Solar Silicon Valley centre of a new booming industry?

What is going on in Silicon Valley these days, with so many new start-ups and companies entering into photovoltaic solar cell and module production? It seems a whole new industry is emerging in California, with the newest ventures focusing on new thin-film and concentrator solar technologies.

Rotterdam, May 22, 2007 - What is going on in Silicon Valley these days, with so many new start-ups and companies entering into photovoltaic solar cell and module production? It seems a whole new industry is emerging in California, with the newest ventures focusing on new thin-film and concentrator solar technologies. Who has heard of companies like Solaria, Silicon Valley Solar, Solyndra, SoloPower, MiaSolé, Signet Solar before? These are just a few of the manufacturers located in Silicon Valley, besides the bigger and already more familiar names like SunPower Corporation, Applied Material, PowerLight and NanoSolar.


Dollar per Watt as key driver
A key driver for all of this is not only the California Solar Initiative, but more the hunt for the "dollar per Watt" cost barrier for solar module production. This cost level is still considered as the barrier for grid parity, meaning production of solar electricity which costs the same as or less than electricity from the grid, without support from government incentives. Of course that would create an unlimited global market potential. The new ventures in Solar Silicon Valley can roughly be divided into two groups: one comprises the companies believing that concentrator technologies can bring down cost by using 100 to 1000 times less silicon cell material, the other group sees fully automated mass production using thin-film techniques as the solution to drive down production cost. What these companies have in common is their relationship with Venture Capital. Investors in the Valley have found their way into the renewable and solar energy sector. In 2006 alone, one third of all venture capital invested worldwide went to clean technology companies based in Silicon Valley, according to Mercury News.

Applied Materials production lines
Applied Materials is certainly one of the most interesting companies that are scheduled in the program. This company, manufacturing thin-film module production lines, announced this week yet another new customer. The new company Signet Solar will use the equipment "to accelerate widespread adoption of solar energy by establishing an industry-leading solar photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing cost structure, targeting grid parity by 2010". It is not the first customer buying Applied Materials equipment and heading for a thin-film revival. Among their customers are the world's second largest cell manufacturer Q-Cells and the newly established company Sunfilm. The latter is backed by investors Good Energies and NorSun AG, both very familiar in the solar industry. T-Solar Global S.A. from Spain recently signed a deal and one of the world's largest companies in CD-manufacturing, Moser Baer India Ltd., selected Applied Materials as well to supply a similar production line of 40 MW capacity. Are all of them heading towards grid parity prices around 2010? That means that solar energy could become affordable in many market segments in less than 3 years from now. The PV Trade Mission will hopefully find out more soon.

International Trade Mission to California
In order to understand the magnitude of this industry development and the domestic market opportunities, SolarPlaza, in cooperation with the California Solar Energy Industries Association, is organizing an international PV trade mission to California from 10 to 15 June. Within the program there are visits, meetings and presentations scheduled with several CEOs of the above companies. The Mission will visit MiaSolé, Applied Materials, Akeena Solar and PowerLight Corporation and meet with their Presidents and CEOs. In symposiums during the one week program, presentations are scheduled with the CEOs and board members of Energy Innovations, MMA Ventures, Solaria, SPG Solar, SolFocus and SV-Solar. Presentations by major stakeholders in the Californian PV market will provide a detailed picture of the business opportunities within one of the four largest markets in the world. Senior market consultants like Paula Mints (Navigant Consulting), Travis Bradford (Prometheus Institute) and Glenn Harris (SunPower Consulting) will elaborate on the US and California market trends and challenges during presentations in the PV Matchmaking event on 14 June. This symposium and workshop will offer further ways to meet with California's well established and newest PV companies and to discuss with them the local and global PV market trends. Around 15 to 20 international PV executives are expected to participate in this trade mission. Most of them will be CEOs, VP Business Development, investors and European project developers of solar park projects.

This PV tour is the sixth one organized by SolarPlaza.com, the global PV marketplace. This event will bring together PV business executives and investors from many countries and will create a dynamic environment and platform for high level discussions about new business opportunities in the rapidly growing Californian and global solar energy market. Previous trade missions visited China, Spain, Italy and Greece. The cost for participation in this exciting event is € 3,950 (incl. full program and hotel stays). This learning and market exploration experience will start and end in San Francisco. More information and an order form can be found at www.solarplaza.com

Contact: Edwin Koot, Director, SolarPlaza, +31 10 280 9198 or e.koot@solarplaza.com

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