First Solar set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) PV module conversion efficiency, achieving 18.6 percent aperture efficiency for an advanced full size module. For the first time ever, First Solar has demonstrated a record module that is more efficient than the best multi-crystalline module recorded. The record has been measured and certified by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Investment opportunities in an evolving environment.
Some of the key policy mechanisms and market factors that triggered the boom in renewable energy development have weakened in the face of one of the most severe economic downturns in modern history. In some ways, though, the renewables sector is richer and more dynamic today than when the boom began. A shakeout might be coming among renewable power players, and those that survive will strengthen their capabilities, hone their strategies, and take advantage of industry consolidation to build scale.
Manufacturers scale up for utility applications.
Photovoltaics technology is emerging as a generation alternative—both for centralized and distributed facilities. Solar industry executives say their companies are overcoming obstacles to large-scale implementation. With advances in design and manufacturing, the future looks bright for utility-scale solar power.
Technologies are scaling up quickly to meet industry needs.
Like other California electric utilities, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been scrambling to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010. Though the RPS includes a variety of technologies, renewables developers are choosing utility-scale solar power more than any other resource, says Hal La Flash, PG&E’s director of emerging clean technologies.
Distributed solar modules are gaining ground on concentrated solar thermal plants.
Photovoltaic technologies are beginning to appear more attractive than concentrated solar thermal plants. PV’s competitiveness is improving from technical and operational advancements, as well as significant commitments made by such utilities as Southern California Edison. In the long run, distributed central PV plants likely will gain a strong market position.