, a 3.82 percent decrease.

Solar wafers and cells saw only slight price decreases this week. Average multi-Si wafer price was $1.076/piece, a decline of 0.46 percent, while average mono-Si wafer price was $1.551/piece, a 0.64 percent decrease. Solar cell price was relatively stable – this week’s average was $0.474/Watt, a slight decrease of 0.21 percent. Due to pressures from China’s domestic market, solar module price fell to an average of $0.785/Watt, a 0.38 percent decline.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Countdown begins for consumers keen to cash in on solar panels

UK: Homeowners have just over 60 days left to secure an eye-catching return on investment if they go ahead with a solar PV installation on their property.

As of July 1, the government is slashing the feed-in-tariff subsidies available for domestic schemes of less than 4kW from the current 21p to an expected rate of 15.7p. It may be as low as 13.6p but no higher than 16.5p.

Under the present FIT rate, the return on investment is more than 10 percent and is index linked and tax free, fixed and guaranteed for 25 years.

However, when the rate reduces to 15.7p – or the 13.6p rate if deployment in March and April is between 150 and 200MW – the potential return on investment will drop to between 4 and 6 percent.

David Hunt, a director with leading renewable energy company Eco Environments, said: “This is the final chance for consumers to secure a fantastic return on investment if they go ahead with a solar PV installation before July 1.

“After this date, the FIT rate will drop dramatically to 15.7p and potentially lower still, which will make a domestic solar PV scheme appealing only to the really green investors rather than those who are coming at it mainly for the eye-watering financial returns.”

Last year, the feed-in-tariff rate for domestic schemes under 4kW was slashed from 43.3p to 21p and, should the new rate fall as low as 13.6p this would amount to a 68 per cent fall in the rate since December. The rates are due to reduce further still in October this year.

While the industry has responded as best it can by reducing the cost of solar panels and installation during this period, it would be completely “untenable” for them to keep pace with the level of the government’s FIT reductions as product prices are not coming down at anything like that rate.

Hunt added: “The government would like to have us believe that the draconian slashing of the feed-in-tariff rates during the past six months is about providing medium to long term certainty in the market.

“Back in the real world, the Government’s chaotic handling of the FIT rates is killing tens of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry and taking away from consumers one of the best financial investments available to them during extremely uncertain economic times.

“Perhaps the Ministers responsible will one day explain why they have been so hell-bent on hurting both industry and the consumer with their reckless policies.”

Upsolar offering PV testing and consultation services

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Upsolar, a leading international provider of solar PV modules, today announced a major expansion to its technology division. The company is now offering a suite of testing, auditing and consultation services to local organizations in an effort to strengthen technical support for emerging PV companies.

From its laboratory located in Shanghai, Upsolar can provide clients with component and module testing in compliance with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Current offerings include evaluations on electrical safety, bypass diodes, wet leakage currents and insulation. The technology division is also equipped for durability testing, where products are exposed to extreme environments including high temperatures, UV acceleration, excessive humidity and mechanical stresses.

Outside the lab, Upsolar engineers are available for consultation services ranging from on-site PV plant inspection to comprehensive operational assessments to assist clients with improving their internal manufacturing processes, including productivity improvement and waste management.

“The Upsolar brand is synonymous with high standards of quality, and we view this suite of technical services as a logical extension of our business,” said Natasha Lee, manager of Upsolar’s Technology Division. “We’ve amassed some of the brightest minds in the business for our technology division; these experts can now provide up-and-coming PV manufacturers with a cost-effective means to evaluate new products before they come to market.”

Upsolar’s recognition from renowned assessment organization Bureau Veritas enables the company’s lab results to serve as a means of verification to larger testing bodies around the world. This step allows clients to achieve component and module certifications efficiently.

“We are offering our clients access to the same top-notch equipment and staff that helped us to achieve rapid global growth,” said Upsolar CEO Zhe Jiang. “We envision this endeavor will not only offer our clients a shorter path to certification, but also serve to strengthen international product quality standards. We take great pride in our technical capabilities and hope they can help facilitate positive change across the PV industry.”

ArrayPower partners with ShinHa on Asian expansion

SUNNYVALE, USA & SINGAPORE: ArrayPower, a Silicon Valley-based power electronics company, has entered into an agreement with Korean technology sales representative ShinHa Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, ShinHa will provide sales and technical support to meet the strong interest from Korea-based solar module manufacturers for ArrayPower’s Sequenced Inverter.

ArrayPower’s Sequenced Inverter, which converts the DC power produced by solar modules into grid-ready, three-phase AC power, is designed to meet the unique needs of the commercial-scale solar market. The Sequenced Inverter is sold to module producers, who then integrate the inverter during the module manufacturing process, facilitating cost reductions across the solar value chain and enhancing ease of installation by enabling a plug-and-play AC module. The Sequenced Inverter offers exceptional product reliability backed by a 25-year warranty.

“Manufacturers in Korea have shown enthusiasm for our technology because of the benefits it offers the commercial-scale solar market, and partnering with a reputable firm like ShinHa will allow us to expedite the acquisition of module partners in the region,” said Nick Cravalho, VP of business development and marketing at ArrayPower. “Korean manufacturers have a rich history of integrating electronics, and thus are well suited to quickly implement an AC module incorporating ArrayPower technology.”

ShinHa brings 25 years of experience representing high technology companies in the liquid-crystal display (LCD), semiconductor and solar industries, and the company has established strong relationships with leading solar module manufacturers.

“Korea is quickly emerging as a manufacturing leader in the global solar marketplace,” said InYoung Suh, director of business development for ShinHa. “Our partnership with ArrayPower enables ShinHa to offer its network a unique solar product that allows manufacturers to differentiate themselves from competitors as they strive to attain greater market share. We are excited about the potential of Sequenced Inverter technology, and we look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership.”

Global Solar Energy announces process to sell portable solar products division

TUCSON, USA: Global Solar Energy Inc. (Global Solar), a leading manufacturer of flexible solar technology, has engaged FTI Capital Advisors, LLC (FTICA) member FINRA/SIPC, the wholly owned investment banking subsidiary of FTI Consulting, Inc., to conduct an asset sale of its portable products business. Through this sale Global Solar will be better positioned to focus on and grow other key business units serving the building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) market.

Global Solar’s Portable Solar Business is the leading lightweight, high-efficiency portable solar power solution for military applications, mobile professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Global Solar’s Portable Solar Business sells its products to more than 20 military customers and has commercial sales through retailers and OEMs around the globe.

Commenting on the decision to sell the Portable Solar Business, CEO Dr. Jeffrey Britt stated: “The Portable Solar Business is positioned to recognize a fourth straight year of strong revenue and profitability. The time has come for Global Solar to realize value from the business and identify a buyer who will take the product line to the next level. Serving select markets which require lightweight power sources, these innovative solar products offer a unique opportunity to own a growing, profitable solar enterprise that generates strong, positive cash flow.

“Additionally, the sale of the portable solar business enables Global Solar to increase focus on our core product lines, namely Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) solar cells for OEMs such as Dow Solar and the company’s commercial-scale flexible modules ideal for building integrated applications.”

The company does not anticipate any disruption in production or service to its Portable Solar Business customers during the sale process.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1st Light Energy creates benevolent fund for groups looking to convert to solar

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, USA: 1st Light Energy, a leading provider of solar energy solutions in New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts, announced the creation of its Benevolent Solar Fund. This unique program enables municipalities and other nonprofit organizations to create substantial fundraising opportunities and save money on their electric bills while reducing their carbon footprint, without any upfront investment.

St. Benedict Catholic Church and school in Holmdel, N.J., is the first organization to take advantage of the program, with its installation completed in late February. It is part of the Catholic Diocese of Trenton, N.J. The school also has created a special Science Day to be held Monday, April 23 around the solar installation and usage so its 509 students from kindergarten to 8th grade can learn firsthand about solar energy.

As 1st Light Energy completed the project in record time, it was able to prevent St. Benedict from losing $100,000 in Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) payouts.

Under the Benevolent Solar Fund program, participating organizations will receive a tax deductible contribution of $500 or $1,000 in the name of a qualified homeowner or business owner. Under the terms of a multi-year power purchase agreement, solar panels are installed at no cost as part of a lease arrangement.

In order to receive funds under the program, eligible organizations need to organize at least 30 homeowners to attend an educational session hosted by a 1st Light Energy representative. The sessions promote solar energy, its affordability and its benefits. Funds will be awarded upon installation of the system.

“In these difficult economic times, nonprofit organizations and agencies and municipalities in New Jersey can use all the help they can get,” said Justin Krum, founder, president and CEO of 1st Light Energy. “Our new Benevolent Solar Fund is a real win-win for them. They get all the benefits of clean, affordable solar-generated electricity at no cost, plus a guarantee of system production and coverage for all maintenance.”

At St. Benedict, 506 solar panels were installed in 11 groups behind the school; another 429 panels were placed on the roof of the school. Evergreens will be planted to screen the ground-mounted panels from view.

“Our power purchase agreement with 1st Light will not only reduce our electric costs by more than 30 percent right off the bat, it will effectively eliminate them over 15 years because of our share in the financial benefits of the program,” said St. Benedict Parish Administrator Catherine Warshaw. “This program is a great way to achieve responsible stewardship of our parish resources, and is providing us with material for valuable scientific and environmental lessons for our students.”

“Also, I have the highest regard for 1st Light Energy,” Warshaw continued. “Because another company was unable to complete the job, we brought the 1st Light team on board in December 2011, and they had to finish the installation by February or we would have missed a significant payout from our SREC agreements. They worked through the coldest months of the year and truly saved the day for us and our parish. We will dedicate and bless the system on Sunday April 22nd at 2 p.m. as part of our Earth Day celebration. Our students will have a similar dedication the following day.”

Canadian Solar achieves OHSAS 18001 certification

ONTARIO, CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc., one of the world's largest solar companies, has passed the OHSAS 18001 international standards for occupational health and safety after auditing by TUV Rheinland.

OHSAS 18001 is a standard for Occupation Health and Safety Assessment Series for health and safety management systems. It is intended to help organizations control occupational health and safety risks. It was developed in response to widespread demand for a recognized standard against which to be certified and assessed.

This standard was developed to integrate ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) with an organization's occupational health and safety management system. The compliance requirements for this standard have become important in markets around the world led by Europe in recent years.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, said, "We are delighted to achieve this latest certification, which demonstrates our commitment to the health and safety of our employees as well as to overall improvement of our quality management systems to support our industry leadership."

Canadian Solar also holds ISO 14001, REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals) and QC080000 environmental management system certifications, with QC080000 serving as the international standard for the management of hazardous substances.

New IEEE standard and development activities designed to aid smart grid communications and distribution automation

BANGALORE, INDIA: The IEEE announced the publication of a new standard, as well as the launch of three new standards-development activities, all designed to enhance the communications and distribution-automation capabilities of the smart grid globally.

“Many of the benefits that the world hopes to achieve through smart-grid development—such as empowering greater consumer choice in energy use, improving the reliability of power generation and distribution and more efficiently meeting skyrocketing power demand—are dependent on integrating significantly more robust systems for communications and distribution automation,” said Dr. W. Charlton Adams Jr., past president of the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA).“The new standards activities approved by the IEEE-SA Standards Board are designed to enhance those very capabilities—and, in doing so, accelerate realization of the smart grid’s revolutionary promise.”

IEEE-SA has published IEEE 1591.1-2012 – Standard for Testing and Performance of Hardware for Optical Ground Wire (OPGW). OPGW is being used in the smart grid to provide both grounding capabilities for transmission lines and communications back to utility systems such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). IEEE 1591.1 provides manufacturing, testing and procurement specifications for use with OPGW hardware. The new standard is available for purchase at the IEEE Standards Store. Smart-grid standards projects newly approved by IEEE-SA include the following:

* IEEE P1909.1–Recommended Practice for Smart Grid Communication Equipment - Test methods and installation requirements – is intended to document testing and installation procedures that are geared specifically for communications equipment to be installed in various domains of the smart grid, such as generation, transmission and distribution. Safety, electromagnetic capability (EMC), environmental and mechanical tests are to be covered in the recommended practice, toward the goal of improving the safety and reliability of a wide range of smart-grid communications equipment.

* IEEE P1703–Standard for Local Area Network/Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN) Node Communication Protocol to complement the Utility Industry End Device Data Tables – is intended to improve the cost efficiency and flexibility of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments. The standard is being developed to define uniform, managed, adaptive and secure network data and message delivery for plug-and-play, multi-source utility meters, home appliances, communication technology and other ancillary devices.

* IEEE P1854 – Guide for Smart Distribution Applications Guide – is being developed to categorize and describe important smart distribution applications and fill a gap for standardized definitions of such systems. The guide is intended to cover advanced automation and SCADA systems for reliability improvement, outage management, fault location and management, voltage and var management, distributed-resource and renewable-generation integration, demand response, advanced protection, equipment diagnostics and asset management, real-time simulation for system optimization, microgrids and many other applications.

With a portfolio of more than 100 active standards or standards in development relevant to the smart grid, the IEEE-SA is a global leader in smart-grid standards development, as well as smart-grid vision, awareness and education.

SunPower and Giulio Barbieri partner to deliver solar carports to Italian residential market

SAN JOSE, USA: SunPower Corp. has entered into an agreement with Giulio Barbieri S.p.A., to design and manufacture the new SunPower Carport (solar carport), for the Italian residential market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Giulio Barbieri will deliver carports depending on customer specifications. SunPower's local partners will then install the complete system, including the aluminum structure, solar panels and inverters. The all-in-one solar carport system is built for durability and reliability, and is simple to install.

"SunPower is currently designing and installing commercial solar carport systems at schools and businesses across North America, and we are now pleased to offer a new solution that is being adopted more and more by Italian homeowners," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. "Partnering with Giulio Barbieri will enable SunPower to offer the same high efficiency, high reliability solar panels to homeowners wanting to power their homes with solar, but have constrained rooftops."

The SunPower Carport is available in four versions and can be installed in a number of configurations to accommodate either two or three cars. The flexible design incorporates 18, 24 or 32 of SunPower's 96-cell, high-efficiency solar panels, delivering approximately 5.9 kilowatts to 10.5 kilowatts, depending on the system size. The system is tilted for maximum energy output and the attractive modular look blends in with any architectural context.

"SunPower chose our structures for the elegance of design and ease of installation, as our carports have concrete bases and do not require any groundwork," said Giulio Barbieri, president of Giulio Barbieri S.p.A. "Our solid reputation in the market for quality and reliable carport structures, coupled with SunPower's high efficiency solar panels, provide customers an artistic and effective solution, capable of enhancing, in an attractive manner, external parking lots especially in residential complexes."

The SunPower Carport is available now in the Italian market. Interested customers can call 00800-786-76937 to schedule an appointment with an authorized SunPower partner.

sPower installs solar electric systems for the University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, USA: Sustainable Power Group (sPower) has announced the installation and commissioning of solar power generation systems on the rooftops of the Natural History Museum of Utah and the HPER East Building at the University of Utah.

The Natural History Museum’s system is a 330-kilowatt system and the HPER East system is a 263 kW system. The combined systems consist of 2,470 Sharp photovoltaic panels covering 40,000 square feet of rooftop space. The Sharp modules are American-made, manufactured in Memphis, Tennessee. sPower partnered with Okland Construction of Salt Lake City, Utah to build the systems, and McCalmont Engineering of Campbell, California to design and engineer the systems.

sPower will own and operate the systems for 20 years and will sell the power to the University of Utah under the terms of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This third-party ownership arrangement was made possible due to a $125,000 Blue Sky Grant from Rocky Mountain Power, as well as a $1,000,000 grant awarded to the University through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“We are excited about this system for numerous reasons including the long-term direct financial benefits from solar energy, the duty that we feel to be good stewards of our planet, and the educational opportunities that this will offer our students. This project is consistent with our Energy and Environmental Stewardship Initiative: 2010 Climate Action Plan, wherein we set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050,” said Dr. David Pershing, president of the University of Utah.

“We consider these projects to be a showcase of how a public entity and a private entity can work together to create sustainable energy while at the same time saving the University money. The University of Utah has truly made a significant investment in securing a long-term, clean and affordable energy source for the future,” said Ryan Creamer, CEO of sPower.

The EPA estimates that over the 20-year life of the system, the CO2 offset of the University’s new solar-energy system will be the equivalent of planting 28,368 tree seedlings or the amount of carbon sequestered by 2,360 acres of pine or fir forests.

Friday, April 20, 2012

US solar market will explode within five years

NEW YORK, USA: Within the next five years solar energy in a large portion of the US will be cheaper than power from the grid. Costs of solar panels and installation keep moving down, while the transportation costs of electricity move up. When solar power reaches the 'holy grail' of grid parity the solar market in the US will boost, and a sleeping giant will awake, experts predict.

"The awakening of the US solar market will be driven by grid parity within each region. Federal incentives provide a good foundation for the expansion of the solar industry but state-level incentives are still needed to truly make solar energy competitive in each regional market. Over the next five years we believe that solar power will reach grid parity in a large portion of the US market, thus opening up the opportunity for significant expansion of the industry in the years to come," says renewable energy advisor Eric Graber-Lopez of BlueWave Capital.

Former CEO of Sir Richard Bransons Carbon War Room Jigar Shah sees grid parity as a natural development: "Americans refuse to overpay for solar PV. Once the costs of solar PV are cheaper than the retail power prices - as they are for over 20% of Americans now - the local solar companies will significantly ramp up marketing campaigns," he expects.

Both experts are speaking on The Solar Future Eastern USA '12 conference on May 11th and 12th in New York.

At the moment the US is the 4th solar market in the world, after number one Germany and China on 3rd. In 2011, the Chinese market rose from 7th to 3rd and grew from ~500MW to ~2.5GW. The US market grew from ~900MW to 2GW last year.

According to Joseph Berwind, founder of Alternative Energy Investing (AEI) Research & Consulting, grid prices in the US are cheap because of the enormous natural gas supplies in the North East and the new ways of drilling with fracking techniques. However, when distribution prices keep going up, new opportunities occur. Berwind:
"Once the fuel prices are moving up, transportation and distribution prices are moving up, while new materials and new processes drive down prices of PV systems, that's going to wake up the sleeping giant. This is just a matter of time."

Jigar Shah calls the US market "a slow and steady market because it insists on providing only reasonable market based incentives for solar. This approach has resulted in a stable market with sustainable growth that should lead to a market of over 10 GW annually from 2016 and 25GW from 2020. 2012 will be a big year for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and DC. New states will be coming online in 2012 as well including New Hampshire, Rhode island, Vermont, and Maine."

Graber-Lopez also sees opportunities in the Eastern US. "They are and will continue to be driven by performance based incentives such as Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs). The primary markets for solar in the Eastern US are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Ohio. In addition, we expect New York to play a larger role in the industry over the next few years," Graber-Lopez says.

Timminco confirms auction

TORONTO, CANADA: Timminco Ltd and its wholly-owned subsidiary Bécancour Silicon Inc. provided an update on the company's marketing process in respect of the sale of its business and assets, in connection with the proceedings commenced by the company under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act on January 3, 2012 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Commercial List).

The company received a number of irrevocable and binding Phase II Bids, which were submitted yesterday in accordance with the Bidding Procedures. The company has determined, in consultation with the Monitor, that there is more than one Qualified Phase II Bid (other than the Stalking Horse Agreement). Accordingly, the company will proceed with the Auction, which is scheduled to commence at 10:00 am on April 24, 2012, in accordance with the Bidding Procedures.

The Bidding Procedures, as well as details of the marketing process and other information about the CCAA Proceedings are available on the Monitor's website. Capitalized terms used herein not otherwise defined are as defined in the Bidding Procedures approved by the Court on March 9, 2012.

The company has also received notice from the Ontario Securities Commission that a temporary cease trade order has been issued, prohibiting all trading in Timminco common shares, due to the company's failure to file certain continuous disclosure materials in connection with its 2011 annual financial statements, which have not been prepared. The company expects that such order will become permanent following a hearing scheduled to be held on April 30, 2012.

Pomerantz law firm reminds shareholders of First Solar of upcoming deadline

NEW YORK, USA: Shareholders of First Solar Inc. are reminded of the securities class action lawsuit filed against First Solar and certain of its officers. The class action, (Smilovits v. First Solar, Inc. et al. 12-cv-00555), filed in the United States District Court, District of Arizona, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons or entities who purchased First Solar securities between April 30, 2008 and February 28, 2012, inclusive (the Class Period).

This class action is brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. Sections 78j(b) and 78t(a); and SEC Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder by the SEC, 17 C.F.R. Section 240.10b-5.

First Solar designs and manufactures solar modules. The company uses a thin film semiconductor technology to manufacture electricity-producing solar modules.

The complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material adverse facts about the company's business, operations, and prospects. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose: (1) the full impact of certain manufacturing flaws on the Company's earnings; (2) the Company was improperly recognizing revenue concerning certain products in its systems business; (3) the Company lacked adequate internal and financial controls; and (4) as a result of the foregoing, the Company's statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.

On February 29, 2012, the Company announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2011. Specifically, First Solar reported a decrease of $345 million in net sales for the fourth quarter, as compared to the previous quarter, "primarily due to the timing of revenue recognition in our systems business and lower for module-only sales."

In addition, the company disclosed various charges to earnings, including a charge of $164 million for warranty payments to replace equipment that caused premature power loss in certain panels. The Company spent $125.8 million in the fourth quarter on warranty claims and has put aside $37.5 million to cover future claims.

On these revelations, First Solar shares declined $4.10 per share or 11 percent, to close at $32.30 per share, on February 29, 2012.

Energy harvesting enabled device shipments will quadruple by 2015

BOULDER, USA: An increasing number of consumer and industrial products that are untethered from the electrical outlet will be powered by some form of energy harvesting (EH) technology in the near future. This technology, which converts ambient energy into useable electrical energy, may be used to power portable electrical devices that in many cases rely heavily on batteries.

Energy harvesting is becoming an increasingly viable source of power for a variety of devices, especially where the environmental and economic costs of maintaining batteries is untenable. Consumer products such as laptops and mobile phones are already being powered by energy harvesting technology. The energy sources available for ambient charging include electromagnetic radiation, thermal energy, and mechanical energy.

The technologies used for the transduction of these energy sources into useable electrical energy include photovoltaic (PV), thermoelectric, piezoelectric, and electromagnetic. According to a recent report from Pike Research, the deployment of energy harvesting will grow at a CAGR of nearly 38 percent over the next few years, resulting in annual shipments of energy harvesting enabled devices of 235.4 million units by 2015 (from a base of 53 million in 2012), comprising a great diversity of consumer and industrial applications.

Those shipments will translate into worldwide annual revenue from energy harvesting enabled devices of $9.5 billion in 2015, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.

“Devices in settings with thousands of sensors that are diligently working to bring us information about temperature, humidity, security, machine health, structural health, and many other forms of data are becoming increasingly pervasive,” says VP, Bob Gohn. “In many of these applications, maintaining batteries is a major logistical and cost issue. Viable energy harvesting technology exists today and developers are fast becoming familiar with how to implement it into ever more-innovative devices.”

At the moment, the EH industry is going through a galvanization period, in which vendors, systems integrators, and end users all recognize that a joint approach in terms of standardization and initial market push will lead to an aggressive market acceptance curve. Pike Research’s analysis indicates that the consumer market for energy harvesting will represent approximately 42 percent of all unit shipments by 2015.

Key applications in this sector include mobile phones, laptop computers, remote controls, portable lighting, and the established market for wristwatches powered by kinetic energy. Industrial applications, however, will represent the majority of the energy harvesting market, with a CAGR in excess of 100 percent for the sector as a whole.

Asia's largest solar park functional in Gujarat

Source: IANSLive, India.

AHMEDABAD, INDIA, (IANS): A 600 MW solar power park, touted as Asia's first and largest, was on Thursday dedicated to the nation by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the state's Patan district, in a boost to India's efforts towards low carbon growth.

The solar power park with a power generation capacity of 600 MW, covering approximately 3,000 acres of wasteland bordering the Rann of Kutch, will generate two-thirds of India's total 900 MW of solar power production.

"Gujarat dedicates 600 MW of solar power to the nation today (Thursday). We are celebrating the launch of Agni V & dedication of 600 MW solar power park in Gujarat," Modi said on micro blogging site twitter.

According to the Gujarat government, the solar project will lead to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to the tune of eight million tonnes and save 900,000 tonnes of natural gas annually.

Under its Solar Power Policy, the state government had signed memorandums of understanding for generation of 968.5 MW of solar power by the end of this year. Other projects will be developed at Anand, Banaskantha, Jamnangar, Junagadh, Kutch, Porbandar, Rajkot, Surat and Surendranagar.

The Gujarat Solar Park is an innovative concept of the state government to promote solar installations in which it allocated developed land to the project developers with the entire infrastructure, including power evacuation, roads and water for commissioning of the power project put on fast track.

Gujarat will also host the 'India Solar Summit 2012: Investment and Technology Expo' in Gandhinagar April 20 and 21.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Solar cell that also shines

CLEO 2012, WASHINGTON, USA: To produce the maximum amount of energy, solar cells are designed to absorb as much light from the Sun as possible. Now researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have suggested – and demonstrated – a counterintuitive concept: solar cells should be designed to be more like LEDs, able to emit light as well as absorb it. The Berkeley team will present its findings at the Conference on Lasers and Electro Optics (CLEO: 2012), to be held May 6-11 in San Jose, Calif.

“What we demonstrated is that the better a solar cell is at emitting photons, the higher its voltage and the greater the efficiency it can produce,” says Eli Yablonovitch, principal researcher and UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.

Since 1961, scientists have known that, under ideal conditions, there is a limit to the amount of electrical energy that can be harvested from sunlight hitting a typical solar cell. This absolute limit is, theoretically, about 33.5 percent. That means that at most 33.5 percent of the energy from incoming photons will be absorbed and converted into useful electrical energy.

Yet, for five decades, researchers were unable to come close to achieving this efficiency: as of 2010, the highest anyone had come was just more than 26 percent. (This is for flat-plate, “single junction” solar cells, which absorb light waves above a specific frequency. “Multi-junction” cells, which have multiple layers and absorb multiple frequencies, are able to achieve higher efficiencies.)

More recently, Yablonovitch and his colleagues were trying to understand why there has been such a large gap between the theoretical limit and the limit that researchers have been able to achieve. As they worked, a “coherent picture emerged,” says Owen Miller, a graduate student at UC Berkeley and a member of Yablonovitch’s group. They came across a relatively simple, if perhaps counterintuitive, solution based on a mathematical connection between absorption and emission of light.

“Fundamentally, it’s because there’s a thermodynamic link between absorption and emission,” Miller says. Designing solar cells to emit light – so that photons do not become “lost” within a cell – has the natural effect of increasing the voltage produced by the solar cell. “If you have a solar cell that is a good emitter of light, it also makes it produce a higher voltage,” which in turn increases the amount of electrical energy that can be harvested from the cell for each unit of sunlight, Miller says.

The theory that luminescent emission and voltage go hand in hand is not new. But the idea had never been considered for the design of solar cells before now, Miller continues.

This past year, a Bay area-based company called Alta Devices, co-founded by Yablonovitch, used the new concept to create a prototype solar cell made of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a material often used to make solar cells in satellites. The prototype broke the record, jumping from 26 percent to 28.3 percent efficiency. The company achieved this milestone, in part, by designing the cell to allow light to escape as easily as possible from the cell – using techniques that include, for example, increasing the reflectivity of the rear mirror, which sends incoming photons back out through the front of the device.

Solar cells produce electricity when photons from the Sun hit the semiconductor material within a cell. The energy from the photons knocks electrons loose from this material, allowing the electrons to flow freely. But the process of knocking electrons free can also generate new photons, in a process called luminescence. The idea behind the novel solar cell design is that these new photons – which do not come directly from the Sun – should be allowed to escape from the cell as easily as possible.

“The first reaction is usually, why does it help [to let these photons escape]?” Miller says. “Don't you want to keep [the photons] in, where maybe they could create more electrons?” However, mathematically, allowing the new photons to escape increases the voltage that the cell is able to produce.

The work is “a good, useful way” of determining how scientists can improve the performance of solar cells, as well as of finding creative new ways to test and study solar cells, says Leo Schowalter of Crystal IS and visiting professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who is chairman of the CLEO committee on LEDs, photovoltaics, and energy-efficient photonics.

Yablonovitch says he hopes researchers will be able to use this technique to achieve efficiencies close to 30 percent in the coming years. And since the work applies to all types of solar cells, the findings have implications throughout the field.

AEG Power Solutions achieves stellar performance for solar installations across India

ZWANENBURG, THE NETHERLANDS & BANGALORE, INDIA: AEG Power Solutions announced that 40 MW have been installed since the beginning of operations in India and that 34 MW have been booked since January 2012 when 33.5 MW had been awarded for the year 2011. The orders consisted of complete electrical systems, including inverters, monitoring and measurement equipment, to equip solar plants throughout India, mostly in the state of Gujarat.

The completed projects include several within the renowned Gujarat 500 MW Solar Park. The state’s long-term power purchase program involves agreements with 80 project developers, to commission almost 1,000 MW of solar generation capacity by the end of 2013. The AEG Power Solutions 1 MW solar plant supplied to EI Technologies was the first project commissioned at the 500 MW Gujarat Solar Park.

“We were aiming to be the first developer to commission a plant in the Gujarat Park and felt confident that AEG Power Solutions’ expertise would help us do so,” said N. Ranganath, Chairman & Managing Director, EI Technologies. “We selected AEG Power Solutions over a dozen competitors because of their straightforward, honest approach. They lived up to the faith we bestowed on them, commissioning our plant well before the deadline.”

“We were very impressed with AEG’s technology presentation,” added Suchindra Dikshit, EI Technologies Project Coordinator. “The successful installations in Gujarat demonstrate the reactivity and efficiency of our team and show that we are strengthening our market position,” said Sridhar Murthy, AEG Power Solutions MD in India.

All told, 11 MW of AEG Power Solutions installations in India had been commissioned by year-end. What is more, the various installations were built to multiple grid evacuation voltages -- 11, 33, and 66 KV.

AEG Power Solutions also successfully executed projects for M/S Saisudhir Energy Limited, as part of the National Solar Mission. “We have strong faith in AEG Power Solutions products and their ability to match performance to specifications,” commented P. Udaya Sankar, director and COO of SaiSudhir Energy. “We are sure that AEG Power Solutions can meet any type of demand with timely supplies and project execution.”

AEG Power Solutions commitment to customers throughout India is rooted in the company’s manufacturing facility in Bangalore, inaugurated in October 2011. In January 2012 alone, the plant recorded orders for inverters and monitoring solutions representing about 34 MW of generating capacity in Q1 2012 All AEG Power Solutions inverters for Indian customers are manufactured at the Bangalore facility, which now employs about 100 people. “We invested in the plant to prove our commitment and to become a major player in India,” said Sridhar. “The latest results show that our strategy is working.”

Geostellar teams with GeoEye to map solar power potential of every rooftop in US

HERNDON, USA: GeoEye Inc.. a leading provider of geospatial information and insight, announced a strategic relationship with Geostellar, an innovative technology company that is transforming the solar energy industry. Under the terms of the agreement, GeoEye will supply high-quality Earth imagery, digital surface models and other mapping data to help Geostellar dramatically expand its service. GeoEye also intends to take a small equity position in the company.

Geostellar has built a breakthrough analytics platform that automatically determines how quickly a given property owner can recoup an investment in solar energy. The company's platform models roof slope, shadows, weather patterns, local utility rates and solar energy subsidies to automate what has historically been a highly manual process. Geostellar has built solar maps in Washington D.C., Boston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, where government agencies have made aerial imagery freely available.

Geostellar needed a strategic partner to help collect and process massive amounts of Earth imagery data to catalog the solar power potential of every commercial and residential property in the United States. GeoEye will become Geostellar's Earth imagery vendor of choice and apply image processing capabilities developed by GeoEye Analytics to provide the data required to develop solar maps for every key metropolitan market in the United States.

"GeoEye is constantly searching for ways Earth imagery and other forms of geospatial data can be utilized to deliver new levels of insight," said Tony Frazier, senior VP of Marketing. "Geostellar is a terrific example of how geospatial analytics can help transform a multi-billion dollar industry. We are excited to combine imagery, expertise and enabling technology to help Geostellar achieve its vision."

"High quality, digital surface models and mapping data provide critical fuel to our engine," said David Levine, founder and CEO of Geostellar. "Our strategic relationship with GeoEye will help millions of residential and commercial property owners understand how quickly they can generate a return on investment by going solar."

"It is exciting to see Geostellar apply capabilities developed by GeoEye Analytics to support such an innovative use case," said Mark Dumas, GeoEye's VP of Special Projects and co-founder of SPADAC, now known as GeoEye Analytics. "It is a great example of how the expertise and enabling technology we developed to support our military customers can be applied to drive commercial growth."

China Sunergy strengthens co-operation with SUNfarming Group to further expand market share in Germany

NANJING, CHINA: China Sunergy Co. Ltd, a specialized solar cell and module manufacturer, has entered into another solar module supply agreement, this time for 31 MW, with Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of renowned European solar distributor and project developer SUNfarming Group.

In October 2011, China Sunergy supplied 23 MW of CSUN modules to SUNfarming Group. All those modules have been successfully installed and are now functioning well as part of several solar projects. The new 31 MW in solar modules will be used in rooftop and ground-mounted solar projects in Germany. China Sunergy expects to deliver the modules between late April and mid May 2012.

Martin Tauschke, CEO of SUNfarming Group, said: "Our previous cooperation with China Sunergy was very successful. The product quality and services were reliable and satisfied our requirements. We treasure this partnership with China Sunergy, which will enable us to confidently expand our investments in solar projects."

Stephen Cai, China Sunergy's CEO commented: "This new deal with SUNfarmig Group marks the continuation of a long-time partnership and is evidence of their confidence in our products and trust in our company. Despite the looming subsidy cuts in Germany and uncertainty in the industry, we will continue to nurture our existing markets such as Germany, one of the most important solar markets worldwide."

Thin film 2012–2016: Technologies, markets and strategies for survival

USA: No other PV technology has seen as many false fits and starts, or held as much promise, as thin-film PV. During the height of the polysilicon bottleneck between 2004 and 2009, thin-film PV’s prospects seemed unparalleled. Shipments of thin film grew from a paltry 68 MW in 2004 to 2 GW in 2009. By the end of 2009, thin film commanded 18 percent of the total market with no signs of slowing.

While thin-film shipments continued to grow to 3.7 GW in 2011, cheap crystalline silicon dominated the industry from 2010 onward. Market share of thin-film PV dropped to 11 percent. In 2011, crystalline silicon PV prices dropped by over 40 percent over the course of the year, undermining the value proposition of thin-film solar cells.

Yet, despite the crystalline pricing madness, the future of thin film has not necessarily disappeared. Venture capital investment into thin film in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 combined to reach nearly $300 million. Solar Frontier continues to ramp up its GW-scale CIGS facility. Tokyo Electron bought Oerlikon Solar for $275 million, affirming long-term faith in the thin-film silicon manufacturing space. With CdTe, GE continues to invest heavily in Primestar, and First Solar still intends to open new capacity in Vietnam and Mesa, Arizona.

Certainly, the current supply-demand balance is in flux, but in the long term, the fundamental value proposition of thin-film solar – low-cost PV divorced from polysilicon at comparable efficiencies – remains steadfast, although the path to competitiveness has been accelerated.Source: GTM Research, USA.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Enel Green Power puts two solar parks into operation in Italy

ROME, ITALY: Enel Green Power has put two new photovoltaic plants into operation in Sicily. The Catania1 and Rosolini plants will together produce around 19 million kilowatt hours, equivalent to the energy consumed by over 7,000 families.

The Catania1 photovoltaic plant has been built in the Malaventano district of the municipality of Catania. With an installed capacity of 10 MW, the fully operational plant will be able to produce around 16 million kilowatt hours a year, avoiding emissions of some 8,000 tonnes of CO2 into the air per year.

The Rosolini plant has an installed capacity of 2 MW, with an expected annual output of over 3 million kilowatt hours per year, avoiding annual emissions of over 1,500 tonnes of CO2.

In this way, Enel Green Power continues to increase its photovoltaic capacity in Italy, as well as in other countries. In the United States, in particular, the Italian renewables company has built the world’s first hybrid power plant, which combines the continuous generation capacity of binary-cycle, medium-enthalpy geothermal power with the peak capacity of solar power, adding 26 MW of installed photovoltaic capacity to the geothermal plant already present at Stillwater, Nevada.

In Italy, recent milestones include the start of production during the last few days of March at five new plants built by ESSE – the equal share joint venture between the Italian world leader in renewable energy and the Japanese partner, Sharp – achieving a total installed photovoltaic capacity of 20 MW.

Surplus supply of polysilicon pressures pricing—but not all polysilicon prices are equal

EL SEGUNDO, USA: An ongoing surplus in the production of polysilicon—the key raw material in the photovoltaic (PV) industry—will lead to excess supply, leading to further erosion in its pricing, according to an IHS iSuppli PV Perspectives Market Brief and the IHS iSuppli Polysilicon Price Index.

Polysilicon prices on both the spot market and in contract negotiations are set to decline in the coming months, according to the IHS.

However, according to our research, polysilicon prices can vary depending not only on contract type but also on purity level, supplier’s location and contract terms employed. For example, contract pricing for 9N/9N+ pure polysilicon is set to decline to $32.20 in June, down from $33.40 in February. Meanwhile, spot market pricing for 9N/9N+ pure is predicted to decrease to $24.40 in June, down from $27.90 in February.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

“Following major declines in 2011, the PV industry is in for another round of major price erosion in 2012, as polysilicon production runs far ahead of demand,” said Dr. Henning Wicht, director and principal analyst for photovoltaics at IHS. “Spot market pricing for polysilicon plunged by 65 percent in 2011, marking the largest correction the market has experienced since early 2009. This year is expected to bring another 56 percent reduction. All this will have an impact on pricing for solar modules and systems as well, adding to the woes of the industry in what is already expected to be a challenging year. These developments are likely to lead to long-term changes in the way polysilicon is bought and sold in the PV industry.”

Silicon surplus
Total polysilicon production capacity is projected to amount to 328,000 metric tons in 2012, up 15 percent from 285,000 last year. In comparison, demand this year for polysilicon is expected to reach only 196,000 metric tons, down about 4 percent from 205,000 in 2011.

This means that production capacity will outstrip demand this year just like the last, with excess production actually widening to a whopping 132,000 metric tons in 2012, up from 80,000 metric tons in 2011. Supply will exceed demand by 67 percent in 2012, up from 39 percent in 2011.

Poly want some silicon?
As the principal raw material for the solar industry in the production of solar-power panels, polysilicon contributes about 20 to 30 percent to the cost of a solar module, or 6 to 15 percent of PV system costs. Sourcing good-quality polysilicon at a low price is one of the most important ways that PV companies can achieve differentiation.

The decline in spot prices is affecting the majority of supply contracts that use so-called long-term contract agreements (LTA), which have dominated the industry until recently.

PV buyers typically agree to LTA contracts for three to five years based on a fixed price, allowing buyers to secure long-term supply and protection against any upward price increases, especially in times of shortage. Customers originally agreed this year to pay anywhere from $40 to $50 per kilogram under these agreements, but such prices were soon overrun by competitors buying at a much cheaper cost on the spot market. Many fixed-agreements then changed, and although prices retreated to about $30 per kilogram, they continued to be approximately 10 percent higher than the spot-price level.

Long-term contracts vs. spot market: battle royale
LTA contracts are not about to disappear, given that buyers prefer to have a steady supply of polysilicon bearing consistent quality. Polysilicon is not fully commoditized, and different impurity levels can lead to lower solar module efficiencies, making quality control still an important part of the purchasing process.

Just the same, buyers will be more likely to accept LTA contracts in the future only if LTA pricing remains flexible and can be adjusted to market conditions. This way, buyers can avoid getting burned from paying for much higher prices than they could have obtained at the spot market.

One way to adjust LTA prices is to link price changes to the spot market through a method that IHS has introduced. IHS differentiates by LTA and spot price, the quality of material being produced, and other variables such as region of production, size of transaction and trading terms. Data is collected via a survey among buyers and suppliers, with the information showing weighted averages covering at least 45 percent of market-wide transacted volumes by month.

Based on information from IHS, spot prices this year for polysilicon are expected to decline further and reach $22 per kilogram by the end of 2012, down from $50 at the end of 2011. But the imbalance will start correcting next year, when supply will not grow faster than demand, paving the way for spot prices to stabilize at $23 per kilogram by the end of 2013.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Silver in photovoltaics 2012

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Silver in Photovoltaics 2012" report to its offering.

Silver in Photovoltaics - 2012 is the latest report from NanoMarkets in our ongoing coverage of materials and markets in the photovoltaics sector. In this report, NanoMarkets examines the changing opportunities for silver materials in the dynamic PV industry.

The report is designed to help silver suppliers to understand how changes in the PV industry will influence their sales. It considers how suppliers of silver materials to the PV industry can hold onto market share under the difficult circumstances that PV faces today: rapidly falling panel prices, huge pressures to continually reduce costs, and government subsidies under threat. It also considers these challenges in light of silver's historically high - and likely to stay high - commodity price.

Taking into account these new dynamics, NanoMarkets identifies the considerable opportunities that are still available for silver in the PV sector and covers both conventional crystalline silicon PV and PV based on thin-film silicon, CdTe, CIGS, OPV, and DSC.

The report includes coverage of established silver pastes and inks as well as newer materials based on nanomaterials, including the latest transparent nanosilver-based electrodes. It also examines alternative scenarios for silver in PV and provides an in depth discussion of materials challenges to silver in the PV sector, especially those presented by the use of copper and aluminum.

Solar prices remain low despite Italian market demand recovery

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, German market demand is relatively weak. On the Italian market, however, demand momentum is recovering as the government is planning for further subsidy cuts in 2H12. TrendForce surveys indicate, there are manufacturers currently receiving orders from the Italian market, but the majority are short-term orders.Source: EnergyTrend, Taiwan.

Industry vendors indicate, orders from the Italian market started coming in last week. Initially vendors assumed it was a one-time rush, but they continued to receive orders after the first wave. While order volume was not especially high, the influx is an indication that demand on the Italian market will see a turnaround in Q2.

Solar inverters are seeing the same phenomenon as solar modules. Inverter demand is based on system installation demand, thus more accurately reflecting actual market status. According to interviews with industry players, solar inverter manufacturers have indeed received orders from the Italian market, but shipment due dates are all set before June, an indication that Italian clients believe further subsidy cuts will in fact be implemented in the second half of the year. Therefore, there may be a rush of installations on the Italian market in Q2.

Although order demand has recovered somewhat and market price has stabilized, quotes continue to hover around the low end of the spectrum. Related vendors indicate, at present the industry is engaging in strict cost control – any excess materials are being cleared to avoid price decline due to surplus inventory.

According to TrendForce surveys, while some manufacturers remain firm on price quotes, there is little demand at such price points. Furthermore, the aforementioned vendors are aggressively selling excess inventory on the spot market – thus, while the spot market has stabilized, prices remain low, with no sign of rebound.

As for this week’s spot prices, although orders are picking up, manufacturers’ contract materials are enough to order demand for the time being – thus, spot market demand remained weak. In consideration of inventory stocking costs, aside from polysilicon price, which decreased slightly, this week’s spot prices did not fluctuate much.

TrendForce believes the current market momentum and supply and demand status are unable to induce a price reversal – thus Q2 spot prices will remain low. This week’s average polysilicon price fell to $23.68/kg, a 0.25 percent decrease. Silicon wafer, solar cell, solar module prices were the same as last week. Due to price pressure, this week’s thin film figures decreased to $0.751/Watt, a decline of 1.31 percent.

SunEdison announces activation of 25MW solar power plant in Asia's largest solar park in Gujarat

MUMBAI, INDIA: SunEdison, a leading worldwide solar energy services provider and subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., announced the activation of a 25 Megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant located within a multi-developer, multi-facility solar park at Charanka village in Patan district, Gujarat, India.

The project, which was completed in four months, is comprised of more than 89,000 solar PV modules. With the completion of this plant, SunEdison has now activated a total of 45MW as part of the Gujarat Solar Program.

The 25MW solar power plant, which is expected to be inaugurated by the Honorable Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, on April 19, 2012, is expected to produce more than 40 million kilowatt hours of clean solar energy in the first year of operation alone.

Pashupathy Gopalan, MD, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Operations, SunEdison, said: "SunEdison takes pride in being an active contributor to the largest solar power producing state in India. Owing to the state's progressive solar policies, we are confident we can help make Gujarat the national solar hub for India."

Setting a benchmark for solar project developments in India, the multi-facility solar park is currently home to approximately 200 MW of solar power generation capacity. Spread over 1,000 acres, the solar park was established as a part of the state government's new solar policy and is touted by the Gujarat government as the first-ever project in Asia to address the problems of climate change.

Providing multiple benefits for the local populace and region, solar parks are becoming instrumental in harnessing solar energy in India.

Due to statutory ownership requirements in India, SunEdison intends to continue to own a portion of this 25MW project, and accordingly the project is intended to be held for at least the statutory period and will be consolidated on MEMC's balance sheet during this time.

Sol Systems launches Sol SREC analytics

WASHINGTON, USA: Sol Systems announced the launch of Sol SREC Analytics, a solar renewable credit (SREC) price forecasting tool that provides a standardized benchmark for the solar industry to utilize when transacting in the SREC space.
This new service is designed to bring much needed transparency and greater knowledge to solar stakeholders. Sol SREC Analytics provides users with the tools to easily analyze estimated capacity growth, intra and inter-state trading considerations, current and proposed demand schedules, and short and long-term pricing curves.

Short-term and long-term SREC pricing is aggregated from several sources as well as from Sol Systems' proprietary market analysis and is updated on a real time basis so that developers or investors with project opportunities in D.C., Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (as well as some of the secondary SREC markets) can easily evaluate their expected project returns based on different market scenarios.

"The launch of Sol SREC Analytics sets a new standard for the solar industry to reference in SREC transactions," said George Ashton, CFO of Sol Systems. "It allows developers, EPC providers, investors, and property owners to better understand SREC markets and adjust their development goals or project pricing accordingly. With this new tool, we are giving the industry direct access to powerful market resources, and anticipate it will allow them to find solid footing in often volatile SREC markets."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Four US solar manufacturers injected over $400 million into other manufacturers and employers in 46 states in 2011

WASHINGTON, USA: Four of the founding manufacturers of the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) purchased more than a combined $400 million in goods and services from other manufacturers and employers in 46 states in 2011, according to a CASM survey.

This flow of business highlights just one dimension of solar manufacturing’s multiplier effect in supporting jobs and spurring activity across the US economy, according to CASM. The coalition of about 190 US employers of more than 16,000 American workers contends the nation cannot afford to lose its own industry, particularly in light of advanced manufacturing’s power to generate high-paying and stable jobs and beneficial ripple effects, including research and innovation. Instead, CASM seeks trade-law enforcement to restore legal international competition and domestic manufacturing growth.

CASM is backing an anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade case against the Chinese industry. In March, the US government issued a preliminary ruling that at least 10 categories of Chinese government programs illegally subsidize Chinese producers of solar cells and panels. China’s export drive has caused a dozen US solar manufacturers to shut down, declare bankruptcy or lay off employees in all US regions since 2010, CASM alleges, even though the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded Chinese producers face a cost disadvantage in producing and delivering solar into the US market.

According to the CASM purchasing survey, four of the coalition’s seven founding manufacturers purchased a total of more than $1 million in goods and services in 21 states and at least $50 million in four states: Oregon ($86 million) and Pennsylvania ($74 million), Michigan ($60.8 million) and California ($50 million). The total helps employers cover payrolls in upstream sectors such as glass fabrication, polysilicon production and aluminum extrusion, and downstream services such as auditing, laboratory analysis and transportation.

The survey tally excludes many economic inputs, such as interest and tax payments as well as payroll for employees, ranging from Ph.D. researchers to production workers. CASM leader SolarWorld, the largest US solar manufacturer for more than 35 years, employs more than 1,100 workers in Oregon and California. Average annual compensation for permanent, full-time SolarWorld employees exceeds the national average of $45,230 provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the survey did not account for downstream support that employees of the four solar manufacturers and their vendors paid out to still other businesses – for day-care firms, supermarkets, and car and TV dealers – in their own lives, not to mention the personal interest and taxes they paid and the property they purchased.

CASM contends advanced manufacturing at firms such as SolarWorld – which undertakes all phases of solar production, from growing silicon crystals to producing wafers and cells to assembling panels – is extraordinarily well-recognized as an economic engine.

According to an industry white paper published in March by the SEMI PV Group, which represents companies in the solar energy supply chain, “While PV creates significant job creation in the installation of solar modules (over 50% of total solar jobs are in installation and sales), long-term job creation in manufacturing will create greater economic stability through a greater multiplier effect that will generate significant additional employment in adjacent industries.”

The paper cites National Association of Manufacturing findings, backed by similar results from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, that “each dollar’s worth of manufactured goods creates another $1.43 of activity in other sectors, twice the $.71 multiplier for services.”

Equally well-established is the intimate connection between manufacturing and innovation – as well as the additional business and academic development associated with it, according to CASM.

“Manufacturing companies in the United States are responsible for over two-thirds of the industrial R&D and employ the majority of domestic scientists and engineers,” according to a January report on US competitiveness prepared by the US Department of Commerce in consultation with the National Economic Council. “Furthermore, manufacturing R&D is the dominant source of innovative new service-sector technologies; hence, its benefits reach beyond the manufacturing arena.”

Founding manufacturers include Helios Solar Works of Milwaukee, Wis., and MX Solar USA of Somerset, N.J., both solar panel manufacturers. Helios and MX each have production capacity equal to or greater than the only Chinese-owned solar factory in the Western Hemisphere, a final assembly production line in Arizona. Four founding manufacturers have chosen to remain anonymous, a choice that the US Department of Commerce protects to shield them from business retaliation.

The survey of purchasing of goods and services covered SolarWorld, Helios, MX and one anonymous founding manufacturer. Three CASM manufacturers did not participate.

In the next key step in the trade cases, the Department of Commerce on May 17 will announce its preliminary determination on whether Chinese manufacturers have illegally dumped products in the US market and, if so, at what percentage margins. If margins are issued, importers of Chinese solar products would be required to post bonds or cash deposits in the amounts of those margins as duties on further imports.