Friday, May 31, 2013

SolarReserve, Kensani and Intikon complete $260 million solar project financing

SOUTH AFRICA: The development consortium consisting of SolarReserve, a US developer of utility-scale solar power projects; the Kensani Group, an experienced empowerment investment player in South Africa; and Intikon Energy, a South African developer of renewable energy projects, has successfully closed project financing for the Jasper Solar Energy Project, a 96 megawatt (MW DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) project.

The Jasper Project, located in the Northern Cape of South Africa near the town of Kimberly, was selected by the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) in May of 2012 in the second round of bids under the South Africa Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP).

Upon completion, the Jasper Project will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent and will help South Africa meet its renewable energy targets, stimulate long-term economic development, create jobs and power more than 30,000 South African homes. The project also marks Google’s first renewable energy investment in Africa.

“We are proud to be part of South Africa’s progressive program to advance clean energy. Our Jasper project will provide substantial, long-term economic benefits to region and help the country meet its
impressive clean energy goals,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve.

“The South Africa government’s advanced energy projects are allowing the country to quickly become a model for not only the rest of the continent, but for the world. We look forward to continuing our work on Jasper and on our other photovoltaic and solar thermal projects in development in South Africa.”

The Jasper Project financial close comes during a time in which the country has seen massive growth in renewable energy. Spurred by a transformative government-established renewable energy program,
South Africa leads the renewable energy race with the highest growth in clean energy in the world in 2012, making it a prime destination for continuing clean energy investment.

In November 2012, the consortium led by SolarReserve, Kensani Group and Intikon Energy closed $586 million (ZAR 5.15 billion) in financing for two 75-megawatt solar PV projects located in South Africa’s Free State and Northern Cape, the Letsatsi Project and the Lesedi Project, set to deliver energy to more than 50,000 homes by mid-2014.

Rand Merchant Bank (a division of FirstRand Bank Ltd) acted as Mandated Lead Arranger and Bookrunner for the Jasper Project’s debt funding requirements. Equity investment for the project was
provided by Google, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Kensani Capital Investments, SolarReserve, Intikon, Development Bank of South Africa, and the P.E.A.C.E. Humansrus Fund, with Rand Merchant Bank providing preference share equity. International law firm Baker & McKenzie supported the project activities through its offices in Johannesburg and the United States, with Kensani Eaglestone Capital Advisory acting as financial adviser.

Google participated in the project by becoming an equity investor at the financial close and will help fund the project during construction. Google has invested heavily in the renewable energy industry; since 2010, the company has committed more than $1 billion to investments in renewable energy projects worldwide capable of producing two gigawatts of power.

"The Jasper Power Project and other projects being developed through the REIPPPP have the potential to transform the South African power grid, and we're proud to be a part of that effort," said Rick Needham, Google's director of Energy and Sustainability. The Jasper project has executed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, the South African power utility. The project cost of approximately ZAR2.3 billion ($260 million) will make this one of the single largest PV projects in Africa.

The Jasper project is located adjacent to the 75 MW Lesedi Solar Energy Project, which broke ground in February 2013. The Jasper and Lesedi Projects, along with the Letsatsi Project located near Bloemfontein, put the consortium’s total portfolio of successful solar projects at 244 MW, accounting for a 20 percent share of South Africa’s solar energy market.

Skyline Innovations to expand solar water heating efforts

USA: Skyline Innovations Inc., a national leader in the financing and installation of solar water heating systems, has closed $2 million in mezzanine financing to fund its continued expansion.

CCM US LLC, a Washington, DC based asset management group investing in clean energy and real estate led the investment.  Co-investing with CCM is DC Community Ventures, a community development venture capital fund that invests in DC metro companies with significant profit potential that deliver financial returns to investors and social returns to local communities.

The $2 million total investment will further Skyline's expansion, increase its ability to provide underserved communities with solar and create local job opportunities in construction and project management.

MEMC changes company name to SunEdison

USA: SunEdison Inc. announced that after obtaining overwhelming stockholder approval at its Annual Meeting of Stockholders in San Francisco, California, the process of changing the company's name to SunEdison Inc., from MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., has been completed.

On June 3, 2013, the company's stock symbol on the New York Stock Exchange will change from "WFR" to "SUNE" to reflect the new corporate name.

"Changing our name to SunEdison is a major milestone as this represents another step toward creating an elite, global brand that builds on a more than 50 year tradition of innovation and growth that began under the MEMC name," said Ahmad Chatila, president and CEO. "We strongly believe the SunEdison name provides us with broader marketplace appeal and scalability that will help us grow the company and build long-term brand equity as we look toward the next chapter."

"Our broad product and service offerings, across two industries, gives us a solid platform for future growth and stability," Chatila concluded.

"Our heritage of innovation, combined with our diversified and synergistic business model, has created a powerful market position. Today, both business units are growing and providing customers with some of the best semiconductor and solar products and solutions available. We are committed to growing both the semiconductor and solar power businesses, and look forward to building on our strong legacies, now under the SunEdison name."

SunEdison will continue to maintain its corporate headquarters in St. Peters, Missouri.

Trina Solar announces Q1 2013 results

CHINA: Trina Solar Ltd (TSL) announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2013.

Q1 2013 financial and operating highlights
* Solar module shipments were approximately 393 MW during the first quarter of 2013, representing a sequential decrease of 5.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012
* Net revenues were $260.2 million, a decrease of 14 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.
* Gross profit was $4.4 million, a decrease of 21.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.
* Gross margin was 1.7 percent, compared to 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
* The company had an accounts receivables provision reversal of $11.1 million in the first quarter of 2013.
* Operating loss was $40.1 million, compared to $70.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
* Operating margin was negative 15.4 percent, compared to negative 23.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
* The company had a foreign currency exchange loss of $19 million, net of changes in the fair value of derivative instruments.
* Net loss was $63.7 million, compared to a net loss of $87.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
* Loss per fully diluted American Depositary Share ("ADS" and each ADS represents 50 of the company's ordinary shares) was $0.90, compared to $1.23 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

"While the average selling price ("ASP") of modules continued to decline in the first quarter due to the lingering supply-demand imbalance in the global PV industry, the rate of decline has slowed from previous quarters," said Jifan Gao, chairman and CEO of Trina Solar.

"In this environment, we continue to focus on improving operational efficiency and exercising financial discipline. In the first quarter, the reductions in non-silicon costs we achieved outweighed the fall in ASP, and we also collected a sizeable amount of overdue accounts receivables. These efforts enable us to maintain strong liquidity and a robust balance sheet, making us better positioned to capture future growth opportunities.

"As previously announced, we completed several restructuring and streamlining initiatives in the second half of 2012 and we saw sustained improvements in our general and administrative expenses in the first quarter of 2013. We will continue to strictly control operating costs while maintaining our product quality and service capabilities. In terms of revenues, we achieved strong sequential shipment growth in Japan and India, two of the most important emerging markets for the PV industry.

"In Europe, we worked to retain quality customers and were also able to diversify our customer base. Trina Solar remains committed to continuing to serve our customers and business partners in Europe as the EU's preliminary determination on antidumping and countervailing duty tariffs against Chinese solar products approaches.

"At the beginning of the year, we announced that the Company had been awarded the right to develop a 50 MW solar project in Gansu province, China. We began construction on the project during the end of the first quarter and expect to connect the project to the power grid and begin limited production by the end of the third quarter of 2013.

"For our downstream systems business, we remain committed to focusing on R&D and delivering innovative products and solutions to lower installation costs, while enhancing the efficiencies and ease-of-use of solar energy."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

REC Solar completes 10,000 residential solar installations

USA: REC Solar, a national leader in solar electric system design and installation, has installed 10,000 residential solar systems nationwide.

Since the company’s founding in 1997, REC Solar has installed more than 160 megawatts of residential, commercial, and utility-scale solar throughout the US and its territories, with 50 megawatts coming online in the past year alone.

Additional REC Solar milestones include:
* Residential system orders have increased 110 percent year over year.
* The company’s installation teams are completing up to 15 residential systems every working day.
* REC Solar’s residential solar business is slated to jump 70 percent in 2013, while the overall residential solar market is projected to grow 35 percent in the same time.

REC Solar recently expanded its national reach by entering key emerging residential markets, including New York and Hawaii, while growing operations in existing markets, including California’s Inland Empire.

Additional growth factors include channel partnerships with large national retailers, increased availability of innovative financing models, focus on reducing soft costs and consistently strong customer reviews and word of mouth. REC Solar received the Angie’s List Super Service Award earlier this year.

Buying low: Solar industry’s imminent return to health and profitability

USA: Overcapacity and poor margins have bankrupted a multitude of solar suppliers and forced corporate investors out of the market over the past two years.

However, according to Lux Research, the industry is set to recover quickly thanks to converging supply and demand. Smart corporate investors have recognized the coming resurgence and formed partnerships in strategic areas like system deployment or balance of systems technologies. Further, companies are seeking differentiated technologies to position for growth that will define winners and losers years down the line.

The industry’s turnaround comes as a result of multiple factors reversing its downward momentum. Lux Research’s Solar Systems Intelligence and Solar Components Intelligence teams analyzed solar market economics and industry movement, and found the following:

Margins recover as oversupply plummets in 2015. Thanks to the bankruptcies of uncompetitive players, and underlying financial constraints preventing capacity expansion, overall module capacity will decrease to 58 GW in 2015.

Meanwhile, the growth of new markets like China will lead to global demand growth from 31 GW in 2012 to 52 GW in 2015. In combination these will lead to module oversupply of only 12 percent, down from 100 percent in 2012. As a result, module margins will recover up to 10 percent from their near-zero averages today.

Corporate thought leaders will race to re-enter the market. Some early movers like BASF and Johnson Controls have already made strategic moves to enter the market by leveraging existing technologies or market platforms, while ABB made a billion-dollar acquisition of a major solar inverter supplier. Others will race to form partnerships and make acquisitions in 2015, driving up the cost of entry. Those that choose to slow-play the market will risk finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Stakeholders are planning years ahead. As the surviving supply landscape becomes increasingly clear, winners are ensuring their positions in the market for the long-term by investing in technologies to increase performance, lower costs, improve product quality, and enable new features.

Areas of investment range from high-efficiency crystalline silicon cell technologies – note First Solar’s acquisition of Tetrasun – to hybrid photovoltaic/thermal cogeneration systems from the likes of IBM, to coatings for higher-quality, longer-lasting modules – a major focus in light of recent allegations of defective products.

The market has changed drastically over a short span of time. Large, dominant manufacturers have risen in concert with many spectacular failures thanks to steep cost reductions. Meanwhile, corresponding incentive reductions have forced developers to quickly adapt business models and find new markets. These growing pains have scared many investors away but the positive outlook on market and industry player health is sure to bring many back into the fold.

The industry’s rough maturation has cast it in a poor light, but solar’s growing presence in the future energy mix is undeniable, as also exemplified in the energy outlooks from several prominent oil companies. It remains to be seen is which corporate leaders will find mutually beneficial partnerships and investments early and reap the rewards of growth for a low price, and which laggards will miss out on the opportunity.

ReneSola to provide 10 MW of Virtus II PV modules to Vitec

JAPAN: ReneSola Ltd has agreed to provide Vitec Co. Ltd, a Japan-based seller of semiconductor and electronic components and provider of energy and environmental consulting services for Mega Solar projects, with 10 megawatts of Virtus II modules.

According to the terms of the agreement, ReneSola's solar modules will be used in a number of solar projects, ranging from 0.6 MW to 2.4 MW in size, across Japan.

Xianshou Li, ReneSola's CEO, said: "This contract with Vitec, a leading electronics company in Japan, reinforces our brand image as a high-efficiency and cost-effective PV product supplier. Since the debut of Virtus II at PV EXPO Japan in February, it has been well received by the Japan market with JET certification. We're confident our modules will enhance Vitec's portfolio and the end-user experience. We hope to continue working with Vitec as we expand our operations to deliver high-quality products and household PV solutions to the strategically important Japan market."

ReneSola Japan began operations in October 2012 to drive sales and business development in Japan. The company has since been listed by the Japan Photovoltaic Expansion Center and received certification from the Japan Electrical and Environment Technology Laboratories, considered major accomplishments for a foreign company entering Japan's solar market.

ReneSola expects its shipments to Japan to grow substantially in the second half of 2013, with Japan to become the Company's third largest market after Europe and United States.

Jigar Shah appointed to Empower Energies board of directors

USA:  Empower Energies, a leading Renewable Portfolio Solutions company, announced the appointment of Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison and the first CEO of the Carbon War Room, to its Board of Directors effective immediately.

"By driving global standardization of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) business model, Jigar Shah enabled mainstream capital to flow into the solar industry, and was a key to unlocking proven solar technologies to be deployed worldwide," said David Kay, chairman of the Empower Energies Board of Directors.

"A quintessential entrepreneur, Jigar founded and built SunEdison, which was sold to MEMC in 2009. Since then he has gone on to apply this business model innovation to solar thermal, building efficiency, and other industries, creating significant value for customers and shareholders alike."

"While the industrial sector has utilized internal teams to deploy efficiency and renewable energy, external partners such as Empower Energies play a catalyzing role in introducing new innovations and approaches to optimize, stage, and manage the right strategy to control energy costs and reduce environmental impacts," said Shah.

"This is an area that has been underserved globally, and that makes it a significant opportunity. The Empower Energies team is well suited to deliver the right mix of renewables and energy management for these commercial and industrial companies. For example, Empower Energies is already making a real impact for global companies such as General Motors."

Yingli Green Energy to supply 96 MW PV modules in South Africa

CHINA & SPAIN: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd announced that it has signed a contract to supply 96 MW of PV modules to the Jasper PV, located in South Africa's Northern Cape.

This solar plant will not only produce clean energy for South African residents, but also create jobs and help to stimulate the local economy.

The consortium formed by Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construccion ("Iberdrola") and South African company Group Five has been selected by Jasper Power Company to build the Jasper PV Plant in South Africa, which will be powered by more than 325,000 Yingli YL295P-35b multi-crystalline modules spread across 180 hectares. Yingli Green Energy is the exclusive PV module supplier for this project.

This is a significant milestone in the history of Yingli Green Energy as the Jasper PV Solar Plant is one of the solar projects that was developed by a consortium led by SolarReserve, a US developer of utility-scale solar power projects, and was selected by the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) in May of 2012 in the second round of bids under the South Africa Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP). The South Africa DOE awarded the construction of eight PV plants and seven wind farms during the second round of bidding.

Iberdrola had selected Yingli Green Energy based on experience of performance yield in existing projects, superb quality and technology leadership. In addition, given that Yingli Green Energy is one of the major crystalline manufacturers to have secured Munich RE's module performance warranty insurance, the project will also be covered under Munich RE's Option Cover. The Option Cover provides greater investment security over the lifetime of the project financing.

Vacon starts manufacture of solar inverters in India

INDIA: Global AC drives manufacturer Vacon has begun the production of its inverters for solar power generation in the company's factory in India.

The final assembly operations of solar inverters were commenced at Vacon's facilities in Bangalore during the month of April this year. Vacon inaugurated a new factory in Bangalore, India, at the end of 2011.

Vacon's solar inverters, rated from 10 to 1,200 kW, are cabinet-installed systems, and they are based on Vacon's state-of-the-art AC drive technology. Vacon's factory in Bangalore manufactures products available for the power ranges of 10 to 200 kW and 1,000 kW, and their primary market area is India.

"The Indian market for solar power is growing rapidly and is, at the same time, rather demanding. Expanding the production of solar inverters to India allows us primarily to achieve prompt and cost-effective delivery times. In addition, we can better meet the local demand," says Jari Marjo, Vacon's product marketing director for solar energy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trylon expands Solarshield service network to support commercial and utility scale inverters in North America

USA: Trylon TSF INC., a leading service provider for the telecommunication and energy transmission industry, announced that it has expanded its solar services network and operations to better address the needs of Commercial and Utility Scale solar plant owners and operators.

The recent strategic additions to the Solarshield team further strengthen Trylon’s technical and field service expertise across three phase inverter technologies. This strategic expansion emphasizes the Company’s commitment to invest in top level resources to support the solar industry across North America.

Solarshield is a comprehensive service program introduced by Trylon in 2013 that is dedicated to delivering the industry’s highest level of service and support for solar inverters and peripheral equipment. Solarshield offers 24/7 phone support, rapid service deployment anywhere in North America, remote inverter diagnostics and support, preventative maintenance programs and complete spare parts and replenishment offerings.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Company’s March release detailing their entry in the US solar inverter market from Canada, where the company already has 150 megawatts of commercial and large scale medium voltage utility inverters in Canada already under its care. Trylon is a best in class product and service provider to the Solar, Wind Energy and Telecommunications industries. For the past 80 years Trylon has delivered innovation and value to its customers in more than 30 countries.

Kyocera solar modules power San Diego County’s first net-zero energy apartments

USA: Kyocera Solar Inc. announced that its solar modules are providing 100 percent of the power needed by H.G. Fenton Co.'s recently opened Solterra EcoLuxury Apartments in the Scripps Ranch suburb of San Diego, Calif.

The 338kW installation produces enough renewable electricity to power average residential and common area use in the 114-unit project. The project represents the bold vision of H.G. Fenton Company and its successful collaboration with CleanTech San Diego, Smart City San Diego and SDG&E.

“Every community we create is designed with the needs and wants of our customers in mind,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of H.G. Fenton.

“Our residents tell us that conserving energy and saving money on their electricity bills is important to them. Solterra is the first apartment community in San Diego to derive all of the electricity residents need for daily living from the sun. Convenient technology features including in-home displays and smart thermostats will give residents the power to manage energy usage from their smartphones and make lifestyle choices that allow the system to generate the power they use. We are very excited to introduce this milestone project, which also includes numerous leading-edge ‘smart’ features to allow residents to control their power usage 24/7.”

The 1,380 Kyocera solar modules were installed by San Diego-based Home Energy Systems, Inc. on the roofs of the four apartment buildings, mounted atop carports and ground-mounted on a slope at the property’s south end.

Ascent Solar announces EnerPlex debut in China

USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of consumer and off-grid products integrated with flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules (CIGS), announced the official entry of the EnerPlex brand into the Chinese consumer market through Ascent’s strategic partner, Shenzhen Radiant Enterprise Co. Ltd, which has signed a distribution agreement with D.Phone (DiXinTong Inc.), one of China’s largest retailers of mobile phones and accessories.

After receiving overwhelming interest in EnerPlex products at selected D.Phone pilot stores, the EnerPlex line will be available at D.Phone stores in four of the largest regions in China. This marks for another major milestone taking EnerPlex a step closer to a well recognized consumer brand globally. The EnerPlex product line has quickly changed the paradigm of solar-integrated consumer electronics, providing consumers with lightweight, powerful and extremely durable charging solutions for all their portable electronics.

Victor Lee, Ascent Solar’s president and CEO, said: “The expansion of our distribution network throughout China is an extremely exciting step in the continuing development of Ascent’s consumer presence throughout the world. This partnership immediately brings EnerPlex products to storefronts across China, enabling several hundred millions of consumers to interact with our products for the first time.”

Nine Japanese companies launch Japan-US collaborative smart grid demo project in Albuquerque

USA: On May 17, nine Japanese companies – Shimizu Corp., Toshiba Corp., Sharp Corp., Meidensha Corp., Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Fuji Electric Co. Ltd, Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd and The Furukawa Battery Co. Ltd – launched a demonstration study for the Albuquerque Business District Smart Grid Demonstration Project consigned to them by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), to be carried out as part of its Japan-U.S. Collaborative Smart Grid Demonstration Project.

The demonstration study will continue for two years, ending in March 2014. An opening ceremony for the demonstration facility took place in Albuquerque to mark the occasion, the many attendees including officials of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque, the NEDO chairman, and presidents and executives of the nine participating Japanese companies.

The Project demonstration study will be conducted using an existing three-story commercial building with approximately 7,000 square meters (m2) in total floor space and an electric power load near 400 kilowatts (kW). A micro grid (to supply power from the demand side) will be installed in the building from power sources consisting of a 50kW photovoltaic (PV) power generation system, a 240kW gas-engine generator, 80kW fuel cells and a 90kW battery system.

By controlling each of these power generation systems, the demonstration study will:

(1) perform demand and supply adjustment within the building based on requests from a commercial electric utility supplier,
(2) operate the power generation systems according to energy and heat demand within the building itself, and
(3) compensate for power output fluctuations in the PV power generation system of the regional utility company.

Project participants from the US side will include this regional utility firm - Public Service Company of New Mexico - as well as Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and the University of New Mexico. Their involvement will enable a collaborative smart grid demonstration encompassing cooperation between the utility and demand sides. In addition, Accenture and Itochu Corp. will undertake Project data management and demonstration site management support.

 The nine participating Japanese companies signed a project implementation agreement with NEDO in August 2010. By September 2011, they had completed the design and manufacture of the Project's various power sources, heat source equipment and control system. Between October 2011 and April 2012, they transported, installed and adjusted the equipment at the building site.

HyperSolar reports dramatic power increase

USA: HyperSolar Inc., the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, announced that its nanoparticle technology is now capable of producing 0.75 volts of electricity.

This achievement represents a dramatic power increase over the previous power output of 0.2 volts.

“We are very pleased with the progress made by our team,” stated Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. “Increasing the voltage is the key to achieving commercial success. We now have a clear path forward to reach our goal of open circuit voltage of 1.5 volts with 10 percent conversion efficiency to cost effectively split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

"Commercially available solar cells are simply too expensive for water splitting. Our novel nanoparticles are designed to use very low cost and Earth abundant materials to convert sunlight into electricity.”

Blue Earth announces agreements with National Energy Partners to build 4 MW in Hawaii

USA: Blue Earth Inc., a renewable energy and energy efficiency services company, announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Xnergy Inc. signed two agreements totaling approximately 4 megawatts with National Energy Partners, LLC for the sole purpose of building and providing operational services for custom solar PV rooftop power systems for 24 schools in Hawaii.

Nine of the schools are located on the Island of Oahu and 15 of the schools are located on the Island of Kauai, which constitutes the majority of the Kauai Complex Area School System.

The announcement is a follow up to our March 26, 2013 news release stating the agreement for 3 megawatts on 15 schools for approximately $4.5 million in EPC revenue. The parties subsequently contracted for another 1 megawatt with the addition of nine more schools.

NEP will provide the construction financing for the projects. The projects are expected to begin construction during the second quarter of 2013 and are targeted for completion during the fourth quarter of 2013.

National Energy Partners (NEP) is a renewable energy company based in Mount Laurel, NJ. Renewable energy based businesses are among the fastest growing sectors of our economy. Specializing in the development of photovoltaic solar electrical systems, NEP works with leading companies in their pursuit towards a greener society.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Minera El Tesoro Mining Group and Soitec establish CPV solar-energy pilot plant for mining operation in Chile

FRANCE & CHILE: Minera El Tesoro (MET), part of one of the largest mining groups in Chile, has built the first pilot plant in South America with Soitec Solar technology, installing four of its highly efficient concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems at a site in Chile’s Sierra Gorda district to provide renewable energy for a remote copper-mining operation.

In addition to achieving the highest energy-generating efficiency, Soitec’s CPV systems feature very robust glass-glass technology, particularly well suited for hot and arid environments. This design offers the lowest degradation and doesn’t need any water for cooling, making it perfectly suited for this installation within the driest desert in the world.

The four CX-S420 systems installed for MET use Soitec Solar’s leading-edge Concentrix CPV technology and two-axis tracking systems to generate a total installed capacity of 64 kWp. In addition to providing electricity for the site’s data center, this installation serves as an important research and demonstration platform for MET using innovative and environmentally friendly solar technologies, designed to reduce carbon footprints and optimize energy costs in hot, arid locations with high direct normal irradiation (DNI).

To that effect, on May 22 MET and Soitec signed a memorandum of understanding to leverage the experience gained from this pilot plant to facilitate their respective plans of developing additional projects with CPV technology in Chile.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to support MET in its relentless work to deliver solar power and a more sustainable and efficient supply of energy to Chile,” said Fabio Mondini, VP, geographical expansion with Soitec’s Solar Division.

“This demonstration site is an important step in our commercial efforts in a region where we have high ambition. Chile’s energy demand is growing and should lead to a doubling of the installed capacity in the next few years, particularly in the northern part of the country, which has the highest DNI and strong mining-sector electricity demand.”

“Considering our location within the Atacama desert, one of the highest irradiation regions on earth, we are very pleased to be working with one of the CPV leaders on this pilot installation and to have the opportunity to use Soitec’s CPV technology in real-world conditions, generating clean and sustainable power to our mining operations,” said Martin Brown, environmental superintendent at Minera El Tesoro.

“As the demo units feed energy to our mine’s internal grid, we are testing Soitec’s technology in the harshest conditions, and at the same time, assessing the possibility of incorporating renewable and clean energy on a larger scale in the future.”

In 2012, Chile’s renewable energy agency Centro de Energias Renovables (CER) published its National Energy Strategy ENE 2012-2030, in which it announced the approval of more than 3.1 GW in solar-energy projects to address issues such as possible power shortages, price increases for fossil fuels, Chile’s enormous economic growth and increasing demand for electricity. As a country, Chile has the world’s highest solar irradiation and is expected to be the site of some of the world’s first large-scale solar projects.

CPV is the most efficient technology in the photovoltaic industry, achieving current module efficiencies of 30 percent – approximately twice that of conventional photovoltaic technologies. Soitec’s CPV modules use a durable glass-glass design and Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. By using dual-axis tracking, Soitec’s systems provide high, constant power output throughout daylight hours.

In addition, the company’s systems are resistant to energy losses in high temperatures and achieve passive cooling without water consumption, offering competitive advantages in regions with high DNI such as northern Chile. Soitec has installed its CPV technology in 18 countries to date.

EU ready to negotiate an amicable solution in solar panels case with China

BELGIUM: EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, received Chinese vice-minister of Commerce Zhong Shan in Brussels on 27 May 2013. The following statement has been made by EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy after the meeting:

"During today’s informal meeting between EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, Commissioner De Gucht expressed clearly that he was ready to negotiate a solution on the solar panels case. However, the Chinese side did not put any specific proposal forward today which is quite normal as we are not yet at the formal stage for negotiations which would only start - if and when - a decision is taken on provisional tariffs by the legal deadline of the 5th June."

Commissioner De Gucht also expressed to the Chinese vice-minister his intention to examine the possibility of a negotiated settlement in partnership with the United States should this become necessary.

In addition, De Gucht also made it very clear to the vice-minister that he was aware of the pressure being exerted by China on a number of EU member states which explains why they are positioning themselves as they are in their advisory positions towards the European Commission.

This is why it is so important in trade defence cases that it is the European Commission which has the role of deciding on provisional tariffs since the European Commission can maintain an independent position. It is the role of the European Commission to remain independent, to resist any external pressure and to see the 'big picture' for the benefit of Europe, its companies and workers based upon the evidence alone.

It's also important to underline the European Commission does not launch anti-dumping investigations on a whim but on the basis of hard facts when there is clear harm to Europe's companies and workers from the illegal flooding of its market by under-priced products. Our trade defence actions are about getting 'trade justice' for our companies and workers. But, of course, if the injury can be removed on the basis of a Chinese undertaking instead, the Commission will look at any proposal to be made after the imposition of provisional measures, if any. In this respect, the ball is very much in China's court.

The final decision on possible provisional measures in this case must be taken by 5th June according to the legal process. The full investigation continues and will conclude in early December 2013.”

GDF SUEZ Canada and Partners announce start of commercial operation of 10 MW Brockville solar project in Ontario

CANADA: GDF SUEZ Canada Inc. and its joint venture partners Mitsui & Co. Ltd and Fiera Axium Infrastructure announced that the 10 MW Brockville solar project in the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley, Leeds County, Ontario has entered commercial operation under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority.

The $50 million project, developed under Ontario's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program, consists of 42,000 panels on approximately 80 acres of land, and has the capacity to generate clean, renewable energy for approximately 1,700 homes in Ontario.

GDF SUEZ Canada and partners Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and Fiera Axium Infrastructure currently operate 362 MW of wind-powered generation facilities in the Canadian Maritimes and Ontario, and have another 300 MW of wind generation projects under construction in Ontario and British Columbia. The Brockville project is the joint venture's first solar installation in Canada.

GDF SUEZ Canada's president, Mike Crawley, remarked: "With Brockville, we are diversifying our technology base and entering a new and exciting business area. We are proud to be providing another form of clean, renewable energy to the province and hope this will be the first of many solar projects in our portfolio."

The lead contractor responsible for engineering, construction, and performance of the project was a joint venture of AMEC Americas Ltd and Black & McDonald Ltd. The construction team consisted primarily of local laborers and electricians.

IFC invests in early stage Indian energy efficiency firm, fosters innovation

INDIA: IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing $1 million in energy efficiency startup Ecolibrium Energy that provides an innovative  technology platform to industrial and commercial enterprises to monitor and optimize electricity use for operations, and help mitigate the impact of climate change.

This is the first transaction signed under IFC’s Cleantech Innovation Facility jointly funded by IFC and IFC-GEF Earth Fund. The facility will make equity investments totaling up to $60 million in early stage clean technology companies. The investment from IFC will enable Ecolibrium to expand its presence across India.

Ecolibrium plans to become the leading player in the demand response market over the long term. This refers to enabling consumers to respond to incentive programs, such as lesser tariffs for consumption during off-peak hours, offered by utility companies. Ecolibrium is incubated by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad’s business incubator Center for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE).

“Companies operating in the energy efficiency segment are relatively new to the Indian market and raising funds from conventional sources is expected to be challenging for them,” said Chintan Soni, founder and CEO, Ecolibrium Energy. “This financing from IFC will show the way for other global and domestic investors to follow suit and invest in such technology-enabled scalable businesses.”

Besides IFC, CIIE will also invest $500,000 in Ecolibrium in this round of investment on behalf of early stage cleantech fund Infuse Capital.  IFC is one of the investors in Infuse Capital.

“IFC’s investment in Ecolibrium supports energy efficiency by giving commercial and small and medium enterprises technologically advanced and innovative solutions that help reduce energy usage,” said Anita George, IFC regional director for Infrastructure in Asia.

IFC’s investments globally support energy efficiency by giving industrial customers, especially small and medium enterprises, technologically advanced and innovative solutions to reduce energy usage. IFC's global program regularly invests in projects focused on mitigating climate change in the areas of renewable energy, clean technology, and resource efficiency across emerging markets. Clean energy is a global strategic priority for IFC, which has led several innovative investments in South Asia in recent years.

Headstart for CSUN in Turkey

CHINA, GERMANY & TURKEY: CSUN, a specialized manufacturer of solar cells and modules took the next step in its globalization approach and celebrated the grand opening of its factory in Istanbul, together with the Turkish Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz, the VP of the government party and parliament member Salih Kapusuz as well as the Chinese consul general, Zhang Qingyang.

The inauguration was celebrated with about 200 invited guests, including high-ranking government officials, customers, financial institutes and media representatives. The event was highlighted by the ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Turkish Energy minister, Taner Yildiz, VP of the government party Salih Kapusuz, CSUN’s chairman Lu and JV partner Seul Energy’s chairman Cargi Seymen.

Additionally, a framework agreement with EPC and project developer Sybac for 100 MW of module supply and a cooperation agreement with TÜV Rheinland were signed. Furthermore the local banks AKBANK and ISBANK officially confirmed their support for CSUN Eurasia and its business in the Turkish and European markets.

During his speech,Taner Yildiz expressed his support for the local PV industry and underlined the importance of solar power for Turkey. On CSUN’s factory he comments: “I would like to congratulate CSUN because they invested not only in module production but also in cell manufacturing in our country. With this local production investors will benefit from higher feed-in-tariffs.”

CSUN invested into a cell and module production facility in Istanbul-Tuzla in 2012 and operates this factory as CSUN Eurasia together with its local joint venture partner Seul Energy. The new production location will put CSUN in a good market position to serve the growing Turkish and Middle East solar markets as well as its many European customers.

Tingxiu Lu, CSUN’s chairman, explains: “Together with CSUN, I believe that the photovoltaic industry will see a brighter future. Our objective is to provide benefits to mankind and future generations.  We are very proud of establishing CSUN’s first manufacturing plant outside of China here in Turkey. This marks a very crucial and important step in CSUN’s continued drive for globalization. We continue to strive for excellence in product quality, security and good service to strengthen our position as a trusted and preferred partner.“

Chairman of Seul Energy, Cagri Seymen, adds: “Due to the increasing electricity prices and falling module prices all around the world, solar energy is becoming more and more attractive. Especially with the new regulations and tariffs, the solar energy sector is booming in Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. Istanbul is at the heart of this region and CSUN Eurasia eases the investment decisions for solar investors by helping with legal barriers, logistics and local incentive issues."

Operational since January 2013, the factory in Istanbul mainly produces polycrystalline cells and modules based on CSUN’s well developed technology and equipment. After June this year, the annual production capacity for modules will total 300 MW. In addition to module production the manufacturing site provides a cell manufacturing capacity of 100 MW.

To offer Turkish customers higher feed-in-tariffs, CSUN is currently also evaluating locally produced materials such as glass, frames and backsheets and expects to be compliant with Turkish local content regulations by the Q4 2013.

Yingli Green Energy joins SolarAid to spread light for learning in Africa

CHINA: Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., in a statement jointly released with Solar Roof Systems, Kingspan and Atama Solar Energy, announced that they have raised a total of 24,000 Euro for SolarAid, the London based charity using solar power to help education in Africa.

The fundraising will support SolarAid's 'Lighter Learning' programme to improve the education of children in Africa by providing lighting for classrooms in 12 schools across Zambia.

Only 9 percent of rural sub-Saharan dwellers in Africa have access to electricity, with the average family of the remaining 91 percent of the population spending up to 25 percent of their income on toxic kerosene for lighting. SolarAid's aim is to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020 and to provide clean light in every home in Africa, improving the health, education and wealth of Africa's 110 million households without access to electricity.

SolarAid does not give solar lights away, but sells them to help create a market for solar and maintains them to ensure communities value them. Using micro-solar systems, the cost of SolarAid's procuring, installing and promoting lighting kits for a school is just EUR 2,000; the solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces reliance on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps.

SolarAid also promotes the benefit of solar lamps through schools. Children tell their parents who are then convinced to buy a light to help their child to study. Demand for solar lights is rising dramatically. A total of 294,033 solar lights were funded and distributed by SolarAid in 2012 and the organization is aiming to make it a million in 2013.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Martifer Solar to build Latin America’s largest PV plant in Mexico

USA: Martifer Solar, a subsidiary of Martifer SGPS, is building a 30 MW photovoltaic plant in Mexico, the largest to date in Latin America.

The company is responsible for the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) services of the plant and will also provide the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) services upon completion. The project will be funded by local development bank Nafin, by International Finance Corporation (IFC, the World Bank Group) and Corporación Aura Solar.

The plant, which is being constructed for Gauss Energía, is located in La Paz, Baja California Sur, on a 100-hectares site. It is Mexico’s first utility-scale solar project under a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) contract between a private company and Comisión Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s federal power company, ensuring the sale of the produced energy over 20 years.

“Martifer Solar’s experience and worldwide track-record were decisive during the analysis of the different proposals made by the main companies in the sector. Due to its dimension, this project in Mexico will open the way for the development of the photovoltaic sector in the country, where, to date, were installed 13 MW of PV projects”, says Hector Olea, CEO of Gauss Energía, a Mexican company specialized in project development in the energy sector.

With approximately 132,000 modules installed on single-axis trackers, this plant will have a production capacity of 82 GWh/year, the equivalent to the average energy consumption of almost 160,000 inhabitants, and will be equivalent to offsetting the emission of more than 60,000 tons of CO2 per year. The park’s construction is scheduled to be completed in August 2013.

“The construction of the Latin America’s largest PV plant confirms our best expectations for 2013. This is an emblematic project for Martifer Solar, in a region that, due to its irradiation characteristics, finds solar electricity as a viable and more competitive alternative, when compared with non-renewable energy sources. We consider Mexico as a key market in Martifer Solar’s internationalization strategy," says Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar.

Europe’s anti-dumping tariff about to finalize, Chinese PV manufacturers’ three contingency plans

TAIWAN: Apart from the rumor which says that China’s going to impose anti-dumping tariffs on the imported polysilicon, the Chinese government continues to communicate with Europe’s major member countries through diplomatic ways, hoping the member countries can encourage Europe to adopt a more moderate standpoint.

The German government officials have spoken in succession lately indicating their disagreement with any regulations that may raise the possibility of a trade war. This made the market believe there might be a change to the double reverse policy (anti-dumping and countervailing). With the situation constantly changing, the double reverse policy is likely to lead to three possible scenarios, according to EnergyTrend, a green energy research division of TrendForce:

1) As originally intended, Chinese manufactures still have to pay high punitive tariffs.

2) The case is overturned. The punishment towards Chinese manufacturers will be toned down or cancelled.

3) A compromise is reached. The alternative solutions so far include the possible control on total capacity and the limitation on the lowest sales price.

According to EnergyTrend, the initial conclusion of the case will not have to be agreed on by the member countries. The final ruling, however, will have to be approved by them. The critical focus for now is whether the final result in December will be in China’s favor or not. And which one of the three scenarios above will be adopted? The result will depend on the negotiations among the European Investigation Council, the European member countries, and China.

We believe that the possibility for cancelling the punishment won’t be high in the initial stage in June. Based on this, EnergyTrend believes there won’t be major problems with the purchase orders for Q2/Q3. The market will be ready to enter into the off-peak season in Q4, which is also when the final announcement is set to take place. The status and effects of the double reverse case can be further observed through Europe’s solar energy exhibition in October. This will allow us to better evaluate the impact on next year’s purchase orders.
On the other side, the range of products affected by Europe’s anti-dumping tariff includes not only the modules but also the Chinese PV cells that are exported to Europe. Assuming the anti-dumping tariff is put into practice (as scenario 1 suggests), we believe Chinese PV manufactures may come up with the following three strategies:

Strategy 1 : Direct export of China’s module production to Europe.
Based on the supply and demand price model shown on EnergyTrend, if Europe imposes anti-dumping tariffs on the PV cells and modules, and if China announces countervailing measures on imported polysilicon as well as adopts different tax rates per region, the price of polysilicon in the Chinese market may increase to $19.5~24.5/kg.

If Chinese manufacturers choose to assemble and model the PV cells in China and then sell them to Europe, then once the module taxes are levied, the cost will be at least $0.741/W, which is 30 percent higher than that of the current products exported to Europe. The price is almost comparable to the lowest price of other brands (from Europe, US, Japan) sold in Europe. EnergyTrend believes Chinese manufacturers won’t adopt this strategy given the lack of a brand premium and advantage on cost.

Strategy 2: China’s PV cells will be exported to Europe or other regions to be assembled into modules.
The processing cost is around $0.13~0.16/W for China’s top PV cell factories. The lowest cost per PV cell is above $0.399/W, considering the tax rate that might be imposed as the silicon wafers and PV cells are exported to Europe. If using the local module factories in Europe, the cost will be around $0.28/W~$0.34/W, considering the mainstream cost structure in the current market and the possible tax rate margin. It is forecasted that once the module production of China’s PV cells is completed in Europe, the cost will be around $0.75~$0.83/W.

Strategy 3: Have a third party country produce PV cells in Europe or export PV modules to that region.
When a PV cell made in a third party country is assembled into a module in a non-China factory, the lowest cost it can get is $0.666/W. But as the demand increases, the price of the PV cells made in the third party country may also increase. In addition, the price of Europe’s end module may rise by more than 10~15 percent.

When such a business model is adopted, the strategies of the Chinese factories operating in Europe will no longer be about clearing out gigantic PV cells and module capacity, but rather about strengthening their brand visibility in the European market. This is similar to how Western countries (Europe, USA) and Japan promote their products through their own brand image, and how they leave manufacturing tasks to regions that are not affected by tariffs.

EnergyTrend indicates that while products in China are confronted with high tax rates, the market demand for Taiwan’s PV cells and modules has increased rapidly. Compared with the related China-produced solar products that are exported to Europe, Taiwan’s solar products hold a notable advantage on cost. With the cost of assembling China’s PV cells in Europe being $0.75/W, Taiwan’s PV cell manufactures have the chance to increase the price to $0.44~$0.47/W in the short run, which is at least a 10 percent rise. Therefore, in the second quarter, Taiwan’s PV cell business might turn profitable under the international trade wars.

As for this week’s spot price, there could be changes because Europe’s member countries will hold a discussion regarding the double reverse policy on 25th of May. As the atmosphere in the market becomes tense, purchasing momentum is likely to shrink. Some of the manufacturers indicate that inventory will be controlled carefully in the short run due to the unpredictable market news and the upcoming semi-annual reports.

Big moves, however, are unlikely to take place until the results of the double reverse case becomes clear. Therefore, the spot price for this week is about the same as that of last week. Regarding thin-film, due to the increasing demand and the price comparison effect, the price for this week has slightly increased to an average of $0.63/Watt, a 0.16 percent rise.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Panasonic donates 2,000 compact solar lights to refugees in Kenya through UNHCR

KENYA: Panasonic has donated 2,000 compact solar lights to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation in Kenya.

A ceremony for the donation was held on May 16 at the UNHCR Representation in Japan, attended by relevant people such as Johan Cels, UNHCR's representative in Japan, Shinji Kubo, deputy representative, and Takanobu Himori, executive director of the Japan Association for UNHCR.

Michiko Ogawa, GM of the CSR & Citizenship Group, Groupwide Brand Communications Division, explained as the representative for Panasonic the background to the donation and the products. "The two refugee camps where these compact solar lights will be used are home to more than 600,000 people. We heard that the camps face a multitude of problems due to their increasing population, such as a shortage of space, water and health facilities, as well as worsening hygiene.

"The 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) will also happen to be held on June 1 this year to discuss the various development issues affecting the African nations, so we hope that the compact solar lights we have donated here will help lift the safety and quality of life of those living in the camps from the perspective of assuring human security."

The donated solar lights will be used in two refugee camps in Kenya (Dadaab and Kakuma). The people living at these camps have been unable to return home for over twenty years, living as refugees in Kenya. Dadaab refugee camps, neighboring Somalia in the northeast of Kenya, were set up at the beginning of the 1990s to consist of three camps to host 90,000 refugees from Somalia. However, the number of refugees has swelled to reach 430,000 currently living in five camps.

Kakuma refugee camp is located near the border with South Sudan in the northwest of Kenya, and was also established in the early 1990s to receive some 20,000 refugees from Sudan. The number has risen to over 110,000, made up of refugees from fifteen different countries, of which, nearly a half is the Somalis, followed by the South Sudanese, Sudanese and Ethiopians. UNHCR Representation in Kenya endeavors to promote legal protection of refugees and provides comprehensive refugee assistance programmes.

ABB to produce photovoltaic inverters in South Africa

SWITZERLAND: ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, plans to start production of central inverters in South Africa to support the rapidly growing local photovoltaic (PV) market and local content requirements.

ABB plans to open the new inverter production line at its existing facilities in Johannesburg in 2014. The line for its PVS800 range of central inverters will have a production capacity of approximately 500 megawatts (MW) a year. It will produce 630 kilowatt (kW), 875 kW and 1,000 kW central inverters.

The company already produces solar inverters in Estonia, India and China.

aleo solar AG starts negotiations with potential investors and presents its production facility

GERMANY: aleo solar AG is holding initial meetings with potential investors on the acquisition of a majority interest in the solar module manufacturer. Majority shareholder Robert Bosch GmbH declared its withdrawal from the crystalline photovoltaics sector at the end of March.

Since then, a buyer has been sought for the Bosch Group’s shares (90.7 percent) in aleo solar AG. “We have received several serious enquiries from the industry, and are currently examining them,” explains York zu Putlitz, CEO/CFO of aleo solar AG.

“We are holding meetings with several interested parties. Potential investors have already visited our production facility in Prenzlau, Brandenburg. A buyer is to be determined by the end of the third quarter of 2013.”

Regardless of this sale, Robert Bosch GmbH has ensured that it will finance aleo solar AG until the end of March, 2014.

aleo solar is one of Germany’s top three solar module manufacturers and has been producing in Prenzlau, Brandenburg for over ten years. The visits provided aleo with an opportunity to demonstrate its facility's extensive quality assurance system to potential interested parties.

The use of automated testing procedures integrated into the production lines in combination with manual inspections means that the quality of aleo modules is monitored in every single step of the manufacturing process. aleo solar has been using a cell tester by Manz AG for nearly three years, making it the first pure module manufacturer to use this innovative equipment.

A multitude of camera systems check the solar cells for contour, colour homogeneity and the geometry of the screen print on the front and back of the cell. It even registers all relevant electrical variables, measures the warpage and thickness of the cells and detects microcracks. It also includes an infrared thermography test.

“The tester is an enormous help in quality assurance, since it allows us to conduct quick and all-encompassing solar cell inspections,” says Günter Schulze, CTO of aleo solar AG. “These tests ensure that only the very best cells are used for our aleo modules.”

In addition to a demanding incoming goods inspection, extensive quality controls are conducted during every single production step. For instance, aleo solar tests its products using the electroluminescence (EL) method throughout the entire production process. This makes it possible to detect damage to solar cells which are imperceptible to the human eye, such as microcracks. aleo solar uses machines from the German company MBJ to accomplish this.

“These EL tests enable us to detect flaws and react to them at a very early stage in production. This way, we provide our customers with nothing but highest quality. The fact that we continuously use systems like these as a standard part of our quality control is a major factor which sets us apart from the competition,” Günter Schulze continues.

OCI Solar Power completes 3 MW solar power facility

USA: OCI Solar Power has commenced commercial operations at its new solar farm in Holmdel Township, New Jersey -- its second solar power plant in New Jersey.

The solar facility was developed on 34 acres on Holmdel Road in Monmouth County and is now operational, generating power from the sun using more than 13,000 solar modules on-site.

The project, constructed with leading solar PV technology, is 3 megawatts (AC) in size and can power more than 2,000 homes during daylight hours.

"The completion of the Holmdel solar facility is another big step toward creating a more sustainable and green future for New Jersey and the Holmdel community," said Tony Dorazio, the president of OCI Solar Power. "It's the second of two projects for OCI Solar in New Jersey, and we are grateful for the community's partnership and support."

OCI Solar Power plans to sell the electricity it produces to regional power distributor PJM for providing power to area homes and businesses. According to the company, the additional sustainable energy source will mean increased efficiencies and renewable energy costs for the area.

OCI Solar Power is also currently developing a 400 MW solar power project-one of the nation's largest-in San Antonio, Texas and another 100 MW nationwide.

OCI Solar Power's other New Jersey solar facility in operation is located on South Delsea Drive in Vineland.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Solar lease financing arrives in New Mexico

USA: Affordable Solar announced that its retail business is offering a solar panel leasing program to residential customers in New Mexico. For less than the monthly cost of their electric bills, many New Mexicans can now use renewable solar energy to help power their homes.

Affordable Solar's new solar financing program, in cooperation with Sunnova Energy Corp., will provide New Mexico homeowners with solar power systems that can allow them to save money on energy costs from day one without paying the upfront cost of the system. The leasing program allows customers to select the solar panels and system sizes that best meet their energy needs and budgets.

The program includes a solar lease option that includes installation, monitoring, repairs and insurance for a low monthly fee. As an example, a 4.5-kilowatt residential solar system, which is typical for a 3 bedroom home, would initially cost approximately $79 a month, with no upfront cost. The $79 per month will be offset by a decrease in their electric bill. Customers could purchase the same system outright for $18,000, not including federal and state tax credits.

The new solar lease program is only available to New Mexico property owners through Affordable Solar. Currently, 75% of Americans have access to solar energy through a solar lease.   Now New Mexicans can lock in their cost of electricity, paying for tomorrow's electricity at yesterday's prices.

PowerSecure increases ownership of growing solar and LED businesses to 100 percent

USA: PowerSecure International Inc. announced that it has gained 100 percent ownership of its solar business with the purchase of the final 10 percent ownership stake from Southern Energy Management and also has gained 100 percent ownership of its IES LED lighting business with the purchase of the final 33 percent ownership interest from IES.

In addition, PowerSecure has acquired Powerline EHV & Safety Training, LLC, a leader in utility infrastructure safety training. This acquisition further enhances the company’s strong focus on its safety programs.

The company completed these three transactions for approximately $1.3 million in cash and approximately $3.0 million in common stock, for a total aggregate value of approximately $4.3 million.

As a result of these transactions, PowerSecure is now positioned to capture 100 percent of the net income from these businesses in the future, and has bolstered its utility infrastructure safety and training programs with additional resources and capabilities.

Soitec announces industry's first four-junction solar cell for concentrator PV systems

FRANCE: Soitec announced the industry's first four-junction solar cell device, which works under concentrated sunlight, putting the company on the solar-energy industry's technology roadmap at a world-class level of an outstanding 43.6 percent efficiency.

This technology development - made possible through strong collaboration between solar cell device and epitaxial growth centers of expertise combined with Soitec's decades-long leadership in substrate-bonding and layer-transfer technologies - validates the unique roadmap enabling, thanks to the four junctions structure to target the 50-percent efficiency level. This roadmap marks a major competitiveness breakthrough in the photovoltaic industry.

Soitec's four-junction solar cell has achieved today a peak efficiency of 43.6 percent, as confirmed by the Fraunhofer ISE Calibration Laboratory. This measurement was achieved at a concentration level of 319 (319 suns). The new cell has demonstrated more than 43 percent energy-generating efficiency over a concentration range between 250 and 500.

Today's triple-junction solar cells used in commercial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules in real-world applications are approaching their physical limits in converting sunlight into renewable energy. Soitec's four- junction cell is designed to increase the conversion efficiency of commercial CPV systems to the highest level ever achieved by any photovoltaic technology. Based on the initial results obtained using very few integration runs, Soitec is well positioned at the front of the efficiency race.

The innovative four-junction cell uses two new, highly sophisticated dual-junction sub cells grown on different III-V compound  materials, which allows optimal band-gap combinations tailored to capture a broader range of the solar spectrum. This maximizes energy-generating efficiency.

Soitec leverages its proprietary semiconductor-bonding (Smart Stacking) and layer-transfer (Smart Cut) technologies, which have been used in volume production by the global semiconductor industry for decades, to successfully stack non-lattice-matched materials while also raising the possibility of re-using expensive materials.

The new cell was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, Germany, and the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Materialien und Energie in Berlin, which developed and deposited III-V epitaxial layers on new base materials as well as fabricating and characterizing the device. CEA-Leti, France's research institute for electronics and information technologies, also actively participated in the project and contributed its expertise in mechanically strong, electrically conductive and optically transparent bonding interfaces as well as layer-transfer engineering of III-V compound materials.

The promise of India’s solar future

Bettina Weiss, SEMI

INDIA: India continues to hold great promise for the solar industry. On my most recent trip to Bangalore and New Delhi, both government officials and companies remain optimistic about a strong role for renewables in the country’s energy mix in the years to come, with solar leading the charge.

The draft Phase 2 policy document of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was released in December 2012, and industry stakeholders expressed hope that implementation barriers experienced in Phase 1 would not be repeated. However, with the requirement to shift responsibility for most of the targeted 9 GW total to state governments, project financing will likely continue to be a challenge, as lenders are more comfortable with central government schemes.

SEMI India’s activities are aligned with Phase 2 and related developments and come at an opportune time as we gear up for the 5th edition of SOLARCON India 2013, our exposition and conference to be held August 1-3, 2013 in Bangalore.

Conference delegates will have the opportunity to hear a detailed account of JNNSM Phase 2 implementation by Tarun Kapoor, IAS, Jt. Secretary, MNRE in an interactive session with the audience. And, at the CEO panel, industry leaders will assess the Indian solar market and the critical role states will play in advancing growth and supporting industry infrastructure needs for solar. Take a look at the speaker line-up here.

SEMI India supports initiatives and activities on the big government stage as well as disseminating knowhow, best practices in workforce development, as witnessed in Pune, Maharashtra, where a short course on “Rooftop PV System Design and Implementation” concluded just this past week.

The course, organized in technical collaboration with the National Center for PV Research and Education at IIT Bombay, ran to venue capacity. 74 participants ranging from power engineering & electronics professionals to entrepreneurs and graduate students travelled from across the country to benefit from expert presenters representing industry and academia.

Fourteen sessions over three days covered PV technology, technology selection for rooftops, power electronics basics, inverter selection, PV system design, electrical design, power evacuation and metering, quality standards and best practices, rooftop policies/financial models and culminated with a site visit to a 100KW combined rooftop and ground mounted PV plant at the PCNTDA buildings north of Pune.

Given the overwhelming response, and the many applicants who had to be turned away, because of capacity constraints, SEMI India will consider offering a similar program in another geographical region. Several parts of India, notably Kerala and Tamil Nadu have announced attractive rooftop PV policies in recent months driving up interest.  At the higher end of the urban consumption scale, rooftop PV already makes good economic sense and system integrators are keen to offer solutions.

With large numbers of new entrants into the solar PV business, particularly at the system integration and retail levels, course attendance tends to be diverse and the short course experience in Pune suggests the need for a couple of differentiated formats – one covering basic PV system design tutorials and another covering deeper technology areas.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shipments of smart meters for commercial and industrial markets will reach 12.7 million annually by 2020

USA: Because commercial and industrial (C&I) customers are the largest energy users in a utility’s service territory, utilities have a strong incentive to meter them as accurately as possible.

The market for smart C&I electrical meters continues to expand as utilities seek to lower operating costs and provide granular consumption data to valuable C&I customers. According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide shipments of smart meters for the C&I market will grow from 10 million annually in 2013 to 12.7 million annually by 2020.

“Smart meters provide a number of benefits for both utilities and their C&I customers,” says Neil Strother, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Deploying smart C&I meters and the related infrastructure eliminates or greatly reduces the need for manual or walk-by/drive-by meter readings, and provides more precise measurement of consumption as it relates to billing. At the same time, smart meters can help savvy C&I customers drive down operational costs, especially when linked with building energy management systems.”

In many countries, regulators have set ambitious targets for reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency. This is particularly true in Europe, where European Union regulators have set goals of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 percent increase in energy produced from renewable resources, and a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

Smart meter deployments in North America are well underway, and China is in the midst of a massive deployment of advanced meters, many of which will be installed at C&I facilities.
Penetration rates of smart meters in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will rise to approximately 70 percent by the end of this decade, according to the report.

Solar Universe announces franchise expansion in key solar markets across the US

USA: Solar Universe announced the opening of three new franchises in Boston, Massachusetts; Chico, California; and Denver, Colorado.

This national expansion, specifically within key markets, adds to the existing Solar Universe Network of 37 franchises in the US and Puerto Rico, bringing the total to 40 locally-owned and operated franchises nationwide and overseas.

The new locations in Boston, Denver and Chico will service the growing demand among consumers embracing solar and reaping its cost savings. Each office expects to create high quality green jobs in the communities served and will begin solar installations immediately.

The Boston opening comes on the heels of Governor Deval Patrick’s recent goal to install 1,600 megawatts of solar energy in Massachusetts by the year 2020. This benchmark was revised after the state exceeded its initial solar installation goal of 250 megawatts of power by 2017, four years earlier than anticipated. Solar Universe’s new operation in Boston will service Massachusetts residence and will foster the governor’s new initiative by enabling consumers to have another option for solar energy.

Electrical grid woefully prepared for cyber security threats

ENGLAND: The use of ICTs within the electrical grid means an evolution from isolated structures into open and networked environments where the subversion of power control systems has become a reality.

The restructuring of the power sector and the emergence of the smart grid has largely ignored the issue of cyber security. Industrial control systems have poor methods of authentication, little encryption, and are not often capable of detecting intrusions. By failing to address cyber security, and focusing on the cost-savings and gained efficiencies of a market-oriented model, the susceptibility to cyber-attacks has grown.

ABI Research estimates the spending on cyber security solutions to secure the infrastructure will total $2.9 billion globally by the end of 2013.

“Cyber-attacks that can cause serious damage to electrical grids are a reality. Operators need to view cyber security as a core, integrated requirement of their offering and not as a secondary add-on,” says Michela Menting, ABI Research’s senior analyst for cyber security.

Efforts by governments and standardization bodies to tackle vulnerabilities within power control systems are raising the level of awareness. This is in turn driving a dedicated market in cyber security for critical infrastructure, targeting the security of industrial control systems, substations and advanced metering capabilities.

Manufacturers such as GE, Siemens, and Honeywell offer dedicated cyber security services to accompany their ICS product offerings. Other larger niche vendors such as Advantech, AGT International, AlertEnterprise, Maxim Integrated offer specialized SCADA security solutions and companies like 4Secure, OwlComputing Technologies, and DNV KEMA propose expert consulting services.

A number of energy companies have also made significant efforts at implementing a cyber security culture within their electric grid operations, such as Alliander, Enel, and E.On Nordic.

Eltek signs reseller agreement with Empire Clean Energy

USA: Eltek, the world leader in high efficiency power systems for telecom, industrial applications and renewable energy, has signed a non-exclusive reseller’s agreement with New York-based Empire Clean Energy Supply.

Empire Clean Energy is a stocking distributor that is known for delivering expedited service, quick response times and strong customer support. The company’s location just outside New York City means customers statewide will get fast delivery of Eltek THEIA HE-t solar inverters.

THEIA HE-t inverters have peak efficiency of 97 percent, the highest for single-phase, isolated inverters used in grid-connected photovoltaic systems. Lightweight and compact, the units feature a flexible connection set, backlit color display and integrated Web server for quick configuration and easy operation. The THEIA HE-t inverters are award-winning and have earned approval by the CEC, UL and international SunSpec Alliance.

Eltek has partnered with Empire Clean Energy to be its main business development support for THEIA HE-t inverters in both Long Island and the New York Metro region, as demand for residential solar power in those markets expands in the coming years.

Much of this growth can be attributed to ongoing residential solar incentive programs being offered by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for state programs outside of Long Island. Currently Long Island is one of the leading residential solar markets in the nation.

SolarEdge unveils new line of products for commercial North American market

USA: SolarEdge Technologies, a leading global provider of end-to-end solar power optimization systems and monitoring solutions, unveiled a new line of products for commercial applications in the North America market.

The new offering includes: a line of 3-phase solar inverters from 9kW to 20kW in size; a 600W capable power optimizer enabling a two-to-one connection for 60 cell modules; and a new gateway for site communication and PV monitoring.

Implementing the new line of commercial inverters will enable greatly simplified photovoltaic (PV) system design and lower installation costs.  The new line of 3-phase inverters lets designers install significantly longer module strings than with traditional inverters lowering electrical labor and component count by half. These inverters reach a high weighted CEC efficiency of up to 98 percent due to a fixed string voltage design that ensures optimal dc/ac conversion.

Supporting two 60-cell crystalline solar modules, the new 600W power optimizer builds on SolarEdge's high-efficiency electronics offerings, reaching a maximum efficiency of 99.5 percent. By taking the maximum power point (MPP) trackers out of the inverters and putting them into the power optimizers, SolarEdge can optimize the PV system by increasing energy harvest, offering module level monitoring and enhancing system safety.

tenKsolar announces availability of rooftop RAIS XT solar PV solution

USA:  tenKsolar (tenK) announced the general availability of its polycrystalline silicon 410W RAIS XT solar photovoltaic (PV) system with industry leading warranty, performance and cost of energy.

"We have worked to address every shortcoming of commercial scale rooftop solar," said tenK founder and CTO Dallas Meyer. "Generating up to 44 percent more energy per roof than typical rooftop solar systems, the RAIS XT delivers unmatched value and performance."

RAIS XT is based on tenK's cell-optimized photovoltaic (PV) architecture, which removes the inherent limitations of serial strings found in conventional solar modules. "Failure modes and risks of conventional solar modules including hot spots, potential induced degradation and high voltage arcs are rendered impossible with tenK's technology," continued Meyer. "And, with our newly published energy production study, the data clearly backs up the tenK advantage."

tenKsolar has published a long term energy production survey (available at for locations installed with current RAIS PV systems around the US demonstrating 25 percent to over 30 percent more energy production per rated watt versus conventional solar arrays in the same location.

In addition, tenK offers world-class reliability advantages due to cell independence inside the module. RAIS XT provides leading buyer protection with the industry's best warranty - guaranteeing annual performance degradation of 0.2 percent or less per year after the first year and through year 25.

JinkoSolar modules awarded Dust & Sand certification by TUV Nord

CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd announced that its solar PV modules have passed TUV Nord's Dust & Sand Certification Test.

TUV Nord's certification indicates that JinkoSolar's modules are suitable for installation in desert regions, where a shortage of rain and constant sandstorm scan cause solar PV plants to operate inefficiently.

TUV-Nord's Dust and Sand Certification Test simulates the typical erosion effect of heavy desert sandstorm situation. This endurance testing is critical to determine the reliability and longevity of solar PV panels in real world conditions along their lifetime.

"The considerable increase in the number of PV installations in desert regions makes it essential to develop solar modules that can withstand the strong impact of high-velocity sand and avoid the accumulation of dust on the surface of the modules. We pride ourselves on passing the rigorous testing procedures and our ability to produce solar PV panels that reliably deliver the best performance in real world conditions," said Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar's CEO.

ReneSola obtains JET certification for Japan market

JAPAN: ReneSola Ltd announced its Virtus I and Virtus II modules obtained JETPVm certification from the Japan Electrical and Environment Technology Laboratories, a government-designated certification body responsible for factory inspections and product testing of electronic products.

The certification, a voluntary PV module scheme operated by JET, represents compliance with relevant international standards through a series of performance and safety tests as well as factory inspections.

Xianshou Li, ReneSola's CEO, said: "Similar to JPEC listing, JET certification is considered a critical step for foreign companies entering Japan's solar market. The application process is comprehensive with strenuous tests that ensure Japanese customers receive the safest, highest quality products.

"Moreover, JET certification speaks to the performance of our solar modules, which we are confident will make a positive contribution to the growth of Japan's solar industry. We will continue to invest in our Japan business to deliver high-efficiency products and household PV solutions to Japanese end users."

Nearly-zero energy building materials market to grow to $16.5 billion in 2017

USA:  Driven by rising global awareness of the impact of building energy consumption on climate change, materials boosting building energy efficiency will reach $16.5 billion in sales in 2017. Floor space for net-zero energy buildings (NZEB) and especially nearly-zero energy buildings (nNZEB), will soar more than six-fold to 80 million m2 in 2017, according to Lux Research.

“A robust market is emerging despite the fact that no country will meet its 2017 targets for nNZEBs, on account of uncertain implementation plans of ambitious policy targets in the European Union and select countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Aditya Ranade, Lux Research senior analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Getting to Nearly-Zero Energy Buildings: Ambitious Targets, Modest Progress.”

Lux Research analysts surveyed the global market, tracked 391 NZEB projects, and assessed key enabling technologies in order to identify drivers and project the market size for building envelope materials over the next five years. Among their findings:

* Europe leads now, but Asia-Pacific will catch up in 2017. Europe will garner a whopping 61 percent share of the energy-saving building envelope materials market. However, Asia-Pacific’s share of annual nNZEBinstallations will rise from 23 percent in 2012 to 39 percent in 2017 due to higher rates of new construction.

* A few technologies will dominate materials markets in the near term. High-R value glazing and daylighting skylights together will account for 86 percent, or $14.2 billion, of the total market for building envelope materials. High-R value glazing alone will be worth $8.2 billion.

* Commercial, institutional buildings dominate. Of the total NZEB floor space, 93 percent is commercial and institutional buildings. However, in the number of projects, the residential segment fares a bit better, with a 35 percent market share.

Fronius USA Solar Electronics Division launches new Fronius service program

USA: The new Fronius Service Program helps photovoltaic (PV) system installers maximize customer energy yields by certifying them to complete board-level replacements in the field, reducing system downtime to minutes instead of days.

Launched by the Fronius USA Solar Electronics Division in March 2013, the Fronius Service Program will offer training sessions frequently throughout the year for the Fronius IG, IG Plus and CL grid-connected PV inverters, along with the Fronius DATCOM data communications system for individual PV system monitoring.

Each two-day Fronius Service Program training session allows installers to earn eight North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) credit hours. When participants pass the program's evaluation test, Enzendorfer said, they will be certified to complete board-level replacements at a customer site, which is more efficient than other inverter systems that have to be completely removed and shipped to the manufacturer. That delay increases PV system downtime and reduces energy yield, which impacts system return on investment.

Global solar PV backsheet market likely to reach $1.6 billion, with CAGR of 3 percent by 2017

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Solar PV Backsheet Market 2012-2017: Trends, Forecast, and Opportunity Analysis" report to its offering.

The global solar PV module market comprises two broad categories: crystalline silicon modules and thin film modules. Solar PV backsheets are used widely in crystalline silicon solar PV module. The backsheet market is expected to reach $1.6 billion, with a CAGR of 3 percent by 2017. Solar energy is a relatively nascent market and is being adopted across all regions. This growth is expected to continue in the forecast period covered in the report.

The presented analysis can help the solar PV and PV backsheet manufacturers and their material and component suppliers to recognize the opportunities in the PV industry. Marketing strategies tailored to take advantage of these conditions should result in improved revenue and profitability.

The solar PV backsheet market has gone through several challenges recently. Manufacturers must develop products that meet strict performance requirements and industry standards while reducing costs, which becomes a challenge for them. New polymeric materials, which are the basic raw materials to manufacture backsheets, are subjected to extensive testing according to standards that ensure safety and reliability, sometimes resulting in delayed certification process.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sempra US Gas & Power, Consolidated Edison Development announce solar partnership

USA: Sempra US Gas & Power and Consolidated Edison Development (ConEdison Development) announced an agreement to partner in two of Sempra US Gas & Power's solar power facilities, the 150-megawatt (MW) Copper Mountain Solar 2 plant near Las Vegas and the 150-MW Mesquite Solar 1 power plant near Phoenix.

Under the sales agreement, each company will own a 50-percent interest in the two solar facilities, which are among the largest photovoltaic plants in the US. Sempra US Gas & Power will continue to provide operations and maintenance services to both plants.

Construction on Mesquite Solar 1, located in Arlington, Ariz., began in 2011.  Power from the facility has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a 20-year contract. Mesquite Solar 1 generates enough clean electricity for about 56,000 homes. The project created 528 local construction jobs at the peak of construction and 10 long-term positions.

Phase 1 of Copper Mountain Solar 2 is complete and is currently generating 92 MW of clean solar power. When the second phase is fully constructed, expected in 2015, the project's total operating capacity will be 150 MW. Power from the facility has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a 25-year contract.

Global crystalline silicon solar PV module market to reach $34,066 million by 2017

IRELAND: Research and Markets announced the addition of the "Global Crystalline Silicon Solar PV Module Market 2012-2017: Trends, Forecasts and Opportunity Analysis" report to its offering.

The booming solar industry has been a key driver for growth in global crystalline solar photovoltaic (PV) module market. With the prevailing growth prospects in the solar market, the crystalline silicon solar PV module market also is anticipated to benefit. After experiencing good growth during 2006-2011, the market is forecast to witness modest growth over 2012-2017.

This report studies the crystalline silicon solar PV module market with an in-depth analysis of all the four regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of World. Europe was the market leader in 2011 and is expected to remain the largest market, but North America is expected to depict the highest growth over 2012-2017.

The author has identified that next-generation technology risks, difficulty in obtaining financing, and the high levelized cost of energy (LCOE) are the major market growth challenges. Driving the market to the future are the continuation of government involvement such as feed-in-tariffs, ongoing cost reductions, the move toward environment friendly energy sources, and greater efficiency in less space.

The price of crystalline silicon solar PV modules significantly decreased, increasing their attractiveness to investors and accelerating the technology's drive toward competitiveness with conventional electricity sources. Significant reduction has been observed in the crystalline silicon solar PV FITs in Europe.

JinkoSolar donates 150kW PV solar modules in partnership with GRID Alternatives

CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd has created a strategic partnership with GRID Alternatives, a US nonprofit solar installer, to donate 150kW of its solar modules towards the installation and training of volunteers of solar electric systems exclusively for low-income homeowners.

JinkoSolar's donation will provide savings of over $1.2 million for low-income families over the systems' lifetimes, and support more than 700 hours of hands-on installation training.

GRID Alternatives' mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training. Since 2004, GRID Alternatives has installed more than 8.5 MW of clean, renewable power for over 3000 families and has provided over 11,000 volunteers and job trainees with solar installation experience.

Over 480 microgrid projects are proposed, under development, or operating worldwide

USA: Many new microgrid projects are still under the radar, and many local projects originate organically, without the official designations or titles, making them very hard to track. As a sector, however, microgrids are beginning to move into the mainstream, with a greater focus being placed on viable business models. The result is a much more robust microgrid market than just a few years ago.

According to a new report from Navigant Research, more than 480 microgrid projects are proposed, planned, under construction, or operating worldwide, representing nearly 3,800 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

“New vendors are continually entering the market and previously undiscovered projects are coming to the forefront, such as 27 projects planned or proposed in the state of Connecticut alone,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “The outlines of a growing and vibrant microgrid movement are emerging, and the findings in this report reaffirm some of the market optimism surrounding microgrids, clearly demonstrating the rapid growth in the sector.”

North America remains the world’s leading market for microgrids, with a planned, proposed, and deployed capacity of 2,505 MW, representing an additional 417 MW since the fourth quarter 2012 version of the report—indicating an additional 55 projects. Of the total North American microgrid capacity, 1,459 MW is currently online and more than 1,122 MW is planned, under development, or proposed.

PV to reach $155 billion market in 2018

USA: The solar photovoltaic (PV) market is poised to rise from the ashes of its 2011 crisis to grow to $155 billion in 2018, as market forces engineer a turnaround to a healthy 10.5 percent CAGR, says Lux Research.

In the most likely scenario, the PV market will grow at a modest clip to 35 GW in 2013 before rapidly ramping up to 61.7 GW in 2018.

“Manufacturers’ nightmare is turning into a long-term boon for the industry. Record low prices pushed gross margins to near zero or below, but they’ve made solar installations competitive in more markets,” said Ed Cahill, Lux Research associate and the lead author of the report titled, “Market Size Update 2013: Return to Equilibrium.”

“Supply and demand will come back into balance in 2015, easing price pressure, returning manufacturers to profitability and restoring the industry to equilibrium,” he added.

Lux Research analysts used a detailed levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis in 156 separate geographies, accounting for 82 percent of the world’s population, to determine the viability and competitiveness of solar in each market. Among their findings:

US, China, Japan, and India will take over where Germany and Italy left off. With an 18 percent CAGR to 10.8 GW of installations in 2018, the United States will emerge the world’s second-largest market. But China will leapfrog it, growing over 15 percent annually to 12.4 GW in 2018.

Utility-scale installations to grow the fastest; commercial the largest. Utility-scale solar, the smallest segment in 2012 at 8.6 GW, will grow the fastest to 19.9 GW in 2018 as developing markets turn to PV. Globally, commercial applications reign supreme as markets like the US and Japan move to large rooftop installations.

Opportunities abound for cheap IP. Struggling start-ups present opportunities to acquire intellectual property at record low prices. A case in point: Hanergy acquired Miasolé – which in 2012 announced the leading CIGS module efficiency at 15.5 percent – for only $30 million after investors had pumped $500 million into the firm.

Ascent Solar launches retail presence in Colorado

USA: Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. announced the launch of the company’s retail presence in Colorado.

Ascent began operations at Denver International Airport (Concourse B) as well as multiple locations around the Denver metropolitan area; including Boulder, Aurora and the world famous Red Rocks amphitheatre. These new retail locations bring Ascent closer than ever to a diverse and educated group of consumers in its home state of Colorado.

The introduction of the EnerPlex series of products has revolutionized the thin-film marketplace; with the Surfr line of solar and battery integrated phone cases, as well as the Kickr line of portable solar chargers, the EnerPlex series allow consumers to interact with solar technology in ways never before possible.

The addition of the Jumpr line-up of portable batteries now enables consumers to have a complete, integrated, solar charging and storage solution for life on the go.

EMCORE awarded solar panel manufacturing contract by ATK

USA: EMCORE Corp. has been awarded a contract by ATK to design and manufacture solar panels for NASA's Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) planned for launch in 2015.

Solar panels populated with EMCORE's most advanced ZTJ triple-junction solar cells will power a satellite that will carry the GPIM payload. ATK will integrate EMCORE's solar panels into its heritage-designed solar arrays for final flight configuration for the GPIM satellite.

The GPIM project will demonstrate the practical capabilities of AF-M315E, a high-performance green alternative to hydrazine that has traditionally been used to fuel many spacecraft. This innovative, low-toxicity propellant is expected to improve overall vehicle performance. It boasts a higher density than hydrazine, meaning that more can be stored in containers of the same volume, and it delivers a greater thrust per given quantity of fuel.

GPIM is supported by co-investigators including NASA's Glenn Research Center and the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio; Aerojet Corporation, a GenCorp company in Washington; NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and the US Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Multilateral negotiations ley to resolving China trade dispute: SEIA

USA: Reacting to published reports that the United States and the European Union are trying to settle a lingering trade dispute with China over anti-dumping and anti-subsidy allegations, John Smirnow, vice president of trade and competitiveness for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) – issued the following statement:

“Meeting last week in China, SEIA and the Asia PV Industry Association – along with several other organizations – agreed to a joint policy position, the Shanghai Solar Declaration, which strongly encourages the United States, China, the European Union and other nations to engage in multilateral trade negotiations aimed at ending this costly and disruptive dispute.

“After expressing our intentions to the White House, we are very encouraged that these long-needed negotiations appear ready to proceed.  Simply put, it’s time for everyone to work together toward a fair resolution of these cases.

“There is clear evidence that disputes within one segment of the industry affect the entire solar supply chain.  What’s more, they cause a ripple effect throughout the economies of the United States, Asia and Europe.  In addition to resolving current disagreements, we hope this process will also lead to the creation of a pro-competitive, collaborative framework for preventing future trade conflicts and ensuring the adoption of balanced and equitable agreements in the future.

“And, finally, in attempting to settle this dispute, we strongly encourage the Administration to carefully evaluate what impact any actions may have on American consumers and US workers.”

Canadian Solar wins court case in relation to contract dispute with LDK

CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc. announced that the Jiangsu Suzhou Intermediate Court has dismissed the request by LDK Solar Co. Ltd to enforce the arbitration award decision by the former Shanghai branch of the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission in the amount of RMB 248.9 million (approximately $40.1 million).

This arbitration award relates to wafer supply contracts entered into between Canadian Solarand LDK in October of 2007 and June of 2008, and subsequently terminated. The total amount of the award includes the initial deposit ofRMB 60 million (Approximately $9.7 million), But excludes Approximately RMB 2 million to cover arbitration expenses.

Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO, commented: "We are delighted with the Jiangsu Suzhou Intermediate Court's decision in our favor. We believe we have Conducted our business Properly at all times and we will continue to advocate co-operation, rather than confrontation within the solar industry. "