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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Bo Varga > Nanotechnology & Solar Power News: July 2007

Bo Varga
Managing Director
Silicon Valley Nano Ventures

Abstract:
My July focus is on (1) initial Solar America Initiative Awards under the Incubator Grant program; (2) the announcement by First Solar of more than billion dollars in firm orders for CdTe thin film solar modules as well as a new 120MW plant to be built in Malaysia; (3)the announcement of a 1 GigaWatt Solar City by Sharp (and rumors of other 1 Gigawatt Manufacturing complexes being planned); (4) the upcoming Solar Power 2007 conference running from September 24 - 27 in Long Beach, CA, (5) the release by Deutsche Bank of the best report on photovoltaics released to date; and (6) an important symposium in Milan, Italy on Market Dynamics in the 8 largest global markets, staged by Solar Plaza.

August 19th, 2007

Nanotechnology & Solar Power News: July 2007

Nanotechnology & Solar Power News: July 2007

This column's focuses on nano & clean technology conferences; commercialization of nano technology in solar applications; important solar company news; fundings; solar power policy issues; and other areas of interest to the nanotechnology/solar power community. All quotations and sources are referenced and all opinions are the opinions of the columnist & not of Nanotechnology-Now.

My July focus is on (1) initial Solar America Initiative Awards under the Incubator Grant program; (2) the announcement by First Solar of more than billion dollars in firm orders for CdTe thin film solar modules as well as a new 120MW plant to be built in Malaysia; (3)the announcement of a 1 GigaWatt Solar City by Sharp (and rumors of other 1 Gigawatt Manufacturing complexes being planned); (4) the upcoming Solar Power 2007 conference running from September 24 - 27 in Long Beach, CA, (5) the release by Deutsche Bank of the best report on photovoltaics released to date; and (6) an important symposium in Milan, Italy on Market Dynamics in the 8 largest global markets, staged by Solar Plaza.

SOLAR AMERICA INITIATIVE (US Department of Energy) DOE Funding Opportunities Workshop, February 7, 2007 announced the goal of achieving Grid Parity by 2015(same cost from photovoltaics as from your US electricity supplier) with the initial goal of grants under this program to bring reduced-cost products to market by 2015. Details at: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/pdfs/b_cornelius_feb7_workshop.pdf . Projects funded by the initial Photovoltaic Technology Incubator Grants are at -
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/pdfs/pv_incubator_prospectus.pdf

The Photovoltaic Technology Incubator Grant Objectives are to:

(1) Explore the commercial potential of new manufacturing processes and products by
promoting (i) a diverse set of PV technologies which cover residential, commercial, & utility power generation and (ii) investigate the scale-up potential of promising technology which has already be proven on a small scale. (Pilot production)

(2) Foster innovation and growth in the domestic PV industry by providing U.S. small businesses with a chance to expand quickly ina rapidly maturing industry. Successful projects will position companies to apply into the second phase of the larger, "Technology Pathway Partnerships"which focuses on full cost reductions to make PV cost-competitive by 2015.

(3) Establish an efficient and cyclic funding opportunity by releasing funding only upon successful performance of pre-specified new hardware and by providing funding opportunities for new applicants every 9 months and by performing a stage gate review of funded incubator projects at 9 months.

Selected Incubator Projects will significantly expand and diversify domestic "market ready"PV technologies by achieving the following goals: (1) establish up to 1 GW of annual manufacturing capacity by 2010 of technology which is not commercially produced today and (2) position 10 U.S. companies competitively among world PV manufacturers by 2010. Projects include a diverse set of technogies: (i) Inexpensive and Thin Film Si, (ii) Low and High Concentration, (iii) Innovative thin film manufacturing, and (iv) Low Cost Multi-Junction Cell Production. Selected PV Technology Incubator Projects for the initial grant cycle are: AVA Solar (CdTe - grow from zero to 200MW by 2010); Blue Square Energy (thin c-Si - grow from zero to 70MW in 2010); CaliSolar (low cost c-Si - grow from zero to 200MW in 2010); EnFocus Engineering (CPV in rooftop module form factor - grow from zero to 10MW in 2010); MicroLinkDevices (low cost, high efficiency multi-junction cell - grow from 1MW to 125MW in 2010); Plextronics (thin film organic - grow from zero to 3MW in 2010); PrimeStarSolar (CdTe - grow from zero to 50MW in 2010); Solaria (CPV in rooftop module - grow from zero to 50MW in 2010); SolFocus (high concentration/large scale CPV - grow from zero to 400MW in 2010); and SoloPower (flexible CIGS thin film - grow from zero to 120MW in 2010).

Just to repeat, the funds are released upon success at achieving initial goals, much larger stage 2 funding will be available for companies that achieve their goals, and new companies & projects will be funded every 9 months.

FIRST SOLAR'S technology has a history dating back to the early 1990's and the expenditure well North of one hundred million dollars (US) to ramp to full commercial production in 2004. Since then the company has announced a major plant in Germany and in July another new plant in Malaysia, with the goal of ramping to 400+ MW annual production in 2010. The company was the lowest cost photovoltaic manufacturer in the first half of 2006, at $1.25 per Watt Peak. First Solar went IPO 11/16/06 priced at US $20 and as of end July 2007 the low was US $23.50 and the high was US $123.21!

July 9, 2007 "First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR) announced today that it has entered into five agreements for the manufacture and sale of solar modules totaling 685 Megawatts. These new agreements are expected to allow for sales of approximately $1.28 billion at an assumed exchange rate of $1.30/EUR1.00, over the period of 2007 to 2012. . . . First Solar also announced that its board of directors has approved the construction of an additional manufacturing plant in Malaysia with an annual production nameplate rating of 120 Megawatts, representing an investment of approximately $150 million. The additional production capacity of the new plant is scheduled to come on line in the first half of 2009." This announcement can be reached at http://investor.firstsolar.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=252638 or scanned in the archives of http://solarcellsinfo.com/blog/archives/824 - this blog is an excellent source of information and is highly recommended.

CdTe has more success to date than CIGS for three reasons; (1) commercially proven, (2) lowest cost per Watt Peak today, and (3) does not compete with LCD or white LED for indium or gallium. While thin film solar in general uses much less materials than c-Si, the price of indium, for example, is 10x plus that of tellurium. While recent studies project both technologies at around US $0.75 per Watt Peak in 2016, CdTe clearly has a very strong lead and major momentum in 2007.

SHARP announced July 31 the goal of building a 1 Gigawatt PV manufacturing plant:
http://www.solarbuzz.com/News/NewsASMA106.htm "Sakai City, Japan: Sharp to Develop 1 Gigawatt Thin Film Manufacturing Plant. . . .The solar cell plant will focus on mass production of thin-film solar cells and commence operations by March 2010. Plans call for a production volume of around 1,000 MW (1 million kW) per year for the thin-film solar cells to be manufactured at this facility. This level is expected to maximize economies of scale, and make this factory the largest solar cell plant in the world."

For readers who missed a prior column, an NREL-funded study in 2004 "Study of Potential Cost Reductions Resulting from Super-Large-Scale Manufacturing of PV Modules" concluded that: "4. Conclusions: We have shown that with current technology, an investment of $ 600 million to create a large-scale solar factory can lower the installed price to about $1 per Wp. The remaining technical challenges are the design of the factory equipment, the selection of the back coating, the design of the power converter and welded contacts for high volumes and the recycling of high purity materials such as silane. "

Note that this is the installed price! The breakdown was as follows:

Technology Approach a-Si CdTe CIGS
Total Panel Price per Wp $ .60 $ .42 $ .52
Total installation Price/Wp $ .40 $ .33 $ .36
Total price per Wp installed $1.00 $ .75 $ .88

http://www.nrel.gov/pv/thin_film/docs/nrel_hp_super_large_thin_film_manufacturing_oct04_short_form.doc

Rumors among solar consultants of other possible 1 GW plants to be announced by 2010 and operational by 2012 include First Solar in the US and Samsung and LG in Korea. In a prior column we covered Solar World which plans 500MW plants in Hillsboro, OR and Freiborg, Germany - this company announced the largest plants prior to Sharp and is another likely candidate for a 1GW plant.

SOLAR POWER 2007 Conference September 24 - 27 in Long Beach, CA, http://www.solarpowerconference.com/conference/agenda/ - this is THE conference to attend in the United States and is highly recommended. Last year was a real gang buster with attendance more than double that of 2005!

The Expo halls were sold out by early this year and will feature over 200 exhibitors. As most nano focused companies are still start-up / early stage in the commercialization cycle, Konarka appears to be the only strictly nano-based PV company that will be exhibiting.

If you have time to attend one conference in the next 12 months this is the one to attend - extensive coverage of both PV and CPV from technology through installation and financing with Federal & State & International government representatives addressing policy issues, with large to small company speakers, exhibitors & attendees - the entire range of the solar energy ecosystem.

Hightlights include the Clean Tech Venture funds panel Tuesday mid-day with Lisa Bicker of the California Clean Energy Fund, Chuck McDermott of Rockport Capital Partners, Andrew Friendly of ATV Capital, and Tim Woodward of
Nth Power.

And the CEO panel Wednesday morning with Anton Milner of Q-Cells AG, Steve Hill of Kyocera Solar, Zhengrong Shi of Suntech, Thomas Werner of SunPower Corporation, Lee Edwards of BP Solar, Ron Kenedi of Sharp Electronics, and Heiko Piossek of Conergy.

DEUTSCHE BANK released on 9 July 2007 SolarPhotovoltaics Technology and economics:thin films and crystalline silicon. This factual 119 page study includes well reasoned presentations on fundamentals of each technology, and on the industry and market dynamics, and module, system, and electricity costs projected through 2021. Customers of Deutsche Bank should be able to get a copy of this report from their http://www.db.com office. The introduction states: "In this piece we address the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry, assess the impact of new technologies, and present acomprehensive economic model with which to compare technology approaches, define necessary attributes of company business models, and forecast critical industry inflection points."

The Solar America Initiative goals of Grid Parity at the 12 - 16 cents/KWH are projected as achievable by all technologies. The graphics below is copied from page 6.
Deutsche Bank Projections

SOLAR PLAZA announces symposium "Demand dynamics in the world's major PV markets" The dynamics of global demand for PV modules in 2007 and tfollowing years is the topic in an interactive symposium on Tuesday 4 September in Milan, Italy. Leading experts from each of the world's 8 major PV markets (Germany, Japan, USA, Spain, Italy, Greece, Korea, China) will analyse their domestic market developments and share their expectations for further market growth in the coming years.

More information can be found on the global PV market place http://www.solarplaza.com, providing (free) information and matchmaking services. SolarPlaza has previously organized 6 international PV trade missions to Spain, China, Italy, Greece and California

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Bo Varga works in the field of technology commercialization by helping start-up & early stage companies & projects acquire funding, customers, & team, by leveraging a focused marketing process. Bo works with www.newcap.com, a boutique investment banking firm, providing research and business input for nanotechnology-related projects. He has 28 years experience in Silicon Valley & globally. His primary focus is nano & clean technology ventures. From 2001 through 2004 he & his friends organized & staged over 60 nanotechnology forums & conferences in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC. His prior experience includes business development, funding, & marketing for image processing, reconfigurable computing, pre-press, & graphic arts & design companies as well as senior technical & executive recruiting. Contact:

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