SPI 2014 provided a snapshot of the US solar industry. There was news of an imminent investment boom, a deadline drawing in for a resolution to the US-China trade dispute, exciting technological advances and a campaign to protect a key support mechanism. Ben Willis puts the show’s developments in their wider context.
Sharp, ABB, SMA and Bosch are among the big names readying new energy storage products for the UK PV market. Andy Colthorpe caught up with them at the Solar Energy UK show to find out what tech fits best for the UK’s nascent storage sector.
The US solar trade case continues to cast a shadow over the buoyant American PV market. Ben Willis spoke to the originators of the case, SolarWorld, at SPI 2014 to see if they stand by their actions.
The globalisation of end market demand for PV as the technology becomes increasingly cost competitive has been one of the significant developments over the last few years. Mark Osborne explores which regions could now emerge as manufacturing hubs as solar goes global.
At any technology focused conference, especially in the PV industry the lack of a unified technology roadmap means that picking the winners from the losers is immensely problematic. From EU PVSEC this week, Mark Osborne reports on DuPont’s attempts to do just that.
A UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and Energy Research Partnership (ERP) report that looks at the materials availability for a low-carbon future analysed much of published data on rare-earth metals such as indium and tellurium but didn’t panic over material supply issues, something quite rare in itself.
As the PV manufacturing industry emerges from a painful downturn, Mark Osborne assesses how leading companies have continued investing in R&D and how that will prepare them as the upturn gathers pace.
PV Tech’s publisher Solar Media is pleased to announce the launch of a new site for the UK market: Next Energy News.
The trade wars that have convulsed solar in recent years ultimately help no one. Ben Willis assesses the prospects for a permanent solution to a problem that has become a thorn in the industry’s side.
Although the dust has yet to truly settle on the second US anti-dumping investigation and the preliminary findings, mainstream media and financial analysts are already undertaking a post mortem and trying to pick the winners and losers.
A BRICS development bank agreed last week has been hailed as a potentially important new source of funding for solar. But as Lucy Woods writes, the BRICS nations will have to overcome some significant internal tensions first.
Last week it emerged that modules from the bankrupt US firm Solyndra have found their way into Europe’s second-hand PV market. Andy Colthorpe investigates this little reported but lively trade
A major shake-up in the UK government earlier this week saw the country’s booming solar industry lose arguably its most important political champion. The question now is who will fill his shoes, writes Lucy Woods.
With India embroiled in a fierce debate over whether or not to impose trade duties on foreign PV imports, a recent report laid bare the sorry state of the country’s domestic PV industry. Mark Osborne takes a look at the findings.
Germany’s Q-Cells was one of the most high-profile bankruptcies in the recent industry downturn. Reborn as Hanwha Q CELLS, the company is witnessing a strong revival, writes Mark Osborne, following an exclusive interview with its chief executive, Charles Kim.
The acquisition of US-based PV manufacturer, Silevo, by the largest US PV installer, SolarCity, has caused a storm and turned recent business trends within the industry on their head. Mark Osborne analyses the deal and its implications for the industry.
Less dramatic, slightly smaller, more international. Intersolar Europe 2014 offers a few glimpses of what a sustainable, internationalised European PV industry might look like, writes John Parnell.
A decision to block the 500MW Palen project in California from using CSP tower technology could send solar thermal power generation back to the trough despite a range of inventive solutions to deter migratory birds.
After two years of living hand to mouth, PV manufacturers are once again looking at building new production capacity as demand booms. Mark Osborne charts the expansion plans of the industry’s leading suppliers.
Here’s a challenge for you – spot the odd one out from the following list of 2014 FIFA world cup sponsors: McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Castrol, Budweiser, Adidas, Visa, Sony and Yingli.
Events in Ukraine highlight how easily apparently safe solar investments can suddenly look very precarious. As PV expands its global reach, managing political risk will become an increasing concern, says Ben Willis.
As Russia strengthens its grip on Crimea, the fate of PV power plants in the region and in wider Ukraine is in limbo. Lucy Woods reports.
Former US president Bill Clinton led a rally of high profile calls for a rethinking of renewable energy investment at a clean-tech conference in Germany last week. Lucy Woods heard what he had to say.
In her final blog for PV Tech, Felicity Carus reflects on the changes she has seen in her time as an observer of the US solar market. Although huge challenges remain, the industry is in great health, she writes.
Despite a lack of spending on new product development 2013 still turned out some interesting new entrants from new tools for factories to new modules and inverters. We run through the top ten products by page views that caught the eye of PV Tech readers in 2013.
Looking back over 2013, it’s clear the year was a transitional one. A key takeaway has been the recovery in end-market demand that has restored manufacturing utilisation rates to almost 100% for tier one PV module manufacturers and the opportunity for many but not all PV module manufacturers to return to operating profits in the second half of the year.
Here in the UK the festive season also means panto season, so how would the last 12 months in the solar industry play out in the classic, over the top, slapstick theatre styling of pantomime and who would be the villain of the piece?
While 2012 was arguably the year the solar mega project entered the public consciousness, with what are (for now) some of the world’s largest PV plants reaching completion, 2013 has seen its fair share of solar behemoths too. We profile the biggest projects of 2013 from the world’s biggest markets.
Concentrated solar power has had a difficult year in the US, with several high-profile projects being turned down or shelved. But as Felicity Carus reports, it’s a technology that still has some distance to run.
Trade disputes with the Chinese are still rumbling on in the US and Europe. As Felicity Carus reports, although efforts are still ongoing to find a settlement, the only winners so far have been Taiwanese cell manufacturers.
The search is on for the next source of solar finance once the Investment Tax Credit winds, and some elaborate ideas are on the table. Just don’t mention sub-prime mortgages, says Felicity Carus.
Although much of the focus of debate in the US has been around residential and commercial solar, utility-scale projects represent the largest segment in America’s PV market. But as Felicity Carus, the days of the PV ‘mega’ project could be numbered.
Neither commercial-scale nor energy storage have yet take off in the US. But as Felicity Carus reports, this could be about change as companies eye opportunities in both segments.
Solar deployment in Canada has so far largely been restricted to its biggest economy, Ontario. But as Felicity Carus reports, other provinces are now beginning to consider the technology, even Alberta, home to the controversial tar sands.
SunEdison is racing to build significant scale to its PV power plant project business, while SolarCity has just successfully added a new financial business model to its bow.
With the spotlight frequently shining on residential and utility-scale solar in the US, the commercial and industrial segments are often left in the dark. Felicity Carus reports on how they could shortly have their moment in the limelight.
Investor-owned utility companies are often seen as the enemies of the US’s booming residential solar industry. But as Felicity Carus reports they are also emerging as solar providers themselves, with plenty more scope for their role to grow.
Some lighter moments at SPI 2013 in Chicago yesterday masked the serious trade and policy issues dominating the US solar scene. But at least the mood was lightened by a buoyant mood among the investor contingent, writes Felicity Carus from Chicago.
Day two of Solar Power International saw varying predictions of the big opportunities for solar. Reporting from the event, Felicity Carus discovers where the hidden growth markets of the US are and hears how energy storage could be key to attracting solar finance.
Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emmanuel yesterday fired the starting gun on Solar Power International 2013. Felicity Carus reports on the event’s opening day, which saw a call to arms to the US solar industry.
Solexant chief executive Brad Mattson’s forthcoming book seeks to chart the way ahead for the development of PV technology. He’d better publish it quickly, or it’s likely to be out of date even before it hits the shelves, says Felicity Carus.
Glasspoint and Alion are not quite disruptive technologies, but in some markets, they might just be in the right place at the right time.
The long-awaited report on net metering by the California Public Utilities Commission apparently sided with utility companies that claim the system unfairly discriminates against non solar users. But as Felicity Carus reports, the commission overlooks come inconvenient truths that will make the economics of solar hard to ignore.
Although the solar market in the US has reached 10GW, size has not led to a consistent decrease in prices for consumers, even in leading state California. Felicity Carus looks at the drivers behind America’s patchwork PV market.
The cost of solar still has a long way to fall in the US before being comparable with the likes of Germany. We’ll know we’re there when people pay as little attention to who made their PV panel as their toaster, says Felicity Carus.
Silicon Valley’s Palo Alto, home to the semi-conductor industry, practises what it preaches by being a big solar user. Felicity Carus looks at the drivers for PV adoption in the city.
Discussion in the US solar world is dominated by what happens when the Investment Tax Credit is wound down. But as Felicity Carus writes, even more pressing is what the solar landscape will look like when state Renewable Portfolio Standards have expired.
Arnold Schwarzenegger may have retired to Hollywood, but the actor-turned-governor still pushes his image as a climate hero and clean energy champion, says Felicity Carus.
Net energy metering for solar users has become the focal point of a fierce battle in the US, with utility companies seeking to undermine it. But the policy need not be at odds with utilities’ objectives, argues Felicity Carus.
As reported, Mike Splinter, Chairman and CEO of Applied Materials (AMAT), is stepping down from the day-to-day running of the company, being replaced by Applied’s current President and former head of Varian Semiconductor, Gary Dickerson.