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Solar c-Si PV Industry overcoming its Polysilicon Fixation with Focus Changing to Energy Efficiency and Optimization

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The Solar Crystalline Silicon Industry accounts for almost 85-90% of all the Solar Energy Capacity installed globally and is growing at a rapid rate.Polysilicon which is the main raw material for the industry has been the focus of the industry over the last 2-3 years.The reason was the sharp run up in Poly Prices in 2008 to $400/kg despite costing just $30/kg.The rapid increase in the Solar Module Industry had caught the poly producers by surprise as it normally takes 2-3 years for a Poly Plant to come online.This had led downstream producers with a secure cheap supply of polysilicon as the kings of the market.New Business Models  based on low or no polysilicon usage were invested in.However the 2009 Crash brought down the price to $50/kg killing many of the companies.Thin Film Industry saw a major shakeout with Applied Materials killing its SunFab Division.However recent upturn in demand has led to some polysilicon price increases but nothing like the 2008 boom.With a number of new polysilicon producers like GCL Poly,OCI Chemicals,LDK and others,the polysilicon industry is set up to supply the increased demand.With severe competition in the Solar Industry set to continue despite a 100% growth in 2010,the industry is concentrating on efficiency and optimization to cut down on costs.

The Next Radical Change in the Industry will be Focus on Efficiency

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.

Suntech in deal with 4 firms for solar panels – CIOL

In a move to enable ‘smart panels,’ the Chinese solar cell giant Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. has struck deals with four companies: Azuray, Enphase, National Semiconductor and Tigo to enable ‘smart panel’ solutions.

Reports said Azuray Technologies Inc is collaborating with Suntech Power to explore ”smart panel” solutions.According to CNet News the company has developed a direct current-to-direct current converter which can be fitted onto solar panels to increase the “energy harvest” of an array of panels affected by shading or a mismatch. With its system, output of an array of panels can be improved by as much as 25 percent.

SunPower Forms PVDock Special Interest Group with Power Conversion Manufacturers – PR Newswire

SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced today that it has formed a special interest group (SIG) with distributed power control systems (DPCS) manufacturers SolarBridge Technologies and Tigo Energy, to set protocols within the solar industry to help lower total system costs. Members of this new SIG will create and drive standards between the rapidly evolving DPCS field, which includes DC/AC microinverters and DC/DC system optimizers, and module manufacturers.  In addition, the group will establish a common industry platform for advanced electronics integration, including a plug and play criterion for mechanical connections and communications protocols between the solar panels and distributed control systems.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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