- Industry Roundup
- Fab & Facilities
- Cell Processing
- Thin Film
- PV Modules
- Power Generation
Leading PV energy provider (PVEP), First Solar reported first quarter revenue of US$755 million in the quarter, a decrease of US$320 million from the fourth quarter of 2012 but exceeded slightly the top range of guidance.
Chinese polysilicon manufacturer firm Daqo has announced the resignation of its chief operation officer (COO) Qiangmin Zhou.
NextEra Energy’s 1GW plans for the Blythe solar farm in California, once expected to be the world’s largest solar energy power plant, have been cut in half to make the project viable.
Following a 22% increase in sales in 2012, First Solar expects that trajectory to continue in 2013.
Leading thin-film and PV project developer First Solar has rocked the solar industry with the acquisition of US-based monocrystalline start-up TetraSun.
First Solar has made a significant leap in total area module efficiency that has been verified by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
By mutual agreement, First Solar and Jim Brown, First Solar’s executive vice president of global business have parted ways, according to an SEC filing issued today.
PV industry manufacturing overcapacity and a flood of used PV equipment on the market, due to bankruptcies and firms exiting the sector, were behind Spire Corporation reporting a 70% decline in PV related sales in 2012.
First Solar has said that it has contacted Abound Solar’s trustees to begin discussions whether it can recover materials from up to 100,000 panels made by the bankrupt cadmium telluride (CdTe) module manufacturer.
Record quarterly revenue and new record cell efficiency were overshadowed by First Solar delaying 2013 financial guidance until early Q2 2013.
New R&D test cells produced at First Solar’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and R&D centre have reached a new record cell conversion efficiency of 18.7%. The record was verified by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and announced by First Solar yesterday.
Germany-based industrial laser specialist InnoLas Systems GmbH said that the company achieved revenue of €40 million (US$52.9 million) in 2012, which was 60% higher than the previous year.
PV module encapsulant material supplier, STR Holdings hit by the pending loss of its largest customer, First Solar said that its restructuring efforts would result in a workforce reduction of approximately 160, or 32% of its global workforce.
A follow-up US$12 million in funding from the US Energy Department under the SunShot Initiative has been issued with the intention of reducing the time of lab to fab solar cell conversion efficiencies.
PV module encapsulant material supplier, STR Holdings warned that its business would be significantly impacted by an expected and imminent transition by First Solar to using an unidentified alternative supplier.
Sales of PV equipment and components by German-based suppliers fell 43% in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, German trade association VDMA has said.
Thin-film manufacturer First Solar, in conjunction with developer Fundación Chile, has announced the acquisition of Solar Chile as part of its its endeavour to advance into new markets.
First Solar has hired former nuclear professional Tim Rebhorn for the newly created position of Senior Vice President, Project Development.
First Solar and Intermolecular are planning to develop what they describe as “disruptive new approaches” to boosting the solar cell conversion efficiencies of First Solar’s CdTe solar cell technology, extending a previous R&D collaboration established in mid-2012.
Thin-film manufacturer First Solar has released its new Series 3 FS-392 thin-film module, which has a 92.5W rating.
Thin film manufacturer First Solar has established an operating subsidiary in Cape Town, South Africa. The move follows a recent swathe of large utility-scale PV announcements in South Africa, as part of the country’s first round of renewable energy project bidding.
Thin film module manufacturer First Solar signed a 2MW solar module delivery agreement with Zhenfa New Energy Science and Technology.
Specialty metal and chemical products producer 5N Plus has opened a new recycling facility within the Kulim High Technology Park in Malaysia, completed under budget.
US-based Thin-film module manufacturer First Solar recognized five premier suppliers with its NOVA award at its second annual Supplier Recognition Day for their work in 2012.
Despite lower Q3 2012 revenue of US$839 million, down from US$957 million in the last quarter, First Solar said that CdTe thin-film module production increased 33% from Q2 levels reaching 490MW.
Solar panel manufacturers need to acquire innovative production equipment in order to cut costs, increase margins, and offer differentiated products. This is the finding of a new report from Lux Research’s Solar Components Intelligence service, the group has released its latest report, Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Opportunities in the Turbulent Photovoltaic Equipment Market.
Continuing with its dominance of the Indian market, First Solar will provide over 585,000 CdTe thin-film modules to two large-scale PV power plants planned for India’s Rajasthan state. First Solar noted that the selection of its modules was due to the high ambient temperatures and diffuse sunlight conditions, which in recent studies by the company have nearly negated the higher yields of crystalline silicon modules.
Having completed five projects totalling 22MW for PNM Resources in New Mexico in 2011, First Solar has been awarded a new engineering, procurement and construction services (EPC) contract with the utility for an additional four solar power plants totalling 20MW (AC).
A former landfill in Döhlau, Germany is sporting a new solar power system, thanks in part to PVStrom. The 4.3MW Solar Park Oberfranken III uses 54,000 First Solar modules and central inverters from SMA in order to generate around 4,000MWh of solar electricity per year. The €8 million project was financed, in part, by PVStrom with the electricity produced by the project to be fed into the E.ON Bayern grid.
US solar behemoth First Solar has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with utility firm Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The agreement relates to solar power generated by two PV power plants which will be developed in central California, US, by First Solar. When complete, the plants will have a combined capacity of 72MW.
The first and perhaps less interesting of two planned online auctions of equipment from bankrupt Abound Solar’s CdTe is set to take place on September 18. The first auction is for its thin-film test equipment that was used at former Abound Solar test facilities located in Loveland, Fort Collins and Longmont, Colorado.
Boosting its presence in the South Korean markets for RF generation and monitoring systems for the solar photovoltaic, semiconductor, flat panel display and AMOLED industry sectors, MKS Instruments has acquired Plasmart, Inc, based in Daejeon, South Korea, in a cash transaction that wasn’t disclosed.
Looking for a way to further stamp its mark in one of South East Asia’s growing solar markets, First Solar has established a subsidiary in Thailand called First Solar (Thailand). The company has also set up an office in the country’s capital city Bangkok.
Still in a restructuring and refinancing phase, designed to make the company more flexible and operate sustainably during dynamic changes in the solar industry, systems integrator, Phoenix Solar reported sales for the second quarter of 2012 as €46.5 million. This constitutes a 57.1% decline when compared to the same period a year ago. The company made a loss of €13.0 million, though refinancing of over €100 million was secured to enable the company to restructure.
Major restructuring efforts at First Solar took a backseat during the company’s second quarter conference call as management focused on a significant increase in its PV project pipeline. First Solar said it had added almost 1GW of new projects to a pipeline that previously stood at 2.9GW. Net sales were US$957 million, up from US$497 million last quarter while revenue guidance was raised for 2012 to US$3.6-US$3.9 billion, up from a range of US$3.5 billion to US$3.8 billion.
Bloomberg has reported that General Electric (GE) will be putting the construction of its Colorado-based solar panel factory on hold for at least 18 months. Lindsay Theile, GE spokeswoman, noted that sharp price declines and a global oversupply of panels were factors in the company’s decision.
Several reports cite General Electric’s general manger of solar technology operations, Danielle Merfeld, saying that the company has suspended the construction and commercial roll-out of its CdTe thin-film modules due to the current market conditions. GE announced the location of its first thin-film plant in October 2011 which would have a nameplate capacity of 400MW and start commercial shipments in 2013. The facility was at the core of a US$600 million investment in entering the solar industry.
First Solar has named Georges Antoun, former Ericsson and Cisco executive, as COO for the CdTe thin-film manufacturer and project developer. In this role, which has not existed in the company since George “Chip” Hambro’s occupation of the role in 2007, Antoun will be responsible for manufacturing, R&D, quality and product management.
Having resumed installation at First Solar’s Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One, the company is celebrating the installation of the first of 3.8 million solar modules at the 230MW plant in Los Angeles County. Representatives from the county’s departments of Public Works and Regional Planning joined First Solar senior management and project workers in installing the 2ft by 4ft thin-film PV module, marking the start of module installation, approved on June 21, 2012.
It appears that the next victim of this most ruthless of competitions – the solar shakeout – is CdTe thin-film manufacturer Abound Solar. Another controversial recipient of a DOE loan guarantee, the company will be closing its doors next week, a claim that has been confirmed on the DOE’s website today. According to a GTM Research report, the company will finally cave to cost pressure from CdTe leader First Solar and the general plummeting product costs across the PV manufacturing board.
TÜV Rheinland recently certified Calyxo for the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series OHSAS 18001 requirement. The certification means that as of July 1, under Conto Energia IV, Calyxo’s CX3 CdTe thin-film solar modules meet all funding requirements for power plants in Italy.
First Solar’s EPC team has installed the 10 millionth PV panel at a utility-scale PV plant, the company has announced. The module was installed at the 550MW Desert Sunlight solar farm in Riverside County, California. The project is being constructed for NextEra Energy and GE Energy Financial Services.
First Solar has reached an agreement regarding the DoE loan funded AV Solar Ranch One in Antelope Valley, the company has announced. The company has resumed the installation of its PV modules at the PV plant after being forced to cease construction in order to deal with module code certification issues. First Solar and the Los Angeles Country Department of Public Works have now reached an agreement about the PV module installation and First Solar is able to continue constructing the 230MW project. Construction of the PV plant began in August 2011 and the project is expected to be completed in 2013.
Under intense pressure to remain the low-cost leader, First Solar is taking a leaf from the semiconductor industry by teaming up with materials specialists Intermolecular to fast-track R&D research in materials and processes to shorten the time-to-market for higher efficiency CdTe-based, thin-film PV modules. Taking record cell and module efficiencies from the lab to the fab has proved to be a perennial problem for all types of PV technology.
A report released by Reuters has noted that before it closes its German plants at the end of this year, First Solar will be ramping up production in order to meet what it calls an “unexpected surge in demand.” The news comes just a few months after the company announced that it would shut down production of its Oder plant in Q4 2012 as it moves its focus away from Europe.
First Solar has teamed up with Intermolecular to establish a collaboration and licensing agreement that is aiming to accelerate the efficiency roadmap for CdTe modules using Intermolecular’s High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) platform. The new program will see First Solar use the HPC platform to carry out its CdTe efficiency experimentation at speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional methods.
Aiming to ensure the company can lay claim to being the largest CdTe producer in Europe by the end of the year, Calyxo has announced plans to invest in a second CdTe production line at its Bitterfeld-Wolfen plant in Germany. The company will add a second line, with a capacity of 60MW, to the already installed 25MW line at the manufacturing plant.
Calyxo has revealed that its CdTe cell technology has reached 16.2% efficiency, a figure that has been verified by Germany’s SGS testing body. The company uses its proprietary low-cost “hot and fast” atmospheric deposition process in the manufacture of its CdTe cells. Calyxo’s CTO Michael Bauer also expressed confidence in the technology’s potential to reach 17–18% cell efficiency and 14–15% top module efficiency by the end of the year.
Updated: Two of the largest US-based PV manufacturers, First Solar and SunPower, both reported first-quarter sales at the same time, both showing quarter-on-quarter sales declines. First Solar reported net sales of US$497 - a decrease of US$163 million from the fourth quarter of 2011. SunPower’s first quarter GAAP revenue was US$494 million, down from US$625.3 in the previous quarter.
Following reports on First Solar shutting down production in Germany, it has contracted German PV services provider Adler Solar to take over responsibility for European warranties.