quinta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2009

First Solar Passes $1 Per Watt Industry Milestone
First Solar today announced it reduced its manufacturing cost for solar modules in the fourth quarter to 98 cents per watt, breaking the $1 per watt price barrier. (...) First Solar began full commercial operation of its initial manufacturing line in late 2004. From 2004 through today, manufacturing capacity has grown 2,500 percent to more than 500 megawatts in 2008. First Solar’s annual production capacity will double in 2009 to more than 1 gigawatt, the equivalent of an average-sized nuclear power plant. These escalating volumes have been accompanied by a rapid reduction in manufacturing costs. From 2004 through today, First Solar’s manufacturing costs have declined two-thirds from over $3 per watt to less than $1 per watt.
Obama Signs Stimulus Package
President Obama made the $787 billion stimulus package official with his signature Tuesday. The package comes with goodies for solar, wind, smart grid, plug-in hybrid cars and other types of greentech businesses. (...) The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will set up a program to provide roughly $60 billion worth of loan guarantees to offset the costs of manufacturing renewable energy equipment, developing renewable power projects and building electric transmission lines. (...) A 30 percent investment tax credit will be available for companies that make equipment for renewable energy systems, energy storage equipment, smart grid, energy-efficient lighting, electric transmission and distribution and carbon capture and sequestration. (...) Grants will be available, instead of a tax credit, for offsetting 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system at home or business. Large-scale solar plants, often developed to sell power to utilities, also are eligible. This applies only to systems that are installed in 2009 and 2010. Projects that began before the end of 2010 and put in service by Jan. 1, 2017 also qualify. The U.S. Department of Treasury will still need to work out the details of the program. Consumers who buy qualified solar water heating systems can claim a one-time tax credit that equals 30 percent of the cost of a system. Previously, this tax credit had a cap of $2,000. More details here.

quarta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2009

EDP associa-se à Principle Power para eólicas offshore
A EDP, através da sua participada EDP Inovação, assinou um acordo com a Principle Power para o desenvolvimento de um projecto de eólicas offshore em águas profundas, a instalar na costa portuguesa. O projecto, denominado WindFloat, foi concebido pela Marine Innovation & Technology [...] consiste numa base flutuante para instalação de turbinas eólicas [que] asseguram um maior controlo do movimento das ondas e das turbinas e permitem a instalação de parques eólicos em áreas até agora inacessíveis, com profundidades superiores a 50 metros mas com grande abundância de recurso eólico.
No âmbito do memorando de entendimento assinado, as duas empresas comprometem-se a desenvolver um projecto ao largo da costa portuguesa. A operação será realizada em três fases. Na primeira será construído e instalado um WindFloat para efeitos de demonstração. Segue-se uma fase pré-comercial, em que serão instalados três a cinco equipamentos, e, por fim, o projecto entrará na fase de exploração comercial.
APISOLAR alerta para distorção de livre concorrência
A Associação Portuguesa da Indústria Solar criticou hoje o facto de a grande maioria das empresas que operam no mercado "não virem a beneficiar" do programa de incentivos à promoção da instalação de painéis solares em residências. (...) A Associação alerta o Governo para que o grosso das empresas certificadas que vivem da produção, venda e montagem de painéis solares está "muito apreensivo" em relação ao futuro do seu negócio. "Só duas empresas foram escolhidas para fornecer equipamentos ou painéis solares", garantiu Rafael Ribas [vice-presidente da APISOLAR], salientando desconhecer "as razões da exclusão das restantes igualmente certificadas". (...) A Associação já enviou uma carta ao primeiro-ministro, José Sócrates, e aos ministros da Economia e das Finanças a pedir reuniões de urgência, pois considera que "o modelo escolhido" distorcerá a livre concorrência no mercado, originando falências e agravando o desemprego.

sexta-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2009

Suntech Laid Off 10%, Factories Running at 50%–60% Capacity
Economic downturn prompted the world's largest solar panel maker to chop roughly 800 people from the payrolls, said Steve Chadima, vice president of external affairs at Suntech. The layoffs affected mostly contract factory workers, who were let go as the company reduced its production, Chadima added. Back in Novmber, Suntech trimmed its sales forecast for 2008, blaming the weak euro and credit crunch. The company has several factories in China, and the layoffs took place at the main factory near its headquarters in Wuxi. (...) He added that the company didn't cut salaries for the executives. Instead, managers didn't take the year-end bonuses for 2008 "to deal with financial challenges in the next few months." (...) The company's factories are running at 50 percent to 60 percent capacity, which falls in line with the guidance the company has given to investors. The company recently celebrated reaching a 1-gigawatt production capacity for its solar cells and panels.
[In the meantime] Suntech Power Holdings said Wednesday the market is brightening up a bit as it prepares for growth in the United States, France, Italy and Japan in 2009. The company estimates that solar panel demand in the United States could reach 400 megawatts to 700 megawatts in 2009, while the global market could take in more than 5 gigawatts, said Steven Chan, Suntech's chief strategy officer, during a conference call with analysts. Chan cautioned that the U.S. outlook depends largely on whether the stimulus package that President Obama signed only a day earlier could achieve its desired results.

domingo, 15 de fevereiro de 2009

Applied Materials: No New Solar Contracts Expected
The solar factory equipment maker said some of its thin-film customers are having trouble lining up money to build their production facilities. The company expects to layoff roughly 200 more than previously anticipated. (...) Some of the company's thin-film customers have had trouble lining up money to pay for their orders, said George Davis, Applied's chief financial officer, who didn't name those customers.
Solar Power and Geopolitics in the Mediterranean
The idea is to build renewable energy hubs — based mostly on solar technologies — across North Africa to increase local energy security, provide millions of new jobs in countries like Egypt and Morocco and generate plentiful amounts of green electricity for export to Europe. (...) Philippe Lorec, a senior energy and industry official in France, said the goal was to start dozens of projects creating up to 1 gigawatt of power in the region over the next two years and then to introduce another 19 gigawatts of power over the next 19 years. (...) He said public and private investors — in particular sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, investors in Norway and the European Investment Bank — already were showing interest partly because they were reassured there was a “political umbrella” over the plan.

sexta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2009

Painéis solares térmicos terão benefício triplo para as famílias
A instalação de painéis solares térmicos em habitações particulares vai ter um “triplo benefício” para as famílias já a partir do próximo mês, anunciou hoje o primeiro-ministro (...) pretende incentivar a utilização de energias renováveis, para a qual o Governo irá dispor de cem milhões de euros dirigidos à comparticipação na compra dos equipamentos e a incentivos fiscais de 30 por cento do custo do investimento. A estes dois aspectos a favor do orçamento das famílias, José Sócrates juntou ainda a previsível redução de 20 por cento da factura energética anual de um agregado familiar.
(...) o investimento conjunto, das famílias e do Estado, poderá atingir os 225 milhões de euros e beneficiar 65 mil lares, para além de vir a criar 2500 postos de trabalho no ramo dos painéis solares.

quinta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2009

New PV Regulations Set by Greek Parliament
The Greek Parliament this week introduced a new version of its solar photovoltaic (PV) regulations, which includes the country's feed-in tariff, amending the legislation originally voted on and passed in mid-2006.The new regulations abolish the unofficial cap of 800 megawatts that was set by previous decisions on the amount of applications that could be accepted.
The reforms include guaranteed feed-in tariffs of 40 to 50 cents per kilowatt hour over 20 years. “The amendment to the law has come at the right time. It is not yet too late for Greece to join the European photovoltaics boom – and in so doing secure both environmental and economic benefits,” according to Peter Thiele, Executive Vice President of Sharp Energy Solution Europe (SESE).

domingo, 8 de fevereiro de 2009

1366 Technologies Wins DOE Contract to Develop Low-Cost Cells
1366 Technologies said Thursday it will get up to $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to produce crystalline silicon cells (...) The company’s researchers have figured out two ways to increase cell efficiency. One is to improve the conductivity of the cells. Currently, solar cells are printed with lines made with a mix of silver and other materials for conducting and transporting the electrical current. The mixture contains materials that significantly hamper the silver’s conductivity, and the lines are thicker than they could be, van Mierlo said. What 1366 Technologies has done is shrink the lines’ width to 30 microns from 100 microns to 150 microns, thereby exposing more of a solar cell’s surface to the sun. The company also wants to copper instead of silver. Copper doesn’t conduct electrical current as well as silver, but it’s cheaper. Making these changes would improve a cell’s ability to absorb the blue light and improve its power-generation capability (...) The second improvement 1366 Technologies’ researchers have made is to change the texture of the solar cell so that it can trap and absorb more of the infrared light.

terça-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2009

“Near Perfect” Absorption of Sunlight, From All Angles
To harness the full spectrum of solar energy, Fresnel reflection at the surface of a solar cell must be eliminated over the entire solar spectrum and at all angles. Here, we show that a multilayer nanostructure having a graded-index profile (...) can accomplish a near-perfect transmission of all-color of sunlight. An ultralow total reflectance of 1%-6% has been achieved over a broad spectrum, λ=400to1600 nm, and a wide range of angles of incidence, θ=0°-60°. The measured angle- and wavelength-averaged total reflectance of 3.79% is the smallest ever reported in the literature, to our knowledge.

Typical antireflective coatings are engineered to transmit light of one particular wavelength. Lin’s new coating stacks seven of these layers, one on top of the other, in such a way that each layer enhances the antireflective properties of the layer below it. These additional layers also help to “bend” the flow of sunlight to an angle that augments the coating’s antireflective properties. This means that each layer not only transmits sunlight, it also helps to capture any light that may have otherwise been reflected off of the layers below it. The seven layers, each with a height of 50 nanometers to 100 nanometers, are made up of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle — each layer looks and functions similar to a dense forest where sunlight is “captured” between the trees. The nanorods were attached to a silicon substrate via chemical vapor disposition, and Lin said the new coating can be affixed to nearly any photovoltaic materials for use in solar cells, including III-V multi-junction and cadmium telluride.