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Solarcon India 2012: Solar industry in third wave!

September 3, 2012 1 comment

SEMI, USA.

SEMI, USA.

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.
Read more…

Global solar PV industry likely to be 22 GW in 2012!

December 9, 2011 4 comments

Here is an outlook on the global solar PV industry for 2012, done with the assistance of Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst, IHS iSuppli. First, the outlook for the global solar PV industry for 2012. According to Dr. Wicht, the bottom up analysis results for the global solar PV industry is at 22 GW. However there is upside potential, e.g., in Italy and China, of a total of 6 GW.

On the same vein, what is the outlook for solar cell production in 2012? He said that based on the 22 GW market, 19.6 GW of cSi cells will be produced in 2012. If the market is growing faster (upside potential), then 24 GW is possible.

Global crystalline module producers Q2-11. Source: iSuppli, USA

Fig. 1: Global crystalline module producers Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Let us now have a look at the current top 15 producers. The graphs here are for global crystalline module producers and global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011. The data for 2012 will certainly look different. 

Fig. 1 is about the crystalline module producers, as of Q2-11, with Suntech the leader at 9.8 percent share. Yingli with 6.8 percent and LDK with 6.4 percent are the next two. The others are: Trina Solar 6.2 percent, Canadian Solar 5.2 percent, Sharp 4.6 percent, Jinko 3.7 percent, Hanwha Solar 3.6 percent, Jabil Circuit 3.5 percent, SolarWorld 3.3 percent, REC 3.2 percent, Sunpower and Kyocera with 2.8 percent each, Sanyo Electric 2.5 percent, Bosch Solar 2.4 percent and all of the others at 33.3 percent.

Fig. 2 is about the global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011, with First Solar as

Fig. 2: Global thin film module producers, Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Fig. 2: Global thin film module producers, Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

the leader at 45.5 percent share. Solar Frontier with 10.5 percent and Sharp with 5.6 percent are the next two. The others are pretty small at the moment, with some of the major ones being Q-Cells with 3 percent, Bosch Solar 1.7 percent, etc. Others constitute 15.5 percent.

Improve cost structure, diversify downstream!
Two years ago, iSuppli had advised: ” improve the cost structure, improve the sales side, and diversify downstream.” How true does these hold for 2012?

Dr. Wicht said: “This advice remains very valid. Since 2009, nearly all Western players have developed downstream activities. They are using the power plant business to outbalance week demand and to enter into emerging markets.

“The challenge is now at the Chinese players: How do you maintain the high utilization of factories when sales is not visibility and there is no downstream business? PV installations in China are used as a “fast exit”, generating module sales and maintaining utilization (e.g., Yingli).” Read more…

Solarcon India 2011 begins with record exhibitors

November 9, 2011 2 comments

Presenting the excerpts from the welcome address by Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, at the ongoing Solarcon India 2011, being held in Hyderabad.

This year’s show features a larger exhibition, a three-day dual track conference, and will feature three concurrent technical programs. The theme for this year’s exposition, representing the widening solar value chain in India, is “Showcasing the Solar Eco‐System: From Polysilicon to Power Plants.”

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad, India.

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad.

The exhibition with over 115 exhibitors from eight countries, compared to 81 exhibitors in SOLARCON India 2010, covers the entire solar value chain, will provide you an opportunity to see a wide range of new products and services offered by Indian and international companies, under one roof.

This year’s show, as many of you are aware, is certified by the US Department of Commerce (US DOC), and features an exclusive US Pavilion with 14 leading US companies participating in the exhibition. I am also delighted to welcome a 35-member Clean Tech Delegation led by the USA’s Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco J. Sanchez to the show.

I am delighted to have in our midst two other distinguished guests – Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, who is widely credited to be the architect of the India’s National Solar Mission. In the same vein, I am happy to welcome Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin film module manufacturer, with us this morning.

Featuring more than 70 speakers drawn from the industry, academia and government, the conference is themed “Charting India’s Roadmap to Solar Leadership — Translating Potential into Reality.” The conference attracts high-profile participation of solar energy leaders from all segments of the industry supply chain, academia and governments from India and around the world.

The three-day conference also includes an LED Lighting summit, co-organized with Frost & Sullivan, which will focus on SSL (solid state lighting) technology with speakers from among LED manufacturers, LED suppliers, researchers and others.

The climate in which we are holding the show this year has not been without its challenges – on two fronts: the events in Hyderabad on the one hand (which have now, we are grateful to all parties involved, returned to complete normalcy) and the considerable stress that the solar industry is under due the slowdown in the European economies, regulatory changes in the major solar markets and manufacturing over capacity resulting in a fall in PV system prices over the last two to three quarters.

This show and the support it has received are proof that the long term prospects for the solar industry remain most bright in India.

Lessons to learn from Solyndra debacle!

September 1, 2011 1 comment

Am sure you all have heard about Solyndra, which has shut its manufacturing facility and will file for bankruptcy.

According to reports available, Solyndra’s case has been an overall failure of the business. However, I will put it as — too much, too soon! Also, this move should come as a warning to all solar/PV companies — established as well as start-ups.

Perhaps, Solyndra had a problem of escalating costs of manufacturing the PV modules. Maybe, it could not find a way to balance that cost against the actual selling cost.

According to IMS Research, the global PV module industry recently suffered from a huge oversupply. This led to fierce price competition and the average prices dropped by about 20 percent in a single quarter. Now, will such a scenario help Solyndra? Perhaps, not!

Closer home, in India, there are said to be a lot of solar/PV players. How many of these players, who have petitioned for a license, do you think will last the course? Another interesting pointer: how many of these players will actually survive the very first year? Or, even the second?

There is something called consolidation, which simply means — there are a lot of players in the market, but very few are going to  last the course – isn’t it? If that’s the case, then why have so many players in the first place? The answer perhaps lies somewhere between how many players are actually relevant and how many players are actually competing for honours!

Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE, government of India, had mentioned during Solarcon India 2010 that there is a need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity. Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Hon’ble Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, had added that  “India should develop its technology right here! Don’t import third rate technology!” Wonder, how much of these advices are being followed!

Well, if these advices aren’t being followed, then make no mistake: there will be some Solyndra-like cases in India too! I hope I am wrong!!

Solarcon India 2010: Timely implementation of phase 1 critical to success of JN-NSM


The inaugural function at the ongoing Solarcon India 2010 has sent out a significant message to the world — India means business in solar! All eyes are now on phase 1 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM). Timely and successful implementation of phase 1 really holds the key toward future success of this ambitious Mission!

A view of the inaugural function of Solarcon India 2010 @ Hyderabad.

A view of the inaugural function of Solarcon India 2010 @ Hyderabad.

Strong emphasis is now being placed on research and development, and rightly so. The Indian government is also working toward tackling issues involved with project financing.

The Union Ministry of Urban Development has now come up with a National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, which should provide many more opportunities for project developers. Just days before the conference, guidelines for new solar projects under the JN-NSM were announced. NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam signed MoUs with 16 project developers for solar power projects. On the state level, the initiatives undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh government are there for all to see and emulate.

Let’s take a look at what the various dignitaries from Central and State governments, EPIA and SEMI, had to say at Solarcon 2010. Please bear with me as this is quite a long post!

India needs to develop research facilities
Delivering his address at the inaugural function of Solarcon 2010, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Hon’ble Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy highlighted that JN-NSM has been the vision of Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minster. Phase 1 is now underway — a target of 1,000 MW, with 500MW for solar PV and 500MW for solar thermal.

Addressing the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Abdullah stressed: “India should develop its technology right here! Don’t import third rate technology!” He quipped, “Sastaa roye bar bar, mehengaa roye ek bar!” That is, it is better to buy expensive and quality technology rather than banking on cheap technology.

“Your technology has to work for 25 years! You must have your own research centers. Research is one of the goals of the NSM. You have to do your own research. You are going to the market, not only for India, but also for a unified world,” he added.

The Minister remarked that by simply adding solar water heaters in several hotels had reduced their electricity bills by half. He added: “We want to encourage many players. We want true players!” Addressing the solar thermal and PV debate, he said: “When we started, we put 60:40 for thermal and PV. We changed that to 50:50.” There may be a need to go down further. “Buy the best technology, don’t buy cheap,” the Minister insisted.

He added that many states had missed the boat in phase 1 of the JN-NSM. Some examples include Bihar and Kerala. However, there is every likelihood that they will get included in phase 2 of the JN-NSM. “Look at the amount of fossil fuels we are importing at the cost of dollars and the country’s health. Just look at the savings we can do for the nation if we can develop solar technology,” added Dr. Abdullah.

Solar PV heats up in India — NVVN signs MoU with 16 developers; new guidelines for solar projects


The solar photovoltaics segment has surely heated up in the past week in India and is currently the flavor of the year. And rightly so! Just take stock of the developments that have been happening over the past three to four days!

Large market for solar inverters
Let’s start with Kolkata, Dominique Lapierre’s City of Joy! Late last week, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), in association with Government of West Bengal, Webel and West Bengal Green Energy Power Development Corp. Ltd (WBGEPDCL) organized a workshop on solar inverters. Obviously, solar inverters are going to play a significant role in India’s off-grid applications segment within the solar PV domain.

Dr Pradip K. Dutta, vice chairman, ISA, advised: “India offers a large market for solar inverters. However, the domestic companies need to improve product design and expand their capacities to be able to compete at a global level.”

NVVN signs MoU with 16 project developers

List of Indian solar project developers. Source: Press Information Bureau, Government of India.

List of Indian solar project developers. Source: Press Information Bureau, Government of India.

Today, there are two other significant news coming from New Delhi. First, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power generated by independent solar power producers, has signed memorandum of understanding (MoUs) with 16 project developers to set up to 84 MW capacity solar power projects.

Under migration 54 MW capacity will be through solar PV and balance 30 MW through solar thermal technology. These projects are expected to be commissioned by middle of next year. The table lists the 16 project developers.

Guidelines unveiled for new solar projects
Second, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Minister for Power, jointly unveiled the guidelines for selection of new solar power projects under the 1,000 MW solar power scheme in the first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM).

This will definitely put India in league with countries like Germany, Spain and Japan — all leaders in harnessing solar power.

The ISA has welcomed this development. It is confident that these policy measures would give impetus to the growth of the domestic solar PV industry. This is a concrete step in realizing the targets set by the National Solar Mission and will provide a significant boost to the domestic solar industry.

Stefan de Haan, senior analyst, Photovoltaics, iSuppli, said in an email response:  “According to our latest analysis global PV installations will grow to 14 GW in 2010 and 20 GW in 2011. In view of these numbers and considering the enormous potential of PV in India, the ~500 MW targeted in your country through a three-years period appear rather modest.

“The really good news is that concrete measures have been taken. It is a starting point that raises hopes for more to come in the future. Incentive schemes supporting sustainable growth of PV in India (e.g., feed-in-tariffs) would in particular help your own industry. For the future, Indian PV components suppliers bank largely on their domestic market.” Read more…

RoseStreet Labs develops breakthrough multiband solar cell technology!


This story is specifically meant for those either connected with or interested in the global solar PV industry. And, it concerns a wonderful technological breakthrough!

Bob Forcier, chairman & CEO, RoseStreet Labs.

Bob Forcier, chairman & CEO, RoseStreet Labs.

Now, I’m not sure how many of you heard this story — late last month, scientists at Phoenix, Arizona, USA, based RoseStreet Labs Energy Inc. (RSLE), chairman and CEO, Bob Forcier, announced a breakthrough multiband solar cell technology.

A bit about the company: RoseStreet Labs has ventured into the semiconductor, renewable energy and life science markets with strategic investments, intellectual property development, three joint ventures and a successful spin out in personal health technology. RSLE’s first commercialization business, FlipChip International (FCI), experienced double digit growth annually and opened its FCMS joint venture in Shanghai, China.

Naturally, this prompted me to get in touch with Bob Forcier at RoseStreet Labs, with the help of Dawn Cuevas, office manager – RSL/FCI.

But first, the breakthough achievement!

RoseStreet Labs announced a breakthrough lab demo of the first known multiband photovoltaic device featuring three distinct light absorption regions integrated into a single layer thin film device.

This breakthrough is based on RSLE’s IBand technology and is the first known intermediate band solar cell reduced to practice in a laboratory demonstration. This technology illustrates great promise for high efficiency thin film solar efficiencies above 35 percent by potentially capturing the full spectrum of the sun’s spectrum.

According to the company, the intermediate band solar cell developed by RSLE is a thin film technology based on the discovery of highly mismatched alloys.

The simple and elegant three bandgaps, one junction device has the potential of significantly improved solar light absorption and higher power output than III-V triple junction compound semiconductor devices that presently hold the world record for solar efficiency. Read more…

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