Guest Blog

  • PV materials

    Enough to go around? Raw materials and limits to growth in solar energy

    By Chris Berry - 16 December 2014, 08:22 | 1

    Political and regulatory disruption often get the most attention as the likely brakes on solar’s future growth. But a more pressing concern is the availability of crucial materials, says Chris Berry.

  • Templin PV project in Germany, using First Solar modules.

    The energy transition: redefining investment portfolios

    By Christopher Burghardt - 12 December 2014, 00:02

    Last week Germany’s E.ON announced its divestment from fossil fuels and a focus on renewable energy. First Solar’s Christopher Burghardt explains why solar is becoming an increasingly sound bet for investors.

  • Europe solar manufacturing

    Can Europe catch up in the PV capacity expansion game?

    By Matthias Grossmann - 09 December 2014, 09:26

    Europe so far looks to be the laggard in the PV capacity expansion drive now gathering a head of steam. But all the ingredients are there for Southeastern European countries to establish themselves as manufacturing hubs, says Matthias Grossman.

  • E.ON renewables

    What the miraculous transformation of a German utility giant means for India

    By Dr. Tobias Engelmeier - 05 December 2014, 10:26

    Earlier this week German utility E.ON announced surprise plans to divest from fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy. Tobias Engelmeier explores what utilities in India could learn from its move.

  • First Solar

    What’s next for thin-film solar PV in 2015?

    By Finlay Colville - 05 November 2014, 10:49

    Demand for thin-film PV is still growing, but what about supply? NPD Solarbuzz’s Finlay Colville looks at what is around the corner for thin-film PV as a technology offering to the solar industry.

  • solarbuzz

    Why p-type multi c-Si is seeing strong market share gains

    By Finlay Colville - 29 October 2014, 12:00 | 1

    Modules based on p-type multi c-Si technologies are set to dominate the PV industry over the next five years, according to analysis in the new NPD Solarbuzz PV Technology Roadmap report.

  • European Union

    EPIA: EU 2030 renewables target a crucial signal for investments in solar

    By Frauke Thies - 28 October 2014, 10:59

    The EU agreed its 2030 climate and energy package last week with the end product leaving many underwhelmed. Frauke Thies, policy director at the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, explains how even this modest victory could be a first step toward a more stable policy future for solar in Europe.

  • imec

    The dielectric passivation revolution from p-Si Al BSF to n-Si PERT cells (and beyond)

    By Filip Duerinckx - 27 October 2014, 15:50

    In the beginning, there was nothing. At least there was no dielectric passivation applied to the silicon solar cells from the early production lines of the 1980s, an era when PV production companies were still thinking in terms of MWp rather than GWp factories.

  • REC

    Latest effective PV capacity trends delay greenfield fab development

    By Finlay Colville - 13 October 2014, 08:55

    How far can existing PV capacity go, in terms of keeping up with end-market growth? This is one of the key issues in terms of capital expenditures and tool suppliers waiting for an uptick in bookings. It is also essential to understand in terms of forecasting end-market demand in 2015, at a time when trade uncertainty and the preference for project financing is keeping new ‘greenfield’ fab build at a minimum.

  • Mission Solar Energy: New PV star rising over Texas

    By Sam Martens - 08 October 2014, 16:27 | 2

    In late 2011, Mission Solar Energy made the first of several bold decisions:  build a silicon-based PV manufacturing plant in the US, a market long dominated by thin-film technologies. An even more unusual decision followed to locate the company in San Antonio, Texas, rather than California or Arizona where US solar markets are well established. Then, Mission Solar made the gutsy move to push forward with the development of an n-type monocrystaline silicon based product when the market was being dominated by p-type multicrystaline silicon modules coming out of Asia.

  • npd solarbuzz

    Europe-China module floor price nudges down in Q4’14, but what will happen on 1 January 2015?

    By Finlay Colville - 30 September 2014, 15:33

    It appears the waiting is over during September 2014 for Chinese suppliers (and all other suppliers of modules to Europe), regarding the minimum import price (MIP) for the 3-month period October to December 2014 (Q4’14).

  • imec

    Accelerating photovoltaic R&D via joint collaboration

    By Philip Pieters - 12 September 2014, 07:00 | 1

    To sustain growth, the solar cell industry must constantly find better and cheaper technologies. Imec’s Philip Pieters explains how in the quest to innovate manufacturers can benefit from working together.

  • PERC

    PERC capacity hits 2.5GW and offers new technology buy cycle option

    By Finlay Colville - 14 August 2014, 15:30 | 1

    Previously confined to the R&D labs and academic solar PV roadmaps, PERC based c-Si cell capacity upgrades are starting to have a tangible impact on the PV industry. Finlay Colville investigates the drivers, myths, opportunities and the impact of PERC on PV capex and module performance.

  • Google's inverter challenge could upset the established supplier base

    Why Google’s ‘little box’ could challenge inverter world order

    By Cormac Gilligan - 25 July 2014, 09:16 | 3

    Google is offering a prize for prototype inverter that’s smaller than a laptop. Cormac Gilligan of IHS explains why a successful proposal could pose a threat to existing suppliers.

  • Crystalline silicon cell

    Case study of a growth driver – silver use in solar

    By Chris Berry - 21 July 2014, 10:01

    Silver is a key raw material in PV manufacturing. But as Chris Berry writes, a deficit in global silver supply and the prospect of future price increases are both sources of concern for the solar industry.

  • Solar inverter

    The changing face of the PV inverter supplier base

    By Sam Wilkinson - 14 July 2014, 11:08 | 1

    Ahead of a free webinar from IHS Technology and PV Tech on 29 July 2014, IHS analyst Sam Wilkinson discusses some of key trends shaping the global inverter market.

  • Polysilicon

    Falling polysilicon production costs a double-edged sword

    By Charles Annis - 12 May 2014, 09:13

    Driven mainly by expectations of strong end-market demand growth this year, polysilicon spot prices increased significantly in Q1’14, up 15% Q/Q and 28% Y/Y. In Q2’14, spot prices are expected to remain relatively flat – or to decline moderately – as more polysilicon makers ramp-up production, in an effort to take advantage of the current price environment.

  • Lightsource

    Germany to be displaced as number one European PV market in 2014

    By Finlay Colville - 22 April 2014, 13:47

    The UK is set to become the largest market for solar PV in Europe during 2014, confirming its status as the hottest market across the region.

  • Hanergy comparison

    First Solar and Hanergy Solar: different strategies but overlapping thin-film dreams

    By Finlay Colville - 31 March 2014, 12:44 | 5

    During the past couple of weeks, two of the leading custodians of thin-film solar PV technology have restated or amended long-term industry plans. Finlay Colville assesses the future for thin-film PV technology

  • Roth & Rau facility

    Meyer Burger de-books US$240 million as timing of new wafer capex remains uncertain

    By Finlay Colville - 20 March 2014, 13:03

    The uptick in solar end-market demand at the end of 2013 has been followed by new wave of PV cell and module capex. The missing part of the equation is spending on new wafer capacity, writes Finlay Colville.

  • Consolidation figures

    Solar PV consolidation: fact or fiction?

    By Finlay Colville - 19 March 2014, 11:22

    Consolidation has been one of the most heavily used words in the PV industry over the past couple of years. But as Finlay Colville writes, whether it has actually happened or not is open to debate.

  • Further upside to the rooftop market is expected to be driven by Lightsource’s recent acquisition of Renewable Resources

    NPD Solarbuzz upgrades UK PV market to 2.5GW in 2014

    By Finlay Colville - 11 March 2014, 12:21

    Following the latest round of downstream channel checks and project pipeline activity in the UK, NPD Solarbuzz is now further upgrading its forecast for the UK PV market in 2014.

  • Solar trade

    Harsh reality of the post Brussels/Beijing anti-dumping agreement

    By Finlay Colville - 10 March 2014, 10:27

    The compromised solution agreed between Brussels and Beijing for the supply of Chinese solar PV components to Europe is approaching its anniversary. Finlay Colville looks at how the deal has panned out.

  • FBR polysilicon technology – promise or hype?

    By Johannes Bernreuter - 07 March 2014, 14:56 | 2

    The recent announcement by US manufacturer REC Silicon that it would establish a new polysilicon plant has highlighted an upcoming trend in the polysilicon industry: the rise of fluidised bed reactor (FBR) technology. Will it live up to expectation, asks Johannes Bernreuter.

  • HelioVolt

    HelioVolt exit from PV manufacturing highlights failed US PV manufacturing strategy

    By Finlay Colville - 25 February 2014, 12:33 | 3

    The news today that HelioVolt – one of the few remaining custodians of US based PV manufacturing – will cease operations is terrible news for the 100-plus employees that have been working hard at HelioVolt to advance PV manufacturing in the US.

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  • Photovoltaics International 25th Edition

    In this issue we offer some insights into what the next wave of photovoltaic technologies may look like as that upturn gathers pace. Industry observers have been in broad agreement that the major next-gen PV technology innovations won’t happen straight away. But there’s also little doubt that the search is now on in earnest for the breakthroughs that will come to define the state of the art in the industry in the years to come.

  • Manufacturing The Solar Future: The 2014 Production Annual

    Although the past few years have proved extremely testing for PV equipment manufacturers, falling module prices have driven solar end-market demand to previously unseen levels. That demand is now starting to be felt by manufacturers, to the extent that leading companies are starting to talk about serious capacity expansions later this year and into 2015. This means that the next 12 months will be a critical period if companies throughout the supply chain are to take full advantage of the PV industry’s next growth phase.

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