Thin Film Intelligence Brief 20 November - 4 December 2012

First Solar bags 2MW Zhenfa China project Companies and organisations mentioned: Hanergy, First Solar, Tokyo Electron, Sharp, Oerlikon Solar, Global Solar Energy, Dow Chemical, Solar Frontier, Kyushu Electric Power, Izumi Solar Project KK, Signet


Thin Film Intelligence Brief 20 November - 4 December 2012

First Solar bags 2MW Zhenfa China project

Some good news has come out for the thin film industry with First Solar’s announcement that it will supply 2 MW of its solar modules to Zhenfa New Energy Science & Technology as part of Zhenfa's approved solar projects in Xinjiang province in the first quarter of 2013. 

The collaboration will create First Solar's first commercial demonstration project in China and provides a strong platform to showcase the company's state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) technology, First Solar said in a press statement. 

"This agreement marks an important step forward in First Solar's efforts to support China's renewable energy goals with its advanced solar technologies and global solar industry expertise," said Bruce Yung, Managing Director and Vice President of Business Development for First Solar in China. 

The deal could also prove a positive political trade move between the US and China. “By sharing experience, expertise and technologies we are creating a very strong combination. We look forward to exploring additional opportunities to work together to generate clean, renewable energy for China and the world," said Zha Zhengfa, Chairman of Zhenfa. 

Yung added: "An important element of First Solar's business strategy is to work with Chinese partners to create shared value both in China and abroad. The agreement between First Solar and Zhenfa will serve as a positive example of win-win collaboration between leading renewable energy companies from China and the United States." 

Hanergy to harness large scale thin film market 

Silicon-based solar panels, which are the very products that have been at the core of the US-EU-China antidumping legal battle, could be side lined by the thin-film solar industry, it has been reported.

Hanergy Holding Group is to focus on larger scale thin film projects, according to Li Hejun, chairman of Hanergy Holding Group Ltd, a private Chinese power generator. 

The company said that it has become the world's largest maker of thin-film solar modules, with an annual capacity of up to 3GW, which has the capacity to supply enough electricity for a city of 10 million over a single year, according to a China Daily report. 

While thin-film solar cells have been known to be less efficient than silicon-based options, thin film specialists are improving efficiency levels, namely Hanergy, which has invested close to $4.3bn (Yuan27bn) in thin-film R&D and production bases. 

"Thin-film solar photovoltaic technology is the global development trend in the solar PV industry, and stands at the core of Hanergy's strategy," said Li.

Global Solar Energy culls workforce; Signet files for Ch 11

Arizona-based flexible thin film solar panel maker, Global Solar Energy, has started to lay-off a majority of its employees, it has been reported in local publication, Inside Tucson Business. The company has manufacturing facilities in Arizona and Germany.

The CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) specialist had partnered with Dow Chemical with a view to produce CIGS cell roofing shingles, but Dow reportedly originally delayed the launch of the product due to the depressed US housing market and mortgage crisis. But according to the news report Dow launched the solar shingle product last year in the US state of Colorado followed by Texas and California this year. 

Other thin film companies that have had to wrap up operations include amorphous silicon panel maker, Signet, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US two years after the company stopped operations.

According to company and news reports, the company produced SunFab equipment produced by Applied Materials. As it stands the company’s bankruptcy filing has reported $30m in assets and $9.8m in debt.

According to a San Francisco Business Times report the company’s largest creditor is the Goel Family Partnership, which is waiting to be paid $2m as a result of their investment into the company.

Solar Frontier Shimozuru plant on-line

Japanese thin-film module manufacturer, Solar Frontier, has reported that its utility scale Shimozuru power plant, is online. Solar Frontier supplied close to 6,700 CIDS-based thin-film solar modules for the power plant. 

The project is currently one of the largest solar power plants in the Kagoshima Prefecture with an installed capacity of 1 MW. According to Solar Frontier, the project is expected to generate approximately 1.2 million kWh each year. 

The power produced will be sold to the Kyushu Electric Power Co. The plant operator is Izumi Solar Project KK, which is headquartered in Kamisababuchi, Izumi City, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The news follows the company’s decision shut its Miyazaki-Daini solar module plant to help its Kunitomi plant in southern Japan run at full capacity next year. The Kunitomi plant reportedly has an annual output capacity of 900 MW, which will be fully utilised in 2013, according to a company spokesperson quoted in press reports. 

Tokyo Electron breaks JV with Sharp

Tokyo Electron (TEL) has dissolved a joint venture, Tokyo Electron PV, a venture set up in 2008 with Sharp Corporation to develop plasma CVD systems for use in thin-film silicon solar PV cells, it has been reported by PV-Tech.

In the past week the TEL acquisition of Oerlikon Solar, a company that has competing turnkey silicon thin-film production capabilities, was completed, which could have been part of the reasoning behind the JV break-up. 

The contract to divest the Oerlikon Solar business was signed on March 2, 2012. The transaction was structured as a cash deal in which TEL acquired 100 % of the shares of Oerlikon Solar and closed in line with the original expectations of the signed agreement resulting in cash proceeds for Oerlikon amounting to CHF250m.

The Sharp JV had an original plan to work together for five years, but TEL has cut the efforts by one year short of the original plan.