Energy Conversion Devices suspends manufacturing Companies mentioned: Energy Conversion Devices, GP Solar, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Alta Devices, First Solar, NRG Energy, Arizona Public Service of Phoenix and Housing and Development Board (HDB) of Singapore
Thin Film Intelligence Brief 2 – 15 November 2011
Energy Conversion Devices suspends manufacturing; looks to new markets for growth
Michigan-based Energy Conversion Devices, which has factories in Michigan, Canada and Mexico, has had to suspend manufacturing and will have furlough 400 workers until economic conditions get better and it can shift its stock. ECD said that it is continuing to execute on its restructuring plan focusing on reducing cost, expanding addressable markets and enhancing its technology.
The company expects to resume production in its manufacturing facilities once the existing inventory has been sold and market conditions warrant. The company can return to normal production levels within 60 days.
The company is starting to get traction in its efforts to enter new geographic markets, said the company. ECD has recently completed shipments to Brazil, South Korea, India, the Caribbean and China. Solar sales to customers outside of Europe and North America now account for about 40% of total shipments in the quarter, compared to 4% in the prior year's first quarter.
ECD's Open Solar initiative is designed to foster innovation around UNI-SOLAR technology through collaboration with third parties. Examples of Open Solar partners include Marcegaglia, one of Europe's largest steel producers, and GP Solar, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer of solar-powered rechargeable battery technology. Other products that are part of the Open Solar initiative include military products and consumer goods.
Emitting photons key to solar cell efficiency says research
Theoretical research by scientists with the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has led to record-breaking sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies in solar cells. The researchers showed that, contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, the key to boosting solar cell efficiency is not absorbing more photons but emitting more photons.
“A great solar cell also needs to be a great Light Emitting Diode,” says Eli Yablonovitch, the Berkeley Lab electrical engineer who led this research. “This is counter-intuitive. Why should a solar cell be emitting photons? What we demonstrated is that the better a solar cell is at emitting photons, the higher its voltage and the greater the efficiency it can produce.”
This theoretical efficiency, called the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit (SQ Limit), measures approximately 33.5-percent for a single p-n junction solar cell. This means that if a solar cell collects 1,000 Watts per square meter of solar energy, the most electricity it could produce would be about 335 Watts per square meter.
Calculations by Miller, who is a member of Yablonovitch’s research group, showed that the semiconductor gallium arsenide is capable of reaching the SQ Limit. Based on this work, a private company co-founded by Yablonovitch, Alta Devices Inc., has been able to fabricate solar cells from gallium arsenide that have achieved a record conversion efficiency of 28.4 per cent.
First Solar starts Australia's first utility-scale solar farm
First Solar has confirmed that construction has commenced on the 10-megawatt AC Greenough River Solar Farm, located 50km south of Geraldton. Once completed, the solar farm will be the first utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) project in Australia and will bring significant investment to the local community through a partnership with local civil contractor WBHO Civil - the company awarded the Phase 1 construction contract for the project.
The construction program is scheduled to take place over a period of approximately nine months. Following civil work, which commenced on Friday (Nov. 4), the project will progress to on-site construction of structural supports and the completion of above ground electrical works. The installation of First Solar PV modules is anticipated to begin in March 2012, with the solar farm expected to be fully operational by mid-2012.
Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services each own 50 percent of the Greenough River Solar Farm, with the WA Government providing A$20 million including A$10 million from the WA Royalties for Regions program.
First Solar bags 66 Megawatt Alpine Solar Project
NRG Energy and First Solar have signed an agreement for First Solar to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for NRG's 66 megawatt (AC) Alpine solar project in Lancaster, California. First Solar will also provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services. Electricity from the Alpine project will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
Construction is expected to start before the end of 2011 and be completed in Q3 2012, creating an estimated 250 jobs over the course of construction. The project will use First Solar's advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules.
APS Paloma plant comes online as first AZ Sun facility
Arizona Public Service of Phoenix, Arizona and First Solar have completed the 17MW Paloma Solar Power Plant, which is the first facility to reach commercial operation as part of the AZ Sun Program. APS also placed the Cotton Center Solar Plant in commercial operation (the second AZ Sun facility to come online), adding an extra 17MW to the AZ Sun Program. Both plants are located in the town of Gila Bend.
Through the first phase of the AZ Sun Program - which was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in 2010 - APS is investing in the development of 100MW of turn-key, utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants across Arizona. The Hyder Solar Plant in southwestern Arizona is expected to reach commercial operation in fourth-quarter 2011, making it the third AZ Sun facility to enter service.
The four-year program is expected to have 100MW online by 2014 and create more than 1000 construction jobs.
The energy demand in Chile just does not stop growing. The mining sector has been the latest to announce that its estimated power needs for 2020 will increase by 68% according to the latest figures given by the Ministry for Mining
We look at the European Union tariffs now imposed on imported Chinese panels and how some PV makers are reporting an upswing in sales as a direct result of the protectionist measures.
A pro-nuclear and pro-gas physicist is due to take over as head of the US Department of Energy this year. The PV industry will be glad he also has a soft spot for solar.