Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

The InFrame Synapse product family of German company Information Technology AG (acp-IT) offers all the IT functionalities necessary to manage and control a high-tech manufacturing line in the PV as well as semiconductor, electronics and automotive industries. Dr Frank Frauenhoffer, one of the founders of the company, talks about its product portfolio.PES: Dr Frauenhoffer, could you outline your view of the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) in the PV Industry.Frank Frauenhoffer: Looking three or four years backwards, it was very often necessary to explain the value of an MES to PV customers. Nowadays they are asking if the MES includes a Statistical Process Control (SPC) module. This demonstrates a tremendous change, which is presently going on in the PV industry. While in the past almost every product could be sold, nowadays price pressure forces the PV industry to search for higher efficiency to the lowest possible cost. It's clear to me that MES is not the most important key to grid parity. But in order to manage and control an existing PV manufacturing line to the optimum performance and the best product quality at lowest cost in shortest timeframe, MES is an essential tool for manufacturing engineers and management.PES: Do you

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With the acquisition of the solar company STANGL Semiconductor Equipment AG in 2007, a foundation was laid to establish SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES in the growing photovoltaics market. Numerous new products were developed and made marketable at SINGULUS and STANGL, and as from 2010 SINGULUS will pursue an expansion strategy in the solar segment. In the future the product range will not be limited to individual machines and plants: SINGULUS will increasingly advance towards becoming a solution supplier.2010: a new dawn for solarSolar energy is increasingly emancipating itself from governmental incentive programmes and start-up financing and moving rapidly towards net parity. In addition to photovoltaics (PV) this also includes CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) power plants (such as the DESERTEC project in the Sahara, for example). Solar heating also continues to play an important role. The global PV industry was caught in a crisis at the end of 2008, which has only slowly been resolved. After its booming years, the solar market slowed to zero growth in 2009, and since the beginning of 2009 prices for solar panels have declined by 30-40 %.The German and European cell manufacturers are under massive pressure and due to international competition they are forced to reduce production

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A leading global provider of intelligent vision-guided robotics systems and services, Adept Technology GmbH systems provide performance and economic value throughout the production lifecycle, enabling PV customers to achieve precision, quality and productivity in their assembly, handling and packaging processes. PES spoke to Joachim Melis, Vice President Worldwide Sales.PES: Intelligent automation has come a long way in recent years; what particularly excites you about the market at the moment?Joachim Melis: Robots have been around for over four decades as we currently recognise them. But advances in encoder technology, faster processors, and new servo algorithms have lead to the latest generation of robots that not only handle products like solar cells faster, but much smoother and gentler to minimise breakage. The adoption of vision with robotic deployments continues to increase which has opened the door for robotic technology to a broader array of applications. This trend will continue, allowing PV manufacturers to deploy robotic technology faster in augmenting manual labour and replacing less flexible dedicated machinery.PES: The company is more than 25 years old. Do you have any plans? And if you could look into your crystal ball, what does the future hold for your organisation?JM: Adept has been a leader

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A year ago, the future of the PV industry in Greece was looking very bright indeed. After what seemed to be a long time in the mid-table of European renewable energy output, lagging behind the rather less sunny Ireland and Great Britain, it seemed there was a new effort to capture the country's greatest natural resource and aim towards becoming one of the continent's biggest PV players.In fact, something of a PV gold rush was forecast for Greece. The Greek government offered one of the most generous feed-in tariffs (FITS), along with state subsidies for most commercial applications up to 40 per cent. Suddenly, home-grown and international PV firms were popping up everywhere. "After years of promises, I really believe Greece is now ready to become a major PV market in the world," said Stelios Psomas, a leading Greek PV consultant and author of the market report "The Greek solar PV market, the next Mediterranean PV tiger".Did he speak too soon? A year on, and Greece is in the depths of a debt crisis that has the financial ministers of the Eurozone seriously rattled about the future of the single currency. At the time of writing, the Greek government has

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Air Liquide is a leading France-based supplier of gases for industry, health and the environment. The group, established as a small company back in1902, offers innovative solutions based on constantly updated and advanced technologies and produces air gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, argon and other rare gases as well as hydrogen. PES talks to Olivier Blachier, Worldwide Business Director, Photovoltaic, about the company's past, present and future. PES: Our readers would like to know about current trends in the gas industry, can you give us an outline?Olivier Blachier: What we have seen over the last few months has been a tremendous expansion of c-Si capacity, with potentially up to 3GWp added to the worldwide capacity between Q3 2009 and Q2 2010 alone. Most of the top tier companies are proceeding with capacity additions which were long-planned, but got approved only once the German market switched to an over-heating mode from July 2009 onward. Suntech is building significant capacity in Shanghai and converting lines to Pluto technologies in Wuxi, Yingli & JA Solar are each adding 500MWp capacity, Trina Solar and Solarfun complementing this trend: the leading Taiwanese players have all announced expansion plans; Sunpower is building a new campus

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As the world becomes ever more conscious of the need to conserve fossil fuels and move towards greener methods of energy production, the EC's Joint Research Centre remains at the centre of efforts to spread the word. Here the group gives PES an overview of the current state of play and looks into its crystal ball to predict some possible future trends.Spiking oil prices at $147.27 per barrel in July 2008 and speculations about when the oil price will exceed $200 per barrel have already become a reality. The enormous price fluctuations of oil prices during the last 12 months due to the volatility of the financial markets and economic turmoil, have highlighted our strong dependence on oil and have added an additional argument for the introduction of renewable energies: minimisation of price volatility risks. The Gas Crisis at the beginning of 2006 and the interruptions of the gas supply in the summer of 2008 and early 2009 have demonstrated that Europe is highly vulnerable with regards to its total energy supply. A possible solution is the diversification of supply countries, as well as the diversification of energy sources including renewable energies and photovoltaics (PV). In June 2009, the new

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A global supplier of gases and chemicals, Air Products supplies customers in technology, energy, healthcare, and industrial markets. Crucially, it has adapted to serve the PV sector and boasts a massive portfolio of clients worldwide. PES asked Jeff Handelman, General Manager, Photovoltaics, for his global perspective on the industry.PES: PV seems to be developing differently in different regions of the world. What is your outlook for North America?Jeff Handelman: In North America, and especially the US, we are seeing a strong interest in PV, as people continue to investigate alternative energy projects. However, we have not seen the same level of investment as we have in Asia and Europe. I would expect that as credit markets loosen and more of the government stimulus funds make their way into the market; capital investment will pick up. Some recent evidence that points to a strong US market can be seen by the recent announcements by leading crystalline manufacturers about building module assembly facilities. Further upstream manufacturing is sure to follow as the US materialises as a top installation market.As the leading provider of electronic gases and chemicals in the US, Air Products is uniquely positioned to supply the burgeoning US PV industry.

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The EU was marginalised at Copenhagen. As a consequence, the Copenhagen Accord neither conceptually nor substantively reflected the EU's original negotiating position. Joseph Curtin of the IIEA believes that this failure must lead to a re-evaluation of its modus operandi in international negotiations if Europe wishes to match its rhetoric of leadership on climate protection with real influence. After all, the countdown to the Mexico COP in 2011 has already begun

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Applied Materials is a US company that focuses on its 40-year equipment manufacturing competency to unlock cost reductions and accelerate the march towards peak and grid parity. Robert DeLine, Applied's Managing Director of Channel Development, talks PES through the process.PES: Grid parity is the buzz word of 2010. How does your company aid cost competitiveness and how far away do you believe we are from true grid parity?Robert DeLine: Applied Materials has been making the manufacturing equipment that enables industries to scale and lower costs for over 40 years. For the solar industry, our solar PV capital equipment increases the amount of photons that get converted to electrons, maximises a factory's output, and lowers the amount of raw materials needed to manufacture solar panels. All these factors reduce the cost of solar, moving the industry forward to the goal of grid parity. However, we need to rethink this concept of grid parity with the notion of peak parity. This makes sense because peak load which occurs in the afternoon hours when the most electricity is consumed and when it is the most expensive to produce, are the same hours when solar PV is most efficient. During this peak time,

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PES talks exclusively to Adel El Gammal, Secretary General of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, to hear his views on PV market perspectives and challenges, and how can solar PV become a mainstream energy supplier in Europe by 2020.PES: Welcome. It's good to have the EPIA back in the magazine again, how has the association progressed over the past year?Adel El Gammal: 2009 has been a milestone for EPIA and the PV Industry. In September 2008, on the occasion of the 1st EPIA CEO roundtable during the 24th EU PVSEC in Valencia, the industry unanimously decided to explore the future potential of PV and set ambitious targets. The SET For 2020 study (www.setfor2020.eu) was launched at the very end of 2008 and was carried out throughout June 2009. EPIA led this essential study, performed with the support of the strategic consulting firm A.T. Kearney and based on more than 100 interviews across Europe with the industry, research community, utilities, regulators and policy makers.The study demonstrates that PV could supply up to 12 per cent of the EU electricity demand by 2020, should specific framework conditions be established. A fundamental repositioning of PV on the energy map, transforming it from a

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