Thin-film solar grew 102 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, as costs fell. By 2009, thin-film reached 23 percent of total solar market share. By 2013, it should reach 30 percent. Over 160 companies currently compete in the thin-film space, with First Solar being the billion-dollar giant who is the cost leader with large-scale electric utility projects.
Step price drops have been great for customers, but brutal for the 160 competing manufacturers. Investors now debate – Is thin-film more hype than hope, or will reaching grid-parity pricing cause breakthrough success for the leaders. GTM Research dives into the complex issues of cost curves, investor risk, and market demand, to forecast the future for the industry.
Amorphous Silicon (a-SI) is forecasted to dominate with 5.8 GW over CdTE and CIGS with 2.4 each by 2012. An intense competitive battle is forming between the United States, Asia, and Europe. U.S. will grow all three thin-film technologies. A-Si will be the predominant production from China and Taiwan, but they will heavily fund R&D in CIGS which has already improved to 12 percent efficiency. Module costs are forecasted to reach 80 cents per watt in 2012 for multiple technologies.
Long-term only a few operationally-efficient manufacturing giants will enjoy large market share and reasonably margins. Other players will need to be adept in focusing on value-added applications, specific market segments, and system integration.
As of 2010, only two thin film companies have produced in excess of 100 MW annually. The cost structure of most amorphous silicon, considering its low efficiency, is barely competitive with crystalline silicon, and CIGS producers have encountered technical issues in manufacturing that have forced most of them to delay commercial production, a situation which has persisted since 2007. To make matters more difficult, capital constraints led banks and developers to shy away from thin film in favor of more mature and abundant crystalline silicon modules for projects in 2009. Yet thin film will continue with high growth and market share gains. There will be winners, consolidation, and bankruptcies.
GTM’s 200-page report peels away the layers of hype and speculation that have traditionally shrouded thin-film PV to provide a comprehensive, granular, and objective assessment of thin-film. Packed with data points, color, and analysis, Thin Film 2010 assesses thin film’s impact on the global PV market by analyzing all relevant factors that influence demand for thin film, and how these factors interact when determining technology selection in PV markets. To download report summary or purchase the GTM Report. This Comprehensive Report Includes:
- Manufacturing processes
- Technology/operational characteristics (efficiency, substrates, temperature coefficient, area footprint, weight, spectral response, kWh/kW performance)
- Module costs, prices, gross margins, and balance-of-system costs
- Feasibility by market application
- Capacity and production estimates
- Market share and market sizing estimates
- Comprehensive summarization and analysis of 2009 events and developments
- Detailed profiles of the top 65 global thin film companies in the market
By John Addison (4/29/10)
The United States now has a new source of clean electricity for homes, buildings, and industrial stationary power and also for the growing use of electricity in rail and electric cars. Wind power is especially available at night when we hope to eventually charge millions of vehicles.
Global wind energy capacity is increasing by 160% over the coming five years from 155 GW to 409 GW, according to the annual industry forecast presented by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). A growing part of the renewable energy (RE) mix is off-shore wind, popular in Europe for 20 years, but stopped in the U.S. by not-in-my-backyard opposition, or more accurately “not in the view of my expensive ocean front property.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar showed political courage on April 28 by approving the Cape Wind renewable energy project on federal submerged lands in Nantucket Sound. He will require the developer of the $1 billion wind farm to agree to additional binding measures to minimize the potential adverse impacts of construction and operation of the facility. Salazar said,” With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”
The project is a big win for Siemens who will supply 130 3.6 MW towers, outbidding GE, Vestas, and other competitors. Siemens has already sold over 1,000 of these large off-shore turbines. The Cape Wind facility will generate a maximum electric output of 468 megawatts with an average anticipated output of 182 megawatts. At average expected production, Cape Wind could produce enough energy to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts, or charge 200,000 electric cars.
One-fifth of the offshore wind energy potential of the East Coast is located off the New England coast and Nantucket Sound receives strong, steady Atlantic winds year round. The project includes a 66.5-mile buried submarine transmission cable system, an electric service platform and two 115-kilovolt lines connecting to the mainland power grid. The project would create several hundred construction jobs and be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually.
Over one GW of off-shore wind is proposed for other Eastern coastal states, eager to catch-up with the renewable energy use of Western and Central states. For example, due to California’s abundance of wind, solar, and geothermal power, my California utility does not use coal.
To overcome years of opposition, the number of turbines at Cape Wind has been reduced from 170 to 130, minimizing the visibility of turbines from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark; reconfiguring the array to move it farther away from Nantucket Island; and reducing its breadth to mitigate visibility from the Nantucket Historic District. Translation is that from shore it will take Superman vision to notice the wind turbines 5.2 miles from the mainland shoreline, 13.8 miles from Nantucket Island and 9 miles from Martha’s Vineyard.
A number of tall structures, including broadcast towers, cellular base station towers, local public safety communications towers and towers for industrial and business uses are already located around the area. Three submarine transmission cable systems already traverse the seabed to connect mainland energy sources to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island.
“After almost a decade of exhaustive study and analyses, I believe that this undertaking can be developed responsibly and with consideration to the historic and cultural resources in the project area,” Salazar said. “Impacts to the historic properties can and will be minimized and mitigated and we will ensure that cultural resources will not be harmed or destroyed during the construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of the project.”
Renewable Energy Reports and Articles
Leaf Rolls to Pure Electric Lead
[2014 Update] The predictions of success may have been a bit too optimistic, but the Nissan Leaf continues to roll forward with another record month in August 2014 with more than 3,100 sales, almost 19,000 for the year so far and a cumulative 60,000 U.S./130,000 worldwide since its introduction in 2010. It’s not what they had hoped, but the trend is moving in the right direction. Some of the early
Rumors abound of new options for the 2017 Leaf with a larger battery pack option (a la Tesla) that could double range. More as that develops.
In the meantime the Leaf remains the poster child of affordable, functional EVs.
2011 Nissan LEAF with 100 Mile Electric Range
Over 10,000 Nissan LEAFs are now on U.S. roads. By December 2012, Nissan will have delivered 100,000 LEAFs globally. The LEAF is a pure electric with no gasoline tank. This sleek 5-door hatchback seats five. The electric range is 100 miles on the U.S. EPA LA4 city drive cycle. Go 70 miles per hour on the freeway and your battery will be near empty in 60 miles, nor will you get the full range climbing mountain roads.
My wife and I (John Addison) have been delighted with driving our LEAF since we took delivery in April. Living in a city, Marci only needs a 40-mile range for her speech therapy work at two schools; living two blocks from transit and car sharing, I rarely need one. For long-trips, or times when we both need a car, we drive our hybrid for driving longer trips rather than flying. 80 percent of the time, the LEAF is the only car either of us drive. We have never run out of charge, but we have been grateful for public charge stations on a number of occasions.
The LEAF is ideal for many who live in a city where range is rarely an issue, and where transit, car sharing, and car rental are also available. The average U.S. suburban household has two vehicles, so the EV could be ideal as one of those two. For many people, this will not be the best vehicle because the range limitation will not meet their work or personal demands. These people should consider a plug-in hybrid or car with great mileage.
This car is high-tech. The LEAF SV model includes an advanced GPS navigation system. You can control and monitor battery charging and even pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control with your smart phone. The LEAF has Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle, and, Bluetooth connectivity; intelligent-key with push button start, Sirius/XM satellite radio capabilities, and roadside assistance with the vehicle wirelessly notifying a support center. The SL model also includes a rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler which supplies a trickle charge, fog lights, and automatic headlights.
How much did your last gasoline fill-up cost? $20? $40? $80? Your electric utility will typically charge you $3 to fill-up your LEAF. Your electric utility may offer low rates to encourage low-cost nightly fill-ups when electricity is available and cheap; these fill-ups may only cost a dollar.
Nissan LEAF Price
Nissan has dropped its Leaf prices and now retails them in all 50 states for less than $30,000. That’s before:
- $7,500 federal tax credit + state incentives
- 8 year / 100,000 mile drive system and lithium-ion battery warranty
We’ve tested the LEAF
Electric Drive System
Nissan LEAF is powered by 24kWh of laminated lithium-ion batteries made by the NEC-Nissan JV, which generate power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW/280Nm. This ensures a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience that is in keeping with what consumers have come to expect from traditional, gasoline-powered automobiles. The LED head lights reduce battery demand at night.
The Nissan LEAF includes an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty. Since Nissan’s 24kWh lithium battery pack is likely to be half of the vehicle’s cost, warranty life will certainly be an issue. Some that normally buy will lease.
The car includes covered connectors for 110 volt changing and 220 volt J1772 smart charging. Although Nissan explored the idea with Better Place of battery swapping, or a separate battery lease, neither is being offered in the United States at this time. In 8 hours you are good for another 100 miles with a Level 2 AC220V home-use charger; in 26 minutes you can be 80 percent charged with a Level 3 DC 50kW quick charger. The 440v Level 3 chargers are scare, expensive, and certainly not for home use.
The LEAF is ideal for those who can install a charging unit in their garage. Many drivers, however do not own a garage, so a hybrid or public transportation may be better choices. Over time, we will see charging available at many employers and in multi-unit dwellings such as condos and apartments.
Many of the early adopters of the 40,000 EVs on U.S. roads use renewable energy (RE) to charge their vehicles. The RE can be solar or utility provided renewables. Electric car critics and opponents claim that EVs will only result in more coal power. So far this has not happened. Even if coal power were used, the 70% efficient EV uses far less energy than the typical 15% efficient gasoline powered vehicle.
The LEAF and charging unit is designed for smart charging. Through an Internet browser, smartphone, or the car’s display, you can set-up a preference for nighttime charging when unused electricity is available on the grid. When your utility provides for it, you can set-up a preference to charge when excess RE is available. At your fingertips, you can override a normal preference.
Much of this electric car is designed for recycling, and recycled materials are used in building the car. 98 percent of the lithium batteries are expected to be reused in stationary applications or recycled. Nissan LEAF makes extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials, such as seat fabric, instrument panel materials, and front- and rear-bumper fascias. The LED head lights reduce battery demand at night.
The 2011 LEAF offers more space than it would appear from an outside glance. You can seat 5 passengers. When it was brought to San Francisco, then Mayor Gavin Newsom at 6 foot, 3 inches, comfortably got in the driver’s seat. He also fit in the back seat. The 60/40 split fold-down rear bench seat is easily lowered when we load the car with school supplies, sporting equipment, bicycles, and luggage.
Safety features include vehicle dynamic control (stability control), traction control and six airbags. Nissan has included a number of safety features in the Leaf including:
- 3-years of roadside assistance including in price
- Advanced air bag system (AABS)
- seat-mounted driver and front-passenger side-impact supplemental air bags
- front-seat active head restraints (AHR)
- pipe-style steel side-door guard beams (all side-doors)
- Zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones
- Energy-absorbing steering column
- Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Vehicle dynamic control (VDC)
- Traction control system (TCS)
- SL Model review monitor provides a video display of the rear camera for safer backups and parking.
- Length: 4445 mm / 175.0 in.
- Width: 1770 mm / 69.7 in.
- Height : 1550 mm / 61.0 in.
- Wheelbase: 2700 mm / 106.3 in.
- Weight 3,200 to 3,400 pounds.
Driving range over: 160km/100miles (US LA4 mode)
Max speed (km/h): over 140km/h (over 90mph)
- Max power (kW): 80kW
- Max torque (Nm): 280Nm
- Type: laminated lithium-ion battery
- Total capacity (kWh): 24
- Power output (kW): over 90
- Energy density (Wh/kg): 140
- Power density (kW/kg): 2.5
- Number of modules: 48
- Charging times: home-use AC200V charger: less than 8 hrs
- Optional quick charger DC 50kW (0 to 80%): less than 30 min
- Battery under seat & floor
Nissan started with a 50,000 car per year LEAF production in Japan. Nissan added U.S. manufacturing in 2013. The Tennessee assembly plant will grow to the capacity to build 150,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars per year, and 200,000 lithium-ion battery packs per year. The lithium packs also are used in Nissan’s hybrid cars. Within three years Nissan will be in volume manufacturing of the LEAF in the United States, Japan, and the UK. Nissan is going after the global market just as petroleum prices near triple their 2008 low and as major cities impose congestion fees for non-zero-emission vehicles and they have a lead worldwide in EV deliveries.
Other Cars to Investigate
Electric Cars. Nissan is facing battery electric competition from the Tesla Model S on the high-end and more directly from the Mitsubishi i, Ford Focus EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Fit EV, Chevy Spark EV, BMW i3, Smart fortwo EV and Fiat 500e with more to come. Top Electric Cars Report
Plug-in Hybrids may be a better answer if you only have one car and need greater range at times. With a plug-in hybrid, when your lithium battery is near depletion, a gasoline engine engages, giving you hundreds of miles of added range between charges or gasoline fill-ups. You can order a Chevy Volt with a 40-mile electric range, a Toyota Prius Plug-ins with a 14-mile electric range or a Honda Accord plug-in while Ford has both the Fusion and C-Max with plug-in versions. On the high-end, Cadillac just added the ELR, Porsche has a Panamera plug-in. Top Electric Cars Report
Neighborhood EVs. There are 40,000 of the GEM and other 25-mph low-speed electric vehicles on the U.S. roads in university towns, fleets, and retirement communities. With federal and local tax breaks, the net cost is often under $10,000. With the growth of electric cars and charging stations, sales may actually increase for cost-leading light electric vehicles. These will continue to be ideal for many fleet applications and the most cost-effective for short-range trips.
By John Addison (updated 9/14/11; original 4/27/10); updated by Michael Coates (9/14/2014)
Road Test: 2013 Nissan Leaf
Road Test: 2014 Chevy Volt
A growing number of people want to live, work, and enjoy life in the San Francisco Bay Area, now home to 7 million. With the population growth, emissions have grown from cars, buses, trucks, and a variety of on-road vehicles.
By 2020 on-road vehicular greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be less than in 1990. By 2035, emissions can be 61 percent less and 80 percent less by 2050 due to a variety of strategies discussed in this scenario, which outlines a reduction from over 28 million tons of CO2e this year to only 5.2 million tons by 2050. There are five major drivers in lowering emissions and improving our lives:
1. Focused Growth Enabling Reduced Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
2. Connected Transit
3. Electric Vehicles
4. Efficient Fleets using Low Carbon Fuels
5. Employer and Community Programs
Currently the Bay Area is being asked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2035. Some argue that this will be difficult because we will add 1.5 million people. Yet average emissions of gasoline cars are falling. New CAFÉ standards are mandatory. This scenario shows that average car emissions are likely to fall from 438 CO2 g/m today to 194 CO2 g/m, a number that is still less than today’s Prius. Over the next 25 years we can do better in reducing emissions and we will with the focused growth being planned, better transit, electric vehicles that cost less to run than today’s gas guzzlers, employer and community programs.
All of these strategies are discussed in this paper. Early Bay Area success stories are shared. In theory, just one of these strategies would accomplish our goal of GHG reduction. Most likely, it will be a combination such as the one described in this scenario paper. Throughout the Bay Area, different communities and programs will emphasize different strategies.
The California Energy Commission forecasts over 1.5 million electric vehicles for California by 2020. By 2020, electric cars are likely to be less expensive to buy and are already less expensive to fuel than current gasoline models. Off-peak smart charging, renewable energy, and hybrid cars to hybrid heavy vehicles using low carbon fuels will further contribute to shrinking emissions.
VMT peaked in the SF Bay Area in 2005 at 57.8 billion VMT and has already declined by over one billion miles due to a range of factors including record urban density, growth of transit use, and flexwork requiring less travel. Some planners now argue that we should assume the return of VMT growth and widen highways, encouraging urban sprawl. Instead we can reduce GHG by implementing the focused growth facilitated by SB375 and encourage more transit-oriented development.
By 2050, this scenario envisions 3.9 million vehicles in the SF Bay Area; lower than today’s 4.6 million, even though population will grow by over 2 million people. There will be fewer cars, but more rail, buses, car sharing, and hybrid trucks with low carbon fuels. This summarizes SF Bay’s transportation future (numbers are tons of CO2e):
Even though this scenario envisions a better life for people in the Bay Area, it may not happen because it requires investing in public transportation, cleaner vehicles, and focused growth. Eighty percent by 2050 will happen if people ride clean, ride together, and ride less. The report on the following pages outlines alternative strategies to achieve each 2050 goal:
1. Passenger vehicle GHG emissions will dropping to one-third of today’s average, reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and due to a modest reduction in the number of vehicles. VMT will result from focused growth, better transit, and safe routes for increased walking and bicycling.
2. Heavy-duty vehicle GHG emissions will drop 2 percent annually until 2020, then 3 percent annually until 2050. Delivery fleets are buying hybrid and electric vans.
3. Bus GHG emissions will increase slowly even though ridership may triple by 2050. Transit operators like Muni are using electric buses, and AC Transit hydrogen fuel cell buses. Light-rail, BRT, and connected systems will make transit more efficient.
This scenario only covers on-road vehicle emissions. This scenario does call for political leadership and market signals so that people will want to increasingly ride clean, ride together, and ride less.
Climate Action Bay Area Transportation Paper (PDF)
Graham Jesmer, (4/14/10)
Excerpt from the Complete article at Renewable Energy World
Global Wind 155 GW in 2009 – 409 GW Forecast for 2014
Global wind energy markets are expected to continue their rapid growth, with the world’s wind power capacity increasing by 160% over the coming five years, according to the annual industry forecast presented by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
The two markets leading global wind power expansion will continue to be the U.S. and China, whose markets have exceeded all expectations in recent years.
GWEC said that it expects that the global installed wind capacity will reach 409 GW by 2014, up from 158.5 GW at the end of 2009. This assumes an average growth rate of 21% per year, which is conservative compared to the 29% average growth that the wind industry experienced over the past decade. The organization predicts that in 2014, total wind capacity additions will be more than 60 GW, up from the 38.3 GW of annual wind capacity installations in 2009.
GWEC will present its full annual Global Wind 2009 Report at the European Wind Energy Conference in Warsaw on April 21 2010, which will include a five year forecast for the development of the global wind energy market. In the past, these projections have regularly been outstripped by the actual performance of the industry and have had to be adjusted upwards. Despite the ramifications of the financial crisis, 2009 was no exception.
The two markets leading global wind power expansion will continue to be the U.S. and China, whose markets have exceeded all expectations in recent years.
North America Wind
While in the U.S., the development for 2010 will be hampered by continued tightness in the financial markets and the overall economic downturn, the provisions of the US government’s Recovery Act, and in particular the grant programs, will continue to counteract the impacts of the crisis.
Coupled with legislative uncertainty at the federal level in Canada, the result is that the North American market is forecast to stay flat for the next couple of years, and then pick up again in 2012, to reach a cumulative total of 101.5 GW by 2014 (up from 38.5 GW in 2009). This would translate into an addition of 63 GW in the US and Canada over the next five years.
Chinese Wind Growth
In China, growth is set to continue at a breathtaking pace. Already in 2009, China accounted for one third of total annual wind capacity additions, with 13.8 GW worth of new wind farms installed. This took China’s total capacity up to 25.9 GW, thereby overtaking Germany as the country with the most wind power capacity by a narrow margin.
China will remain one of the main drivers of global growth in the coming years, with annual additions expected to be over 20 GW by 2014. This development is underpinned by a very aggressive government policy supporting the diversification of the electricity supply and the growth of the domestic industry. The Chinese government has an unofficial target of 150 GW of wind capacity by 2020, and with the current growth rates, it looks likely that this ambitious target will be met well ahead of time.
Europe Wind Power
Until 2013, Europe will continue to host the largest wind capacity. However, GWEC expects that by the end of 2014, Europe’s installed capacity will stand at 136.5 GW, compared to Asia’s 148.8 GW. By 2014, the annual European market will reach 14.5 GW, and a total of 60 GW will be installed in Europe over this five-year period.
Read the Complete Article at Rewenable Energy World