ReneSola Ltd, a leading global manufacturer of solar PV modules and wafers, has introduced its new Virtus II multicrystalline modules in India. ReneSola has started providing locally produced PV modules to the Indian market and expects to provide 250 MW of India-made PV modules over a two-year period.
The India launch follows the successful introduction of the Virtus II solar modules to the US and Australian markets.
Founded in 2005, Renesola has 17 subsidiaries worldwide. Production sites located in Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Sichuan, China. The supplier estimates to ship 1,550 ingots and 700 wafers during 2012, up from 1,014.1 ingots and 295,2 million wafers in 2011.
Some of Renesola’s projects include 4MW and 2MW in Slovakia, 11.5MW in Germany, 20MW in China, 9.21MW in Italy, and 27.6MW again in Germany. A couple of Renesola’s rooftop projects include 118.8KW in Slovakia, 1.95MW and 100.8KW in Greece, 1.4MW in Belgium, 12.96KW in Bulgaria, and 806.4KW in Germany.
Virtus II modules
Characteristics of the Virtus II modules include higher power output, higher performance at same cost, same LID, and same CTM cost. Virtus ingot improves the distribution of grain size and lifetime, and provides higher lifetime and lower dislocation density. The Virtus A++ wafer allows uniform grain distribution with less defects. The Virtus A++ wafer also has much lower defects.
Major defects of conventional multi‐crystalline wafers can be reduced by the innovative controlled DSS method. The Virtus I module provides better temperature coefficient of power and lower light induced degradation compared to mono modules. The Virtus II wafer increases cell efficiency due to higher lifetime, lower dislocation and uniform grain size. The Virtus II module shows better performance and the same production cost of multi-module.
There are three phases of PV industry development, including formation, regional development and globalization, according to Bettina Weiss, VP, Global PV Business Unit, SEMI, USA. She was delivering the opening keynote at the ongoing Solarcon India 2012 event in Bangalore, India. The event runs till September 5.
According to her, in the first stage, discoveries lead to inventions. Inventions find niche and high-value applications. Technology, and not manufacturing is the key driver here. For regional development, new industries seen as source for economic development. Markets develop through government subsidies. Global supply chains and regional clusters of excellence develop as well.
State of global PV industry
The government policy support for PV has been strong till 2011. However, it may fall of during 2012-16. The supply-demand balance was generally stable till 2011, which could likely see structural overcapacity in 2012-16. The demand, which has been over 70 per cent till 2011, will likely see -20 per cent growth from 2012-16.
While there were many ‘saviour’ markets, such as Spain (2008), Italy (2010) and Germany (2009-11), Europe may prove to be not enough to absorb excess capacity in 2012-16. Poly, scale and the learning curve had been competitive till 2011, and are likely to give way to non-poly costs, technology and efficiency during 2015-16. While the gross margin was consistently above 20 per cent till now, the path to profitability remains unclear for the period 2012-16.
As for the cell and module makers performance, sharp price declines since 2011 have stimulated record installations globally. The effect on PV manufacturers have been severe. The entire supply chain has been plagued with collapsing margins.
Revenue to shipment ratio declined for five consecutive quarter since Q1 ’11. The list of insolvencies keeps growing. The outlook for 2012 is that volume/shipment upside is likely, but the path to profitability is still unclear.
Then, there is the ongoing solar trade war!
The US Department of Commerce (DOC) levied anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese solar module imports, with tariffs ranging from 31 per cent to 250 per cent. In response to the US tariffs, China’s Ministry of Commerce, on July 21, 2012, announced that it will start its own AD and CVD investigation on imported solar-grade polysilicon from US, and is initiating an AD investigation on these imports from South Korea. The EU Commission will decide by mid-September whether to accept a similar complaint and launch an investigation.
The other day, I was engaged in an interesting discussion regarding the Indian semiconductor industry. The obvious question: can fabless semiconductor take India to the top?
Well, it all depends on the definition of ‘top’! Does it mean the role of India-based semiconductor companies as a percentage of the semiconductor market globally? Or, do we take India as a system/gadget maker and thus, as a percentage of that market??
Fabrication is increasingly expensive, much involved and the actual global fabrication players (i.e. those who (also) own a fabrication plant) are declining and will be about three to four companies, and about 10, if we include all off those Chinese fabs.
And, India continues to slip back in having a ((proper) fab!
Now, India’s contributions to global electronics and semiconductors will continue to increase as the MNC subsidiary companies’ hub, and not quite as India-based companies, who are coming out with something that will shake the world in terms of that chip(s)!
If India has domestically consuming gadgets, that are more India specific, that could need devices available less outside. For that purpose alone, a local fab could be essential. However, such requirements appear less each day!
So, yes! Fabless semiconductor could be the way forward for India, in terms of contribution to its economy. However, in terms of India becoming a global player through such chips conceptualized in India, for India and the world, the chance is lesser, for now!
Well, hasn’t the Indian semiconductor industry been shouting ‘fabless’ from the rooftops for some years now? Let us see how India has progressed so far!
One, in terms of having local fab, the answer is NO! Two, in terms of increasing its percentage of contribution to global semiconductors, electronics from India, YES, an increasing role and value (though these are embedded software too).
In terms of having India-based companies working toward developing chips, YES again, in terms of smaller, analog, components that are crucial (like Cosmic Circuits), and YES, in terms of having IP-based companies (like Innovative Logic India for USB3.0) and, YES in terms of increasing service companies.
Many more companies are coming up, and some started directly here in India, such as Apsconnect, Techvulcan, etc. In terms of the actual solutions, YES again, as we have developed solutions in medical, automation, etc.
However, the answer to the question remains NO in terms of having chips come out of India, as yet!
Now, what happens to the fab-lite strategy? Well, it continues, globally. From an India perspective, it is actually in a way, validation of the earlier belief. There is less direct importance to manufacturing from themselves, but more about the actual value add they do OR can do.
Now, given this situation, let us also look at the key growth drivers in Indian electronics, especially, since we are talking about fabless and fab-lite.
The obvious one is to develop solutions for the India market. It is likely that these can be for outside markets as well. This ability will actually make India develop solutions for global markets. Also, these are not semiconductors per se, but, (embedded) solutions based on them.
The above situation can slowly lead to a fabrication and manufacturing ecosystem in India. India should also try to position itself at the higher end of the solutions, markets, services, etc., so that its value contribution can be much more.
Friends, is there a way out of the current situation that India finds itself?
Actually, this is normal process of growth in the chosen path. India continues to think about low end, less (or no) risk options of services. There is only so much growth, revenue, profit possible in those areas unless one goes up the market.
India has not done that as it could be, as an ecosystem in all. India should focus on its own internal requirements. That could mean growth and an increasing role for India, globally, as well!
Besides manufacturing, the big issue lies in marketing of such products. A senior statesman from a leading Indian electronics firm once asked me, “How will India compete in marketing of these products compared to the Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers, who have more than 30 years of experience in these industries?”
How one wishes that India had at least two wafer fabs by now, what with the technology nodes constantly upping their ante. Even if someone does decide to put up a fab, it will be extremely expensive and has to be cutting-edge. However, as I said, one should never give up hope!
And then, there is the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS).
The newly announced M-SIPS is long awaited and much needed. The key is to now turn this ‘gazette notification’ into implementation, by the regulators, and utilisation by the industry.
It is understandable that the government can only do so much, particularly, under the given circumstances. With that kept in mind, this is a yet another good start! Hopefully, instead of just commenting on this policy, the industry sincerely works to benefit from it by properly utilizing it.
Why just think of digitalization of TV! The number of set-top boxes required across the country will be huge! Or, think of electrification of roads all over India. The number of LEDs required are likely to be massive. These are just two examples of the many possible. The Indian electronics industry needs to move fast, and now!
Hasn’t all of this been very easy to say, difficult to manage!
LG has introduced the Optimus Sol E730 smartphone in India. Packed with loads of features the phone runs on the Android OS, v2.3.4 (Gingerbread), and uses a Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor. It supports GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, as well as HSDPA 900/2100 MHz. Measuring a sleek 122.5×62.5×9.8mm, it weighs about 110g. The ultra AMOLED capacitive touchscreen supports 256K colors. The panel is 480 x 800 pixels and 3.8 inches (~246 ppi pixel density).
Some other significant features include: Corning Gorilla Glass protection, card slot microSD, up to 32GB, 2GB memory included, with internal memory worth 1 GB storage, 2 GB ROM and 512 MB RAM. For data, it uses GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32-48 kbps amd EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps. Speed offered by the LG Optimus Sol E730 include HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 2.9 Mbps. For WLAN users, there is support for Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, etc.
The phone comes with a 5MP camera, which however, pales, (as would many other released and to be launched mobile smartphones) when compared to the recently announced Nokia 808 PureView that has 41MP sensor with high-performance Carl Zeiss optics and new pixel oversampling technology.
Some of the camera features in the LG Optimus Sol E730 include geo-tagging and face detection. Again, videos can be made using the 720p@30fps capability, which otherwise dwarfs against the Nokia 808 PureView’s full HD 1080p video recording and playback with 4X lossless zoom and the world’s first use of Nokia Rich Recording.
Well, this phone too does not have a stylus! Actually, all or most of the Android OS based smartphones are coming without the stylus, and one wonders why! The phone uses a standard Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery, with stand-by time of up to 100 hours and talk time up to 4 hours.
As for the applications or apps, they are all standard now on smartphones! Even the LG Optimus Sol E730 is packed with loads! Besides the regular ones — such as Alarm/Clock, Browser, Camera, Contacts, E-mail, Facebook, FM Radio, GMail, Google Search, Maps, Messaging, Music, News and Weather, there are some new ones as well. For instance, SmartShare alllows you to play and share content from any wireless device via this mobile phone. It requires Wi-Fi settings to operate.
The LG Optimus Sol was priced at Rs. 19,000 at the time of release.
According to Dr. Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics Corp., while fabless startups have declined substantially in the West during the past decade, they are growing in India.
Given the time required to grow large fabless companies in the past, India should not be discouraged by current progress. India has key capabilities to stimulate growth of fabless companies, such as:
* Design services companies.
* Design engineering expertise and innovation.
* Returning entrepreneurs.
* Educational system.
Semiconductor frustrations abound! I recall a discussion in mid-2005 where an industry expert mentioned that fabless was the way forward for the Indian industry! Between then and now, fabs were supposed to come up, but they failed. Nevertheless, one must not give up hope!
As of now, there seems to be too much focus on services, multinational company dominance, perceived lack of progress, perceived lag compared to China, lack of foundry infrastructure, and no clear dominant indigenous Indian company.
Of the top 50 semiconductor companies in 2011, 12 are fabless and four are foundries. Fabless IC revenue has been growing at 17 percent CAGR since 1997 and will continue to grow. Even the fabless market has been gaining in the overall market. However, the fabless revenue is said to be highly concentrated. He added that the leading fabless companies specialize and average ~23 years since formation. Also, the VC funding for fabless semiconductor companies has been declining in the West. As for the number of fabless companies, the GSA put it at 1,200 companies, at the end of 2010.
According to Dr. Rhines, the semiconductor IP market would grow to about $3,707 million by 2015, at a CAGR of 14 percent. The leading semicon IP players specialize and average 22 years in business (similar to fabless).
Now, India is said to be among the top five semiconductor design locations worldwide (SIP + fabless + design services). Also, India is a leading source of semicon IP, accounting for 5.3 percent globally. From the looks of it, India seems to have built a foundation for a fabless future. India can well become the next great fabless incubator! Read more…
As per reports on the Internet, the Government of India has said that it has no objections to companies importing low-priced Chinese solar cells, so long as the cells imported meet the prescribed quality standards!
Oh, well! This is yet another blow to the battling group of the domestic manufacturers. A week before, their plea for seeking imposition of import duty on finished solar equipment was rejected! Is this yet another admission of defeat, this time by the Indian government, at the hands of the hard-working Chinese solar PV manufacturers? Looks like it!
Now, I am not sure what has actually transpired! However, this was very much along the cards and expected! At least, I have seen all of this happen in the Indian telecom and later, electronics industries. Therefore, why should the solar PV industry be any different? Besides, it is a clear indication of the rising might of the Chinese, globally!
Get it clear: as of now, there is no country or manufacturer, that can take the gigantic risks that the Chinese industry is so used to taking, and succeeding, in the long run! Unless the other manufacturers of the world are able to take necessary risks and continue to produce products on par or better than those from China, this story will be repeated, again and again!
Whether the Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission succeeds in the long run — that remains a major question! However, the fact that remains as of now is: there is no country as strong as China, as far as solar PV is concerned, especially in manufacturing!
The Indian government’s stance is directly opposite to the USA, which has reportedly taken China to the World Trade Organisation over dumping of solar cells and panels.
In fact, today, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), supported by more than 150 US employers of more than 11,000 workers, applauded an analysis by Hari Chandra Polavarapu, MD of solar and clean-technology research for brokerage firm Auriga USA, that underscores the importance of holding China accountable to international trade law.
Polavarapu’s target is China’s alleged campaign of underwriting development of massive solar manufacturing capacity – without cultivating a significant domestic market – then wielding exports of artificially low-priced product as a “battering ram” to knock down the US solar manufacturing industry.
Polavarapu contends in a series of research and analysis notes that China’s alleged actions against foreign domestic industries not only distort markets but also sap the power of competition to drive efficiency and innovation. Polavarapu characterizes China as a “state sponsor of predatory capitalism and asymmetric warfare” that “does not help in weeding out inefficient players but poisons the profit pool for everyone.”
What a contrast!
Now, I am not the judge, sitting with any decision! We, as a nation decide what is best for us!
In telecom, there are so many overseas makers, when there was room to cultivate local ones, back in the late 1990s. However, that never happened! In components, we tried our best to ‘kill’ the few local manufacturers by reducing import duty to zero. In electronics, we never did try to develop any local industry with earnest. Perhaps, the logic was: the presence of strong global players!
Solar PV industry recommended to stay optimistic; US govt. supports India’s clean energy initiative!
Solarcon India 2011 started today in Hyderabad, with Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., stating that the global solar PV industry is in a bit of the state of turmoil. Some are driven by pure supply-demand. He recommended the industry to be strategically optimistic. He cautioned that not everyone who’s playing in this field, will go on to survive the next two to three years. First Solar reiterated its optimism regarding its own prospects in the industry.
Commending Solarcon as a flagship event for the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, said that the policies and programs started by the Indian government are now yielding results. The Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission has seen the participation of the industry, the academia and the funding agencies, showing that the success of the program lies in the hands of the people involved.
When the Indian solar PV industry started, the country was said to have only 2MW. By the end of October this year, India had 125 MW. By 2013, it will likely reach 2GW, according to Dr. Bhargava.
He apprised the audience regarding the REC (renewable energy certificate) program. Initially, the REC was for three years, but was later extended to five years. As of now, experts are consulting to enable it to increase to seven years. He estimated that the Indian solar PV industry might even go up to 100GW, instead of 20GW, and encouraged everyone to work together and make this happen.
Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, USA, stated that a lot of excitement is in the air! “We are
committed to India and its solar industry. There are opportunities to do big things in this industry.” He added that solar has achieved a triple bottom line.
According to Sanchez, the solar industry is worth $17 billion in India and it is growing. India is spending $19 billion by 2022 to produce 20GW of solar energy. There will be a lot of engineers, manufacturers, etc., who can monitor and contribute to the growth of the industry. He advised that India will need to add 150GW of capacity over the next five years. Therefore, India is well placed to seize opportunities with trade partnerships.
He said: “The US government fully supports India’s clean energy initiative. There is an abundance of opportunities in solar. We can achieve much more in partnerships. We are committed to working with you. It is a huge opportunity for both countries.
“Some of the obstacles include repositioning for success, where companies indulge in unfair trade practices. When the market is open for competition, it creates thousands of jobs, and the market is growing quickly, helping many. It is all about chance and choice. We have a chance to build a great industry. We need to work together in partnership and share value. We will work together for the good of India and its consumers. We hope that India will take the same approach. India now has the chance to build an exciting industry for the future.”