Tom Cheyney is director of content and market intelligence for Impress Solar Labs, a division of Impress Labs, an integrated marketing/PR firm based in Phoenix, Arizona USA. He has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and marketer in the semiconductor, nanotechnology and clean energy fields. Before joining Impress, Tom was senior contributing editor for PV Tech and Photovoltaics International.
Everyone in the industry knows the price of solar continues to fall in most global sectors, inching closer to – or reaching – parity with other energy sources, both renewable and carbonaceous. But when a well-respected market researcher says prices are falling in real time in some regions, that attention-grabbing statement is not something one usually hears in any timeline.
My spring solar industry calendar would be incomplete without Greentech Media’s Solar Summit. I would be bereft if I didn’t have my annual download of data/analysis, opinionated banter, large personalities, industry gossip, and networking (also known as schmoozing and boozing).
The news of the conjoining of Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron raises questions about the fates of solar PV production equipment units.
Normally a sleeping aid for insomniacs, SEC filings can sometimes contain interesting insights into publicly traded companies. Tom Cheyney has dug a few out from Trina Solar's latest filing.
The depressed state of the PV production equipment sector has been well chronicled. Few companies are adding or updating capacity, both on the crystalline silicon and thin-film PV fronts, and tool firms’ bookings (let alone billings) remain very light. Announcements of production orders are few and far between, so when a firm does score one, it should not go unnoticed/uncelebrated, no matter how modest.
The California Public Utilities Commission has approved another batch of power purchase agreements between Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison and developers/investors for solar power plant projects totaling up to 444MW of installed capacity. The projects include Sempra Generation’s 150MW Copper Mountain Solar 2 project in Boulder City, NV (25-year PPA, PG&E), Tenaska/CSolar Development’s 96-150MW Imperial Solar Energy Center West being developed near El Centro, CA (25-year PPA, SDG&E), and 15 smaller projects with 20-year PPAs totaling 144MW under development by various independent power producers (IPPs) in SCE’s service area.
In its second major investment in the solar sector this month, MidAmerican Energy Holdings has signed a deal with NRG Energy to buy a 49% interest in the Agua Caliente project under construction in Yuma County, AZ. The Berkshire Hathaway unit announced Dec. 7 that it had purchased the 550MW Topaz solar farm project in San Luis Obispo County, CA, from First Solar.
Thin film PV company Nanosolar said it has supplied close to 6MW of its CIGS utility panels for two installations in France and Oregon, as part of its partnership with EDF Energies Nouvelles and its US subsidiary, enXco.
In another sign of trouble in the US domestic PV manufacturing sector, flexible thin-film silicon laminate maker Energy Conversion Devices has taken several restructuring actions, including the suspension of all manufacturing operations in what the company calls “an inventory control measure.” Other moves taken by the Auburn Hills, MI-based firm include various cost reduction efforts, continued R&D on next-generation technologies, and the expansion of addressable markets. In addition, ECD management has started discussions with representatives of certain holders of the company's outstanding Senior Convertible Notes due 2013. As a result of the actions, it has postponed the quarterly financial conference call until further notice.
What is being called one of the largest landfill solar energy cap systems and the first of its kind in Georgia, has been dedicated near Atlanta. The 1MW system featuring Uni-Solar thin-film PV laminates, installed by Republic Services over the closed Hickory Ridge landfill, accounts for 10 acres of the 45-acre closure system.
Dow Chemical said it will make the commercial introduction of its Powerhouse solar roofing shingle to U.S. markets this month. The company plans a rolling launch into markets from California to the East Coast that will continue through 2012, starting with the debut program in Colorado in October.
A pair of veteran solar industry executives have joined Clean Power Finance. Nicholas Mack and Kirstin Hoefer have been appointed as senior VP/general counsel/corporate secretary and VP of marketing, respectively, at the integrated services and financing solutions firm.
Although better known as one of the world's largest suppliers of oil, Saudi Arabia continues to join the solar age with the inauguration of one of its first larger-scale photovoltaic power plants on October 1. The facility, a 500KW system comprised of Solar Frontier CI(G)S thin-film modules, is located on Farasan Island and was installed by the Saudi Electricity Co. and Solar Frontier's parent company, Showa Shell Sekiyu (which is partially owned by the Saudi Arabian Oil Co.).
SkyPower has secured a CAD$67 million revolving credit facility from Deutsche Bank, to be used to support the ongoing development of SkyPower's portfolio of utility-scale solar projects in Ontario, Canada. The facility is a letter credit facility innovatively structured to leverage the benefits of Ontario's green energy program and feed-in tariff.
Official regulatory bodies in Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have certified Enphase's PV microinverter system. The microinverters meet the requirements in the ENEL guidelines for Italy and conform to VDE for European safety standards. The company said that its European-certified products will begin shipping this year to select countries.