Sunday, March 31, 2013

Installation Update

February statistics indicate Germany installed a total of 211 MW. The sub-10 kW tranche again showed higher installs in 2013 compared to 2012. The medium tranches (10 kW to 500 kW) again showed lower installs but surprisingly the 1+ MW tranches (together) did better in 2013 compared to 2012. Overall, 2013's February total of 211 MW compares very favorably with the 2012 total of 230 MW.

Through February the market in Germany is showing remarkable resiliency across multiple tranches in spite of the 32 to 40% reduction in FiT rates since early 2012 - this is surely a welcome bright spot in what has otherwise been one of Europe's coldest and gloomiest winters on record.

U.K. Note

The U.K. solar market is doing well overall with over 500 MW installed in the Quarter - this is in the neighborhood of Germany's overall quarterly installation figures of 700 to 800 MW. The sub-50 kW market has failed to work its way up past 10 MW/week but give the little engine a few more weeks and things should pick up.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


REC is currently developing a 18 MW solar power plant in Europe at cost below 1
REC Investor Presentation - February 2013
If the Europeans can do sub-Euro/Watt installs you have to figure the Chinese will be at or close to sub-Buck-a-Watt prices by the end of 2013. A Buck-a-Watt install in Tibet at 90% financing, 5% interest and a 5% discount rate delivers electricity at about 5 cents/kWh. Boom.

Procraturbator (noun) - One who procrasturbates

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

Date Company Country Event
April, 2010 Sunfilm Germany Insolvency
June, 2010 Signet Solar Germany Insolvency
September, 2010 Meier Solar Solutions Germany Insolvency
July, 2011 Pevafersa Spain Insolvency
July, 2011 Blue Chip Energy GmbH Germany Insolvency
August, 2011 Evergreen Solar USA Insolvency
September, 2011 Solyndra USA Insolvency
September, 2011 SpectraWatt USA Insolvency
September, 2011 Stirling Energy Systems USA Insolvency
October, 2011 Arise Technologies Deutschland GmbH Germany Insolvency
October, 2011 Gecko Group Germany Insolvency
November, 2011 Photowatt International SAS France Insolvency, Acquired by EdF
November, 2011 Xgroup Spa Italy Insolvency
December, 2011 Aleo Solar Germany Issues profit warning
December, 2011 BP Solar England Leaving the field
December, 2011 Solar Millenium Germany Insolvency
December, 2011 Solon Germany Germany's First Listed Solar company to file for Insolvency, Assets sold to Microsol
February, 2012 Energy Conversion Devices USA Insolvency
March, 2012 Ralos New Energies Germany Insolvency
February, 2012 Scheuten Germany Insolvency
February, 2012 Scheuten Solar Netherlands Insolvency, Assets sold to Sunways
February, 2012 SunConcept Holding Germany Insolvency
March, 2012 HB Solar Germany Insolvency
March, 2012 Odersun Germany Insolvency
March, 2012 Solarhybrid Germany Insolvency
April, 2012 Q-Cells Germany Insolvency
April, 2012 Solarday Italy Insolvency
April, 2012 Solar Trust of America USA Insolvency
April, 2012 Sunways Germany Acquired by LDK
May, 2012 Inventux Technologies Germany Insolvency
May, 2012 Pairan GmbH Germany Insolvency
May, 2012 Pramac Switzerland Insolvency
May, 2012 Silicio Solar Spain Insolvency
May, 2012 Solecture Germany Insolvency
May, 2012 Sovello Germany Insolvency
June, 2012 Global Solar Energy Germany Insolvency
June, 2012 Konarka Technologies USA Insolvency
June, 2012 MX Group Italy Leaving the field
June, 2012 NovaSolar USA Insolvency
June, 2012 Solarwatt Germany Insolvency
June, 2012 Solibro USA Sold to Hanergy for
July, 2012 Abound USA Insolvency
July, 2012 Amonix USA Announced closing of Las Vegas Factory
July, 2012 Centrotherm Photovoltaics Germany Insolvency
July, 2012 Gecko Group USA Puts Colorado CdTe Factory on hold
July, 2012 Schott Solar AG Germany Closes manufacturing plant in Albuquerque
July, 2012 Sunstrom Germany Insolvency
August, 2012 AQT USA Insolvency
August, 2012 Schüco International Germany Shuts down Großröhrsdorf plant
September, 2012 Miasole USA Sold to Hanergy for 30 million
September, 2012 Schüco International Germany Shuts down Osterweddingen plant, Exits Crystalline module manufacturing business
September, 2012 Solarwatt The Netherlands Majority takeover by Stefan Quandt
September, 2012 VHF Technologies/Flexcell Switzerland Insolvency
October, 2012 3S Soluciones Spain Insolvency
October, 2012 Aleo Solar Germany Production partially reduced
October, 2012 Oerlikon Solar Switzerland majority takeover by Stefan Quandt
October, 2012 Q-Cells Germany Acquired by Hanwha Chemical Corporation
October, 2012 Schott Solar AG Germany Halts crystalline solar manufacturing in Germany
October, 2012 Siemens Germany Closed solar power business
October, 2012 Hilber Solar Austria Insolvency
November, 2012 Suntech China Suntech reduces production and cuts jobs at Goodyear Arizona Facility - around 50 jobs lost
December, 2012 JA Solar China Retires 300 MW of outdated cell production and 300 MW ouf outdated module production
December, 2012 SiC Processing AS Norway Insolvency
January, 2013 Asola Quantum Solarpower Germany Insolvency
January, 2013 Siliken Spain Insolvency
February, 2013 Innovacion en Alta Tecnologia Solar (Iatso) Spain Insolvency
February, 2013 Isofoton Spain Announced Restructuring
February, 2013 Phoenix Solar Germany Announced Restructuring
March, 2013 Suntech China Suntech Shuts down Goodyear Arizona Facility - 43 jobs lost - Over 100 jobs lost altogether at facility
March, 2013 Suntech China Suntech files for Insolvency
March, 2013 Bosch Germany Bosch shuts down solar division. Around 3000 jobs will be lost
March, 2013 HaWi Energietechnik AG Germany Insolvency
March, 2013 Solarion AG Germany Insolvency
March, 2013 Aion Renewables Italy Insolvency
March, 2013 W.Y.S.I. Sprl. (Elect-ra) Belgium Insolvency

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Wonder Too

Turning Pristine U.S. Public Lands Into Solar Energy Farms

Smaller groups are still skeptical. They wonder why the administration is giving up hundreds of thousands of acres of untrammeled desert when its own Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 identified 80,000 to 250,000 abandoned mine sites on federal lands that would be suitable for large-scale solar and wind projects.


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Fools Rule

The phone line analogy doesn't fit electricity very well. It offers up this idea of jumping from no electricity to autonomy.This idea surely came out of some TED type speech... People get all oorah on it and the meme gets out there. 
I think Theaters vs. TVs is the better analogy to use with PV vs the grid. Theaters are centralized while TVs are distributed. TV started out expensive with limited offerings but got cheaper and delivered more content over time. As a result, TVs have stolen market share from Theaters but they haven't replaced them. It's reasonable to expect a similar dynamic to play out with PV vs. The Grid moving forward. The Theater vs. TV analogy has its limitations but it easily beats the phone analogy. There's a step by step process vs. the foolish leap idea. 

The foolish leap idea is the thing that is sold over and over again. It's the BS idea. The shortcut. The get healthy without trying snake oil. It's been going on for hundreds of years. You'd think the communication age would make it easier to clear up the facts and get people on the same page. The opposite is true.  Snake oil rules. You can perfect your eloquence all you want. The fools rule. It fucking sucks. 



"In 2009, at a time when the solar market was reeling from bloated inventories and cashflow concerns, Suntech was one of the few companies willing to brave the uncertain business conditions and invest aggressively in manufacturing capacity.

"This bold strategy resulted in Suntech's becoming the world's largest PV module supplier in 2011," he continues. "However, in retrospect, the company failed to invest in all the correct areas, specifically in wafer manufacturing. By failing to vertically integrate in this fashion, Suntech was caught in a cost squeeze between falling system, module, and cell pricing and steady wafer expenses - making the company uncompetitive."
Mike Sheppard - IHS PV Analyst

Saturday, March 23, 2013


TONTO: Tonto want go up dem hills.
RANGER: What's up there?
TONTO: House of many sisters by warm spring.
RANGER: How many sisters ? How... How warm?
TONTO: Seven sisters... Good warm.
RANGER: Ranger want to go there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Notes on Evolving Tariffs in China and Japan

Subsidizing solar power based on the amount of electricity generated is easier to control by the government. One-time incentives don’t give regulators much margin to ensure the quality of power plants.

Meng Xiangan, vice chairman of the China Renewable Energy Society in Beijing

Government policy is in clear support of these projects (Feed in Tariffs for large projects) while the country grapples with severe energy shortages following its shunning of nuclear power. However, this is likely to be short-lived and decline after 2014 once the current pipeline of approved projects is completed, largely because of a shortage of land in the country.

Frank Xie, IHS senior analyst for PV and solar research - commenting on Japanese market

I like the quote from Xiangan - it's clear and to the point. It would be great if the US woke up and shifted subsidies away from a front loaded (AKA: one-time) Investment Tax Credit structure. Distributing the front loaded ITC over a 10 year depreciation period for all photoelectric development (residential, commercial and utility) would accomplish this.

I like the quote from Xie as well. On one hand I don't think he goes far enough but I suppose the available land argument allows him to make his point without ruffling any feathers. In my opinion the greater reason for curtailing subsidies on mega-projects has to do with the fact that these projects never become competitive. It's better to focus deployment on residential and commercial customers who can self-consume electricity. This policy strategy has the additional benefit of encouraging the development of an energy management market which spills over into improving system efficiency.

You want a policy that gives the developer of a photoelectric system more responsibility and control over profits. The policy should evolve in stages.

1st stage. Throw money at the problem. Offer a generous FiT to get the ball rolling. Supply chains get built and/or reinforced during this stage. The market has limited information on the present and future costs of deployment. This stage of development needs to generate the info required to make people comfortable with the technology and its economics.

2nd stage. Start reducing subsidies and experimenting with self-consumption bonus policies. You'll expect system costs to fall to keep the photoelectric system profitable. Regulators can look at markets like Italy, Germany and Australia to get an idea for how fast they can reduce subsidies. Market participants can do the same. During this stage of development you can expect the installers and the industry associations to cry bloody murder when subsidies are reduced. It's all a show for the cameras. 

3rd stage. You start hitting parity with retail.  Keep reducing subsidies and fine tune the self-consumption policies. Restrict subsidies on utility type systems. During this state you kill off unsustainable developers.

4th stage. Transfer to value of electricity tariffs (VETs). If you've done things right you should have a large  potential customer base capable of economically installing photoelectric systems and you should have plenty of information available to the market detailing the expected system costs, system performance, self-consumption rates and so on.