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Monday, October 27, 2008

GUNTHER Portfolio launches

My new, self-hosted domain goes Beta!
The tagline is revised to Photovoltaics, Solar Energy, and Energy Policy.

After about two and a half years, the fine sandbox at Blogger was getting too small for GUNTHER Portfolio.

The domain change is transparent to RSS and Email subscribers as demonstrated by the new post, Concentrix Solar installs 100kW of FLATCON Power Plants at Casaquemada. If you have the Blog bookmarked, please update this to

What does Beta mean? All the original content from Blogger blogspot has been imported into WordPress at However, there are occasional issues with the content from the automated transfer process. These may or may not be fixed since the original Blog will remain at as an archive reference. There will be numerous formatting tweaks as the site evolves from Beta.

I’ve learned more about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) than I ever wanted to know. I had a few errant moments yesterday trying to get Internet Explorer to behave after I had perfected my theme in Firefox. The IE Developer Toolbar is invaluable for debugging Microsoft eccentricities.

And, yes, I ignored my own advice from Solar Photovoltaic company Rebrandings hit new High and agreed to an updated GUNTHER Portfolio logo.

Thanks are in order to those who helped me achieve this new milestone. I have mentioned many of you before:

Many thanks again to all the readers, subscribers, and friends of GUNTHER Portfolio.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Solarvalue: Second Ruše Surprise

Solarvalue delays production again and will invest remaining capital in test furnace.
Solarvalue shares to split 8:1 effective today, October 24, 2008.

It’s been 179 days since my last Solarvalue AG (FRA:SV7) post. I hinted at a Ruše Surprise repeat in my last post, Solarvalue produces Solar Grade Silicon sample material. My hint became truth with “Solarvalue reorganizes planning cycle; Deferment in industrial production ramp up” (Deutsch) earlier this month.

Key points from the production deferment press release include:

  • Solarvalue now plans to build a test furnace enabling delivery of some hundred kilogram samples to potential customers.
  • John Mott said: “To reduce the phosphor level we use unidirectional solidification. To lower boron concentration we use a slagging technique. Both processes work properly, however, we did not achieve all target specifications yet.” (underline added)
  • Solarvalue AG CEO Claudia Boehringer said: “It is very unlikely that we will start industrial production in 2008. With our limited funds we are able to finance the planned test furnace. However, we are currently not able to finance the planned initial production capacity of 1,000 metric tons per year.
  • Based on the adjusted monthly burn rate we expect to have sufficient liquidity until mid of 2009.

This article, “Unreines Silizium sorgt für saubere Energie” (German only), by Sascha Rentzing had poor timing just days before the Solarvalue production deferment announcement.

These press releases:

Issuing of „bonus shares“ will become effective tomorrow” (Deutsch)
Approval proceeding won, final decision, Shareholders’ meeting resolution entered in the commercial register” (

announced the final regulatory approval of a capital increase from company assets already approved by shareholders at the Solarvalue AG Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on March 28, 2008. Frau Boehringer also said:

The capital increase planned for 2008 could not be performed due to a law suit initiated by one shareholder with one share and the unexpected financial market crisis that significantly lowered the Solarvalue share price.

And there are two new entries by John Mott in NEWS FROM RUSE - THE BLOG (Deutsch). Reading between the lines, it looks like Boron removal may still be a challenge for Solarvalue.

Solarvalue post split shares traded early in the €0.41 to €0.99 range in Frankfurt or visit XETRA:SV7 for the latest quote.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nitol Solar delivers initial Polysilicon production volumes to Trina Solar

Trina Solar succeeded in manufacturing monocrystalline solar modules using the Polysilicon.

Per “Nitol Solar Supplies Trina Solar with Initial Deliveries of Polysilicon to Manufacture Solar Modules” released Monday, October 13, 2008, on the eve of Solar Power International 2008:

Trina Solar tested the polysilicon through the entire production process from monocrystalline ingots, wafers and cells to solar modules. The results demonstrated compliance of polysilicon made by Nitol Solar with the modern PV requirements.

Trina Solar Limited (NYSE:TSL) and Nitol Solar Limited entered into a long-term polysilicon supply agreement last year with “Trina Solar Signs Long-Term Supply Agreement with Nitol Group”. Nitol Solar will deliver sufficient Polysilicon in 2009 from their polysilicon plant in Usolie-Sibirskoe, Irkutsk region, Russia, for Trina Solar to produce over 200 MW (MegaWatts) of solar modules.

In this September 2008 Investor Relations Presentation, Trina Solar claims:

  • Silicon usage of 7.2 gram/W in 2Q08, and with further reduction going forward
  • Reduction of mono and multicrystalline wafer thickness
  • Cell conversion rate of up to 17.2% monocrystalline & 16.0% multicrystalline

Not long after my Nitol Solar scores International Finance Corporation Investment post, Nitol Solar secured up to USD $190 million in project financing from the Russian Alfa-Bank for polysilicon production per “The Alfa-Bank will finance the solar industry component production project”.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE:STP) followed by announcing “Suntech Completes Investment in Nitol Solar. Suntech Successfully Tests Initial Batches of Polysilicon” completing “the final round of its $100 million in aggregate purchase of a minority interest in Nitol Solar”, and Suntech said “it was pleased with the test results from the initial batches of polysilicon that it has received from Nitol.”

Clarifying their ersol Solar Energy AG relationship, a Nitol Solar spokesperson said:

Ersol isn't a customer of Nitol. We did sign the Letter of Intent but we have never entered into the agreement with Ersol.

My checked bag was held hostage by Iberia Airlines for twenty-four (24) days before being released (returned) to me. The TSA compliant lock had been removed and various items were missing including my gadget bag. I have filed a claim with Iberia, but I have not gotten a response yet. I was home from Valencia, Spain, for over two weeks before it resurfaced.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Virtual Solar Power International 2008

Almost as good as being there?
Some 22,500 attendees thought it was better to go in person.

Official Video Coverage of Keynotes, Plenary Sessions, CEO Panels, and Sponsor/Paid Advertiser Showcases (was I not supposed to say that?) produced by are available for viewing via the Solar Power International website or on Brightcove.TV. Right click on the links below to open a new tab or window with each video.

Monday, October 13, 2008
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Addresses SPI 08
The Governator made a surprise visit and speech before the Opening Reception.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tuesday Keynote Speeches
General Wesley K. Clark (ret) spoke last. However, the Brightcove player is designed to prevent fast forwarding.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
CEO Panel – Market Development includes First Solar CEO Mike Ahearn.
CEO Panel – Driving Down Costs
The frank talk of MMA Renewable Ventures CEO Matt Cheney steals the discussion from the ever thoughtful insights of Q-Cells CEO Anton Milner. If you have time for a one video, this is it. I intend to write a post about this CEO Panel.

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Closing Plenary Session
United States Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) delivered the last Keynote, and “Cantwell Receives National Solar Energy Champion Award” was the news per a press release from her own Office.

And Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech had two photovoltaic scoops this past week:

Nanosolar CEO: No More Easy Money for Solar Companies Without Cash Flow
OptiSolar to Turn on Solar Power Soon

I spoke with the same OptiSolar Vice President, Corporate Communications, Alan Bernheimer, who admitted OptiSolar was at the Expo to “Show the Flag” and had no products to display for the public. I guess Katie asks better questions than I do?

I have a pseudo surprise in the works. I believe some of you have already been visiting the pre-alpha site. The search engines have found it, but Please Stand By.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

GreenVolts CarouSol debuts at Solar Power International 2008

[San Diego, California USA]

Can’t Photo (Touch) This!

As suggested in my Solar Power International 2008 Preview post, GreenVolts, Inc., did indeed display a CarouSol unit for the first time, and a sparse CarouSol datasheet is also available.

On Tuesday, October 14, 2008, right after the Expo opened at 10AM, I headed straight to the GreenVolts stand to check out their exhibit. I was not disappointed to see a crowd gawking at a complete GreenVolts CarouSol unit. Up close, my first photo was of the receiver unit. Perhaps because this was seen as aggressive, I was directed by a GreenVolts representative to not take photos! Even though I pointed out I was official, accredited Press, I got a nonsensical statement about the official Solar Power Expo photo policy. Referring to the Media Kit, I pointed out there was no such rule to waning attention. Please see Solar Power: Photos of GreenVolts, Sopogy, SkyFuel by Katie Fehrenbacher for another mention of this.

My official photo policy is to get the damn photos or videos. In addition to the Picasa slideshow above, here are two very unofficial videos of the CarouSol. I apologize in advance to anyone who did not realize they were being recorded. Please note this unit was static and the two-axis tracking function was not demonstated.

Perhaps the concern was regarding close up photos of the CarouSol underside like those in my second visit slideshow?

I didn't even think to look under the unit during my first visit. Perhaps I was distracted by the photo policy?

If you have noticed a drop in recent posting activity, I have been dealing with numerous personal and professional issues the past month or so. Expect my average two to three posts per week to resume this month. And email? Let's not talk about how far
behind I am replying to Blog subscriber and reader emails.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Solar Power International 2008 Preview

Solar Power 2008 claims International status but Solar Power North America 2008 is more accurate.
Free Public Night is Wednesday evening, October 15, 2008, from 5:30 - 8:30PM in the Expo Halls.

Solar Power 2008 Conference and Expo Solar Power International 2008 powers up in San Diego, California USA, from Monday, October 13, 2008, to Thursday, October 16, 2008, at the San Diego Convention Center. The Monday, October 13, 2008, Opening Reception networks from 7:00 to 9:00PM (19:00 – 21:00) overlooking the Bay on the San Diego Convention Center terrace.

This year, event organizers, the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), expect over 15,000 attendees for 60 breakout sessions featuring 200 Speakers and about 425 Exhibitors spread out across the 174,000+ square foot (1.62 Hectare) Expo floor.

Per the Solar Power International 2008 website:

Full Conference Registrations are now Sold Out. A limited number of One Day passes may be available on-site. Expo Only Passes, Workshop Registrations, and Reception Tickets are still available.

Go here for Video Coverage if you cannot attend or wish to review sessions after the event.

Here is the Conference lite Schedule-at-a-Glance and the steroidal seventeen (17) page Detailed Agenda. Most Conference sessions are located on the Upper level of the venue while the Expo is on the Ground level in Halls F, G, and H. Paid Workshops and Commercial Solar Tours on Monday and Friday border the main Conference program.

For the Expo, this single page map shows the entire Expo floor plan albeit with small, hard to read company name text. I noticed GreenVolts has a rather large 40 x 20 foot (74.3 square meters) Stand #539. I suspect GreenVolts will display a complete (or partial) CarouSol unit, a public first. The Expo is open Tuesday through Thursday with Show Hours from 10:00AM to 6:00PM (18:00) daily extended to 8:30PM (20:30) on Wednesday, October 15, 2008, for Public Night.

Public Night is Wednesday evening from 5:30 - 8:30PM at the Expo Halls and:

No registration is necessary! Just show up and come on in!

Given the increasing popularity of Public Night, I suggest arriving early. In addition, the following free Workshops will be offered during Public Night:

6:00 to 7:00PM Solar Photovoltaics (PV) For Home Owners
7:00 to 8:00PM Solar Water Heating for Home Owners
6:30 to 8:00PM Find Your Solar Dream Job

This year, Public Night is an integral part of the San Diego 4th Annual Solar Energy Week organized by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) beginning with the Family Solar Energy Day on Sunday, October 12, 2008, at Spanish Landing Park from 1:00 to 4:00PM.

I already have a few better offers than the Gaslamp Quarter Solar Power Block Party Tuesday evening, October 14, 2008, from 7:00 to 10:00pm (19:00 – 22:00) but it could be visit worthy.

And this week’s Dilbert comic strips from Thursday and Friday hit the mark regarding venture capital overinvestment in solar and companies like Qimonda jumping into the Photovoltaic Industry.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Solar Investment Tax Credits ride the $700 Billion Bailout Wake

The Bailout comes to the Financial Rescue of Solar.
ITC (Investment Tax Credit) Myopia succeeds, but someone tell the solar stocks!

With all the focus on the Bailout, I must admit thinking the Renewable Energy ITC extensions would have to wait until next year. After the U.S. Senate passed a revised bill laden with tax extensions and other unrelated legislation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Rescue Sweetened With Tax Incentives” (by Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post).

Per Federal Solar Tax Credits Extended for 8 Years, US Poised to Become Largest Solar Market in the World” from the SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the solar investment tax credit (ITC) provisions will:

  • Extend for 8 years the 30-percent tax credit for both residential and commercial solar installations;
  • Eliminate the $2,000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations, creating a true 30-percent tax credit (effective for property placed in service after December 31, 2008);
  • Eliminate the prohibition on utilities from benefiting from the credit;
  • Allow Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) filers, both businesses and individuals, to take the credit;
  • Authorize $800 million for clean energy bonds for renewable energy generating facilities, including solar.

Or review the 451 page H.R. 1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 for yourself; DIVISION B—ENERGY IMPROVEMENT AND EXTENSION ACT OF 2008 volumes across pages 113 to 261.

While the elimination of the $2000 cap on residential photovoltaic installations is a fantastic boost for distributed generation, wealthier families with higher annual electricity consumption will be the first to benefit. As a solar integrator pointed out to me today, the residential market will be frozen in the United States until the residential Solar ITC becomes effective January 1, 2009.

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) was also quick on the press release with the “SEPA Statement on Historic 8-Year Solar Tax Credit Extension”. Hailing “the removal of a prohibition that previously prevented electric utilities from taking advantage of the credit”, this significant change to the Solar ITC has received little scrutiny. Are monopolistic Electric Utilities poised to become change agents to stave off global warming by investing in large scale renewable energy, solar, and photovoltaic power plants? Will they play fair with independent renewable energy power producers connecting to their grids? Why were no concessions sought from Utilities? How about Utilities agreeing to new photovoltaic residential metering rules that pay for excess electricity generation (please see AB 1920: California bill goes beyond Net Metering) in exchange for receiving the benefit of the ITC?

I am hoping the passage of the Solar ITC will place a natural limit on discussions about ITC politics at Solar Power International 2008 next week in San Diego, California USA. Wishful thinking? As last year, I believe the US and worldwide economy should be the prime topic of conversation. The credit crunch may slow down utility renewable energy investments and have already impacted production expansions in the photovoltaic industry. On the residential front, will families invest in solar electric power even when they have opted not to purchase new cars?

Last year at Solar Power 2007, I wrote about the R-Word (Solar Power 2007: Discussion Panels Aplenty – Part 3). Will the D-Word dominate discussions this year trumping the new ITC? And now that oil has corrected, the Recession Risk and Solar Stocks, Oil, and Gold portions of my Photovoltaics: 2007 Post Review and 2008 Trends to Watch – Part 2 post are panning out.

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