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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

PVSC 33 Opens

[San Diego, California USA]

First Solar dominates the Keynotes.

The 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 33) opened on Monday, May 12, 2008, with two Keynote Sessions. Although I arrived on time for once, the conference was opened earlier than the planned 8:30AM start by Conference Chair, Dr. Timothy J Coutts.

SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) President Rhone Resch’s forty minute address, The US Solar Revolution, highlighted Keynote Session I. As usual, the ITC or Investment Tax Credit extensions were the focus policies. The SEIA is seeking:

  • 8 year, 30%, solar ITC extension for business
  • 6 year, 30%, solar ITC extension for residential (eliminate the $2000 cap)
  • AMT (Alternative minimum Tax) relief regarding the ITC
  • Elimination of the public utility exception to the ITC

With these polices in place, the SEIA and PVNews project US Solar market demand growth to 1590MW by 2010.

Mr. Resch also announced a new conference called PV America 2009. Set to debut in Philadelphia around June 2009, this new conference will be presented in partnership with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) to “put solar front and center” encompassing research and development, market development, finance, and policy in emerging US regional markets. Any profits from PV America will be reinvested to benefit the advancement of photovoltaics.

Echoing sentiments like vote the bums (in the US Congress) out in the 2008 Election if they don’t support solar policies, Mr. Resch said:

It’s Not a Revolution Unless Blood is Spilled.

As is their habit, First Solar’s messaging dominated Keynote Session 2 even though Dr. Swanson’s keynote on The SunPower Story was both informative and entertaining.

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) VP of Technology Dave Eaglesham’s presentation, Thin Film Technology: pathway to Grid Parity, detailed the company’s compelling plans to increase production to 1GWp (GigaWatt-peak) by 2009 while increasing module efficiency to 12 maybe 13% (percent) and lowering manufacturing costs to $0.70 per Watt by 2012!

First Solar continues to set the benchmark for every established and start up PV company in the world.

One question regarding Tellurium supply was dodged by Mr. Eaglesham. First Solar appears to be concerned “speculators” will drive up Tellurium prices before their sourcing arrangements are finalized. Given their market capitalization, perhaps First Solar should just take a minority stake in or acquire a mining company with significant Tellurium reserves?

The First Solar Media team says this presentation will not be posted to the First Solar website even though they are a high profile, public company. Those interested are directed to purchase a Conference Proceedings CD or visit the IEEE Xplore library.

SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) President and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Dr. Richard Swanson had the PVSC 33 favorite keynote, The SunPower Story: The Path from R&D Concentrator Cells to a High Volume PV Panel and System Manufacturer. The story began with Thermophotovoltaics (TPV) research in SunPower’s life B.C. (Before Cypress). Optimizations for TPV led to the innovations integrated into the A300 back contact silicon solar cell.

Dr. Swanson finished his presentation with the announcement of the Gen 3 silicon solar cell with 23.4% efficiency.

What are my quick impressions of PVSC 33 so far?

  • Concentrators, multijunction solar cells, and thin films have almost as much session emphasis as silicon in the technical program.
  • I’ve been spoiled by EU PVSEC. The coffee urns were empty when I arrived from Keynote Session I after waiting to ask Mr. Resch a few questions. There are zero snacks at the coffee breaks.
  • Of course, the Special Invited sessions from 8:00 to 9:30AM are of particular interest. I’ve had trouble with 8:00AM start times for a number of years now after university.
  • Poster sessions do not conflict with Oral presentations so there is time allocated to meet and discuss the topics with the researcher(s).
  • The PV Velocity Forum is a welcome addition to the conference this year and seeks to bring "investors and policy-makers face-to-face with these solar industry leaders to explore methods for driving superior emerging technologies through production and into the market."

I’ve managed OK with crutches at the conference, but I was so tired yesterday afternoon I had to switch to the wheelchair before the poster session. I decided to take a break today and rest up for the final two days of PVSC 33.

And I echo the congrats to Greentech Media regarding:


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the conference coverage. Sorry the coffee was low.

8:40 PM  

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