MORE SILICON, MORE SUN, ALL OVER THE WORLD
The news in the solar energy industry is not about war, not about political infighting, not about heartbreaking economic ruin. It’s just about business growing steadily larger, about an industry edging toward grid-parity and the capacity to solve the single most daunting challenge to the world community, global climate change.
Note the increase in silicon-manufacturing infrastructure. This means more silicon availability. The long-sought economies of scale expected to drive costs down are drawing ever closer to becoming a reality.
Note how busy Asian companies expect to be, making and selling silicon solar products. Many European companies, now dominating EU markets, expect severe competition from Asian companies for subsidy-supported European sales.
Note the selection of the unlikely, unsunny location of Renewable Energy Corporation (REC)'s new polysilicon processing plant: The 17-month, 16-country search ended with the selection of Quebec because the energy-intensive manufacture of silicon wafers and cells can be done there using emissions-free hydro-electric power.
Hydro-Québec seduced REC with a 20-year offer of the preferential power rate it gives 200 favored Quebecois industrial customers. Even for New Energy companies, New Energy at good rates is the crucial factor in doing business.
By the time their agreement runs its course, the cost of emissions-generating power will be prohibitive. But in 20 years REC and Hydro-Québec will surely be renegotiating with the options of wind or solar on the table.
Last note: In announcing the REC deal, Quebec Premier Jean Charest also mentioned the province’s development of wind power and a $1.9-billion upgrade of Hydro-Québec’s nearby Gentilly 2 nuclear-generating plant.
Premier Charest: "Energy is part of our DNA…"
That’s just about the right mix of genes, Mr. Premier. It is also just about what will be economic for the next 20 years or so: Aggressive efficiency. New hydro, solar, wind and biomass generating capacity. Natural gas development and upgrades to nuclear as bridges to a 21st-century energy infrastructure. Experiments with “clean” coal but no new coal-burning plants. A transition to grid-powered (and pedal-powered) personal transportation.
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Trina Solar expands polysilicon purchases
Matt Daily (w/ Steve Orlofsky), August 25, 2008 (Reuters)
Amtech Announces $7.5 Million Solar Order
August 27, 2008 (Business Wire via Market Watch)
Solar power giant embraces Quebec
Paul DeLean, August 27, 2008 (Montreal Gazette)
Trina Solar Ltd; GCL Silicon Technology Holdings Inc.; Tempress Systems, Inc. (solar subsidiary of Amtech Systems, Inc.( J.S. Whang, President/CEO)); Renewable Energy Corp. (REC) (Erik Thorsen, President); Jean Charest, Premier, Quebec;
- Trina will almost double its buy of polysilicon from GCL.
- AmTech/Tempress got a $7.5 million order for more silicon wafer/solar cell processing systems.
- REC will build a $1.2 billion polysilicon manufacturing plant in Quebec.
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- The Trina purchase will cover 8 years of PV module production.
- 2009 Trina production capacity goals: 500 megawatts of silicon ingot/wafer, 700 megawatts of solar cell/module
- REC has conducted a 17-month search for a new plant site. Pre-engineering at the selected Quebec site will begin in 2009, with construction in 2010 and production in 2012.
- The order for more AmTech/Tempress silicon wafer/solar cell equipment came from an undesignated Asia-Pcific customer.
- REC will build a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Bécancour, Quebec, Canada, across the river from Trois Rivières.
- REC is based in Norway, has silicon plants in Moses Lake, Wash., and Butte, Mont., and has 14 different expansion projects under way in Sweden, Norway, North America and Singapore.
- Polysilicon is the raw material used in the production of some kinds of photovoltaic solar wafers and cells.
- Trina will purchase enough silicon from GCL to produce 4,825 megawatts of PV solarup from a previously announced purchase of enough silicon for 2,600 megawatts of PV.
- Tempress makes production/automation systems and supplies for the manufacture of solar cells and silicon wafers.
- REC is one of the world's largest makers of solar-grade silicon. It had revenues of $750 million in Q1 and Q2 of 2008.
- The $1.2 billion REC plant will be one of the biggest private-sector investments in Quebec in 10 years. The site REC leased will accommodate 4 plants like the one planned and discussions about expansion are ongoing.
- Full operation at the REC plant: 300 full-time jobs, $100 million/year economic benefits to Quebec.
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- J.S. Whang, President/CEO, Amtech: "We are very pleased to receive this sizeable follow-on solar order in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region, which further demonstrates the increasing acceptance we are seeing for our solar products from our worldwide base of solar customers. We continue to be optimistic about the strength of our marketing pipeline and opportunities to grow our solar business into fiscal 2009."
- Erik Thorsen, President, REC: "It has been a long journey to where we stand today…We look forward to a long and industrious relationship between REC and the people of Quebec."
- Jean Charest, Premier, Quebec: "It's part of a broader vision of how we see the future of Quebec, and energy as a part of it…I want it to be a star project that'll generate interest for investors elsewhere in the world."