Solar-grade silicon

  • FBR polysilicon technology – promise or hype? The recent announcement by US manufacturer REC Silicon that it would establish a new polysilicon plant with an annual production capacity of 19,000 metric tons has highlighted an upcoming trend in the polysilicon industry: the rise of fluidised bed reactor (FBR) technology, Guest Blog on: www.pv-tech.org, 7 March 2014
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  • Polysilicon production technologies in a volatile market. With the dominant Siemens process approaching a limit for further cost cuts, technologies based on the deposition from monosilane (SiH4) have now become the focus of attention, in: Photovoltaics International 18 (Fourth Quarter, November 2012), pp. 29-32
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  • Year of transition. The 10th Solar Silicon Conference, which was held in Berlin at the end of March, sought ways out of the doldrums, in: Sun & Wind Energy 5/2012, pp. 192-195
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  • Oversupply ahead. Those predicting a polysilicon glut are increasing in number – as too at the 9th Solar Silicon Conference held in Berlin in mid-April, in: Sun & Wind Energy 5/2011, pp. 218-220
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  • Superior top dog. Is the classic Siemens process the winner of the silicon industry's technology race? (report from the 8th Solar Silicon Conference), in: Sun & Wind Energy 6/2010, pp. 134-137
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  • Unperturbed expansion. Is the silicon industry changing direction from a highly profitable situation of short supply to one of oversupply with very low prices? (report from the 7th Solar Silicon Conference), in: Sun & Wind Energy 5/2009, pp. 164-166
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  • Full steam ahead from 2008. Production capacities for polysilicon will grow significantly, not least due to a whole series of new entrants (world market survey 2006), in: Sun & Wind Energy 2/2006, pp. 92-104
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  • Solar-grade silicon: expensive and in short supply. As long as six years ago it was predicted that the photovoltaic industry would suffer a silicon shortage in 2005 – now this prophesy has indeed come true (world market survey 2005), in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2005, pp. 76-83
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  • The delay. A lack of silicon supply for the photovoltaics industry over the next two to three years (report from the 1st Solar Silicon Conference), in: Photon International 6/2004, pp. 36-42
  • "The time pressure is enormous." The photovoltaics industry desperately needs a new source of silicon, in: Photon International 9/2001, pp. 26-32 (the German version was awarded the
    Karl Theodor Vogel Prize for Technical Journalism 2001)

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Solar market analysis

  • Intersolar Conference: New growth markets. In 2016 China almost single-handedly catapulted the photovoltaics world market upwards by 50%, thanks to its gigantic installation volume; in 2017 growth will be considerably weaker, but there are some quite surprising candidates for new dynamic markets, on: www.sunwindenergy.com, July 5, 2017
  • New Optimism. While Europe is only slowly recovering, new photovoltaics markets are opening up globally (report from the Intersolar Europe Conference), in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2016, pp. 44-45
  • "A very exciting time". While photovoltaics has seen a strong decline in the pioneering European countries since 2012, the markets in America and Asia are booming (report from the Intersolar Europe Conference), in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2015, pp. 46-47
  • On the way to the top. While the western competition keeps focusing on the more or less integrated manufacturers of solar modules in China with its low production costs, new photovoltaics giants are emerging in Taiwan, in: pv magazine 08/2010, pp. 30-35
  • Der Markt brummt wieder. Die deutsche Photovoltaikbranche startet wieder durch – einige Großhändler verzeichneten 2007 hohe Wachstumsraten (The market is humming again. The German photovoltaic branch gets going again – several photovoltaic wholesalers report high rates of growth in 2007; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 1/2008, pp. 98-109
  • Growth from many sources. Despite being very splintered and bureaucratic in parts when it comes to subsidies, the U.S. solar market is gradually picking up steam (report from Solar Power 2007 in Long Beach), in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2007, pp. 144-148
  • Gemischte Bilanz. Die deutsche Photovoltaikbranche ist 2006 noch einmal mit einem blauen Auge davongekommen (Mixed results. The German photovoltaic branch gets off lightly in 2006; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 1/2007, pp. 66-78
  • Critical Mass. The market introduction of photovoltaics in Europe is slowly gaining momentum, in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2006, pp. 92-101
  • Nervosität im Markt. Ein hoher Anteil an Grauimporten und steigende Preise prägten auch 2005 den deutschen Photovoltaikmarkt (Nervousness in the market. A high share of grey imports as well as rising prices characterize the German photovoltaic market in 2005; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 1/2006, pp. 34-38
  • Rasantes Wachstum. Die sprunghaft angestiegene Nachfrage hat den deutschen Photovoltaikgroßhändlern 2004 Wachstumsraten von über 100 % beschert (Rapid Growth. The skyrocketing demand has given the German photovoltaic wholesalers rates of growth of over 100 % in 2004; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 1/2005, pp. 26-29
  • Full speed ahead. German module manufacturers plan to double production again in 2004, in: Photon International 1/2004, pp. 14-17
  • "A brutal market." German PV companies will remain under pressure in 2003, in: Photon International 1/2003, pp. 14-17
  • "The market will continue to grow." German solar module manufacturers intend to more than double production in 2002, in: Photon International 1/2002, pp. 12-17

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Research & development

  • EU PVSEC: More stable perovskites remain a candidate for silicon tandem cells (report from the 32nd EU PVSEC in Munich), on: www.pv-tech.org, 27 June 2016
  • EU PVSEC: Research institute shows pathway to 24% efficiency for PERC solar cells. Using technologies already available on the market today, monocrystalline solar cells with a PERC structure could reach efficiencies of 24% (report from the 31st EU PVSEC in Hamburg), on: www.pv-tech.org, 18 September 2015
  • EU PVSEC: Stable efficiency remains major hurdle for perovskite cells. Solar cells made of a perovskite absorber are a hot candidate for the scientific community to boost the efficiency of traditional crystalline silicon cells further through a tandem structure (report from the 31st EU PVSEC in Hamburg), on: www.pv-tech.org, 17 September 2015
  • Monocrystalline on the rise. More and more manufacturers are mass producing solar cells made of monocrystalline silicon with an efficiency of 19%, thanks to selective emitters – the ruthless competition will ensure that the 20% mark will soon be reached (report from the 26th EU PVSEC in Hamburg), in: Sun & Wind Energy 11/2011, pp. 123-127
  • Good things come to those who wait. The growing price pressure in the industry forces crystalline solar cell manufacturers to reach high efficiency levels in production rapidly (report from the 25th EU PVSEC in Valencia), in: Sun & Wind Energy 11/2010, pp. 102-105
  • The know-how supplier. The Industrial Technology Research Institute is the cradle of Taiwan's high-tech industry – for 25 years, the institute's activities have included photovoltaics research,
    in: Sun & Wind Energy 3/2009, pp. 136-137
  • Progress, slice by slice. While the thin-film sector has been able to announce ever greater capacities, increasingly efficient technologies might also be established in wafer production for standard crystalline silicon solar cells (report from the 23rd EU PVSEC in Valencia), in: Sun & Wind Energy 6/2008, pp. 132-142
  • Mixed feelings. 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in San Diego: record visitor numbers, but few research novelties that promise to break any records, in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2008, pp. 176-179
  • Weakening base. The 17th International Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference held in Fukuoka, Japan, brought together innovative Japanese manufacturers and researchers – one of the main issues was the declining domestic market, in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2008, pp. 138-139
  • Ende des Dornröschenschlafs. Die Anzeichen mehren sich, dass der Dünnschichtsektor entscheidend an Fahrt gewinnt – so auch auf der 22. Europäischen Photovoltaik-Konferenz in Mailand (Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. Growing amounts of evidence suggest that the thin-film sector is decisively gaining momentum – as shown at the 22nd European photovoltaic conference in Milan; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 11/2007, S. 108-118
  • Marschroute zum Heiligen Gral. Ein effizientes und preiswertes Dünnschichtmodul aus kristallinem Silizium ist der Traum vieler Photovoltaikforscher – noch aber wetteifern verschiedenste Technologien um das Konzept der Zukunft (The path to the Holy Grail. An efficient and inexpensive thin-film module made of crystalline silicon is the dream of many PV researchers – but still various technologies compete to be the concept of the future; article in German about the 21st EU PVSEC in Dresden), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 11/06, pp. 78-89
  • Durch dick und dünn. Trotz des aktuellen Rohstoffmangels geht die Forschung an Solarzellen aus Siliziumscheiben ungebrochen weiter – Auftrieb bekommt allerdings die Silizium-Dünnschichttechnik (Through thick and thin. Despite the current feedstock shortage, research into solar cells made of silicon wafers continues without a break – silicon thin-film technology, however, gets a boost; article in German about the 20th EU PVSEC in Barcelona), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 8/2005, pp. 66-73
  • Solarforschung in Deutschland (Solar research in Germany) – A nine-part series in the German edition of Photon:
    • Breit sortierte Dünnschicht-Technik. Das Institut für Physikalische Elektronik an der Universität Stuttgart (Wide assortment of thin-film technologies. The Institute of Physical Electronics at the University of Stuttgart), in: 6/2004, pp. 48-60
    • Standardzellen auf hohem Niveau. Der Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Festkörperphysik an der Universität Konstanz (Standard cells on a high level. The Chair of Applied Solid State Physics at the University of Constance), in: 5/2004, pp. 26-36
    • Pfade zum Stromnetz der Zukunft. Das Institut für Solare Energieversorgungstechnik (Paths to the electricity grid of the future. The Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology), in: 4/2004, pp. 44-57
    • Effiziente Abziehfolien aus Silizium. Das Bayerische Zentrum für Angewandte Energieforschung (Efficient transfer foils made of silicon. The Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research), in: 3/2004, pp. 52-64
    • Hochleistungszellen mit Schliff. Das Institut für Solarenergieforschung Hameln/Emmerthal (High performance cells with grinding. The Institute for Solar Energy Research Hameln/Emmerthal), in: 2/2004, pp. 44-56
    • Feilen am Dünnschicht-Klassiker. Das Forschungszentrum Jülich (Giving the finishing touch to the thin-film classic. The Jülich Research Center), in: 1/2004, pp. 44-54
    • Röntgenblick in dünne Schichten. Das Hahn-Meitner-Institut (X-ray vision into thin layers. The Hahn Meitner Institute), in: 12/2003, pp. 52-61
    • Der Traum vom billigen Solarmodul. Das Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung (The dream of a cheap solar module. The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research), in: 11/2003, pp. 38-47
    • Die Innovationsfabrik. Das Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme (The innovation factory. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems), in: 10/2003, pp. 86-94
  • High, higher, the highest. SunPower to begin mass production of solar cell with 20 percent efficiency, in: Photon International 5/2003, pp. 48-52
  • Vision oder Schwindel? Bis zur Photovoltaik der dritten Generation ist es noch ein weiter Weg (Vision or scam? There is still a long way to go to third-generation photovoltaics; article in German), in: Photon 3/2002, pp. 38-43 (awarded NaturEnergie AG's "Electricity Narrator" Prize 2002)

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Thin-film technology

  • A matter of financial strength. Intersolar left no doubt: in times of surplus and market prices below manufacturing costs, many thin-film companies find themselves with barely enough capital to survive (fair report from Intersolar Europe 2012), in: Sun & Wind Energy 9/2012, pp. 100-103
  • Race to catch up. Faced with a massive drop in prices, the equipment manufacturer Manz AG has made improvements on its turnkey concept for producing thin-film modules made of copper-indium-gallium-diselenide – thin-film modules made of micromorphous silicon are increasingly struggling to keep up in this race (report from the 26th EU PVSEC in Hamburg), in: Sun & Wind Energy 11/2011, pp. 120-122
  • Taking the bull by the horns. At Intersolar, manufacturers of thin-film modules revealed different strategies to counter the price pressure from their crystalline rivals (fair report from Intersolar Europe 2011), in: Sun & Wind Energy 7/2011, pp. 117-121
  • The key question. The equipment manufacturers Oerlikon Solar and Manz Automation dominated the thin-film part of the European photovoltaic conference with their turnkey concepts for manufacturing modules using micromorphous silicon or copper indium gallium diselenide – can they deliver what they promise? (report from the 25th EU PVSEC in Valencia), in: Sun & Wind Energy 11/2010, pp. 106-108
  • After the boom. As the first silicon-based thin-film module manufacturers appear to be succumbing to price pressure, revitalisation will likely come from CIGS modules (fair report from Intersolar Europe 2010), in: Sun & Wind Energy 7/2010, pp. 125-129
  • Separating the wheat from the chaff. Sceptics who are already announcing the end of silicon thin-film modules are painting things too black: at the 2nd Thin-Film Industry Forum in Berlin, the technology was alive and kicking, in: Sun & Wind Energy 6/2010, pp. 122-126
  • Thin-film silicon in trouble. At the 6th Thin Film Photovoltaics User Forum in Würzburg, Germany, it could be seen that especially the manufacturers of silicon thin-film modules face massive problems due to the low efficiency of these technologies, in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2010, pp. 128-131
  • Nano-columns and other tricks. Tiny three-dimensional structures that catch as much light as possible are becoming more and more important, especially for thin-film solar modules made of amorphous and microcrystalline silicon (report about thin-film novelties at the 24th EU PVSEC in Hamburg), in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2010, pp. 100-105
  • Serienproduktion, die Zweite. Fast zwei Jahre nach dem Ausrufen der "kommerziellen Produktion" weihte das kalifornische Start-up-Unternehmen Nanosolar in Luckenwalde bei Berlin eine Fabrik für die Serienproduktion von CIGS-Dünnschichtmodulen ein – noch aber befindet sich die Firma im Pilotstadium (Serial production, the second. Nearly two years after the proclamation of "commercial production," the Californian start-up company Nanosolar inaugurated a factory for serial production of CIGS thin-film modules in Luckenwalde near Berlin – however, the firm is still in the pilot stage; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 17/2009, S. 156-159
  • Under pressure. Never have there been so many new thin-film solar modules at Intersolar, but also the prices of their rival crystalline competitors have never been so low (fair report from Intersolar 2009), in: Sun & Wind Energy 8/2009, pp. 70-74
  • The air is getting thinner. A worldwide surplus of solar modules is placing the thin-film technology under even greater pressure to succeed (report from the 5th Thin-Film Photovoltaics User Forum), in: Sun & Wind Energy 4/2009, pp. 102-106
  • Das Kind lernt langsam laufen. Kleinmodule aus Farbstoff-Solarzellen erreichen bisher erst einen Wirkungsgrad von 4 bis 5 %, dennoch interessieren sich immer mehr Unternehmen für die kostengünstige Technologie (The child slowly learns to walk. So far small modules out of dye-sensitized solar cells have reached an efficiency of only four to five percent, and yet more and more companies are interested in the cost-efficient technology; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 12/2007, pp. 126-127
  • „Es läuft gut“. Langsam, aber sicher schieben sich Dünnschichtmodule stärker in den Vordergrund (“Everything is running well.” Slowly but surely thin-film modules are thrusting themselves into the foreground; fair report in German from Intersolar 2007), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 8/2007, pp. 94-96
  • Solarzellen – einfach gedruckt. Vakuumprozesse verteuern die Herstellung von Dünnschicht- Solarmodulen – nicht so bei der Firma Nanosolar (Solar cells – simply printed. Vacuum processes increase the cost of manufacturing thin-film solar modules – but not at the company Nanosolar), in: bild der wissenschaft 2/2007, pp. 84-87 (awarded the
    RWTH Prize Scientific Journalism 2007)
  • Breaking out of the niche. Worldwide, developers and manufacturers of thin-film solar modules are taking advantage of the current shortage of silicon (world market survey 2006), in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2007, pp. 92-106
  • The great window of opportunity. The continuing shortage of solar-grade silicon provides thin-film technology with a unique opportunity to come out of its niche in the photovoltaic world market (world market survey 2005), in: Sun & Wind Energy 2/2005, pp. 52-66
  • Last man standing. First Solar to expand production of CdTe modules to 25 MW by 2005, in: Photon International 7/2003, pp. 28-29

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Concentrating Photovoltaics

  • Sophisticated optics. Fresnel lenses are the most common solution in concentrator systems, but certainly not the only one (world market survey, part 2), in: Sun & Wind Energy 3/2007, pp. 148-155
  • Focus on cost advantage. Concentrating technology finally seems to be on the verge of making its breakthrough (world market survey, part 1), in: Sun & Wind Energy 2/2007, pp. 112-122

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Solar thermal power plants

  • The power plants of the future. The market for solar thermal power plants is only now beginning to offer one of the most important energy supply options for the future, in: solutions. The SCHOTT Technology Magazine 1/2006, pp. 6-11
  • Lang ersehnter Startschuss. Projektierer solarthermischer Kraftwerke hoffen auf den weltweiten Durchbruch (The long-awaited kick-off. Companies designing solar thermal power plants are hoping for the worldwide breakthrough; article in German), in: Photon 12/2002, 58-62

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Company portraits

  • Close to the customer. Founded in 2001, Phocos AG with its headquarters in Ulm, Germany, has become the world market leader in the field of solar charge controllers within just six years, in: Sun & Wind Energy 1/2007, p. 10
  • "Schnell sein und groß werden". Angeführt von Vorstandssprecher Peter Woditsch, treibt der Waferhersteller Deutsche Solar den Ausbau der Kapazität voran ("Being fast and becoming large." Headed by CEO Peter Woditsch, the wafer manufacturer Deutsche Solar pushes the expansion of its capacity; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 6/2005, pp. 96-98
  • First Flabeg, then thin-films. Dutch glass company Scheuten acquires Flabeg's module production, in: Photon International 7/2003, pp. 16-17
  • Continuing on the path of expansion. SolarWorld prepares for production of silicon, solar cells, and modules, in: Photon International 10/2001, p. 22

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Energy policy

  • Nur ein Etappensieg. Ein klarer Punktsieg für das System garantierter Einspeisetarife, aber kein Ende der Debatte über eine Harmonisierung der Fördermodelle in Europa (Only a stage victory. A clear win on points for the system of guaranteed feed-in tariffs, but no end to the debate about a harmonization of the incentive models in Europe; article in German), in: Sonne Wind & Wärme 2/2006, pp. 46-47
  • Willkommenes Alibi. Die Elektrizitätswirtschaft schiebt Ökostrom als Grund für überhöhte Regelenergiepreise vor (A welcome alibi. The electricity industry blames green energy for the excessive price of balancing power; article in German), in: Photon 6/2003, pp. 10-16
  • Killerargumente widerlegen (Refuting killer arguments) – Seven-part series on frequent prejudices against photovoltaics, published in the German edition of Photon (9/2002 - 3/2003). The last part, on the killer argument "Photovoltaics will never replace power plants", was awarded NaturEnergie AG's "Electricity Narrator" Prize 2003.
  • Wettstreit der Systeme. Welches Instrument fördert erneuerbare Energien besser: Einspeisetarif oder Quotenregelung? (Competing systems. Which model promotes renewable energies better: feed-in tariffs or quotas? – article in German), in: Photon 5/2001, pp. 50-54

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Charlie Gay, a veteran in the solar industry, esteems the work of Bernreuter Research.