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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Maharishi Solar Technology (MST) silicon plans emerge

MST to begin with 100 Metric Ton (MT) R&D Plant

Per Mr. Dev Raj with Maharishi Solar Technology (P) Ltd. (, MST decided to setup a Solar Grade Silicon manufacturing facility in India to address strong unmet local end demand for solar photovoltaic products. As a result of silicon shortages, Indian solar cell and module manufacturers are running at below capacity.

MST has obtained new technology for manufacturing Solar Grade Silicon which has yet to be commercialized. To start, MST will establish a research and development plant costing USD $15 million with 100 MT capacity. After the process is proven, MST plans to upgrade the plant to 1000 MT annual capacity with an additional investment of USD $45-50 million. The estimated Solar Grade Silicon production cost from this new process is about USD $50 per kilogram.

I wonder if this is the production cost or the expected equivalent silicon market price?

MST was first covered at the end of this post, Unknowns NA Polysilicon, AE Polysilicon, and MST joining PV silicon party. Maharishi Solar claims to be the only company in India producing multicrystalline wafers.

In the United States, while many folks have a holiday today, there is no second Christmas day holiday tradition. And this year, Boxing Day is misinterpreted as an excuse to see the new Rocky Balboa movie (see Rocky Balboa Review: Punch Drunk Love or the Official Movie Blog, ROCKY BALBOA BLOG).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

IIC to merge with Invest in Germany

As mentioned in this holiday greetings news release, IIC wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!, the IIC (Industrial Investment Council) will merge with Invest in Germany to form a single investment promotion agency for Germany. I first wrote about the IIC in Industrial Investment Council (IIC) helps international photovoltaic firms invest in eastern Germany.

On the IIC Photovoltaics page, there are updated Industry Overviews regarding Photovoltaics product and Photovoltaic Tooling manufacturers with production facilities in eastern Germany. These are good scorecards for recent photovoltaic production announcements in Germany.

The Invest in Germany folks were involved in the Invest in Germany - Land of Ideas and Germany – Land of Ideas (Deutschland – Land der Ideen) campaigns featuring supermodel Claudia Schiffer. You can view the placards from the campaign that appeared in London’s Bank Tube station, Tokyo's Otemachi central underground station, and New York’s Grand Central Station or download two Claudia photos here and here. That’s no lump of coal.

While photovoltaics is a sexy, cool, clean, and green =in= industry, a little extra help from Claudia is most welcome!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

AE Polysilicon Update

Motech sets up family deal for polysilicon from new US player has been posted online at the PHOTON International website from PI 12/2006, p.72, using their nomenclature. PHOTON claims AE is an abbreviation for Alternative Energy LLC, the holding company of AE Polysilicon.

Per PHOTON, AE Polysilicon was founded by Dr. York Tsuo, who is the brother of Motech Industries Inc. (TPO:6244) Motech Solar CEO Dr. Yuan-Huai Simon Tsuo. Dr. York Tsuo has a PhD in Chemical Engineering specializing in FBR (Fluidized Bed Reactor) technology. Dr. York Tsuo has done research in recent years for Foster Wheeler Energia Oy, part of Foster Wheeler Ltd. (NASDAQ:FWLT), and the Aker Kvaerner ASA (OSL:AKVER) Kvaerner Power division. Patents from Dr. York Tsuo can be found with Google’s new Patent Search feature here.

Also, Reuters reports Taiwan's Motech to issue 18 mln shares via GDRs could raise about T$7 billion (US$214 million) based on the company’s current share price and depending on the value and pricing of the offering. Motech will use the proceeds to “purchase equipment and raw materials from abroad”. AE Polysilicon may well be a raw material from abroad.

Best Wishes for the Holidays to the readers and subscribers of GUNTHER Portfolio. Please visit my personal blog, Ed Gunther's Licht Blog, for my Christmas and New Years greeting card post.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

22nd EU PVSEC Update and Abstract Submission

3 - 7 September 2007 FIERO MILANO

If you’ve been reading the comments, you know that the 22nd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition has been confirmed for the FIERA MILANO - Exhibition & Convention Centre in Milan, Italy.

Abstract submissions for papers from aspiring authors are due by January 29, 2007. Authors should preview and use the Online Abstract Submission form keeping in mind an abstract file upload is expected.

For further information, prospective authors should download and review the 22nd EU PVSEC Call for Papers.

I am thinking about topics for a paper myself. If I submit an abstract, I will post it to the blog, approved or not.

I plan to make my arrangements for the 22nd EU PVSEC early next year. If you are looking for information about Milano, I suggest checking the Milano Tourist Office and the Milan Travel Guide from the New York Times.

I look forward to visiting Milano for the second time. Why does every language like to rename places even when they use a similar alphabet? In my language scheme, local names would always be spelled and pronounced in the native tongue. Forget Milan and what’s up with the German name, Mailand? Sounds like an Italiano coffee drink. Ciao!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Solar Grade Silicon roads lead to Ruše – Part 1

[Maribor and Ruše, Slovenia]

TDR - Metalurgija Visit with Solarvalue AG

Photos: Ruše city sign, TDR main gate, TDR facility with Solarvalue redlines

As I outlined in DEAL! Solarvalue AG purchase receives final approval, on November, 30, 2006, Solarvalue AG (XETRA:SV7) ( announced the completion of the purchase of TDR – Metalurgija (TDR), located in Ruše, Slovenia, by WP Profil Solarvalue Holding d.o.o., a joint venture between W&P Profil d.o.o with 51% and Solarvalue AG with 49%, after receiving official approval from Slovenian authorities. Solarvalue has now begun the conversion of their portion of the TDR facility to the production of Solar Grade Silicon (SGS). Solarvalue expects the first SGS to be available in the spring 2007 and plans to produce 850 metric tons of solar grade silicon by year end 2007.

After Solar Power 2006, I was expecting to settle in and catch up on my article backlog. But on Halloween day, I received an email invitation from Joerg Duske, Strategy Advisor for Solarvalue AG, to attend their Press Conference at the 7. Forum Solarpraxis in Berlin. When I explained the travel budget was over spent for the year, Solarvalue offered to cover my flight and hotel expenses. As the proposal expanded to include a visit to TDR - Metalurgija in Ruše, Slovenia, I soon found myself on a flight (yes, coach!) bound for Graz, Austria, as the gateway to Maribor and final destination, Ruše, Slovenia.

I joined John Mott, Chief Operating Officer (COO), of Solarvalue Production d.d. for the taxi ride from Maribor to TDR in Ruše. After Mr. Mott asked the taxi driver to take us to “TDR”, there was an odd moment when the driver did not know the location of the TDR factory. The driver knew it by the full factory complex name, Tovarna dušika Ruše.

John Mott is an engineer who researched the production of SGS from metallurgical silicon (mg-Si) at Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA based Solarex Corporation in the 1980’s. Since Solarex, Mr. Mott has done extensive work in the field of silicon metal and composite materials outside of the photovoltaic space.

After initial discussions in the office with Mr. Vlado Hojnik, TDR’s Head of Development and Research, I was issued a cotton safety coat and a hard hat. Once the safety gear was donned, the TDR tour began with Mr. Hojnik leading John and myself to the 18MW (Megawatt) M1 arc furnace across from the main office building. M1 was active producing calcium carbide or CaC2 from a mixture of lime and coke at 2000 °C (degrees Celsius). I have visited and worked in factories, but this was my first visit to a heavy industry facility so I adopted a conservative approach to walking around, and I minded my tour guides.

While TDR was established in 1918, the M1 arc furnace was erected in the early 1960’s. M1 is about six stories or 60 feet (~18.29 meters) tall, including the electrodes, with a diameter of 32 feet (~9.75 meters). On the ground floor, I watched as calcium carbide was tapped or poured off from the M1 arc furnace. In my short video, you can see my steady camera hand shake when unexpected sparks fly as the calcium carbide is tapped.

The M1 furnace hearth and electrodes are located above on the first floor of the M1 building. The rattling noise you hear in the video is charge material feeding the hearth though mix tubes.

This is a professional video of M1 and other aspects of the TDR facility prepared for Solarvalue by the Dr. Klaus Heidler Solar Consulting team. Per the German soundtrack, the M1 furnace was being operated at 16MW for calcium carbide production during the video. Video quality has been downscaled per YouTube guidelines.

After the 12MW M5 arc furnace, Solarvalue plans to next convert M1 to metallurgical silicon production in 2008 requiring an additional investment of €10 million.

Behind M1 in the same building, there is an empty bay for an arc furnace. TDR sold this “M2” arc furnace last year to joint venture partner W&P Profil CEO Alojz Cajnko. At the time of the purchase, there was no plan to privatize TDR – Metalurgija, and it is conceivable M2 might find its way back home.

In Part 2, the TDR tour will continue with the M6 arc furnace and a literal look inside the M5 arc furnace and the metallurgical silicon production process.

GP Note: Solarvalue is reimbursing me for my flights to Berlin and Graz. I maintain independent editorial control over this article series, I have not been paid to write them, and I do not own any shares of Solarvalue AG stock.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Taiwan firms reducing solar cell prices

The Bits + chips column, Taiwan solar cell makers reduce ASP by 3-6%, reports second tier solar cell manufacturers have reduced average selling prices in late November and early December 2006 citing PV (photovoltaic) industry conditions. Besides customer “requests” to lower prices, competition has increased because of aggressive global PV industry expansion. Meanwhile, E-Ton Solar Tech. Co., Ltd (TPO:3452) and Motech Industries Inc (TPO:6244) claim to have maintained pricing for different reasons. goes on to quote information from their Solar Module Price Environment page:
The latest quotes posted by solar industry observer SolarBuzz show that the ASP for solar modules in Europe shrank slightly whereas it remained flat in the US. The sources indicated that solar cells from Taiwan makers had dropped to US$3.10-3.20 per watt from the previous US$3.30.
Given the solar module inventory issues in Germany, I believe Solarbuzz’s current blended ASP approach is overestimating prices and just plain not capturing 5% to 15% solar module price decreases. Solarbuzz acknowledges issues with their current methodology which includes solar modules ranging from 5 Watts to 315 Watts:
As a result, Solarbuzz will now move to showing its main index on this site as new retail price index for modules 125 Watts and above (even though Solarbuzz will, as usual, continue to capture prices across the power spectrum).
Since Solarbuzz surveys retail prices, the Solar Module Index is tabulating list prices and may not be uncovering price reductions in the distribution channel.

So what happened to the Monkeysign blog? As reported in the Nanomech in Photovoltaics blog, Sad News: Monkeysign's Blog is Unavailable, going to results in 404 Not Found, The requested URL / was not found on this server. Could this just be a site upgrade or hosting service change? I invite the Monkeysign blogger to comment or submit a guest post; I will be happy to publish it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Solarvalue AG shares up sharply on XETRA

Solarvalue AG (XETRA:SV7) ( shares are up about 49% to €12.20, an all time high, in trading on the XETRA so far today, December 14, 2006.
  • Please remember Solarvalue is traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange Open Market, the rough equivalent to Over-the-counter (OTC) in the United States.
  • The volume is below 10,000 shares with less then €100,000 in turnover.
Also, at the Berlin Press Conference, Solarvalue announced an increase in share capital of €115,000 from €450,000 was currently underway. I translate this to mean a secondary offering in US stock market jargon.

This spike in Solarvalue shares was pointed out to me by Klammrot, a frequent commenter on the Blog.

GP View: While I am impressed with Solarvalue's plans and team, Solarvalue is a very speculative investment. In the US stock market, I never invest in over the counter stocks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Unknowns NA Polysilicon, AE Polysilicon, and MST joining PV silicon party

Recent clues and news point to new and unproven entrants into polysilicon and solar grade silicon production.

Per the below edited notice of employment opportunities on, NA Polysilicon is planning to build a $200 Million PV grade polysilicon production facility “in a very modern area in Southeast Asia”. This investment translates to about 2,000 metric tons of polysilicon production per year or more depending on the manufacturing technology.

NA Polysilicon, LLC
Engineering - Overseas Opportunities
Location: MI 48188 Salary/Wage: 60,000.00 - 400,000.00 USD /year
Bonus, Relocation, Insurance, Housing & Much More
Job Description
We are making over 200 Million US dollars capital investment in a new PV grade Polysilicon manufacturing facility. We are looking for qualified engineers, technicians, and scientists to join our Foreign Service team in a very modern area in Southeast Asia. The salary is very attractive, with many benefits such as housing, work time meals, insurance, home-leave, large project completion bonus, signing bonus, relocation package, and much more.
All applicant information will be kept strictly confidential. The interviews will be held locally. Please send your resume to:
We have the following immediate openings:
(1) Research Engineers/Scientists, Ph.D. or M.S. in Chemical Metallurgy or Chemical Engineering;
(2) Facility Engineers, B.S. or higher in Mechanical, Chemical, or Civil Engineering
(3) Process Engineers, B.S. or higher in Materials or Chemical Engineering
(4) Controls Engineers, B.S. or higher in Electrical Engineering
(5) Silane and Poly Engineers; B.S. or higher in Chemical Engineering
(6) Poly Technicians; Associate Degree or higher in Chemical or Electronic Technology

All applicants must have 3 or more years hands-on experience in a silicon manufacturing environment. Knowledge of silicon crystal growth, solar and semiconductor silicon materials, or polysilicon manufacturing is a plus.

If interested, please forward a copy of your resume to

A surprise silicon sourcing announcement, Motech and AE Polysilicon sign LOI for five-year polysilicon supply agreement, was made back on October 26, 2006. An update, Motech expects to finalize supply deal with AE Polysilicon soon, appeared in on December 5, 2006. AE Polysilicon Corporation (AE), based in New Jersey, USA (at 100 Passaic Avenue, Chatham, NJ 07928 per the online Yellow Pages), will begin delivering polysilicon to Motech Industries Inc. (TPO:6244) in 2008 ramping to annual production of 2,400 metric tons per year. AE Polysilicon, a complete mystery company or start-up in the industry, claims to utilize patented “closed-loop”, fluidized bed reactor (FBR) technology to produce “cost-effective” and “high-purity” polysilicon. Motech is funding construction of AE Polysilicon’s facility with prepayments and by purchasing a 10% equity stake in AE Polysilicon. The location of the new AE Polysilicon facility has not been disclosed.

This short article, MST to set up solar grade silicon plant, in was first linked to by Solarbuzz. Maharishi Solar Technology (MST) is a 10MWp scale monocrystalline and multicrystalline silicon solar cell and module manufacturer with offices in New Delhi and production located in Andhra Pradesh, India. My request to the company for further information about their solar grade silicon production plans has not been answered.

Please leave a comment if you have information to share about these companies.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blue Square Energy hypes impurity enriched silicon solar cells

“Affordable, high-performance” silicon solar cells achieve “over” 12% efficiency

Beyond the quote in the previous post, Blue Square Energy launches website, there is not much more information on the Blue Square Energy (BSE) website regarding Bright Point silicon solar cells or impurity enriched silicon. The solar cell and module product pictures may or may not be representative of BSE products, and the copy on the website reads like classic marketing hype:
Blue Square Energy's silicon solar cells are currently available in two sizes: 200mm and 300mm. Our 300mm solar cell is the largest and most powerful silicon cell available in the market today and is found in many household tools and appliances.
I am very curious to see those “household tools and applianceswith 300mm (approximately 12 inch) solar cells! Perhaps this is a forward looking statement?

On the Cells and Modules product page, a round looking solar cell photo accompanies a square solar cell module (see photo above left). Although BSE’s 200mm and 300mm solar cell sizes match mainstream, round semiconductor wafers, BSE must realize round solar cells are passé and don’t match the fine Blue Square name? BSE makes a point of attacking existing photovoltaic technologies:
Moreover, current solar technologies — conventional silicon, thin film, amorphous — are too expensive and do not generate enough power to meet market demands.
On the History and Milestones page, BSE makes the following claims:
  • November 7, 2006: Completion of DARPA Phase I Milestones.
  • March 20, 2006: Commercial Bright Point Solar Cells Achieves 12 percent efficiency.
  • May 27, 2005: BSE ships first 300mm solar cell.
  • April 10, 2005: BSE receives $13 million purchase order for silicon solar cells.
  • October 1, 2004: BSE signs lease on a 24,000 square foot production facility to manufacture solar cells from recycled silicon wafers.
The lack of detail on the BSE website raises a number of questions about Bright Point solar cells and impurity enriched silicon.
  • What is the physical geometry and thickness of the silicon solar cells?
  • Does BSE reprocess the scrap silicon semiconductor wafers in their original form?
  • Does BSE source or have plans to source some form of Solar Grade Silicon in addition to scrap wafers or is BSE’s ability to scale production limited by scrap wafer availability?
  • What specific DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Phase I Milestones did BSE complete for the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell (VHESC) program? I have sent a request to DARPA for this detail.
While BSE claims to have “patented a clean solution”, with all these open questions, it is unclear if BSE is going back to the future with AstroPower style single crystal or Silicon Film based solar cell technologies or has BSE developed new manufacturing techniques to cast wafers or grow silicon ribbons. I would expect GE Solar Technologies, a General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) business, to be vigorous in defending the Intellectual Property obtained during their acquisition of AstroPower, Inc. from US Bankruptcy Court.

Blue Square Energy now profiles the management team. For the original post on BSE, Blue Square Energy: Mystery Solar Start-up founded by AstroPower Alumni, the company and their PR Agency, Braithwaite Communications, were unwilling to provide President and CEO Jeff Barnett’s bio. Here is Mr. Barnett’s profile from the BSE website:
Jeffrey Barnett (President & CEO, Board of Directors) founded Blue Square Energy in April 2004 and serves as its president and Chief Executive Officer. He is responsible for setting the company's priorities and overseeing the research, development and manufacturing teams. He also directs every aspect of the company's fundraising and marketing activities. Prior to starting BSE, Mr. Barnett founded Market Path Associates, a strategy consultancy for emerging energy companies. He has previously held positions with AstroPower and Intel Corporation.
Mr. Barnett holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering, with a semiconductor physics concentration, from Cornell University. He is president of the Associate Board for the St. Christopher's Foundation for Children and is active with the Cornell University Alumni Engineering Association, the American Cancer Society and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He has competed in the 2001 and 2002 New York City Marathons and numerous triathlons.
Besides Jeff Barnett as President, CEO, and the “Board of Directors”, the BSE team includes AstroPower alumni David Ford, Director, Research & Development, Jerry Culik, Director, Advanced Engineering, and Kevin Allison, Director, Business Development. John Pittman, Vice President, Manufacturing Operations, joined BSE in October 2006 from a similar role at Agere Systems, Inc. (NYSE:AGR). BSE has chosen not to disclose any board member besides Jeff Barnett.

Blue Square Energy has yet to disclose information regarding their existing investors, although BSE is open to new investors. Without disclosure and uncooperative with the press, I am left with speculation. Could Dr. Allen Barnett, Jeff Barnett’s father, be one of the secret investors in Blue Square Energy?

GP Note: There are numerous typos on the Blue Square Energy website. I corrected a few in the quotes to improve readability.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blue Square Energy launches website

I was checking the Blog while waiting for a flight at San Jose Airport, and I noticed a spike in traffic regarding Blue Square Energy (BSE). Sure enough, the website update mentioned for late October has now arrived. I don't have much time before my flight, but they have a solar cell technology called Bright Point. Here is BSE's technology description:

Bright Point is Blue Square Energy’s line of high-efficiency solar cells. It utilizes low cost, abundantly available silicon that is enriched with impurities. While other solar companies spend much time and money removing impurities from silicon, we have found a way to use them to our advantage.

While impurities help to reduce the cost, it is our proprietary design and process that increases efficiency. Commercial-size samples have already demonstrated greater than 12 percent, and the company is quickly enhancing the technology to achieve market-leading efficiency. Proprietary manufacturing techniques mean the Bright Point line will soon have the most cost-efficient solar cells on the market.

BSE is offering 200mm and 300mm solar cells now with solar modules coming in 2007. I'll report on BSE in more detail this weekend. Time to board...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Popular Solar Posts and Searches on GUNTHER Portfolio

What readers read and want to know about

Top three (3) most read posts:
I’ve been working to craft shorter titles.

Recent popular search term hits:
GreenVolts, Ribbon Technology International, MWOE, Solexant, Enfocus, and
Blue Square Energy
I suspect these companies have generated interest among venture capital.

Post generating the most unique visits (but not really adding lasting subscribers).
Gossip and Rumors from Solar Power 2006
Anything about NVIDIA seems to generate traffic from investors and fans.

Post I thought was important that didn’t generate a lot of traffic:
Foundation PV CYCLE – European photovoltaic industry initiative for solar module take back and recycling

Most searched for term I haven’t written a detailed post about:
Conference Highlights from 21st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Arendi is mentioned in a summary by Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink from the 21st EU PVSEC.

I look forward to switching to Blogger beta so I can exploit the tagging feature and expose this Blog’s content to new visitors and subscribers. But don’t expect this switch until the holidays; there is technology risk with the Blog conversion.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Summer Solar Rebate freeze highlights November 2006 NJCEP CORE Queues

NJCEP downplays summer freeze of solar rebates with success press release

If you read the recent press release from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), NEW JERSEY HIGHLIGHTS SUCCESS OF SOLAR MARKET, you might believe New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program™ (NJCEP, was a model of flawless execution in 2006. Likewise, the above chart of New Jersey Solar Installation Projects (CORE) by Quarter shows a slight drop in projects but an increase in Total kWp system capacity installed this summer 2006.

Actual NJCEP reality is reflected in the article, The Price of Success: Inside the NJ Clean Energy Program, by Stephen Lacey on

The Date of Approval Letter field in the latest CORE Queue <= 10kw Nov 22, 2006, shows no solar rebate applications were approved or checks issued from June 15, 2006, until September 29, 2006. The approvals for Q3/2006 were back end loaded to the absolute last business day of September 2006. The CORE Queue Less Than 10kWp has more than doubled since May 2006, but just over one third of the backlog has been addressed. Although the Date of Approval Letter field is not included in the CORE Queue Greater than 10kWp, any recent approvals occurred after the last CORE Queue release on September 15, 2006.

Talking with solar system installers and integrators at Solar Power 2006, I heard some scuttlebutt that the NJCEP program was being audited during the rebate freeze, allegedly because of “Pay to Play” concerns that have permeated New Jersey politics. I can only wonder what prompted the NJCEP to worry about New Jersey solar module shrinkage as reported in Gossip and Rumors from Solar Power 2006. Has there been a black market in rebated New Jersey solar modules?

I think NJCEP has done great work to promote solar and renewable energy in New Jersey, but they shouldn’t gloss over sustainable program growth issues with a press release.