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Will there be a cheap solar cell that can compete with grid electricity?

By Supratik Guha, Director, Physical Sciences Department, IBM Research October 13, 2010 | 5:08 pm | Categories: Thoughts on a Smarter Planet

Thoughts on a Smarter Planet is a special blogger series in partnership with leading IBM experts. Join the conversation as these experts discuss the innovations in science, business and systems like transportation that are helping build a Smarter Planet. About this program.

Modern solar cells are based on a design and prototype that was reported by Bell Labs scientists in 1954. It made the front page of The New York Times, which predicted solar cells would eventually lead “to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams—the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.†How are we doing on that dream?

Compared to the past, solar panel prices have plunged, but they contribute to less than 0.1% of the world’s electricity production because solar electricity still isn’t cheap enough to compete with grid electricity. There is certainly plenty of sunlight available to bring us close to this utopia. But are there any solar cell technologies that can meet this promise?

Let’s look at some numbers. The total power produced from solar panels installed worldwide is approximately about 30 Gigawatts. If we wanted 5% of the world’s electricity production to come from solar panels, installed capacities would need to increase more than 50 fold to about 2000 Gigawatts.

In order to get there in say, 25 years, we need about 75-80 Gigawatts of capacity installed every year, on average. So not only do these new solar cells have to be cheap, the materials used need to be available in vast quantities.

More than 80% of solar cells today are made of silicon. There is certainly more than enough silicon available: it is the second most common element in the earth’s crust. Can silicon fulfill this need? Opinions are split. Since silicon does not absorb visible light too well, one needs thick, high quality layers that can be expensive. Based upon this, one group argues that the prospects for really cheap silicon solar cells are dim. Then there is the “don’t bet against silicon†school, who put their money on this old warhorse with the view that economies of scale, and the constant innovation that has always accompanied silicon technology, will eventually drive prices down.

The remaining 20% of the solar cells are built using thin-film technologies, based on materials that are deposited in the form of micron-thick films on glass substrates. The most popular of these right now is a technology based upon a two-element compound called CdTe (cadmium telluride). But cadmium is toxic (countries like Japan will not allow solar cells with Cd), and tellurium is one of the rarest elements in the world. Therefore it appears unlikely that CdTe can fuel the kind of growth desired for the future of solar.

The second thin-film technology gaining steam, with a handful of manufacturers already selling products, is CIGS, a 3- (or 4-) element compound called copper indium gallium selenide (the gallium is optional). It is more likely to hit higher efficiencies than CdTe, but the technology is not as far along the maturity curve as CdTe is.

The concern with CIGS centers around the availability of the element indium. This is an element that is also sought after by the flat screen business and it is questionable whether there is enough indium available to sustain growth rates of more than 10-20 Gigawatts/year.

Which brings us to the question: is there a thin film solar material that we anticipate will be really cheap? That could be slapped onto cheap substrates in massive volumes, the way we make things like roofing and sheet metal? Right now the answer is no, though the desire for something like this has driven much research.

One promising thin-film material is a compound called CZTS (copper zinc tin sulfide). In terms of maturity it is far behind CIGS and CdTe: nobody manufactures a CZTS solar cell yet. But all of the elements in CZTS are plentiful and cheaply available, and efficiencies are rising. Researchers (primarily in Japan and Europe) worked on CZTS through the 1990s, and till last year the best power conversion efficiencies in this material stood at 6.8% (by comparison the best silicon solar cells, CIGS, and CdTe solar cells have efficiencies of about 25%, 20%, and 16%, respectively). Then in 2009, IBM researchers were able to increase the efficiency to around 9.7% by adding a bit of selenium and changing the deposition process. There is now worldwide research interest in this material.

What do the costs of solar panels need to be? Today an installed solar panel system costs anywhere from between $3/Watt to around $6/Watt (approximately) around the world. The US Department of Energy has an ambitious cost target of less than $1/Watt, which means that the panels themselves should be around $0.50/Watt. If we come within striking distance of these numbers, and these solar panels were available in plenty, the energy production landscape of the world would change.

Supratik Guha is the director of the Physical Sciences Department at IBM Research, where he’s responsible for IBM’s worldwide research strategy in the physical sciences.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/ibm-thoughts-on-smarter-planet-3#ixzz12Kfan0QT

Latest News

Solar Frontier and GE Enter Global CIS Module Supply Agreement

Ensuring Large-Scale Supply in the Solar Market

Solar Frontier announced today that it will supply GE with its proprietary CIS (copper, indium, and selenium) thin-film solar modules as part of GE’s globally marketed portfolio of solar energy solutions. The company will provide GE branded panels to help meet the growing global demand for reliable clean-energy solutions. In return, GE will be providing its power plant expertise to enhance the development of Solar Frontier’s CIS technology for use in utility-scale solar installations.

GE’s extensive testing and benchmarking determined that Solar Frontier modules offered a compelling combination of performance and efficiency, meeting the established high standards of GE’s globally respected brand.

“By teaming up with a billion-dollar global industry leader, Solar Frontier demonstrates that the solar market has matured to support large-scale players,†said Shigeaki Kameda, President and CEO, Solar Frontier. “GE’s selection of Solar Frontier’s thin film technology establishes our leadership in bringing bankable, reliable and ecological solar technology to the global market.â€

The modules produced for GE by Solar Frontier will be part of GE’s utility-scale solar projects. The contract will ensure that its customers have a reliable supply of standard-setting thin-film solar modules for large ground-mount and roof-top installations.

“Our modules have been proven in field tests since 2003, and we will have gigawatt-scale production online by next year,†added Kameda. “For a stable, mature solar market, we have to combine reliable panels with reliable supply chains.â€

The modules will be manufactured at Solar Frontier’s state-of-the-art, automated production plant in Miyazaki, Japan. The Miyazaki facility will be the world’s largest PV factory when the third phase of production comes online next year.

The agreement with Solar Frontier was included in GE’s announcement of an expanded portfolio of highly differentiated solar solutions that would establish GE “as the global leader in the Renewable Energy space,†offering both leading technology and “the unique bankability that comes with one of the world’s leading brands.â€

Solar Frontier uses fewer natural resources and raw materials than competing crystalline-silicon processes, enabling an industry leading energy payback time of less than one year, and less carbon emissions per kilowatt of production capacity. Materials like cadmium or lead are not used in the production process, minimizing the environmental impact and offering superior PV panel recyclability.

About Solar Frontier

Solar Frontier, a 100% subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., is committed to creating the most economical, ecological solar energy solutions in the world, on the world's largest scale. Solar Frontier’s proprietary CIS technology, denoting key ingredients copper, indium, and selenium, has the best overall potential to set the world’s most enduring standard for solar energy.

This is based on our legacy of work in solar technology since the 1970s, the priority focus our laboratories have given to CIS since 1993, and our success in large scale CIS commercialization since 2007. The critical factors that combine to make CIS the overall economical and ecological leader include high efficiency and low production costs as well as superior reliability, stability, sustainability, non-toxicity, and lower overall energy consumption in the manufacturing process to yield a faster energy payback time. That is why in 2009 we announced plans for a 900MW factory in Miyazaki, Japan. Scheduled to commence operations in 2011, it will become the world’s largest photovoltaic production facility, enabling Solar Frontier to meet worldwide demand for the new standard in affordable solar panel performance. Visit www.solar-frontier.com for more information.

*** in 1988 I attended a PV design seminar at ARCO Solar (now Solar World) located Camarillo Calif. they were partners with Showa Shell PV on CIS PV research.

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Feds approve first solar farm on government land in Nevada

by Todd Woody 13 Oct 2010 1:36 PM

http://www.grist.org/article/feds-approve-first-solar-farm-on-federal-land-in-nevada

Ken Salazar speaking at the Solar Power International conference.The Obama administration's solar building boom continues. On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed the first lease to build a large-scale photovoltaic project on federal land in Nevada.

"Yes, it's about jobs and finding a new way forward but it's also about dealing with the crises of our time facing America," said Salazar during a speech in Los Angeles at the Solar Power International conference, the industry's big annual get-together. "America's foreign policy is held hostage by the politics of oil. It is imperative that we grab this new energy future."

It's a significant move. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management controls a huge chunk of Nevada, prime territory for big solar power projects due to the state's intense sunshine and a licensing process that is far less arduous than the one in neighboring California.

On stage at the conference, Salazar signed a lease for the 60-megawatt Silver State photovoltaic farm to be built by First Solar outside of Las Vegas. The secretary said it will supply enough electricity to power more than 15,000 homes.

In recent weeks, Salazar has signed off on leases for three other solar projects in Southern California that would generate 1,124 megawatts of electricity.

"We're not done yet, we're not done yet. Our work is just beginning," said Salazar, who left his trademark 10-gallon hat back in Washington.

A report released Wednesday [PDF] by the Solar Foundation, a non-profit research group, said that there are 93,000 people employed in the solar business in the U.S. and that a survey of employers found that they plan to add 24,000 more jobs by August 2011.

Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, noted that a decade ago U.S. companies supplied 40 percent of the world's photovoltaic products while today it's just 10 percent.

"We hope this is a sign of a turnaround and that policymakers take note," he said Wednesday, referring to the solar employment study.

While solar jobs exist in all 50 states, the study found that nearly 40 percent of them were created in California, the state with the most aggressive renewable energy targets.

But expect the federal government to be driving demand for solar power -- for its own use.

"It's important we all walk the talk," Salazar said, noting that the Interior Department alone has installed more than 2,000 renewable energy projects.

Todd Woody is a veteran environmental journalist based in California.

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FAST TRACK SOLAR

The federal Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission have since mid-summer been feverishly paving the way for a renewable energy construction boom in southern California and Nevada.

They are in a race to meet an end-of-year deadline for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A flurry of final and near-final approvals for nine utility-scale solar power projects will add more than 4,000 megawatts of clean electricity to the United States’ electric power system when construction of the plants is completed over the next several years.

NOTE: Another 3,000 MW Rooftop PV being installed on ocean side of Sierra Nevada mountains.

That is about seven times the amount of concentrated solar power currently in operation worldwide as of md-2009 , and roughly the equivalent of four nuclear power plants. It is enough to power more than one million homes.

The clean power surge getting underway this year in the desert Southwest is a watershed moment in the transition to a renewable energy and lower carbon future—and a vivid demonstration of how changes in land use can further that transition. The United States has a vast geography that, with smart and resourceful land use policies, can help accelerate the growth of clean renewable energy, reduce global warming pollution, and still protect treasured public lands and wildlife.

Solar-CSP-Fast-Track.png

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Imperial,+California&msa=0&msid=116641436087281539848.000492cf7b8bb7cf97608&ll=39.266284,-113.730469&spn=13.598451,18.017578&z=5

SolarCSP1.png

SOLAR-CSP2.png

GEOTHERMAL-CALIF.png

WIND-CALIF.png

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Google Offshore Wind project

Wind-Atlantic-Google.png

When built out, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone will stretch 350 miles off the coast from New Jersey to Virginia and will be able to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

The Mid-Atlantic region is ideally suited for offshore wind. It offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in relatively shallow waters that extend miles out to sea. These shallow waters make it easier to install turbines 10-15 miles offshore, meaning wind projects can take advantage of stronger winds and are virtually out-of-sight from land.

:wink:

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I hear the Navaho in Arizona USA are wanting to move away from coal to wind and solar. Depends on the next election. Natives are leading the way with alternatives and land reclamation projects !

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PV-Rooftop-Ontario-Calif.jpg

Why we won’t have a green energy revolution without the smart grid

by Todd Woody

8 Nov 2010 11:41 AM

http://www.grist.org/article/2010-11-08-smart-power-grid-change-way-electricity

Solar panels waiting to be installed on a warehouse in Ontario, Calif.Photo: Todd WoodyThis is the first installment of a two-part series on the smart grid.

If you want a birds-eye view of the future of power, scramble up to the roof of a 562,089-square-foot warehouse in Ontario, a city that sits in the smoggy heart of Southern California's Inland Empire east of Los Angeles.

On a roof the size of several football fields, workers are busy installing 11,591 solar panels that will generate 2.55 megawatts of electricity. Across the street is another massive warehouse blanketed in photovoltaic panels. Beyond that lie two more warehouses with solar arrays under construction.

Warehouses themselves use relatively little electricity, so owners lease their roofs to utility Southern California Edison, which own the solar arrays and feeds the power they produce into the grid. Over the next five years, the utility will install 250 megawatts worth of photovoltaic panels on big commercial rooftops and buy an additional 250 megawatts from solar developers that will build and operate warehouse arrays. At peak output, those solar arrays will generate as much electricity as a mid-sized fossil-fuel power plant.

"In the Inland Empire you've got big buildings and good sun," Rudy Perez, manager of the utility's solar rooftop program, said as we stood on the top of the warehouse where solar panels covered the roof as far as the eye could see.

He noted that the number of applications from solar developers to connect rooftop photovoltaic projects to the grid has tripled in the past six months alone.

"It's one thing when you have one building in an area with a big solar array, another when you have five," said Perez. "As you get into the higher and higher numbers, that's where you really need smart grid technology."

That's because the rise of renewable energy and electric cars will vastly complicate how the power grid operates.

"We could literally have more change in the system in the next 10 years than we've had in the last 100 years," Theodore F. Craver, Jr., chief executive of the utility's parent company, Edison International, said in an interview after meeting with executives from French utility giant EDF. The French had come to Los Angeles to learn about Southern California Edison's smart grid efforts.

In the current, mostly analog grid, the distribution of electricity is fairly straightforward. A utility or another company builds a fossil-fuel-powered plant and flips the switch. For the next 30 years or more, electricity flows into high-voltage transmission lines hour after hour, day after day.

The transmission lines carry the electricity to a distribution system where transformers "step down" the power to a lower voltage and then send it to homes and businesses. And though technological improvements have been made over the decades to the grid, it remains essentially a one-way system. And while storms and accidents can bring down power lines and blackouts can occur when demand soars on a hot day and electricity generation can't keep up, power flows 24/7 from a natural gas or coal-fired plant.

Now consider the challenges posed by intermittent sources of electricity like solar and wind, not to mention the prospect of thousands of cars plugging into the grid at once to recharge their batteries.

"A rolling cloud can cut electrical output by 80 percent in a just few seconds," says Perez. "That's one reason why we have to be smart about where we put [solar]." (called Ramp)

And why it's necessary to build a digitalized grid that deploys software, sensors, and other hardware to monitor and manage electricity distribution and troubleshoot problems.

Instead of relying on dozens of big power plants, the smart grid of the future will increasingly tap thousands or millions of individual rooftop power plants and wind turbines. It will need to collect information about their electricity output and balance the flow of electricity throughout the grid -- to ensure that a neighborhood doesn't go dark because a large cloud is hovering over the solar array atop the local Costco.

"As we start to replace more of the generation with different technologies, we are altering the physics of the system," said Pedro Pizarro, Southern California Edison's executive vice president of power operations.

Rooftop solarThe Ontario warehouse solar array will generate 2.55 megawatts of electricity, but on gray days like this one, it needs the intelligence of a smart grid to be most efficient.Photo: Todd WoodyThis drizzly October morning is a case in point. A ceiling of gray clouds hangs over the four Ontario warehouses that altogether would be generating some 7.59 megawatts if the sun were shining at peak intensity. So the smart grid also needs to be able to forecast the weather and know, say, that for the next few days electricity production is going to fall in one area while it might rise another, sun-splashed one.

"There's new technologies that allow for much precise control of the grid," Perez said. "One of the concerns would be that the intermittency of one of these buildings causes problem for our customers."

Down the coast at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), researchers have built what looks like a mirrored hemispherical bowl that scans the skies and snaps two photos a minute to predict when clouds will form over the campus' one-megawatt worth of solar panels that are installed at seven locations.

"We do a 3-D characterization of all clouds on the horizon every 30 seconds," Byron Washom, director of strategic energy initiatives at UCSD, said at a solar conference in October. "And then in the next second we note its vector, its speed, its height, its opacity and we characterize it."

"So we actually begin to forecast what type of cloud is going to intersect where the sun is," added Washom. "We know where it is at all times in the sky [in relation to] each individual panel on campus."

He said the scientists' goal is to be able to use the machines, which cost $12,000 apiece and have a range of one kilometer (0.62 miles), to do hourly forecasts with 90 percent accuracy.

"So a capital investment of less than $1 million could bring this to the Southern California rooftop market if we crack the science," said Washom, referring to the concentration of warehouses in places such as Ontario.

Another smart grid strategy is to store energy generated by solar arrays in batteries and feed power to the grid when renewable energy production falls or demand spikes.

Washom showed a picture of a device that looks like the back end of a DVD player. The Sanyo lithium ion battery can store 1.5-kilowatt hours of electricity. UCSD plans to stack them like servers in a data center so it can store 1.5 megawatts of electricity produced by campus solar arrays.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, SolarCity, a solar panel installer, and electric carmaker Tesla Motors have received a $1.8 million state grant for a pilot project that will put lithium ion car batteries in half a dozen homes with rooftop solar arrays.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), meanwhile, plans to install lithium ion batteries in 15 residences as part of its smart solar homes program. The utility will also put two 500-kilowatt batteries near substations to test energy storage on a larger scale.

Such systems are expensive but if the price eventually falls, utilities would be able to use them to release power to the grid when, say, a one of Washom's cloud-forecasting devices predicts electricity production will fall off. (SMUD also will deploy 70 solar stations to help it forecast weather conditions that could affect electricity production, according to Mark Rawson, the utility's project manager for advanced, renewable and distributed generation.)

So will the smart grid and increasing production of rooftop solar and other renewable energy spell the end of big centralized power stations and the multibillion-dollar transmission infrastructure? Will the future bring some sort of Ecotopian nirvana where power is put in the hands of the people (or at least on their rooftops)?

Not anytime soon, according to Pizarro of Southern California Edison, barring technological breakthroughs that dramatically reduce the cost of photovoltaic power.

"Right now solar is increasing but it's not overwhelming the system," says Pizarro, noting that rooftop photovoltaics remain a tiny percentage of the overall power supply even in places like California, where utilities must obtain a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Still, renewable energy "has the potential to reduce the generation from central stations," Pizarro said. "It's a question of how much and how soon."

The other wild card is the price of oil and natural gas, notes Craver, Edison's chief executive. When the cost of natural gas -- the dominant energy source in California -- rises, renewable energy becomes more attractive. When natural gas prices plunge, as they have over the past couple of years, installing solar becomes far more expensive in relative terms.

At last month's solar conference, SMUD's Rawson said his utility currently relies on photovoltaics, or PV, for less than one percent of its electricity generation. But that will likely change dramatically in the years ahead, he says, as the smart grid evolves to handle the widespread distribution of solar power.

"We're trying to change PV from something that is tolerated by the utility to something that is controlled by the utility," he said.

Todd Woody is a veteran environmental journalist based in California.

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Thailand PV Power Plant,

Suntech Selected For Phase Two Of 44MW Solar Power Plant In Thailand

-

by Staff Writers

Bangkok, Thailand (SPX) Nov 11, 2010

http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Suntech_Selected_For_Phase_Two_Of_44MW_Solar_Power_Plant_In_Thailand_999.html

Suntech Power Holdings will supply 9.43MW of solar panels and technical support for the second phase of a 44MW solar power plant (38MW AC output) in Thailand. Owned by Bangchak Petroleum Public Co., Ltd., and integrated by Solartron Public Co., Ltd., the landmark solar power plant will be one of the largest in Thailand and Southeast Asia.

The 9.43MW contract comes after Suntech was chosen to provide 34.5MW of solar panels and technical support for the project's first phase, announced in August 2010.

"This is another strong step forward with Bangchak and Solartron, as we work together to drive the emerging solar industry in Thailand and Southeast Asia," said Andrew Beebe, Suntech's Chief Commercial Officer.

"With steady economic growth, burgeoning electricity demands, and plenty of excellent sunlight, countries throughout the region stand to benefit both economically and environmentally by harnessing nature's most abundant energy resource."

With groundwork construction underway, the complete 44MW capacity solar power plant remains on schedule to be grid-connected by late-2011. The facility will then generate decades of renewable energy for the booming metropolis and surrounding areas, which will be purchased and distributed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) under long-term power purchase agreements.

Altogether, the project will create more than 200 local jobs in Thailand for the facility's development, installation and maintenance.

"This historic solar project represents the beginning of our fifteen billion Bhat initiative to develop around 140MW of installed solar capacity in Thailand," said Dr. Anusorn Sangnimnuan, President of the Bangchak Petroleum Public Co., Ltd.

"We are excited about working with Suntech to achieve long-term energy security and to combat climate change, as we strive to become a carbon-neutral company."

On October 12th, Bangchak signed a 15-year loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for up to B4.2 billion (US$140 million), part of ADB's Asia Solar Energy Initiative to support projects that will help Asia realize its solar power potential.

The strategic initiative aims to provide US$2.25 billion in financial support to facilitate 3,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in ADB's developing member countries by mid-2013.

"This project makes it clear that large-scale solar power plants are viable in Thailand and in other countries in Asia," said Daniel Wiedmer, Investment Specialist with ADB's Private Sector Operations Department.

"Solar energy will help to power Thailand's economic expansion and meet growing industrial and residential demand for power in a way that will generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than if the country were to rely on fossil fuels alone."

Located in Bang Pa-In, Ayutthaya, forty kilometers outside Bangkok, the solar project represents a major milestone in Thailand's ambitious goal to meet 20% of its total energy consumption with renewable sources by 2022. Thailand is one of Southeast Asia's largest energy consumers, and EGAT projects the country's energy demand to grow by an average 4.22% annually between 2008 and 2020.

According to the Thailand Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), Thailand imported 54% of its primary energy consumption in 2009, down from 68% in 2004, as the country seeks to achieve greater energy security through the utilization of local, renewable energy resources.

Bangchak estimates that the 44MW capacity solar power plant could annually reduce the need to import about 40,000 tons of coal and mitigate 32,000 tons of CO2 emissions, similar to planting 3,000,000 trees or removing 9,000 cars from the roads.

Upon completion, the clean and quiet solar facility will be open to the community, as an on-site visitor center - featuring an elegant Suntech building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) installation - will invite local schools, residents, and tourists to learn about solar technology.

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http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/11/us-navys-solar-power-push?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-November24-2010

Florida, Mississippi and Texas, United States -- The U.S. Navy's Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast - based in Jacksonville, Fla. - is using $69.3 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to install solar energy systems and upgrade a total of 32 buildings at 11 naval installations across Florida, Mississippi and Texas.

"We [Navy] try to be on the leading edge of technology and hope that others follow suit with what we're doing — opening a doorway to move renewable energy technologies forward."

-- Lynwood Taylor, Navy Project Manager and Electrical Engineer

Through this project, the buildings are getting solar and roofing upgrades that will save the Navy $871,935 annually. The solar energy systems are expected to generate 9,399 MWh of clean, renewable energy during first full year after construction. The process will involve hundreds workers across the projects.

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Kyocera Wins $485 Million Order to Supply Panels to Thai Solar Projects

By Chisaki Watanabe - Dec 28, 2010

Kyocera Corp. of Japan will provide 1 million solar panels to Thailand’s Solar Power Holdings Co., a company official said today.

The Kyoto-based company will supply the solar panels for 34 locations in Thailand with a total capacity of 204 megawatts, Sanae Iwasaki, a Kyocera spokeswoman, said by phone. The company will deliver the panels within four years, she said.

The order is valued at as much as 40 billion ($485 million), the Nikkei newspaper reported earlier. Iwasaki declined to comment on the value or when the company won the order.

Construction at three locations, each expected to generate 6 megawatts of power, has started, Iwasaki said.

Editors: Aaron Sheldrick,

To contact the reporters on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at [email protected].

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Wow dude...

Can you RAP this for me?

( Oh and you mean there is actually a project in Thailand that WON"T be suspended due to corruption? )

Have you looked into the devastation that occurs during a hail storm on these solar grids?

Imagine we go to war against a country that is still using petroleum resources, they would wipe us out during a cloudy day. (slightly exaggerative but you get the point.)

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Wow dude...

Can you RAP this for me?

( Oh and you mean there is actually a project in Thailand that WON"T be suspended due to corruption? )

Have you looked into the devastation that occurs during a hail storm on these solar grids?

Imagine we go to war against a country that is still using petroleum resources, they would wipe us out during a cloudy day. (slightly exaggerative but you get the point.)

I don't understand Mike, are you saying that Green energy is a bad thing?

...... we go to war already over Oil don't forget.

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There are members of the Thai elite who see money to be made on Solar energy, they have extended family contacts deep within the gov., they are able get special low interest loans and tax holidays from Thai gov. on Solar PV projects. Well, solar is good for Thai people, the more the better :)

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Wow dude...

Can you RAP this for me?

( Oh and you mean there is actually a project in Thailand that WON"T be suspended due to corruption? )

Have you looked into the devastation that occurs during a hail storm on these solar grids?

Imagine we go to war against a country that is still using petroleum resources, they would wipe us out during a cloudy day. (slightly exaggerative but you get the point.)

I don't understand Mike, are you saying that Green energy is a bad thing?

...... we go to war already over Oil don't forget.

I'm all for green, when it is not growing on my body parts, but frankly the day when we power our battleships with Duracell are "not gonna happen."

Nuclear energy has already proven its superiority over ALL other power sources. Green power, even with all the advances and major funding is never going to support a growing world population. It takes way too much real estate to plant all those glass slides, the collectors are maintenance prone and the technology is not far beyond what it was 30 years ago, despite the contrary claims.

You guys can drive the Prius, I'll stick to my SUV. The USA will soon be producing 3 times that which we currently get from the middle east: (The Dakota's, Alaska, etc.)

http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news2.13s.html

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There are members of the Thai elite who see money to be made on Solar energy, they have extended family contacts deep within the gov., they are able get special low interest loans and tax holidays from Thai gov. on Solar PV projects. Well, solar is good for Thai people, the more the better :)

I just smell TEA.

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There are members of the Thai elite who see money to be made on Solar energy, they have extended family contacts deep within the gov., they are able get special low interest loans and tax holidays from Thai gov. on Solar PV projects. Well, solar is good for Thai people, the more the better :)

I just smell TEA.

of the party variety?

:twisted:

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There are members of the Thai elite who see money to be made on Solar energy, they have extended family contacts deep within the gov., they are able get special low interest loans and tax holidays from Thai gov. on Solar PV projects. Well, solar is good for Thai people, the more the better :)

I just smell TEA.

of the party variety?

:twisted:

Chinese style TEA, under the table money that ALWAYS happens in Thailand in EVERY part of commerce.

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A ray of hope for solar (Thailand)

A burgeoning industry provides an increasingly viable option to nuclear energy.

PV-Plant-84M-LopBuri.jpg

* Published: 2/01/2011 at 12:00 AM

* Newspaper section: Spectrum

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investigation/214107/a-ray-of-hope-for-solar

'Fifty thousand fitted, 500,000 more to go," said Woramol "Peck" Khamkanist as he inspected the installation of solar panels at Thailand's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Lop Buri's Khok Samrong district.

By November, the 1,200-rai plant, the size of three golf courses, will start generating 84 megawatts of electricity and become one of the world's largest thin-film PV solar facilities.

From the air, the eight-billlion-baht solar farm will appear like a sea of blue, reflecting the sky in a region of the country's interior that is rarely cloudy.

"Actually, the Japanese are more excited about the plant than most locals," Mr Woramol joked. "Japanese TV channel NHK has filmed a documentary and other Japanese media are coming soon to report on the mega site."

Mr Woramol is managing director of the company that operates the solar farm, Natural Energy Development (NED). It is a joint venture between the SET-listed Egco Group, the Thai division of Hong Kong-based China Light and Power and Japanese firm Mitsubishi (inverters), and the PV panels are supplied by Sharp.

Two hours' drive from Bangkok, the solar farm was also Thailand's largest recipient of foreign investment last year, despite the civil unrest. The venture has secured 10-year contracts to supply 55MW to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and 8MW to the Provincial Electricity Authority.

To reinforce the point that the Kingdom is forging ahead of the rest of Asia in terms of solar power, a series of tours of the site have recently been conducted.

The Energy Ministry's permanent secretary. Norkhun Sitthipong, said he was impressed by what he had seen, and somewhat relieved that the government's support for solar energy has paid off. Forty years after the oil crisis of the '70s, when solar power was hailed as the natural alternative source of energy, the dream is now becoming a reality.

The Lop Buri plant is the larger of two solar farms in the country. It has twice the generating capacity of Bangchak Petroleum's facility in Ayutthaya province, and is so big the road around it is almost 10km long.

SOLD ON SOLAR: Woramol Khamkanist, MD of Lop Buri’s new solar plant.

"Solar power is a key energy source for Thailand as we need to reduce our dependency on oil, coal and natural gas because of depleting supplies and high costs," Mr Woramol said."The fact is, the Kingdom consumes 950,000 barrels of oil a day, ranking it the 12th biggest global guzzler of oil

"The Lop Buri farm can supply electricity to 70,000 households _ roughly 300,000 people. "Local infrastructure giant Italian Thai Development and its subsidiary Italthai Engineering have built a world-class site, with solid foundations for the plant. The solar panels are fitted on concrete holders that stand a metre high.

"For years, His Majesty the King has urged people to use renewable sources of energy and avoid buying expensive imported oil that drains the country's wealth.

"A loan agreement between NED and the Asian Development bank, plus three Thai lenders, Kasiskorn, Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank, secured NED's finances. The four banks lent 5.4 billion baht over 12 years, knowing there's little risk, and Egat's contract to purchase solar power at a fixed price makes the decision a no-brainer."

But Mr Woramol acknowledged that the limited number of solar plant permits is one of the problems the industry faces. "Many permits are in the hands of people who have little intention of building them. Some just want to resell them for a profit."

The Energy Ministry acknowledges the problem.

New permits may be issued with the condition that applicants must demonstrate a capability to build a solar plant, and the solar sector will continue to receive the backing of government.

It is also easier to build in provincial communities. When asked whether villagers would object to a solar farm on their doorstep, they always welcome it, as opposed to nuclear projects that draw the opposite reaction.

"For the time being, solar is the safer, less expensive and more responsible choice," said a ministry official.

Mr Woramol said the regulations for solar farms take into account green and ethical issues _ for example, they may not be built on productive farm land, to avoid reducing crop production.

At the same time, they must benefit rural communities, by bringing jobs and opportunities.

The designated areas for solar farms have to be far from the coast, where cloud formations would hamper the amount of sunlight the panels tap.

In closing, Mr Woramol said the 84MW output figure, by happy coincidence, matches His Majesty's 84th birthday this year.

"It is a coincidence ... and an auspicious one," he says.

Perhaps it is fate, but a it's good sign nevertheless in a fiercely competitive field dominated by powerful oil and nuclear lobbies, where solar producers need all the luck they can get.

From Bangkok "Editorial"

On energy, Thailand is a net importer of fossil fuels, and this will become increasingly costly. The government should speed up delivery on its promise to develop renewable energy sources, especially solar.

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"The four banks lent 5.4 billion baht over 12 years, knowing there's little risk, and Egat's contract to purchase solar power at a fixed price makes the decision a no-brainer. "

Just the name EGAT... I can tell you of some personal experiences with EGAT and their contracts, talk about TEA.....

I certainly hope the solar power will advance in technology soon.

One of the main concerns with it is: geography based-real estate, meaning massive areas covered with large vulnerable arrays of glass panels.

The other issues are many: such as grid management, dependence on sunny weather and no truly reliable physical protection of the array. We have a somewhat large array at Coastal Carolina University. Any given day the peak output should be 15kw, however it almost never goes above 5kw and we have more sun than most European countries .

Then theres the high price-low output: Compare the $400 million estimated cost of the 75-megawatt Babcock Ranch plant to the company’s estimated $600 million cost of building a 1,150-megawatt gas-powered plant in Dade County. Fifty percent higher cost, 1,400 percent more energy.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2009/apr/22/brent-batten-without-subsidies-solar-powers-future/

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Germany is one of the world's top photovoltaics (PV) installers, with a solar PV capacity in 2009 of 8,877 megawatts (MW); this generated 6,200 gigawatt-hours (GW·h) of electricity in 2009 — an average power of 710 MW.[1] Solar power now meets about 1.1 percent of Germany's electricity demand, a share that some market analysts expect could reach 25 percent by 2050.

Thailand gets almost twice as much energy from the Sun as Germany.

A recent study by the California Energy Commission found the potential for over 27,000 MW of solar projects that can connect to the existing distribution grid immediately. 27,000 MW is roughly ten times the total CSI goal and about half of California's peak energy demand.

So many new Solar Thermal & PV projects that it is hard to keep track. 13, 000 MW of signed contracts.

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Solar power now meets about 1.1 percent of Germany's electricity demand, a share that some market analysts expect could reach 25 percent by 2050.

Thailand gets almost twice as much energy from the Sun as Germany.

The amount of real estate already being used in Germany is VERY large scale,

yet only claims to produce 1% of the energy used. So simply imagine that solar land consumption a mere 25 times larger. Germany would be essentially "under glass". And that is a solution?

I can see why Thailand would get more energy, there's a lot more sun.

But what if the world changed ALL its power to solar, and global warming/cooling/ climate change were real... the sky would cloud over, the solar power would be useles and we would all be helplessly in the dark!

(maybe not so bad fo some people..:P)

A friend of mine is working NANO solar. http://www.nanosolar.com/

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The amount of real estate already being used in Germany is VERY large scale,

yet only claims to produce 1% of the energy used. So simply imagine that solar land consumption a mere 25 times larger. Germany would be essentially "under glass". And that is a solution?

I can see why Thailand would get more energy, there's a lot more sun.

But what if the world changed ALL its power to solar, and global warming/cooling/ climate change were real... the sky would cloud over, the solar power would be useles and we would all be helplessly in the dark!

(maybe not so bad fo some people..:P)

Still seems like you're just sobbing about the financial downside of Solar and not the environmental.

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Paul K. Driessen, JD, Senior Fellow with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, in a chapter titled "Solar and Wind Power Are Unproductive and Environmentally Harmful," in the book At Issue: What Energy Sources Should be Pursued?, wrote:

"Producing 50 megawatts of electricity using a gas-fired generating plant requires between 2 and 5 acres of land. Getting the same amount from photovoltaics means covering some 1,000 acres with solar panels (assuming a very optimistic 10 watts per square meter (W/m2) or 5 percent peak efficiency), plus access for trucks to clean the panels. Using the sun to meet California's energy needs would require paving over tens of thousands of acres of desert habitat, sacrificing what the Wilderness Society calls 'some of the most beautiful landscapes in America,' and with it their resident plant and animal life."

- Paul K. Driessen, JD

The California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), in their Nov. report "Potential Health and Environmental Impacts Associated with the Manufacture and Use of Photovoltaic Cells," available on the EPRI website, wrote the following:

"The production of photovoltaic devices can involve the use of some toxic and explosive gases, corrosive liquids, and suspected carcinogenic compounds. The magnitude of potential effects will vary based on the materials’ toxicological properties, and the intensity, frequency, and duration of human exposure...

Disposal of large quantities of modules in a single landfill could lead to increased potential risks to humans and biota [animal and plant life of an area or time period]. The leaching of chemicals from these landfilled modules has the potential to contaminate local ground and surface water...

Biota inhabiting the areas in the vicinity of an accidental release at a manufacturing facility could be exposed to elevated concentrations of chemicals through direct ingestion of compounds, ingestion of contaminated water, contact with contaminated soils, or inhalation of contaminated air. Exposure to chemicals can lead to a variety of impacts on organisms, including impaired reproduction, decreased pulmonary activity, increased mortality, and reduced growth. The severity of any effects will vary depending upon the amount and type of chemical being released..."

- California Energy Commission

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Howard C. Hayden, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Connecticut, in his book The Solar Fraud: Why Solar Energy Won't Run the World, wrote:

"The Solar Two site [a solar installation in Barstow, CA] occupies 52.6 hectares (130 acres) and produces 10 MWe (megawatt electrical) peak. Its capacity factor is about 16%. For a Solar-Two installation to produce as much energy as a typical 1000-MWe power plant [approximately 0.6 square miles] does in a year, it would have to cover about 33,000 hectares (127 square miles). That is environmental impact!"

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