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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Early Registration Photos at the 23rd EU PVSEC

[Valencia, Spain]

Q-Cells Party info!

Not ready to brave a Valencia beach excursion, I decided to head over to the Feria Valencia on Sunday to obtain my 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) Press badge and conference bag and to check out the venue. As it turned out, Press badges are not being distributed until Monday morning. However, I did have unprecedented access to the Conference auditoriums and Exhibition. This was not exclusive to me; anyone interested could have taken a good look around.

As I said last year in the “22nd EU PVSEC Closing Session”:

Peter Helm, the Executive Conference Director, discussed the selection of Valencia, Spain, for the 23rd EU PVSEC in 2008, and the issues with distance between venues will be resolved. This was my only complaint about the 22nd EU PVSEC. It was much easier to dash between the Conference, Visual Presentations, the Exhibition, and the Press room in Dresden even considering the bratwurst gap. Did I mention Valencia has a beach?

Although it was not running on Sunday, the Metro Valencia Line 4 Feria train stops almost at the front of the Feria Valencia. So the walk from the Metro to the Feria is much shorter than Milan was last year. In my opinion and although I am still walking challenged from my Hiatus incident, the walk from the Conference Venue to the Exposition Halls seems at least as long or longer than Milan. Adding to the journey, Auditorium Pavilion 5 is located down three levels in the Conference Venue, and the Exhibition Halls are located one level below the Foro Centro entrance. I heard exhibitors may not be so happy about this either. On the positive side, the Visual Presentation space is large and located at the entrance to Auditorium Pavilion 5 next to Conference Registration.

Please view the following Picasa slideshow with select pre-23rd EU PVSEC photos including a minor story snippet in the captions. Adjustment of the slide display time may be required to read the captions.

The 23rd EU PVSEC Q-Cells CELEBRATE WITH US! Party details are as follows:

Date: 2 September 2008 Time: 9 P.M.
Address: Paseo Neptuno | Playa Las Arenas

I suggest getting over to Q-Cells AG in Exhibition Hall 2 Stand A9 first thing on Monday to procure your ticket.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Preview

Global PV Industry taking planes, trains, automobiles, and perhaps boats to Valencia for “the most important international Event in the field of Photovoltaics”.

The 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) opens Monday, September 1, 2008 (Labor Day!), and runs through the Closing Ceremony at Noon on Friday, September 5, 2008, located at the Feria Valencia Convention and Exhibition Centre in Valencia, Spain.

While the Conference Dinner is booked, it appears Conference Registration is still possible. Per custom, the Welcome Letter has been emailed to Registered Conference Delegates and will also be included in the Conference Bag. Please consult the Overview on the venue and Practical Information for the layout of the Feria and information about Valencia.

Here’s the entire Conference Program Outline including:

In addition, EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association) has organized the following Activities:

  • EPIA Industry Area
  • B2B Workshops
    • Grid Parity – two words, many different meanings
    • Development of Leading European Markets - Policy up-date
    • New requirements for grid connection
  • EPIA Beach Party
    • Billed as an exclusive “invitation only” event on Thursday, September 4, 2008, after the close of the exhibition.
  • EPIA Open Bar
    • The EPIA Open Bar, a new tradition from Milan, returns Tuesday and Wednesday from 17:30 to19:00 (5:30 to 7:00 PM) to facilitate informal meetings, networking and relaxation.

About 600 exhibitors covering 48000 square meters of space have booked the Feria Valencia for the 23rd EU PVSEC. The Exhibition will is open Monday, September 1, 2008, through Thursday, September 4, 2008, from 09:00 to 18:00 (9:00 AM to 6:00PM). Best of all, visiting the 23rd EU PVSEC Exhibition is free with registration available onsite.

Here are the List of Exhibitors, Exhibition hall layouts, and mappings:

This year, the Becquerel Prize 2008 will be awarded at the Closing Session instead of the Opening Session (please see “22nd EU PVSEC Opens”). Maybe this will encourage more attendance on the last day of the Conference?

This YouTube video titled “Valencia appears to be a bootleg from the official TURISMO VALENCIA Convention Bureau Download section with Videos, Digital Guides, and PDFs.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RSI Silicon: Solar Grade Silicon Reprise

Production is supposed to commence a quarter later in Q3 2008 (about now) as the company remains stealthy.

There has been a dearth of news regarding RSI Silicon Products, LLC since RSI Silicon: Solar Grade Silicon from Pennsylvania (then Alabama) explained the RSI Silicon process. In fact, I missed an earlier article by Solarbuzz titled “RSI Silicon Products Nears Completion of Solar Grade Silicon Manufacturing Plant” from January 18, 2008, that has now been removed from their website. Google’s cache snapshot is here for as long as it lasts. Towards the end of the article, Solarbuzz said:

The major equipment items have been delivered to the 178,000 square foot Easton facility, and it is anticipated that production will ramp up during the second quarter of 2008 for full production in the third quarter.

In parallel, RSI Silicon Products has underway the development of a 17,500 ton per year plant in Childersburg, Alabama.

A member of RSI Silicon's team, Ed Boardwine, will be CEO of the Alabama subsidiary. He is the former President & CEO and part owner of SIMCALA, a large silicon manufacturer in Alabama which was sold to Dow Corning in 2003. Mr. Boardwine is currently helping to manage the startup of the Easton, PA plant.

Per RSI’s Current Status:

Dr. Steve Amendola, along with his experienced team, has commenced building the first plant. It is envisaged that production at the 1,000 metric tonne per annum plant based in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, will commence Q3 2008.

RSI anticipates completing a new plant in 2009 that will have a production capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes per annum, consisting of 6 new 5,000 tonne furnaces.

As I captured back in January 2008, RSI claimed:

Dr. Steve Amendola, along with his experienced team, has commenced building the first plant. It is envisaged that production at the 1,000 metric tonne (bold added) per annum plant based in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, will commence Q2 2008.

RSI anticipates completing a new plant in Alabama in 2009 that will have a production capacity of 24,000 metric tonnes per annum, adding a new 5,000 tonne furnace in 2010 and 2011.

Comparing the stories, the production start has been delayed one quarter, the production capacity for 2009 has been increased by 6000 MT (metric tons), six (6) new submerged arc furnaces are being added, and Alabama is no longer specified as the location of the new plant.

Does this mean C. Edward Boardwine, the former Simcala CEO, is no longer part of the RSI Silicon Team or has the location of the new plant been changed? Simcala, Inc. was acquired by Dow Corning in 2003.

According to The Pennsylvania Bulletin public disclosure dated March 22, 2008:

48-307-062: RSI Silicon Products, LLC (3700 Glover Road, Easton, PA 18040) for installation of two electric arc furnaces and associated air cleaning devices (fabric collectors) at their facility in Forks Township, Northampton County. The facility is a non-Title V facility. The total PM emissions from the fabric collectors will be 2.0 tpy and shall not exceed 0.003 grain/dscf. The plan approval will include emission restrictions, monitoring, reporting and work practice requirements designed to keep the sources operating within all applicable air quality requirements.

RSI is installing two electric arc furnaces of unknown size at the Easton facility capped at 2 tons per year (tpy) of Particulate Matter emissions. The arc furnaces are used in the final step of RSI Silicon’s production process using Carbothermic Reduction to yield Solar Grade Silicon from the pure silica along with Carbon monoxide (CO) as a byproduct. Perhaps RSI’s website claims about Waste and Emissions:

RSI’s unique processing methods produce no harmful gases or polluting emissions.

are not quite accurate?

One metallurgical expert who read my last RSI Silicon process post and observed the final Solar Grade Silicon was tapped direct from the arc furnace said:

That would constitute the cleanest silicon arc furnace in history.

When I saw the news, Dow Acquires Rohm and Haas, Creating World’s Leading Specialty Chemicals and Advanced Materials Company, I wondered if RSI Silicon had long term contracts in place with Rohm and Haas Company or alternate sources for the chelating agent AMBERLITE IRA734 that is critical to removing Boron from their Sodium silicate solution? After all, The Dow Chemical Company is a majority owner of polysilicon oligarch Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation via the Dow Corning Corporation joint venture.

Although RSI Silicon acknowledged my requests for an interview this time, they chose to decline.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Concentrix Solar nears FLATCON Module volume production

Ramping new 25 MW (MegaWatt) production line in September 2008

Since Concentrix Concentrator PhotoVoltaic System achieves 23% Efficiency, Concentrix Solar GmbH announced the same High-efficiency FLATCON® technology enters industrial-scale production (Deutsch) last Friday, August 15, 2008. Concentrix is moving across the town of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, to a new 4000 square meter production and service space located in a portion of the former Spectral Lichttechnik building at the Auf der Haid industrial park.

Concentrix’s new factory will produce CPV (Concentrator PhotoVoltaic) FLATCON modules using an automated 25 MW production line leveraging two (2) years of experience operating their 1 MW pilot line. Concentrix claims “the infrastructure is already in place to step up production to 50 MW.” The new facility is expected to create 150 new jobs augmenting Concentrix’s fifty (50) or so employees.

With new production capacity in place, Concentrix is keen on expanding sales and will exhibit at the upcoming 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) in Valencia, Spain. Regarding the new production facility, CEO Hansjörg Lerchenmüller said:

It means we can at last meet the strong demand for our systems. High-efficiency concentrator photovoltaic systems will play a key role in the sunbelt because high efficiencies are a key to lowering costs. We are certainly well prepared for the future and can now additionally take on large power plant projects in the 1 to 10 MW range.

Per two German articles, Sonne gebündelt and Concentrix zieht auf die Haid, Concentrix turned down a 30 to 50% capital investment incentive from the German state of Saxony to move their mass production east. Concentrix cited their existing supplier network, partners (such as Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems), the attractiveness of Freiburg to future employees, and the immediate availability of the Spectral building as their rationale for staying put in Freiburg. Concentrix was said to be spending €2 million to alter the former Spectral building to suit their needs.

The CPV Consortium has a landing page for the Website Under Construction along with a CPV Consortium Membership Application for those interested in joining.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

SolarWorld Grade Silicon

Securing silicon through long-term contracts, in-house production, and recycling.

SolarWorld Secures Sustainable Solar-Grade Silicon Supplies Through In-House Production, Recycling and Long-Term Contracts with Renowned Manufacturers (Deutsch) was the news Tuesday, August 12, 2008. SolarWorld AG’s (FRA:SWV) wholly owned subsidiary, Deutsche Solar AG, secured an additional $580 million polysilicon contract with DC Chemical Co., Ltd. (SEO:010060) for delivery by 2016. At the same time, additional long-term wafer supply contracts worth over $350 million “were concluded with customers in Germany and China.

SolarWorld plans for in-house solar grade silicon production are detailed in the above slide titled “Ramp up internal silicon capacity” from the July 2008 Presentation of the Chief Financial Officer. Both the Joint Solar Silicon GmbH & Co. KG and Scheuten SolarWorld Solicium GmbH joint ventures are developed and managed by the Sunicon AG subsidiary. The SolarMaterial subsidiary recycles silicon for SolarWorld.

Just last Friday, August 8, 2008, SolarWorld and joint venture partner Evonik Industries AG inaugurated the first Joint Solar Silicon GmbH & Co. KG (JSSI) production plant in Rheinfelden (Baden) Germany per SolarWorld AG: Start of Industrial Production of Solar-Grade Silicon (Deutsch) or Evonik and SolarWorld Open New Solar Silicon Plant—New Production Process with Impressive Energy-Saving Features. Evonik said the new solar silicon production process:

requires only 10 percent of the energy used by conventional processes and is more cost efficient. The integrated production facility consists of a monosilane production plant operated by Evonik and a second plant in which JSSi uses the chemical to produce solar silicon. The production capacity will initially be 850 metric tons of solar silicon per year.

Three reactors will be used to reach the 850 and later 1000 MT (metric ton) annual silicon production capacity. The total investment by Evonik (51 per cent) and SolarWorld AG (49 per cent) in the JSSI joint venture production facility was said to be in the coy double digit million Euro range (~$10 to $99 million).

Deutsche Solar AG CEO Prof. Dr. Peter Woditsch presented two slides about the JSSI process at the 2nd PV Industry Forum before Intersolar 2006. Please see the Picasa Slideshow below.

Pyrolysis of SiH4 (monsilane) in tube reactor at 800°C
Monosilane is decomposed in hydrogen resulting in the chemical vapor deposition of silicon on the tube reactor walls and a silicon powder byproduct. SolarWorld claims the deposition process is protected by four patents exclusive to the JSSI joint venture.

Per the JSSI website, the Evonik (was Degussa AG) and SolarWorld joint venture was formed way back on May 24, 2002. Evonik would supply silane to JSSI while SolarWorld contributed the silane decomposition in tube reactor process technology. Although SolarWorld has a number of patents related to solar grade silicon, monosilane, and trichlorosilane production processes, SolarWorld obtained an exclusive license to the JSSI silicon process technology from GT Equipment Technologies, Inc., now well known as recent IPO GT Solar International, Inc. (NASDAQ:SOLR). Here is the original press release:

GT Equipment Technologies, Inc. licenses groundbreaking silicon feedstock production technology to SolarWorld AG

and the international patent published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):


I have no doubt significant research and development efforts were required by JSSI to commercialize this silicon deposition process over the last six years.

Greentech Media has a good post, Timminco Shares Fall on Production Delay, about their production challenges in the ramp up of solar grade silicon. I have not had a chance yet to listen to the conference call.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sol3g produces 1000th High Concentration PhotoVoltaic M40 Module “grid”

Nearing 500 kWp (kiloWatt-peak) cumulative production?

Friday, August 8, 2008, Sol3g, S.L. released “Sol3g produces its number 1000 grid” which should be up on the News (Español) section of their website soon. Sol3g states they completed their number 1000 (one-thousand) M40 Module grid from their factory in Terrassa (Barcelona) Spain (please see Sol3g inaugurates High Concentration PhotoVoltaics factory) back on July 15, 2008. Each M40 Module grid consists of fourteen (14) M40 Modules.

Photo Credit: Sol3g, S.L.

Now on the specification side, the Sol3g press release claims a single M40 Module has:

An efficiency up to 24% and 35 W of power can be achieved under standard conditions: 1000 W/m2 direct normal irradiance and 25ºC cell temperature.

Using the standard High Concentration PhotoVoltaic (HCPV) test conditions, the M40 Module Product Data Sheet specifies 30W (Watt) Power @850W/m2 (Watts per meter squared) DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance) for a Class A binned module. Using the 30W module power figure and assuming all modules are Class A:

(30W) (1000 M40 Module grids) (14 M40 Modules) = 420 kWp cumulative production

versus the 490 kWp cumulative production result with the 35W Power @1000W/m2.

It is clear the Flix Solar deal (please see Sol3g lands 800kW High Concentration PhotoVoltaic deal with Flix Solar) used the 30W power specification when ordering their required 26,880 M40 Modules. I expect the Sol3g Terrassa factory will be humming in August 2008 completing the balance of M40 Modules required for the Flix deployment which was slated for completion by the end of that month. Then Sol3g will still need to produce modules for the 400 KW installation awarded to Sol3g by ISFOC in Castilla La Mancha or please see ISFOC Awards 1.3MW of Concentrator PhotoVoltaic power plants.

Regarding future production capacity, Sol3g said:

The future plans of the company are to increase the production capacity up to 10 Mw/year for the end of 2008 and to maintain an intense work of investigation and development to continue leading the world-wide market of HCPV systems.

While this is consistent with the announced plans of Sol3g, Sol3g said:

The Flix project will be the largest task carried out by Sol3g since its beginnings in 2004. Alter (After) the factory opened, last January, Sol3g has increased its production capacity, and by the end of 2008 the company expects to increase this to 3MWp.

back in May 2008 with Sol3g lands 800kW High Concentration PhotoVoltaic deal with Flix Solar. I will seek to clarify this aberrational point with Sol3g.

So what is the deal with Solar Power 2008 renaming itself Solar Power International? Per Solar Power Conference and Expo, Reflecting Global Scope and Growth, Becomes Solar Power International, Rhone Resch, president of SEIA said:

As the U.S. solar energy industry has grown, this conference has become an essential event for global solar energy companies that want to do business in the thriving U.S. market. The strong influx of international attendees is an indication of America’s potential to attract investment, create more green-collar jobs and regain our leadership position.

Whatever this rose may be called, this is a regional conference event for national and international companies focused on penetrating and growing solar markets in the United States.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nitol Solar scores International Finance Corporation Investment

Polysilicon production to begin mid 2009.

Last Thursday, July 31, 2008, Nitol Solar Limited and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of the five institutions comprising The World Bank Group, announced a $50 million equity investment and $25 million loan by IFC to Nitol Solar per the dueling press releases:

Nitol Solar and IFC Announce Strategic Investment
IFC Supports Solar Cell Technology in Russia, Helping Alleviate Global Shortage

The Summary of Proposed Investment notes the investment will facilitate construction of Nitol Solar’s $450 million polysilicon manufacturing plant with 3700 MT (metric ton) per year annual capacity. The Nitol Solar plant is located in the Usolie-Sibirskoe, Irkutsk region, Russia, per my earlier post, From Siberia with Polysilicon.

The IFC investment follows the March 13, 2008, Nitol Solar and Suntech Announce Strategic Investment expanding upon the original Suntech Announces First Phase Polysilicon Supply Agreement with Nitol Solar. In this agreement, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE:STP):

will acquire newly issued ordinary shares comprising a minority interest in Nitol Solar Ltd. for a total consideration of up to $100 million, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions.

Later, Nitol Solar and Suntech Expand Polysilicon Supply Agreement again resulting in a substantial increase in the polysilicon committed volumes to be supplied between 2009 and 2015 to Suntech and:

Suntech has already paid the first $33 million installment of this investment to Nitol Solar.

Besides Suntech, Nitol Solar has announced polysilicon deals with ersol Solar Energy AG (see ersol and NITOL Group sign Polysilicon supply Letter of Intent), Motech Industries, Inc., Trina Solar Limited, and Evergreen Solar, Inc.

On the technical front, Nitol Solar produced first industrial batch of Polysilicon claims the first batch of polysilicon produced from the plant is suitable for manufacturing solar wafers per testing by the Evans Analytical Group (EAG Limited, LON:EAG). Suitability of the polysilicon for monocrystalline silicon wafers is not specified.

Although Nitol Solar delayed their IPO (Initial Public Offering) in February 2008 (see Russia's Nitol Solar postpones IPO- source) because of market conditions, they have rounded out their Management Team, Board of Directors, and Scientific Counsel with international talent.

I noticed a bit of revisionist history in Nitol Solar’s previous press releases. An over enthusiast marcom or public relations team updated all prior references from the “Nitol Group” to “Nitol Solar”. I wonder if the IFC will help Nitol Solar rectify these fine corporate governance points since the:

IFC is also working with Nitol Solar to enhance its environmental and social practices and assist the company by implementing international best practices in corporate governance.

And don’t forget Nitol Solar =is= a polysilicon reactor customer of the Class Action suited GT Solar International, Inc. (NASDAQ:SOLR) per GT Solar Signs $49M Polysilicon Reactor Contract with Nitol Group or the revised Nitol Solar and GT Solar Signed $49M Polysilicon Reactor Contract.

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