In Depth

  • Solar slashing: France’s solar feed-in tariff to be cut by up to 12% - updated

    By Emma Hughes - 24 August 2010, 15:33

    Local press reports in France have pointed towards feed-in tariff cuts for solar power installations. The French government is expected to follow the trend in solar slashing to keep its policy in line with the massive price drops apparent across the industry.

  • PV equipment makers rejoice as cell expansions exhibit strong growth, technology diversification

    By Finlay Colville - 20 August 2010, 16:10

    In contrast to the cloud of uncertainty prevailing over much of the thin-film equipment supply chain today, recent quarterly results within the c-Si segment from the likes of Centrotherm, Roth and Rau, Manz Automation, Applied Materials, and Amtech suggest sunny times lie ahead for these leading c-Si tool suppliers.

  • Chinese solar in the Land of Lincoln: Wanxiang opens PV module line, partners on 62MW power plant

    By Tom Cheyney - 19 August 2010, 10:32

    The Wanxiang Group may be a familiar name to those in the automotive parts supply business, but the multibillion-dollar Chinese conglomerate has stayed off—or at least on the screen-edge of—most solar PV observers’ radar. Yet the company is one of the largest solar silicon ingot and wafer producers in China. It also started a cell and module business in 2005, with plans to get to 300MW of capacity in the next year or so. Wanxiang has been operating in the U.S. for awhile, with more than 4000 employees, but had not dipped its toe in the Stateside solar pond until recently.

  • Rasta gone solar: Reggae band Steel Pulse donates song download for Haitian PV projects

    By Tom Cheyney - 17 August 2010, 10:45

    Before gravity took its course, David Hinds’ massive dreadlocks once rose straight up from his head, resembling none other than the shape of a nuclear power plant to many observers. Now the outspoken British Rastaman, whose band Steel Pulse has carried the flag for the Jamaican-born music since the days when Bob Marley walked the Earth, has put his songwriting talents behind a worthy renewable power-related cause—namely, the solar electrification of health clinics in earthquake-wracked Haiti. Hinds and his group are giving 100% of the proceeds gathered from donations made when charitable music-lovers download his newly recorded “Hold On (4 Haiti)” track at a new Website dedicated to the relief campaign.

  • The crying game: R&D in solar PV, CIGS moves make different kinds of noise amid financial tumult

    By Tom Cheyney - 14 August 2010, 11:36

    The past week or so has been one of the most tumultuous in recent memory for the solar photovoltaic manufacturing community. The earnings season is upon us, and some of the company news has been downright scary, especially from the likes of Q-Cells and others that have seen the bottom fall out of their markets and have had to take drastic steps to survive, such as the Q’s plant shutdown and layoffs.

  • First Solar, please go to the back of the queue

    By Mark Osborne - 13 August 2010, 16:46

    Two gigawatts worth of utility-scale projects signed between First Solar and the Ordos City Government in Inner Mongolia, China looks like it’s becoming a white elephant, according to an article in the Washington Post. There would seem to be an uproar from China-based PV manufacturers about the deal, which wasn’t opened to a bidding process and now will be, suggesting that should any final deal be made, First Solar could well be at the back of the queue.

  • Solar short takes: AQT skeptic speaks out, SMA America ramps production, mainstream media missteps

    By Tom Cheyney - 13 August 2010, 10:53

    This installment of Solar Short Takes offers a skeptic’s view of AQT Solar’s quick move to production mode, an update on the status of SMA America’s manufacturing plant in Denver, and yet another case of a pillar of the mainstream media community getting it wrong when it comes to the efficacy of photovoltaics.

  • PV module costs and prices–what is really happening?

    By Sam Wilkinson - 11 August 2010, 16:53 | 1

    This guest blog was provided by Sam Wilkinson, PV Research Analyst at IMS Research.                            It is earnings call season once again for solar PV module suppliers, and looking at the results of a number of the major suppliers, Q2’10 looks set to continue the market’s recent record setting trend. A few things immediately stand out from the first few calls this quarter:

  • Homegrown produce: DOE waives vague ‘Buy American’ provisions, facilitates more U.S.-made solar

    By Tom Cheyney - 11 August 2010, 11:04

    The phrase “Buy American” conjures up reactions ranging from proud patriotic fervor to ugly nationalist jingoism. When it comes to solar photovoltaics, the term took on a seemingly specific meaning when it was attached as a domestic-content provision to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). What appeared straightforward enough—that solar power-plant projects funded with ARRA monies should deploy U.S.-made modules or U.S.-made cells in foreign-made modules—was actually not very straightforward at all, and ended up potentially helping only locally assembled modules and penalizing companies with cells being strung up in modules overseas.

  • Exclusive: Nanosolar rising, Part II—The ‘I’ in CIGS also stands for thin-film PV innovation

    By Tom Cheyney - 06 August 2010, 11:14

    The dark ink flows up from the adjacent storage cabinet, filling the translucent tubing before it courses through a stainless-steel manifold that dispenses the nanoparticle solution uniformly across the moving web of microthin aluminum foil in the custom-built Nanosolar tool. As the flexible substrate continues its ascent, the stain of still-wet CIGS ink morphs constantly in mesmerizing, smoky patterns, before drying and blending into a uniform, lighter tone when the 750mm-wide foil methodically rolls out of sight into the guts of the gear. Before the web is respooled, removed from the coater, and transported to the next production sequence, a curing process dries the still-damp-to-the-touch solution covering the surface.


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  • Photovoltaics International 23rd Edition

    This issue of Photovoltaics International, our 23rd, offers key insights into some of the technologies that are ready to move from lab to fab in support of these goals. ISC Konstanz offer a glimpse of what the low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells of the future might look like. On page 35 the institute’s authors give an overview of what they call Konstanz’ “technology zoo”, encompassing their so-called BiSoN, PELICAN and ZEBRA cell concepts, all of which are aimed at increasing energy yield at the lowest possible cost.

  • Manufacturing The Solar Future: The 2013 Production Annual

    In the ever-changing global solar markets, cost reduction and measures to increase cell efficiencies are the key tools available to PV manufacturers to create new opportunities and drive your business to the next level. Manufacturing the Solar Future 2013 is the third in the Photovoltaics International PV Production Annual series, delivering the next instalment of in-depth technical manufacturing information on PV production processes designed to help you gain the competitive edge.



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