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With the emergence from stealth mode of a suite of thin-film companies, many U.S.-based, our North American contributing editor Tom Cheyney has been right in the thick of the reporting action all year. His ‘Chip Shots’ blog has proven such a massive hit in 2008 with PV-Tech readers that it is almost impossible to be selective in picking just a few to mention here in this review.

To say that industry trade journalists dislike hype would be an understatement. Having a blog to vent is one recent invention that has proved to be a great safety valve for the veteran hack. The developments in thin film have at times crossed the pain threshold when it comes to hype and that was clear from Tom’s blog right at the beginning of the year on a host of thin-film company developments. Tom noted that with all the hype on CIGS, First Solar would still produce more thin-film panels in 2008 than all of the CIGS companies combined.

However, the series of blogs on Solyndra’s outing and subsequent revelations on its unique technology and integration techniques proved an instant hit. As is the case with some blogs, Tom’s Solyndra series has generated traffic over a long period of time as links and references grow. In my mind they have also captured a moment in the history of thin film that will be referred back to time and time again. If you haven’t been one of the many to read this series I most certainly urge you to do so. News stories about major MW supply deals that Solyndra have secured post-stealth mode would seem to indicate that a major future thin-film player has been created.

A US$3.5 billion investment in the PV industry, especially by market leader Q-Cells, would get a lot of readers interested, right?

Indeed, that proved the case back in May 2008 when I blogged about Q-Cells setting up thin-film plants in Mexicali, and the threat this could be to First Solar. Scale will be everything in the PV industry of the not too distant future and this new megasite could be the start of things to come, especially from overseas players wanting to reap the rewards of the renewed support for renewable energy in North America.

That point was made clear in a very popular blog from Syanne, our intern from the U.S., regarding Barack Obama’s pledge to spend US$150 billion on renewable energy during a long election campaign. Now that he has won the Presidential election, time will tell, but already we understand that a significant amount of that pledge is expected to be seen through, though perhaps not as quickly as wished due to the worsening economic crisis.

In November, Tom was back at blogging CIGS as well as blogging on blogs. As the financial crisis impacts the PV industry, especially share prices of publicly traded companies, the ‘short seller’ is having a field day. Wild claims of doom and gloom are meant to frighten investors. However, it takes a bit more than that on this side of the fence.

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