Power & Energy Solutions

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In the city of Moers near Duisburg, 120 project partners, customers and suppliers have inaugurated Germany 's largest photovoltaic plant using thin-film technology on a pitched roof.24 March 2009. The system provider Solaxis GmbH and Solardach GmbH have jointly developed a solar power plant on the roof of Riedel Recycling.{pagebreak}The solar modules have a total output of 837 kilowatts. The latest addition to the Riedel family - Jamain Riedel -symbolically flipped the switch, putting the solar power plant in operation, at the official inauguration on 21 March. Afterwards, some 120 visitors celebrated a spring festival to the music of the Ruhr River Jazz Band, drove a hydraulic platform 30 metres high to the solar modules and took a close look at the inverters. Among the participants were - in addition to the project partners, customers and suppliers -bank representatives and the mayor of the city of Moers , Norbert Ballhaus.The technical support came from the German subsidiary of the Swiss inverter manufacturer Sputnik Engineering. For the record-setting project, the company delivered four SolarMax central inverters. "The co-operation worked very well. We are very pleased at this particularly nice reference project", explains Markus Thoms, sales engineer at Sputnik Engineering GmbH in

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Tactile pressure indicating film provides a simple cost-effective method for process control and monitoring of solar module production equipmentSensor Products Inc. introduces Pressurex®, a surface pressure indicating film that reveals pressure magnitude and distribution between any two contacting or mating surfaces. In the Photovoltaics industry,{pagebreak}the need to reduce peripheral cracks on solar cells has received much attention. Pressurex® surface pressure indicating film directly fits this bill by providing a low-cost solution for quality control checks during equipment setup, calibration, as well as re-qualification of a solar module production line. The film is so sensitive that it picks up defects that can't be seen visually, such as micro cracks and surface aberrations. At least three specific assembly steps would benefit from the use of Pressurex® sensors: lamination, the frame press stage, and attachment of junction boxes. Pressurex® assures proper pressure magnitude to cause polymerization and securely bond multiple layers together during EVA and PVB lamination. During the frame press stage, Pressurex® sensor film helps verify adequate frame-to-module edge sealing.This unique Mylar-based sensor film reveals surface pressure from 2 - 43,000 PSI (0.14 - 3,000 kg/cm²). Pressurex® film is actually placed at the interface of

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Solar energy capacity in the United States grew by 17 percent in 2008, according to a preliminary report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association. But Rhone Resch, the president of the solar group, warned that the financial crisis has hit the industry hard, since financing for projects has largely dried up.{pagebreak}"We're not immune to the recession at all," he said at a briefing for journalists in Washington. "This first quarter has been brutal." Of the four types of solar power surveyed, photovoltaic capacity grew especially quickly, at 44 percent over total installed capacity through 2007. Solar hot water installations also showed strong growth.Solar pool heating, already the largest solar sector, added slightly less capacity last year than in 2007, and no new concentrating solar power projects - large, utility-scale projects that use mirrors to harness the sun's energy - came online last year.The industry got an enormous boost from provisions in last year's bailout bill and also this year's stimulus, which, according to Mr. Resch, contained 19 different provisions for aiding solar power. But Mr. Resch also said that solar developers and manufacturers were hoping that Congress would soon pass more policies to help the industry.At the top of

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High-speed, reliable, and affordable metrology solutions for every class of thin-film photovoltaic material used in today's industrySan Diego CA, March 2009. Filmetrics announces the launch of its thin-film photovoltaic (TFPV) dedicated measurement systems.{pagebreak}With the release of the F10-PV and the F37-PV Filmetrics now offers commercially available tabletop and in-line metrology solutions for industries utilizing all classes of TFPV materials. Typically built on or under transparent conductive oxides (TCO) on glass, plastics, or metal substrates, the properties of TFPV films are notoriously difficult to measure due to their special optical properties. Filmetrics has SOLVED this problem for all classes of films used in today's industry.The Filmetrics F10-PV and F37-PV products are capable of monitoring the film thickness of active layers such as amorphous Si, CdS, CdTe, copper-indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), TCOs, and buffer layers. These types of devices are intentionally designed to absorb rather than reflect light creating many unique challenges for performing metrology on these layers. Surmounting these challenges the F10-PV and the F37-PV can accurately measure the thickness and optical properties of even the most complex structures on TCOs adding unrivalled value in terms of production quality, efficiency, and cost control for TFPV

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If domestic solar panels become as common on the plains and rooftops of the United States as they are abroad, it may be because the financing technique that gave Europe an early lead in renewable energy is starting to cross the Atlantic.{pagebreak}The idea is to pay homeowners and businesses cash for producing green energy. In Germany, for example, a homeowner with a rooftop solar system may be paid four times more to produce electricity than the rate paid to a coal-fired power plant.Earlier this month, Gainesville became the first city in the United States to introduce higher payments for solar power, which is otherwise too expensive for many families or businesses to install. City leaders, who control their electric utility, unanimously approved the policy after studying Germany's solar-power expansion.Furthermore, Hawaii, where sky-high prices for electricity have stirred interest in alternative energy, hopes to have a similar policy in place before the end of the year. The mayor of Los Angeles wants to introduce higher payouts for solar power. California is considering a stronger policy as well, and bills have also been introduced in other states, including Washington and Oregon."I'm seeing it with my own eyes - it's really having a

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The Mediterranean Solar Plan - a necessity, not an optionBenita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, makes an impassioned plea for the diversification of solar initiatives in Europe.{pagebreak}When Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine in 2006, European supplies were not seriously affected. When it did so this year, European households suffered. This was another wake-up call - if one were needed - that enhancing energy security in Europe is an increasingly pressing concern, and one that needs a European, rather than national, response.The events earlier this year underscored the importance of diversifying our energy imports in terms of energy mix, origin and transportation routes. All of this we are seeking to do. If we are to meet our 20/20/20 targets, it is clear that this energy diversification strategy must include a significant shift to renewable energies and in particular solar.Solar presents significant potential advantages, if we make the right investment in research to ensure that it becomes commercially viable and cost effective as soon as possible. As diversification into renewable energy becomes no longer a matter of choice - but of necessity - it abundantly clear that we must make these investments. 

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Gases and chemicals contribute a significant part of the bill of materials for PV cells, and as the industry grows, material suppliers will face a number of key challenges to meet demand. Kaytie Lilley of Linde Electronics offers PES an illuminating view of the sector. The production of photovoltaic (PV) electricity has doubled every two years since 2002, with a CAGR of 48 percent, making it the world's fastest-growing power generation technology.{pagebreak}At the end of 2008, according to industry data, cumulative global solar module production capacity was pegged at approximately 8000 megawatts. While actual production has been hampered by lack of poly silicon, this shortage is expected to ease from 2009 onwards.Demand through 2008 has been strong driven by financial incentives, such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity and net metering, in many countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and parts of the United States. There has been a transition from mostly residential rooftop installations to more commercial and utility scale projects.While the recent financial conditions have tempered the growth, cell production capacity is still expected to grow to over 30GW by 2012 according to several market analysts. New technologies based on thin film silicon, Cadmium Telluride and CIGS are

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Copenhagen must build the road to a sustainable global energy futureIn February, Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner responsible for the environment, delivered an address to EU Sustainable Energy Week 2009, in which he impressed upon delegates the importance of the imminent Copenhagen United Climate Agreement{pagebreak}- described as: "the world's last chance to bring climate change under control before it is too late." PES is proud to reprint the Commissioner's crucial keynote speech in full

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European BIPV projects grow - but legislation is still urgently neededA recent report has shown that the European Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) market in last year was estimated at €143 million with a total installed capacity of 25.7 MW for the commercial, residential, industrial and public markets combined.{pagebreak}Currently, there is substantial amount of interest in this market due to its high year on year growth, as well as an increasing number of countries which now have legislation supporting BIPV technology. However, the key to understanding BIPV market hot spots is pinpointing the countries that have passed BIPV-friendly legislation. It is no secret that the countries with this kind of legislation have seen the most growth.Led by Germany, and followed by Italy, France and Spain, these markets in particular are ripe for investment. The link between geographic hotspots and legislation is noted by Frost & Sullivan Akhil Sivanandan, Research Analyst, who says: "The common factor to all the best regions for investment in BIPV has been the level of legislative support. These regions have high levels of legislative support for BIPV, usually through feed-in tariffs, although easy availability of loans, solar PV ordinances and other such supportive legislations are also important

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In the race to produce the cleanest and most efficient forms of renewable energy, a vital point is often overlooked - that the renewables themselves need to become a lot more renewable. This theme emerged at a recent Energy Conference in London, with delegates hearing that the most advanced "renewable" technologies are too often based upon non-renewable resources.{pagebreak}Supratik Guha of IBM told the conference, organised by the Financial Times, that sales of silicon solar cells are booming, with 2008 being the first year that the silicon wafers for solar cells outstripped those used for microelectronic devices.But although silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen, it makes relatively inefficient cells that struggle to compete with electricity generated from fossil fuels. And the most advanced solar-cell technologies rely on much rarer materials than silicon.The efficiency of solar cells is measured as a percentage of light energy they convert to electricity. Silicon solar cells finally reached 25 per cent in late December. But multi-junction solar cells can achieve efficiencies greater than 40 per cent. 

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