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Forum > Renewables

Photvoltaics (PV)

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AGelbert:


Solar Growth Outpaces Wind for First Time 
 Tildy Bayar, Associate Editor, Renewable Energy World 

LONDON -- A strong showing from global solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, coupled with a sharp fall in new wind capacity, has led to solar growth outpacing wind this year – for the first time ever.

Analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that 36.7 GW in new solar PV capacity will be added worldwide in 2013, compared with 35.5 GW in new wind installations (33.8 GW onshore and 1.7 GW offshore).

Both wind and solar PV broke records last year, with onshore and offshore wind adding 46.6 GW and solar PV adding 30.5 GW. But 2013’s slowdown in the two largest wind markets, China and the U.S., is opening the way for the rapidly growing PV market to overtake wind, BNEF said.

Justin Wu, BNEF’s head of wind analysis, said, "We forecast that wind installations will shrink by nearly 25 percent in 2013, to their lowest level since 2008, reflecting slowdowns in the U.S. and China caused by policy uncertainty.”

In the U.S., the repeated last-minute extension of the Production Tax Credit has created what analysts have called a perpetual boom-and-bust cycle. This year’s uncertainty led to a drop in investment, causing significant layoffs and facility closures across the wind supply chain.

In China, where the industry has suffered from curtailment due to insufficient infrastructure and tightened standards for wind turbines have slowed development, the sector has been expecting further policy announcements after the government raised this year's new-capacity target to 18 GW in January.

In particular, developers say China’s feed-in tariff (FiT) for offshore wind is too low given the higher costs of offshore development, leading to predictions that the nation will fail to meet its offshore goal of 5 GW by 2015. The government has said it will re-think the FiT, but has offered no timetable.

Globally, demand for wind turbines is predicted to shrink by 5 percent this year, for the first time since 2004.

But wind is still far from dire straits, BNEF reassured. “Falling technology costs, new markets and the growth of the offshore industry will ensure wind remains a leading renewable energy technology,” Wu said. 

In the solar sector, "the dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes," said Jenny Chase, BNEF’s head of solar analysis.

In Japan, the fourth country to reach the 10 GW mark in cumulative solar capacity, the attractive FiT has led to rapid growth over the past year, with demand surging in the commercial and utility segments. China, which will be the largest solar market this year according to BNEF, has raised its renewable energy surcharge and revamped its subsidy regime, expanding performance-based incentives for distributed solar power in a bid to grow the domestic market after solar trade spats with Europe and the U.S.  The nation aims to more than quadruple its solar power generating capacity to 35 GW by 2015.

Growth in Asia will offset PV’s decline in traditional leading regions. "Europe is a declining market,” Chase said, “because many countries there are rapidly moving away from incentives, but it will continue to see new PV capacity added."

While the immediate future looks brighter for solar than wind, BNEF predicted that, despite 2013’s rankings upset, the maturing onshore wind and solar PV sectors will contribute almost equally to the world’s new electricity capacity additions between now and 2030. On- and offshore wind will grow from 5 percent of total installed power generation capacity in 2012 to 17 percent in 2030, while solar PV will increase from a lower base of 2 percent in 2012 to 16 percent by 2030, BNEF said.

 The analysis also predicted that technology suppliers in both wind and solar may see a move back to profit as soon as this year, after a prolonged period of oversupply and consolidation.

Michael Liebreich, BNEF’s chief executive, commented: “Cost cuts and a refocusing on profitable markets and business segments have bolstered the financial performance of wind turbine makers and the surviving solar manufacturers. Stock market investors have been noticing this change, and clean energy shares have rebounded by 66 percent since their lows of July 2012."

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/09/solar-growth-outpaces-wind-for-first-time

AGelbert:
Solar VC Funding: "The Fear Is Gone" For Investors


Funding for solar energy projects and M&A soars, as investors and developers continue to confidently ride the demand wave.

 James Montgomery, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com 
 October 09, 2013

New Hampshire, USA -- Project funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the solar energy sector reached record levels from July-September of this year, reflecting an improved outlook for solar demand, according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group.

Global funding for solar energy spiked to $2.18 billion, more than twice the funding seen in 2Q13 ($915 million), Mercom says. Top VC recipients in the quarter included Solexel ($40 million, high-efficiency silicon solar cells), eSolar ($22 million, concentrated solar power developer), Clean Power Finance ($20 million, third-party solar PV financing), HelioVolt ($19 million, thin-film), and Dyesol ($16 million, dye-sensitized/organic solar cells). On the M&A side, the Applied Materials-Tokyo Electron deal was a major shakeup in the semiconductor sector but less so for silicon solar manufacturing.

The new normal is now. It's time to stop comparing today's levels of solar energy investment to the heady days of two or three years ago, when $400-$500 million quarters were routine and money flowed freely to solar technology developers jostled for positioning. "We're not seeing anything over $200 million in the last 3-6 quarters," noted Mercom CEO Raj Prabhu. "This is where we are: the new normal."

Strategic investors are stepping up. SK Group put more money into Heliovolt. Saudi conglomerate Tasnee invested in Dyesol. Over the past year Hanergy and Hanwha have been extending their reach into solar. Big strategic partners with a ton of money continue to hedge some bets on technology, possibly where they can leverage manufacturing experience.

Solar leasing's hot. Third-party solar finance companies raised approximately $584 million in the past quarter, with SolarCity, Sungevity, SunRun, etc. raising funds with help from banks. So far with three months to go, third-party solar leasing firms have raised roughly $2.5 billion this year, compared to just $2 billion in both 2012 and 2011. "This shows that it's still pretty healthy out there," Prabhu said. "Everything we're seeing is going up." Of course the ability to pull down lots of funding is especially important to third-party firms; it's not just enough to raise a few million of VC or private equity funding, but they need to raise tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and put that right into rooftop installations, Prabhu pointed out. "If they're not doing that they have a problem."

Also noteworthy during 3Q12 was SolarCity's acquisition of sales channel partner Paramount Solar, underscoring the importance of customer acquisition in the solar leasing model. "At the end of the day, anyone can go install" solar, Prabhu pointed out, but "the ability to go out and land the residential customers makes you unique."

Projects are popular


Full article here:

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/10/solar-vc-funding-the-fear-is-gone-for-investors?cmpid=WNL-Friday-October11-2013

AGelbert:
With more funding in hand and a DOE loan in its pocket, 1366 Technologies is launching a search for a 250-MW factory here in the US.

James Montgomery, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com 
 October 16, 2013 

New Hampshire, USA -- Solar silicon wafer innovator 1366 Technologies has landed new funding led by newest partner Tokayama, and is ready to scale up to a 250-MW production line ahead of an anticipated upswing in demand.

Ten months ago 1366 moved into a new 25-MW pilot facility in Bedford, Massachusetts, to nail down process and tweak equipment for its solar silicon wafering technology to take the next step toward commercialization.

Five months ago 1366 inked a R&D deal with Japanese silicon producer Tokuyama with hints that it could expand to an equity investment.

Since then, the company has ramped its output from about 50 wafers per furnace per day to more than 1200 now thanks to what CEO Frank van Mierlo referred to as some "important engineering decisions" and unspecified process modifications, though he acknowledged partner Tokayama has "good insights with respect to silicon" such as unparalleled measurement of silicon impurities.

Over the next year they aim to get that up to 3,500 wafers/machine/day, roughly equivalent to 5 MW worth of wafers, but the core process rate allows for more than 4,000 wafers/machine/day with some further improvements to some automation and materials handling, he said.

Typical silicon solar wafers are made by melting silicon chunks in a large quartz crucible, then cooling and forming the mass into a rectangular block and sawing out individual wafers. 1366's Direct Wafer process uses a much shallower container, forming thin layers on the surface which are skimmed off as wafers -- CEO Frank van Mierlo likened it to the icy surface formed on a wintry pond. Lasers instead of saws are then used to more precisely trim the wafers down to a standard 156 × 156 size.



The end result is several process steps condensed into one, less consumables, less materials waste (kerf loss from sawing), and labor to make a silicon solar wafer at a third of the costs of traditional solar wafer manufacturing.

Once the process is scaled up onto full production lines, fully-loaded wafer costs will be just $0.10/Watt, vs. legacy wafers at $0.29/W, according to Mierlo.

The process also uses a lot less energy: Mierlo cited an energy payback of a typical silicon solar panel is 20 months, but just 11 months made with the company's silicon.

The company claims its silicon wafers are translating into cell efficiencies of 17.2 percent in customer trials, based on what Mierlo called "vanilla cell architecture" (screen-printed silver on the front, aluminum paste on the back); earlier this year the company showed a 17.5 percent efficient cell made with more a complicated highly passivated backside. (That 17.2 percent also is around the range of other recent industry marks for standard-sized multicrystalline solar cells.) The company has had successful customer trials with four customers so far, he added.

The next steps are to achieve a "copy exact" transition to a second furnace and then move forward with the bigger plan: start building out a 250-MW production factory (~60 million wafers/year) sometime in 2014. For that the company will pool this latest round of funding, plus about $50 million of the $150 million DOE loan guarantee in its back pocket matched dollar-for-dollar with private investment (the company has accumulated roughly $62 million in equity and VC backing), and some of its own cash ("we are cash-flow-positive this year," Mierlo said). The company is exploring sites across the U.S. including vacated buildings that might be a more cost-effective route, but it's still searching for one that meets all its criteria of low costs and electricity prices and strong local government support and worker quality. Most silicon solar cells are made in Asia now, but Mierlo reiterated he wants to see this silicon wafer factory here in the U.S. both to protect the company's IP and because "I personally believe that the U.S. can compete in manufacturing."

With the gap starting to narrow between solar manufacturing capacity and end demand -- general industry consensus is that global solar demand will surge to 40-45 GW next year, and maybe 50-60 GW a year or two beyond that  ;D -- silicon prices are showing signs of recovery again, and that makes 1366's low-cost position even stronger, according to Mierlo. "Even at today's low silicon prices we have a competitive offering." And inserting a drop-in higher-quality silicon wafer will help lay the foundation for higher-efficiency cells, he noted. And higher conversion efficiency is one of the first and best ways to lower total system costs.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/10/1366-secures-more-funding-launches-search-for-250-mw-factory?cmpid=rss

AGelbert:

Multicrystalline Silicon Modules To Dominate Solar PV Industry In 2014

A new report from NPD Solarbuzz states that the production of multicrystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules is set to dominate the PV manufacturing industry for 2014, “with p-type multi c-Si technology accounting for 62% of all modules produced.”
This, according to the latest NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, and underlines solar industry expectations for a strong 2014.
According to the report, solar PV manufacturers are gearing up to increase module production by 25% in 2014, up to 49.7 GW of modules compared to 39.7 GW produced in 2013. The production increase matches NPD Solarbuzz’s own end-market solar PV demand predictions of 45-55 GW by next year.

“PV manufacturers continue to prioritize cost-reduction across the entire c-Si value-chain, with improvements in efficiency coming mainly from higher-quality multi c-Si wafers,” said Finlay Colville, vice president at NPD Solarbuzz. ”While there will inevitably be short-term supply issues throughout the year, polysilicon and wafer supply is considered adequate for 45-50 GW of c-Si module shipments in 2014.

Chinese cell and module suppliers will continue to operate a flexible manufacturing strategy, with new capacity expected to come online during 2H’14.”


Source: NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly

In a blog post to their website on Friday, NPD’s Michael Barker noted that “companies across the industry chain are preparing new strategies to seize on the opportunities stemming from renewed optimism about the prospects for the PV industry in 2014 and beyond.” Reporting on the Solar Power International conference in Chicago, Barker noted the tough past 18 months and pointed to “record shipments in 2013 and increased demand and production in 2014″ as confirmation that there is an upward trend currently suffusing the solar industry.

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/10/29/multicrystalline-silicon-modules-dominate-solar-pv-industry-2014/#OlEwalbHosI3H5if.99

AGelbert:
The Worst Is Over? Solar Industry Rebounds

 Ehren Goossens, Bloomberg 
 October 31, 2013 

NEW YORK CITY -- Solar industry manufacturers are rebounding from a two-year slump faster than technology companies recovered from the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.


The benchmark BI Global Large Solar Energy Index of 15 manufacturers, which slumped 87 percent from a February 2011 peak through November 2012, has regained 55 percent of its value in the past year. The technology-dominated Nasdaq Composite index reached its post-bubble low in October 2002 and regained 37 percent of its March 2000 peak value in the next year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Suppliers including California’s SunPower Corp., which has gained more than fivefold this year, and China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. are driving the rally as panel prices stabilize. Installations at power plants and on roofs will swell 40 percent this year from a 6.1 percent pace last year.

“The worst is probably behind us,” Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview. “We’ve just gone through a big trough in solar supply.”

Investors poured $205 billion into clean-energy projects in the past year, soaking up some of the global oversupply of panels. The recovery will continue in 2014 with prices remaining stable, Chase said. Manufacturers are “a lot less depressed.”

Optimistic Analysts

Analysts have become more optimistic about solar shares in recent months. The average rating for SunPower, the biggest U.S. supplier of polysilicon-based solar panels, is 3.5, up from 2.4 in December and the highest in more than two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A 5 rating indicates investors should purchase the shares, and 1 means they should sell.

JinkoSolar Holding Co., the only Chinese solar manufacturer to report a profit in the second quarter, has an average rating of 3.7, up from 2.3 in May, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Its shares have more than tripled this year.

Investors have rushed back into shares of the biggest panel makers even before they’ve returned to profit. Yingli, which has more than doubled, is forecast to report narrowed losses compared with 2012. Canadian Solar Inc., which has risen almost sevenfold, is forecast to return to profit of $27 million from a $195 million loss in 2012.

‘Improved Significantly’

“It’s pretty clear over the last nine months that things have improved significantly,” Robert Petrina, Yingli’s managing director for the Americas, said in an interview.

Yingli, based in Baoding, China, was the biggest panel maker last year based on 2.3 gigawatts of shipments, and the company expects that figure to increase as much as 43 percent this year. The global photovoltaic industry may install as much as 42.7 gigawatts of panels this year, 40 percent more than in 2012, according to New Energy Finance.

The strongest companies are now selling panels above cost, according to Chase. A year ago, more than half the Chinese panel-makers in the Large Solar Energy index reported negative gross margins. That’s a strong sign that the industry is starting to turn the corner from the last two years, when factories were overbuilt.

The top 10 manufacturers boosted their total panel- production capacity 19 percent to 20.6 gigawatts in 2012 from two years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Those factories came online as demand waned. Panel installations more than doubled from 2009 to 2010. The pace slowed to 58 percent in 2011, and then slumped to 6.1 percent last year.

Some of the “illogical elements of the market” have disappeared, Chase said.

Demand is climbing in Japan, where the country is promoting wider use of renewable energy instead of nuclear power, 
 and China, where the government expects its installed capacity to double  :o this year. The two countries will be the top solar markets this year, according to New Energy Finance.

Solar Bankruptcies

The solar slump had casualties, driving more than two dozen manufacturers into bankruptcy, and some companies are still struggling, said Chase.

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods. There may still be some bankruptcies,” she said.

Those failures may benefit the industry as weaker companies are forced out and larger ones absorb their customers and assets, said Mark Mendenhall, president for the Americas at Trina Solar Ltd. The Changzhou, China-based company expects to ship as much as 2.4 gigawatts of panels this year, up 50 percent from 2012, and its shares have more than tripled this year.

Other Threats

“You’re going to see a greater separation between the well-run companies from those that are trying to operate purely on a low-price basis,” he said. “This is an industry that’s gotten out of its childhood, emerged from adolescence and is poised to enter adulthood. That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Other potential threats to the solar rebound are increased costs for raw materials, including aluminum and polysilicon, he said.

Most of the companies in the Large Solar Index are still unprofitable. Only Jinko, SunPower and First Solar Inc. reported net income in the second quarter.

The oversupply drove down panel prices 52 percent in 2011 and 20 percent last year. That was bad for suppliers and better for customers, helping boost sales, according to Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. So far this year, prices have rebounded 9 percent.

The company, based in San Jose, California, expects to recognize sales of as much as 1.03 gigawatts of panels this year. The company said yesterday it will boost capacity by 25 percent.

“Cost of solar is more competitive with conventional energy,”   Werner said in an interview. “Things are substantially different from a year ago. For us, sunnier skies started earlier this year.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/10/the-worst-is-over-solar-industry-rebounds

Added to the above, now that the 5th largest economic block in the world by GDP has decided make polluters PAY the REAL price of carbon, ALL Renewable energy competitive financial power has been given ROCKET FUEL!
                                            

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