The tallest structure in rural Grant County, WA, is not a grain silo or airport control tower, but a nine-story, 56-meter-tall factory unit on REC Silicon’s Moses Lake campus that will play the key role in the company’s solar-grade polysilicon production business going forward. There’s quite a view from the observation deck, both of the sprawling facility and the surrounding east-central Washington flatlands.
Kyocera Solar and Heliene Canada are among those companies hoping to tap into one of the fastest-growing markets on Planet Photovoltaica—North America. Joining the increasing number of firms pursuing a distributed-manufacturing model, each outfit has recently announced plans for building module-making facilities in hotbed areas for renewables—Kyocera in San Diego, CA, and Heliene in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario—with an eye toward getting product to market later this year.
The “press embargo” is a fact of life in the media biz. It usually comes in the form of a press release that a trusted journalist receives in advance from a company, PR agency, or other organization, with strict instructions not to breathe a word of it before the agreed-to date and time. Sometimes, the arrangement is less formal, more of a head’s up about some news soon to be made public or a sharing of off-the-record information. Usually, an embargo lasts only a few days, maybe a week or two—rarely does it stretch on for months.
There’s only a handful of industry veterans who have invested as much blood, sweat, tears, and time into the development of flexible thin-film solar photovoltaics as Jeff Britt. After working on CIGS projects at EPV for several years, he joined Global Solar Energy in 1998, when the company’s copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide technology was an R&D project, and any product commercialization years away.
Official German PV installation figures for November have recently been released, giving a clear picture of expected record installations in the country for 2009. However, there is a major mismatch between expectations for December and total installed system numbers from Photon, which has claimed 4GW and beyond. In an exclusive interview with Andreas Hänel, founder and CEO of major PV systems integrator Phoenix Solar, we discuss his new forecast for 2009 and 2010, which add to the conclusion that Photon needs to drastically change its forecast downwards to retain any credibility in the future.
It’s official: First Solar is now the first in solar. The just-released financials of the company that made thin-film PV bankable find 2009 revenues passing $2 billion, annual output hitting 1.1GW, and production costs dropping to 84 cents per watt. The executive team’s 2010 guidance doesn’t deviate from the numbers they offered in mid-December, with the high end of revenue expectations coming up just short of $3 billion. A few data points and assumptions in the latest presentation warrant closer scrutiny and extrapolation.
One of Silicon Valley’s CIGS thin-film PV contingent that has been flying off the radar since the middle of 2009 is SoloPower. After I spoke with CTO Bulent Basol at the IEEE PVSC in early June, the company went through a change of command later that month. Lou DiNardo took over the CEO reins from contentious cofounder Houmayoun Talieh, with Basol, the other cofounder, also exiting. DiNardo’s tenure was never meant to be permanent, so in early February the San Jose-based company named a new chief exec /president, disk-drive industry veteran Tim Harris, with his interim predecessor taking on the new position of executive chairman.
With only a handful of major solar-related manufacturers having released fourth-quarter and full-year financial results, a picture is already emerging as to the health and wealth and 2010 trends for the solar industry. Having reported financial results and conducted its quarterly conference call last Thursday, JA Solar gave a lot of data points to digest about capacity ramps but also importantly, average selling prices (ASPs) for 2010.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson likes to say that his state is “becoming the center of North America’s solar industry,” but California, Ontario, and others might take issue with his understandable boosterism. Still, you’ll get no argument that the so-called “Land of Enchantment” can lay claim to being among the leaders in the solar revolution taking hold across the country.
One solar firm will soon have a shot at the kind of brand recognition that most photovoltaics players can only dream of. Yingli Green Energy will accompany the likes of Budweiser, McDonald’s, Castrol, and Satyam as one of the official sponsors of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2010, the global championship of football (what we Yanks call “soccer”) starting June 11 in South Africa.