Thursday, January 31, 2013

Suntech powers largest solar PV system in Saudi Arabia

CHINA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd announced the completion of the largest ground mounted PV system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The 3.5 megawatt (MW) system is owned by Saudi Aramco and installed on the grounds of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), the world's largest energy research center, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Klaus Friedl, VP, Projects and Head Middle East of Phoenix Solar, said: "We are pleased to complete this historic project which will provide clean, renewable energy for KAPSARC as well as for the Saudi grid. We chose Suntech's panels because of their proven durability and performance in high-temperature, desert conditions."

Utilizing Suntech's premium solar panels, Phoenix Solar designed and built the 3.5MW system, which will enable KAPSARC to achieve LEED platinum certification. The ground mounted solar field is comprised of 12,684 Suntech panels and covers an area of 55,000 square meters. The grid connected system is designed to supply 5,800 megawatt hours of electricity per year and offset roughly 4,900 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.

Ron Shen, Suntech's VP of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, said: "This project represents an important milestone in the development of the solar industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are pleased to work with our partners Phoenix Solar and Saudi Aramco and look forward to continuing to support the ongoing growth of solar in the Middle East."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

German Solar Industry Association’s position on Federal Minister proposal to limit electricity price

GERMANY: This initiative is neither feasible nor capable of securing a majority. A limiting of energy costs must not be achieved by putting the brakes on the Energiewende, but rather by facilitating the rapid switch to renewable energy sources.

Altmaier’s initiative, by contrast, reduces the predictability and reliability necessary for investments in the Energiewende and amounts to a massive intervention in the grandfathering principle and the principle of protecting legitimate investment expectations. The national investment in renewable energy sources pays off, but it cannot be had for free. Freezing investments now will result in a significant throttling of the Energiewende.

Instead of closing the loopholes in the financing of the Energiewende, the proposed energy solidarity surcharge (“Energie-Soli”) amounts to a retroactive charge for the very drivers behind the Energiewende, the millions of operators of solar power, wind power and bio-energy plants. This is not only absurd, it is also legally questionable.

Furthermore, it would send an entirely wrong signal to new investors by adding to the already high degree of uncertainty created by the freezing of the EEG apportionment. Citizens who are taking the Energiewende into their own hands by consuming clean electricity generated on their own rooftop must not be asked to pay the price for misguided policies.

Instead of requiring operators of solar and wind power plants to pay more, the financing of the Energiewende should finally be distributed on broader shoulders again. The environmentally harmful industrial on-site electricity generation from fossil fuels should be more involved in the financing of the Energiewende, for example. At the same time, there needs to be a restriction of the industrial privilege, which transfers a significant measure of burden from industry to the population at large. In the future, the exemption from the EEG apportionment must be limited to those companies that are actually engaged in international competition.

Altmaier’s initiative curtails the predictability and reliability necessary for investments in the Energiewende, without solving any of the real problems that exist in the energy market. First and foremost perhaps is the paradox that while more electricity from regenerative sources lowers the price on the electricity market by creating a higher demand, the lower price on the exchange leads to a higher apportionment forrenewable energies and thus to higher electricity prices for customers – this systemic flaw is not tackled.

In the fall of 2012, the Federal Minister for the Environment launched a broad dialogue aimed at the further development of the EEG. Now, before this dialogue could even yield results, he wants to create a fait accompli.

In recent weeks, expert opinions by the Federal Ministry for the Environment and Prognos AG have repeatedly made clear that the continued robust expansion of photovoltaics is not a cost driver. Even a prolonged phase of strong growth in solar power generation at the level of the past three years would justify an increase of only one percent in the electricity price in coming years.

SEMI and PVMC sign MoU to enable focus on standards and roadmap development

USA: SEMI and the US Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance their cooperation in the areas of standards and roadmap activities for the solar thin film industry.

SEMI, a global industry association and standards development organization (SDO), serves the manufacturing supply chain for the micro and nano-electronics industries, including photovoltaics (PV), through consensus-based, collaborative activities such as PV manufacturing standards through the SEMI International Standards program, as well as technology roadmap development through the International Technology Roadmap for PV (ITRPV).

PVMC, a national industry-led consortium headquartered in New York State at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s (CNSE) Albany NanoTech Complex, is a partnership between SEMATECH and CNSE. PVMC was created as part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot initiative, which is designed to reduce the cost of photovoltaic solar energy systems by about 75 percent over the next decade, and brings together the solar community — including industry, academia, and government — to accelerate the development, commercialization and manufacturing of next-generation solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Through PVMC, CNSE and SEMATECH are spearheading a unique research, development, and commercialization partnership in which industry, academia and government are working together to drive new advances in next-generation solar cell technologies, beginning with copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin film PV manufacturing solutions — increasing performance while driving down the cost and risk of bringing them to the marketplace.

“By joining forces with PVMC and by leveraging lessons learned from SEMI’s ITRPV roadmap and PV standards activity, we intend to create synergies along the PV thin film manufacturing supply chain, enabling cost reductions and efficiency gains that will benefit the entire global solar industry,” said Bettina Weiss, VP, business development, SEMI.

“In accordance with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s innovative green energy initiatives, including the NY-SUN and Energy Superhighway programs, PVMC is delighted to partner with SEMI to drive the development of standards and roadmaps that will guide next-generation PV research and advanced manufacturing,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, PVMC chief operating and technical officer, and CNSE VP for Clean Energy Programs. “This collaboration further highlights the ability of public-private partnerships to enable leading-edge technologies while supporting the critical needs of industry.”

“A critical objective of PVMC is to build on earlier PV roadmap initiatives and support cooperative standards activities for thin film PV manufacturing and applications,” said Joe Hudgins, senior VP of business development and strategic alliances, PVMC. “This partnership demonstrates PVMC’s and SEMI’s strong commitment to coalesce industry direction by tackling top industry concerns on the technical barriers for advanced solar PV-related manufacturing processes and BOS (balance of systems) applications and product certifications.”

MEMC celebrates production of one millionth solar module with Flextronics

MALAYSIA: MEMC Singapore Pte Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., and Flextronics, celebrated the production of the one millionth MEMC Silvantis solar module at the Flextronics facility in Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), Johor, Malaysia.

The MEMC Silvantis solar modules are installed around the world at commercial and utility scale photovoltaic (PV) projects developed by MEMC's solar energy subsidiary, SunEdison, and other global customers of MEMC.

Flextronics began manufacturing solar modules for MEMC at PTP in May 2011 following a strategic relationship expansion agreement between the companies. It is estimated that over the course of 20 years, the solar energy produced by these modules will deliver enough electricity to power approximately 700,000 households and offset carbon emissions equivalent to removing over one million cars from the road.

"Flextronics is extremely proud to be helping MEMC achieve its goal of making solar power an economically viable and ubiquitous energy source," said Jeannine Sargent, Flextronics president, Energy.  She added, "Today's milestone underscores what companies can achieve when they work together to leverage core expertise for a common goal."

Flextronics PTP was selected to manufacture MEMC's solar panels due to its highly-experienced team and close proximity to solar cell suppliers and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas, one of the world's fastest growing ports in South East Asia.

"Flextronics has been a reliable partner in helping us ramp up our module business," said Gokul Krishnan, GM, Modules Business Unit. "Their module manufacturing capabilities paired with our product design expertise is helping us deliver exceptional value to customers.  Achieving a one million module milestone is testament to the success of this alliance."

Trina Solar to supply 30MW to Gestamp Solar for two projects in South Africa

CHINA: Trina Solar Ltd (TSL) will supply 30MW of photovoltaic modules to Gestamp Solar, one of the world's leading companies in the development and management of photovoltaic parks, for two projects in South Africa.

Large-scale solar systems will be installed in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, in the towns of Prieska and De Aar, with the capacity to generate 20MW and 10MW respectively. According to terms of the agreement, deliveries will be made in the third quarter of 2013.

Jorge Barredo, CEO of Gestamp Solar said: " Trina Solar panels offer excellent efficiency and performance, and the company provides a wide range of solutions and services. Gestamp Solar has been working on the development of projects with Trina Solar since the early days of the European photovoltaic industry because, as well as the excellent quality of their products, they have always been reliable suppliers."

Trina Solar 's multicrystalline PC05 series modules were chosen because of their 15 percent efficiency, ability to generate up to 245W, and high performance under low light conditions. Furthermore, this Trina Solar module – the company's most popular – is able to bear snow loads of up to 5,400Pa and wind loads of up to 2,400Pa. All of Trina Solar 's panels come with a 10 year workmanship warranty and a 25 year linear power output warranty.

Jifan Gao, chairman and CEO of Trina Solar said: "This new collaboration with Gestamp Solar is very important to us. It is a milestone for the company, as it is our first major project in South Africa and will enable us to strengthen our presence in this market, where the solar sector is booming. The responsible way in which we handle our business and our balance sheet makes us a stable and reliable partner for these kinds of large-scale projects, and we are delighted to be continuing to work with Gestamp Solar."

EMCORE delivers 1 millionth solar cell to Space Systems/Loral

USA: EMCORE Corp.recently delivered its 1 millionth high-efficiency, multi-junction solar cell to Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), which will ultimately represent more than a megawatt of power delivered into space. EMCORE and Space Systems/Loral will mark the occasion with a special event at EMCORE's Albuquerque facilities during the week of February 25, and with a commemorative award symbolizing the 1 millionth solar cell.

EMCORE has been supplying Space Systems/Loral with high-efficiency, multi-junction solar cells for more than 10 years and in May 2009 announced a long term supply agreement with Space Systems/Loral to continue manufacturing and delivering solar cells for their spacecraft programs through 2014.

EMCORE's business relationship with Space Systems/Loral has been integral to the development of the company's PV division and the growth of its space satellite solar power business. Since its formation in 1998, EMCORE Photovoltaics has grown to be the world's leading manufacturer of high-efficiency, multi-junction solar cells for space power applications.

EMCORE's industry-leading multi-junction solar cells have a Beginning-Of-Life (BOL) conversion efficiency nearing 30 percent and the option for a patented, onboard monolithic bypass diode to provide the highest available power to interplanetary spacecraft and earth orbiting satellites. EMCORE's proven manufacturing capability, technology leadership, and high-reliability solar cells and panels make us the supplier of choice for demanding spacecraft power systems.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Total capacity of US DOD RE installations will quadruple by 2025

USA: The US Department of Defense (DOD) currently spends approximately $20 billion per year directly on energy, consuming 3.8 billion kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity and 120 million barrels of oil per year.

The effort to reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels – often purchased from countries hostile to US interests – and increase energy security, particularly for forward operating bases (FOBs), is driving sweeping changes to DOD policies around energy.

In particular, the DOD has ambitious plans to increase its use of renewable energy. According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources for the U.S. military will grow from 80 megawatts (MW) in 2013 to more than 3,200 MW by 2025 – increasing more than four-fold in 12 years.

“US military spending on renewable energy programs, including conservation measures, will reach almost $1.8 billion in 2025,” says research analyst Dexter Gauntlett. “This effort has the potential to not only transform the production, consumption, and transport of fuel and energy within the military; it will likely make the DOD one of the most important drivers of cleantech in the United States.”

The Army, Navy, and Air Force have each established targets of 1 gigawatt of installed renewable energy capacity by 2025. These initiatives have gained considerable momentum, according to the report, and many of the targets will be achieved.

Through innovative funding models, such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) and enhanced use leases, some military installations should be able to pay the same amount or less for renewable sources of electricity as they do for retail power from the grid, depending on the technology and specific location.

CSP in Spain, market outlook to 2025

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of GlobalData's new report "Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in Spain, Market Outlook to 2025 - Capacity, Generation, Regulations and Company Profiles" to its offering.

This report provides in depth analysis on global renewable power market and global CSP market with forecasts up to 2025. The report analyzes the power market scenario in Spain (includes thermal conventional, nuclear, large hydro and renewables) and provides future outlook with forecasts up to 2025.

The research details renewable power market outlook in the country (includes wind, small hydro, biopower and solar PV) and provides forecasts up to 2025. It also highlights installed capacity and power generation trends from 2001 to 2025 in Spain CSP market.

Top 10 PV module suppliers in 2012


USA: According to the latest research findings from NPD Solarbuzz (based upon new channel checks and confirmations), Yingli Green Energy can be confirmed as the number 1 PV module supplier during 2012.

Seven of the Top 10 companies are public-listed, vertically-integrated c-Si manufacturers located in China. First Solar, Sharp and SunPower are the only non-Chinese based suppliers in the rankings for 2012.

However, reviewing the performance of leading PV module suppliers during such a challenging year is certainly interesting. Although financial reports of most suppliers were damaged by the effects of continually declining ASPs, some of them successfully expanded their market share.

Based on existing company guidance and Solarbuzz estimates of module shipments by company through to the end of 2012, we have come up with a new Top10 for 2012, where the rankings are provided by full-year recognized module shipments in MW.
Yingli Green Energy became the new champion for the first time, as we predicted back in August 2012. Their total module shipment in 2012 exceeded 2.2GW, which also marked a new high of annual shipment by any single module supplier within the PV industry.

JA Solar successfully transitions to module supplier business model.
However, JA Solar made the greatest strides among the Top 10 PV module suppliers for 2012. JA Solar reached number 8 in the list, having registered at number 15 one year ago.

Last year was also a milestone year for JA Solar; a year in which they shipped more modules than cells for the first time in the company’s history. With the global trade wars targeted in part toward c-Si cell making in China, JA Solar’s decision a few years ago to expand c-Si module capacity can now be seen as highly beneficial.

First Solar and Jinko Solar, ranking number 2 and number 7 respectively, both improved ranking position in 2012.

The success of First Solar is highly significant - not only as the only thin film maker in the Top 10 list - but also due to its business model, and the shift from supplying modules to external customers to using them predominantly on internal projects.

Jinko Solar also developed projects in China, and Jinko was one of the main beneficiaries from strong domestic market demand during the second half of 2012 from China.

Total module shipment from theTop10 companies was equivalent to less than 50 percent of global module demand in 2012. Therefore, this suggests that further consolidation (or shakeout) of global PV module suppliers has some way to go and is likely to continue for the next few years.

Monday, January 28, 2013

PV market prices show growth, 1Q13 performance may surpass expectations

TAIWAN: According to EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce, given the uncertainty surrounding the subsidy policies for the second quarter, along with the increasing demand coming from downstream clients, there is a good chance that the PV industry will perform beyond the expectations of a typical slack quarter during 1Q13.

As EnergyTrend's data indicates, in recent periods the number of industry orders has been on the rise. On the one hand, this has to do with the expected downward adjustments for PV subsidies during Japan's new fiscal year (beginning April 2013). In order to secure proper IRR, efforts to complete investments on grid-connected powers by the end of March have intensified, which in turn is helping to sustain Japan's PV market demand momentum.

Given that China's double anti policy may not be officially implemented until Chinese New Year Holiday, Chinese vendors--in anticipating the European Union to carry out their policy at around a similar point in time--will attempt to prevent potential losses from arising during the look back period, and has been taking active steps to accelerate their shipments. The product orders for the Taiwanese PV vendors, as a result, are expected to continue to increase in the periods to come.

In addition to the changes experienced by the European and Japanese markets, the rise of China's domestic solar market, along with the growth experienced by the US market following increased subsidies for the green energy industry, are all contributing to the growing demand in the PV market.

The recent subsidies intended for PV development in New York and Los Angeles, the emphasis on the use of renewable energy resources by US President Barrack Obama, and the large US power plant investments are also important factors that, according to relevant vendors, are continuing to reinforce PV market momentum. With the above factors taken into account, the prospects for the solar market in 2013, on the whole, remain largely optimistic.

With regard to the spot market, given the strengthened demand momentum and the reluctance on the part of the industry vendors to engage in transactions, polysilicon price quoted by Chinese businesses have continued to grow. Although downstream clients are somewhat unenthusiastic about the increasing price quotes, some have nonetheless shown willingness to purchase, which as a result caused prices to move between $125RMB and $130RMB.

For the silicon wafers, given the increased demand, prices in the Chinese market are continuing to climb, with multi-si wafer prices now being no less than $5.7 RMB/piece, and the market prices ending up at somewhere around $5.85RMB/piece. Prices for mono si-wafers, on the other hand, are at least $7.7 RMB/piece, with the market price being approximately $8RMB/piece. For the solar cells, the prices are between $2.35RMB and $2.9RMB.
In terms of the US prices, the lowest prices for polysilicon wafers have recently been adjusted to $15/kg. The ASP has arrived at around $16.887/kg, which is an increase of around 5.79 percent from around a week ago. We believe that the positive prospects of the market are the driving forces behind the buyers' support; for silicon wafers, the lowest prices for multi-si wafers have increased to approximately $0.78/piece, whereas ASP approached $0.832/piece, a 1.71 percent increase.

Affected by Japan's increased efforts to pull goods, mono si-wafer prices have gone on an uptrend as well, with ASP arriving at $1.141/piece, a 4.01 percent increase. With regards to the solar cells, as various vendors have begun to increase their price quotes, the ASP has climbed to $0.351/Watt, a 0.57 percent increase. Module ASP, likewise, climbed to $0.65/Watt, a 0.78 percent increase.

MicroSense ships next gen VSM magnetic metrology systems

USA: MicroSense LLC, a  leader in high sensitivity vibrating sample magnetometers (VSMs), magnetic metrology systems, high resolution capacitive sensors, and wafer metrology systems, has booked and shipped multiple customer orders for its next generation "EZ" series VSM magnetic metrology systems from global customers.

These VSM metrology systems are used to characterize the magnetic properties of magnetic thin films or any liquid or solid.

"We are pleased to announce receiving multiple orders and shipping our next generation "EZ" series VSM," said Tom McNabb, president and COO of MicroSense. "With 30 years of VSM experience, we continually strive to improve our metrology system performance in providing value to our global customers. MicroSense is the only company to offer both VSM systems for R&D, and also magnetic metrology systems for production environments."

"The EZ series VSM systems offer exceptional field control resulting in faster measurements with improved sensitivity. The signal to noise ratio for a typical magnetic measurement at temperature is at least 5 times better than what is offered by our competitors," according to Erik Samwel, director of VSM Business at MicroSense. "Compared to our previous generation VSM's, these new systems offer improved performance, a smaller footprint, and a more contemporary design.

Panasonic completes solar project at University of Colorado Boulder

USA: Panasonic Eco Solutions North America has completed a 500 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation installation at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder). The system was developed and built by Panasonic with local support from Lighthouse Solar. Financing was provided by a subsidiary of Renewable Social Benefits Fund, which works with Panasonic to finance distributed generation solar projects in the US and US territories.

The new installation will help the university meet its short-term goal of powering the campus with green energy, reducing energy usage and cost, while fulfilling part of its long-term goal for a carbon-neutral campus, outlined in the pledge made by former CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson to the American College and University president Climate Commitment.

"For more than half a century, CU-Boulder has been a leader in climate and energy research, interdisciplinary environmental studies programs and engaging in sustainability and "green" practices both on campus and in the larger world," said Moe Tabrizi , campus Sustainability director for CU-Boulder. "This project complements and extends our commitment to leveraging solar power throughout our campus to provide power in a low cost and responsible manner."

The CU-Boulder solar installation is on the university's East Campus, in the heart of the 220-acre CU Research Park, home to the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy (CASA) and the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building.

The 500 kW ground-mounted solar panels will provide clean energy power generation to both research facilities and buildings throughout the Boulder campus.

"The University of Colorado Boulder will benefit from this system solution for years to come in long-term energy cost savings and Panasonic is proud to help the university advance its own forward-thinking environmental and sustainability practices," commented Jamie Evans, director of Project Finance for Panasonic Eco Solutions North America.

"It's a comprehensive solution of this nature that Panasonic, in partnership with Coronal Management, is also bringing not only to the educational sector but to both the municipal and social minded corporate sectors as well."

Jonathan Jaffrey, president of Coronal Management LLC (formed by the principals of Renewable Social Benefits Fund), added: "Working together with Panasonic, we have found a way to combine our financial resources with Panasonic's solar expertise and corporate strength to fund, build and maintain solar PV projects under 20MW across North America."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Latin American solar markets poised for growth

UK: High electricity costs (both wholesale and retail), rumors of government tenders, and significant price declines of photovoltaic equipment have attracted a rush of solar development in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the start of 2013, more than 10 gigawatts of large-scale projects have been announced in the region, but just 91 megawatts are currently operating.

While 766 megawatts have signed offtake agreements in place, much of the remaining pipeline is highly speculative. Depending on the country, developers are waiting either on interest from large industrial offtakers or for governments to announce solar-specific energy auctions, neither of which has yet to materialize in a meaningful way.

To date, little grid-connected solar has been installed in Latin America, and the industry in these countries is primarily composed of distributors serving the off-grid market. This lack of domestic competition is seen by developers and component manufacturers as an opportunity to be a first-mover in markets with tremendous growth potential.

While there are few pure-play solar companies operating in these countries, there are incumbent firms that operate in similar industries that could easily transition into the solar space. As some foreign entrants have already discovered, local knowledge has proven far more valuable than solar-specific experience when operating in these new markets.

In the near term, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil have the most potential for growth, but there has also been development in other markets such as Peru, Ecuador, and some Caribbean island nations.  While each national market differs in energy policy, generation resources, and economic strength, they all share some, if not all, of the following characteristics: significant solar resources, high electricity prices, and growing electricity demand.
Chile has the largest solar project pipeline, with more than six gigawatts of projects announced. Of this, just 10.8 megawatts are currently operating with a further 22 megawatts under construction. On the surface, Chile seems ripe for solar development. The country is in desperate need of new generation, certain regions have some of the highest rates of solar irradiation in the world, the economy is one of the strongest in South America, the government has set renewable energy targets that must be met by the country’s generators, and solar generation is already competitive with wholesale pricing in some instances.

Despite these favorable conditions, significant barriers to development remain, including the complex electricity market structure, hesitancy on the part of large offtakers, and, subsequently, a lack of financing. Many of the announced projects are in the tens or even hundreds of megawatts, but those that have been completed or are under construction are all under 20 megawatts. Companies that have achieved early success in the market include Solarpack, which also connected a number of projects in Peru, juwi, Abengoa, and SunEdison, which is working with the Chilean generation company E-CL.

Brazil is another Latin American market that set the solar industry abuzz in 2012. The country’s electricity regulator, the National Agency of Electrical Energy (ANEEL), introduced new net-metering legislation in early 2012 that promised to jump-start Brazil’s solar market. Despite a flurry of media coverage, the new net-metering regulations did not take effect until December 2012. As a result, the interconnection processes with Brazil’s various distribution companies are relatively untested at this point.

Much of Brazil’s long-term growth potential lies in the distributed market, but it has not been exempt from the utility-scale solar land-grab that has occurred in other Latin American countries. More than 2.2 gigawatts of large-scale projects have already been proposed in the country. Despite this impressive figure, the largest facility slated for completion in the near future is a 3-megawatt plant being developed by a state-owned utility company.

Many sub-1-megawatt projects have been announced, but these are largely to prepare for the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, as most are to be located on soccer stadiums. Without a doubt, the Brazil solar market will grow exponentially in 2013 -- but this is not a difficult feat to achieve when starting at practically nothing.

Mexico is the last of the three markets with potential for meaningful near-term growth. Unlike Chile and Brazil, in Mexico the framework for the rapid growth of solar, both distributed and utility-scale generation, is already in place. Net metering was enacted in the country in 2007 and is administered by only one entity, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned electric utility.

This fact alone immensely simplifies development throughout the country. With regard to utility-scale development, traditionally CFE has owned and operated most power plants in the county, but IPPs have been gaining a foothold in Mexico, especially with regard to renewables. CFE has already constructed two pilot projects -- a 1-megawatt and a 5-megawatt plant, both of which employ a number of component technologies -- and has also signed a PPA with a 46.8-megawatt project being developed by Sonora Energy Group.

In addition to Chile, Mexico, and Brazil, a number of other Central and South American markets have demonstrated some demand for solar. Most notably, Peru installed more than 60 megawatts in 2012 following a large-scale tender in 2010 and has plans for future solicitations. Island nations such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, which rely on costly imported fuels, could benefit hugely from both distributed and large-scale solar. However, government policies and the infrastructure to integrate solar generation are not at the point to allow for immediate or meaningful growth in these regions.

That being said, these are all countries to watch in the coming years as governments become increasingly aware of the benefits of solar, and as homeowners and businesses continue looking for ways to reduce electricity consumption costs.
GTM Research predicts 66 percent annual growth in demand through 2017. In the immediate term, 2013 will be a huge growth year for Latin America as well, with an estimated 396 percent year-over-year increase in grid connected PV. In absolute terms, 2013 should yield slightly more than 450 megawatts compared to less than 100 megawatts in 2012. A majority of this will come from large utility-scale installations in Mexico and Chile. Brazil will see a number of its megawatt-scale stadium and pilot projects connected and initial growth in its distributed markets as electricity distribution companies begin to adopt interconnection and net-metering procedures.

On the whole, Brazil's market will be smaller than those of Mexico and Chile in 2013 but will emerge as a leader in the region in later years. An additional 20 megawatts to 36 megawatts from two projects will come on-line in Peru, both of which stem from the country’s most recent tenders.

First Solar recommends stockholders reject mini-tender offer by TRC

USA: First Solar Inc. has been notified of an unsolicited “mini-tender” offer by TRC Capital Corp. (TRC) to purchase up to 2,000,000 shares, or approximately 2.3 percent, of the outstanding First Solar common stock at a price of $30.00 per share in cash.

TRC’s offer price is approximately 5 percent less than the $31.58 closing price of First Solar’s common stock on January 22, 2013, the day before the mini-tender offer commenced.

First Solar does not endorse TRC’s mini-tender offer and recommends that First Solar stockholders do not tender their shares in response to the offer because it is a mini-tender offer at a price below the market price for First Solar shares (as of the date First Solar received notice of the offer) and is subject to numerous conditions.

According to TRC’s offer documents, First Solar stockholders who have already tendered their shares may withdraw their shares at any time prior to 12:01 a.m. New York City time, on Feb. 22, 2013, the expiration date set forth in the offer documents (unless extended), by following the procedures described in the offer documents.

First Solar urges stockholders to obtain current market quotes for their shares, to review the conditions to TRC’s mini-tender offer, to consult with their brokers or financial advisors and to exercise caution with respect to this mini-tender offer. First Solar is not associated with TRC, its mini-tender offer or the offer documentation.

TRC has made many similar mini-tender offers for shares of other companies. Mini-tender offers are designed to seek to acquire less than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares, thereby avoiding many disclosure and procedural requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that apply to offers for more than 5 percent of a company’s outstanding shares. As a result, mini-tender offers do not provide investors with the same level of protections as provided by larger tender offers under United States securities laws.

PV industry to enjoy robust installation growth in 2013, but revenue dip poses challenges

USA: Global photovoltaic (PV) installations will rise this year in a continuing pattern of solid growth, but the industry will nonetheless suffer a decline in overall revenue due to lower volume growth and decreasing system prices, according to an IHS Solar white paper.

PV installations are projected to reach 35 gigawatts (GW) this year, up from 32 GW in 2012, as shown in the attached figure. In comparison, industry revenue—measured as the system price multiplied by total gigawatts installed—will retreat to an estimated $75 billion, down from $77 billion last year, and exhibiting an even steeper fall from the market’s peak revenue of $94 billion in 2011.
“The conflicting trend of growing PV installation volumes accompanied on the other hand by falling revenues will challenge solar companies to continue to reduce their cost structures,” said Ash Sharma, director of syndicated solar research for IHS. “While solar installations have grown every single year without fail since we started analyzing the industry in 2006—and will continue to do so until at least 2017—the picture is much more sobering when one looks at industry revenue, especially as PV component prices continue downward. And installation growth, although positive, is also slowing, further affecting the industry’s overall top line.”

Along with slightly diminished prospects this year, an equally imposing problem for solar companies will be the rapid globalization of the industry, Sharma noted. Europe accounted for more than 80 percent of solar demand in 2010, but its share is on the wane—contracting to 53 percent in 2012, and forecast to slide further this year to 39 percent. Meanwhile, Asia is on track to replace Europe as the world’s largest source of solar installations moving forward.

“Historically, solar companies could rely on Germany and a few other European countries to support their business,” Sharma noted. “But these same companies need to now quickly accelerate their entrance into emerging markets around the world.”

After years as the world’s top solar market, Germany will fall to third place in 2013, behind China and the United States. Japan and Italy follow in fourth and fifth, respectively.

More important than the change in ranking is the geographic fragmentation expected to escalate this year. Although the Top 5 accounted for nearly 75 percent of total solar demand in 2012, the group’s combined share this year will drop to 65 percent. Midsized markets, like South Africa and Romania, are anticipated to gain increasing importance on the world solar stage, even with installations of just a few hundred megawatts per year that will end up eating into the share of the majors.

Despite the resulting market fragmentation, the good news is that more stability will result for an industry swinging perpetually from bust to boom, Sharma said. In particular, the policies emanating from a single government will now have less of a monolithic impact on the overall global solar market.

Stability comes at a price, however, according to Sharma. A steadier market also means more intense challenges will be in store for solar companies, as firms are forced to undertake actions large and small in order to globalize their business. Such measures could entail setting up new sales and service networks, compliance with local requirements and grid codes, and navigating past the “quick-hit” markets that are present one year and gone the next.

Sunnier prospects are in store on the whole starting next year, when solar industry revenue expands in the double digits from 2014 to 2016. Revenue will then soar past the high watermark of 2011, climbing to $115 billion by 2016.

Nearly 70 percent of electric meters in Europe will be smart by 2020

USA: Smart electric meters provide a platform for energy efficiency improvements, new customer services, and network optimization. To achieve those goals across Europe, more than 30 million meters will need to be deployed annually during the peak years of activity, and major upgrade programs will need to be executed simultaneously in Europe’s largest countries, along with many smaller projects across a diverse range of countries and utilities.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, nearly 70 percent of all electric meters in Europe (and 90 percent in Western Europe) will be smart by 2020.

“As European utilities move to mass deployment of smart meters, scrutiny of the benefits of smart meters and their impact on consumers will increase,” says research director Eric Woods. “The economic crisis in Europe has so far not been a brake on smart meter programs, but it is putting additional pressure on utilities and governments to ensure that the benefits of smart meters are realized and made visible to customers.”

Smart meters are not only related to consumer issues, but also to the large-scale energy infrastructure improvements needed to support the European Union’s 20-20-20 targets for reductions in overall energy use and carbon emissions.

Smart meters have a role to play in relation to the key aspects of the 20-20-20 strategy, including improving the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, supporting the wide-scale introduction of electric vehicles, and providing detailed information on the low-voltage network, helping to reduce network losses, improve outage management, and reduce operational costs.

Shoals and Ampt awarded IEC and UL certification for module-level DC/DC optimizer

USA: Shoals Technologies Group  and Ampt, LLC announced certification of a module-level DC/DC optimizer compatible with the MultiLink Junction Box. Now certified by two of the photovoltaic (PV) industry's leading testing bodies -- the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) -- these DC/DC optimizers in conjunction with Shoals' MultiLink junction boxes are ready to ship for use in commercial and utility scale PV systems.

The UL and IEC certified optimizer uses Ampt's innovative module-level DC/DC power converter. The optimizer connects with Shoals' MultiLink Junction Box to allow a PV module manufacturer to use PV modules powered by Ampt. Ampt's converters lower the PV system costs associated with deployment, balance of system (BOS) and operations and maintenance (O&M), as well as maximize the power generation of every solar module, significantly reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).

"The MultiLink junction box system, truly the 'USB' port for PV modules, has the only universal interface compatible with accessory modules featuring electronics from leading PV electronics manufacturers like Ampt," said Shoals president and CEO Dean Solon.

"PV module companies get their modules certified with the MultiLink junction box and then have the option to connect Ampt's DC/DC converter in the factory or let system integrators plug-and-play in the field. In partnership with Ampt, our customers reap the benefits of collaborative innovation, giving them elite technology that lowers system cost for a distinct competitive advantage."

The DC/DC optimizer powered by Ampt includes patented Ampt Mode and String Stretch technology to lower the cost and increase the efficiency of PV inverters, a key differentiator that in turn lowers the total cost of PV systems. In addition, Ampt increases the lifetime energy output of PV systems with optional communication in each PV module to recapture mismatch losses between modules and strings, as well as enabling the overall system to operate more efficiently than a conventional solar array.

Global solar power industry demand anticipated to nearly double between 2010 and 2013

IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global Solar Power Industry" report to its offering.

The global solar energy market has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past two years, driven by a new abundance of polysilicon, the effects of the worldwide financial crisis, and the plunging price of solar modules.

The worldwide demand is anticipated to nearly double between 2010 and 2013, reaching 19.3 gigawatts by the end of that period. In this market environment, some of the key differentiators that will determine success for solar suppliers will include cost per watt, module efficiency, presence in key growth markets, supply chain integration, and availability of financing.

The industry has shifted from supply-constrained to demand-driven, and a few strong companies have been able to strengthen their revenues and market share based on a low cost per watt combined with high module efficiency. The solar industry has been preoccupied with Italy. For about last couple of months, the Italian market boomed, driven by a feed-in tariff guaranteeing a minimum price for solar electricity for 20 years.

The technologies used to collect and store solar energy are constantly evolving, allowing for increased efficiency and cost effectiveness. These top ten stock listed solar companies continue to promote growth and meet the challenge of providing sustained profitability to their investors head on.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Enphase Energy enters Australian solar market

USA: Enphase Energy Inc. announced the availability of the Enphase microinverter system to the Australian solar market in February. The company will showcase its AC-based approach to solar energy systems to Australian solar professionals at local events beginning February 6th.

“With millions of units shipped, Enphase is bringing the world’s most advanced microinverter system to the flourishing Australian solar market,” said Paul Nahi, CEO of Enphase Energy. “Leading analysts project Australia to become a gigawatt plus solar market, and Enphase enters at time when this growing clean economy is gaining promising momentum.”

Enphase Energy is partnering with RFI Solar to distribute the Enphase Microinverter System. RFI Solar is a leading distributor of solar PV products in Australia, serving the solar market for over 30 years. Through the RFI Solar network, the Enphase product line and accessories will be available throughout Australia.

“The RFI team is excited at the opportunity to bring the advanced technology of Enphase Microinverters to the Australian solar market. The combination of increased design flexibility, improved safety and panel-level monitoring make this a great solution for the solar consumer,” said Scott Magee, managing director of RFI Solar.

The Enphase Microinverter System offers a new approach to the installation, operations and maintenance of solar energy systems. Enphase Microinverters, the Envoy Communications Gateway and Enlighten monitoring and analysis software work together to deliver increased energy harvest and unparalleled solar system intelligence.

By converting direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) at the panel level, microinverters create independent power producers out of every single panel in a solar array. This dramatically simplifies solar system design and installation while also eliminating high voltage DC.

Enphase’s web-based Enlighten software comes included with the Enphase Microinverter System and communicates with each microinverter over the existing power lines. Enlighten allows remote access to system information from any web-enabled device, providing installers with increased visibility into the performance of their installed-base and remote troubleshooting capabilities.

Heliatek establishes new world record for organic solar technology with cell efficiency of 12 percent

GERMANY: Heliatek GmbH announced a record breaking 12 percent cell efficiency for its organic solar cells. This world record, established in cooperation with the University of Ulm and TU Dresden, was measured by the accredited testing facility SGS. The measurement campaign at SGS also validated the superior low light and high temperature performances of organic photovoltaics (OPV) compared to traditional solar technologies.

The 12 percent record cell on a standard size of 1.1 cm² combines two patented absorber materials, which convert light of different wavelengths. Using two different absorber materials creates a stronger absorption of photons and improves energetic utilization through a higher photovoltage.

Thanks to OPV’s unique behavior at high temperatures and low light conditions, this 12 percent efficiency is comparable to about 14 percent to 15 percent efficiency for traditional solar technologies like crystalline silicon and thin film PV. Whereas those technologies significantly lose cell efficiency with rising temperatures and decreasing solar irradiation, organic cells increase their efficiency in these conditions leading to a much higher energy harvesting in real life environments.

“We are pleased to continue to lead the OPV industry with this landmark achievement. Our continuous progress comforts us in our ability to reach 15 percent efficiency by 2015 and gradually transfer our record efficiencies into Heliatek’s roll-to-roll production line. We manufacture solar films and not solar panels. Our customers in the building and construction material industry, in automotive and in light structures, such as shading and street furniture, are integrating these solar films as energy harvesting components to increase the functionality of their products,” commented Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek.

Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO of Heliatek, added: “Achieving an unprecedented 12 percent OPV efficiency is a clear validation of Heliatek’s choice not to focus on printed polymers but to go with vacuum deposited oligomers. This technology has been used successfully for OLED displays over the last decade. Vacuum deposition allows for extremely thin yet homogeneous layers down to 5 nm – that is only one ten thousandth of a human hair or twice the size of a strand of a human DNA. With this well-controlled, ultra-thin film process we can deposit a large number of layers on top of each other creating tandem, or even triple junction cells, to absorb a broader spectrum of light.”

The new world record efficiency for OPV improves the prior record of 10.7percent, which was also set by Heliatek just nine months ago. To achieve this latest leap in cell efficiency, Heliatek capitalized on its in-house R&D know-how and its strong ties to leading universities in the field of OPV. One of the two absorbers was developed and synthesized by Ulm University’s Institute of Organic Chemistry II and Advanced Materials, headed by Prof. Peter Bäuerle, co-founder of Heliatek.

The co-operation also encompassed Prof. Karl Leo (co-founder of Heliatek) and Dr. Moritz Riede of the ‘Institut für Angewandte Photophysik’ (IAPP) of ‘TU Dresden’. The world record was enabled by significant R&D support from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF-Project LOTsE #03EK3505E), the EU FP7 Program (Project X10D #287818), and the German Research Foundation (DFG Priority Program #1355).

Heliatek’s OPV technology based on small molecules (oligomers) is currently being transferred to commercial production. The first production line was launched in spring 2012 and Heliatek Solar Films are already being delivered to industry partners for product development. The commercialization of first partner applications with integrated Heliatek Solar Films as energy harvesting components is expected in late 2013. In parallel, Heliatek has launched a financing round to raise €60 million from current and new investors for a new roll-to-roll volume production line to draw on economies of scale.

Power-One announces commercial and utility scale products

USA: Power-One Inc. announced that its new ULTRA 780kW, 1.17MW and 1.56MW central inverters and TRIO 20.0kW and 27.6kW commercial string inverters have successfully received certification to UL 1741 and IEEE 1547 standards for use in the US market. The ULTRA and TRIO products are shipping commercially in Europe and will begin shipping in the first quarter in the US.

"We are pleased that our liquid-cooled ULTRA series of central inverters and the new TRIO string inverters designed for the US commercial market have received certification to UL 1741, as this validates their safe operation for commercial and utility scale PV installations," said Alex Levran, president, Renewable Energy Solutions Group, Power-One.

"The ULTRA, with its game changing technology designed to drive down the levelized cost of energy, began shipping in the fourth quarter of 2012 and has commissioned sites in Italy, Germany, Greece and the U.K."

"Our TRIO product family of inverters for the commercial market has been a great success in Europe, shipping nearly 1.3 GW in 2012, its first full year in the market," continued Levran. "And, as the first
1000v string inverter in the US, it is set to redefine the commercial segment as we know it today."

Power-One has focused on maximizing the return on investment for PV commercial and utility plant owners through maximizing energy harvesting, lowering the total plant investment and minimizing maintenance costs. The Power-One maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm ensures that the company's inverters operate at the absolute maximum power point of the array.

The ULTRA and TRIO's wide input voltage range provides maximum energy harvesting over a wide range of module temperature and insolation levels. Both inverters are the only products in their respective class that have NEMA 4x environmental ratings.

PID resistance of Panasonic HIT PV modules confirmed by Fraunhofer

JAPAN: Panasonic Corp. announced that the resistance to potential induced degradation (PID) of its HIT photovoltaic modules has been confirmed by the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon-Photovoltaics (CSP).

PID is a phenomenon in which the power output of photovoltaic modules is reduced when they are subjected to external factors, such as high temperatures and humidity, under conditions where a high voltage is applied across the internal circuits (photovoltaic cells) and the grounded frame.

HIT photovoltaic modules are renowned for their outstanding performance and quality. Due to the special HIT structure, which refers to a thin mono crystalline n-type silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers, the modules have a high efficiency.

With respect to conventional crystalline silicon-based photovoltaic cells, the accumulation of electric charges near the insulating layer on a cell surface is thought to be a direct cause of PID. However, in the case of HIT photovoltaic cells, both surfaces are transparent conductive layers with no insulating layers used. Therefore, no PID is thought to occur. No incidences of PID have been reported from the European, US, or Japanese markets.

In collaboration with Fraunhofer CSP, Panasonic set up a test that included both negative and positive voltages. During the test, the HIT modules were subjected to 1,000 volts for 48 hours at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius with 50 percent relative humidity. The Panasonic HIT photovoltaic modules exhibited no sign of degradation under such conditions. Of the ten modules used for the test, five were subjected to +1,000 volts, and the other five to -1,000 volts over 48 hours. The results show no evidence of PID.

Michael Seys, in charge of photovoltaic product development of Panasonic Eco Solutions Energy Management Europe, stressed, "Since HIT modules have been proven to be PID resistant by one of the most authorized agencies in the field, our customers can now be fully assured that our modules deliver an excellent performance."

Dr. Matthias Ebert, Head of the Group Module Reliability at Fraunhofer CSP, commented on the test results: "HIT modules differ from standard modules. The challenge for us was to develop a test method that would respect this. By testing for both positively and negatively charged voltages, we can attest to the PID resistance of HIT photovoltaic modules."

Panasonic intends to accelerate the development and commercialization of high quality and highly reliable photovoltaic cells and to work on expanding this business globally.

Qatar and Kuwait ramping up activities for PV technology development

KUWAIT: The two oil-rich Middle Eastern states of Qatar and Kuwait recently announced partnerships with global organizations to initiate solar research and development activities. This might be influenced by an increased interest in renewables by Saudi Arabia and Masdar in Abu Dhabi.

The Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, inaugurated the country's first large-scale Solar Test Facility at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) in Doha. A joint effort of QSTP, GreenGulf and Chevron, it aims to test emerging solar technologies from around the world to identify the best technology for the Gulf region.

The goal of the facility is to understand the performance of solar cells in the Qatari environment with high temperatures and humidity, study the impact of dust and moisture on performance, carry out an independent evaluation of solar system vendors, research to improve the performance of solar systems, and build local human and technical capacity as creation of a new Qatari company, GreenGulf.

This initiative seems to be in tandem with Qatar's aim to raise the share of solar power in electricity generation to 16 percent by 2018. QSTP is also involved in building a factory to produce 8000 MT of polysilicon.

In other related news, researchers at Kuwait University announced a “long-term” development agreement with Belgium-based IMEC to develop new types of solar cells. The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, signed the agreement in Kuwait City during a ceremony alongside Kuwait University president, Abdullatif Al-Bader, and the Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, Adnan Shihab-Eldin.

Kuwait University joins IMEC’s wafer-based silicon solar cell industrial affiliation program, which is focused on advancing silicon solar cell processing technology. The Kuwaiti research team is said to have strong expertise in modeling and simulation, and will be able to provide an in-depth scientific understanding as IMEC’s researchers explore solar cells with higher efficiencies and lower costs.

Given that both Qatar and Kuwait are sun-rich, investment in research and development of PV technologies only seems a strategic measure to tap into the potential of solar energy generation. The Middle East region is certainly the up and coming hot spot for solar energy development given that there is recognition in the region that oil resources are not unlimited.

-- Fatima Toor, Lux Research

Increased co-operation between Taiwan and Japan serves as benchmark for global PV industry

TAIWAN: During PVJapan 2012, Taiwan’s government led a delegation of representatives from Taiwan photovoltaics companies, encompassing the areas of silicon photovoltaic cells, CIGS, and photovoltaic modules, including Motech, Gintech Energy, Neo Solar Power, TSMC Solar, Ever Energy, Inventec Energy, and Eversol.  Many opportunities were created during the show between Taiwan and Japan – including orders in excess of 60MW worth $96 million in new business.

Taiwan has a stable supply chain network with products ranging from silicon products to solar modules and has emerged as one of the leading PV manufacturing centers in the Asia Pacific region. Taiwan’s photovoltaic industry holds three major advantages: affordable and high-quality products; a comprehensive industry chain; and a respect for intellectual property rights. With that, Taiwan and Japan are set to play complementary roles, where photovoltaic manufacturers in Taiwan deliver outstanding quality and cost-efficiency, while Japanese companies offer superior branding and sales channels. Industry cooperation between Taiwan and Japan, therefore, can bring forth a win-win scenario.

In Japan, Taiwan-based Motech Industries and Japan-based Itogumi Construction also signed a strategic cooperation agreement on large-scale photovoltaic power plants. In addition, Taiwan’s government also committed to support the agreement between Taiwan-based Eversol Corp. and Japan-based West Holdings, to collaborate on building a large-scale 50MW facility in Japan in 2013. Moreover, one of the delegation members received orders from Japan for 10MW in photovoltaic modules. 15MW will be sold to other countries by the cooperating partner in Japan. The cooperation between Taiwan and Japan serves as an important benchmark of cooperation for the global PV industry.

With the current business trend, Taiwan is expected to witness several business opportunities with government support and solar energy being considered as a strategic industry. With recognition of Taiwan’s growing importance to the global solar market, PV Taiwan is definitely the premier international PV exhibition and the central hub to source buyers from home and aboard. What brings more excitement to the show this year is PV Taiwan will be held in conjunction with the 23th PVSEC, one of the most important international conferences in the area of photovoltaic industry. The combination of these two industry events makes it one of the best opportunities of the year and provides a powerful professional platform to network and collaborate.

-- SEMI Taiwan

China consumes 33 percent of global PV panel shipments in Q4’12

USA: The Chinese end-market dominated shipments of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels during the final quarter of 2012 with 33 percent of global end-market demand, according to new research released in the NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly report.

“Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10 percent of global PV demand,” stated Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “However, during Q4’12, a third of all global PV panel shipments ended up in China. This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking center stage in both the upstream and downstream channels.”

Several factors are contributing to China’s rise, including slowing growth in Europe with declining PV incentives and strong domestic policies within China that were designed to assist domestic Chinese manufacturers.

Global solar PV demand increased to 8.3 GW during Q4’12, providing the characteristic year-end surge that PV suppliers have come to expect. However, the shift during 2012 in year-end demand from Europe to China has presented a new set of challenges for the PV industry. According to Barker, “The Chinese end-market has different module supplier preferences, pricing expectations, and routes to market. However, threatened by the impact of global trade barriers, the biggest challenge will fall on Chinese manufacturers that are restricted to domestic demand only.”
Chinese demand continues to be heavily back-end weighted. In 2012, Q4’12 demand in China accounted for almost 60 percent of annual demand. However, this demand phasing provides a significant dilemma for suppliers as they struggle to balance the rewards of year-end shipments with the risks from rising inventories and potential write-downs earlier in the year.

In fact, it was only during Q4’12 that PV manufacturers’ inventories declined. This occurred precisely because of year-end demand from China, allowing module shipments to exceed factory production levels. As a result, module inventory levels at PV manufacturers declined by 4 percent Q/Q in Q4’12, to a year-end low of 65 days.

“Manufacturers that succeed in broadening their end-market coverage should achieve a healthy balance between quarterly production and shipment levels in 2013,” added Barker. “In addition, hedging against the effects of the various trade wars, which are expected to be settled sometime this year, will also be essential for success moving forward.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dow Corning and Crystal Solar to collaborate for use of silicon-based materials in solar applications

USA: Dow Corning, a global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, and Crystal Solar, a solar energy venture company focusing on Direct Gas to Wafer technology, announced their intention to develop a business relationship for the successful supply of high-performance, silicon-based materials for photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

The two companies also intend to assess options for developing high performance building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions for building and construction, focusing on both commercial and residential applications.

Dow Corning can provide access to high-quality trichlorosilane, specialized silicon-based materials, and supply chain consultancy to support a breakthrough manufacturing approach developed by Crystal Solar to produce monocrystalline ultra-thin silicon epi-wafers. Crystal Solar’s innovative Epitaxial technology allows for high efficiency solar panels at lower costs with advanced functionality to competing approaches.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with Crystal Solar on this new opportunity,” said Dan Futter, VP of Solar Solutions at Dow Corning. “Beyond expanding its key supplier position for feedstock and silicon-based materials for Solar PV, Dow Corning partners with leaders in the solar and renewable energy industries, such as Crystal Solar. At Dow Corning we believe that innovative materials are key to addressing the industry’s challenge to drive down costs, enhance system performance, and help make solar more competitive with traditional energy sources,” Futter added.

“The excellent quality and reputation of our high performance building business is a natural fit to enable leading-edge innovation with reduced risk in the BIPV space.”

“We are very pleased to be working with Dow Corning on a broad-based framework to make high-efficiency solar panels at costs below $0.50/W in production,” said T.S. Ravi, Crystal Solar’s CEO.  “Dow Corning’s reputation for quality and their ability to scale globally will help Crystal Solar expand their manufacturing footprint significantly.”

Canadian Solar launches next gen system ResidentialAC

CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc. announced the launch of its next generation system ResidentialAC

Until now, PV system installers had to make use of first generation micro inverter technology. Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system combines the company's highly efficient 250W PV modules with a state of the art next generation Micro Inverter to Ooops solar system installers, investors and homeowners with a breakthrough solution that delivers high quality and cost-effective performance. Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system designed from the ground up and is anticipated to address ALL of the critical limitations of current, first generation AC micro inverters in the market.

Canadian Solar system ResidentialAC breakthroughs include:

a) 25-year long micro-inverter reliability to match Canadian Solar's module warranty by eliminating the key life limiting components in the current first generation of AC micro inverters.
b) Power generation in high temperature environments above 65 o C.
c) Compatibility and ability to work with higher power class modules up to 300Wp, 215Wp up from current limitation.
d) Reliable and consistent data communication.

The end result is a new generation system that meets the needs ResidentialAC and challenges of today's residential PV systems and confidently meets the standard 25-year warranty system performance requirement. Installers, homeowners and investors will benefit from fewer repairs, safety advantages of not working on high voltage DC electricity, and faster installations with lower labor and material costs.
Homeowners and investors will also benefit from faster ROI due to the ability to use higher power class modules in addition to more flexible roof layouts that can accommodate portrait and landscape orientations modules that optimize roof space usage.

"We are excited to launch a solution that provides our customers with the smartest residential AC module solution in the market and pure forces our leadership as a cutting-edge innovator in the solar industry. This new architecture represents a breakthrough from existing AC solutions and a significant improvement from all first generation products, offering our customers measurable value," commented Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.

Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system includes monitoring software, allowing customers module-level tracking of solar panel performance to optimize the system's solar energy production.

ET Solar to intro 1000V DC UL PV modules

PV America East 2013, CHINA: ET Solar Group Corp. announced that, at the upcoming PV America East 2013 conference and trade show, the company will launch PV modules that have been granted 1000V DC UL certification by Electrical Testing Laboratories Inc. USA.

The new 1000V DC certification applies to ET Solar 60-cell and 72- cell poly-crystalline modules. With this certification, ET Solar modules can now be used in projects with system voltages up to 1000V DC rather than 600V DC, offering lower installation costs and improved system performance.

Dennis She, president and CEO of ET Solar, commented: "We are very happy to have obtained the 1000V DC UL certification from ETL that endorses our new modules designed for the US market. Offering tailormade and reliable products has always been our commitment to customers and this initiative is just another solid step to deliver it."

Consul launches innovative power solutions for ATMs

INDIA: Chennai-based Consul Consolidated Pvt Ltd; the leading manufacturer of enterprise energy solutions (UPS, solar power packs, inverters and voltage stabilizers) announced the launch of iPEMS-ATM and ATMSure.

The new solutions will improve the uptime and reduce operational costs of ATMs operated by public sector banks, private sector banks and ATM service providers.

The iPEMS-ATM (Intelligent Power and Energy Management System for ATMs) is a modular full service suite product that can be deployed for both new ATM sites and as a retrofit for any existing ATMs.

The iPEMS – ATM increases the ATM availability to as high as 97 percent to 98 percent and reduces the energy bills by 25 percent to 40 percent apart from eliminating the need to man ATM sites which helps reduce the operational costs of current ATMs by another 25 percent.

Special features of iPEMS are:

* Offers built-in security feature to prevent theft and damage of physical assets in the ATM site.
* Has built-in energy saving and timer based controls for the ATM air conditioner and lights of the lobby, backroom and signage.
* Enables 24/7 monitoring of the ATM facility. ATM Managers can review all the vital parameters of each ATM across circles through the online web based iRMS (Intelligent Remote Management System) service.
* The iPEMS acts like a force multiplier for the service managers as they can call on real time data for each location, monitor a wide range of parameters, generate reports and receive alerts on SMS and emails, diagnose potential issues and resolve problems proactively like remotely rebooting hung-up ATM, modems or CCTV DVR.

LDK Solar signs share purchase agreement with Fulai Investment

CHINA & USA: LDK Solar Co. Ltd has entered into a share purchase agreement dated January 21, 2013 with Fulai Investments Ltd, which has agreed to purchase 17,000,000 newly issued ordinary shares of LDK Solar, at a purchase price of $1.83 per share with an aggregate purchase price of $31,110,000, subject to the terms and conditions of the share purchase agreement, including a lock-up for 180 days from the closing date of the contemplated transactions.

Pursuant to the share purchase agreement, the parties will endeavor to fulfill the closing conditions to consummate the transactions prior to February 28, 2013.

Fulai Investments also has the right to designate two non-executive directors to the LDK Solar board upon consummation of the transactions. The net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes in LDK Solar's operations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Canadian Solar launches next gen residentialAC system

CANADA: Canadian Solar Inc. announced the launch of its next generation ResidentialAC system.

Until now, PV system installers had to make use of first generation micro inverter technology. Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system combines the Company's highly efficient 250W PV module with a state of the art next generation Micro Inverter to provide solar system installers, investors and homeowners with a breakthrough solution that delivers high quality and cost-effective performance.

Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system was designed from the ground up and is anticipated to address ALL of the critical limitations of current, first generation AC micro inverters in the market.

Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system breakthroughs include:
a) 25-year long Micro-Inverter reliability to match Canadian Solar's module warranty by eliminating the key life limiting components in the current first generation of AC micro inverters.
b) Power generation in high temperature environments above 65oC.
c) Compatibility and ability to work with higher power class modules up to 300Wp, up from current 215Wp limitation.
d) Reliable and consistent data communication.

The end result is a new generation ResidentialAC system that meets the needs and challenges of today's residential PV systems and confidently meets the standard 25-year system performance warranty requirement.  Installers, homeowners and investors will benefit from fewer repairs, safety advantages of not working on high voltage DC electricity, and faster installations with lower labor and material costs.

Homeowners and investors will also benefit from faster ROI due to the ability to use higher power class modules in addition to more flexible roof layouts that can accommodate portrait and landscape module orientations that optimize roof space usage.

"We are excited to launch a solution that provides our customers with the smartest residential AC module solution in the market and reinforces our leadership as a cutting-edge innovator in the solar industry.   This new architecture represents a breakthrough from existing AC solutions and a significant improvement from all first generation products, offering our customers measurable value." commented Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.

Canadian Solar's ResidentialAC system also includes monitoring software, allowing customers module-level tracking of solar panel performance to optimize the system's solar energy production.

Study on communication of biomass, solar and wind-power companies

GERMANY: The Press Agency Krampitz will be presenting its international study on public relations in the renewable energy sector at the ISH trade fair.

For the first time the agency will be an exhibitor on the leading trade fair for bathroom design, heating and air conditioning technology and renewable energies in Frankfurt am Main. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is supporting the participation of the Cologne-based agency with subsidies for young, innovative companies.

“As the branch consolidates, changes are required in market positioning, which has an effect, naturally, on communication”, explains agency boss Iris Krampitz. “In our study, we investigate if the communicative messages from biomass, solar and wind-power companies represent the specific strengths of the companies and arrive at the right target groups.” The first results will be published at the Intersolar Europe in June.

Communicating strengths with purpose
The Press Agency Krampitz has been successfully consulting international companies in the renewable energy sector for nine years. Its experience as well as surveys and analyses have shown that many companies communicate in arbitrary and less than strategic ways.

“If the market shrinks, a company has to keep its messages about its specific strengths both convincing and to the point, not only to satisfy a customer’s need for information but also to clearly differentiate itself from the competition. Only with targeted communication can a company utilize its marketing and PR budget effectively”, explains Krampitz.

Military microgrid capacity will increase 50 percent by 2018

USA: The United States Department of Defense (DOD) has a strong interest in improving energy security through microgrid technology, stemming from its heavy reliance upon all forms of fossil fuels—often imported from regions of the world hostile to US interests.

Indeed, the DOD’s efforts may be the strongest driver for the overall microgrid market today, especially in terms of control technology for these smart grid networks based on a bottoms-up distributed model for the US military’s operational and tactical deployments of microgrid technology. According to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, the total capacity of DOD microgrids will surpass 600 megawatts (MW) by 2018, a 50 percent increase over 2012.

“In addition to reducing the amount of fossil fuels consumed to create electricity, by networking generators as a system to maximize efficiency, microgrids have a number of other benefits of value to the military,” says senior research analyst Peter Asmus. “They can also be used to help integrate renewable energy resources (such as wind and solar) at the local distribution grid level. Simultaneously, microgrids enable military bases – both stationary and forward operating bases – to sustain operations, no matter what is happening on the larger utility grid or in the theater of war.”

Many Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and other military-related facilities already have legacy microgrids in place. What is new is that these facilities are looking to envelop entire bases with microgrids and integrate renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG) onsite. When capable of safe islanding from the surrounding grid, RDEG offers the ultimate energy security, since there is no need to transport fuel to generate power.

Europe solar demand outlook

USA: Reportlinker.com announced a new market research report: Solar Demand Outlook: Europe - Applications, Regional Demand Drivers, Incentive Programs, and Market Forecasts.

In 2009, the market in Europe for photovoltaic technology accounted for 83 percent of global demand. In 2010, Europe's share of global demand decreased by 3 percentage points to 80 percent, and in 2011, Europe's share fell 17 percentage points to 63 percent. While this trend can be attributed in part to rapid demand growth in other parts of the world, the fact is that growth in the world's largest market for solar power components has stagnated.

Growth in the region has traditionally been driven by the feed-in tariff (FIT) incentive. In more recent years, European countries with FITs have undergone abrupt changes to the rules and the tariff rates. These shifts have shaken investor confidence and driven down internal rates of return.

Changes to the amount of electricity that would be reimbursed in Spain, for example, along with the abrupt cessation of that country's incentive in 2011, have shown clearly that the FIT is an unreliable instrument. Navigant Consulting forecasts that, under a conservative scenario, solar demand in Europe will reach just over 11 GW in 2014.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top 10 solar cell manufacturers of 2012

USA: While the demand in Europe is on the rise, European manufacturers are having trouble remaining cost competitive by producing in Europe, according to Lux Research’s latest Solar Supply Tracker.

Norway-based cell manufacturer Renewable Energy Corporation (REC), as an example, has reduced production at two of its facilities in Norway by about 400MW in the past two months while it continues its production at full capacity in Singapore. Module prices are at a record low with major manufacturers selling around ~$1/W to burn through their inventories. While this price is unsustainable, it makes cost competition cut-throat.

“The Asian share in cell manufacturing will continue to rise and go >50 percent, even though risks of trade disputes and tariffs loom in the western hemisphere. Moreover, polysilicon production has shifted to Asia during the last quarter while module production had already shifted to Asia in late 2010.”

The top 10 companies, which make up 44 percent of global production, include some of the Chinese crystalline silicon cell manufacturing giants, such as Suntech, Yingli and Trina. Neo Solar Power, which is a Taiwanese cell manufacturer, entered the top 10 for the first time with 3 percent of global production.

According to Fatima Toor, the Lux Research Analyst who led the Solar Supply Tracker, “The Asian share in cell manufacturing will continue to rise and go >50 percent, even though risks of trade disputes and tariffs loom in the western hemisphere. Moreover, polysilicon production has shifted to Asia during the last quarter while module production had already shifted to Asia in late 2010.”

Top 10 Cell Manufacturers:  3Q’11

SEMI releases Q3 2012 worldwide PV equipment market statistics report

USA: SEMI reported the worldwide PV manufacturing equipment billings and bookings for the third quarter of 2012. Worldwide booking remained essentially flat in the third quarter when compared to the previous quarter. The $234 million in bookings is 56 percent below the third quarter of 2011.
Worldwide billings declined to $609 million, down 13 percent from the previous quarter and 60 percent below the same quarter one year ago. While the book-to-bill ratio remained below parity for the sixth consecutive quarter, the ratio did improve to 0.38 given the flat bookings and the decline in billings.

JinkoSolar unveils world's first double 85 certified PID free solar module

CHINA: JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd has unveiled its new series of "Eagle" solar modules.

The Eagle series modules represent a new standard for high performance and reliability and are the world's first potential induced degradation (PID) free modules to be certified under weather conditions of 85 degrees Celsius 85 percent relative humidity.

The Eagle series modules feature JinkoSolar's innovative cell and assembly technology which enables it to resist PID under the toughest weather conditions and are of reaching 260 Watts peak power output; a record for commercially available mass-produced modules.

"With the introduction of our Eagle series solar modules, JinkoSolar is leading the way in the adoption of new industry standards with PID free modules in mass production," said CEO Kangping Chen. "In response to the increasing demand by our customers and partners, JinkoSolar was able to rapidly develop PID free modules to reduce the risk involved and guarantee the greatest return on investments. As such, we are demonstrating JinkoSolar's commitment to consistently delivering the most reliable solar technology and the best quality products on the market."

Bharti Airtel powers up core location with solar energy in Lucknow

INDIA: Bharti Airtel has powered up its core location with solar power at Gangaganj, Lucknow. This location is one of the major switching and routing centre, which processes the voice and data traffic for the telecom operator.

The 100KWp non penetrating rooftop Solar power plant is the first of its kind in the Indian telecom industry and will save close to 26 thousand liters of diesel per year. Going forward, the company is planning to replicate similar power plants in six other core locations generating close to 300 KWp of solar energy.

The project has received 30 percent subsidy from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Jagbir Singh, director, Network Services Group, Bharti Airtel said: "State-of-the-art technology adoptions, best in class infrastructure deployments and a customer focused approach are key enablers to provide seamless experience to the customers. We believe that our responsibility does not cease at providing superior quality to our customers.

"At Airtel, we continuously evaluate the impact of our activities on the society and environment. It is our constant endeavor to develop innovative solutions that help us drive environmental conservation. Gangaganj solar power plant is a concrete move in line with our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute towards building an inclusive society.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

New world record for solar cell efficiency

SWITZERLAND: Empa scientists have developed thin film solar cells on flexible plastic film with a new record efficiency of 20.4 percent for the conversion of sunlight into electrical energy. The cells are based on so-called CIGS semiconductor (copper indium gallium selenide) that have tremendous potential for the provision of low-cost solar power. Next, the technology will be scaled up from the laboratory scale for various industrial applications.

To solar power can offer low, scientists and engineers have long tried to develop an inexpensive solar cell that can be both highly efficient and easy and produced in large quantities. Now one Empa team led by Ayodhya N. Tiwari managed a (further) break. The researchers were able to increase the efficiency of energy conversion from sunlight to electricity in thin-film CIGS solar cells again on flexible plastic sheets significantly - to a new record of 20.4 percent, a marked improvement compared to the previous record of 18.7 percent, to the same team in 2011 in May had erected.

The research team led by Tiwari has studied and developed for some time various thin-film technologies. Over the years, the laboratory has the efficiency of flexible CIGS solar cells since her first world record of 12.8 percent in 1999 to 14.1 percent (2005), 17.6 percent (2010) and 18.7 percent (2011) can always improve.

The projection of silicon solar cells made ​​up the youngest record is the result of innovative ideas and excellent teamwork, especially by students Adrian Chirila and Fabian Pianezzi. The team succeeded, the properties of the light absorbing CIGS layer, which is applied at reduced processing temperatures to be further optimized. The efficiency of the solar cell was verified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg (Germany) - and even exceed the record level of 20.3 percent for CIGS solar cells on glass.

Not only that, he meets even the highest efficiency that can be achieved with polycrystalline silicon solar cells. "We finally did it, with the efficiency of polycrystalline silicon solar cells and CIGS thin-film solar cells on glass to catch up," says Tiwari.

Highly efficient, lightweight and flexible thin-film solar modules are ideal for numerous applications, such as in large solar farms on roofs or facades to portable electronics. They can be produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing process, the opposite of silicon technology enable further cost savings. So you have the potential to make solar power in the near future actually affordable.

"The long series of records in efficiency flexible CIGS solar cells at Empa here shows that thin film solar cells to keep up with the performance of polycrystalline silicon cells can certainly. Now it is time to scale up the technology together with an industrial partner for technical applications, so that we can produce large-area modules, "so Empa director, Gian-Luca Bona. To achieve this, the Empa, together with the company Flisom, a young company that has set the industrialization flexible CIGS solar cells on target.

The research was funded over the years by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (FOE) and the EU Framework programs.

Solar energy storage market to touch nearly $2 billion in 2018

USA: Four new significant market research reports are available from Global Information (GII) for executives and their organizations seeking strong historic and forecast data to facilitate their decision-making concerning the global market for solar photovoltaics, solar storage and energy harvesting. The reports provide answers to key questions such as what are the growth prospects for solar PV over the next several years, what factors affect solar PV pricing, what are the major trends and macroeconomic factors influencing the solar PV market, what storage technologies for solar generated power are currently available, and more.

Despite the considerable technological innovation expected in energy storage, traditional lead-acid batteries will be the main revenue generator for solar energy storage over the next decade, accounting for more than $950 million in revenues in 2018. They are readily available and low cost, yet have poor lifetimes and are becoming commoditized products. Lead-carbon technology will improve the margins on this type of battery and will be used in solar farms and solar-based microgrid and will generate another $135 million by 2018.

There is also a growing level of interest in the use of lithium batteries in the solar sector and sales of these batteries are expected to generate $235 million by 2018. Lithium batteries are already being sold for residential and solar-power microgrid applications in the U.S. and in Germany. And in the next few years, Chinese solar energy storage firms seem likely to focus on lithium batteries given that China is a major source of lithium.

Nonetheless, NanoMarkets believes that the future of lithium batteries will depend heavily on continued government R&D subsidies. Otherwise in most countries, lithium batteries are likely to remain too expensive for solar applications.

This new NanoMarkets report provides an analysis of worldwide solar energy storage markets products including lead-acid, lead-carbon, lithium, NaS, sodium-nickel-chloride, and flow batteries, along with ultrabatteries and supercapacitors. Storage demand for both retail PV users and utility-scale solar is analyzed. Eight-year revenue and volume projections are included with breakouts by technology, and geography. Also included are profiles of leading-edge solar storage installations around the world.

Companies discussed in this report include: Abengoa Solar, Acciona, AES, Altair, Ambri, Axion, Brightsource, Cellenium, Cellstrom, Cogenra Solar, CSIRO, Daewoo, Deeya Energy, Ecoult, EDF, Endesa, eSolar, Exide, Fiamm Sonik, Firefly, Ford, GE, GeoBattery, Gildmeister, Hitachi, Ice Energy, International Battery, Johnson Controls, KEMA, Kyushu Electric, Maxwell, Mitsubishi, NEC, Nesscap, NGK, Panasonic, PG&E, Pratt & Whitney, Premium Power, Prudent Energy, RWE, SAFT, Siemens, Southern California Edison, RedT, Sumitomo, SunPower, SunVerge, SolarCity, Tokyo Electric, V-Fuel, VARTA, Xtreme Power and ZBB.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Solar PV equipment spending declines 72 percent to $3.6 billion in 2012

USA: Solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment spending (covering c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film) was $3.6 billion for 2012, a 72 percent decline from the peak of $12.9 billion in 2011, according to new research in the latest NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report.

According to Finlay Colville, VP at NPD Solarbuzz: “Spending for 2013 is forecast to decline even further to $2.2 billion, levels not seen in the industry since 2006. This marks an effective halt to capacity investment by PV manufacturers, as well as a lack of upgrades, whether in new technology or higher efficiency. Spending on high-efficiency process steps barely contributed to 2012 shipments, representing less than 5 percent of PV equipment spending.”

Based on PV revenues recognized in the calendar year 2012, the leading equipment suppliers are forecast to be GT Advanced Technologies, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials, and Apollo Solar. These tool suppliers are expected to have PV-specific revenues in excess of $400 million. Only eight PV equipment suppliers are forecast to have PV-specific revenues during 2012 in excess of $100 million, compared to 23 in 2011.

Just 24 months ago, GT Advanced Technologies, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials, and Centrotherm each reported PV backlogs at or above $1 billion. However, successive quarters with minimal new order intake, coupled with strong de-bookings, have reduced PV equipment backlogs to levels last experienced in 1H’06.

“PV equipment suppliers now find themselves a victim of their own success,” added Colville. “Excessive investment in 2010 and 2011 was the catalyst of the over-capacity and over-supply situation that exists today. It was also a key factor in end-market price erosion that forced many of their customers to file for insolvency. The days of PV-specific backlogs and revenues at the billion-dollar level are unlikely to be repeated for at least three years.”
With so much competitive c-Si capacity shipped during 2011 and 2012, the biggest fear for tool suppliers is the emergence of a secondary equipment market across China and Taiwan. Most importantly, this would delay any upturn in equipment spending. However, it also suggests that the PV industry is not conforming to a collective roadmap or experiencing a significant technology-buy cycle.

“Today, there are actually two factors that may result in legacy capacity being recycled,” noted Colville. “First, the forced consolidation of tier 1 and tier 2 c-Si manufacturers in China would prevent any strong shakeout of excess capacity within China. Also, trade wars may result in surplus capacity simply being relocated outside China to avoid import tariffs, with overseas countries welcoming any resulting job creation.”

During 2012, performing a market-share analysis for key tool suppliers to the PV industry was of limited value. This was because a large part of revenues was based on tools shipped at the end of 2011 or new shipments required by legacy contracts. Indeed, the focus of equipment suppliers has now shifted from gaining market share within the PV industry to deciding how to restructure manufacturing and streamline PV R&D.

“Tool suppliers are finally acknowledging that high-efficiency upgrades are not going to offer any short-term salvation during 2013,” concluded Colville. “However, it remains imperative to equipment suppliers that efforts remain targeted at enhancing efficiency and understanding which technology roadmap will help them gain market share when spending finally returns.”

IRENA and Fraunhofer ISE sign MoU

ABU DHABI & GERMANY: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance their cooperation. IRENA, the global hub for renewable energies, is based in Abu Dhabi. Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg is one of the world’s leading solar energy research institutes that works for providing technologies for the transformation of the global energy system towards the efficient use of ultimately 100 percent renewable energy.

“By joining forces we intend to create synergies and accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions on a global level,” said Prof Dr Eicke R. Weber, director of Fraunhofer ISE at the signing ceremony which took place on January 17, 2013, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, a global gathering of policy makers and industry leaders.

Fraunhofer ISE has been closely linked to IRENA since its foundation in 2009, the establishment of the headquarters in Abu Dhabi and later the IRENA Innovation Center in Bonn.  Collaboration is ranging from joint public event support, in making energy more accessible via the UN Sustainable Energy for All program, to providing insights on how Fraunhofer is developing technologies in different solar energy sectors. These include methodologies on cost analyses which impacted the well-known IRENA “Cost of renewable electricity” studies.

A new focus has been set on the integration of renewable power into electric grids, assessing the competitiveness status and outlook for solar energy technologies as well the development of global and national frameworks up to NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions) and respective strategies to spur innovation and the uptake of state-of-the-art solar energy technologies.

Currently, collaboration is expanding in planning grid integration and off-grid solutions, based on photovoltaic (PV) hybrid systems for rural areas in developing and threshold countries. Fraunhofer ISE has nearly 30 years of experience in this field, with skills covering the whole value chain, ranging from system analysis and system development to standardization and the transfer of knowledge.

Additionally Fraunhofer will engage with IRENA staff in renewable energy storage solutions and make latest research findings in this sector accessible to the organization and member states.