Solyndra, the company with those unusual cylindrical CIGS thin-film PV modules, is on a bit of a roll. Late last week, the solar manufacturer received word that it had received a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee, to the tune of $535 million, monies it will use to expand its Northern California manufacturing base.
According to a myriad of recently released market research data, the PV market grew over 100% in 2008, well above the CAGR growth levels of the last five years or more. Looking more closely at the data, the fourth quarter of 2008 indicated a massive change in the industry’s dynamics as the supply change shifted from prolonged undersupply to significant oversupply. The impact of the global financial crisis became fully evident and demand virtually came to a halt.
When I openly wondered about the fate of OptiSolar, post-First Solar pipeline sale, in my most recent blog, little did I know that within 24 hours of posting those words that the company’s fate would be announced. The Sacramento Business Journal, in a story published earlier today, reports that the amorphous-silicon thin-film PV module company has had to shut down operations and lay off most of its employees.
This edition of PV-Tech’s solar short takes blog-column examines Micron’s first exploratory steps into solar manufacturing, Phoenix Solar’s burgeoning expertise in thin-film PV installations, OptiSolar’s muddled outlook after the First Solar pipeline sale, Barclays Capital’s updated solar market and polysilicon forecasts, and that intrepid solar-power system installation team orbiting our planet.
With the winds of the economic downturn lashing their faces, Energy Conversion Devices’ Mark Morelli and Harry Zike stiffened their upper lips and doled out more details of what is being called a “prudent companywide plan to reduce costs and slow production” during a hastily organized conference call with the analyst community Monday, after the U.S. stock market closed. Here are some additional insights into the company’s actions offered by its president/CEO and CFO, with a small dollop of obligatory commentary.
Thin-Film Today’s Joshua Bull presents an in-depth look at the recent spate of investment in European thin-film companies.The EU recently reinforced its commitment to renewable energy with an EU-wide directive that commits the EU to 20% renewable energy targets by 2020.
The tremendous surge in the solar PV space over the past several years has put added pressure on the few accredited testing labs around the world, with months-long backlogs of customer modules waiting in the queue for analysis, test, and certification. Just as the solar-on-growth-hormones era abates somewhat, new and expanded testing facilities are coming online, including TUV Rheinland’s joint venture with Arizona State University’s Photovoltaic Testing Lab and Underwritersw Lab’s (UL) PV Technology Centers of Excellence facilities in Silicon Valley and Suzhou, China.
I can’t dispute iSuppli über-analyst Henning Wicht’s overwhelming argument showing European supremacy in installed solar power capacity over the Americans, as well as the fourth-place overall position of the States in cell manufacturing behind Europe, China, and Japan. Europe and Germany in particular rock the world when it comes to solar, thanks to generous government assistance, public exuberance, and a coterie of outstanding companies pushing PV forward. But my inner patriot compels me to point out a list of reasons why solar power technology, which was born in the USA, still has some bragging rights in its birthplace.
The idea of Tokyo Electron and Oerlikon Solar joining up in a comprehensive “strategic cooperation” in the thin-film PV market is a powerful one. Imagine all of mighty TEL’s R&D, production, sales, marketing, and technical support intertwined with Oerlikon’s leading-edge amorphous/micromorph-silicon TFPV prowess. But the reality of their new partnership appears to be alot less sexy.
The breaking of the buck-a-watt manufacturing cost barrier by First Solar, turnkey CIGS and CdTe plays by centrotherm and Roth & Rau, BP’s real estate adventure, the future of solar fuel, and renewable energy down on the (pig) farm make up this group of solar short takes for your collective cogitation.