Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Bo Varga > Nanotechnology & Solar Power News: June 2007
This column focuses on nano and clean technology conferences, commercialization of nanotechnology in solar applications, solar companies, funding, solar power policy issues, and other areas of interest to the solar power community. All quotations and sources are referenced and all opinions are those opinions of the columnist and not of Nanotechnology Now.
July 18th, 2007
Nanotechnology & Solar Power News: June 2007
The focus for June is the California Solar landscape, primarily as reviewed via a road show organized and managed by a major player in the "people who make things happen" area, Mr. Edwin Koot of http://www.solarplaza.com of the Netherlands.
In the solar + nano space a major June announcement was the successful B round funding close by Stion (formerly Nstructures), a company that was covered in a previous column as one of the core "nano solar" companies. "June 26, 2007, Menlo Park, CA, USA: Stion Raises $15 Million Series B Funding. Stion, a next-generation solar photovoltaics company developing high-efficiency thin-film modules comprised of proprietary materials, announced that it has raised a $15 million Series B financing led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. General Catalyst Partners also participated, as did all three existing investors - Khosla Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and Moser Baer Photovoltaic (India). Stion is aiming to minimize the total installed system cost of solar electricity. Stion was founded in 2006, and its (nano) technology is based on the work of Dr. Howard Lee, a leading researcher in nanotechnology . . . The President and CEO, Chet Farris previously worked as President of Shell Solar Industries and also served as President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)." www.stion.com
Edwin Koot was interviewed on June 13th.
Mr. Koot has been involved in solar since 1994, coming from a background in chemical engineering and riding a Dutch government initiative to promote solar power in the Netherlands. Prior he worked in environmental projects with agriculture and waste recycling. When the Dutch government ended subsidies due to a lack of funds, he went global.
His and his team staged a one week international photo voltaic trade mission to California, of which more below, in cooperation with the California Solar Energy Industries Association www.calseia.org.
The primary focus of Solar Plaza is project development & management and product matchmaking and the company has staged 6 road shows, mainly for European companies & investors to visit China twice, Greece & Italy and Spain twice - in all cases except China focused on new markets with new government provided market incentives. The China visits were focused on photo voltaic module manufacturers & resulted in purchase agreements.
His team works on matchmaking on a performance basis , utilizing Solar Plaza's database of 5,000 solar ompanies and emailing list of 16,000 contacts. He delivers the information and contacts required to realize projects and works on a percentage of the project ranging from ½ percent to 1.5% of a project - for example a 1 Megawatt project installation would be around US $3.5 million, while a 12 Megawatt project would be around US $40 million. His "sweet spot" is to act as a partner on large scale turnkey photovoltaic projects ranging from 1 Megawatt to 12 Megawatts, such as the project he developed in Spain that was funded by global investors.
His web portal - which I highly recommend - provides high quality information, serves to build his brand, and provides information about upcoming road shows. Other possible 2007 road shows could be to India or to South Korea. You can also subscribe to a newsletter and get on the Solar Plaza emailing list.
The California road show had a program of incredible richness and is a tribute to the organizational & managerial ability of Mr. Koot & his team as well as their reputation & credibility in the solar market. The program included both concentrated solar and photo voltaic company presentations & visits, presentations & dialog with large system installers (>500 Kilowatts), with large public utilities, policy maker, consultants, and by industry groups promoting solar power. The following information is extracted from a PDF file titled "International PV Trade Mission to California" - if you are interested in participating in the next road show details are available from Mr. Edwin Koot of Solar Plaza.
Please note that the company descriptions were provided by the companies themselves and this columnist may in some cases have a different perspective.
The following is the outline of the Monday - Friday program. The program is by no means an exhaustive listing of the 150+ California solar companies, but gave a superb overview and introduction to the largest and some key players.
The program began with Travis Bradford; President of Prometheus Institute www.prometheus.org presenting "The solar revolution and USA PV market". He is the author of: " Solar Revolution; The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry". His Prometheus Institute was created to fill a need for reliable data, quantitative analysis and practical information about the renewable energy industry.
Barry Cinnamon, President of CalSEIA and Edwin Koot, President of SolarPlaza then discussed "Business opportunities in the Californian PV market".
The $3.2 billion California Solar Initiative (CSI) was explained and the regulatory
authority discussion by Mrs. Polly Shaw, Senior Regulatory Analyst, California
Public Utilities Commission, http://www.cpuc.ca.gov
David Rubin, Program Manager of Pacific Gas & Electric http://www.pge.com presented the administrative and permit applications process experiences of a leading energy utility in California. PG&E is the leading utility for PV take-up by its customers. And the experiences and challenges in the Californian PV market were outlined by Sara Birmingham; Pacific Manager Self-Generation Incentive Program, California Solar Initiative, www.pge.com/selfgen , www.pge.com/solar
JP Ross, Policy Director of Vote Solar discussed experiences with the CSI "PV Activities of Public Energy Utilities and‘net metering' in California, opportunities and challenges in other USA States" http://www.votesolar.org . Vote Solar is working at the state level to implement the necessary policies to build robust solar markets.
Marc Culpepper, VP Strategic Marketing, SunEdison, presented the largest solar energy service provider in North America for commercial entities, government institutions and utilities. The first solar energy service provider to have an active utility contract for the installation and maintenance of solar systems. The system types include roof mount and parking structures, as well as ground mounted fixed and tracking systems. www.sunedison.com
Barry Cinnamon, President , the California Solar Energy Industries Association - representing more than 150 solar energy companies in California) discused "Business opportunities in the Californian PV market: How California Will Become the World's Largest PV Market http://www.calseia.org
Dan Thompson, CEO of SPG Solar presented "Large scale PV project experiences: a 1 MW PV project by SPG Solar" http://www.spgsolar.com
"Solar plants without upfront investment cost: the Purchasing Power Agreement (PPA) Model" was discussed by Matt Cheney, CEO at MMA Renewable Ventures LLC, which owns and operates over 1 Megawatt of profitable renewable energy assets in the USA and partners with top-tier investors, project developers and customers to build distributed solar energy plants. These plants sell electricity under power purchase agreement to host customers. http://www.mmarenewableventures.com
Andrew Beebe, President of Energy Innovations Solutions next talked about "Next-generation PV modules and the experience of 1.6MW solar power
systems at Google headquarters." http://www.energyinnovations.com
The International delegates then visited Applied Materials the global leader in Nanomanufacturing Technology™ with a broad portfolio of innovative equipment, service and software products for the fabrication of (thin-film) solar photovoltaic cells. Recently it sold in Europe (tandem) thin film solar module production lines using ultra-large (generation 8.5) 5.7m2 (2.2m x 2.6m) glass panels to a new Spanish and new German module manufacturers. These lines can drive down the cost of thin-film solar panel manufacturing while doubling rated factory output. The ultra-large substrates are expected to enable an additional 25% reduction in the cost of solar electricity, ideal for installations such as large commercial rooftops & solar park projects. http://www.appliedmaterials.com
Visit to MiaSole which manufactures thin-film CIGS (CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium di-Selenide) photovoltaic cells. (Miasole is one of a number of Silicon Valley companies working to bring bringing high-volume, thin-film manufacturing technology to the CIGS solar industry.) The company is claiming to grow from 50 to 200 MW of production capacity by the end of 2007. Unlike silicon solar cells, CIGS cells can be printed on flexible sheets of foil or other material. According to CEO David Pearce an efficiency of 15% will be possible for their modules in high volume manufacturing. With CIGS the production of paint-like products will be possible. This offers more flexibility and potentially lower cost as well. Miasolé has a patented high-throughput manufacturing process in place that can deliver square miles of product material in rolls. http://www.miasole.com
Visit to Akeena Solar, a a leading designer and integrator of solar power systems for residential and commercial customers in California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. writeEmail('akeena.net"','href="http://www'); target="_blank" onClick="return
Symposium: Next-Generation Solar PV Technologies; The Solar VC-driven Revolution in Silicon Valley included:
Solaria Corporation: "Low-cost solar PV concentrator modules", presented by Suvi Sharma, CEO Solaria Corporation). The company raised $22 million from investors (including Q-Cells) for the production of low-cost solar PV concentrator modules. Applying extensive expertise in the optics and semiconductor industries, Solaria develops breakthrough innovations that make solar cell and module production more efficient, thereby providing the cost savings that will ultimately allow solar energy to compete successfully on the world market. www.solaria.com
SolFocus: "High efficiency concentration PV modules", Ty Jagerson (VP Corporate Development. SolFocus is an innovative solar PV company that signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Moser Baer (of India) in 2006 and secured $32 million Series A financing to produce high efficiency concentration PV modules. SolFocus is focused on 1000-fold reduction in active semiconductor material area with a 50% cost reduction of solar electricity.
Silicon Valley Solar: "Producing more energy with half the number of cells…" Lenny Sharp (VP, Marketing). The company produces flat plate, internal concentrator modules and recently closed a deal for 10 MW. The modules are dimensionally equivalent to traditional flat plate modules, which provides seamless integration into virtually any solar installation. http://www.sv-solar.com
"US Venture Capital in ‘Solar Silicon Valley' Eric Wesoff of Venture Power Newsletter (available for ~ $700/year and highly recommended!)The VENTURE POWER newsletter is devoted to VC investing and the dynamics of energy and power markets - covering alternative fuels, solar power, batteries, and fuel cells. VENTURE POWER focuses on investor opportunities in renewable energy technologies, new energy markets, and start-up exits. Venture Power has joined forces with Greentech Media, an analyst-driven news source in the Cleantech Sector.
Then an entrepreneurial matchmaking event between Californian and international PV companies "Exploring international business opportunities" Where all members of CalSEIA were invited as well as other interested USA PV companies. Members of CalSEIA are PV system integrators and contractors, distributors, consultants and manufacturers as well as Energy Utilities.
Participating Californian and international companies had the opportunity to introduce their company and products in a brief presentation.
"Solar outlook for California" Daniel Tomlinson, Consultant Navigant Consulting, and Paula Mints. Ms. Mints has been studying the photovoltaic industry since 1998 and directs the PV Service Program, which has a 25-year history tracking the solar industry. Navigant publishes the quarterly PV industry newsletter "Solar Outlook" which provides analysis of current market trends and industry news in newsletter format. http://www.navigantconsulting.com
"Experiences and trends in the Californian PV market" by Glenn Harris, Managing Director of SunPower Consulting LLC which is an independent solar PV consultant in California. SunPower Consulting helps potential entrants, startups & established companies with the reliable information and experienced advice needed to succeed in the U.S. solar electric industry. http://www.sunpowerconsultingllc.com
Short presentations (3 slides; 8 minutes) by international and Californian PV companies were followed by extensive workshop & networking session between international visitors and Californians re International & Californian business opportunities Tom Dinwoodie, CEO PowerLight, discussed PowerLight products, services and experiences. PowerLight/Sunpower, a leading system integrator in the USA PowerLight is the leading global provider of large-scale solar power systems to commercial, public sector, utility and residential customers. The company designs, deploys, operates and maintains some of the largest solar power systems in the world. PowerLight is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SunPower Corporation. Since 1995, PowerLight has designed, developed and delivered more large-scale solar power systems (>500 kWp) than any other global solar electric provider. writeEmail('powerlight.com"','href="http://www'); target="_blank" onClick="return
David Hochschild gave a presentation on the future direction of US PV policy and discussed the Moscone solar project. He is a Solar Consultant and former Executive Director of PV Now, a coalition of leading PV companies working together to aggressively expand the North American PV market and eliminate market barriers. Members include: Sharp, Sunpower, SunEdison, SolarWorld, Evergreen Solar and others.
Last on the program was a visit to the Moscone Center Photo Voltaic project in San Francisco. This convention center has a 675 Kilowatt flat roof photo voltaic system consisting of 6,500 square meter of PowerLights PV roof tiles installed in March 2004.
Bo Varga's primary focus is the commercialization of technology by helping start-up & early stage projects with funding, business development, team building, and marketing. He has 28 years experience in Silicon Valley & globally. His primary focus is nano & clean technology ventures - especially clean energy & clean water. Proposals & questions can be sent to .