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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nanosolar: Photovoltaic Hindsight Insights? REVISED

Reviewing the efficiency calculation.

Building on my prior post, Nanosolar: Photovoltaic Hindsight Insights?, “Nanosolar to Build 10MW Power Plant” by Ucilia Wang at Greentech Media obtained feedback on the story from Nanosolar, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Martin Roscheisen:

Roscheisen also wrote that two technical details in the newspaper articles were wrong. The June article said the size of the glass plate for a finished panel measures at 2 square meters. Roscheisen wrote that Nanosolar's panel is "compatible with First Solar's, which are 1.6 x .8m in size."

Roscheisen added that the 7,000 panels reported for the 1-megawatt plant also was wrong, but didn't offer the correct number.

Well, Nanosolar partner Beck Energy GmbH has First Solar’s FS Series 2 Solar Module datasheet (Deutsch) on their website, and the First Solar module dimensions are in fact 1.2 x 0.6m (meters).

Looking at the Nanosolar module array photo shown in Nanosolar solar modules shipping!, the modules are arranged as five (5) by ten (10) CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) rectangular looking solar cells. I do not believe Nanosolar has ever stated the cell size; they appear to be about 6” (156mm) square in area terms? This rough sizing would confirm the 1.6 x 0.8m panel size.

Using the 1.6 x 0.8m panel size cited by Mr. Roscheisen and the calculated 142.9 Watts per module assuming the 7000 panels remains reasonable, the implied Nanosolar Utility Panel module efficiency becomes 11.16%.

First, do I need to point out the 142.9 Watts per module would be an average module efficiency for the entire 1 MWp (MegaWatt-peak) installation? Per Sorted-Cell Assembly, Nanosolar’s metal foil substrate cells can be tested, binned, and matched to increase module efficiency and yield much like crystalline silicon based solar cells. No doubt the unpublic Nanosolar Utility Panel module datasheet includes a range of power ratings. However, without Nanosolar cell or module production efficiency data in histogram form, it is impossible to determine if more or less than 7000 modules are required for the 1 MWp Luckenwalde landfill project as Mr. Roscheisen asserts. For example, if the average module efficiency is 12% (153.6 Wp, Watt-peak), about 6500 modules would be required for the 1MWp installation, while 10% average module efficiency (128 Wp) would require just over 7800 modules.

From the Nanosolar Wikipedia entry, I found this award winning article, “Solarzellen - einfach gedruckt” (“Solar cells – simply printed”, German only) by Johannes Bernreuter for bild der wissenschaft 2|2007, also referenced by the Nanosolar website. The article delves into the history of the nanoparticle CIGS printing technology and past efficiency, potential, and verified efficiency results. Please remember the “14.5% Cell Produced Using Low-Cost Printing Process” touted by Nanosolar was for a 0.47 square centimeter cell printed on a glass substrate. NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) measured the cell’s efficiency at 13.95% in August 2006, and Nanosolar said:

NREL measured one of Nanosolar’s cells on glass at about 14% on a total-area basis, equivalent to about 14.5% on an active-area basis after correcting for shadowing by the grid (Voc = 599mV, Jsc = 32.2mA/cm2, FF = 72.3).

To our knowledge, this is the highest efficiency yet reported for any printed solar cell of any kind and any CIGS cells fabricated using non-vacuum methods in particular.


I hesitate to share this. One of my favorite German restaurants near Luckenwalde, Landgasthof "Zum Märkischen Eck", is about a 20 minute drive from Nanosolar GmbH. It’s worth a visit; just make sure to save a table for my relatives and me!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nanosolar: Photovoltaic Hindsight Insights?

10 MW (MegaWatt) solar power plant project proposed in the Rieselfelder near Luckenwalde.
Updates on the original 1 MW solar farm project imply 7.15% (not 14%, see GP Correction note) Module Efficiency.

Nanosolar, Inc. was back in the news late last month with the Nanosolar Blog post, “Nanosolar Ups Funding to $1/2B; Partners Strategically for Solar Utility Power”, regarding a March 2008 funding round. For coverage, please see “Nanosolar Confirms $300M Funding” by Jennifer Kho at Greentech Media or “Nanosolar Boosts Funds to Massive Half Billion Dollars” by Katie Fahrenbacher at Earth2Tech.

Although I have not posted about Nanosolar since the cancelled eBay auction, I managed to find dated yet uncirculated news about Nanosolar GmbH in the regional German newspaper, Märkische Allgemeine.

In April 2008, “ENERGIEPOLITIK: Viel Platz für die Sonne, Auf ehemaligen Luckenwalder Rieselfeldern soll ein großes Solarkraftwerk entstehen” (German only) by Elinor Wenke reported on the proposal to build a 10 MWp (MegaWatt-peak) solar power plant on 57 hectares (140.8 acres) at a cost of around €30 million or €3 per Watt. Beck Energy GmbH teamed with Nanosolar on the project located on the former Rieselfelder (please see My Google Map) in between the Berkenbrücker und Ruhlsdorfer Chaussee roads not far from the Nanosolar GmbH factory.

Beck Energy’s Bernhard Beck would like to complete the project over the next year and said the 10MW photovoltaic plant can power 10000 residential homes with electricity each year. Echoing the Nanosolar Blog post, “Municipal Solar Power Plants”, released about the same time, Mr. Beck emphasized the benign nature of the plant on the environment. Grass can grow under and around the ground based solar arrays, and though large animals will be fenced out, smaller animals can live in harmony with the installation. However, the land cannot be used for agriculture and is owned by NUWAB (municipal water and sewage company) and the town of Luckenwalde combined with leased parcels. The land usage appears inefficient versus the Nanosolar metric of 10 acres per 2 MW. Perhaps land utilization is limited by existing uses or there are plans for future expansion?

Per “ENERGIEPOLITIK: 30 Millionen Euro für Solarkraftwerk”, the Luckenwalde business and planning boards voted unanimously to approve the submission of a development plan for the project and to change the land’s zoning. Not surprising since the Luckenwalde town government helped Beck Energy and Nanosolar select the location for the solar power plant.

So what about the 1 MWp reference solar farm project located at the retired landfill in Luckenwalde, Germany, I first posted about “In Search of Nanosolar GmbH”?

From May 2008, “WIRTSCHAFT: Sonnenschein über der Deponie, Am Frankenfelder Berg in Luckenwalde entsteht bis Ende November 2008 ein Solarpark” by Uta Franke reported on the laying of a ceremonial foundation stone with a time capsule and commemoration plaque for the 1 MW solar park on a sunny day in Luckenwalde. The solar park will cover 1.9 Hectares (4.7 acres) with a reiterated cost of €2.9 million or €2.9 per Watt despite a prior report mentioning a €3.5 million project cost. The project is supposed to be brought on grid by the end of November 2008 supplying about 400 homes with electricity.

After the ceremony, Erik Oldekop, Managing Director, Nanosolar International, said about 7000 solar modules will be required by the 1 MW project. This tidbit implies each module delivers about 142.9 Watts presumably at STC (Standard Test Conditions).

Next in June 2008, “WIRTSCHAFT: Sonnenmodul-Hersteller will expandieren, Stadt- und Kreisoberhaupt besuchen das Unternehmen Nanosolar” by Elinor Wenke reported on a visit by Luckenwalde town and Teltow-Fläming county officials to the Nanosolar GmbH production facility.

On production capacity, the first 100 MW is completed, while an additional 300 MW of capacity is supposed to be built out and in operation by yearend 2008. These capacity figures correlate to Nanosolar’s claims of accelerating production expansion to 620 MW at Nanosolar GmbH noting the help of 50% capex (capital expenditure) subsides from the German Federal and Brandenburg state governments. Nanosolar employs about 30 people altogether and expects to increase employment to the 50 to 70 person range in concert with the capacity ramp.

Nanosolar’s production line is a model of full automation with robots handling the processing steps for two (2) square meter glass plates used in the finished solar modules. At the time of the visit, the solar cells (produced in San Jose) and even the glass were shipped to the plant from the United States. Nanosolar GmbH Managing Director Olaf Dany said Nanosolar is in discussions with German firms to source the glass.

Knowing the solar module power rating of 142.9 Watts and the two (2) square meter size, the implied Nanosolar Utility Panel module efficiency is about 14%, confirming Nanosolar Blog claims in the post, "Nanosolar Achieves 1GW CIGS Deposition Throughput", =assuming= the various figures and information reported by the Märkische Allgemeine and stated by Nanosolar are correct. I have no reason to suspect they are not accurate.

GP Correction: As a reader pointed out, my efficiency calculation was wrong. Oops!
η = 142.9W / ((1000W/m^2)(2m^2)) = 7.15% conversion efficiency


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: Endgame

What about the 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC)?

In the presentations following the announcement of the 23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: Poster Award Winners, Executive Conference Director Dr. Peter Helm updated the 23rd EU PVSEC statistics. The Conference had 4212 Delegates from 87 countries led by Germany (1100), the US (630), and Spain (319). The Spanish participation was light because so many Spaniards were working to complete photovoltaic installations before the current Feed-in Tariff law expires on September 28, 2008.

Dr. Helm observed that although China did not account for even one percent (1%) of the Conference delegates, Chinese companies exhibited on ten percent (10%) of the available Exhibition stand space behind only Germany (30%) and Spain (12%).

Billed as “The most inspiring Platform for the global PV Solar Sector”, Dr. Helm tipped the details for the 24th EU PVSEC:

CCH-Congress Centre and International Fair
Hamburg, Germany
Conference September 21 – 25, 2009
Exhibition September 21 – 24, 2009

Sorry for holding off on this since last week. For once, this EU PVSEC will not conflict with the Labor Day holiday in the United States! Start planning now with a visit to the Hamburg Tourismus GmbH (Deutsch) website, Hamburg’s official tourism pages.

With the Closing Session running into extended time, Dr. Wolfgang Palz refrained from any closing remarks and thanked the participants, scientists, and organizers including Conference General Chairman Dr. Daniel Lincot, Technical Programme Chairman Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink, Executive Conference Director Dr. Peter Helm, and Dr. Herbert-Peter Grimm. Then Dr. Lincot closed the 23rd EU PVSEC.

And, yes, Iberia Airlines has still =not= delivered my checked bag to me almost twelve (12) days since my completed round trip started! Perhaps I just missed it in Valencia before traveling to Madrid the afternoon prior to my return flight. At this point, I won’t believe my luggage exists until it is reunited with me. Does Ibysmal sound like an appropriate nickname for Iberia?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: Poster Award Winners

23rd EU PVSEC Poster Award Winners Group Photo

After the 23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: Technical Highlights, Dr. Herbert-Peter Grimm presented the Poster (Visual Presentation) Awards for the 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC).

Dr. Grimm said all the contributors deserved a bronze medal, but the Poster Award Committee was challenged to select the winners from so many good papers. Noting the use of dice might have been helpful on occasion, Dr. Grimm mentioned two key criteria in the poster evaluation process:

  1. Is there an immediate desire to obtain the paper reprint?
  2. The poster does not replace the original paper submission.

The Poster Award winners arrange by Topic area are as follows.

Topic 1 - Advanced Photovoltaics

1CV.1.39 H. Kampwerth, E. Pink, Y. Augarten, T. Trupke, M.A. Green & R.A. Bardos
University of NSW, Sydney, Australia
M. Kasemann
Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany
Advances in Luminescence Based Series Resistance Imaging on Silicon Solar Cells

1CV.2.67 V.M. Andreev, V.P. Khvostikov, S.V. Sorokina, N.S. Potapovich, R.V. Levin & M.Z. Shvarts
Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
GaSb Arrays for Solar Thermophotovoltaic System

Topic 2 - Wafer-Based Silicon Solar Cells and Materials Technology

2CV.4.36 S. Dubois, N. Enjalbert, F. Servant, J.P. Garandet & R. Monna
CEA, Grenoble, France
J. Kraiem
Apollon Solar, Lyon, France
Beneficial Effects of Dopant Compensation on Carrier Lifetime in Metallurgical Grade Silicon

2DV.1.58 M. Ezquer, I. Gavilanes, E. Zugasti, J.M. Cuadra, M. Murillo, A. Turumbay & A.R. Lagunas
CENER, Sarriguren, Spain
Buckling Test: A Useful Tool for a Mechanical Characterization of Silicon Wafers

Topic 3 - Thin Films

3AV.1.48 O. Isabella & M. Zeman
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
A. Campa
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
M.C.R. Heijna & W.J. Soppe
ECN, Petten, The Netherlands
A.J.M. van Erven, R.H. Franken & H. Borg
OM&T, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Diffraction Gratings for Light Trapping in Thin Film Silicon Solar Cells

3BV.5.38 H.P. Huber, F. Herrnberger, S. Kery & A. Keil
Munich University of Applied Sciences, Germany
S. Zoppel
Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, Dornbirn, Austria
Ultrafast Laser Structuring of CIS Thin-Film Solar With Industrial Relevant Process Speed

3AV.2.17 S. Schicho, S. Muthmann, D. Das, T. Kilper, J. Kirchhoff, W. Reetz & A. Gordijn
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
Thin (< 1 μm) a-Si/ μc-Si Tandem Solar Cells for High Stable Efficiences

Topic 4 - Components for PV Systems

4AV.3.28 B. Lalaguna, P. Sánchez-Friera, F. Ropero, J. Gil & J. Alonso
Isofotón, Málaga, Spain
Comparison of Moisture Ingress in PV Modules With Different Backsheets Using Humidity Sensors

Dr. Grimm said this paper’s award was forfeit since the winner(s) or a representative was not present to accept the award. Scientists are harsh!
4BV.1.30 I. Möbius
United Solar Ovonic, Frankfurt, Germany
M. van Cleef
United Solar Ovonic, Verona, Italy
A. Chang
United Solar Ovonic, Auburn Hills, USA
D. Chianese & I. Pola
SUPSI, Lugano, Switzerland
Comparison of Yield, Installed Power and Costs of a Typical Installation for Flat Roofs for Triple-Junction and Crystalline Modules

Topic 5 - PV Systems

5BV.2.67 M. Kirschner, D. Hornbachner, D. Dobozanov & D. Malin
HEI Consulting, Vienna, Austria
PV-Tubes With Advanced High-Efficiency c-Si Cells for Solar Lights

Topic 6 - PV Deployment

6DV.4.19 D.K. Munro
Halcrow, Barrow, United Kingdom
E.J. Rudkin
Halcrow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
B. Gaidon
HESPUL, Villeurbanne, France
S. Linder
Ecofys, Köln, Germany
M. Elswijk
ECN, Petten, The Netherlands
E. ter Horst
Horisun, Utrecht, The Netherlands
I.B. Hagemann
Architekturbüro Hagemann, Aachen, Germany
D. Suna
Vienna University of Technology, Austria
Lessons Learnt from Photovoltaics in Urban Areas

Since the Closing Session was jam packed this year, I decided to break up my regular post or two into separate “post lings”. Otherwise, I have a tendency to take too long before getting out a lengthy post. There will be a final post on the end of the Closing Session.

The keynote address titled “Towards a 3rd Industrial Revolution lead by Europe and how solar photovoltaic electricity can be part of it” by Jeremy Rifkin was the highlight of the 5th European PV Industry Forum. While missing the excellent professorial delivery, this Jeremy Rifkin interview, “We are in the twilight of a great energy era,” by Hughes Belin with the European Energy Review will get you up to speed on his vision for a 3rd Industrial Revolution powered by distributed Renewable Energies especially solar photovoltaics.


Monday, September 08, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: Technical Highlights

[Valencia, Spain]

Continuing where the 23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: 2008 Becquerel Prize Awarded left off, Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink, Technical Programme Chairman, presented his view of the Conference Technical Highlights from the 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC).

This year, Dr. Ossenbrink admitted relying on section chairs for inputs, and it is always possible to miss something significant. However, I did see Dr. Ossenbrink at a number of Oral Presentations.

Dr. Ossenbrink’s presentation is first captured below as a Picasa slideshow and then with inline text to satisfy the hungry search engines.

(Some) Highlights of the 23rd European Photovoltaic Conference and Exhibition

Valencia, Spain
1-5 September 2008

Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink
Technical Programme Chairman
European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre
Ispra, Italy

Advanced Photovoltaics
•Tandem Cells Using Quantum Dots All QD-Devices Mostly SiO2! Proof of Concept Successful
–(Green/ UNSW, AU)
•(Inverted) Metamorphic Triple Cells Record 40.8%, Potential 50%
–(SpectroLab, US)
•Flexible > 33%
•Concentrator Potential to 28.5%, 2 GW by 2020 in Reach
–(Luther, DE)

Advanced Photovoltaics (2)
•DSSC: 11.3% improved stability >1000 h
•Printed Organic:
–(Konarka US)
•Certified Efficiency Measurements Required!
–(OrgaPVnet, EU)
•Axial pn-Junctions with Nanowires grown on Si, Voc 400 mV
–(IPHT, DE); (GE Energy, US)
•Fluorescent Concentrator with Photonic Structure, Up-Conversion; High System Efficiency Possible
–(ISE Freiburg, DE)

Wafer-Based Silicon Solar Cells and Materials
•New Wafer Technology Ready: Crystallization on Molten-Si Dipped Substrates (~14.8%, 250 cm2)
–(Sharp, JP)
•Wafering by Proton Beam: No Kerf Losses; Ultra-thin Possible: 50 um
•17.2% Module With Thin Back-Contact Cells
–(Kyocera, JP)
•Demonstration of Permanent Deactivation of the B-O effect for CZ, leading to >20%
–(ECN, NL / NUST, NO / Deutsche Solar, ISC Konstanz DE)

Wafer-Based Si Solar Cells and Materials (2)
•20.4% HIT Silicon Heterojunction technology
–(Sanyo, JP)
•“Golden Anniversary” (50 y) of Prof. Martinuzzi, Presentation on diffusion lengths in p-type mc-Ingots
–(Uni Marseille/ CNRS Grenoble, FR)
•PERC cell with Al BSF on Thin Wafers, 16.6%
•Production of 650 kg Ingots with Improved efficiency distribution
–(Freiberg, DE)

Thin Films
•Controlled Texturing of TF Substrates for a-SI -Periodic Grooves for TCO
–(Delft/Juelich; NL/DE)
•Roll-to-Roll Electroplated CIGS Manufacturing ~11%
•1.4m2 a-Si including ZnO, 9.4%, 110 W stabilized
–(Oerlikon, CH/LI)
•5.7m2 Results, hundreds of Manufacturing Systems in Production
–(Applied Materials, US)

Thin Films (2)
•9% Stabilized for Micromorph Tandems on Plastic
–(Uni Neuchatel, CH)
•μC-SiGe Tandems 11.2% initial
•Good Overview on the Continuous Improvement of all Thin-Film Technologies, Multi-GW by 2012 can be expected
–(Wuerth, DE)

Components for PV Systems
•Model the World with 3 Parameters
–(ISE Freiburg, DE)
•Very Comprehensive and all Technologies
•Predict Long-Term Lifetime from Module Warranty Returns. <2005: 0.13%, <0.01% since then. Extending Module Life Possible, End-of-Life well beyond Warranty Period of 25 years
–(BP Solar, US)
•PV-MIPS: Integrated AC Inverter in a 400 V CIS Module

Components for PV Systems (2)
•PV goes Skiing: 1 or 2 Axis Tracking “Solar Wings” Using Low-Cost Cable car Technology
–(ZHAW Winterthur, CH)
•Li-Ion Batteries Arrive! Higher η than PB
–(Conergy, DE)
•Performance of LEDs for Small Lanterns
–(ISE Freiburg, DE)

PV Systems
•Floating PV System; Foam Pontoons, 9x9 m2, Prototype 10% higher cost, Water Cooling for 20º Temp Reduction, probably also good to clean Bird Dropping!
•Matching Very Large Scale PV to the Grid, Penetration Limits w-w/o Storage calculated
–(Ben Gurion, IL)
•Storage Options: Pumped Hydro, CAES, Pumped H2 30-40%, Li-Po, SuperCaps/Flywheels Vehicle to Grid
•New Architectural Avenues for PV: PV/LED Facades, “Pixellated” for until now Unseen Appearances

PV Deployment
•Spain: The Dangling Sword of The Cap, PV Experts too busy in installing more than 1100 MW before End of this Month
•Greece: Overwhelming Response above 2000 MW; Implementation Slow, only 2..3 MW in 2007/08 installed
•Italy: doubled to more than 100 MW in 2007, Well Organised, 450 MW expected in 2009
•Korea: 100’000 Solar Roofs by 2012
•Japan: Brings up new Residential Programme
•Burocratic Burden Still Too High!
–AssoSolare et al

The Conference View on World’s R&D Landscape (please see the slideshow)

The Solar Europe Initiative
PV Technology Platform
Europe’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan

•for the 2020 Goals 3% (100GW) are very realistic
•But with sequential Grid Parity on:
–Peak Demand
–Retail Prices
–Bulk Power
...6% - 12% Can Be Envisaged

•Prepare for 12% = 400 GW!

We Have No Time To Loose!

We hope you have enjoyed the programme!

Thank you for coming to Valencia

See you again next year at the 24th in.....

Muchas gracias to Dr. Ossenbrink for taking the time to provide a copy of his “(Some) Highlights of the 23rd European Photovoltaic Conference and Exhibition” presentation after the late close of the 23rd EU PVSEC. All of us, self included, were already thinking about our Friday afternoon itineraries.


Friday, September 05, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Closing Session: 2008 Becquerel Prize Awarded

[Valencia, Spain]

Mechtild Rothe becomes the first woman awarded the Becquerel Prize.

After Conference General Chairman Daniel Lincot kicked off the 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) closing session, the 2008 Becquerel Prize for Outstanding Merits in Photovoltaics was awarded to Mechtild Rothe (Deutsch) by Professor Dr. Adolf Goetzberger, Chairman of the Becquerel Prize Committee, and Dr. Wolfgang Palz.

Mechtild Rothe is Vice President of the European Parliament where she has been a Member since 1984 and belongs to the German SPD (Social Democratic Party or Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands). Ms. Rothe has been a longtime champion for renewables and photovoltaics in the European Parliament, and her accomplishments include leading the successful effort to establish the 3 GWp (GigaWatt-peak) by 2010 target for photovoltaics in the European Union.

Per this bio:

Mechtild Rothe was e.g. Rapporteur in the EP for the Directive on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources (2001/77) and Rapporteur of the Directive on energy services and energy efficiency.

Today, Ms. Rothe is leading the opposition to a “harmonized” European wide green certificate trading system in lieu of and undermining the successful Feed-in Tariff model for fostering and scaling renewable energy technologies to compete with entrenched and subsidized legacy conventional energies such as fossil fuels and nuclear.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Rothe called for an EU Treaty for Renewable Energy Sources to displace the Euratom Treaty in the 21st century. She also trumpeted the German initiative to create an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA):

to provide practical advice and support for industrialized and developing countries seeking to expand their renewable energy sectors, and to work toward improved regulatory frameworks.

Also serving as President of EUFORES (European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources) and Vice-President of EUROSOLAR e.V. (The European Association for Renewable Energy), Ms. Rothe said the prize had given her “renewed energy” for the fight.

Next up from the 23rd EU PVSEC closing session will be the conference technical highlights.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

23rd EU PVSEC Opening Session and Press Conference

[Valencia, Spain]

The big news was who was absent.
The Valencia Call for Solar Photovoltaics.

While “Regional Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Mario Flores Lanuza has opened the world´s largest solar energy conference in Valencia” (Español) may have been the headline, the key observation on the Monday morning, September 1, 2008, opening of the 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) was no representative from the Spanish central government chose to attend the “the most important international Event in the field of Photovoltaics”.

Discussions in the opening speeches and press conference centered on the “Spanish question” regarding a draft proposal to reduce Spain’s photovoltaic (PV) Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and cap annual installations at 300 MWp (MegaWatt-peak). With Spain’s existing FiT set to expire on September 28, 2008, Spanish PV installers are scrambling to complete projects before the current law is superseded. More than 1.6 GW (GigaWatts, pronounced JigaWatts by many Europeans like in “Back to the Future”) of photovoltaics are expected to be installed in Spain this year, perhaps even by the end of September.

EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association) President and Isofotón Communication and External Affairs General Manager Ernesto Macias was direct in his opening remarks and responding to a statement by ASIF (Spanish Photovoltaic Industry Association) President Javier Anta at the press conference said, “(We had) the wrong tariff and wrong model with too many large plants.” This was the root cause of the Spanish PV market explosion.

Mr. Macias outlined a light gray counterproposal to the Spanish FiT draft revision which would:

  • Limit large PV plants to a maximum size of 10 MW.
  • Only large PV plants would count towards the 300 MW annual cap.
  • 100 kW (kilowatt) and smaller distributed generation PV plant installations should not be limited.

These were the key points I noted, and I am waiting for an official copy of the proposal from EPIA. The Spanish question should be decided in a matter a weeks. Outside of the press conference, a number of sources including Photon International Editor-in-chief Michael Schmela have mentioned the possibility of a higher Spanish PV cap in the next FiT revision of 500 to 600 MW.

Although not touted as important metrics, here are a few key stats from the 23rd EU PVSEC:

  • 3702 registered Participants from 83 countries and perhaps up to 4000 by week’s end
  • 715 Exhibitors from 37 countries
  • 1322 papers received from 69 countries
  • 20000 Conference and Exhibition visitors expected this week

In his Welcome Address, the Conference General Chairman Daniel Lincot, Research Director at CNRS, Institute for Research and Development of Photovoltaic Energy (IRDEP), Paris, France, announced an international call by scientists for the accelerated worldwide deployment of Photovoltaics known as “The Valencia Call for Solar Photovoltaics” echoing the Kyoto Protocol. This declaration is supported by over 200 PV and society personalities and can be found at the Chairman's Initiative for PV on the EU PVSEC website. You (yes that means YOU!) are invited to join this initiative and sign the Call by sending an email to or contact Daniel Lincot at the address shown in the above link along with your comments and proposals.

Buenas noches from Valencia where Iberia Airlines has held my checked bag hostage for over four (4) days now. My brand new camcorder is already out of battery power, and I am dreading the demise of my trusty Canon PowerShot SD800IS battery. Both chargers and my voice recorder are in the missing bag. That's my excuse for not getting a post out sooner.

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