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Stronger than anticipated demand in the fourth quarter of 2011 helped Trina Solar exceed PV module shipment guidance, but revenue and gross margins declined compared to the previous quarter. The company posted a 4Q’11 loss from operations of US$62.9 million, compared to an operating loss of US$23.5 million in the third quarter of 2011.
According to Canadian Solar, a 605kW rooftop system in the Danish city of Virum, which employed 2,800 modules, is currently Demark’s largest rooftop installation. German firm, SRU Solar, constructed the system on two roofs of an office complex located in collaboration with Danish energy company Greengo Energy. The rooftop system was connected in January, 2012.
JinkoSolar Holdings has opened a PV module testing lab in Jiangxi, China, which was awarded the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Witness Testing Data Program (WTDP) certificate. The company worked with UL to obtain certification and will now be able to offer customers and third parties testing facilities, under the supervision of UL personnel, with an aim to ensure high quality and expedite the time to market.
Sharp was awarded the “Top Brand PV” by EuPD Research for its presence in Germany.. The award was granted after EuPD examined several factors, including brand awareness and distribution depth, with brand perception among customers one of the leading factors for determining the seal.
According to RenewEconomy, Silex Systems has restarted production at its solar module facility in Sydney, Australia. The company announced in November that it would be halting production as it was hard hit by the rooftop solar market and was looking for ways to restructure its business. The report states that Silex decided to start operation again, upon Tindo Solar’s plans to begin commercial production were publicized. Plans to continue ramping up capacity at the company’s Sydney site are being considered.
Polysilicon price declines on the spot market have finally taken their toll on Yingli Green and its polysilicon operations, Fine Silicon. An asset write down of US$361 million has been made on Fine Silicon assets of which a US$43 million impairment of goodwill is to be made in its fourth quarter financial statements. However, Yingli also said it would make a provision of approximately US$135 million on its polysilicon inventory as a result of the continuing decline in the purchase price.
Better than expected market demand, across multiple regions in the fourth quarter of 2011 has led to Canadian Solar to significantly increase its module shipment guidance ahead of releasing Q4 and full-year results on March 7th. Previously, the company guided fourth quarter shipments to be in the range of 340MW - 360MW, inline with third quarter shipment levels and in contrast to many of its tier 1 rivals. However, the company expects shipments to be in the range of 430MW - 440 MW.
The last 12 months for Suntech have been quite successful, even amid the chaos surrounding Suntech’s response to accusations by US companies of impeding US growth. Technology Review’s annual list comprises 50 of the world’s most innovative companies and Suntech has been nominated in the energy and materials category. Editors look for companies that have demonstrated original, valuable technology to market and significantly influencing their competitors.
Bio-based PV module backsheet developer, BioSolar claims that a customer is preparing a batch of solar panels with its ‘BioBacksheet’ material for full panel recertification by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). In March, 2011 the company announced it was supplying sample material for PV module manufacturers based in Asia for evaluation.
As part of its utility-scale project pipeline in Imperial Valley, California, 8minutenergy Renewables has signed a 25-year contract to sell 200MW (AC) from the planned Mount Signal Solar project to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The Mount Signal Solar project is expected to begin supply to SDG&E in mid-2013 and has an 18-month construction time, employing 450 direct jobs and more than 500 indirect jobs in Imperial County. The contract is pending approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.
Weak demand that continued until the fourth quarter of 2011 led to Sunways sales annual sales decline by almost 50%, compared to 2010. Record module shipments in the fourth quarter did little to dent the revenue declines as ASPs declined significantly compared to the prior year period. Preliminary full-year 2011 results show sales of €115.4 million, compared to €222.7 million in 2010.
TÜV Rheinland has certified Emmvee modules as compliant with the Italian Energy Agency’s GSE guidelines. The TÜV Rheinland confirmation certifies that Emmvee modules are equipped with cells manufactured in Europe, primarily in Germany. The company notes that TÜV Rheinland will soon begin testing the origin of the cells in order to certify their manufacture and production sites.
JA Solar Holdings and Intertek advised that they had signed a strategic cooperation MOU aiming to build cooperation in the fields of quality, safety and ecology. Additionally, JA Solar announced that it would be taking part in Intertek’s “Satellite Program,” a data acceptance program that integrates speed, flexibility, cost effectiveness and certification marks, while issuing test reports to customers based on accepting internal laboratory test data qualified customers. JA Solar noted that by taking part in the program it looks to improve its product operating cycle and strengthen its product quality.
Oregon, home to one of SolarWorld’s production facilities, is reaping the benefits from having the company do business within its borders. SolarWorld’s solar panels can be found powering highway, rail and airport installations throughout Oregon, all of which have gained not only national, but international attention.
According to IMS Research’s latest PV module pricing report, the average cost of Chinese Tier-2 crystalline PV modules dropped to US$0.96 per watt in January, representing an annualized price decline shift to 22%, after exceeding 50% in December. The report cites reduced incentive levels in the major PV markets at the end of last year as having the biggest effect on the prices.
Overcapacity within the PV industry hit Applied Materials sales and orders in its financial first quarter, leading to further cost reductions within its Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) division. New orders in the segment were down 62% to only US$33 million, while sales of US$207 million were down 34% on the prior quarter. The segment had a non-GAAP operating loss of US$17 million and a GAAP operating loss of US$23 million. Overall, Applied generated orders of US$2.01 billion and net sales of US$2.19 billion, exceeding guidance.
CBD Energy a renewable energy project developer from Sydney, Australia is to acquire Westinghouse Solar in an all share deal. CBD Energy said that the acquisition was made to enable the company to enter the US solar market. CBD will also apply for listing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange prior to consummation of the transaction, which is expected to be concluded in the third quarter of 2012.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, SunPower benefited from PV power plant project execution and its US-based residential leasing program that supported GAAP revenue of US$563 million, compared to US$705 million in the third quarter of 2011.Full-year record revenue was US$2.31 billion, up from US$2.2 billion in 2010. SunPower said it reduced production to better manage inventory build. The company is targeting overall production cost reductions of 15% in 2012, while production of its Maxeon Gen 3 solar cell with up to 24% conversion efficiency entered production. GAAP net loss in the fourth quarter was US$83.1 million and full-year loss was US$603 million.
Odersun provided its CISCuT thin-film PV modules for a project designed by architects Ortner and Ortner Berlin on the campus of Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Designed as a “live gallery”, the 35 metre long PV pavilion will be used as a space for social events, brainstorming ideas and presentations.
EuPD Research has awarded Germany-based Sovello the TOP BRAND PV seal.
Suntech Power Holdings released preliminary fourth quarter and full-year results early, highlighting better than expected module shipments in the fourth quarter but recorded impairment charges of US$571 million due to market conditions. Revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011 were said to be in the range of US$610 million to US$630 million. Gross margin is expected to be in the middle of the previously guided range of 9% to 11%. Suntech expects shipments in 2011 to be approximately 2.09GW, above previous guidance of 2GW. Full year revenue was expected to be in the range of US$3.13 billion to US$3.15 billion.
Intertek has awarded Seraphim a salt mist corrosion certificate for all of its solar PV modules as dictated under the IEC 61701 standard. Seraphim’s modules underwent, and passed, various salt, mist and corrosion tests, which resulted in the modules passing ability to tolerate harsh natural environments. The company noted that the tests and resulting certificate confirms its modules ability to be used in a coastal environment or regions with high levels of rain, fog and acidity while maintaining a high level of performance.
Solar solutions provider AU Optronics has announced it will now trade under BenQ Solar in order to enhance its global presence on the solar market through a “global operation, local delivery” business strategy. Its solar modules, by M. Setek in Japan, have achieved 22.5% efficiency rate.
JikoSolar has revealed details of its new office based in Queensland, Australia. The newly opened office will serve as a sales and delivery centre, housing approximately 4-5MW of modules for the region.
LDK Solar’s bid to acquire Sunways has passed approval by the German Federal Cartel Office and Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). LDK Solar had previously supplied wafers to Sunways and later in 2010 had secured production for branded Sunways modules. LDK gains access to Sunways range of PV inverters as part of the takeover.
EuPD Research has given Suntech Power Holdings its ‘TOP BRAND PV’ label after an independent survey of installers and end-customers, making it the first Chinese module manufacturer to be given the title. The first company to receive the label was Dutch company, Scheuten Solar in June 2011. Since then, two Japanese firms, Sanyo Solar (Panasonic) and Sharp Corporation have joined the list, while Q-Cells is currently the only German-based manufacturer to have been accredited.
China Sunergy has been selected by Bull PowerTech to provide 50MW of solar modules for projects in Europe. The shipment is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2012, although exact details are yet to be disclosed.
Trina Solar advised that ICIM, an independent Italian institute, has certified its multicrystalline solar modules, manufactured with European-sourced silicon wafers, as fulfilling GSE requirements and therefore eligible for a 10% FiT premium in Italy.
Following-on from an RD&E collaboration between DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions and Yingli Green Energy in January, 2011 the companies have signed a new US$100 million strategic agreement, that will see Yingli Green purchase DuPont’s ‘Solamet’ metallization pastes and ‘Tedlar’ polyvinyl fluoride backsheet for its solar modules. The agreement is designed to extend DuPont and Yingli commercial relationships and material supply availability.
Kings Mountain, North Carolina has a new 5MW solar power plant developed by Strata Solar and Chint/Astronergy. The 5MW plant uses 22,000 panels and is said to be one of the state’s largest solar farms to date. The Kings Mountain PV plant will produce enough electricity to power over 600 average homes.
A 1.3MW PV power system has been installed at the US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) complex, a headquarters for high-tech military command, communications and surveillance in San Diego, California.
With search on for new and attractive PV markets, aleo solar believes Israel holds promise for the module manufacturer. The company it had tripled its turnover in Israel in 2011, compared to the previous year, supplying 1.2MW to the country.
MPrime, the distribution arm of Martifer Solar, has expanded its parent company’s business in Germany with the opening of new Munich offices. The company advised that working out of Germany will allow it to better serve the worldwide, and especially the German, PV sector.
Having achieved full capacity in its Czech plant, AU Optronics has turned to the US market to provide US-made solar modules and customized services, leading to the acquisition of a 9MW solar power project in the Pennsylvania School district. The company claims this will the largest solar power plant in Pennsylvania as well as one of the largest school district projects nationwide.
Falling solar panels and raw materials prices will be claiming 140 jobs at Sanyo Electric’s solar wafer factory in Carson, California, as it prepares to start up operations at a plant in Malaysia. The plant, opened in 2003, makes the equivalent of 30MW of silicon ingots and wafers for solar cells each year and is expected to close in October.
Although new conversion efficiencies have yet to be ratified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Abound Solar would seem to have caught-up with CdTe thin-film leader, First Solar. It may have an enormous task to close the gap on manufacturing metrics, but aperture area efficiencies of 12.2%, generating modules with 82.8W specification on existing production equipment is a good start. First Solar reached volume production of modules with an average efficiency of 11.7% in 2011.
PV module encapsulant material supplier, STR Holdings warned late last week that sales would not meet previously guided levels. The company had previously guided sales to be in the range of US$44-US$48 million. However STR has revised guidance to approximately US$36.5 million, well below that level.
Testing for PID (potential induced degradation) of Centrosolar’s modules at TÜV Rheinland have confirmed that its modules experienced less than 1% reduction in performance, easily passing the tests which stipulate less than a 5% voltage-related reduction in performance as being non-PID affected.
DuPont and Suntech Power Holdings announced that they had entered into a strategic agreement with an overall goal of augmenting the supply of PV materials and technologies in the global solar energy market. The companies agreement will specifically focus on technology advancements, supply chain optimization cost reduction initiatives and DuPont’s Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride film supply.
A debt-to-equity swap deal between Q-Cells and its bondholders has been agreed in principle, a situation that will result in the company’s being majority owned (95%) by the bondholders. In return, Q-Cells would be virtually debt-free and retain the €304 million of liquidity the company had at the end of 2011 to continue to restructure and continue operations. Q-Cells will also sell further non-core assets that could raise €200 million, which would be given back to the 2012, 2014 and 2015 bondholders on an equal basis.
Sunlogics Power, a subsidiary of Salamon Group, was named the senior secured creditor of Arise Technologies. The company additionally noted that it is consulting on Arise’s day-to-day operations of its systems business.
Europe’s end-of-life PV module recycling program, PV Cycle, advised of its significant growth since beginning operations in 2010. PV Cycle’s collection network has expanded to over 205 collection points, which allows the association to provide module owners in every EU27 and EFTA country with its services. Additionally, the company noted that in January, it had reached over 240 members from across the world and PV value chain, representing nearly 90% of the European solar market.
CNPV Solar Power has advised that its mono- and polycrystalline modules have been confirmed by TÜV Rheinland as meeting ISOCD14067 specifications, which incorporates ISO14040:2006, ISO14044:2006 and PAS2050:2011 standards. The module evaluation gives a numerical value to the amount of CO2 generated from manufacturing through the module’s life cycle over a period of 100 years by studying its raw materials, conversion process, manufacturing burdens, in-use variations and final degradation.
Kyocera and Nichicon have completed an agreement for Kyocera to begin domestic sales this summer of a new energy management system (EMS) which combines Kyocera’s highly reliable solar power generating systems with Nichicon’s long-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion battery storage units. Designed for the Japan market, the new system responds to the growing demand for residential energy storage equipment following the March 11 disasters. Kyocera will begin sales in Japan this summer.
Kyocera has reported that consolidated net sales for the nine-month period ending December 31, 2011 had declined 7.5% compared to the prior period, to US$11,351 million. Profit from operations decreased by 26.2% to US$1,133 million. Sales and profits were reported to be down within its Components Business segment which includes its PV module operations, citing continued stagnation in the solar energy market with consistent erosion of prices as overcapacity continued. Kyocera noted that it has seen no sign of an improvement in a supply/demand balance.
The US Department of Commerce has agreed to postpone the date for its preliminary decision on the CASM-led US versus China trade dispute to March 2, 2012. The original date of February 13 was deemed to soon by SolarWorld, the leader of the CASM movement, and the 18-day extension will delay the decision by the Department of Commerce.
Hyderabad, India-based Surana Ventures has completed construction of its 5MW solar module manufacturing facility in the Fab City, approximately 40km from Hyderabad. The company has also announced that it is seeking the necessary permission to commission a second 5MW module manufacturing plant in Gujarat.
Yingli Green is to supply project developer, IBC Solar, with 180MW of multicrystalline and monocrystalline (Panda) PV modules in 2012 under a new supply agreement. IBC has an option for a further 20MW under the new agreement. IBC is expected to use the modules in projects within Germany, Europe and other regions during the year.
Solartec Energia Renovable AC modules, coupled with SolarBridge Technologies’ microinverters are to be introduced to the Mexican market, it has been announced.
Amonix has reached an important milestone, since its establishment in 1989. The CPV manufacturer has received ISO 9001:2008 and IEC 62108 certifications.