Friday, November 30, 2012

30,000 MW targeted from renewable energy during 12th Plan period

INDIA: The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah informed the Lok Sabha today that that the total installed capacity of renewable energy based power in the country is 26,267 MW. A capacity addition of 30,000 MW is targeted from renewable energy during the 12th Plan period.

The contribution of renewable energy based power generation is likely to be in the range of 6-8 percent in the total electricity mix of the country and major part of power generation would continue to come from thermal and hydro power. He said the Government is implementing the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission (JNNSM), to promote harnessing/utilization of solar energy for power generation and other applications in the country.

The Mission envisages installation of 20,000 MW capacities by the year 2022. Solar projects /systems can be installed throughout the country.

The places receiving higher direct solar insulation are better suited for installation solar power projects. A target of 10,000 MW has been fixed for solar power projects during the 12th Plan. So far, 1045 MW of solar power projects have been installed in the country, he added.

Vivint Solar offers affordable solar energy solutions in two new California markets

USA: Vivint Solar, a leading provider of simple, affordable solar solutions, has expanded into southern California and is offering solar energy services to residents of Fresno, Calif., and Bakersfield, Calif. With Vivint Solar, consumers have an economical, clean and renewable alternative to power their homes, while utilities have the opportunity to feed additional power back into the grid.

“Vivint Solar offers consumers an environmentally friendly source of electricity at reduced rates,” said Tanguy Serra, president of Vivint Solar. “We are excited to offer California a simple, affordable solar product with best-in-class equipment, supported by world-class service.”

Vivint Solar customers enjoy a variety of benefits, including free installation, monitoring and maintenance of solar panels, and the ability to purchase the power generated by the panels for a lower monthly rate. Vivint Solar customers also lock in lower monthly rates for 20 years.

Robert Carroll, of Fresno, Calif., said he was impressed with Vivint Solar’s efficiency, professionalism and fast installation. “With Vivint Solar, I had no upfront cost and am saving money from day one,” Carroll said. “Solar is a no-brainer. I get to be more energy independent and help the environment, all while saving money. And Vivint Solar is creating local jobs, which is good for our economy.”

Vivint Solar currently operates in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay area. With the addition of the Fresno and Bakersfield markets, thousands of more Californians will have the choice of affordable solar energy to power their homes.

Customers save money on energy through Vivint Solar’s power purchase agreement (PPA), in which customers agree to purchase the power their solar panels generate at rates lower than their typical power bill. In exchange, Vivint Solar designs, installs and maintains the system for free, allowing customers to enjoy the benefits of renewable solar energy without a large, up-front investment.

Vivint Solar works with the leading solar vendors in the industry, including microinverter provider Enphase Energy, and mounting system supplier Zep Solar. Vivint Solar offers its customers a team of experienced, award-winning field and customer service representatives, keeping all functions in-house and never outsourcing. This combination of superior products and industry-leading service ensures Vivint Solar customers receive the best quality experience possible throughout the entire relationship.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NRG powers 20 schools and irrigation system in Haiti with solar energy

USA: NRG Energy Inc. announced the successful completion of its “The Sun Lights the Way” project in the Boucan Carré region of Haiti. The program entailed the installation of solar electric systems at 20 schools, a fish farm and a drip irrigation system supporting agricultural production throughout Haiti’s Central Plateau region, through collaboration with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a nonprofit organization.

These installations complete NRG’s “The Sun Lights the Way: Brightening Boucan Carré” project, funded by the company’s $1 million commitment made through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and an additional $500,000 pledge from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

This project helps to improve the quality of education for more than 6,000 Haitian students by providing the electricity needed to power lights, communication systems, laptop computers and other school equipment in a remote area of the country. The solar irrigation system, or “Solar Market Garden,” will help to increase the production of crops at the Lashto Zanmi Agrikol farm by powering water pumps, while the solar array at the Lashto Fish Farm enables a dramatic increase in fish production by powering aerators for six tanks.

”This program already is improving the lives of thousands of people who have gained access to the regular supply of electricity for the first time in their lives,” said David Crane, NRG president and CEO. “Our CGI commitment to install solar power at schools and food production facilities in Haiti dovetails with our overall company commitment to respect the environment, help end hunger, and improve access to better educational opportunities. Much work remains to be done in Haiti and we intend to continue to do our part to help.”

“In 2006, 35 percent of women in Haiti had no education whatsoever, and as of 2010, 30 percent of girls ages 15-24 were illiterate,” said Bob Freling, SELF’s executive director. “Our goal is to provide the tools necessary to ensure that every child in Haiti has the opportunity to achieve their potential in school; electricity is critical in doing this. Solar energy allows schools that are in very remote locations – in one instance we had to transport solar panels by donkey – to power things like computers that can open up a whole new world of learning opportunities for students.”

The project received support from Trina Solar, a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products, which donated all of the solar panels installed on the schools.

JinkoSolar donates 30 kW to village in Western China

CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd  announced that it has donated 30 kW of solar PV modules to Mumuke village in Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China.

With a population of approximately 120 residents, Mumuke village is located in a remote part of Xinjiang Province where electricity from the national grid is unavailable and there is little in terms of transportation infrastructure. The off-grid system will meet the basic electricity needs of the village. This donation is the result of joint efforts between JinkoSolar and Schneider, the global specialist in energy management.

By providing solar PV Modules, JinkoSolar is helping to provide solutions to a region with persistent electricity shortage.

This donation follows the 15 kW of solar panels that were donated by JinkoSolar in September 2012 to three local elementary schools located in Chengduo County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, together with other necessary supplies such as computers, clothing and books.

"We are happy to see our Jinko modules are used to provide residents in Mumuke with a renewable source of electricity that will provide them benefits from for many years," commented Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar.

"JinkoSolar's growth has been supported by many communities across the globe over the past couple of years and we are determined to give back to the community in a meaningful way. We intend to continue to offer similar donations, eventually providing electricity not only to western China, but also to other geographic areas, such as Africa and South America."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

India begins anti-dumping investigation on solar cell imports

INDIA: As many state governments push for solar power to augment power capacity, the Directorate General of Anti−Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) has initiated investigations on solar cell imports from China, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and the US.

The anti−dumping agency under the ministry of commerce and industry has said it finds sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping of solar cells from the four countries.

The DGAD action comes on an application from Solar Manufacturers' Association −− on behalf of Indosolar Ltd., Jupiter Solar Power Ltd., and Websol Energy Systems Ltd. −− alleging dumping of solar cells, whether or not assembled partially or fully in modules or panels or on glass or some other suitable substrates originating in or exported from Malaysia, China, Chinese Taipei and the US.

The Solar Manufacturers' Association has asked the DGAD to initiate anti−dumping investigation for levy of anti−dumping duties on solar cells imported from the four countries.

"There is sufficient prima facie evidence of injury being suffered by the domestic industry caused by dumped imports from the subject countries to justify initiation of an anti−dumping investigation," the notification said. The period of investigation will be Jan 1, 2011, to June, 30, 2012, (18 months), to make required analysis on updated data.

According to the notification, the injury investigation period will, however, cover the periods April 2008−March 2009, April 2009−March 2010, April 2010−March 2011 and the period of investigation, the notification said.

According to the notification, interested parties can file their submissions on the issue to DGAD including on the demand of the Solar Manufacturers' Association on retrospective imposition of duty.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Installed price of solar PV systems in the US continues to decline rapidly

USA: The installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before, depending on system size, and, in California, prices fell by an additional 3 to 7 percent within the first six months of 2012. These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008.

The report indicates that non-module costs—such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems—have also fallen significantly over time.  “The drop in non-module costs is especially important,” notes report co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, “as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers.” According to the report, average non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30 percent from 1998 to 2011, but have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result, non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted emphasis on lowering the portion of non-module costs associated with so-called “business process” or “soft” costs.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size.  Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.  Report co-author Galen Barbose, also of Berkeley Lab, stresses the importance of keeping these numbers in context, noting that “these data provide a reliable benchmark for systems installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time, and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices.”

Based on these data and on installed price data from other major international PV markets, the authors suggest that PV prices in the United States may be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs, but that other factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions.

The market for solar PV systems in the United States has grown rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered various incentives to expand the solar market and accelerate cost reductions.  This fifth edition in Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun report series describes historical trends in the installed price of PV in the United States, and examines more than 150,000 residential, commercial, and utility-sector PV systems installed between 1998 and 2011 across 27 states, representing roughly 76 percent of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the United States. Naïm Darghouth, also with Berkeley Lab, explains that “the study is intended to provide policy makers and industry observers with a reliable and detailed set of historical benchmarks for tracking and understanding past trends in the installed price of PV.”

Prices differ by region and by size and type of system
The study also highlights the significant variability in PV system pricing, some of which is associated with differences in installed prices by region and by system size and installation type. Comparing across U.S. states, for example, the median installed price of PV systems less than 10 kW in size that were completed in 2011 and ranged from $4.90/W to $7.60/W, depending on the state.

It also shows that PV installed prices exhibit significant economies of scale. Among systems installed in 2011, the median price for systems smaller than 2 kW was $7.70/W, while the median price for large commercial systems greater than 1,000 kW in size was $4.50/W.  Utility-scale systems installed in 2011 registered even lower prices, with most systems larger than 10,000 kW ranging from $2.80/W to $3.50/W.

The report also finds that the installed price of residential PV systems on new homes has generally been significantly lower than the price of similarly sized systems installed as retrofits to existing homes, that building integrated PV systems have generally been higher priced than rack-mounted systems, and that systems installed on tax-exempt customer sites have generally been priced higher than those installed at residential and for-profit commercial customer sites.

Price declines for PV system owners in 2011 were offset by falling incentives
State agencies and utilities in many regions offer rebates or other forms of cash incentives for residential and commercial PV systems.  According to the report, the median pre-tax value of such cash incentives ranged from $0.90/W to $1.20/W for systems installed in 2011, depending on system size. These incentives have declined significantly over time, falling by roughly 80 percent over the past decade, and by 21 percent to 43 percent from just 2010 to 2011.

Rather than a direct cash incentive, some states with renewables portfolio standards provide financial incentives for solar PV by creating a market for solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), and SREC prices have also fallen dramatically in recent years. These declines in cash incentives and SREC prices have, to a significant degree, offset recent installed price reductions, dampening any overall improvement in the customer economics of solar PV.

Yingli Green announces largest module supply contract

CHINA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd  announced that its subsidiary, Yingli Green Energy Americas has entered into the Company's largest project supply agreement to date.

Yingli Americas was selected to supply 200 MW-dc of utility-scale solar PV modules for the Centinela Solar Energy Facility Project ("Centinela Project"), which is segmented in two phases, each phase with a separate release notice, currently pending notification for the second phase.

The 170 megawatt-ac project, designed to be one of the largest solar projects in the world, is situated on 1,600 acres approximately 90 miles east of San Diego in Imperial County, California, and is estimated to achieve commercial operation in the middle of 2014.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Urrutia Consulting, NHA Advisors and TerraVerde Renewable Partners form strategic alliance

USA: TerraVerde Renewable Partners, LLC, a California based independent energy advisor to schools and public agencies, has formed a strategic alliance with Carlos Urrutia Consulting, of Sacramento, CA and NHA Advisors of Mill Valley, CA.

The rapid interest and growth in the California energy market has resulted in a complex, dynamic process for the public and private sector interested in benefiting from energy conservation measures and solar energy.  The Carlos Urrutia Consulting/NHA Advisors/TerraVerde strategic alliance is positioned to provide turn-key consulting and project management services to public and private entities, with a particular emphasis on California municipalities: cities, counties and special districts.

According to Carlos Urrutia, formerly Rocklin City Manager: "Solar development and energy conservation provides significant opportunities for financial savings when properly implemented."

"We want to bring the same value added to municipal energy projects that financial advisors bring to the structuring and sale of municipal bonds. Just like financial advisors provide guidance without a conflict of interest from the actual selling of bonds, our team provides guidance on energy projects without having a conflict of interest from the actual sale or installation of energy saving and solar equipment," states Mark Northcross of NHA Advisors.

The strategic alliance is staffed with individuals with expertise in solar design, energy conservation, public and private finance, engineering, construction oversight, and public construction procurement, professionals.  "We bring the expertise that most local government agencies lack and act as their staff in designing and managing the energy conservation process without financial risk to the agency," stated Carlos Urrutia.

Rick Brown, PhD, President, TerraVerde Renewable Partners, noted that: "California is one of the most attractive states in the US for renewable and energy conservation project development, and we are delighted to be partnered with the seasoned professionals at Carlos Urrutia Consulting and NHA Advisors to bring quality energy conservation and solar projects to the city, county and special district market." He added, "TerraVerde looks forward to building on our success in providing California schools and non-profits with low-cost, clean power and energy conservation solutions."

MNRE sanctions funds to 41 cities under “Development of Solar Cities” program

INDIA: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing a Scheme on ’Development of Solar Cities’, which provides support for 60 cities to develop as Solar Cities in the country.

The Ministry has given sanctions for 41 cities for developing as Solar Cities. Gandhinagar, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Mysore are being developed as Model Solar Cities. The Ministry has approved the Master Plants for the 28 Cities and the project installations have already started in few cities.

In pursuance of the programme, a one day ‘National Meet on Solar Cities’ was inaugurated by Shri Gireesh B Pradhan, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on 22nd November 2012, at India International Centre, New Delhi.

The Secretary asked the Municipal Corporations to enhance the use of renewable energy in their area and save the fossil fuel based energy. They can amend the building bye-laws suitably to promote the solar water heaters, solar SPV rooftop systems, kitchen waste based plants in the various establishments of the city. Ms. Nisha Singh, joint secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, emphasized the need for the concerned Ministries to work in coordination with each other.

About 150 persons actively participated in the one day event including the representatives of Municipal Corporations, Developers, Financial Institutions, International Agencies, Manufactures, Investors, Technology Providers and State Nodal Agencies, banks etc. The aim of this meet was to discuss the “Ways Forward” after Master Plan for execution of renewable energy/energy efficiency related projects in respective solar cities. The Municipal Commissioners of Thane, Mysore and Shimla actively participated in the event.

Friday, November 23, 2012

China issues report addressing climate change

CHINA: China on Wednesday published a report detailing policies and efforts that have been made over the past year in facing up to the challenges of global climate change.

The report, titled China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2012), was released before the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 in Doha, Qatar.

The report outlines actions taken by the Chinese government to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also documents measures to promote the building of low-carbon communities and advance international negotiation and cooperation.

During the 2006-2010 period, the aggregate energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 19.1 percent from that of 2005, which is equivalent to a reduction of 1.46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This means China has accomplished its energy conservation goals listed in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), said the report.

By 2015, the nation aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent, cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 17 percent, and raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels in the overall primary energy mix to 11.4 percent, said the report.

In 2011, natural disasters caused by extreme weather and climate events affected 430 million people in the country and caused economic losses of 309.6 billion yuan (49.6 billion U.S. dollars).

The upcoming Doha Climate Change Conference is of great significance for maintaining the basic legal framework of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the report said.

The most important outcome of the conference should be making definite arrangements for the implementation and enforcement of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. It should also ensure that the second commitment period is implemented on January 1, 2013, it said.

The report said China sticks to "the common but differentiated responsibilities" theory in international climate talks. The country's per capita and historical emissions of greenhouse gases are far below those of developed nations.

However, rapid economic development and its population base has made China a big producer of greenhouse gases. (Xinhua)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Growth opportunities in solar PV operation and maintenance market to reach approximately $18.4 billion in 2017

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Growth Opportunities in Solar Photovoltaic Operation and Maintenance Market: 2012-2017" report to its offering.

The global solar photovoltaic (PV) operation and maintenance (O&M) market, which experienced robust growth in 2011, is expected to continue growing rapidly and reach approximately $18.4 billion in 2017 with a CAGR of approximately 43 percent over the next five years (2012-2017).

Lucintel's research indicates that the growing interest of nations in developing clean energy is expected to drive more and more installations of solar PVs across the globe, thereby providing an impetus to the global solar PV O&M market. The crystalline O&M market is expected to capture three-fourths of the market size while the thin-film O&M is forecast to account for the rest.

As noted in the study, the provision of extended warranty options for a nominal charge by the original equipment manufacturers is affecting the growth of the solar PV O&M market. The fragmented installation base creates hurdles for proper O&M services due to the limitation in geographic reach of service providers.

The major portion of the solar PV O&M market is driven by the balance of systems and not by PV modules. As such, increasing efficiency of PV modules (crystalline as well as thin-films) adversely affects the O&M market, as these require smaller areas of land with a decreased balance of system components.

Lucintel's research indicates that, with solar PV O&M expenditures being relatively high in Europe, the European market is attractive for O&M service providers. Europe, having more solar PV systems installed with relatively lower solar radiation, is expected to be the largest market of solar PV O&M in the coming years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

PVEL intros soiling measurement system for solar PV modules

USA: North America’s premier PV module testing lab, PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), has introduced a new Soiling Station program for measurement of power and energy loss due to module soiling in the field.

Soiling is the accumulation of dirt on PV modules, which can reduce annual energy output of a plant by up to 10% depending on the site location. Rather than guess about the level of soiling occurring, PVEL customers can now be certain about the performance of an existing site, or the expected performance at a proposed site.

“The measurement of soiling is essential if a project owner or developer wants to truly understand measured or expected performance,” said Evan Riley, a PV specialist at leading global consultancy Black & Veatch. “When done with a prospecting station, soiling measurement reduces uncertainty in forward looking production estimates. At operational plants, soiling measurement allows for more accurate performance testing and performance assessments, and frequently a higher return on O&M dollars.”

Available as a standalone unit or integrated with a plant’s existing monitoring system, PVEL’s Soiling Stations use two full-sized modules, with one allowed to soil naturally while the other is cleaned with an automatic washing system. Power and energy are monitored for both modules and additional modules can be added to the system and cleaned at varying intervals, allowing for O&M staff to determine optimized cleaning schedules for their system. On modules that have coatings designed to repel dirt, the soiling station can be used to compare and evaluate the effectiveness of those coating technologies.

“Solar project developers rely on PVEL’s ability to reduce or eliminate uncertainty when it comes to PV power plant output. Measuring soiling is gaining attention because, as solar assets become a greater part of investor portfolios, accurate modeling and measuring of performance are critical to solar project investment,” said Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PV Evolution Labs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tamil Nadu announces solar policy

INDIA: The honourable chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Selvi J Jayalalitha has a vision of developing Tamil Nadu as a world leader in Solar Energy by establishing 3000 MW  by 2015.

Tamil Nadu is committed to leading the country by generating 3000 MW of Solar Power by 2015 through a policy conducive to promoting solar energy in the state. This government, headed by J Jayalalitha, intends to make solar energy a people’s movement just as it did earlier in the case of rain water harvesting.

This policy will be known as the “Tamil Nadu Solar Energy Policy – 2012”. The Government of Tamil Nadu will undertake a review of this policy as and when required in view of any technological breakthrough or any changes taking place in the policy at the National level.

* To achieve energy security.
* To reduce carbon emissions.
* To project Tamil Nadu as a solar hub.
* To generate 3000 MW of Solar Energy by 2015.
* To achieve grid parity by 2015.
* To encourage indigenous solar manufacturing facilities in the state.
* To promote R&D in the solar energy sector and hybrid systems.
* To create skilled man power and employment in a new industry.
* Target for promotion of solar energy in the state.
* It is proposed to generate 3000 MW of Solar Energy by 2015.

Semprius to supply Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne with HCPV modules for Department of Defense

USA: Semprius, Inc., an innovator in high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, will be supplying its state-of-the-art technology in support of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s (PWR’s) $2.3 million award from the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) office of the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The project is designed to demonstrate the high-performance and cost-effectiveness of HCPV technology for use at DoD installations as well as in other commercial and utility scale applications.

As part of the project, PWR will install a 200 kilowatt solar system at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The system will be comprised of 2,400 Semprius modules mounted on dual-axis trackers and will produce over 400,000 kWh of electricity annually, enough to power approximately 40 homes.

Semprius’ manufacturing facility, located in Henderson, North Carolina, uses a proprietary process to deliver the world’s highest efficiency solar modules. At 33.9 percent, Semprius’ modules are the first to convert over one-third of the sun’s energy into electricity. In addition, Semprius modules perform better than conventional modules under high temperature conditions, and in locations like the US Southwest, Semprius-based systems can deliver up to 30 percent more energy than equivalent PV systems.

“We are honored to be working with PWR to deliver our HCPV modules to the DoD,” said Joe Carr, CEO of Semprius. “We believe that our technology will play an increasingly important role in delivering cost-competitive, sustainable energy.”

Semprius and PWR, part of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), began working together in 2011 to demonstrate Semprius’ technology at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Over the past 18 months, the companies have collaborated to scale-up the technology into a cost-effective, commercial-grade system.

“Having spent several years evaluating emerging PV technologies, we’ve selected Semprius because of the potential of their technology to drive down the cost of solar electricity significantly,” said Randy Parsley, Renewable Energy program manager at PWR. “We look forward to executing this project with Semprius to help the DoD begin to achieve its energy independence and energy security goals.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Solar polysilicon pricing in October declines by highest rate since February

USA: Global demand and pricing in October for solar polysilicon fell at the highest rate seen since February, indicating that supply still exceeds demand, according to the IHS Solar Polysilicon Price Index.

Spot market pricing for 9N solar polysilicon in October plunged by more than 9 percent, while the contract segment decreased by about 1 percent. Pricing for the 6N to 8N grade fell by 7 percent on the spot market, and the contract segment tumbled by more than 8 percent.

Such retreats continued the pattern of weak demand and general price erosion that has plagued the solar polysilicon market since January.

“Worldwide polysilicon demand decreased in October, with reduced shipments on both the contract and spot markets,” said Glenn Gu, senior analyst, photovoltaics, at IHS. “Not only did overall shipment volumes in October fall by 14 percent from the month before, supply levels and inventories also decreased in October as second- and third-tier Chinese suppliers reduced production. Still, these manufacturing cuts weren’t sufficient to bring supply in balance with demand.”

Pricing is expected to drop further in November before a potential rebound commences in the December and January time frame.

Solar polysilicon pricing set to rise slightly in early 2013
Spot market pricing for solar polysilicon may bottom out and then rise slightly at the start of 2013. But the seeming turn for the positive may be short-lived, with the pricing driven by expectations of improving market conditions, rather than a true balancing of supply and demand.

All told, spot market pricing in December 2012 and January 2013 for solar polysilicon in the 6N to 8N grade is expected to rise by 2.4 percent, the first increase since January of 2012, and a dramatic change from the 8.5 percent plunge in September and the 7.0 percent drop in October. For 9N and higher-grade polysilicon, spot market pricing will be flat during the same time period—the first time in nine months in which there would be no decline.

“Suppliers are trimming production, inventories in the channel are continuing to be depleted and most industry players are expecting a rebound in demand in 2013,” Gu said.

“Because of this, spot market pricing for solar polysilicon will uptick slightly at the start of next year. Even so, spot prices will remain significantly lower than those on the contract market, causing solar polysilicon suppliers to continue to cut contract prices as they strive to catch up with the spot market. Overall, this indicates that supply will remain in excess of demand, and that pricing will return to a state of decline later in 2013.”

On the spot market, polysilicon is sold for cash by third parties and delivered immediately. In contrast, on the contract market, polysilicon is sold directly by suppliers on credit, often with long-term agreements (LTA) for delivery and pricing.

When prices are lower on the spot market compared to contracts, that indicates prices will remain on the decline. When spot market prices eventually rise above those of contracts, the period of oversupply and price decreases will have come to an end.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Suntech reduces production at Arizona factory

USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd will stop two of three production shifts and reduce its workforce at its Goodyear, Arizona, solar panel manufacturing facility. The slowdown in production is due to global oversupply and higher production costs related to recent import tariffs imposed by the US government.

The Goodyear facility's annual production throughput will decrease from about 45MW to 15MW, and roughly fifty positions will be eliminated. The decision is in line with Suntech's global restructuring efforts to right-size production capacity and reduce operating expenses by 20 percent in 2012 and 2013.

"We will continue to produce solar panels in Arizona to meet the needs of our customers, particularly those who are willing to pay a premium for US-manufactured products," said E.L. "Mick" McDaniel, MD of Suntech America. "Our employees in Goodyear have done a tremendous job, however all PV manufacturers globally are facing challenging market and political conditions, and rationalizing production is necessary to maintain a competitive cost structure."

On November 7th, the US International Trade Commission voted to impose unilateral tariffs of 35.97 percent on Suntech solar cells produced in China. Solar cells are a key component used at Suntech's Goodyear production facility. The rising costs of components like solar cells increases the costs of manufacturing solar panels in the US Tariffs on solar cells come in addition to tariffs imposed by the US government in 2011 on aluminum frames, another key input for solar panel manufacturing.

"Subsequent to our decision to invest in Arizona, unnecessary upstream trade barriers have made it difficult and more costly to manufacture solar panels in the US. In addition, these new tariffs limit our ability to utilize Suntech's advanced solar cell technology imported from China," added McDaniel. "We will continue to assess our options and if the political and business environment improves, we may reconsider expanding our manufacturing operations in the US."

Suntech's Goodyear, Arizona, manufacturing facility features highly-automated manufacturing and product testing equipment and currently produces Suntech's 300-watt solar panels for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation. All solar panels produced at the facility are backed by an industry-leading, 25-year power output warranty and are compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Buy American Act projects.

2012 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

USA: Thanksgiving is approaching in the US, which is a welcome time to take stock, look back at the busy year we’ve had and appreciate the positive developments amidst a persistent solar winter.

Rather than dwelling on well-known woes such as overcapacity, financing hurdles and a deeply depressed PV equipment market, I would like focus on what our industry has collectively achieved this year.

* Take jobs, for example. The Solar Foundation just reported that an additional 13,000 solar jobs were added in the US this year, an uptick of 13.2 percent, bringing the total number of people working in solar in the US to more than 119,000. 92 percent of US voters support solar energy. And President Obama, who has set favorable goals for renewable energy, was just re-elected for a second term.

* Worldwide installations are up by 25 percent, expected to reach 16 GW by year-end. There is hope that this will ease the stubborn overcapacity situation over the course of next year. The amount of PV connected to China’s grid reached 2.71 GW in September. Pete Danko said in his Earthtechling post that actual PV power flowing to the grid grew at an even faster rate - 537 percent in the same period to 2,480 gigawatt-hours.

* In Germany, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, 6.1 percent of electricity demand in the first nine months of the year was met by solar energy. And while international thin film suppliers selling into India’s solar market fear an expansion of domestic content requirements to close the loophole for thin film in the National Solar Mission, some Indian manufacturers are adapting to the current “adapt-or-perish” market scenario by fully or partially leasing their facilities to international module suppliers.

* In September, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the finalized 12th Five-Year Plan for solar development that sets a target of 21GW installed solar capacity by 2015, including 20GW PV installations and 1GW CSP installations. The plan also sets a total budget of 250 billion yuan, or about $40 billion, and expects half million people employed in the solar industry by 2015. Additionally, the plan sets a target of 50GW installed capacity by 2020.  It is uncertain how much of this plan is achievable but the ambition and vision for solar energy deployment in China is real.

* Also in September, the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced the results of the first two months of the FIT program—1.3 GW of renewable energy projects are registered to the new FIT program since it began in July 2012. METI estimates 2.5 GW of renewable energy capacity will be added in this fiscal year (April 2012 to March 2013).  According to METI, solar photovoltaic energy is expected to account for 80% of the total additional renewable energy capacity in FY2012.

This means there’s still a lot of good among the bad and the ugly. We have seen the first few cautiously crafted reports about a global PV market uptick in late 2013, but the industry needs to see a sliver of sunshine on the horizon…

* Part of the “ugly”, is the urgency of modernizing our grid infrastructure and developing viable storage solutions. No example is as poignant as what happened during Hurricane Sandy in late October. While residential solar panels held up well, even during hurricane force winds, once the power grid shut down, the solar panels were of no use to homeowners. (This happens for safety reasons and is not an issue with the actual solar system.) Storage is the other missing piece of the puzzle and the industry is furiously working to tackle that obstacle.

* The German news magazine Der Spiegel published an article in August of this year about instability in the German power grid. Adding a reality check to its aggressive renewable energy goals (35 percent of total power consumption from renewables by 2020, 80 percent by 2050, phasing out nuclear power by 2022), Germany’s power grid has experienced sudden fluctuations, resulting in damage sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of euros for German industrial companies (for automated lines running 24/7).

* India now holds the record for the world’s largest blackout, cutting power to 620 million people in July 2012. That’s twice the population of the entire United States. 20 out of 28 states were affected. India’s federal power minister blamed the states, saying they overdrew their quota from the grid. India’s industry leaders however, point to more systemic infrastructural and procedural shortcomings of an antiquated grid system. Many say that India has simply outgrown its own energy infrastructure.

I am encouraged about the concerted global effort for smarter grids-from groups such as International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) and the Global Smart Grid Federation..

SEMI encourages public-private partnerships and industry collaboration in manufacturing and deployment of solar energy and much like some of our member companies who have become more vertically-integrated to meet the needs of the end market and conserve resources, SEMI is also reaching downstream to collaborate with entities, governments and consortia in order to learn from one another, develop standards and best practices, and exchange ideas.

-- Bettina Weiss, SEMI.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carmanah to build innovative PV system for BrightRoof

CANADA: BrightRoof Solar LP has contracted Carmanah Technologies to design and build a 250 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system on an industrial building with varied roof surfaces.

Carmanah’s Solar Engineering Construction Procurement (EPC) Services group will begin installation of the rooftop facility in Wallaceburg, Ontario later this month.

BrightRoof Solar participates in Ontario’s Feed-In Tariff program as a long-term owner and operator of rooftop solar facilities. Carmanah’s successful experience in the industry has led to multiple projects with similar solar generating businesses including PowerStream Solar, Toronto Hydro and Northland Power.

This project required a unique inverter and racking solution for the varied roof surfaces on the host building. Carmanah’s experienced EPC team designed an integrated racking system from Polar Racking and Schletter Canada - local Windsor based companies – to support both flat and sloped surfaces respectively.

To accommodate multiple slopes within the surface of the host's roof, Carmanah incorporated into its design a central inverter from Power One which features a modular architecture and multiple maximum power point trackers (MPPT).

“We are very happy to be working Carmanah on this project, and with the attention to detail Carmanah provided for this physically challenging facility,” said David Oxtoby, a director of BrightRoof Solar LP.

Blackstone announces solar program for portfolio companies

USA: Blackstone announced a solar program that has the potential to cut energy costs by approximately 10 percent and improve environmental performance across the portfolio of companies and real estate assets it manages on behalf of its investors.

This collaborative initiative by Blackstone’s Private Equity, Real Estate, and Advisory businesses is part of an ongoing effort to focus on sustainability across the firm for companies it manages and advises.

The program will install solar panels and systems on the rooftops of select portfolio companies. Installation of these systems is free of charge and they will be owned, operated, and maintained by third party investors in order to minimize operational and economic barriers. Portfolio companies will buy solar power via long-term power purchase agreements, estimated to significantly lower their power costs upon system startup.

Blackstone has selected Smart Energy Capital to support project development and maintenance.

“The scale that Blackstone brings to their program allows an opportunity to collapse both cost structure and project timeline. With over 300 megawatts in US projects in our pipeline, we have the ability to drive project economics to maximize uptake,” said Rob Krugel, managing partner of SEC.

“Blackstone’s latest sustainability initiative complements our ongoing success in reducing energy costs and driving environmental performance improvement across our portfolio,” said Don Anderson, Blackstone’s chief sustainability officer. “Our portfolio companies and clients can easily take advantage of this program to speed the application of renewable technologies across our retail, industrial, and hospitality companies.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CPV technological advances set to ignite market development

UK: On-going, significant technological advances from  companies such as Solar Junction and Amonix will help drive concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) installations to almost 1.2 GW by 2016,  according to a new report from IMS Research.

The report, The World Market for Concentrated PV (CPV) - 2012, predicts that the cost of a CPV system will decline on average by 16 percent per year until 2016. In parallel to this cost reduction, leading suppliers are also making major technological advancements that will help make CPV more attractive in a number of markets.

“With companies such as Solar Junction breaking cell efficiency records and Amonix capable of producing 34.2 percent efficient commercial modules, and focused on driving down system prices, acceptance of CPV as a utility-scale generation method is predicted to accelerate,” explained report co-author and IMS Research Analyst Jemma Davies.

Whilst the upfront cost of a CPV system will always remain higher than a conventional PV system, as cell and module efficiencies increase, producing higher electricity yield, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) will fall considerably in the target regions for CPV systems (ground mount systems with a direct normal irradiance above 6kWh/m2/day).

“It is important to focus less on up-front module prices and more on LCOE and what it means for the PV market. If a CPV system is capable of producing more electricity at a lower cost over its lifetime, surely it should be a viable option for a PV installation,” added report co-author and IMS research analyst, Sam Wilkinson.

According to the report, one of the main issues that CPV suppliers face is the lack of proven and existing CPV systems to prove viability, however one of the most effective ways to prove the suitability of a CPV system is to install pilot systems. Soitec has proven the value of such installations after signing a PPA with Eskom in South Africa for a 44 MW system, which follows from a pilot installation close to the proposed power plant.  

These supplier announcements are evidence of the increasing understanding of the benefits CPV systems can provide in the target regions and the potential for this growing market. Whilst only 90 MW are estimated to be installed in 2012, installations are predicted to increase rapidly over the next four years.

PV oversupply to continue through 2016, first-tier players to secured foothold

TAIWAN: While solar-panel installation is expected to enjoy further growth in 2012, concerns of a slowing demand still loom. Given that the demand growth is expected to continue lagging behind capacity expansion even when emerging markets have experienced ticked up installation rates this year, issues such as oversupply, irrational competition among players, risks of bankruptcy and fragile financial status continue to draw concerns.

Looking forward to 2016, EnergyTrend, the green energy research division of TrendForce, expects capacity expansion to persist and consolidation among manufacturers to continue, despite the dismal environment which has already lasted for a year. Industry players are expected to run on high utilization rates to digest capacity expansion and to offset fixed cost, and will strive to get a bigger bite of the market. Oversupply in the production of polysilicon, wafer and solar panels, as such, should continue to upset PV prices and development.

With PV production capacity expected to grow throughout the supply chain, the strongest productivity gains would be derived from the cell segment in which silicon wafer and module are expected to deliver stable growth. In the silicon wafer segment, capacity expansions are expected to continue through 2016, and will be driven by first-tier manufacturers with aggressive market share pursuits rather than by vertical integrators who have lost interest in the upstream segments.

According to EnergyTrend’s Gold Membership Market Report, top ten silicon wafer makers are expected to hold a combined market share of 70 percent in 2016, implying that the market will be more condensed among the top 20 manufacturers. EnergyTrend’s research findings indicated that the financially-fragile companies –those within the silicon wafer segment in particular— with either negative or decreasing marginal returns will be forced to quit by the deep-pocket leading players.

Capacity growth within the PV cell segment is expected to be the most notable, given that cell manufacturers still maintain a respectable portion of the market, and that increasing downstream demand is expected to help PV module and cell makers expand their market share. The cell manufacturers with inadequate technology to raise product efficiency and financial problems will most likely be eliminated from the intense business competition.

For the module segment, given the lower entry barriers resulting from low technological requirements, and taking into account the lower amount of costs required to control production lines, elimination of manufacturers is expected to take longer periods of time. Restricted by trade regulations and tariff concerns, Chinese venders opt to establish or shift their production sites beyond the mainland.

The reallocation of production lines and consistent overseas investment would not only prevent downsizing, but also ensure further capacity expansion through 2016. Consolidation is also expected to take place in the production lines previously owned by European or second-tier western manufacturers.

The segment would be in a more disciplined state as most vendors have their shipments closely monitored and control lean inventory levels to stay sensitive to real-time demand trends. Module’s brand recognition will turn out to be a critical development factor as demand begins to build up after 2014 and system developers request for better quality products. The module market would reach a point where professional brands and OEM become critical, with first-tier manufacturers gaining competitive edge in terms of technology, cost and financial status.

Irrational price war, in turn, would no longer be required to drive competitors out of the market; smaller-scale manufacturers in this field are expected to maintain a relatively low utilization rate as most still suffer from idle capacity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

El Paso Electric and Element Power sign PPA for Macho Springs solar project

USA: El Paso Electric and Element Power announced the execution of a power purchase agreement for the total output from Element Power’s Macho Springs Solar Project, a 50-MWAC solar photovoltaic power plant located near Deming, New Mexico on land leased from the New Mexico State Land Office.

El Paso Electric (EPE) selected Element Power’s Macho Springs Solar Project offering from a competitive all-sources power request for proposals. El Paso Electric is proud of its partnership with Element Power and looks forward to working together on such an important project in EPE’s service territory. The project’s output will provide electricity to EPE’s customers at a competitive rate and enhance EPE’s increasing renewable energy portfolio.

“This project underscore’s EPE’s strategic goal to further enhance its overall energy portfolio mix by providing customers with competitive-based solar energy and helping to make a difference in the communities that we serve,” said Tom Shockley, CEO of El Paso Electric.

EPE is additionally adding five new state-of-the-art LMS 100 Units (88MW each) to its generation capacity over the next several years. This technology was specifically chosen, as it also works in concert with EPE’s renewable energy sources and adjusts rapidly to the energy demands of our customers. The first LMS 100 unit is located at the Rio Grande plant in New Mexico, and the additional units are planned for far east El Paso.

“EPE remains at the forefront in advancing renewable energy, and El Paso Electric has taken the lead in the region in acquiring competitive solar energy resources for its customers,” said Rocky Miracle, senior VP of Corporate Planning and Development.

“With the Macho Springs Solar purchase power agreement, EPE’s owned solar energy projects and purchase power agreements represent over 5.5 percent of the Company’s dedicated generating capacity, which represents one of the largest percentages in the United States for an investor-owned utility. El Paso Electric is committed to being a leader in the solar industry and will continue to evaluate competitive-based opportunities that will expand its renewable energy portfolio mix. In addition, EPE has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any investor-owned utility in the United States.”

“As the largest solar project in the state of New Mexico, the Macho Springs Solar Project will provide clean and cost competitive solar energy to El Paso Electric and its customers,” said Anders Glader, senior VP of Element Power. “El Paso Electric is clearly taking a leadership role in the use of renewable energy.”

The purchase power agreement is subject to approval by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. The project is expected to start construction in 2013 and be completed in 2014. During construction, the project will create an average of 400 construction jobs. When operational, it is expected to produce enough clean, renewable energy to power 18,000 homes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

India and Malaysia to promote co-operation in renewable energy

INDIA: India and Malaysia have agreed to promote co-operation in renewable energy, especially in the areas of biomass and biogas, micro hydropower, solar energy and wind power.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed in the capital. The MoU was signed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy and Data’ Peter Chin Fah Kui, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Malaysia.

Both the countries also agreed to form a Joint Working Group for better coordination through joint research on subjects of mutual interest, exchange and training of scientific and technical personnel, exchange of available scientific and technologies information and data, organization of workshops, seminars and working groups, transfer of know-how, technology and equipment, on non-commercial basis etc.

 Dr.  Farooq Abdullah briefed his Malaysian counterpart on the progress made by India in renewable energy with special reference to the National Solar Mission launched in 2010 under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. He also briefed the visiting Minister on the recently concluded International Seminar on Energy Access and India’s efforts in promoting energy for remote and un-electrified areas.

ReneSola modules not subject to ITC ruling on anti-dumping measures

CHINA: ReneSola Ltd  announced that its solar PV modules sold in the United States are not subject to tariffs on PV modules made with Chinese-manufactured solar cells, as the company sources its cells from countries other than China.

Last week, the U. International Trade Commission upheld higher tariffs that had been imposed last month by the US Department of Commerce and ruled that US manufacturers had been negatively impacted as a result of state subsidies for PV modules exported from China.

"As a result of our international supply chain, and insightful planning on the part of our global management team, ReneSola will not be negatively impacted by the ITC's recent ruling," said Xianshou Li, CEO of ReneSola.

"While we question how this ruling will ultimately benefit US consumers and the overall US solar industry, we will continue to work diligently to make solar more affordable and widely available through our economies of scale and by manufacturing modules of the highest quality."

Friday, November 9, 2012

JinkoSolar on final ITC rulings on imported Chinese solar products

CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd commented on the final determination of injury by the United States International Trade Commission concerning the anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty (investigation of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from the People's Republic of China.

The USITC finally determined that imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China "materially injure" a U.S. industry, but the USITC did not make an affirmative determination regarding critical circumstances. As a result, the company will face AD at 15.42 percent and CVD at 15.24 percent for the cells and modules imported into the United States after the respective date of the preliminary determinations on AD and CVD were issued by the Department of Commerce.

"We are disappointed with the International Trade Commission's final determination on the injury," commented Xiande Li, chairman of JinkoSolar.

"While the decision was partially favorable to us, we believe that this ruling will have negative effects globally and will ultimately end up hurting consumers. Trade protectionism benefits no one and will only hinder the solar market's development. Despite the circumstances, we remain fully committed to our customers in the United States and are prepared to meet our contractual commitments there.

"As we have stated before, these tariffs are unlikely to have an impact on our business as the United States continues to account for a fairly small percentage of our total module shipments. We are still strongly dedicated to the success of JinkoSolar in the United States."

LDK Solar develops 12 MW PV project in Italy

CHINA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd  announced that its subsidiary company, Solar Green Technology of Italy, has completed design and construction of a 12 megawatt (MW) PV project known as "Century."

The Century project consists of industrial rooftop PV plants ranging between 300 and 1,000 kilowatts (kW), located throughout Italy. A portion totaling approximately 7.8 MW of this project has been completed and 40 percent of the financing was provided by LDK Solar.

These projects will benefit from the Fourth Conto Energia, which was issued in May 2011 by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Environment, and provides incentives based on the type and size of the PV system.

"We are pleased to expand our presence in Italy's solar market through this project.  The completion of these projects demonstrates the existing demand for solar power in Italy and we look forward to continuing to broaden our relationships in this region," stated Xingxue Tong, president and CEO of LDK Solar.

"This project is one of the largest rooftop PV plants.  The strategic partnership between the parties involved confirms that the integration and cooperation among industry players, such as module manufacturers, EPC contractors and financial operators, can lead the development and implementation of projects in Italy with a goal of moving toward grid parity," stated Angelo Prete, MD of Solar Green Technology.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bulk GaN costs to fall 60 percent by 2020, leading to more efficient devices

USA: Wide-band-gap semiconductor materials such as gallium nitride (GaN) offer far higher performance than traditional silicon but cost significantly more. However, by 2020 GaN costs will drop enough for it to become competitive based on performance gains, according to a Lux Research report.
Bulk GaN is very expensive today, costing about $1,900 or more for a two-inch substrate, compared with $25 to $50 for a far larger six-inch silicon substrate. But GaN materials offer higher efficiencies than silicon, leading to greater energy savings in devices like power electronics, laser diodes, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These gains can offset cost disadvantages – the price-to-performance ratio is the key to adoption.
“The future of bulk GaN is going to come down to how it faces off against silicon substrates,” said Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Price or Performance: Bulk GaN Vies with Silicon for Value in LEDs, Power Electronics and Laser Diodes.” “Bulk GaN wins in laser diodes and it can become relevant in LEDs and power electronics by boosting yield and performance.”
Lux Research analysts broke down the manufacturing costs for ammonothermal and hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) processes for making bulk GaN, as well as for GaN epitaxy on both silicon and GaN substrates, and determined where the price/performance trade-off will land. Among their findings:

HVPE is the cheaper alternative. Two-inch ammonothermal substrate costs will fall by more than 60 percent to $730/substrate in 2020. While four-inch HVPE substrate costs will fall by 40 percent to $1,340/substrate in 2020, the larger size makes it the more economical choice.

Performance boost is key. Bulk GaN can overcome high cost by boosting performance in terms of lumen (lm) output in LEDs or volt-amp (V-A) capacity in power electronics, by allowing the use of smaller dies and providing higher yields. In LEDs, GaN can match silicon with a 380 percent relative performance – an ambitious but realistic goal. For power electronics, performance at 360 percent of devices on silicon makes bulk GaN a winner.

New materials on the horizon. Emerging materials such as aluminum nitride (AlN) are ideally suited to very low wavelength, ultra violet-LED, green laser diode and high switching frequency power electronics applications, and can be an effective alternative to bulk GaN.

NREL incorporates dynamic glass into two state-of-the-art facilities to foster energy-efficient buildings

USA: Two cutting-edge research facilities of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have installed SageGlass to help serve as a model for daylighting and energy-efficient construction.

NREL’s Zero Energy Research Support Facility (RSF) and the soon-to-be-completed Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colo., are using SageGlass as part of a living laboratory to help buildings conserve energy and create more comfortable, productive indoor environments.

SageGlass was installed in both facilities to evaluate and showcase the energy efficiency and daylight control advantages of electrochromic glazing technology. SageGlass is electronically tintable dynamic glass that maximizes daylight and outdoor views in buildings while controlling solar glare and heat gain. The glass can darken and clear on demand or automatically using sensors to help keep NREL staff comfortable.

“The essence of energy efficiency isn’t simply about being ‘green’ – it is about cost savings and smart resource use,” said Erin Whitney, staff scientist at NREL. “Intelligent solar-managed windows are a simple yet effective way to reduce energy consumption while retaining our Rocky Mountain views and the architectural integrity of the buildings.”

The RSF accommodates more than 800 staff and an energy-efficient data center. The ESIF will house about 200 NREL scientists and engineers working in 15 state-of-the-art laboratories. A key design objective for both facilities was to take maximum advantage of external views and optimize daylight while controlling the intense sunlight and glare. NREL incorporated this goal into a whole-building integrated design process so the facilities could serve as a model for cost-competitive, high-performance commercial buildings.

Since its installation in the RSF building, SageGlass has worked as intended, according to Ron Judkoff, principal lab program manager at NREL. “The occupants who reside next to the electrochromic windows in the NREL Zero Energy Research Support Facility (RSF) building report that they enjoy the ability to control glare while maintaining access to the view and daylight,” he said.

China launches anti-dumping investigation, polysilicon price differs across Asia

TAIWAN: China Commerce Ministry has made the announcement number 70 and 71 on filing for anti-dumping and countervailing investigation against polysilicon from Europe, while carrying out investigations against imports of polysilicon from the US and Korea at the same time.

Polysilicon selling price would very likely be affected by the investigations, as Chinese first-tier manufacturers are currently leading the world market with their large production capacity covering wafer to module, and have comparatively more demand for polysilicon.

EnergyTrend , the green energy research division of TrendForce, has interviewed several first-tier vendors and conducted research on measures taken by the Chinese government to protect themselves against international trade war. EnergyTrend’s findings show that most manufacturers believe Chinese Polysilicon ASP will rally back up in 2013 not only because of the final determination of anti-dumping charges, but also the high penalty duties that will be imposed to add additional costs.
Furthermore, second and third tier vendors who could not survive the economic recession have shut down factories one after another; those who successfully get through the downturn would be the few well-positioned suppliers to raise polysilicon prices, which EnergyTrend expects to show growth uptick in China next year.

Considering that Taiwan is another major PV supplying market with the largest production capacity after China, worldwide polysilicon suppliers would minimize their costs and risks by putting more attention on Taiwanese downstream manufacturers, who therefore stands a better chance of bargaining for lower material prices.
EnergyTrend believes that the industry would gradually adopt the inverted pyramid business model in which upstream suppliers experience heavier competition when capacity oversupply issue sustains profit pressure. Under the current weak demand conditions, polysilicon prices, Taiwan’s especially, will deviate from China’s quotation and adjust towards downstream vendors’ expectations.

In regards to the spot market performances, given the recent wave of time-sensitive orders from the Chinese regions, capacity utilization rates from various manufacturers experienced a noticeable surge, with capacities being used to the fullest extent in some cases. As businesses within the industry indicate, these continuous orders can be helpful to manufacturers in terms of digesting excessive inventory and putting a halt to the pricing downtrend.

Due to the inventory clear out effect, polysilicon spot prices continued to dip this week, with ASP dropping to around $16.835/kg, a 2.04 percent decrease. With most polysilicon products in the spot market coming from the second-tiered manufacturers' inventory, business vendors believe that future prices may begin to decline at a slower rate, and can even stabilize at one point.

With regards to the multi-Si wafers, due to the unfavorable product pricing, numerous manufacturers have been forced to switch to the foundry business, and continue to provide to the spot market through their existing inventory. With the increase in the number of time-sensitive orders, though, there is hope that prices may begin to stabilize at a certain point.

For this week, multi-si wafer ASP dropped by around 1.15 percent, arriving at $0.863/piece. For the mono-Si wafers, while the lack of a rebound in demand is causing prices to dip, the extent of the price falls have been shrinking due to the various manufacturers' production halt efforts and inventory digestion. The mono-Si wafer ASP for this week arrived at $1.119/piece, a 0.44 percent decrease.

For the PV cells and modules, despite the sluggish market transactions, with the help of surging time-sensitive orders and hope of inventory digestion, spot prices have been dropping at a slower rate. This week, PV cell prices fell to $0.36/Watt, a 0.28 percent decrease. Module prices stayed at $0.622/Watt, the same as last week. As for the solar inverter, due to the increasing pressures and unpromising outlook within the market, prices have gone on a downtrend; ASP arrived at $0.213/Watt, a 2.74 percent decrease.

SolarWorld applauds trade panel for vote to counter illegal Chinese trade practices

USA: SolarWorld has cheered the US International Trade Commission (ITC) for its unanimous final finding that illegally subsidized and dumped Chinese imports of crystalline silicon solar cells and panels have hurt domestic manufacturers.

The decision, along with all major preceding rulings, validates the central contention of SolarWorld’s trade cases that the government of China is staging an illegal, anticompetitive export drive at the expense of U.S. manufacturing and jobs, the company said.

However, the company said in light of China’s apparent determination to prop up its excessive production capacity at any cost, it would continue to pursue all relevant options to address China’s improper trade practices. The goal, according to the company, is to revive the domestic industry, fair competition and economic growth in the US solar-manufacturing market at a time when demand is robustly expanding.

The 6-0 vote by the ITC will activate final anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Chinese imports that the U.S. Department of Commerce issued in October, ranging from a combined rate of about 24 percent up to more than 250 percent, depending on the company, according to SolarWorld. The ITC determination is the final step in the trade case investigations, among the biggest brought against China, filed in October 2011.

“US producers are grateful for the diligence that the ITC and its staff invested in this complex case at the crossroads of the world’s energy future,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Oregon. “The vote comes too late for hundreds of American workers laid off from more than two dozen US factories that China’s state-sponsored export campaign drove into financial peril. But the decision offers some hope to survivors that China might be held accountable to its legal obligations and that this US-pioneered industry might see a fair chance to play a growing role in the nation’s energy independence.”

For example, SolarWorld said it has pulled further ahead as the world technology leader, offering a 270-watt, 60-cell panel – the world’s first – as it invests yet another $27 million in technological and manufacturing advances in its Oregon plant and $62 million in its plants worldwide. The addition brings SolarWorld’s total investment in Oregon to more than $610 million without federal subsidies to support development of its operations there, according to the company.

“While SolarWorld continues to innovate, the Chinese government has doubled-down on its trade-distorting practices,” Brinser said. “It is bailing out individual companies, keeping afloat massive excesses of production capacity and otherwise continuing to intervene in the US market by underwriting a no-holds-barred export drive. Moreover, under government support, Chinese companies are pursuing ways to circumvent duties, partly by availing themselves of a loophole that Commerce created when it redefined the scope of SolarWorld’s cases. SolarWorld will continue to fight for a clean, legal and competitive domestic industry.”

Supported by the 227-employer Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, SolarWorld said the cases aimed to stop the Chinese government from investing massive improper subsidies to underwrite its solar industry’s export campaign and dump products, or sell them at artificially low prices, to seize US market share.

Just as the solar industry reached a tipping point into mainstream adoption, SolarWorld said, China launched its export drive into the US solar market, as part of its central five-year planning process targeting emerging “strategic industries.” The Chinese industry enjoyed neither a background in the industry nor any technological, production or cost advantage. Rather, it was the object of the Chinese government’s export goals.

On Oct. 10, Commerce called for anti-dumping duties of 31.73 percent on imports of solar photovoltaic cells and panels from Suntech, 18.32 percent from Trina Solar, 25.96 percent from other companies that had requested but not received individual duty determinations and 249.96 percent from all other Chinese producers, including those controlled by the Chinese government. In addition, the department recommended anti-subsidy duties of 14.78 percent for imports made by Suntech, 15.97 percent Trina Solar and 15.24 percent for all other Chinese manufacturers.

Commerce’s scope covers photovoltaic cells produced or assembled into panels in China but not panels made from cells produced in third countries, creating a loophole for Chinese producers to get around duties. SolarWorld’s initial, broader scope had covered all cells and panels produced in China.

SolarWorld submitted its trade cases on behalf of a coalition of seven domestic manufacturers, including Helios Solar Works of Wisconsin and MX Solar USA of New Jersey. Thereafter, the coalition in favor of sustainable production, domestic manufacturing and trade free of illegal foreign government intervention swelled to 227 solar-industry companies employing more than 18,000 American workers. More than 85 percent of CASM members are downstream operators, such as installers and financiers.

Crystalline silicon PV cells and modules from China injure US industry: USITC

USA: The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that a US industry is materially injured by reason of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules from China that the US Department of Commerce (Commerce) has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.

All six Commissioners voted in the affirmative.

As a result of the USITC's affirmative determinations, Commerce will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of these products from China.

The Commerce Department previously made affirmative critical circumstances determinations in its investigations. Therefore, the Commissioners who made affirmative determinations today are required to determine whether imports covered by the Commerce critical circumstances determinations are likely to undermine seriously the remedial effect of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders Commerce will issue.

With respect to critical circumstances, Commissioners Daniel R. Pearson, Shara L. Aranoff, David S. Johanson, and Meredith M. Broadbent voted in the negative. Chairman Irving A. Williamson and Commissioner Dean A. Pinkert voted in the affirmative with respect to critical circumstances.

As a result of the Commission's negative determinations regarding critical circumstances, the antidumping and countervailing duty orders concerning these imports will not apply retroactively to goods that entered the United States prior to the date of publication in the Federal Register of the Department of Commerce's affirmative preliminary determinations.

The Commission's public report Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules from China (Investigation Nos. 701-TA-481 and 731-TA-1190 (Final), USITC Publication 4360, November 2012) will contain the views of the Commissioners and information developed during the investigations.

Suntech response to final US ITC decision

USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, offers the following statement regarding the US International Trade Commission's (ITC) final ruling regarding countervailing duties (CVD) and anti-dumping duties (AD) on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells imported from China.

E.L. "Mick" McDaniel, MD of Suntech America, said: "The continued growth of trade barriers represents a serious challenge to the US solar industry, for American jobs, and for energy consumers globally. SolarWorld's hypocritical campaign has forced the fast-growing American solar industry to foot the bill for SolarWorld's competitive failures. Further damage can be prevented if governments engage in constructive dialogue to roll back protectionist barriers that limit our industry's ability to compete against fossil fuels. As a US manufacturer and global company, Suntech will continue to oppose unnecessary solar taxes and promote affordable solar energy everywhere.

"However, we are pleased with the ITC's final ruling to reject Commerce's critical circumstances decision and remove the 90-day retroactivity of tariffs. It was apparent to everyone within the solar industry that heightened market demand in Q4 2011 was driven by the expiry of the 1603 cash grant program.

"As a global company with global supply chains and manufacturing in China, Japan, and the US, we remain committed to our US customers and will continue to supply hundreds of megawatts of high-quality, affordable solar panels that will not be subject to these US-China tariffs," continued McDaniel.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ReneSola to provide made-in-India solar PV modules

CHINA: ReneSola Ltd, a leading global manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules and wafers, has introduced its new Virtus II multicrystalline modules to the Indian market at the 6th Renewable Energy India 2012 Expo, a three-day event held in New Delhi that concludes on November 9.

In addition, ReneSola has started providing locally produced PV modules to the Indian market and expects to provide 250 MW of India-made PV modules over a two-year period. The India launch follows the successful introduction of the Virtus II solar modules to the US and Australian markets.

ReneSola continues to implement its sales and marketing strategy of "professionalization, internationalization and localization" in India. Given the substantial demand for solar panels in India, ReneSola foresees a total quantity of 250 MW of India-made ReneSola modules over a two-year period. This is the first time the company has provided locally produced PV modules outside of China, emphasizing the importance of the India PV market.

ReneSola will realize this target through collaborating with local strategic partners in India. In order to import its world-leading technology to India and take advantage of India's local management and talent resources, ReneSola is dedicated to providing localized and customized products and services to the India market.

"Considering the strong and growing demand the India PV market presents for electricity, coupled with the government's strong support and generous subsidies for solar energy, ReneSola considers India to be a key market within Asia," said Stephen Huang, APMEA president for ReneSola.

"We believe traditional PV sales and trading platforms cannot satisfy local demand, so we intend to invest more in India and are determined to establish roots there, ideally joining forces with the India PV industry to provide customized energy solutions."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ascent selected by US Air Force for advanced flexible lightweight PV

USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. has been selected for an Air Force Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase 2 award to demonstrate a next-generation photovoltaic product that builds upon its award-winning flexible monolithically integrated copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) technology.

Subject to contract finalization, the Air Force SBIR Phase 2 program is expected to run 24 months with a program value of up to $750,000.

“Solar cells perform best at lower temperatures, but they can get hot during normal operation,” stated Victor Lee, president and CEO at Ascent Solar. “Modifying our existing technology can improve its performance at higher temperatures. This Air Force program builds upon significant work already conducted by our team in this area. After program completion, we envision a new product that will perform over 30 percent better under some operating conditions that utilize process modifications that can be used in our existing manufacturing line.”