From the August 2001 Solar Flare

The Solar Flare is series of mini reports published six times annually. Each issue has 20 to 50 pages.  The goal of the Solar Flare is to provide timely analysis of solar industry activities based on primary market research.  It is available for purchase by issue or for the package of six. For ordering information please contact Paula Mints, SPI Market Research at


We are anticipating that by 2002, PV will have seen one of its largest growth spurts. There are several market factors fueling this increase in demand. In the United States, this demand increase has been heavily driven by the California energy crisis. The rooftop programs, particularly in Japan and Germany, continue to expand. Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom have all announced money allocations and incentives to further drive PV programs.

From an application perspective, the largest increase   in   demand   is   coming   from grid-connected PV installations. For the last two years, we have seen that sector grow at a much faster rate than the general market. For example, the worldwide market grew 30% in 1999, but grid-connected applications rose by 61%. This margin differential continued in 2000, with market growth at 44% over the previous year and grid- connected applications at 74% over the same time period.

Major photovoltaic equipment manufacturers BP Solar,  Siemens Solar,  Kyocera, AstroPower, and Sharp have all announced plans to more than double their production capacities. Additionally, ASE GmbH of Alzenau, Germany, is reported to be on track in the planning and implementation of a $150 million, 60-MWp-per- year expansion in production capacity. Subject to final approval by RWE Power AG, the corporate parent of ASE, a formal announcement is expected after permitting approvals and receipt of bids for installation of process equipment and building construction.

In the last month, BP Solar has announced its agreement  in principle to acquire Agere Systemssemiconductor plant in Madrid. BP Solar will use the acquisition of Agere Systems as a base for its planned fivefold expansion of its manufacturing capacity in Spain. When operational at the end of 2002, the new facility is expected to produce 60 MWp per year of high- efficiency single-crystalline silicon Saturn solar cells. The Saturn cells use BP Solar’s highly efficient Cz technology employing buried grid contacts.

BP Solar also opened a large manufacturing plant in Australia. This new facility will house all of BP Solar’s Australian manufacturing, design, and market support activities. By the end of this year, the plant will be producing 25 MWp of polycrystalline cells and intends to increase that production dramatically in 2002.

BP Solar has additional manufacturing plants in California, Maryland, and Virginia in the United States and is involved in a joint venture with Tata Industries in India. In California, cadmium telluride thin-film technology is under development. The Maryland plant specializes in polycrystalline cell production, while in Virginia amorphous silicon cells are produced. The Indian venture with Tata produces single-crystalline cells.

 Siemens Solar’s run rate for 2001 will be approximately 40 MWp, up from last year’s ship- ments of 30 MWp. This represents an increase in crystalline production as well as an increased target (300 kWp) for thin film.

 The new production line (May 2001) announced at Sharp’s Shinjo, Japan, plant will take production from a planned (2001) 54 MWp to 94 MWp. This almost doubles the number of modules that Sharp will produce at its largest single PV production facility. Sharp manufactures both single-crystalline and polycrystalline cells.

Kyocera has also announced a 60-MWp production capacity in comparison to a previous run rate of 42 MWp in 2000. All of Kyocera’s cell production is polycrystalline.

 This increase in production is particularly important to the building industry. It needs to have confidence in the long-term ability of the manufacturers to build to a capacity that will support not only current projects, but also further expansion.