"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thin Film Photovoltaics set for massive production growth

Applied Materials, (NASDAQ - AMAT) have been supplying silicon chip production fab devices since 1967 and have developed their Applied SunFab Solar Module Production Line for manufacturing, 5.7m2 ( 2.2 m x 2.6m 8.3 mm thick and weigh 108 Kg) thin film silicon photovoltaic modules. AMAT plans on selling $1.7 billion in thin-film equipment by 2009, they also claim that they will get the current manufacturing costs of the panels down from US$3 /watt to US$1/watt by 2010.

Thin film technologies offer benefits in manufacturing, cost, performance and uses over conventional crystalline Silicon panels.

1. Lower production costs of materials - 1/500 th the amount of silicon used in standard silicon cells - 40% of the cost in manufacturing conventional solar panels comes from the silicon.
2. Lower capital costs for production facilities in cost per watt
3. Produces more useable power per rated watt
4. Superior performance in hot and overcast climates - thin films can make electricity in diffuse light, while regular silicon-based panels need more direct light, so can produce more electricity throughout the hours of daylight.
5 . Can easily be integrated into buildings as part of structures – Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

One of the first installations was with Signet Solar, Inc.founded in 2006 , a Menlo Park CA , company with global ambitions at their Mochau plant in Saxony, Germany.

From an initial 2,000 solar PV modules pilot run ( with 6.25% sunlight to electricity conversion efficiency - but see here) in October this year they intend to ramp production to 20 MW per year and by end 2008 of 130 MW

First deliveries were made end November after receiving Final Acceptance Test (FAT) certification from SGS Germany GmbH to Hannover-based alfsolar Vertriebsgesellschaft GmbH. Other Signet customers include Phoenix Solar AG, Soleg GmbH, Goldbeck Solar GmbH and SolarMarkt AG.

Signet Solar has committed to building its second large substrate thin film photovoltaic plant in the Sriperembudur Special Economic Zone near Chennai, India. Construction has started on a 300MW facility at an initial estimated cost of US$500 million. Shipments from the first plant in India are expected in 2010. Signet Solar plans to build three plants (1GW) in India over the next ten years.

Governor Bill Richardson was excited yesterday when he announced that Signet Solar will start building a plant in Belen ,NM, 30 minutes south of Albuquerque which will create 600 well paid jobs (Ranging from US$39,000 for production-line workers to $100,000 for managers)to commence production in 2010.

The first phase of the plant will have an annual production capacity of 65MW — enough to power approximately 20,000 homes. Long-term plans call to increase production capacity to 300MW per year with a 600,000 square foot production facility.

Rajeeva Lahri, Signet Solar’s Co- Founder and CEO. “Under Governor Richardson’s leadership, New Mexico has demonstrated commitment to renewable energy through public-private partnerships, leveraging its skilled workforce and world class research institutions.”

What he forgot to mention was, as Toni Balzano, public information officer for the Economic Development Department let slip was that here are a total of about US$185 million worth of tax incentives for which the company would qualify. That includes a manufacturing tax credit, a high-wage jobs tax credit, the Job Training Incentive Program, a rural jobs tax credit and a renewable energy jobs tax credit.

Also the The 75-acre facility where the plant will be located , 6,000-acre Rancho Cielo master-planned industrial and residential community is owned by Coast Range Investments where Signet will be the first company to set up manufacturing. Rancho Cielo plans to use Signet panels on a 700-acre solar farm designed to meet the majority of the power requirements in development
See First Alpha article April 2008 on Thin Film PV here see also Solar Fraud Could Eliminate Spanish Market Dec 16, 2008

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