Marubeni to develop world’s largest PV plant in UAE, according to reports

Marubeni to develop world’s largest PV plant in UAE, according to reports

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Marubeni to develop world’s largest PV plant in UAE, according to reports

Japanese conglomerate Marubeni is planning to build a mega 1.18 GW solar plant, making it the largest in the world, in the United Arab Emirates, with support from JinkoSolar and the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, according to Japanese newspaper Nikkei.

January 30, 2017

Photo Credit: Jinko Solar

Not known to do things by half, the UAE looks set to give the all-clear for another mega solar project, as reports from Japan claim that local company Marubeni is planning a huge 1.18 GW plant in the country. It is not clear at what stage of planning the project is at, or what licensees have so far been achieved, but if reports are accurate, it would be the largest solar plant on earth.

The plant is set to be developed on a 7.8 km2 plot in the desert in eastern Abu Dhabi, using JinkoSolar modules. This might be due to the reported financial assistance of Jinko on the project, who is said to be accounting for 20% of the financing.

The Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority is said to be putting up 60% of the financing and Marubeni the final 20%, with total investment expected to be in the region of JPY 100 billion (US$868 million).

The deal for the plant is expected to be signed next week, when we may see an official announcement from Marubeni regarding the plant. Current reports claim that the electricity will be sold on a 25-year power purchase agreement, with the plant expected to enter operation in 2019.

Sam Pothecary

Sam joined pv magazine in 2016, primarily to manage the magazine’s online presence. As well as writing and editing articles for the daily news section, he reports on the global solar industry and climate policies for the magazine.

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January 31, 2017 at 08:29AM

Etihad ESCO tenders for region’s largest rooftop solar project

Etihad ESCO tenders for region’s largest rooftop solar project

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Infrastructure

Etihad ESCO tenders for region’s largest rooftop solar project

Posted on January 30, 2017

The entity will provide energy efficiency solutions to over 600 villas

Ali-Al-Jassim-53


Ali Al Jassim, CEO of Etihad ESCO

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Etihad ESCO, the energy management services provider established by DEWA, has submitted a tender for the largest rooftop solar PV project in the region.

Etihad ESCO will design and install the most comprehensive energy efficiency solutions and rooftop solar PV panels for a total of 640 villas in Hatta in the emirate of Dubai, said a company press release.

The housing projects are developed under the Hatta Comprehensive Development Plan, which was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. According to Etihad ESCO, the project will be completed by end of 2018, and is expected to yield high energy savings.

“This will be one of the first projects undertaken by Etihad Solar. Under this landmark tender, we will be installing rooftop solar PVs at villas in Hatta, and provide maintenance services for two years thereafter,” said Ali Al Jassim, CEO of Etihad ESCO.

Etihad Solar is a dedicated division under Etihad ESCO established to distribute solar power generation solutions across the energy sector in the UAE. The Hatta project will also create technical, administrative and operational jobs, and is expected to provide opportunities for ESCOs in the region.

The $353.9m Hatta Comprehensive Development Plan aims to boost the area’s social and economic attractiveness as a world-class environmental tourist destination. It covers three key areas including the economic and service sector, tourism and sports, and culture and education.

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January 31, 2017 at 03:20AM

EUPVSEC – 30 January 2017

EUPVSEC – 30 January 2017

http://bit.ly/2kMxuVz

30 January 2017

Kerf-less Wafers – Start-Ups Working On True Revolution For Crystalline Silicon Solar Wafer Manufacturing

Reducing silicon consumption has always been the focus of PV manufacturers – and it still makes a lot of sense. Though silicon is not expensive these days, this core material for most cells is still a significant contributor to module costs – with a share of over 20% for the cost leaders. One way to reduce silicon usage per cell is to decrease the thickness of the wafer. An even more interesting option is to reduce the so-called kerf. As much as close to 50% of the silicon is lost as waste (kerf) during the ingot sawing process to produce wafers. While reducing kerf losses is on the agenda of wafer makers, some companies, especially start-ups, are trying to eliminate kerf losses completely. Their kerf-less solutions not only dramatically save on silicon raw material, if it worked in large-scale manufacturing, it could revolutionize today’s value chain for crystalline silicon modules by eradicating the upstream production processes of ingot growing and wafering, but depending on the process, even polysilicon production. According to one company active in that field, NexWafe, their technology could save up to 60% of silicon lost during sawing, reduce energy consumption during manufacturing by up to 80%, and require 70% less investment cost for its scrap-free wafer production.

 

nextwafe

Photo Credit: NexWafe

NexWafe: Epitaxially grown wafers on reusable substrates

NexWafe, a spin-off of renowned German Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy Systems (ISE), is one of the promising start-ups in the field of kerf-less wafers. In its approach, a thick crystalline silicon layer is epitaxially deposited on a reusable template using Trichlorosilane (TCS) as a gaseous precursor. Then the fully grown wafer is detached from the seed wafer. NexWafe is aiming to produce wafers of standard thickness, 150 to 180µm. This means, they are a drop-in replacement for traditional CZ wafers. As a first step, NexWafe is aiming at the n-type wafer segment. The n-type wafers produced from the epi-process show average minority carrier lifetimes above 1000 μs, indicating the same quality as n-type CZ wafers. Small solar cells of 2 x 2 cm made out of these wafers reached 20% efficiency. These results were presented at the 31st EU PVSEC conference in Hamburg in 2015. While ISE provided the seed funds, NexWafe was able to secure €6 million in Series A financing from private equity firm Lynwood (Schweiz) AG in March 2016. Only very recently, in December 2016, NexWafe was selected one of the top award winners of the European Venture Contest.

Crystal Solar: From Gas to Wafer with Built-in Junction

Crystal Solar is working on a similar approach, which it calls “Direct Gas to Wafer”. But the US-based startup takes a slightly different path when it comes to the final product. Since the epitaxial process enables to induce the junction as part of the growth process, Crystal Solar is planning to supply such semi-processed wafers with built-in junction. Crystal Solar is working on both n-type and p-type wafers.The technology was selected in the prestigious SunShot Initiative’s Photovoltaic PV Incubator Program of the US Department of Energy (DOE) in 2011. Crystal Solar has been also cooperating with Belgium-headquartered research institute IMEC for cell processing. At the 32nd EU PVSEC conference in Munich in 2016, IMEC presented the results of its n-PERT cell process adapted to Crystal Solar’s n-type wafers with built-in rear p+ emitter – an efficiency of 22.5% for a substrate area of 238.9 cm2. The cell has an open circuit voltage of about 700 mV, which indicates a better quality of Crystal Solar’s wafer compared to standard products. In September 2016, Crystal Solar was awarded a $3 million cooperative agreement by the DOE’s SunShot Initiative to develop high efficiency epitaxial solar cells and demonstrate commercial level yields at its pilot production facility in the US.

1366: First Commercial Kerf-less Wafers in Sight

1366 Technologies is yet another kerf-less wafer technology pursuant – and again the technology of this most advanced startup in this segment is slightly different. First of all, 1366 is planning to produce multicrystalline silicon substrates directly from silicon melt. That means the technology relies on standard polysilicon as feedstock for its process – and explains why 1366 cooperates with a silicon manufacturer, Wacker Chemie from Germany, which even invested in the US start-up. The company has first reported about its technology at a EU PVSEC event a while ago – at the 27th edition in 2012, the inventor of the technology, MIT professor and 1366 CTO Elly Sachs presented a paper about “High Performance 156 mm Silicon Wafers At Half the Cost of Sawn,” demonstrating that the Direct Wafer process leads to wafers directly from the melt.

Since then 1366 has made considerable progress. Take, for example, the so-called 3D wafer technology. As presented at the 32nd EU PVSEC conference in Munich last June, it is all about making wafers with a thin bulk and a thick edge part, which better protects the silicon slices from breakage. The inherent ability of 1366’s process working at the melt level enables controlling the wafer thickness locally, resulting in 3D wafers. 1366 emphasized that its “solution can be delivered at a cost below <$0.40/wafer and silicon usage below 1.5 g/W." As for the cell processing side, 1366 is cooperating with Hanwha Q CELLS’ R&D team in Germany. The partnership has resulted in a considerable efficiency boost. Very recently, in December, Hanwha Q CELLS reached a 19.6% efficiency for PERC cells using 1366’s wafers. That’s close to 2% absolute gain in efficiency since the beginning of the strategic collaboration in March 2015. Now the solar community is waiting for commercial production to start, because unlike NexWafe and Crystal Solar, 1366 has already secured significant funds from investors in several financing rounds, a $150 million loan guarantee and access to an incentive package of up to $56 million from New York State for its first factory.

We are looking forward to discussing innovate PV technologies, such as kerf-less wafering, at the upcoming 33rd EU PVSEC in Amsterdam, The Netherlands from 25 – 29 September 2017. If you are working in the solar research field, please participate in our Call for Papers and provide us with your abstract by 10 February 2017.

 

 

 

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January 31, 2017 at 01:12AM

Photovoltaic failure and degradation modes

Photovoltaic failure and degradation modes

http://bit.ly/2jx9i4m

Abstract

The extensive photovoltaic field reliability literature was analyzed and reviewed. Future work is prioritized based upon information assembled from recent installations, and inconsistencies in degradation mode identification are discussed to help guide future publication on this subject. Reported failure rates of photovoltaic modules fall mostly in the range of other consumer products; however, the long expected useful life of modules may not allow for direct comparison. In general, degradation percentages are reported to decrease appreciably in newer installations that are deployed after the year 2000. However, these trends may be convoluted with varying manufacturing and installation quality world-wide. Modules in hot and humid climates show considerably higher degradation modes than those in desert and moderate climates, which warrants further investigation. Delamination and diode/j-box issues are also more frequent in hot and humid climates than in other climates. The highest concerns of systems installed in the last 10 years appear to be hot spots followed by internal circuitry discoloration. Encapsulant discoloration was the most common degradation mode, particularly in older systems. In newer systems, encapsulant discoloration appears in hotter climates, but to a lesser degree. Thin-film degradation modes are dominated by glass breakage and absorber corrosion, although the breadth of information for thin-film modules is much smaller than for x-Si. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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The extensive PV field reliability literature was analyzed and reviewed. The highest concerns of systems installed in the last 10 years appear to be hot spots followed by internal circuitry discoloration. Encapsulant discoloration was the most common degradation mode, particularly in older systems. Thin-film degradation modes are dominated by glass breakage and absorber corrosion, although the breadth of information for thin-film modules is much smaller than for x-Si.

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January 30, 2017 at 06:13AM

Top-10 solar cell producers in 2016

Top-10 solar cell producers in 2016

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Top-10 solar cell producers in 2016

The top-10 list is based on the ongoing work by our in-house research team at PV-Tech’s parent company Solar Media Ltd., where we track in-house and third-party supply across the value-chain of all the major companies in the industry today. Image: Trina Solar

There are many key metrics worth listing at the end of each year in the solar industry. In terms of the upstream/manufacturing side, two jump out as leading indicators for the year ahead.
The first is to rank the top-10 producers of the solar cells during the year. 

These are the companies that actually make all the solar cells that are the most important part of any solar installation. The second ranking of note is the top-10 module suppliers. These are the companies that shipped the assembled modules to the end-market, either making the cells and assembling the modules themselves or outsourcing all or part of the cells and modules.

This article shows the top-10 cell producers of 2016. Tomorrow on PV-Tech, we will have a feature on the top-10 module suppliers of 2016. Leading also into the PV CellTech conference in Penang, Malaysia, 14-15 March 2017, it is worth noting that the CEOs and head of R&D from more than two-thirds of the top fifteen companies will be presenting at this flagship event.

Understanding the methodology used

Knowing who made the solar cells that are contained within the modules installed on rooftops or utility scale projects is a topic that the solar industry collectively has been brushing under the carpet for some years. In fact, in recent years, the issue has become much more pertinent, and it remains a surprise that the few companies that truly use all their own in-house production sites to make the cells and the modules are not making this a hugely differentiated marketing tactic.

Before the days of anti-dumping duties to the US and Europe, it was generally known that contracted cell production was done routinely in China, and of course this continues today. When it became essential to have cells and modules made outside China and Taiwan, the use of third-parties to make the cells became much more commonplace. The recent growth of cell production in Vietnam is just one of several reference points here that exemplifies this point.

The somewhat lack of internal control then went to another level, when many of the Chinese companies entered into the project development phase, creating parallel divisions that would finance projects from shovel-ready stage, undertake the EPC and do some form of (generally outsourced) O&M work post-build.

When looking at the modules used by these companies, it is not uncommon to see the sites built using modules supplied by companies that ought to be their competitors. Often, this is a purely financial decision, as most of the major downstream integrated manufacturers can get more money from selling their own modules than the cost of buying in modules from lower-standing module competitors.

The net result of this is a chunk of PV installed in the past few years, where the scrutiny on quality of component and related audit checks is surely compromised.

Therefore, knowing who makes the cells is probably more important today than ever before, for homeowner and portfolio owner alike.

The top-10 list is based on the ongoing work by our in-house research team at PV-Tech’s parent company Solar Media Ltd., where we track in-house and third-party supply across the value-chain of all the major companies in the industry today.

The full set of findings is included in the January 2017 release of our PV Manufacturing & Technology Quarterly report. The table below shows the ranking order for the top-10 cell producers for 2016.

Top-10 solar cell producers in 2016

Nine of the top-10 cell producers for 2016 have capacity based in China, with most now also having overseas plants located in Southeast Asia.

We have listed the ranking positions and not the megawatt figures from our research. This is due to the fact the numbers themselves are provisional, with full reporting still to be done for Q4’16, or revenues for the companies to be used to back out in-house production metrics.

However, there is generally a delta between most of the companies that will mean that the above ranking list is the final one. The jostling also is really in the bottom half of the table, not for the top five. 

What can we learn from the companies in the top-10?

A feature on Friday last week revealed the number 1 company – Hanwha Q-CELLS – and the factors that resulted in Q-CELLS effectively climbing back to the top position globally for cell production. Therefore, we will look at some of the other key takeaways from the company listing shown above.

Eight of the companies fall into the broad category of multi-GW midstream cell/module producers, with adjacent activities in project development. Five of the seven Silicon Module Super League (SMSL) companies are included. Only one legacy pure-play cell maker is present (Motech) and only one thin-film producer, First Solar. (One could also make an argument for tagging Tongwei Solar in the same grouping as Motech, at least from an industry perspective.)

Note that we upgrade First Solar’s module production figures by a blended cell-to-module loss figure that is typical for power loss from c-Si cell to module production, so we have an accurate side-by-side comparison of ‘cell’ production in its generic form.

The top-10 is made up of a group of companies (including most of the SMSL) that have added high levels of cell capacity in the past couple of years, with Southeast Asia operations now common.
There are companies whose inclusion is largely on the back of acquiring existing cell producers, such as Shunfeng with Wuxi Suntech and Suniva.

The other notable takeaway is the absence of companies that used to be regular features of annual top-10 cell production lists in the past, such as SunPower, Kyocera, Sharp Solar and others. In fact, being a 1-GW-level cell producer today is second tier, in terms of competing with companies making up to 5GW of cells in a single year.

Yet cell production is still highly fragmented

Underlying the broad set of data for total industry cell production for 2016 reveals another somewhat troubling issue, and only goes to highlight the initial discussion on third-party cell production.

Adding up the cell production from the top-10 in 2016, the total capacity produced is still less than 40% of the whole industry. Compare and contrast this to key component supply in the semiconductor or flat-panel industries and we get a glimpse of just how fragmented the solar industry remains. In fact, you need to extend the list of cell producers to the top-50 just to account for about 90% of the industry output.

It is notable that this is not the case with polysilicon, wafer or module supply in the PV industry. There are many factors behind this that we may cover in future articles on PV-Tech.
What will the top-10 do in cell production in 2017?

Probably the key question, aside from the rankings and megawatt volumes, relates to the question of what-next? This is a much harder issue to crack, as many of the companies are increasingly reporting less information on in-house cell production, capacity and technologies; focusing instead on reporting module shipments, group revenues and project pipelines.

This in part drove us to establish the PV CellTech conference theme, and it will be central to the agenda in the forthcoming event in Penang, Malaysia, 14-15 March 2017. Details on how to register to attend the event can be found here.

Tags:
c-si manufacturing, solar cell, pv celltech, hanwha q cells, ja solar, trina solar, first solar inc, jinkosolar, motech industries, tongwei, yingli green energy, canadian solar, shunfeng

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January 30, 2017 at 05:19AM

Beamreach Bankrupt Despite $250 Million Spent on Solar Hardware Development

Beamreach Bankrupt Despite $250 Million Spent on Solar Hardware Development

http://bit.ly/2jNsJcA

After spending more than $250 million, Solexel (rechristened as Beamreach last year) has joined its brethren on the list of failed solar startups. This follows a late-in-corporate-life shift to low-weight modules and away from its original thin-silicon aspirations.

In 2008, no solar entrepreneur or investor envisioned photovoltaic module costs of 30 cents per watt — which is where we are today. A startup founded in 2008, like Solexel, based its business plan on module costs of about $4 per watt and falling.

The firm received $3 million in DOE funding in 2008 for a project with this description: "Solexel plans on commercializing a disruptive, 3-D, high-efficiency mono-crystalline silicon cell technology, while dramatically reducing manufacturing cost per watt. Solexel plans to deliver a 17%-19% efficient, 156 x 156 mm2, single-crystal cell that consumes substantially lower silicon per watt than conventionally sliced wafers. Solexel aspires to be a GW scale PV producer within five years."

That last thing didn’t happen.

The first time the company unstealthed in 2012, it was focusing on its thin-silicon technology and looking to mass-produce 35-micron-thick high-performance, low-cost monocrystalline solar cells using a lift-off technology based on a reusable template and a porous silicon substrate. The startup hit an NREL-certified cell efficiency of 21.2 percent in 2014 with its back contact cell.

Solexel aimed to ship 20-percent-efficient photovoltaic modules at a cost of $0.42 per watt by 2014.

That didn’t happen.  

Last year, the rebranded Beamreach pivoted to go after the commercial and industrial rooftop market with a lightweight, easy-to-install module with the use of thinner front sheet glass, a composite material for the frame, an integrated mounting structure and an adhesion method for low-slope commercial rooftop surfaces.   

That product received a positive market reception.

But debt has come due and the company’s venture investors are walking away.

Beamreach raised its quarter billion from investors including Riyadh Valley Company, the VC investment arm of King Saud University of Saudi Arabia, and GAF (a large roofing materials manufacturer), along with SunPower, KPCB, Technology Partners, The Westly Group, DAG Ventures, Gentry Ventures, Northgate Capital, GSV Capital, Jasper Ridge Partners, and Spirox. The firm’s board of directors includes Jan van Dokkum of KPCB and, until recently, Ira Ehrenpreis.

Somewhere along the line, the board saw fit to spend millions building a manufacturing facility in Milpitas, Calif.

The firm has few employees remaining after a series of recent and not-so-recent layoffs. Vendors are not getting paid. According to sources close to the firm, this is bankruptcy and liquidation — not a Chapter 11 reorganization. Beamreach picked up $25 million in senior debt financing from Opus Bank in 2015.

Commercial market potential, but too late in the game

When Beamreach was a thin-silicon or high-efficiency player, it might have been competing against SunPower, SolarCity, Panasonic, Samsung, Suniva or 1366 Technologies. After its shift, Beamreach looked a bit like tenKsolar, which offers high-efficiency photovoltaic systems for commercial rooftops and ground-mount projects, or even a bit like SunPower with its integrated solution.

Certainly, the commercial market is ready to grow. In the recently published report U.S. Commercial Solar Landscape 2016-2020, GTM Research forecasts the U.S. commercial solar market to "rebound and nearly triple in size by 2020."

But, nine years of legacy misspending have left Beamreach with "loans due" and "a catastrophic cash flow situation," despite what sources suggest is substantial demand and "sales traction" for the new commercial product. It’s a smart market niche to chase — but it’s too late for Beamreach.

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January 30, 2017 at 07:10AM

ReneSola plans reverse stock split to regain NYSE compliance

ReneSola plans reverse stock split to regain NYSE compliance

http://bit.ly/2kJ0kD3

Stocks:

SOL

ReneSola plans reverse stock split to regain NYSE compliance

ReneSola said it planned to undertake a reverse stock split in February, 2017 to restore its compliance with the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) minimum US$1.0 stock price rules. Image: ReneSola

Integrated PV manufacturer and project developer ReneSola said it planned to undertake a reverse stock split in February, 2017 to restore its compliance with the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) minimum US$1.0 stock price rules. 

ReneSola said that it would change from two shares to ten shares for its American Depositary Shares (ADS), effective February 10, 2017. ADS holders would be required to exchange existing ADSs for new ADSs on the basis of one new ADS for every five existing ADSs surrendered, according to the company.

The ratio change would have the same effect as a one-for-five reverse split. 

Tags:
c-si manufacturing, solar cell, pv power plants, pv modules

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January 30, 2017 at 07:29AM