In Depth

  • Fab pragmatism: Solyndra’s shutdown of Fab 1 may be just what the cost doctor ordered

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 04 November 2010, 15:52

    It’s not a new story: A high-tech manufacturing company decides to shutter an older, less-efficient manufacturing plant and concentrate its production efforts in a purpose-built, highly efficient facility, thus getting economies of scale and cost reductions impossible to achieve in the more mature factory. Such decisions are often seen as exemplifying pragmatic, hard-nosed corner-office leadership in the face of a highly competitive market sector.

  • Tough times ahead for solar inverter companies

    Guest Blog | By Ash Sharma - 04 November 2010, 10:02

    The supply and market dynamics of the PV inverter sector continue to play-out this year as this guest blog by Ash Sharma, Renewable Energy Research Director at IMS Research, highlights the next expected supply/demand scenario.Whilst in the first three quarters of 2010 inverter suppliers enjoyed tremendously high demand, tight supply and stable prices, a drastic reversal in their fortunes may quickly be seen as demand wanes, supply massively grows and inventory builds.

  • Monocrystalline innovation: Transform Solar thinks big by going really thin

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 02 November 2010, 16:16

    With Solar Power International 2010 growing more distant in the rear-view mirror, one of the takeaways about the ongoing state of photovoltaic technology remains clear: there’s plenty of innovation headroom left in crystalline silicon. Exhibit A: one company’s novel module design that features 10,000 ultrathin, bifacial monocrystalline cells (one of which is shown below). The still-media-shy entity responsible for this potentially game-changing technology may be new to the PV scene, but its 50:50 partners should be familiar to those in the know about the energy and micro/nanochip sectors: Transform Solar, the fully funded corporate love-child of Australian utility giant Origin and redoubtable semiconductor survivor Micron.

  • Solar bonanza turns into a nightmare for investors in the Czech Republic

    Guest Blog | By Jaroslav Dorda - 30 October 2010, 17:50

    At the end of October, the Czech government approved special measures against the ongoing solar boom in the country. Many of these measures are being abruptly negotiated and passed by the Czech Parliament so that they can take effect starting in January 2010. One of these measures will be a brand-new retroactive ‘solar tax’ imposed on producers of solar energy.

  • Making the Sunbelt work for solar

    Editors' Blog | By Mark Osborne - 29 October 2010, 11:51

    It seems such an obvious thing that solar PV should be ubiquitous within ±35° latitude around the equator—otherwise know as the Sunbelt. It also has 75% of the world’s population and 40% of the global electricity demand. Yet few actual installations to date are within this region.

  • Smart power: Caltech rolls lucky seven with new solar PV power systems

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 28 October 2010, 16:26 | 1

    PASADENA, CA—While the VIP-laden groundbreaking on the humongous Ivanpah concentrated solar thermal power tower-based project was taking place deep in the Mojave Desert, a more modest, photovoltaically inclined dedication celebration was held under the shade of a framework-style array on the top deck of a parking structure at the California Institute of Technology campus. BrightSource’s 392MW CSP mega-plant may generate a serious amount of centralized-generation solar electricity for the grid when/if it comes online in a few years, but Caltech’s seven separate rooftop systems—totaling 1.176MW (DC) in distributed-generation capacity—have been grabbing photons since late September.

  • Run-rate reality: First Solar’s close-to-the-vest capacity projections don’t add up

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 28 October 2010, 16:24

    It’s almost like clockwork: First Solar announces quarterly earnings, First Solar nails it again, with more profits and growth. Sure, there are warning signs this time—eroded margins caused by lower module ASPs and foreign exchange issues, the shrinking German market, process pains bringing its Series 3 CdTe panels into production as evidenced by a slight hiccup in its relentless drive to reduce manufacturing costs—but the company saw net sales rise to $798 million, a whopping 36% pop compared to the previous quarter. Net income also went up, to $176.9 million, a more modest 11% hike over the previous period. Few other PV companies come close to these kinds of results, especially in terms of profit margin.

  • SPI 2010 interview: A tuneful conversation with Canadian Solar’s Shawn Qu

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 22 October 2010, 16:45

    Canadian Solar’s Shawn Qu has come a long way since he matriculated to the University of Manitoba from China in 1989 as a grad student named Xiaohua. He fondly recalls that “cold, cold Winnipeg winter,” walking alone on the icy streets, listening to that “New World music” on his Walkman. These days, he says he doesn’t have much time for music (although he’s putting a good sound system into his new house), since his obligations as chairman/president/CEO of the solar company named after his sometimes-chilly adopted country consume most of his waking hours. I caught up with Qu at Solar Power International; although he was fighting a scratchy throat during our chat, he enjoyed a nice, harmonized view of a booth wall’s worth of photos of Canadian Solar modules deployed in various projects.

  • SPI 2010 recap: PVT Solar’s hybrid photovoltaics-thermal system is more than a bunch of hot air

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 20 October 2010, 16:45

    While photovoltaics’ crucial role in the renewables revolution is indisputable, that wonderful conversion of photons into useable electricity provides only part of the solution set. What about utilizing much more of that solar energy (as in 80-90%) that isn’t converted by the panels into homegrown juice? Taking a step outside my usual pure-play PV box at the recent Solar Power International show, I met with several innovative companies, including PVT Solar, which hopes to become an all-star player in the hybrid solar technology arena.

  • SPI 2010: Witnessing the ongoing coming-out party of CIGS thin-film PV

    Chip Shots Blog | By Tom Cheyney - 15 October 2010, 16:50

    The ongoing saga of copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide photovoltaics provided one of the talking-point touchstones of this year’s Solar Power International show. Will solar historians look back to 2010 as the beginning of the Production Age of CIGS? That may be presumptuous and premature, since the thin-film PV’s slice of the overall solar shipment/deployment pie remains small.

PV-Tech Storage Promo


Preview Latest
We won't share your details - promise!
Next Generation Solar PV Finance


  • Photovoltaics International 24th Edition

    Signs earlier in the year of the global industry entering a growth phase have now been confirmed beyond any doubt. Almost all the big-name suppliers have now announced some form of manufacturing capacity expansion, a trend that analysts agree will only gather pace as long as the levels of demand predicted over the next few years turn out to be correct.

  • 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.



Solar Media