www.interPV.

net

JANUARY, 2010 JANUARY, 2010
COVER STORY

PV PICKS
FOR 2010
AFTER A DELIGHTFULLY- EXHAUSTING EXAMINATION OF THE MANY COMPANIES MAKING HEADLINES, DRAWING CROWDS, EXCITING ENGINEERS AND MOTIVATING INVESTORS, WE’VE COMPILED A LIST OF 10 PV PICKS FOR 2010.

GLOBAL LEADERS IN PV

POWER SYSTEM

SCHOTT Solar, Setting New Standards
FINANCIAL & INVESTMENT

Up on the Roof
VIEW POINT VIEW POINT VIEW POINT DIRECTORY

Towards Grid Parity
PRODUCTION & INSPECTION

Thin-film Solar Cells Tested Using InGaAs SWIR Camera Flexible Non-contact Laser-soldering for Solar Cell Strings A New Sensor for UV Preconditioning of PV Modules

New Challenges for Thin Film in 2010 Green Growth for Developing Countries U.S. Solar Industry: Opportunities and Obstacles Spain, Bright Spot for the PV Industry

Asia

GLOBAL MARKET REPORT GLOBAL MARKET REPORT GLOBAL MARKET REPORT

February 3(Wed)~5(Fri) 2010 KINTEX, KOREA WWW.EXPOSOLAR.ORG

COVER STORY USA

Solar Picks
PV plant in a German farm 34 January, 2010

10 PV Picks for 2010

January, 2010

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COVER STORY USA

10 PV Picks for 2010
After a delightfully-exhausting examination of the many companies making headlines, drawing crowds, exciting engineers and motivating investors to take a deeper dive into their unique solutions, we’ve compiled a list of 10 PV Picks for 2010.
BY TERRI STEELE

in Copenhagen, Denmark, has come and gone, and in its wake, one thing remains certain: renewable energy’s profile as the economic Terri Steele engine of this century’s clean energy economy is gaining unprecedented credibility and a momentum that even the most aggressive pessimists will be hard pressed to derail. For the first time in the history of the world, 193 countries of all economic strata most importantly the planet’s two largest emitters, China and the United States have agreed on an accord however meek to address the adverse affects of global warming and the security, agricultural, human health, economic, air, water and ecological challenges it represents. Anyone ever involved in negotiations with so many economically, geographically and culturally diverse parties know these kinds of agreements don’t come easily. The deal struck in Copenhagen is a political agreement forged by major emitters to curb greenhouse gases, help poorer nations build clean-energy economies and get money flowing to ameliorate the effects of climate change on vulnerable regions. And billions of dollars are being raised to help poorer countries switch to greener technology. That’s good news for clean tech, as renewable energy solutions of all scope and scale will play a role in addressing the initiative. Beyond the scope of Copenhagen, the industry has taken some hits. According to a December 2009 Solarbuzz quarterly report, demand shifts on a country by country basis created massive economic realignment throughout the PV chain, which pre36

he United TNations Climate Conference

sented enormous commercial challenges for the companies operating within it. But the industry as a whole continues to see uninterrupted market growth. The report goes on to say global end-market PV industry revenues were US$11.2 billion in third quarter 2009, up 62% from the second quarter. Forecasts from the December 2009 Solarbuzz QUARTERLY report suggest that when all the numbers are in, the global solar Photovoltaic (PV) market will reach 6.37 GW in 2009 5% growth over the previous year. Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz LLC, interprets the data for early 2010 this way: The outlook for the first quarter 2010 demonstrates a distinct change from the first quarter in past years, when seasonal factors have typically caused a sharp decrease. Market factors are poised to set new revenue trends. With Canada’s new feed-in tariffs and the United States’ rich tax and state incentives, Solarbuzz says North American growth for 2010 is anticipated to increase 54% over 2008 accounting metrics. A recent report by Greentech Media’s GTM Research has the U.S. PV market becoming the global demand leader by 2012. This certainly explains the ingress of European and Asian companies establishing operations in North America. And in return, America, the sleeping giant who invented PV technology nearly half a century ago, is using the keen entrepreneurial minds of its burgeoning high-tech community to provide solutions that are helping European companies stay competitive as well. Nowhere has the optimism for 2010 been more evident than at this past year’s Solar Power International in Anaheim, California. Hosted by the U.S.-based Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), the 2009 conference drew more than 24,000 industry professionals from 99 countries that’s a 27% increase over 2008. After a delightfully-exhausting examination of the many companies making headlines,

drawing crowds, exciting engineers and motivating investors to take a deeper dive into their unique solutions, we’ve compiled a list of 10 PV Picks for 2010. Solar PV today reaches wildly-diverse markets with a broad spectrum of climatic conditions, challenging terrain and a swath of lifestyle demographics. As this bedazzling array of technology solutions suggest, when it comes to solar, one size does not fit all. And this array of options helps guarantee a better fit for solar end-users and broader market adoption for 2010. Growth, unprecedented competition, compelling social benefits and government support to fuel green jobs, slash energy costs and create a more sustainable community make it clear that no matter how you slice it, today’s big solar pie will keep more than a few in the industry from going hungry.

Solar PV today reaches wildly-diverse markets with a broad spectrum of climatic conditions, challenging terrain and a swath of lifestyle demographics. As this bedazzling array of technology solutions suggest, when it comes to solar, one size does not fit all. And this array of options helps guarantee a better fit for solar end-users---and broader market adoption for 2010.
January, 2010

Photo by Zep Solar

Photo by Zep Solar

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Photo by Zep Solar

ZEP SOLAR

Off the Rack
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1,2,3 Zep’s new rackless mounting allows contractors and solar companies to install rooftop PV for 50% faster than conventional rail-based systems at half the cost.

Making the jobs of solar installers easier, safer and more profitable is the aim of PV Pick Zep Solar, Inc., a product of the fertile entrepreneurial ground of America’s Golden State, California. After five years of experimenting with new approaches to decrease materials, labor, and installation costs, Zep co-founder and PV systems engineer Jack West and his team have produced the solar industry’s first rail-free drop-in mounting solution. It allows an entire array to be constructed and grounded using only two component parts. And it cuts project installation times in half. Dubbed The Zep System, the product features solar panel frames that rapidly interlock with specialized stainless steel couplings (known as Zeps) to form a strong, solidly-grounded, structural grid. The mounting grid accommodates special Zepcertified modules whose unique perimeter grooves quickly and easily set into the mounting system. With a specialized tool and a simple twist of the wrist, quarter-turn Zeps are used to lock the modules onto the frame. The Zep cuts through the module frame’s anodization to secure a solid ground path while accommodating issues like tolerance take-up and thermal expansion. A specialized slot in the PV frame enables rapid coupling and automatic grounding of solar modules for both its roof and ground-mounted applications. No additional installation times are required to ground the array. A special Zep anti-theft tool ensures modules stay put once the installation is complete. The time savings claims of Zep are
January, 2010

nothing short of remarkable, but on-site installations at Solar Power International confirmed how a 9-panel, 2 kW array can be installed, wired and bonded for grounding in around 15 minutes. The company has a short, useful installation video on its Web site for those wishing to take a look. Zep delivers solutions with 85% fewer parts than traditional systems. Because Zep Systems are rail-free, they’re also easier to ship and warehouse than conventional approaches. The one sticking point in this solution is the Zep Groove specification that is required for all modules used with the Zep System. Zep, however, offers a cost-neutral module certification to all manufacturers whose customers might be interested in benefitting from Zep’s cost-cutting mounting solutions. To help installers realize further economies of scale in the solar value chain (while further capitalizing on its current market niche), Zep is planning on offering its own solar modules. Its first PV modules are currently undergoing UL testing and are scheduled to ship 1Q this year. With crystalline prices plummeting, labor costs are becoming a larger variable in the installation equation. All told, Zep’s recipe for a faster approach to installation and up to 75% less rooftop time means the company can claim a solution that helps in-

Product The Zep System: Rail-free Auto-Bonding Mounting Systems Market Global Residential, Commercial Rooftop and Ground-mount Systems Company HQ San Rafael, CA, U.S.A. Of Note - Industry’s First and Only Auto-bonding System - Rail-free Drop-in Installation 4.5x Faster than Conventional Rail-based Systems - Savings Claims of up to US$500 per Kilowatt

stallers realize savings of up to US$500 per kilowatt on a typical 4 kW system. This means solar installation companies can install more kWs per crew each work day. Combined with the substantial PV module price reductions of 2009, Zep technology is helping drive unprecedented and oh-so-palatable solar pricing levels for a cost-conscious 2010.
Info: www.zepsolar.com

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COVER STORY USA

DEGERENERGIE TRACKING SYSTEMS

Tracking Solar Success
DEGERenergie’s focus on increased solar energy yields and higher profits for customers are what has fueled its own growth trajectory from 3 million euros in 2006 to more than 40 million euros in revenue this past year. DEGER’s intelligent, sensor-based trackers strategically maneuver arrays of solar modules to point in the direction of making incident light. This not only helps exploit every minute of direct sunshine, but makes the best use of diffuse, scattered and reflected light throughout the year. Field studies have demonstrated DEGERenergie systems can lead to added solar energy yields of 20-25% for single-axis trackers and 35-45% for dualaxis tracking systems. Many agree that the company’s patented DEGERconector sensor is superior to astronomical PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) technology because it optimizes varied lighting conditions, has fewer moving parts, and requires no communication cabling (all of which translate to fewer capital and maintenance expenses). It also offers a longer warranty period (extended warranties of up to 25 years are available) and has lower energy consumption than competing systems. Both building-integrated and open land mounts are available. This year, DEGERenergie will release its CT series of trackers the first designed to support Concentrating PV (CPV) modules. The company is opening subsidiaries in Italy, Greece and the U.S., with a particular focus on the solar-drenched U.S. state of Arizona. With more than 25,000 installaDEGERenergie’s intelligent, sensor-based trackers strategically maneuver arrays of solar modules to point in the direction of light, whether it’s direct sunlight or incident light.

Photo by DEGERenergie Tracking Systems

Photo by DEGERenergie Tracking Systems

Product - Sensor-based Intelligent DEGER Solar Tracking Systems - DEGERtraker 5000HD (4-6.4kWp) and DEGERtraker 7000NT Market Utility & Commercial; Open Land PV farms, Flat Roofs Company HQ Horb am Neckar, Germany Of Note - 2009 Finalist w/Arntjen Solar, Agricultural Award of Excellence, Ontario Solar Farm - 2009 Finalist, 100 Most Innovative German Companies - 2006, 20..Best Companies in Baden-Wurttemberg - 2001, Patented Technology Earned State of .. Baden-Wurttemberg Inventors’Award

Photo by DEGERenergie Tracking Systems

tions in 38 countries, it appears these sensor-based systems are tracking for a banner year.
Info: www.DEGERenergie.com

ENPHASE ENERGY

Photo by Enphase Energy

“Current” Headliner
With over 900 exhibitors and 24,000+ solar-interested parties, there are bound to be enticing morsels to whet one’s PV appetite at Solar Power International. Last year’s conference in Anaheim, California, was no exception. One company with two buzz-generating solutions was microinverter phenom Enphase Energy. The first solution creating that solar buzz was Enphase’s combined J-Box microinverter prototype. Enphase had its microinverter system built right into the junction box of a solar module. Instead of DC being conducted from each module, current was immediately converted into useful AC. This not only
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eliminates code compliance concerns of DC electricity ever being accessible between a module and microinverter, it really pumps up the energy volume of AC modules, while creating an immense industry value-add. The second crowd-pleaser was Enphase’s set of Microinverter Systems. These solutions by their very nature address the issues of module mismatch, shading (both obstruction and inter-row), occlusion from dust and other debris and erratic changes in temperature and irradiance, all of which affect a system’s energy harvest. The culprit is the concept of the weakest

Enphase microinverters increase energy harvest by as much as 25% over systems using traditional centralized inverters.

link, which means a solar string only puts out according to the capabilities of its weakest player. The microinverter eliminates this problem by assessing variable light and other inhibitors at the module level and enabling it to adjust for anomolies to optimize energy production at all times. Enphase Envoy, the microinverter’s MPPT
January, 2010

NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR

Little Box, Big Boost
When the engineers at global chip giant National Semiconductor were determining the most logical, viable product to address the inconsistencies of power production with today’s solar modules, National’s Renewable Energy Business Director Ralf Muenster says they considered making micro-inverters, but chose to go another route because they felt that micro-inverters “Distributed the least reliable part of a solar system throughout the entire array, multiplying the system failure points by the number of panels in the system.” They concluded a better method was to distribute solely the inverter’s optimization function throughout the entire system and keep the inversion centralized and accessible. Thus the genesis of National’s award-winning SolarMagicTM power optimizer. SolarMagic’s power optimizers are mounted to modules to ameliorate the energy-degrading perpetrators of ‘mismatch’, which include varying string lengths, module mixing, and different module plane orientations. They also provide MPPT to allow
Product SolarMagicTM Power Optimizer Market All Major Solar Markets: Residential, Commercial and Utility Scale Company HQ Santa Clara, California, U.S.A. Of Note - Winner, Intersolar 2009 Award; Winner, 2009 Elecktra Renewable Energy Design Award
Photo by National Semiconductor

SolarMagic

customers to monitor energy output and be alerted to any potential anomalies in production. The product is designed to increase the power yield of underperforming Crystal Silicon Panel Solar PV arrays of all sizes despite shading, temperature imbalances, panel mismatch challenges or multiple panel orientations. Shading is not nearly as big a problem with amorphous-Si (Applied Materials SunFab modules), CIGS (Solyndra, Ascent Solar), CdTe (First Solar, Abound Solar) as it is with conventional mono and polycrystalline silicon cell modules. Since its launch at InterSolar in Munich this past May, National’s Renewable Energy Business Director Ralf Muenster says SolarMagic has developed a distribution network that is selling its power optimizers via 25 distributors on four continents. With its recent acquisition of commercial monitoring and performance management provider Energy Recommerce, SolarMagic is positioning itself for penetration in all major solar markets and across residential,

commercial and utility-scale strata. Some believe that the market may choose microinverters as an investment priority over SolarMagic. Microinverter companies insist centralized inverter implementations create a single point of failure for solar power systems that spells risky business. If the inverter fails, the entire system is disabled. But the folks at National have a high degree of confidence in their systems and the opposing point of view. Muenster says his teams are engaging central inverter manufacturers as partners, and are working with a number of inverter companies on optimized inverter solutions that further enhance PV system performance in conjunction with SolarMagic devices. The question is who has the higher degree of success regarding failure rates. The magic isn’t lost in National’s relationship with central inverter firms, but until there are formal announcements made about solid partnership agreements, the honeymoon has yet to begin. For installers and integrators looking to optimize energy output for customers, that marriage can’t happen soon enough. Partnerships with central inverter companies may not be the only liaison we hear of involving SolarMagic in 2010. This year, plan on reading about National’s Semiconductor’s collaborative effort with leading panel manufacturers to develop smart panels with integrated SolarMagic power optimization technology.
Info: www.solarmagic.com

(Maximum Power Point Tracking) solution, collects module performance and transmits this data to a Web site, where users can view and manage the performance of their solar power system. Enphase microinverters convert power independently at each solar module, so if one microinverter fails, the rest continue to operate. The ‘micro’ nature of this product also comes in handy if a product is damaged or fails, as it can be replaced during routine maintenance or when convenient, which helps keep maintenance costs under control. Tests have demonstrated that Enphase Microinverters increase energy harvest by as much as 25% over systems using traditional inverters. Designed to accommodate solar modules of 175 watts and up, Enphase’s microinverters are emerging as a strong market play. The product’s tip sheet stats are compelling. They have shipped over 100,000 of
January, 2010

their microinverters and demand for the product accelerates every day. Some contend that the price of another PV Pick National Semiconductor’s SolarMagic product and the Enphase microinverter is so close that if the two were in a horserace, the microinverter solution would be the odds-on favorite. Microinverters offer similar advantages to the SolarMagic product with the added value of having integrated “ micro-” inverter technologies ready, willing and able to convert DC to AC on each and every module they touch. National Seminconductor, another PV Pick for 2010, has a different perspective and it believes it’s got the horsepower to back it up. Whether one is a proponent of Enphase’s Microinverter approach or National Semiconductor’s SolarMagic power optimizer and its central inverter partners, one thing is clear: there’s a palatable payout no matter where you put your money.

Both these horses are industry winners.
Info: www.enphaseenergy.com

Product Enphase Energy Microinverter System & Combined J-Box Microinverter Prototype Market Full Spectrum from Residential, Commercial, Utility Scale Company HQ Petaluma, California, U.S.A. Of Note - 2009 Global Cleantech 100 - TIE50: 50 Hottest Startups in 5 Hottest Segments - BusinessWeek’s 25 Companies to Watch in Energy Tech - Greentech Media: Top 10 Solar Companies, 2009 - Time Magazine, America’s Top Green Companies 2008

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COVER STORY USA
Photo by Applied Materials

APPLIED MATERIALS

Enormous Output
The world’s largest solar PV equipment supplier isn’t going to sustain its number one position in today’s hotly-competitive marketplace by resting on its laurels. Late last year, Applied Materials opened the world’s largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world’s most populous country, which also happens to be one of the planet’s largest energy consumers: China. Comprised of over 400,000 sq. ft. of laboratory and office buildings, the Xi’an-based Solar Technology Center contains an entire Applied SunFabTM‚ thin-film manufacturing line and a complete crystalline silicon pilot process. These lines are configured to closely simulate customer fabrication (fab) environments. Add to that last year’s IEC certification for Applied’s SunFab TM‚ 5.7m2 solar panels the thin-film industry’s largest and Applied’s thin-film profile is rising. Amorphous silicon may not be as efficient as CdTe or CIGS, but silicon is much more abundant (and less expensive) than the ingredients in these technologies. And cost is a key variable in the solar energy value equation. The debate over choice of thin-film material notwithstanding, the remarkable growth burgeoning markets like China and the U.S. are seeing in utility-scale projects (behemoth solar farms recently announced by thinfilm category leader First Solar range from a 550 MW solar farm to a staggering 2 GW project), and the competition Applied’s enormous SunFab Thin Film panels add to the industry mix make bring big news to the category in the coming year. Earlier this year, world-renowned author and journalist Thomas Friedman noted in a New York Times oped on the solar industry that Applied Materials is one of the most important U.S. companies you’ve probably never heard of. This year will tell a different story.
Info: www.appliedmaterials.com
Photo by Applied Materials

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1 Applied Materials Chairman and CEO Mike Splinter greeted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in front of a demonstration of the Applied SunFab thin film solar panel, the world’s largest and most powerful thin film solar panel, as she visited the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif. campus for a briefing with Silicon Valley CEOs. 2 (From left to right): President of Applied Solar Charlie Gay, Applied Materials Chairman and CEO Mike Splinter, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger viewing an Applied SunFab panel at the dedication ceremony for Applied’s parking lot-based solar array system at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif. R&D campus.
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CONERGY

Green Giants
Coastal environment-compatible, farm and open-field friendly, Conergy’s Solar Giant III is a hardy, low-maintenance modular solar energy system vying to become the standard of ground-mount solar solutions on the North American continent. And it is those who were among the first to install it in North America last year Canadian distributors in Ontario and American distributors in Hawaii, where labor is costly who are making that claim. The SolarGiant is designed expressly to reduce the overall cost of small commercial to full utility-scale projects by substantially reducing the labor involved in assembling and erecting the mounting structures,
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module installation and site preparation. To keep installations simple (and costs down) each SolarGiant is supplied as a complete kit with pre-assembled components for just about any module type. The German-engineered, American-made structure has been carefully designed to minimize the parts count and provide for fast and easy assembly using only two people. At the core of this innovative design is its simple, sturdy frame. Each SolarGiant structure is delivered as a complete, ready-to-install kit that includes slide-in rail components, which simplify the installation process.

Photo by

Conergy

Conergy’s hardy, scalable modular solar energy system whose labor-saving design is vying to become the standard of groundmount solar solutions on the North American continent

Modules are installed in the slide-in rails and no clamping is required for exceptionally quick module installation. The Solar Giant is low maintenance and
January, 2010

3 The Applied SunFab thin film production line features up to four, seven-chamber PECVD systems for depositing critical light-absorbing silicon layers on 5.7m 2 glass substrates. Currently being deployed at multiple customer fabs around the world to rapidly establish solar panel manufacturing capacity, Applied’s solar strategy is to bring significant change to the industry by enabling lower costper-watt solutions for solar cell manufacturing-----with the goal of making solar a more meaningful contributor to the global energy supply.

Product Applied SunFabTM 5.7m2 Thin Film Line Solar Panels Market Utility-scale Solar Farms and Commercial Rooftops Company HQ Silicon Valley, California, U.S.A. Of Note - Opening of 400,000 sq. ft. Xi’an, China-based Solar Technology Center - Selected as One of America’s 10 Greenest Companies (Newsweek Magazine, 2009) - US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Green Power Leadership Award - Wall Street Journal 2008 Technology Innovation Award
Photo by Applied Materials

Photo by Applied Materials

Photo by Applied Materials

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4, 5 Applied has received several prestigious innovation awards for solar technology including the Platts Global Energy and Wall Street Journal Technology Awards, and was named the world’s largest supplier of photovoltaic cell manufacturing equipment in 2008 by VLSI Research. The Applied SunFab Thin Film Line produces the world’s largest solar panels using 5.7m2 glass substrates and defines a new standard for the solar industry. Four times the size of traditional panels and covering an area about the size of a garage door, SunFab panels are ideally suited for large scale applications such as Power plants and Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).

it plays well with others. While its proponents and experienced installers note that the Solar Giant III is an excellent solution for all site conditions, Conergy’s Solar Giant III is especially economical in open field solar farms with difficult ground and soil conditions involving rocky soils, sandy soils and high water tables conditions that make conventional arrays using driven posts, earth augers, caissons or screw piles expensive and impractical. Among SolarGiant’s useful characteristics in coastal communities is that its aluminum and stainless steel construction holds up well in marine and coastal environments, where often-times steel even galvanized steel may not be permitted.
January, 2010

SolarGiant’s ballasted mounting works well for less tony neighborhoods as well. It’s ideal for landfills and brown field sites, where earth-penetrating anchors are not an option. The SolarGiant III is compatible with almost all framed and laminate module types. For framed modules, the SolarGiant uses unique mounting rails that allow modules to simply slide into place in the array with no further clamping required. These slide-in rails are module thickness-specific and are available for modules of 35 mm, 40 mm, 46 mm and 50 mm. It is supplied from the factory with the proper rail channel thickness for the modules that will be mounted. Laminate (un-framed) modules are accommodated by Conergy-supplied highstrength, top-clamp rails that allow the modules to be conventionally secured to the rails. The SolarGiant can be supplied

with standard tilt angles ranging from 5° to 35° in 5° increments, allowing efficient PV generation performance throughout North America. Reducing site preparation, labor and installation costs while trimming installation times for a variety of terrestrialmount challenges make the SolarGiant a big, industry-friendly consideration for 2010.
Info: www.conergy.com Product SolarGiant III, Simple, Scalable, Ground-mount Modular Solar Solution Market Full Range Distribution from Small Commercial (50 kW) to Utility Scale Company HQ Hamburg, Germany; Denver, CO, U.S.A. Of Note All-aluminum and stainless steel construction; simple, fast, economical installation

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COVER STORY USA
Photo by Envision Solar International

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ENVISION SOLAR INTERNATIONAL

Seeing the Solar for the Trees
One technology that’s getting major global employers like Dell Computers and McDonald’s all revved up is the CleanChargeTM system on Envision Solar’s Solar Trees. Solar Trees use solar PV to collect energy and convert it to AC to charge patron, student and employees’ electric vehicles while they conduct their daily routines. These energy assets also have applications for fleet vehicles. Envision’s designers used principles of bio-mimicry to create CleanChargeTM Solar Trees, whose Solar PV charging stations can be introduced en masse into corporate parking lots create Solar Groves . These Solar Grove’s offset companies’ energy costs, provide shelter to employee and patron vehicles and recharge electric fleet, patron and employee vehicles during the course of the business day. And they improve the function of static parking lots. Why does this matter? The idea of solar trees isn’t so new the City of Vienna started incorporating Ross Lovegrove’s original design seven years ago. The innovation here is in Envision’s emerging market adaptation: the electric vehicle market is going into overdrive (at least by historic standards) with offerings that run the gamut from Honda’s prototypical EV-Cub electric motorcycles to Tesla Motor’s sexy roadster, which goes 0-60 in fewer than
Photo by Envision Solar International

four seconds. It’s an exciting ride. But an electric vehicle goes nowhere without a charging station. And the icing to any charging station’s cake is if it, like the vehicles it powers, can be clean and emissions-free. In France, the government recently announced a US$2.2 billion investment in charging stations for electric vehicles. And even in America, utilities Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light are investing US$600 million to bring more than 10,000 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) and Electric Vehicles (EV) to their fleets. The economics are there. The Duke/FL&P announcement will cut fuel costs by 80% and carbon emissions by up to 70% or more. Add solar-electric charging means to the mix and the savings can be even more. Combining form and function with a higher purpose is no stranger to the folks at Envision Solar. This group of socially-conscious, business-minded entrepreneurs have leveraged their core expertise in architecture, industrial design and structural technology to build aesthetically-pleasing “solar you can see”. Given the integrity of building design many corporate headquarters, universities and public institutions employ, solar aesthetics can be a serious consideration. Each 12-foot high SolarTree is topped
Photo by Envision Solar International

Product CleanChargeTM Solar Trees: Solar-to-electric Vehicle Charging Station; Solar Groves Market Quick Service Restaurants, Corporate & Major Retail Properties and Large-scale Public Institutions (Universities, Municipalities). Company HQ San Diego, California, U.S.A. Of Note Envision principals have won numerous awards for their environmental design: - The American Institute of ArchitectsSan Diego Chapter (Energy Efficiency Award) - National Public Radio (E-chievement Environmental Award) - Popular Science Magazine (Best of What’s New, 2003) - Entrepreneur Magazine (Environmental Innovator of the Year, 1993, Urban Land Inst.)

by a canopy using Kyocera panels capable of producing thousands of hours of clean solar power per year while providing shade to dozens of vehicles. While these trees don’t sequester carbon as their green brothers do, the amount of clean energy they generate eliminates 13.2 metric tons of carbon emissions per year. When equipped with Envision’s CleanCharge Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, each Solar Tree bears the additional

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1 Energy assets like these Solar Trees enable corporations, universities and public agencies to defray energy costs and charge electric vehicles for fleets and patrons. 2 Solar Trees at a McDonald’s in San Diego, the U.S.A. 3 Solar Trees create Solar Groves and can charge electric fleet and 3 employee/patron vehicles. January, 2010

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fruit of offering 120-volt outlets per covered parking space able to concurrently charge multiple vehicles over the course of a business day. Its batteries allow vehicles to be charged day or night. The world’s first CleanCharge systems were “ planted” at a 130 kW Solar Grove at Dell Computer’s international HQ in Round Rock Texas. Another Solar Grove at a McDonald’s Restaurant in San Diego, California, highlights sustainability in a heavy traffic area, and includes one of Envision Solar’s CleanCharge solar-toelectric vehicle charging stations. Envision Solar created custom Solar Tree Arrays to integrate seamlessly into a high density built environment. The tilted canopies of Solar Trees help to route rainwater into bio-swales, porous organic material that filters pollutants from parking lot run-off. The company says a Solar Grove can pay for itself in as little as five years, and create positive cash flow from its first day of operation by simply offsetting the cost of utility bills. Envision’s new residential CleanCharge product line is called LifeTree. A single post steel structure with a Photo by Envision Solar International cantilevered Global employers canopy, it costs like Dell Computers and McDon- around US$18,500 ald’s are getting and provides about revved up about 1.4 kilowatts of Envision Solar’s clean energy to resCleanChargeTM system, whose Solar idential structures. Envision’s Trees use solar PV to collect energy CleanCharge Sysand convert it to tem includes: the AC to cut energy shade costs and charge parking electric vehicles. structure known as the Solar Tree, solar photovoltaic modules, inverters, battery backup, Coulomb’s ChargePointTM‚ Networked Charging Station and Smart Meter technology. The system is currently limited to U.S. distribution. But as the market and delivery of electric vehicles drives adoption worldwide, this uniquely holistic approach to sustainable living reinforces the axiom that big solar ideas often come in small(er) packages.
Info: www.envisionsolar.com

Photo by SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.

The Sanyo Ark, Kobe Japan, where engineers eagerly work on improving solar photovoltaic technologies.

SANYO ELECTRIC

A Look Ahead
For nearly four decades, Sanyo’s engineering teams have risen to the challenge of refining the power generating capabilities of solar photovoltaic technologies. With advances like their highly-efficient HIT Power solar module technology, Sanyo has been helping integrators and installers optimize the power generating capabilities of their solar solutions from the U.S.A.’s San Diego, California, to the Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa and from Western Europe to the Republic of Korea to China. Introduced in 2009, Sanyo’s HIT Power solar modules contain 72 hybrid HIT cells that combine high efficiency monocrystalline silicon with ultrathin layers of amorphous silicon. The monocrystalline silicon is sandwiched between two layers of amorphous-Si, allowing for power generation on both panel sides when exposed to light. Sanyo’s HIT Double glass-onglass modules utilize the bifacial characteristics of HIT cells to generate up to 30% more energy from the back, depending on mounting surface conditions. The ability of these cells to produce electricity from incident sunlight makes them popular for building-integrated designs like awnings, pergolas and skylights. With the successful closure of Panasonic, Inc.’s tender offer late last year, Sanyo stock is hot, as expectations are high that the new partnership will lead to remarkable synergies between the two electronics giants. Meanwhile, Sanyo’s eager engineering teams continue to do what they do best. Late last year, Sanyo engineers announced a technological advancement that will allow

them to produce solar cells as thin as 58 microns, almost 1/4 the thickness they currently are. The cells that have been developed use two different types of silicon. Their estimated conversion efficiency is thought to be around 22%. The svelte nature of these cells suggests they will be more flexible like paper allowing them to manifest themselves into a variety of aesthetically pleasing forms. But the beauty of this advancement is more than skin deep. Not only can the technology offer unique, attractive new form factor options for solar PV (BIPV potential exists as well), it can offer users a strong Return On Solar Investment (ROSI) for locations whose space for solar PV solutions may otherwise be limited. Conversations with Sanyo’s Research and Development Department in Japan indicate that while the general thought is that the cost to produce the panels/cells will fall (the thin nature of the cells require less silicon), there can be no final cost estimate at this time. Sanyo offered some of these same insights late last year at the Materials Research Society meeting in Boston. While commercialization of this technology is some years off, Sanyo has confirmed it is in the pipeline. And assuming silicon will still be the material of choice as this remarkable industry evolves, there’s a very bright light at the end of that pipeline not only for Sanyo, but the industry at large and the many constituencies it serves.
Info: www.sanyo.com/solar

Product PV Cells Thinner than Human Hair Market Potential for a Full Range of Applications Including BIPV Company HQ Moriguchi City, Japan Of Note Sanyo’s solar cells are rated at the highest certified level for conversion efficiency; as are their practical-sized panels.

January, 2010

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COVER STORY USA
Photo by James Chou for Soliant Energy

SOLYNDRA

360 Solar
When it rains, it pours. In the case of California-based thin-film solar manufacturer Solyndra, that’s a good thing. Solyndra’s rain is manifested in the torrent of demand it has been seeing for its tubular CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenium) solar solution, which they claim provides the industry’s lowest installed cost per system and highest solar electrical energy output for typical low slope commercial rooftops. The ‘360’ geometry of its cylindrical form factor and what’s inside are the headline grabbers. Solyndra’s panels resemble a row of long fluorescent light tubes, each an inch wide and an inch apart. Solyndra chose to coat the inside of these cylindrical tubes with CIGS instead of a traditional flat plate collector. The cylindrical geometry allows light
Photo by Solyndra

from 360 degrees to make perpendicular contact with the CIGS thin film. The optics around its inner core help focus about 50% more sunlight onto the core than it would otherwise receive, thus enhancing energy output. CIGS thin-film PV devices tend to be quicker to install than their crystalline counterparts and require less design work. They also have a proven performance advantage under conditions of indirect solar radiation making them immensely productive in coastal areas, dusty or other diffuse light conditions. Reflective light potential is also optimized. The design also allows Solyndra to lay its panels flat against a rooftop, so there’s very little need for tilting to receive sunlight at the best angle. This re-

Product Concentrating Photovoltaic Systems: SE500X Market Flat Commercial-industrial Rooftop Company HQ Monrovia, California, U.S.A. Of Note Investors include General Electric, Rockport Capital Partners, Trinity Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, Convexa and Nth Power.

360 geometry and use of CIGS thin-film technology are Solyndra’s recipe for a solar solution they’re claiming has the industry’s lowest installed cost----and highest solar electric energy output----for low slope commercial rooftops.

Product CIGS Thin-film Photovoltaics Market Commercial Rooftop Company HQ Fremont, California, U.S.A. Of Note - IPO Intent Announced on December 18, 2009 - Global Cleantech 100 2009 - TiE50 Awards Cleantech 2009 - Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation 2008 - Business Journal Emerging Technology: Green/Clean Technology 2008

duces worry about orientation or shading. And because the product can lay flat, there’s very little need for ballasting except maybe in locations where hurricane-strength winds are common. It also stands less risk of hail damage than more traditional solutions. Solyndra has had no trouble convincing buyers of its output potential or its cheaper installation costs. Last year, the company boasted a US$2 billion backlog in orders. To meet its announced contractual backlog, Solyndra secured a US$535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the construction of a new 5 MW manufacturing facility. To reinforce clean energy’s priority role in the Obama Administration’s Recovery Act efforts, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

attended the September groundbreaking, as did renewable energy proponent California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That money is being combined with US$198 million in private sector dollars to support the capital required for the project. Solyndra estimates the project will employ over 3,000 people, the ongoing operation of the facility will create over 1,000 jobs, and that installation of Solyndra PV systems will generate hundreds of additional jobs worldwide. These kinds of projects fuel the fire for more widespread adoption of solar PV incentives and technology. As current levels of involvement attest, young Solyndra’s reach is broad and deep. The company has more than 60 active installations with customers across North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Clearly those who’ve gotten a close look at Solyndra’s product and studied its energy capabilities are
January, 2010

44

SOLIANT ENERGY

500-proof Solar
It’s not easy being first. But smart engineering concepts to solve recurring market challenges deserve consideration in this forum even if they’ve yet to be proven in today’s solar marketplace. The potential pay-off for carving out that fresh new niche is notable. That’s why Soliant Energy made this year’s list. Soliant Energy represents the industry’s first attempt to commercialize Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) for rooftop applications. Soliant 1 makes concentrating solar photovoltaic systems. Its SE500X product line uses lenses to concentrate the sunlight 500 times and direct it to solar cells for electricity generation. This company is so new, it doesn’t yet have its UL listing. That should come at the end of Q1 2010. General Electric, Rockport Capital Partners, Trinity Ventures, Rincon Venture Partners, Convexa and Nth Power see the potential and have signed on as investors. Founded by former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists in 2005, Soliant Energy’s CPV solution makes engineering and economic sense. The lens housing is an easily-oriented bucket, arranged in what Soliant’s team calls six-packs. The buckets, corresponding lenses, rack mounting even the dual-axis, auto-calibrated TipTilt TrackingTM tracking equipment are much more affordable than silicon solar cells. And by using those lenses to concentrate the sun to a very targeted square inch or so within the bucket housing, it becomes possible to prudently place the most expensive solar cell technology at the focal point of the lens. Because the buckets are easily oriented to the precise location of the sun and they then concentrate its power by a factor of 500 the energy potential even with limited roof space is nothing short of remarkable. Soliant Energy’s concentrated solar panels are specifically designed for commercial rooftops with high energy needs. The company claims a Soliant Energyequipped rooftop can generate up to twice as much energy as typical polysilicon flat panels, and up to 240% more than thinfilm solutions under peak sun conditions. Ultimately, low-cost thin-film products seem to have the large-scale utility market due to current and projected cost advantages. However, if space is a limiting factor, solutions like this will find a viable niche market. With mass production, the space grade solar cells used in this product should come down in price, too. Soliant opened a 1 MW pilot production facility at its southern California headquarters this past August. It is expected to produce 2,700 panels the aforementioned six-packs in its first year of operation. The company says it is on schedule for getting product to its beta sites and has already shipped to two of its six confirmed beta customers. In addition, Soliant is evaluating beta customers for international markets, whom they anticipate selecting (and installing product with) late this year. The company is refining the automation process on its new plant, which means limited product availability in 2010. They ramp into full production next year. As credit markets loosen, field tests confirm the capabilities of this technology and commercial interests familiarize themselves with the benefits of CPV, scrutiny of Soliant’s cost-cutting solution and its ability to reliably deliver these high-performing systems at a competitive price could transform their pilot plant of potential into one humming with activity.
Info: www.soliantenergy.com
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1 Soliant claims its CPV technology can generate up to twice as much energy as typical poly-silicon flat panels, and up to 240% more than thin film under peak sun conditions. 2 Soliant Energy represents the industry’s first attempt to commercialize Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) for rooftop applications.

believers. Last month, Solyndra signed a new long-term framework agreement with Alwitra GmbH & Co., a Trier, Germany-based supplier of roofing systems. In late November, Solyndra announced it had signed a new multi-year multi-million-dollar framework agreement with solar integrator Sun System of Milan, Italy. This past July, German solar power company Umwelt-Sonne-Energie signed a three-year, US$238 million supply contract with Solyndra. Others with whom Solyndra has longterm commercial agreements include GeckoLogic, Phoenix Solar, Solar Power Inc., Carlisle Construction Materials, Sun Sytem, SunConnex and EBITSCHenergietechnik. In addition, Solyndra has special partnering arrangements with SPG Solar Inc. and Premier Power Renewable Energy Inc.
January, 2010

The world has spoken, and Solyndra’s innovative design streamlines racking requirements and alignment effort. And its application of CIGS within that slick, functionally-superior form-factor translates into a noteworthy installation cost advantage in any language. [On December 18, 2009, Solyndra, Inc. filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the initial public offering of its common stock.]
Info: www.solyndra.com

Photo by Solyndra

Solyndra’s unique cylindrical panel configuration and use of CIGS thin-film technology resulted in a reported US$2 billion backlog in orders from Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East last year. 45

COVER STORY USA

Excited about What’s toCome
Solyndra CEO Dr. Chris Gronet’s comments at the groundbreaking of his new 300,000 square foot manufacturing facility this past summer bear repeating: “ The economy needs clean tech alternatives to help it recover, but our planet requires clean tech solutions in order to survive.” The 193 countries eager for solutions at Copenhagen last month will look to the industry for ways to wisely apply the billions of dollars the U.S., China and other nations have allocated for clean technology answers to the world’s energy woes. There’s no silver bullet solution to the problem, just a quiver of creative PV quills that, as the creative solutions addressed here confirm, provide a palatable prologue to the coming year. The tireless drive, great engineering advances, creative solutions and, in some instances, the just-as-creative financing this year’s PV Picks have employed to 1) reduce costs, 2) improve output and 3) accelerate adoption, bring a current of excitement of what’s to come in 2010, no matter how it’s packaged. Terri Steele is a correspondent for InterPV Magazine based in San Diego, California, the U.S.A. You can find her at InterPV@cox.net and at www.Twitter.com/SolarSavvy.

※ Jeffrey Owens contributed to this article. Founder and Execu-

tive Director of Missouri-based Show Me Solar, Owens resides in Puerto Rico. He recently earned a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Missouri.

EXPO Solar 2011
International Solar Energy Expo & Conference
February 16 (Wed) ~ 18 (Fri), 2011, KINTEX, KOREA
February 16 (Wed)~18 (Fri), 2011, KINTEX / KOREA

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January, 2010

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