Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kyocera plans for 500 megawatts (MW) by the end of March 2011.

Kyocera Corporation announced plans to expand its annual solar module manufacturing capacity to 500 megawatts (MW) by the end of March 2011. The company has secured supply contracts with silicon producers to ensure the steady increase in production capacity, which will be more than double its current annual capacity of 240 MW.

The new raw material contracts will allow the company to expand capacity throughout its quadripartite global manufacturing network for solar modules, which includes plants in Japan, Mexico, the Czech Republic and China. Kyocera will invest an estimated 30 billion yen (about $250 million) in plants and equipment throughout this network during the course of the expansion effort.

"For the last two years, as we endured a shortage of solar-grade silicon, Kyocera has focused on improving solar-cell quality and energy conversion efficiency," said Tatsumi Maeda, senior managing executive officer of Kyocera Corp. and general manager of the company's Corporate Solar Energy Group.

-- Kyocera Mexicana, S.A. de C.V., which produces finished solar photovoltaic modules for the Americas and Australia, will increase capacity from its present 35 MW to 150 MW.

-- Kyocera Solar Europe s.r.o., which produces solar modules for the European market, will increase capacity to 150 MW.

-- Kyocera (Tianjin) Solar Energy Co., Ltd., which serves the Chinese market, will increase its manufacturing capacity to 90 MW.

-- Kyocera Corporation, Ise Plant, which produces solar modules and systems for the Japanese market, will expand capacity to 110 MW with an investment of approximately 1 billion yen (about $8.3 million).

In addition, Kyocera Corporation, Yohkaichi Plant, which produces all of the raw solar cells used by the other four production sites for their local assembly into finished solar modules, will increase its capacity to 500 MW.

"The U.S. is experiencing phenomenal public interest in, and acceptance of, solar electricity," said Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. "The majority of Americans want clean energy developed into an affordable, mainstream resource."

Kyocera currently holds the world record for energy conversion efficiency in 15x15cm polycrystalline silicon solar cells, at 18.5%. The combined output of all Kyocera solar energy manufacturing from 1975 to 2006 totaled approximately 760 MW of solar modules.

World Renewable Energy Market Growth

The generation and storage of renewable energy will be the fastest growing sector in energy market over the next 20 years, says a recent report from Helmut Kaiser Consultancy of Zurich.

The study, "Clean Energy and Renewable Energy Market Worldwide 2007-2010-2015," claims the market volume of renewable energy worldwide will increase from US$95.8 billion in 2007 to US$124.4 billion in 2010 and reach US$198.1 billion in 2015. These figures and developments are based on the whole value chain. The energy efficiency will increase by 1 to 3 percent per year and there will be more than 120,000 direct employments by 2010 and two times more indirect.

According to Helmut Kaiser Consultancy, the major market driving forces come from these aspects: Climate change and economical damage -- depending on the country -- between 1 and 5 percent of the gross domestic product, and the pricing factor. These driving forces are based on the development of technology with nanotechnology and nano-bio-info converging technologies the key to enabling technology for renewable energy market during the next 20 years.

Because these technologies can modify the molecular structure so that more energy can be stored, transformed and utilized, their application will largely improve the performance-cost ratio of solar energy, biofuel and fuel cells.

Through minimization, fuel cell can store huge amount of energy within a small volume so that the energy can be easily transported, distributed and utilized in various locations. This will solve the biggest problem of utilizing renewable energy, namely the remoteness between energy production and application, states the report.

As to the regional development, Europe and North America are today's leaders in technology and in market share. Yet, developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are catching up rapidly, or even becoming leaders in certain sectors. The report also noted that with the substantial support from government, Asian developing countries will become the fastest growing market of renewable energy in next decade.

Tata Power gets A.D.B support for Wind Farm Development

Asian Development Bank (ADB) is promoting renewable energy in India by helping to finance the construction and operation of wind energy facilities of the Tata Power Company Limited, India's largest private power company. The project is expected to produce about 100 megawatts (MW) of power.

ADB will provide an Indian rupee denominated loan of up to Rs3.52 billion [US$85.7 million] to Tata Power without a government guarantee to set up and operate wind energy facilities at two locations in the state of Maharashtra.

"India urgently needs to explore sustainable energy development, and the Government has been working proactively to promote the use of renewable energy sources and we are glad we would be partnering with Tata Power to drive this initiative," said Takeo Koike, an Investment Specialist with ADB's Private Sector Operations Department.

The Indian Government has provided support measures to increase renewable energy contributions in the country and has issued policy guidelines for the state governments to establish and maintain policies to promote renewable power projects.

Maharashtra, where the subprojects for Tata Power are located, is one of the leading states in promoting wind power generation. As of September 2006, installed wind power capacity in Maharashtra was 1,242 MW, the second most among states in India. From 2003 to March 2006, Maharashtra developed more than 750 MW of additional capacity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brreakthrough in Plastic Solar Efficiency

Cheap plastic solar cells are now closer to becoming a reality thanks to a team of U.S. scientists at the Wake Forest University Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials. The researchers announced last month they had pushed the efficiency of plastic solar cells to more than 6 percent.

That percentage may not seem like a huge landmark compared to a photovoltaic (PV) cell achieving an efficiency rating of say 40.7 percent, which was the milestone attained by Spectrolab, Inc. in December 2006. But until two years ago, the highest efficiency ever achieved for plastic solar cells was just three percent.

In 2005, David Carroll, director of the Wake Forest nanotechnology center, and his research group announced they had come close to reaching 5 percent efficiency. Now, a little more than a year later, Carroll said his group has surpassed the 6 percent mark.

"Because they are inexpensive and light weight, especially in comparison to traditional silicon solar panels, researchers have worked for years to create flexible, or "conformal," organic solar cells that can be wrapped around surfaces, rolled up or even painted onto structures.

In theory, plastic solar cells could be used as a replacement for roof tiling or home siding products or incorporated into traditional building facades. These energy harvesting devices could also be placed on automobiles since plastic solar cells are much lighter than the silicon solar panels structures do not have to be reinforced to support additional weight.

In a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the Wake Forest researchers describe how they have achieved record efficiency for organic or flexible, plastic solar cells by creating "nano-filaments" within light absorbing plastic, similar to the veins in tree leaves. This allows for the use of thicker absorbing layers in the devices, which capture more of the sun's light.

In order to be considered a viable technology for commercial use however, solar cells must be able to convert about 8 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity. Wake Forest researchers hope to reach 10 percent in the next year, said Carroll, who is also associate professor of physics at Wake Forest. A large part of Carroll's research is funded by the United States Air Force, which is interested in the potential uses of more efficient, light-weight solar cells for satellites and spacecraft.

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