Solarvalue AG Chairman and CEO Claudia Boehringer said:
In the last few months we have built our own laboratory size production facility in the US. This facility has recently started operations directed at testing metallurgical grade silicon from a variety of potential suppliers, as well as evaluating the ability of the Solarvalue production process to refine this purchased silicon into solar grade silicon in our Slovenia plant. We expect to produce the first small quantities of solar grade silicon samples in the very near future.
Solarvalue should deliver SGS lab sample material on the order of 10’s of kilograms before year end.
By implication, the lab samples were then expected in a few weeks at most. And even now the solar grade silicon samples are not ready until the “very near future”. As I understand it, the “laboratory size production facility” is capable of producing solar grade silicon in the aforementioned 10’s of kilograms quantity scale.
Timminco Limited: O Canada! Solar Grade Silicon, Eh? – Part 2
Production capacity expansion and Landsbanki/Kepler presentation
Last Friday, February 22, 2008, the Timminco Limited (TSE:TIM) subsidiary, Bécancour Silicon Inc. (BSI), announced plans to expand annual solar grade silicon production capacity from 3600 MT (Metric Tons) to 14400 MT in Timminco Announces Expansion of Production Capacity for Solar Grade Silicon. This expansion is slated for completion by mid 2009 at a cost of about $65 million (I presume Canadian Dollars or CAD) and will establish BSI as the leading volume producer of solar grade silicon by upgrading metallurgical silicon (mg-Si).
Analysis of the solar grade silicon by shipment shows continuous improvement in Phosphorous and Boron impurity levels. An independent lab (SHIVA Technologies) analysis of BSI’s solar grade silicon from the first production line found concentrations of less than 1 ppm wt (parts per million by weight) Boron with Phosphorous concentrations centered around 5 ppm wt.
I heard from an informed source that while some BSI customers blend the solar grade silicon material with polysilicon in a 1:1 ratio, others can produce working silicon solar cells with 100% BSI material. BSI announced four (4) long term customer contracts for High Purity Silicon and sampled 24 customers with 90 MT of solar grade silicon from the pilot plant in 2007. Since then, BSI has purchase orders for 2008 from four (4) new customers and claims the “High quality and cleanliness of material has enabled monocrystalline production”.
I have been searching for the patents related to BSI’s Silbec Process. It appears these have been moving forward and may be published soon.
While SRI patents over twenty (20) years old involve the “PROCESS AND APPARATUS FOR OBTAINING SILICON FROM FLUOSILICIC ACID” or the reduction of silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4) with sodium, a newer patent published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) involves a Fluidized Bed Reactor with potential application to the production of electronic grade silicon.
(WO 2000/020111) FLUIDIZED BED REACTOR HAVING A CENTRALLY POSITIONED INTERNAL HEAT SOURCE
Regardless of the process technology, 2008 production of 1000 MT (metric tons) of polysilicon by Muto Silicon looks over optimistic unless construction is well underway.
Companies like Spanish windmill manufacturer Gamesa and solar material manufacturer AE Polysilicon have already moved into the KIPC and created hundreds of jobs.
By virtue of an office at the Keystone Industrial Port Complex (KIPC) Administrative building and activity at the existing structure, this statement was true in technical fact. However, I still believe Congressman Murphy’s staff was being a bit over enthusiastic about AE Polysilicon’s progress last October.
Global demand for clean energy and solar power in particular is booming; however, limited supplies of polysilicon have restrained the industry’s ability to mass produce affordable solar cells and modules. It is the company’s vision to advance the competitiveness of the solar energy industry by developing cost-effective technologies and creating strong relationships in the industry and local community. We are very excited to locate in Pennsylvania, with its strong commitment to developing a clean energy economy and its skilled workforce.
Photo Credit: AE Polysilicon I believe Motech Industries, Inc. Chairman and President Dr. Simon Tsuo is at the far right.
According to AE, major equipments have been ordered and installation had already begun for some equipments at a site near the facility. AE expects to enter into test production soon after the production facility has been completed. According to the construction plan, AE expects to commence test production in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Event slated for today, February 15, 2008, at 11:00 AM EST
I stopped by the Keystone Industrial Port Complex (KIPC) this morning to check on the construction progress, if any, for the new AE Polysilicon facility. I was surprised to find signs for an AE Polysilicon Event. The groundbreaking ceremony is supposed to start at 11:00 AM per one of the event caters I questioned.
Here is a Picasa slideshow with the event tent and the existing building that will be renovated into office space.
It appears there has been little to no work done thus far at the site. I tried to find an AE Polysilicon representative to ask for a formal invitation to the groundbreaking, but I could not find anyone at the main KIPC office. So I decided to rush out this post.
Well, I do have to wonder why I did not receive an official invitation!
Cool Earth Solar attracts a Hot $21 Million in Series A Financing
Valentine’s Day funding leaked by CCTO two days early. 2008 California Clean Tech Open Launch will occur on April 1, 2008, in San Jose, California USA.
In COOL EARTH SOLAR CLOSES $21 MILLION SERIES A FINANCING, Cool Earth Solar (CES, http://www.coolearthsolar.com) announced the initial closing of a $21 million Series A round of financing today on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2008. Cool Earth Solar stated additional closings of this round may occur over the next 60 days.
Cool Earth Solar has developed a proprietary Concentrated PhotoVoltaic (CPV) technology that the company claims will achieve radical reductions in the material cost and weight of CPV versus competing high concentration photovoltaic systems. Furthermore, Cool Earth Solar will use their CPV technology to develop, build, and own solar power plants that can compete with conventional fossil fuel fired power plants.
Our goal from the very start was to find a clean energy generation solution that could address the global scale of the carbon problem. We discarded everything that couldn’t scale, relied on rare components, or had some other critical bottleneck. Ultimately, we developed a novel technology which radically reduces the amount of material in our system and balances labor and capital costs.
And Cool Earth Solar Chief Executive Officer, Rob Lamkin said:
Cool Earth Solar power plants will produce electricity at a cost lower than natural gas-fueled plants. Our innovative solar technology delivers economically as well as environmentally. We will apply the funding towards expanding our team, developing our technology, and building our state-of-the-art solar power plants. We are actively seeking exceptional engineers, scientists, and manufacturing designers.
The California Clean Tech Open (CCTO) released the following information about CES two days early in the Tuesday, February 12, 2008, California Clean Tech Open Newsletter:
CoolEarth, a 2006 Runner-Up of the Renewables Prize, inks deal for $21 million in private funding. CoolEarth Solar, our 2006 runner-up for the California Investor Owned Utilities Renewable Prize (PG&E, SDG&E and SCE) has engineered a cost efficient solar power plant that competes economically with conventional fuels. Their new technology combines traditional photovoltaics with a new inflatable concentrator. The mirror concentrator is unique because it uses inflatable mirrors that are 400 times cheaper than polished aluminum mirrors. CCTO Founding Partner Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati assisted CoolEarth in closing the round. www.coolearthsolar.com
The postSunPower and First Solar: Two Men Enter. One Man Leaves. by Daniel Englander seems long on provocation and short on arguments. First, I don’t see near term competition between SunPower and First Solar as a zero sum game. Each company’s technology can thrive in photovoltaic applications depending on the specifics of the installation size, area, and location. And any thin film threat as cited from Nanosolar or Sharp to First Solar is an even greater threat to SunPower because of their higher cost per Watt silicon solar cells. SunPower is not “a vertically integrated poly producer” as Mr. Englander states and needs polysilicon prices to decline just to keep up with First Solar and maintain their gross margins. Exploiting their own increasing returns to scale, First Solar can continue to lower their variable manufacturing costs and defend their industry leading cost position.
In this YouTube video, Dr. Lawrence Kazmerski, Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) at NREL, delivers an entertaining and informative lecture onPhotovoltaics: At the Tipping Point at Vanderbilt University on December 3, 2007.
Cheers to PHOTON International, The Photovoltaic Magazine, for posting articles to their website on a regular basis in 2008. With a massive database of articles, I always thought this would be a great way to leverage their content and entice new subscribers via the teaser content page for the latest issue.
PV-Tech independently collects and disseminates news and in-depth technical information exclusively for PV manufacturers.
Since this publication showed potential, I added it to my SOLAR LINKS. But what is with the .org designation? Non-profit organizations are the main users of the .org (dot-org) domain, and PV-Tech.org is a for profit company operated by the Henley Media Group. Over a period of one month, PV-Tech.org failed to respond to my emails asking about the .org domain though they did find the time to trumpet themselves in PV-Tech.org - building a sustainable future one cell at a time.
has hired metallurgical industry veteran Paolo Maccario as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Maccario has also been appointed as a Member of the 6N Silicon Board of Directors.
Mr. Maccario has 22 years of metallurgical and automotive sector experience and was last the CEO and President of Meridian Technologies Inc., a world leading supplier of magnesium components and assemblies to the automotive industry. 6N Silicon Founder Scott Nichol continues as President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
The present invention provides for methods of purifying silicon, methods for obtaining purified silicon, as well as methods for obtaining purified silicon crystals, purified granulized silicon and/or purified silicon ingots.
Analysis of 6N Silicon’s process will have to wait for a future post.
Ventizz Capital Fund III LP, Delaware and Ventizz Capital Fund IV LP, Jersey (Ventizz) signed a contract on the holding of Ventizz in ersol Thin Film GmbH, Erfurt, which has been approved by the Supervisory Board of ersol today. Ventizz will acquire a minority stake of nearly 50% in ersol Thin Film GmbH by way of a cash capital increase. ersol will retain the managerial responsibility.
Since both Ventizz Capital Fund III LP, Delaware and Ventizz Capital Fund IV LP, Jersey are private equity funds launched and advised by Ventizz Capital Partners Advisory AG, it is unclear if ersol shares were in effect sold from one Ventizz fund to another. Nonetheless, ersol Thin Film GmbH obtained a €48 million increase in equity capital and access to additional Ventizz partner loans. The transaction values the ersol Thin Film subsidiary at about €100 million.
ersol Thin Film will invest the capital in capacity expansion and micromorph tandem module production equipment upgrades.
In addition, Ventizz Capital Partners CEO Dr. Helmut Vorndran and Managing Partner Reinhard Löchner are also ersol Supervisory Board Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. Given the potential conflicts of interest, having this transaction “approved by the Supervisory Board of ersol” doesn’t seem very reassuring.
Besides the Ventizz Capital Partner connection, here are a few obvious questions regarding the motivation behind this transaction:
SolFocus broke ground at the ISFOC Puertollano site in October of last year with the civil construction and underground electrical work. The SolFocus array that is installed is rated at 6.2kW and has performed over its design output, which is significant at the early stage of this project.
Alas, the big CPV news last week was from EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) with a pair of deals including a 200MW to 700MW MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with solar new comer SunPeak Solar, LLC and several Spanish market agreements totaling $18 million. Here are the press releases:
I think an EMCORE MOU with a brand new photovoltaic project developer deserves further scrutiny. No financial terms or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) were disclosed in the press release. At least the Southwestern United States has significant direct solar resources for CPV.