February 7, 2012

Guess Why Honda is using Thin Film Solar Panels to power Dealerships and Auto Plants

It is not widely known that ,Honda is a manufacturers of CIGs thin film solar panels alongwith the likes of TMSC, Solar Frontier and others. Honda has been in the solar panel manufacturing business of the last 3-4 years though its capacity remains small and its panels not very efficient. Like many conglomerates , Honda too entered the solar industry during the boom times and now would be finding the going hard . Note a number of Japanese solar companies have existed the business like Sumco and others. However Honda which remains a very marginal player in the global solar business is not going away . Instead it is using its solar panels to power its own dealerships and auto plants.
July 8, 2011

GE Solar Inverter(Brilliance),Panels (Efficiency,China) Review of Technology,Manufacturing and Comparision

GE is one of the biggest companies in the world and has one of the biggest Green businesses as well.GE is the most profitable wind turbine manufacturer and is one of the largest renewable energy developers in the globe as well.GE like other electrical and power conglomerates like Siemens has decided to invest billions of dollars into Green Energy.Till recently Solar Energy had gotten scant attention from GE just like Siemens too has not invested a lot.However the 50% CAGR rates of Solar Energy,the fast declining costs have made it imperative for GE to have a presence in this market.GE had bought a thin film solar company Prime Solar a few years ago to acquire the Cadmium Tellerium Technology which First Solar uses in its Solar Panels.
May 31, 2011

First Solar might invest $500 million to build a Thin Film Solar Factory near Chennai,India – Preempt Domestic Content Requirements

According to the Financial Express, a top US Thin Film Based module manufacturer is exploring the possibility of setting up a facility in Tamil Nadu with an investment of $500 million (approximately R2,255 crore) in the coming months.Note the sources have not revealed the name of the company but it is evident from the investment amount,solar technology that the company is First Solar.A a top level team from the company is expected to visit sometime early next week to initiate discussions with the state government officials.Note First Solar has been emphasizing the importance of India for its growth aiming to supply 100 MW of solar panels in 2011 itself which would make it a leader in the Indian solar industry.Other top solar panel companies like Suntech and Trina too have been investing heavily in selling their solar panels in India through partnerships with local companies.
April 7, 2011

Why Media Exaggeration (NY Times) making a Big Deal about General Electric's 400 MW Solar Factory is Nonsensical

It is surprising to see the US Media jumping about saying the General Electric will build the biggest solar factory in the US when it is completely factually wrong.There are other companies that add 400 MW in a single quarter these days (eg.LDK). By the time GE builds its 400 MW Cadmium Tellurium Solar Panel facility,there will be around 20 players in the world with more than 1000 MW capacity.GE has been claiming high efficiencies for its Thin Film Solar Panels but the claims that it will be able to dethrone First Solar as the Leader seems far fetched currently.Note First Solar will have almost 7 times more capacity worldwide by the time GE builds its first solar panel facility.GE has been long been developing the Cadmium Tellurium Technology buying up Prime Solar.
December 21, 2010

France Stupidly blames Cheap Chinese Panels for Stopping Solar Energy Subsidies leading First Solar to Delay French Factory

France recently halted its solar subsidy program for 3 months for solar installations under 3 kw as it was deluged with a large number of applications.Solar Feed in Tariffs are quite generous for certain type of solar panel installations like BIPV and greenhouses.This combined with rapidly falling solar panel prices primarly due to low cost Chinese manufacturing has made the business extremely lucrative.Note France is not the first country to see a massive flood of solar applications.Spain,Czech,Germany,Australia have faced problems with solar feed in tariff programs mainly because of poor design by slow moving bureaucrats.However most of these countries have never blamed cheap Chinese panel imports for their badly designed programs.Germany which is the undisputed solar market leader did for a while raise the Chinese bogey but it was for a short while.Anyone with a little understanding of the solar industry would know that almost 50% of the value is created in installation which is all done locally.Also most of the polysilicon raw material is made in the West as also most of the equipment used in producing panels in China.
November 15, 2010

Which is the Lowest Cost Solar Panel Manufacturer in the World

First Solar,the US based Cadmium Tellurium (Cd-Te) is the lowest cost panel producer in the world today if you don't include any penalty for low efficiency.Even if you penalize the Cd-Te Technology for its lower efficiency vis-a-vis the higher efficiency crystalline technology,First Solar is clearly the leader with a core cost of 74c/watt.The company has a roadmap of reducing the cost to 52c/watt by 2014 and given its track record it seems quite achievable.In Cd-Te,some new competitors have claimed even lower costs than First Solar but they have yet to prove it in large scale production.General Electric,Abound Solar are some of the other Cd-Te players which are planning commercial production in a year or two.But with around 2 GW of capacity,they will have a lot of catching up to do.
November 13, 2010

Why do Reputed Consultants like BCG remain Blind and Ignorant to Solar PV Advances and Competitiveness

Solar PV Technology have made a huge advance in the last 2-3 years leading to a demand explosion with more than 100% growth forecast this year.Crystalline PV Technology as well as Thin Film Technology like CIGs and CdTe have reduced their costs drastically.While Solar PV still requires generous government subsidies for their growth,grid parity has come very close.Solar PV Technology has become economically competitive in parts of Italy where a unique combination of high electricity rates and sunshine have made Solar PV Technology very attractive.Costs are being reduced at more than 10% per year which would make Solar PV competitive in 2-3 years in most parts of the world.However mainstream and reputed forecasters and companies like Boston Consulting Group remain blind and ignorant to this.BCG in a recent report has said that biofuels and Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSP) Technology will become competitive.I have issues with both of these technologies.
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.
August 12, 2010

Honda takes tentative steps into Solar Energy using Thin Film Technology

Honda's modules have an efficiency of 11.6% which seems lower than those claimed by the TSMC-Stion,Miasole and Q-Cells.These companies are claiming 13% efficiency though none of these companies have large scale commercial production as of now.Q-Cells and Miasole are at the head of the CIGs pack with companies like Nanosolar,Solyndra,Solar Frontier and TSMC-Stion closely following.CIGs technology is said to be the best thin film technology better than the Cd-Te technology used by First Solar and a-Si technology used by Sharp and the now bankrupt Applied Materials thin film division.
July 29, 2010

TSMC decides to focus on Solar CIGs technology instead of mainstream c-Si

SMC seems to have made a strategic call to focus on the thin film Cadmium Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGs) Technology instead of the mainstream crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology.Note CIGs technology is the most promising thin film technology with yields much higher than the other technologies like Cadmium Tellurium (CdTe) used by First Solar and amorphous Silicon (a-Si) which was used by AMAT's Subfab division.