Solar Energy

Articles related to Solar Energy

October 14, 2010

Cheapest Solar Panels – Which Companies Sell at the Lowest Price and Why you should avoid Distributors/Wholesalers

Solar Panels despite being mostly a commodity comes in a wide variety of types,technology,prices,size and colors.You can read an introduction about the lowest cost panels here.With there being no global index of Solar Panel Prices and with Prices of Solar Panels forming very quickly,its a difficult problem in acquiring the cheapest solar panels.The problem is compounded for solar panel buyers because these panels are typically sold by wholesalers and distributors who charge fat margins without providing any additional value.Also due to the lack of knowledge about the quality and the properties of solar panels,buyers generally get fleeced.Also panels are seldom sold separately as it is generally part of the overall package of the complete installation of panels,inverters,wiring,connection and integration.Here is a quick overview of which are the companies which make the lowest cost solar panels on the planet at a good quality and the most recent prices which they are selling at.Notice that the European and Japanese solar panels are of much higher price despite there being very little to differentiate themselves from Asian solar panels.
October 13, 2010

Solar Panels in India – Complete Guide on Buying Low Cost PV Panels from Solar Energy System Manufacturers

Note Solar Panels prices differ widely depending on the technology,power,brand and quality.Thin Film Panels in general cost lower than crystalline silicon panels.Higher Power Panels have a higher price as they generate more electricity.Good Brands also have a higher price tag while cheap imported Chinese panels cost less.Solar Panel prices have decreased by almost 50% in the last 2-3 years and now sell for around Rs 1800-2500 per panel internationally and should fall to around Rs 1000 in the next 3-4 years . However for small installations on house of 1-5 KiloWatts,panels sold by distributors is more expensive and can cost you almost 50% more.Also Solar Panels form only a part of the total Solar System Cost.The total cost of installation,equipment and wiring can cost upto Rs 30,000/Kilowatt.
October 12, 2010

Can GE Dethrone First Solar from its Leadership of the Solar Energy Market

GE is now looking to dethrone the No.1 Solar Energy Producer First Solar using its all round strengths.GE had invested in a Cadmium Tellurium Startup Prime Solar which is ramping up production.Note Cd-Te is the same technology which is used by First Solar.GE has said that it has managed to attain 15% efficiency on commercial glass.Don't know how much of it is true since First Solar only manages around 12% efficiency despite around 10 years of dedicated R&D.However if GE can even manage to get near to that level then it would surely give First Solar a run for its money.GE has also tied up with Japanese Solar Frontier to market its CIGs based modules.Note Solar Frontier or Showa Shell is building a massive 900 MW plant in Japan.This would make Frontier Solar one of the biggest Solar Players in the world.GE is offering an integrated solution comprising of modules,inverters,services and other BOS equipment to get a leg up on competition.
October 12, 2010

Solar c-Si PV Industry overcoming its Polysilicon Fixation with Focus Changing to Energy Efficiency and Optimization

With most of the low hanging fruit of polysilicon costs already gone,the industry has to focus on efficiency to cut down on costs.Selective emitters,microinverters,DC-DC optimization and other technologies are already finding takers.A Number of microinverter companies like Tigo,Enphase Energy etc are tying up with global heavyweights like Suntech and Sunpower to increase their penetration and cut costs.National Semiconductor has also tied up with Suntech to integrate its products with Suntech Modules to improve efficiency and reliability.The Balance of Systems costs for Solar Panels and their Performance are not usually paid a lot of attention.But with every cent now making a big difference,these technology could make or break a company in this commoditizing industry.While the value addition and costs of these new products are still subject to market acceptance,its a major change for the industry.This is the next phase in the evolution of the solar energy industry as it looks to additional ways to cut costs and bring solar energy to grid parity.Look for M&A in this space as well since the industry is fragmented with a host of VC backed startups.
October 12, 2010

Glass Giant Saint-Gobain plans second Solar Thin Film CIGs plant with Hyundai Heavy Industries

Saint Gobain like Semiconductor Giant TSMC is betting on Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGs) Technology rather than the mainstream crystalline silicon technology.CIGs is getting the most significant investments these days compared to other thin film technology.Yesterday Ascent Solar (ASTI) got an IEC certification for its flexible modules which would enable it to target the mainstream rooftop market from niche applications earlier.Miasole has improved the efficiency and costs of it CIGs greatly while Nanosolar can't be counted out because of its strong backers.Solyndra however remains mostly in the shadows despite around $1 billion in private investment.Stion is another strong contender partnering with TSMC and also thinking of opening a plant in Taiwan on its own as well.Saint Gobain is already a big player in the solar market as it suppliers glass to a lot of solar companies for their modules.Getting into panel manufacturing will further allow it to get a foothold of this new potentially giant industry.Du Pont,Dow Chemicals,Corning all have considerable presence in the solar equipment market as well.
October 11, 2010

Abu Dhabi Lowers its Green Ambitions Further as Reality Humbles MultiBillion Dollar Zero Carbon Dreams

Abu Dhabi has got the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with asset of over $600 Billion.The small emirate which is a part of the larger United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the world due to its Oil Riches.The country had made ambitious Renewable Energy Plans setting up a Fund/Company dedicated to its Green Ambitions called Masdar.The Company has faced a number of reverses as it tried a number of things all at once in a new industry.Its "Jack of All Trades" Strategy has proven to be a failure as it lost/fired a number of top executives.Its Solar Plans have also come up a cropper as Thin Film Technology has faced a lot of reverses in recent times.The Company has tried to change tactics by concentrating now on Solar Thermal Technology partnering with Abengoa and Total in building a CSP plant near Abu Dhabi.With its Renewable Energy Arm facing a number of reverses,its plan for a futuristic,zero carbon Green Masdar City has also been scaled down.
October 7, 2010

Eastern Europe sees Unprecedented Green Energy Growth driven by EU 20% RE by 2020 Target leading to a Subsidy Backlash

Renewable Energy is Easter Europe has boomed driven by government incentives and subsidies.Many of these countries like Estonia,Bulgaria and Czech are cutting or already have cut generous feed in tariffs paid to Green Energy Investors.While Czech has seen an unprecedented Solar Boom leading to a massive public backlash,Estonia and Bulgaria have seen huge wind energy projects.The Green Energy has boomed in the last 2 years mainly as governments in these countries try to meet the Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 set by the European Union.These East European countries have been hit hard by these EU directives as the costs have spiralled
September 29, 2010

Why is United Kingdom Reviewing Feed in Tariffs for Green Energy just 6 months after Starting it

United Kingdom a Laggard on Renewable Energy UK has been the biggest laggard in Renewable Energy amongst the European Union.Despite being a leader in Offshore Wind,it severely lacks in other forms of Green Energy like Solar,Biomass etc.It has been very late in introducing a Feed in Tariff Scheme which has been a huge success in Germany and other countries.While there have been booms and busts caused by poorly designed FIT schemes in Czech and Spain,UK does not suffer from this problem.The Subsidy Scheme adopted by UK favors small distributed installations which is currently the aim of the other EU countries.This review has led to uncertainty in the minds of Green Investors as Government Subsidy is essential for reasonable returns. Why UK is Reviewing the FIT The Labour Government which implement this Green Policy has changed and the new PM David Cameron is trying to radically change the Government Policy.He has sharply curtailed the UK Budget and may want to change the Opposition Party set Green Policy as well.This seems to be the only justification behind this move which can only be described as erratic.
September 25, 2010

Bulgaria looks to Limit the Deluge of Green Energy Projects Fueled by Generous Subsidies

Bulgaria has also now decided to cap Renewable Energy Growth with around 12.5 GW of Green Energy applications lying in the backlog.Poorly designed and implemented subsidies are the root cause for such booms and busts.Poor Governance mechanisms are behind these Green Disasters.Bulgaria is the poorest European Union Country and can ill afford higher electricity prices.The government is targeting a 16% RE target by 2020 for which it wants to fix targets for different Green Energy Sources.The power grid operator has already warned of blackouts in case even half of the 12 GW Renewable Energy applications are actually constructed.Solar and Wind Energy have been incentivized with high FITs with global heavyweights like Siemens and Suzlon rushing in to build wind farms.
September 24, 2010

Independent Solar Project Developers becoming Extinct as Upstream Companies keep gobbling them up

Independent Solar Project Developers are fast becoming extinct as Solar Panel Producers are fighting to gobble them up.The Solar Pipelines developed by these project developers have become very valuable for Module Producers who want to lock in to their captive demand.Despite a 140% y/y growth forecast in Solar Demand this year,the Solar Panel Production has managed to keep up.Huge amounts of capacity have been built up with Demand still precariously dependent on European Government Subsidies.There is always the danger of a Spanish meltdown happening in a crucial market which could lead to a major decline.Sunpower,First Solar and MEMC have been at the forefront of such acquisitions spending hundreds of millions of dollar in acquireing these developers.Most of these Project Developers have reaped a huge windfall as they had not constructed even 10% of their pipelines.The value given to these acquired companies was for their PPA,developement,environment permits,land acquisitions etc.
September 22, 2010

Another European Solar Factory closes as Green Industry moves to Low Cost,Subsidy Rich Asia

Not only Europe,even US is rapidly losing Green Jobs to Asia.Earlier Evergreen Solar had decided to shut down its US plant to set up a factory in China and Energy Conversion Devices is laying off workers to hire more in Mexico.The high costs of labor and capital have made it unfeasible for Western companies to manufacture in the Developed Nations.High Subsidies in the form of Low Interest Long Term Loans,Tax Holidays,Free Land have made the Asian countries irresistible to US companies.First Solar which is the largest manufacturer of panels in the world has most of its production in Malaysia where it enjoys a 15 year tax holiday.Chinese Company's get massive subsidies from the government.This combined with extremely low worker and managerial salaries make western factories totally uncompetitive in a globalized world.REC which is one of the world's biggest solar polysilicon and wafer producers has decided to shut down its module plant in Sweden.While the reason given is isolation from other factories,I suspect the costs are too high in expensive Sweden.Another European Solar Factory closes as Green Industry moves to Low Cost,Subsidy Rich Asia
September 22, 2010

TSMC Incredibly Low Solar Module Cost Target of 19c/watt Sounds Very Scary for the Competition

TSMC Cost Targets Would be Incredulous coming from any other Company TSMC has said that it would look to become amongst the top 5 suppliers in the world in the next 5 years and looks at a Cost per Watt of only 19c/watt in the next 3 years which would be further reduced to 14c/watt.This is much lower than the current costs for the Solar Leader First Solar which is at around 75c/watt.This target if achieved would make solar energy the cheapest form of energy and would definitely make TSMC No.1.Note First Solar is planning a cost target of 52c/watt in the next few years.TSMC is planning to start production in Q211 with 200 MW of production planned for 2012.
September 17, 2010

Should you invest in BYD – Strategy Skepticism vs China's Green Ambitions

BYD has fallen almost 35% this year heavily underperforming the market as sales growth has slowed substantially.After a 140% growth in Auto Sales last year,this year the sales growth will go down to 30% as the company has reduced sales target to 600,000 from 800,000 earlier.Chinese auto sales have fallen and BYD has been specially affected with its workhorse F3 Model declining in popularity.The company delivered a good first half with $100 million in 2Q profits.However the company is still quite expensive at $15 Billion Market Cap which would give it a P/E of around 38x.Also the company's strategy to enter solar energy does not make sense.However BYD is a good story for the future.China has made a new Green Policy to create National Champions in the EV and Battery Industry.BYD is a perfect candidate with its strengths in both areas.While its execution in the EV sector is yet to give results,it is already planning into the future getting into the Grid Storage Sectors.I would not put money presently but would wait for a better entry point in the future.
September 15, 2010

Government Confiscates Sicilian Mafia's Lucrative Green Energy Assets as Renewable Energy Booms in Italy

While Solar Energy is a new kid on the block,Wind Energy has been growing very strongly in the past Decade.Italy was rethinking its Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Scheme to remove price guarantees but at the last minute it changed its mind.Wind is being installed at a rate of 1 GW per year in the last few years.The Italian Mafia has latched onto this lucrative business muscling their way in.The Sicilian Mafia is said to own a large portion of the country Wind Farm Assets and the $1.9 Billion Seizure of assets from a high flying businessman is proof of this.43 Companies mainly operating in the Solar and Wind Segments were seized by the state in one of the biggest swoops against Organized Crime.Wind Turbines involve acquisition of land,local permits and subsidy grants which require a lot of organization and local clout.The Sicilian Mafia is uniquely place to control and organize the setting up of Wind Farms.With a government guaranteed return of Euro 18c/KwH,the Wind Subsidy in Italy is one of the highest in the world.Compare this to the Rest of the World where Wind Subsidies get around $0.10/KwH.Note Criminals have not only been involved in Italy,but there are also reports of nefarious activity in Renewable Energy in Bulgaria,Spain,Canary Islands etc.
September 14, 2010

Czech removes Tax Holiday to Further Deflate the Green Energy Bubble

Czech is a Poster Boy of how not to implement a Feed in Tariff Scheme.While other countries like Spain,Greece have also faced Solar Booms,the Czech Bubble compared to the size of its Economy has been spectacular.The removal of Tax Benefits will further lower the returns for Green Investors which should probably eliminate the make the Czech Renewable Market next year.
September 14, 2010

Green Investing in India – Economically Backward Orissa remains backward in Renewable Energy as well

India's most industrialized and fast growing states like Gujarat,Tamil Nadu,Maharashtra have been the most aggressive in Green Energy as well.Gujarat has attracted huge interest in Solar Energy through strong support by the government.Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra account for almost 70% of India's 8-9 GW Wind Energy capacity.However economically backward states like Orissa,Bihar,Uttar Pradesh remain laggards in this respect as well.Orissa seems a classic case where the general economic lethargy extends to the Renewable Energy Sector as well.
September 11, 2010

Is the Humongous Solar Thermal Desertec Project a White Elephant Doomed to Fail?

The Desertec Initiative is the Biggest Green Energy Project ever conceived with a vast scale and an ambitious vision.However Desertec falls short on many parameters which are described above for it to ever reach fruition.While small scale versions of this Concept can be implemented like that by Solar Millennium in Egypt,the massive energy framework conceived by Desertec is not feasible.The Huge Subsidies and High Costs make it uneconomical despite its Clean Energy Promise.
September 11, 2010

Renewable Energy in India – Siemens establishes a beachhead to sell Solar Thermal Plants and Wind Turbines

Siemens is one of the largest conglomerates in the world with a huge Green Division.This German Giant is present in almost all sectors of the upcoming […]
September 7, 2010

Can Oerlikon Turnaround its ailing Solar Thin Film Equipment Business

Applied Materials which was the 800 lb Gorilla in the a-Si Thin Film Equipment raking in Billions of Dollars in Orders from established Solar Leaders like Q-Cells and Suntech also found itself in trouble.With its SunFab Division leading Millions of Dollars and fast losing its economic viability,AMAT was forced to conduct Euthanisia.Its customers like SunFilm,Moser Baer,Suntech also have pretty much shut down their factories writing off large investments.However Oerlikon is not giving up like AMAT
September 7, 2010

How will Germany's Nuclear Plants Extension Affect Green Energy Growth

Germany is planning to extend the life of the nuclear reactors that are supposed to close in 2022 by an average of 12 years.Note extension will […]
September 7, 2010

Steel Giant Posco Decides to make a Surprise Solar Entry through Orkla Silicon Subsidiary Elkem Acquisition

Polysilicon Demand has been skyrocketing in the recent years due to Exponential Growth of the Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells.This made Elkem decide on building a 5000 ton solar specific plant in Norway through a new cheaper process of refining Silicon called Metallurgical Silicon.However the 2008 GFC and poly Oversupply has made this process suspect as $400/kg poly prices went crashing down by 90%.Timminico,a Canadian Producer which was in the process of setting up a giant mg-Si plant has almost collapsed as orders for this less refined Polysilicon Form dried up.
September 1, 2010

After CSI,California shows Green Leadership again with an innovative Feed in Tariff-Reverse Auction Subsidy Scheme

This Program will try to avoid the disadvantages of Feed in Tariff Schemes as it will introduce a Market Based Element into the Tariffs.However this project is still at a preliminary stage and will need a lot of fine tuning.Note similar scheme have been implemented in China and India as well.The Chinese 280 MW of Projects have seen cuthroat competition with loss making bids by State Owned Utilities.It remains to be seen whether California can make a success of this RAM Program where China has failed.Even India has reported a huge response for the JNNSM First Phase of PV Projects.The Success of this California program will be crucial as it might serve as a template for future programs by other states and the Federal Government.
August 31, 2010

Is Polysilicon and Wafer Supply Tightness the Reason for New Long Term Contracts being Signed by Downstream Solar Producers

Polysilicon used to be Big in the Supply Constrained Days of 2007 and 2008.This commodity which is generally producers for $30/kg used to be sold at $400/kg by Polysilicon Producers as the Exponential Demand Growth in the Crystalline Silicon Solar Cell Industry pushed the prices to astronomical levels.With Polysilicon being the only constraining link in the Supply Chain,Downstream Solar Companies with access to Cheap Polysilicon Contracts used to be the Kings of the Industry.Polysilicon Producers like MEMC,Wacker etc. managed to sign many sweetheart deals on those days with 10-15% prepayments and other favorable conditions loaded in the favor of the upstream suppliers.
August 31, 2010

Giant Chinese State Owned Utilities expectedly Win most of Solar Projects with Loss Making Bids

Don't know how these projects will further the cause of Solar Energy in China as they don't help in formulating realistic Feed in Tariff Rates for the Government's New Energy Administration (NEA).China has long been delaying the introduction of a Feed in Tariff (FIT) for Solar Energy.Note many major countries in the world except for China and the USA have Feed in Tariff Programs to promote Solar Energy.In fact 75% of the world's solar energy installations are dependent on the FIT subsidies.
August 31, 2010

Green Industry in India – Solar Energy runs into Debt Hurdle even as Government plans Smart Meter Rollout

.Most of the State Electricity Distributors are in poor financial shape and have been known to frequently default on their financial obligations.With almost 70-75% of the estimated $2.2 Billion in the first phase of the PV projects to be financed by debt,this represents a big hurdle for the success of Solar Energy.The government needs to come out with some sort of arrangement of guarantees for the smooth functioning of the Solar Mission and instill confidence amongst investors and Banks.
August 27, 2010

China raises Environmental and Labour Concerns in another African Country even as it pushes Green Investments

China is making massive investments into Africa exploiting the virgin natural resources of the Dark Continent for its voracious industries at home.Unlike the Developed Nations,the Chinese government has no qualms about the country's rulers or human rights violations.Not surprisingly as it has been accused by activists of violating labor and environment rights in areas where it has invested.Most of the African countries have despotic and corrupt regimes looking to sell the continents rich resources to anyone willing to pay them.They have found a compliant partner in China which gives them a red carpet treatment.Mozambique is the latest country to sign a MOU which would lead to Chinese largesse.
August 27, 2010

New Czech Renewable Energy Policy to Bust the Solar Boom with a 50% Subsidy Cut

Czech Republic came out with a Renewable Energy Framework which will finish off the Solar Sector in the country if passed in the current form.Czech despite […]
August 25, 2010

New South Wales Generous Solar Bonus Scheme reaching the 50 MW Limit Prematurely Unsurprisingly Surprises the Australian Bureaucrats

Countries around the world have always managed to shoot themselves on the foot while designing and implementing Feed in Tariff Schemes.Spain did it in 2008 resulting in a Boom and Bust Cycle,Czech is going through the Boom Phase currently while UK seems to be in the starting stage of the Boom.A Bust inevitably follows the Boom,as Bureaucrats never manage to prepare a good incentive scheme to promote Green Energy.It always surprises me how a developed nation government regularly manages to botch up these schemes.
August 25, 2010

Spanish CSP Leader Abengoa thinks Solar Thermal Technology won't reach Grid Parity till 2020

Although the global financial crisis has pushed governments to sharply cut aid to the renewable sector, it has had little effect on costs in the solar mirror power sector compared with the photovoltaic (PV) sector, which uses solar panels to generate power. "We've see some reduction in prices, but nothing like in the PV sector. Costs per megawatt are between 4 and 5 million but they can reach up to six depending on the kind of power storage system you use," Seage said. Sector analysts put the average cost of CSP per megawatt at about 5 million euros before the global financial crisis, about six times more than for conventional gas-fired power generation. The high cost of CSP makes it unlikely to be competitive with conventional energy until the next decade, and that also depends on reasonable charges for carbon dioxide emissions. "We see CSP power becoming competitive between 2020 and 2030, depending on a country's levels of radiation," Seage said.
August 25, 2010

Why are Korean Shipbuilders Hyundai,Samsung and Daewoo making Wind Turbines?

Korean Shipbuilders are facing the twin problems of increased competition from Chinese companies as well as a global glut in Ship Supply.They are looking to diversify away from the ship building industry into newer faster areas of growth.Wind Energy has been growing at above 20% CAGR over the last several years and makes a good area to invest in.Daewoo Shipping has bought a small firm in the USA DeWind to acquire Wind Turbine Technology while Hyundai has already made plans to open Wind Farms.With same skills required in Offshore Wind Farms and Shipbuilding,Daewoo Shipping has set a target of $800 million from Wind Energy by