Happy Friday. Let's dive right into notable solar news.
Solar on Chinese Roofs
Suntech Power has received approval to install about 18.2 megawatts of its solar panels as part of a Chinese government program to promote rooftop and building-integrated solar projects.
The Chinese company said the government recently approved the first batch, 91 megawatts of projects, and Suntech will get to develop about 20 percent of those. The government will subsidize the installations at RMB 13 to RMB 17 per watt. Suntech has completed 4 megawatts of them already, and expects to finish the remainder by mid-2010.
Vertical Integration, It's a Good Thing
Yingli Green Energy plans to start pilot production of polysilicon next month. That would make the Chinese company one of the few manufacturers in the world to make all the raw materials and components, as well as the finished solar panels, in-house, the company said.
The company, like its competitors, experienced a better third-quarter than the first half of this year. Shipments jumped 80 percent from the second to the third quarter. Third-quarter revenue grew to RMB 2.23 billion ($326.6 million), up from RMB 1.5 billion ($219.7 million) in the second quarter and RMB 2.2 billion ($322.2 million) from a year ago.
Net income rose to RMB 120.8 million ($17.7 million), or 12 cents per American depositary share, compared with a net loss of RMB 393.7 million ($57.7 million) in the share quarter and RMB 147.6 million ($21.6 million) from a year ago.
More CIGS Coming to Market
Q-Cells's subsidiary and maker of copper-indium-gallium-selenide thin films, Solibro, plans to boost its manufacturing capacity by 15 megawatts to reach 45 megawatts by the end of the year. Solibro plans to add another 90 megawatts in 2010.
Solibro is producing CIGS panels at nearly 11 percent average efficiency, and the efficiency has achieved as high as 12.3 percent, the company said. Solibro's panels will be marketed under the Q-Cells brand.
Q-Cells, based in Germany, is one of the world's largest solar cell makers. The company sold 103 megawatts of solar cells – an 87 percent boost – to outside buyers in the third quarter. It also shipped 21 megawatts to its own project development business.
Pricing for crystalline silicon cells fell 20 percent from second to the third quarter this year, or 40 percent year over year, Q-Cells said. Oversupply remains a problem in the markeplace, the company said.
Q-cells expects to have 800 megawatts of manufacturing capacity by the end of 2009.
New Polysilicon Factory Taking Shape in Tennessee
Hemlock Semiconductor has started construction of a polysilicon plant in Clarksville, Tenn.
The Hemlock, Mich.-based company plans to spend up to $1.2 billion on the project. Completion is set for 2012. Hemlock expects to start with a capacity to produce more than 10,000 tons of polysilicon per year, and that number could go up to 21,000 tons. Most of the materials would go to the solar industry, the company said.
The solar industry already sees an oversupply of polysilicon. The recession has crushed market demand over the past year. Some analysts expect supply to far exceed demand in the solar industry in 2010 if not beyond. But solar companies hope to see a big pick up in demand in the United States, China and India in the next few years, and they want to be ready to supply the goods when that happens.
Photo of a Q-Cells solar field via the company.