Thin Film technologies go mainstream
WITH ramped-up production capacities, Thin Films show great potential for large- scale projects and buildings. Their bankability is now better ensured and with prices continuously dropping, the technology is definitely becoming mainstream. Whatever the technology, appropriate regulatory frameworks are now crucial in ensuring an effective integration of photovoltaic (PV) electricity to the grid. These were the conclusions of the 3rd EPIA International Thin Film Conference.
The Thin Film market grew from 1.3 GW in 2009 to over 2 GW in 2010. This impressive 50% growth shows the capability of the Thin Film industry to increase production towards large scales. CdTe remains the leading Thin Film technology representing over 90% of the Thin Film segment. CIGS and silicon- based Thin Films are also about to enter mass production.
With ramped-up capacities, many large- scale projects are being developed all across Europe. Thin Film applications also demonstrate a unique potential for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) &#x2013; an important market segment which can now develop professionally with adapted Thin Film products.
&#x201C;One way to make certain new technologies more bankable is to make them part of larger projects using other proven and mature technologies. A share of 10 to 15% with the most innovative technology could be considered acceptable by investors as the overall risk of the project will be diminished and the technology then proven&#x201D; explained Manfred B&#xE4;chler, CTO of Phoenix Solar.
Thin Film prices keep decreasing over time with an Average Selling Price of modules of $1.65/Wp in 2009 and $1.35/Wp in 2010. And there are still
SunPower closes Solar project bonds
SUNPOWER has announced that it has closed its euro 195.2 million solar bond issuance associated with the company&#x2019;s 44 MW Montalto di Castro solar park in Italy. The proceeds will be used to pay for the development and construction of the solar park, which is now complete and connected to the local electrical grid. SunPower also announced that the sale of the 44-MW solar park is scheduled to close before the end of this year.
&#x201C;This is the world&#x2019;s first publicly rated bond issue for a solar project, as well as Italy&#x2019;s first rated project bond. It opens up a new global-scale pool of capital to fund solar projects beyond traditional project financing from banks,&#x201D; said Dennis Arriola, SunPower CFO. &#x201C;Achieving investment grade ratings is a milestone for the solar sector and further demonstrates the bankability of SunPower&#x2019;s turnkey solar energy systems. Our success is a culmination of an exhaustive due diligence process which resulted in various independent parties recognizing the technical, financial
and operating expertise that SunPower delivers.&#x201D;
The solar bonds were issued in two classes: &#xE002; Class A1 bonds of euro 97.6m in fixed rate notes paying 5.715 percent, due in 2028
&#xE002; Class A2 bonds of euro 97.6m in fixed rate notes paying 4.839 percent, due in 2028
The Class A1 benefit from a loan guarantee by SACE (an insurance and financial group controlled by Italy&#x2019;s Ministry of Economy and Finance) and its Aa2 credit rating from Moody&#x2019;s. The class A2 bonds have been rated Baa3 from Moody&#x2019;s and were purchased by the European Investment Bank.
Concurrently, SunPower announced the completion of the entire 72-MW Montalto di Castro solar park, which is one of the world&#x2019;s largest solar parks in terms of energy generation. All phases of the project have been constructed using
high-efficiency SunPower solar panels and SunPower T0 Tracker technology to generate approximately 140 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.
&#x201C;The Montalto di Castro solar park is the first and largest solar project of its kind and we are proud to announce its completion,&#x201D; said Yoram Amiga, president, utility and power plants international for SunPower. &#x201C;Today, Italy is experiencing a strong demand for solar, as it can be installed quickly, is cost- competitive and a reliable source of power. SunPower&#x2019;s ability to finance the final phases of the park through solar bonds underscores the appeal of cash flows from our systems technology and utility-scale project execution expertise.&#x201D;
many areas where the cost of Thin Films can be significantly reduced. 50% of Thin Films costs come from materials, from which 40% is for the glass. The glass industry has already made great efforts to make glass thinner to decrease weight and cost. Specialty glass products designed for PV are being developed with low iron, high transmittance and resistivity, helping improve the efficiency and the durability of modules.
Apart from the technologies, grid integration will be one of the main challenges of the PV industry. The more the generation is close to the point of consumption, the less the network risks congestion. But this requires the implementation of efficient regulations and mandatory priority access for renewables. Smart grids, defined as &#x201C;electricity networks that can intelligently integrate the behaviours and actions of all users connected to it, generators, consumers and those that do both, in order to efficiently ensure sustainable, economic and secure electricity supply&#x201D; will be needed, so that high penetrations of PV electricity in the overall electrical system will be enabled.
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