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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?