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.
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?
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Benchmarking companies in the solar PV industry used to be straightforward. Some companies made key materials (polysilicon, wafers, cells, modules or thin-film panels); others bought and sold these locally or through the value chain. Then project developers and installers added inverters and mounting and built the PV systems. Customers typically released cash up-front, owned the systems outright and could then sit back and enjoy a revenue stream linked to a government incentive.
The UK has more than 4GW of PV projects in the pipeline but the majority is at the mercy of local planning authorities.
Discussions of high average selling price (ASP) regions (such as Japan) and declining regional end-market pull (Europe) are currently in evidence during the round of Q3 reporting calls from public-listed module suppliers. The market size in Europe now and the pricing levels have become key issues, for Chinese and non-Chinese suppliers alike.
Last week, Hanergy Solar Group Limited (Hanergy) provided the first glimpse of its strategy for its recent investments in thin-film CIGS production, having completed the acquisitions of previous CIGS hopefuls, Solibro, Miasolé and Global Solar.
Global PV demand during 2014 is set to represent a new phase of growth for the solar PV industry. Not just because end-market demand is now forecast by NPD Solarbuzz to grow significantly to reach 45-55GW, but because the fundamental issues driving end-market demand appear to be shifting away from legacy demand constraints.
As SPI in Chicago drew to a close yesterday, it was the increasingly contentious topic of net energy metering that dominated the debate. Felicity Carus reports on an issue that just won’t go away and looks set to become even more divisive in 2014.
Solar PV demand from the UK declined significantly during the third quarter of 2013 (Q3 2013), as the full impact of the Europe-China trade case impacted on module availability. Finlay Colville looks ahead to what 2014 what 2014 holds in store.
The news of the conjoining of Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron raises questions about the fates of solar PV production equipment units.
Earlier today – 30 August 2013 – the world’s largest global solar PV module supplier, Yingli Green Energy, reported its second quarter earnings results and guided on expectations for the 2H’13 and 2014.
The solar PV industry remains in a highly turbulent transition phase, still getting to grips with the scale of over-investment that occurred in 2010 and 2011. In fact, having just got back from a global PV road-trip that took in Germany, the US, Korea, China and Taiwan, it is apparent that the aftershocks within the industry are set to continue for some time yet.
One of the key issues that is still puzzling the PV industry is: what is the real – or effective – capacity today?
It is hard to imagine any marketing scenario in which citing leading ranking metrics would be off the radar. But just think for one minute: when was the last time a PV equipment supplier announced leading ranking status with any fanfare? Or proclaimed a purchase order that would catapult revenues beyond fiscal year guided levels?
The rush to build large-scale ground-mount projects to qualify for the 2ROCs incentive rate has pushed cumulative UK demand to 2.5GW. NPD Solarbuzz’s Finlay Colville looks at a record quarter for the UK.
Thin-film manufacturer Hanergy this week announced its arrival in the UK with the acquisition of domestic solar provider Engensa. As the UK has little track record with thin-film PV, Finlay Coleville assesses what Hanergy’s motives are and how it will succeed.
Normally a sleeping aid for insomniacs, SEC filings can sometimes contain interesting insights into publicly traded companies. Tom Cheyney has dug a few out from Trina Solar’s latest filing.
Forecasts suggest the UK will be the fifth largest PV market globally during the first quarter of this year. Finlay Colville assesses how this once small player is beginning to punch above its weight.
European PV demand will be the key swing factor for final global PV demand during 2013. Sound familiar? Demand from established ‘Western’ PV territories (Europe and North America) may comprise as little as 49% of global demand, but as much as 57%. Whether we end up closer to the upper end of this range or the lower range will ultimately shape the outcome of the PV industry this year.
As though by chance, the UK PV industry chose the London 2012 Olympic Games year to mark its entrance on the global stage as a gigawatt-status PV end market. And by the time the FIFA Soccer World Cup gets underway in Rio in 2014, Brazil will have broken through the 100MW annual PV demand barrier.
For 2012, Europe retained its dominant position in global PV demand reaching 16.5GW, according to findings in the new NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report.
The depressed state of the PV production equipment sector has been well chronicled. Few companies are adding or updating capacity, both on the crystalline silicon and thin-film PV fronts, and tool firms’ bookings (let alone billings) remain very light. Announcements of production orders are few and far between, so when a firm does score one, it should not go unnoticed/uncelebrated, no matter how modest.
First Solar is forecast to have been the largest midstream solar PV cell manufacturer in 2012, according to recent checks and preliminary estimates by NPD Solarbuzz of internal (in-house) cell/midstream PV production levels during the calendar year 2012.
To achieve wide-scale application without the need to rebuild existing infrastructure it is essential that systems are suitable for installation to allow easy integration with or retrofitting to buildings
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.
Cumulatively, the Top 10 PV markets accounted for 86% of global demand in 2012, down slightly when compared to the 89% share achieved in 2011, according to NPD Solarbuzz analysis within the forthcoming Marketbuzz report.
While the over-supply situation in the PV industry impacts the supply/demand balance across the PV value chain, the over-capacity situation has the greatest impact on those dependent on new CapEx spending. And here, it is the PV equipment supply-chain that is feeling the brunt of the over-capacity problem.
This blog explains which c-Si technologies are likely to be applied to manufacture c-Si cells used within shipped modules for new PV demand during 2013. It also provides an update to the persistent industry debate surrounding PV technology roadmaps, and discusses why the whole issue of road mapping is often taken out of context within the PV industry.
If 2009 to 2011 represented an extended three-year party for the PV industry, then 2012 will definitely be remembered as a long and painful hangover: a year in which forecasts and guidance were rarely achieved, and when being able to report ‘less amount of losses’ quarter on quarter was marketed as a success.
India has launched its own solar trade investigation, but any anti-dumping duties are unlikely to be implemented before August 2013, says Jasmeet Khurana.
While media coverage can often portray the PV industry as a sector currently getting its just-rewards for years of self-inflicted investment over-exuberance, it is easy to lose track of what made the PV industry so special in the first place: using advanced technology as a means to achieve global climate stability.
Recent earnings reports are confirming that module suppliers have now accepted that previous full-year 2012 shipment forecasts were too optimistic. This is revealed bycomparing the most recent shipment guidance withthe previous round of earnings reports (reporting for Q1’12), when all major manufacturers had full-year shipment growth estimates in the strong double-digit range, with some guiding up to 50% growth.
The main fuel used in Polish power plants is still coal. In fact, 91% of the energy used in Poland is conventional. The plans of the Polish government, resulting in, amongst others, from the European Union’s Directive 2009/28/EC requiring an increase of renewable energy generation to 15% by 2020, indicate that a lot of investment will need to be undertaken in the oncoming years.
Book-to-bill ratios are often overlooked as providing nothing other than an instantaneous snapshot of historic tool shipments and order intake levels. Within a healthy industry, whether these ratios are hovering above or below parity is generally considered as a leading indicator for equipment suppliers’ manufacturing pipelines and near-term revenue-recognition.
As the third quarter of 2012 comes to an end - and many of the leading module suppliers are in the midst of reporting second quarter results and attempting to offer guidance for full-year 2012 shipments - it is now becoming possible to form a picture of what the 2012 PV shipment rankings will look like by year-end.
When final numbers are counted for capital equipment suppliers to the PV industry for 2012, the data will reveal a somewhat misleading picture. And one that was certainly not on the radar of any PV equipment supplier just 12 months ago.
Company executives and analysts alike face a number of difficulties in answering this very important question. To reach the answer requires strong fundamentals in solar PV economics. This, however, is unfortunately not enough. The data necessary to answer the question are difficult to collect and even more difficult to structure and maintain. Further, the data are highly dynamic: US incentives change in structure, decrease or expire and electricity prices change in both magnitude and composition. All of these variables affect a market’s attractiveness, which itself can change substantially over time.