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Current News 2000

News Archives 199719981st Half of 19992nd Half of 1999
12/22/2000 Alliance of AstroPower and Elkem to Supply Silicon Feedstock to
Solar Industry 
AstroPower, Inc., U.S.A., recently announced that it signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement with Elkem, Norway. AstroPower considers Elkem the world’s largest producer of silicon metal. The agreement is geared at developing a low-cost process for manufacturing solar-grade silicon for solar cell production. According to AstroPower, the agreement also calls for the future establishment of a jointly-owned manufacturing
venture, based in Norway and managed by Elkem, that will supply
low-cost silicon feedstock to the global solar power industry. AstroPower and Elkem estimate that the annual market for solar-grade silicon is currently approximately $75 million, and it is forecasted to grow at 25% - 30% over the next five years. (iwr) 
12/04/2000  Giant Solar Cells Were Installed on International Space Station
Two astronauts managed to install two giant solar panels on the
Internations Space Station this past weekend. The solar panels, which cost appr. € 665 million, are said to be the most expensive and biggest solar panels ever to be installed in a space project. According to NASA, the panels weigh 17.5 metric tons. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the flexible solar panels, each of which is carrying 32,800 solar cells. Six additional solar wings will be installed in 2002, 2003, and 2006. More information at the Lockheed Martin website. (iwr) 
11/13/2000 Solar and Wind Hybrid System on Greek Island
The Institut für Solare Energieversorgung, ISET (Institute for Solar Energy Supply), from Kassel, Germany, is currently coordinating reasearch projects on the Greek island Kythnos for the build-up of autonomous power grids fed by renewable energies. Usually, Greek islands are powered by diesel aggregates. ISET developed a hybrid system based on solar and wind power to supply these islands with energy. In this system, power will be generated and distributed by solar cells, battery storages and diesel generators. After preparatory work will have been completed this spring, about a dozen houses will be supplied with power from this new grid. (iwr) 
11/03/2000 America's Largest Multi-Celled Thin-Film Solar Power System Recently Installed
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE ) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently dedicated a 100-kilowatt solar electric system at the Suitland, Maryland Federal Center near Washington, D.C. According to DOE, the 2800 solar photovoltaic panels comprise the largest multi-celled thin-film solar power system in the country. In dedicating the system, DOE noted that the President's Million Solar Roofs initiative has installed more than 100,000 solar roofs since 1997, nearly double the goal of 51,000 roofs by the end of this year. In addition to that, it was pointed out that President Clinton's Executive Order 13123 required 2,000 solar energy systems to be installed on federal buildings by the end of this calendar year. The federal government has now exceeded that goal by installing 2,100 systems and is on track to meet its installation goal of 20,000 solar energy systems by 2010, says DOE. (iwr) 
10/25/2000 126 kWp PV System in Karlsbad, Germany
Paradigma, Ritter Energie- und Umwelttechnik GmbH & Co. KG from Karlsbad/Freiburg and S.A.G. Solarstrom from Freiburg, Germany, installed a PV system on Ritter's factories, which covers 1,200 square meters. With a capacity of 126 kWp, experts expect an annual power yield of 110,000 kW. This will be sufficient power for approximately 30 households. The two partners mentioned above financed the project. S.A.G. Solarstrom owns 100 kWp of the project. The power that is generated by this PV system will be completely fed into the public grid and reimbursed with 99 Pfennigs per kWh. (iwr)
10/18/2000 Luxembourg: High Reimbursement Rates for Solar Power
Based on information by Mouvement Ecologique, it was recently reported that solar power in Luxembourg is supposed to be reimbursed at a rate of 25.1 lufr/kWh (appr. 0.62 Euro/kWh) and a guarantee of 20 years,, becoming effective Januaray 1, 2001. The financial funds needed for this will be provided by the federal budget entirely. In addition to that, Mouvement Ecologique announced that the federal government will subsidize solar heat systems by up 40% and PV systems by even up to 50% of the investment costs. (iwr) 
10/13/2000 Chips Manage Solar Cells
Solar cells can increasingly power portable elctric appliances. However, implementing solar cells into such appliances bears the risk that a growing demand for power makes necessary a bigger solar cell. A chip which was developed at Fraunhofer-Institut für Integrierte Schaltungen IIS (Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits) in Erlangen makes electric appliances powered by solar cells also work in relatively dark rooms, even at dusk or dawn. The chip enables the electric appliance to use the power generated by the solar cells most efficiently so that power consumption can be reduced to a minimum. More info: http://www.iis.fhg.de/index.html. (iwr) 
10/04/2000 25 MW Facility Will be Built in Michigan, U.S.A. 
United Solar Systems Corp. (United Solar), Bekaert-ECD Solar Systems LLC (Bekaert-ECD) and Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD) (NASDAQ:ENER) recently announced that they will build a new solar manufacturing facility in the city of Auburn Hills, Michigan, which will have a capacity of 25 MW."The new manufacturing equipment will be the largest thin-film photovoltaic production facility in the world," said Subhendu Guha, president of United Solar and Bekaert-ECD. It was also stated that the construction of the new facility will entail a five-fold expansion of United Solar‘s manufacturing capacity. (iwr) 
09/27/2000 Energy Payback Time of Siemens Solar Panels
Siemens Solar, a manufacturer of solar panels, presented research findings on the energy payback time for photovoltaic modules. According to Siemens, research was conducted by scientists from Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. The researchers calculated the energy consumed in the manufacture of photovoltaic modules currently in production at Siemens Solar. Siemens Solar explained that the calculations included process energy, used in cell and module manufacturing as well as the energy used in producing both direct and indirect raw materials. The data was used to measure the amount of energy required to make photovoltaic (solar electric) panels, i.e. the "energy payback time." Citing the study, Siemens claims that the estimated break-even point of a Siemens solar panel is approximately one to three years. This would imply that over its lifetime, a Siemens Solar panel generates nine to seventeen times as much energy as is needed to create it. The complete study is available at the Siemens Solar website. (iwr) 
09/18/2000 Record Efficieny of Solar Cells Set by ISE
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) from Freiburg, Germany, recently announced a record efficieny for its solar cells. Monolithic tandem concentrator solar cells achieve efficiency rates up to 31%. Dr. Andreas Bett, head of the research group, said that this symbolizes a milestone in the development of concentrator solar cells in photovoltaics. As concentrator systems rely on direct radiation by the sun, they operate particularly efficiently in sunny regions. ISE expects that consequent research and further development will make feasible an efficiecy rate of 35%. (iwr)
09/06/2000 Japan: MITI Intends to Abolish Subsidy for Solar Power in Homes
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) plans to abolish subsidies for solar power generation equipment for household use at the end of the fiscal year 2002 in order to boost competition in the industry. This was recently announced by Japanese ministry sources. MITI argues that advances in technology have led to lower prices and thereby reduced the need for subsidies. It hopes that by withdrawing the subsidies, manufacturers will be encouraged to become price-competitive. Subsidies had risen from 2 billion Yen in the fiscal year 1994 to 16 billion Yen in the fiscal year 1999. Despite the cuts in subsidies, the government still intends to generate 5 million kW of electricty with solar power in the fiscal year 2010. (iwr) 
08/30/2000 Significant Increase of Solar Cell and Module Shipments in the U.S. in 1999
The U.S. Department of Energy reported that U.S. shipments of solar photovoltaic modules and cells increased significantly in 1999, leaping 52 percent above 1998 shipments. The sector has now been growing for 14 consecutive years. According to a new report by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. manufacturers shipped enough photovoltaic products to generate 77 megawatts of electricity. Photovoltaic cell prices are said to have dropped by one third, although module prices declined only about 8 percent. The DOE also made clear that exports continue to dominate the market, accounting for 72 percent of the shipments. (iwr) 
08/22/2000 Spire Corporation Reports Second Quarter 2000/ 1st Half of 2000 Results
Spire Corporation, which provides products and services to solar and biomedical markets worldwide, recently reported revenues and results of operations for the three and six month periods ended 30 June 2000. According to the NASDAQ company news Spire‘s revenues for the six month period ended 30 June 2000 amounted to $7,691,000 compared to $6,499,000 for the six month period ended 30 June 1999. Following the report, net profit for the six month period was $1,000 or $0.00 per share compared to a net loss of $707,000 or $0.22 per share for the same six month period of 1999. Roger G. Little, President and CEO of Spire Corporation, commented on the company figures: "Although our sales were 18% greater than they were last year on a quarter to quarter basis, they were less than we expected due to delays experienced in orders for PV systems from Spire Solar Chicago and performance delays by a subcontractor under our R&D contracts". (iwr) 
08/15/2000 Solar World Takes Over Bayer Solar
SolarWorld Inc. from Bonn, Germany, takes over the majority of Bayer Solar, a producer of solar wafers, from Freiberg, Saxonia, Germany. Solar World will acquire 82% of the shares. 18% of the shares will be taken over by Solar Holding Beteiligungsgesellchaft Ltd. from Bonn. The purchase price is said to reach a a three-digit million value (Deutsche Mark). According to Solar World, Bayer Solar currently is Europe's biggest producer of silicon wafers, employing 120 people. Various other competitors, for instance from Japan, also attempted to purchase Bayer Solar. Cartel authorities and the supervisory boards have agreed to the purchase. (iwr) 
08/02/2000 US: National Tour of Solar Homes
The National Tour of Solar Homes is held every October throughout the United States. In over 100 communities in 42 states, solar homeowners open their doors to visitors to demonstrate the renewable energy and conservation features of their homes. The tour highlights solar energy technologies that are working right now, in real places, for real people. People who want to be part of this event, that will take place on October, 14 th this year, can contact fcombs@ases.org. (iwr) 
08/02/2000 AstroPower Accelerates Capacity Expansion Plans
In the Nasdaq markte news, it was recently reported that AstroPower Inc., a U.S. supplier of solar electric power prodcuts, wants to increase its capacity to 35 MW by the end of 2000. The original plan in the last fall had set a target for an increase to 25 MW, but the great demand for AstroPower prodcuts made the company adjust these figures. Dr. Allen M. Barnett, President and CEO of AstroPower believes that the effects of the expansion will be to slightly increase revenues over the balance of 2000 and 2001. On the other hand, he is expecting the product gross margins to remain relatively flat for the next few quarters. Nevertheless growth in earnings per share of at least 50% per year in 2000 and 2001 are anticipated. (iwr)
07/27/2000 BP Solarex becomes BP Solar
BP Solarex recently announced that it will now be known as BP Solar. This move comes in conjunction with BP Amoco's decision to form a single, global brand, under the new corporate brand name-BP. BP stressed that growth of its solar business is a key aspect of the its commitment to go 'beyond petroleum'. In addition to that BP Amoco introduced a new logo which is supposed to be especially appropriate for BP Solar. In line with these endeavors, BP's new sites will be partly powered by energy from the sun through solar panels forming the transparent canopy above the pumps.
07/18/2000 University Studies in Solar Architecture
In October, Danube University from Krems, Austria, will start offering postgraduate courses to students which focus on planning and realisation processes of solar architectural projects. Major aspects of the coursework will be construction biology and ecology, sustainable urban and regional planning, thermal otimization of buildings and solar technology. The coursework will be taught in two sections with two semesters belonging to each section. Additional information can be obtained from Dipl.-Ing. Peter Holzer and Dipl.-Ing. Renate Hammer, phone ++43/2732/893-2651 or via e-mail. (iwr) 
07/04/2000 Major Order for AstroPower Inc.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 
(LADWP), the largest municipal utility in the nation, recently  announced that it has awarded AstroPower Inc. a $6 million contract to supply solar electric power modules. This was reported in the NASDAQ company news. The contract is said to be the largest single award for solar power since utility deregulation was introduced in the United States 7 years ago. In addition to that the contract is supposed to represent only the first phase of an ambitious 4-year, $38 million program to provide solar power to LADWP customers. Many of the solar panels AstroPower will provide under this contract will be installed on the Los Angeles Convention Center. (iwr)
06/19/2000 Solar Arizona
According to the German renewables magazine "Solarthemen" the US-state Arizona will prescribe a mandatory quota for the share of power from renewable energies in relation to the total power mix. With the beginning of the next year the share of renwables is supposed to reach 0.2% . Solar energy is meant to play a major role in achieving this goal, as Arizona gets much exposure to the sun. Solarthemen calculated that 60 MW of solar systems would have to be installed, if Arizona was to meet this goal solely with solar energy. (iwr)
06/06/2000 Siemens Solar Expands Warranty on CIS Solar Modules
Siemens Solar has expanded its warranty services on its thin-layer CIS modules. The customers can now be sure that for 10 years the performance of the CIS modules will be at least 90% of the capacity that has been specified as the minimum capacity at the time of delivery. This 10-year warranty is valid for Siemens' complete production line, which includes modules with a capacity range between 5 and 40 Watts. (iwr)
05/30/2000 Utility Initiative for Africa 
More than 100 visitors from 21 countries participated in the second phase of the conference "Utility initiative for Africa", which had been organized by the International Solar Energy Society and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The participants of the conference passed a common resolution that encourages quick realization of solar projects in Africa. It is intendend that until the year 2020 every family in Africa will have access to energy supply networks. A seminar dealing with the perpetuation of the initiative will be held in Nariobi, Kenya, in September. Further information can be obtained from the International Solar Energy Society (phone: ++49 761-45906-0; e-mail: hq@ises.org). (iwr)
 05/10/2000 Toshiba Achieves Breakthrough in Solar Cell Technology
Toshiba Corp. recently announced that it achieved an important breakthrough in solar cell technology research, which could possibly lead to a simpler and more cost-effective production and significantly expand the field of application for solar batteries. By successfully making the electrolyt more solid, Toshiba developed a material that bears no danger of leakage anymore. Leakage problems occur in particular with fluid electrolyt. Solar cells based on solid electrolyt reach a 7.3% degree of efficiency for the conversion of solar energy and can be infused into a plastic substrate. This opens up a broad spectrum of new application possibilities for solar batteries. Details about this new processing unit will be presented during the 16th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, May 2 through May 5. (iwr)
04/25/2000 Utility Initiative for Africa
The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) will start the second phase of its initiative to promote renewable energy projects in Africa. Utilities and goverment representatives of African countries are involved in the planning process, as local concerns are supposed to be respected  to ensure the success of the initiative. April 17 through April 18, 2000 a "Seminar on Rural Electrification in Africa (SEREA)" will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this seminar, experts will present exemplary case studies and pilot projects from development regions. The presentations are intended to serve as the basis for work on future strategies and support initiatives intending to improve the energy supply in African countries. SEREA will also be the platform where financial aspects regarding these projects will be discussed. (iwr)
04/20/2000 Solar Education Program by BP Amoco/BP Solarex
BP Amoco / BP Solarex have sponsored a solar education program in partnership with the UK Association of Science Education. The "Global Solar Exchange Unit" is designed for students aged 12 - 16+. It enables students to research aspects of solar energy in their own communities and then to exchange information and ideas with other students world-wide. The Unit is ideal for teachers and students, as it includes teachers' notes, student work pages, an exchange form and up-to-date support data.  The program can be downloaded at http://www.solarpartners.org. (iwr)
04/14/2000 Greenpeace Purchases Shell Stocks
Greenpeace purchased EUR 250,000 worth of Shell stocks at the Amsterdam stock market in order to push through the construction of a production plant for solar collectors, which is supposed to manufacture 5 million collectors annually. Investment costs for this production plant are expected to accumulate to DM 890 million (EURO 455.05 million). Greenpeace is now counting on the support of a great number of Shell stockholders during the stockholders' conference in early May. (iwr)
04/07/2000 Australia: PV Rebate Program Launched
According to a report in the Photovoltaic Newsletter of PV Energy Systems, the Australian government launched a PV rebate program which started January 1, 2000. The program is furnished with a A$ 31 million budget. Following the guidelines of the program, the government will pay A$ 5.50/watt of installed PV up to a maximum of 1.5 kW or A$ 8,250. It is expected that at this rate the program could stimulate 3750 residential PV systems for 5.6 MW of cumulative sales. (iwr)
03/28/2000 SolarWorld and AstroPower Sign Cooperation Agreement
SolarWorld Inc. from Bonn, Germany, and AstroPower Inc. from Newark, Delaware, USA, signed a cooperation agreement. The agreement provides for the supply of AstroPower solar cells to Solar World. According to the speaker of the Solar World board of directors, Frank H. Asbeck, SolarWorld intends to take a delivery of more than 2 megawatts of solar cells annually. SolarWorld's Swedish subsidiary Gällivare PhotoVoltaic (GPV) is supposed to process the solar cells and produce solar modules. (iwr)
03/24/2000 SOLON Inc. Purchased ASP Inc. 
The German company "Solon Inc. for Solar Technology", Berlin, purchased 100% of the stock capital of ASP Inc. from Zurich, Switzerland, a manufacturer of system electronics. According to SOLON, the takeover enables the company from Berlin to get access to the biggest offer of the technologically advanced product line of SINUS static converters worldwide. The partnership will also help SOLON to intensify its international business with PV systems that are not connected to the grid. (iwr)
03/13/2000 EPIA Appoints New Chief Executive 
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) appointed Dr. Murray Cameron from Britain as its new Chief Executive Officer. Cameron wants to expand the reputation and influence of EPIA, which has been promoting the PV industry for 15 years already. EPIA's next major event will be the 16th Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, 1-5 May. (iwr)
03/02/2000 1MWp PV Project in Amersfoort, Netherlands
Just outside Amersfoort, Netherlands, a 1 MWp photovoltaic project, which is part of a wider new urban development scheme, was developed by the local utility REMU and the Netherlands Agency for Energy and the Environment (Novem). Work on the project was begun in 1997 and is now coming close to completion. Almost 12.300 square meters of photovoltaic modules have been installed, yielding a total capacity of 1.3 MWp. Solar roofs have been integrated into all kinds of buildings such as a sports hall, a daycare center, residential dwellings, and parking bays. (iwr)
02/24/2000 The Netherlands Want to Increase PV Power Production
According to a report by the magazine "New Energy", the Netherlands are intending to reinforce the utilization of photovoltaic energy. Shell Solar Energy President, Dr. Gosse Boxhoorn, already launched a new initiative to install 500 MWp of solar cells between 2001 and 2005. This initiative, dubbed "Deltaplan", is co-supported by the elctronic company Phillips, the chemicals company Akzo, the machine builder Stork, and the solar cells raw material supplier Sunergy.  (iwr)
02/16/2000 1999 World PV Cell Production With Rapid Gains
According to the PV Energy Systems' newsletter "Photovoltaic News", the global production of photovoltaic cells showed a significant growth rate of 31.5% in 1999, totaling a capacity of 201.5 MW (1998: 153.2 MW). The increase is in particular owing to expansions in plant capacities and the expanded grid-connected markets in Japan, Germany, and the United States. PV Energy Systems assumes that US cell production increased from 53.7 MW in 1998 to 64.6 MW in 1999. Japanese production nearly doubled from 49 MW in 1998 to 80 MW in 1999. Slight increases were apparent in Europe with 31.8 MW of installed capacity in 1998 and 36.4 MW in 1999. PV cell production in other parts of the world amounted to 20.5 MW in 1999 (1998: 18.7 MW). In addition to examining production capacities in different countries, PV Energy Systems did a ranking of the various companies' production capacities, which led to the result that almost three fourths of the world's PV cell capacity have been produced by four companies, namely BP Solarex, Kyocera, Sharp, and Siemens Solar. (iwr) 
02/14/2000 High Revenues for BP Solarex
In a news release, BP Solarex announced that it has exceeded 1999 revenue goals, which were set at $ 160 million; actual performance brought the company a total revenue of $ 179 million. In addition to that, annualized costs savings of $ 25 million were achieved. The positive development is owing to a number of factors, such as the consolidation of two plants in Syney, Australia, the increased market penetration through partnerships in South Africa and Eastern Europe, the completion of major rural electrification projects in the Philippines and Indonesia, the acquisition of APEX, which opens increased market visibility in France and its Caribbean and African territories, etc. (iwr)
02/01/2000 Record Production of PV System on Fair Building in Munich
Two years ago, the world's largest photovoltaic roof system, which was built by Bayernwerk and Siemens, started operation on the fair building in Munich. In a press release, Siemens recently announced that in the last twelve months, the PV system produced more than one million kWh of electric energy. This equals the yearly energy consumption o approximately 300 households. (iwr)
01/21/2000 BP Solarex Relaunched Its Website
BP Solarex, a manufacturer and supplier of solar cells and modules, relaunched its website. It can now be found at: http://www.bpsolarex.com. (iwr)
01/18/2000 Solar World AG with More Than 70% Sales Increase
Solar World AG successfully increased its sales in 1999 by more than 70% as compared to the previous year. Based on a preliminary calculation, sales in 1999 amounted to DM 10.7, whereas in 1998 the sales value reached only DM 6.3 million.  With the acquisition of the Swedish photovoltaic module producer Gällivare PhotoVoltaic (GPV), Solar World AG, will start the global trade with solar cells. The positive results in 1999 are expected to be continued in the next years, as the company wants to become an integrative company for renewable energies. (iwr)
01/12/2000 100.000 Roof Program (Germany): Approval of 3,576 Systems with 10.02 MW
In 1999 the German bank "Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW)" approved 3,576 loans in total for the installation of photovoltaic systems that have become eligible for support due to the 100,000 roof program. More than DM 103 million were granted for these systems which have a total capacity of 10.02 MW. Statistics.... (iwr)
01/06/2000 Solar Energy Bears Great Potential for Future
Dr. Norbert Allnoch, head of the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies (IWR), expects solar energy to be the leading source of renewable energies in the the next century. IWR estimates that the global market volume in 1999 rose from about 150 MW to 190 MW of photovoltaic power. Due to an increase in serial production, costs could be cut in half in the last decade. Allnoch expects that this trend will continue as the global market expands even more. Considered from a global perspective, Japan still is the world leader in the field of solar energy. (iwr) 
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