Guest Blog

  • Solar

    The outlook for the solar industry in 2015 – 10 key questions

    By Susanne von Aichberger,Ash Sharma - 2 hours ago

    Earlier this week market research firm IHS issued revised figures for global PV installs in 2014 and confirmed its 2015 guidance at 57GW. Ahead of a webinar to be jointly hosted with PV Tech on Wednesday 15 April, IHS’ senior analyst, Susanne von Aichberger, and senior director, Ash Sharma, answer 10 questions on the key PV trends for 2015.

  • China solar

    China 17.8GW, a record solar PV installation target for 2015. Achievable?

    By Frank Haugwitz - 24 March 2015, 09:55

    Last week Chinese authorities announced a 17.8GW PV target for 2015, an even more ambitious quota than the one set in 2014, which was missed.  Beijing-based Chinese solar market expert, Frank Haugwitz, asks whether China can live up to its aspirations this time around.

  • N-type silicon solar cell technology: ready for take off?

    By Dr Joris Libal,Dr Radovan Kopecek - 17 March 2015, 08:51 | 2

    Despite the promise it offers of higher efficiencies, n-type solar cell technology enjoys only limited market penetration. Radovan Kopecek and Joris Libal of ISC Konstanz explain why and look at its prospects for growth.

  • The winning of the Carbon War, Jeremy Leggett's latest book

    Open letter to solar industry leaders

    By Jeremy Leggett - 10 March 2015, 09:52 | 1

    In an exclusive blog post for PV Tech, solar entrepreneur and campaigner Jeremy Leggett spells out why the time has come for the solar industry worldwide to fight back against the lobbying tactics employed by the fossil fuel industry.

  • Polysilicon reinvestment price levels, a moving target

    By Matthias Grossmann - 03 March 2015, 12:16

    Matthias Grossman analyses the prospects for a wave of expansions in the dynamic polysilicon market.

  • One year until Paris

    The road from Lima to Paris: Lit up by solar power

    By James Watson - 19 February 2015, 06:18 | 2

    Optimism is growing that the Paris COP 21 meeting set for November and December 2015 could lead to an international agreement to limit CO2 emissions. James Watson, CEO of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), explains why a successful outcome would be a boon for the solar industry.

  • O&M

    More bang for your buck: getting the most from PV asset management

    By Laura E. Stern - 10 February 2015, 09:46

    Building a PV power plant is one thing; making sure it pays is a whole different game. Laura E. Stern explains the benefits of combining physical and financial solar asset management in maximising a plant’s profitability.

  • Lightweight PV modules being installed

    Lightweight module durability: Working to address a market barrier

    By Dr Cordula Schmid - 03 February 2015, 10:28

    Lightweight crystalline PV modules promise a potentially large new market for solar, as well as addressing a variety of problems such as transportation costs. But further work is needed to establish their performance and durability, says Fraunhofer’s Cordula Schmid.

  • Utility-scale storage

    Grid-connected PV energy storage installations to triple in 2015

    By Sam Wilkinson - 27 January 2015, 10:58

    Ahead of a free webinar from IHS Technology and PV Tech next month, IHS analyst Sam Wilkinson discusses some of key trends shaping the market for energy storage in PV in 2015.

  • China solar

    China 2014 – still 10.5 to 12GW despite new policies favouring distributed solar PV

    By Frank Haugwitz - 20 January 2015, 05:00

    Throughout 2014, there were widespread reports of China’s struggles to hit ambitious PV targets set at the start of the year. Beijing-based solar expert, Frank Haugwitz, lays bare the difficulties China experienced and offers his analysis of what the year-end tally will be for Asian giant.

  • BiSoN

    Bifaciality: One small step for technology, one giant leap for kWh cost reduction

    By Dr Joris Libal,Dr Radovan Kopecek - 13 January 2015, 09:26 | 8

    Bifacial cell and module technologies are gradually finding their way into mass production. Radovan Kopecek and Joris Libal of ISC Konstanz explain why they think the future is bifacial.

  • PV materials

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

    By Chris Berry - 16 December 2014, 08:22 | 2

    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.

  • At the start of 2014, four groupings can be used to understand thin-film activity in the PV industry. Source: NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Qua

    Thin-film PV should now be as simple as ABCD

    By Finlay Colville - 11 February 2014, 17:37 | 1

    Recently, we prepared two exclusive blogs for PV-Tech that outlined what PV cell production and technologies looked like at the start of 2014: Can PV technology change before 2015? and What does NPD Solarbuzz’ solar cell rankings for 2013 reveal?

  • Taiwan cell trade figures

    Can the US solar industry afford to shut the door on Taiwan?

    By Finlay Colville - 06 February 2014, 14:27

    Does the US solar industry need Taiwan, more than Taiwan needs the US solar industry? This is perhaps one of the biggest questions to ask as the latest US ITC investigations gain traction. Finlay Colville offers some answers.

  • Solar PV technology changes in production between 2010 and 2013.

    Can PV technology change before 2015?

    By Finlay Colville - 04 February 2014, 12:06 | 1

    Around about this time each year, we have a closer look at the PV technologies that were used to make all the solar panels in 2013 that ended up being shipped through downstream channels.

  • NPD Solarbuzz: Only six of the top 10 solar PV module suppliers of 2013 feature in the top 10 cell production lists.

    What does NPD Solarbuzz’ solar cell rankings for 2013 reveal?

    By Finlay Colville - 29 January 2014, 11:40

    NPD Solarbuzz’s Finlay Colville looks at the top 10 cell producer rankings and asks what it tells us about what’s going on in the upper echelons of PV manufacturing.

  • IHS

    IHS: Why 2014 PV installation forecasts are all likely to be wrong

    By Ash Sharma - 28 January 2014, 10:25 | 1

    Each year forecasts for how much new PV capacity will be added around the world are released. These are subsequently revised, updated, defended and invariably increased. The forecasts for 2014 from various banks and research firms however are quite different. The difference between the high-end and the low-end of expectations is massive – potentially 15GW – or put another way nearly half the amount installed in total the previous year.

  • Hanergy’s plans appear to show the first signs of favouritism in the three-horse CIGS race between the subsidiaries of Solibro, Miasolé and

    Hanergy reveals phase one of its 5GW CIGS expansion plan

    By Finlay Colville - 27 January 2014, 12:12

    Having teased the PV equipment supply chain with its multi billion dollar thin-film CIGS capex plans, Hanergy has now revealed the first part of its plans.

  • Hanergy thin-film plant

    Hanergy bankrolls Apollo Solar to leading PV equipment supplier status for 2013

    By Finlay Colville - 21 January 2014, 10:00

    Apollo Solar – Hanergy’s PV equipment tool maker subsidiary – has become the clear leader for solar PV equipment revenues during 2013, according to new findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Previous leading rank companies of the PV equipment supply sector include Centrotherm, Applied Materials and Meyer Burger.

  • India solar

    India’s solar growing pains

    By Ritesh Pothan - 15 January 2014, 14:04 | 1

    After a mediocre 2013, India’s solar industry failed to get off to the positive start it was hoping for in 2014 when an auction under its national solar programme was delayed by a month. Ritesh Pothan sets out how India can avoid the mistakes of 2013 in 2014 and end this year on a firmer footing.

  • US large-scale

    Top 10 US states offer more than 40GW of solar PV pipeline capacity

    By Michael Barker - 14 January 2014, 12:26

    At the end of 2013 the USA’s top solar states had a non-residential PV pipeline of some 40GW. This means any PV company wanting to play on a global level must have a strategy for the US market, write Michael Barker and Christine Beadle.

  • Chinese PV manufacturing

    Global solar industry landscape may render US ITC findings superfluous

    By Finlay Colville - 09 January 2014, 13:59

    The US International Trade Commission’s latest trade investigation into Chinese PV manufacturers may be setting off some alarm bells, but what is needed is a good dose of global manufacturing reality to calm things down, says Finlay Colville.

  • Module manufacturing

    Top 10 PV module suppliers in 2013

    By Ray Lian - 08 January 2014, 11:48

    Based on existing company guidance and downstream channel checks - and supplemented by various estimates by company through to the end of 2013 - NPD Solarbuzz can now reveal the Top 10 PV module suppliers for 2013.

  • Adapted from the forthcoming NPD Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, the attached figure shows the real n-type c-Si trends (based on up

    Boost for made-in-USA advanced PV cell manufacturing

    By Finlay Colville - 30 December 2013, 16:25

    Having rebranded the Nexolon America operations in San Antonio, Texas, as Mission Solar Energy, the long-awaited rebound in US-based c-Si manufacturing has just received a significant boost; something that politicians and legislators in the US have been striving for ever since the high-profile demise of Solyndra.

  • Suntech cell line

    All eyes on Asia as new PV CapEx emerges, but rash spending history tempers optimism

    By Finlay Colville - 18 December 2013, 16:54

    Confidence is slowly returning to the PV manufacturing supply chain, as supply and demand get back in sync. But as the industry contemplates opening up the CapEx floodgates once more, Finlay Colville says it would do well not to forget the last PV gold rush.

  • Soitec modules

    How project bonds can help finance solar’s future

    By Holger Janke - 04 December 2013, 15:33

    With the cost of project finance in some emerging economies proving prohibitive, Holger Janke of solar manufacturer Soitec explains how project bonds could help fill the gap open up new markets.

Publications

  • Photovoltaics International 27th Edition

    Now that the PV industry has unquestionably entered a new growth phase, all eyes are on which technologies will win through into the mainstream of PV manufacturing. PERC, n-type, p-type bifacial, heterojunction – all have become familiar terms in the ever-growing constellation of solar cell technologies. The question is which will offer manufacturers what they are looking for in improving efficiencies and cutting costs.

  • 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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Acknowledgements

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