JUNE 2011

Equipment Spotlight

Solar Energy Systems

Manufacturer List

First Solar Inc.
Lisa Morse

OPEL Solar, Inc.
Michael Mount

SANYO North America
Anna Lickova

Solyndra LLC
David Miller

Suntech Power Holdings Co.
Walker E. Frost

Xunlight Corporation
John Buckey


In a single hour, more sunlight strikes the earth than all the energy consumed by humans in an entire year. Over 120,000 trillion kWh of energy strikes the earth every day. There are thousands of companies around the globe manufacturing products that harness that power and turn it into a viable energy source.

Marc Doyle is global business director at DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions. Dupont has more than 25 years of experience in photovoltaic (PV) materials development, applications know-how, manufacturing expertise and global market access. “Our products are key to the manufacture of both crystalline silicon and thin film solar cells and modules. They include films, resins, encapsulation sheets, flexible substrates and photovoltaic metallization, performance seals for solar cell manufacturing equipment, wet-etch additives for semiconductor texturing and metallic sodium,” Doyle said.

DuPont intends to increase the efficiency and lifetime of crystalline silicon and thin film PV solar modules, and reduce overall photovoltaic system costs so that solar power is more cost-competitive with other forms of electricity. Doyle explained that, “Key challenges where materials matter lie in raising the efficiency of solar cells and modules, extending the reliable power output of modules for 25-plus years, and lowering overall system costs to help PV power. The solar industry is growing fast. We estimate there was 132 percent growth in 2010 versus 2009 and 20 percent growth per year over the next several years is expected.

“DuPont continues to expand R&D and manufacturing capabilities to support this trend. We’ve made a $295 million dollar investment to expand production capacity for DuPont™ Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride film, a critical material for PV back sheets, and we’re doubling capacity for DuPont Solamet® photovoltaic metallization pastes.”

OPEL Solar Inc.

OPEL, Inc. designs, manufactures and markets high-concentration photovoltaic panels and dual and single-axis solar trackers for related photovoltaic and concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems for solar energy applications worldwide. Michael Mount, director, reported that OPEL Solar’s advanced trackers increase the energy production of any type of PV panel by following the sun’s path. The additional energy can be up to 45 percent more than a fixed PV installation.

Mount said, “We’re a small but rapidly growing company with installations throughout Europe, North America and Asia. We develop solar power on brownfields, using OPEL Solar trackers and PV panels, as we believe that landfills provide an excellent opportunity to turn sites of limited development potential into green power projects. We’re working on brownfield projects in four states.”

According to Mount, the solar industry has benefited from a number of national and regional incentives which have created unprecedented industry expansion in the last few years. “Incentives have been designed to encourage development of green energy, and in particular, solar energy, but the incentives vary in amount, duration and by country and region.

“Although the industry has experienced notable expansion recently, industry growth would have expanded faster under better economic conditions. A lack of energy legislation passage has also been a challenge for the solar industry. After the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), there was significant progress in Congress toward clean energy legislation, but the fossil fuel lobby proved formidable; and, once again, diminished the potential of the passage of a Clean Energy Act. If a Federal Clean Energy mandate were to occur, then the solar industry might become instantly ‘bankable,’ and we would see spectacular growth in the industry’s revenues and job creation,” said Mount.

He added, “The PV industry has been focused on reducing the price of energy production to a cost at or below that of conventional generation technologies, i.e., ‘grid parity.’ In recent years, cost reductions have been driven by reduction in the price of PV panels, which have dropped to less than half of what they were five years ago. Equipment manufacturers also continue to provide small increases to the solar equipment efficiencies, but PV trackers can provide a superior method to greatly improve the energy production of PV systems in moving solar power costs closer to grid parity. Solar trackers have been successfully used for many years in the European solar industry but solar trackers have only recently become the standard for large utility scale projects in the United States. Large commercial projects in the States and Canada are now adding solar trackers to improve their project economics.”

Solyndra LLC

According to David Miller, corporate communication director, “Solyndra makes a unique solar panel system for large commercial and industrial rooftops composed of 40 tubes that collect light around a 360 degree surface and benefit from reflective cool roofs. Simple installation and lightweight products equals projects that are completed quickly and at a low cost.”

Miller also said that their 200 Series products require no tools for installation. “The lightweight panels install without penetrations or array grounding, making this the easiest and fastest-to-install rooftop solar system yet. The product is ideal for older or ‘value engineered’ buildings, as the low, distributed roof load is 2.8 pounds per square foot. Snap-together mounts dramatically lower labor costs and shortens project times for large rooftop solar installations. This reduces business disruption and makes moving the system for future roofing; retrofit or ownership changes a simple process. Rooftops can pose a variety of challenges for solar installations and Solyndra systems are designed specifically for the rooftop environment with superior performance in wind, with soiling and in snowy climates,” he said.

“The commercial rooftop market is a huge, untapped market that allows commercial building owners to monetize otherwise wasted assets−their rooftops. As utilities race to meet renewable energy targets, more folks are turning to rooftop solar, which provides tremendous benefits as a source of clean, distributed power. Rooftop systems go in fast and don’t require the expensive transmission network and permitting issues from solar out in the desert for example. Solyndra is committed to a green manufacturing cycle, our products are designed for the environment from start to finish and we participate in a recycling program that ensures our products are fully recycled at end of life,” Miller said.

Suntech Power Holdings Co.

Suntech Power Holdings is the world’s largest producer of solar panels for residential, commercial, industrial, and utility applications. Walker E. Frost, communications manager, stated, “Our regional headquarters are located in China, Switzerland, and the United States, and we have gigawatt-scale manufacturing worldwide. Suntech has delivered more than 15,000,000 photovoltaic panels to over a thousand customers in more than 80 countries. Our pioneering R&D creates customer-centric innovations that are driving solar to grid parity against fossil fuels.”

Frost claims that Suntech continually increases module conversion efficiency while driving down the costs of production, making solar electricity affordable for everyone. “We produce high-quality, low-cost solar panels that are suitable for commercial and residential rooftops as well as large, utility-scale solar power plants. We recently set the world record for multi-crystalline module conversion efficiency with our advanced Pluto solar cell technology. This technology features ultra-fine top contact gridlines that boost cell power output, delivering a 10-15 percent performance advantage using the same materials and wafers as a standard cell. We expect to ship our 200 MW Pluto-powered solar panel by the end of 2011,” Frost concluded.


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