Síle Mc Mahon joined Semiconductor Media in 2006 as sub-editor for Photovoltaics International and content manager for PV-Tech.org, and now holds the role of managing editor for the brand. She has an honours degree in English and Philosophy from NUI, Galway and an M. Phil. in Linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin. Her first name does not, contrary to popular opinion, rhyme with mile - the odd spelling of her name (pronounced “Sheila”) derives from the fact that she is Irish – agus an-bródúil as!
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.
Continuing market constraints and unattainable cost bases have conspired to force Schott Solar’s management to withdraw from c-Si PV manufacturing completely. Although the company’s thin-film and CSP activities are unaffected by this news, this exit from the c-Si sector will affect around 870 employees as well as its Mainz and Alzenau plants in Germany, Valasske Mezirici in the Czech Republic and Albuquerque in New Mexico.
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.
Electrical connector company Multi-Contact has revealed that its TÜV- and UL-certified MC4 and MC4PLUS photovoltaic connectors have been granted certification for protection class IP68. The IP certification series vouches for the products’ ability to withstand contact and infiltration of water and dirt. This new accolade means that an entire PV installation can be cabled consistently with a single system.
The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) has ordered an ALD process tool from SoLayTec that will see the former utilize the process at several global research institutes. SERIS has also entered into a three-year research agreement with metalorganics material supplier AkzoNobel and SoLayTec to study the viability of the integration of Al2O3 into new cell concepts. The contract also extends SoLayTec’s reach into Asian markets.
The US’s largest solar and wind project developer, NextEra, has placed the successful bid to purchase the unbuilt 1GW Blythe solar project in Riverside County, California. The plant is another of the projects – both built and unbuilt – being auctioned off from the assets of bankrupt Solar Trust of America. The agreed price of the project was not revealed.
Two years of turbulence in terms of supply and capacity are leading to calmer days ahead, according to NPD Solarbuzz’s latest Quarterly Report. Demand across the world’s markets will surpass 30GW this year, signifying an 8% increase year-on-year. Over 5GW of this global demand will be from the emerging Asia-Pacific regions, with China’s domestic market growth representing a large proportion of this 5GW figure.
The polysilicon spot market has been the subject of many analyses and commentaries since prices started to drop, leading to oversupply and demand issues across the PV manufacturing board. Average pricing for a kilo of solar-grade polysilicon on the spot market in May dropped to US$23.50, down 3.3% from its US$24.30 price in April. IHS’s Polysilicon Price Index has shed light on the fact that poly pricing for contracts dropped by only 2.4% for the same period, which means that the discrepancy between spot and contract pricing is widening ever further.
Sunora Energy Solutions has established its new headquarters and solar modular-assembly and fabrication facilities in Phoenix, Arizona. The company’s 58,000-square-foot facility is based in close proximity to its client projects and will allow the company to ensure its fabrication and preassembly of racking systems and proprietary solar arrays is conducted close to where the end products are needed most.
Solar thermal project developer BrightSource Energy has placed the top bid for Palen, a 500MW solar thermal plant, at a Delaware auction of property of Solar Trust of America, which went bankrupt in April this year. The as-yet unbuilt solar thermal plant is said to have been bought by BrightSource for an unconfirmed amount of up to US$30 million.
Algerian gas and electricity company CEEG has announced that bids are now being taken for the construction of an unspecified number of PV and wind farms in the country. The invitation to tender applies to both national and international bidders. The tenders, which must be submitted 10am local time on July 16, must be accompanied by all required documentation as well as a bank guarantee for €40,000 or the equivalent in Algerian Dinars.
Global solar demand growth has been modest at best, according to Jefferies analyst Jesse Pichel, leading the company to believe that the industry won’t see signs of real recovery until the second half of 2013 or even 2014. The second half of 2012 will see demand in Europe decline further than the first half, with 2013 volume dropping even lower.
Distributed Energy Research & Solutions, or EnergySage, has been the recipient of one of 10 Department of Energy (DoE) SunShot Incubator investments worth US$500,000. The funding will be used to develop a web-based PV comparison-shopping platform that aims to deliver pricing transparency and encourage online networking among property owners and solar PV installers.
Molybdenum, commonly used as the back-contact material in CIGS solar cells, has been the subject of an in-depth study by sputtering target manufacturer Plansee, working in collaboration with TU Bergakademie Freiberg. Plansee’s results, presented at the ICMCTF Conference, identified the process errors and defect types present in molybdenum thin films that can have a detrimental effect on electrical conductivity.
IBC Solar has teamed up with TÜV Rheinland to establish a training course that will allow for the qualification of IBC’s premium partners as TÜV-accredited technical reviewers for PV systems. Participants take part in four practical seminar blocks – to be completed within 12 months – that will qualify experts in the technical aspects of PV installations and will also equip them to deal with queries on the systems from customers.