With most of the low hanging fruit of polysilicon costs already gone,the industry has to focus on efficiency to cut down on costs.Selective emitters,microinverters,DC-DC optimization and other technologies are already finding takers.A Number of microinverter companies like Tigo,Enphase Energy etc are tying up with global heavyweights like Suntech and Sunpower to increase their penetration and cut costs.National Semiconductor has also tied up with Suntech to integrate its products with Suntech Modules to improve efficiency and reliability.The Balance of Systems costs for Solar Panels and their Performance are not usually paid a lot of attention.But with every cent now making a big difference,these technology could make or break a company in this commoditizing industry.While the value addition and costs of these new products are still subject to market acceptance,its a major change for the industry.This is the next phase in the evolution of the solar energy industry as it looks to additional ways to cut costs and bring solar energy to grid parity.Look for M&A in this space as well since the industry is fragmented with a host of VC backed startups.

Saint Gobain like Semiconductor Giant TSMC is betting on Copper Indium Gallium Selenium (CIGs) Technology rather than the mainstream crystalline silicon technology.CIGs is getting the most significant investments these days compared to other thin film technology.Yesterday Ascent Solar (ASTI) got an IEC certification for its flexible modules which would enable it to target the mainstream rooftop market from niche applications earlier.Miasole has improved the efficiency and costs of it CIGs greatly while Nanosolar can’t be counted out because of its strong backers.Solyndra however remains mostly in the shadows despite around $1 billion in private investment.Stion is another strong contender partnering with TSMC and also thinking of opening a plant in Taiwan on its own as well.Saint Gobain is already a big player in the solar market as it suppliers glass to a lot of solar companies for their modules.Getting into panel manufacturing will further allow it to get a foothold of this new potentially giant industry.Du Pont,Dow Chemicals,Corning all have considerable presence in the solar equipment market as well.

Abu Dhabi has got the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world with asset of over $600 Billion.The small emirate which is a part of the larger United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the world due to its Oil Riches.The country had made ambitious Renewable Energy Plans setting up a Fund/Company dedicated to its Green Ambitions called Masdar.The Company has faced a number of reverses as it tried a number of things all at once in a new industry.Its “Jack of All Trades” Strategy has proven to be a failure as it lost/fired a number of top executives.Its Solar Plans have also come up a cropper as Thin Film Technology has faced a lot of reverses in recent times.The Company has tried to change tactics by concentrating now on Solar Thermal Technology partnering with Abengoa and Total in building a CSP plant near Abu Dhabi.With its Renewable Energy Arm facing a number of reverses,its plan for a futuristic,zero carbon Green Masdar City has also been scaled down.

Renewable Energy is Easter Europe has boomed driven by government incentives and subsidies.Many of these countries like Estonia,Bulgaria and Czech are cutting or already have cut generous feed in tariffs paid to Green Energy Investors.While Czech has seen an unprecedented Solar Boom leading to a massive public backlash,Estonia and Bulgaria have seen huge wind energy projects.The Green Energy has boomed in the last 2 years mainly as governments in these countries try to meet the Renewable Energy Target of 20% by 2020 set by the European Union.These East European countries have been hit hard by these EU directives as the costs have spiralled

United Kingdom a Laggard on Renewable Energy

UK has been the biggest laggard in Renewable Energy amongst the European Union.Despite being a leader in Offshore Wind,it severely lacks in other forms of Green Energy like Solar,Biomass etc.It has been very late in introducing a Feed in Tariff Scheme which has been a huge success in Germany and other countries.While there have been booms and busts caused by poorly designed FIT schemes in Czech and Spain,UK does not suffer from this problem.The Subsidy Scheme adopted by UK favors small distributed installations which is currently the aim of the other EU countries.This review has led to uncertainty in the minds of Green Investors as Government Subsidy is essential for reasonable returns.

Why UK is Reviewing the FIT

The Labour Government which implement this Green Policy has changed and the new PM David Cameron is trying to radically change the Government Policy.He has sharply curtailed the UK Budget and may want to change the Opposition Party set Green Policy as well.This seems to be the only justification behind this move which can only be described as erratic.

Bulgaria has also now decided to cap Renewable Energy Growth with around 12.5 GW of Green Energy applications lying in the backlog.Poorly designed and implemented subsidies are the root cause for such booms and busts.Poor Governance mechanisms are behind these Green Disasters.Bulgaria is the poorest European Union Country and can ill afford higher electricity prices.The government is targeting a 16% RE target by 2020 for which it wants to fix targets for different Green Energy Sources.The power grid operator has already warned of blackouts in case even half of the 12 GW Renewable Energy applications are actually constructed.Solar and Wind Energy have been incentivized with high FITs with global heavyweights like Siemens and Suzlon rushing in to build wind farms.