Thin Film Intelligence Brief 13 - 27 May 2014

Turner, Southern acquire First Solar Macho Springs project

Companies mentioned:Ascent Solar Technologies, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, Bye AEROSPACE, TIAA-CREF, Catalina solar project, EDF Renewable Energy, Turner Renewable Energy, Southern Power, Masdar PV GmbH

Thin Film Intelligence Brief 13 - 27 May 2014

Turner, Southern acquire First Solar Macho Springs project

Southern Company subsidiary, Southern Power, and Turner Renewable Energy have partnered to acquire another US solar farm. The latest transaction includes the largest solar facility in New Mexico.

The project acquired is the 50 MW Macho Springs Solar Facility, built and maintained by First Solar. The deal marks the seventh led by the duo since they first teamed up as a strategic alliance in 2010. Including the latest Macho Springs acquisition, the alliance has 290 MW within its joint portfolio.

“We are proud of our successful ongoing relationship with Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy,” said First Solar Senior Vice President of Business Development Tim Rebhorn.

Electricity generated by the facility will serve a 20-year purchase power agreement with El Paso Electric (EPE). According to a 2013 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the power company agreed to pay 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from Macho Springs. The agreed price is lower than the 8.42 cents for power from typical combined-cycle natural gas plants, according Bloomberg data.

Construction of the plant began in July 2013 and commercial operation is set to start this month.

Masdar closes chapter on a-Si factory

Masdar PV GmbH, the photovoltaic system manufacturer, has reported that it plans to close its plant in Ichterhausen, Germany by the end of 2014. The reason is “the poor economic situation of the photovoltaic (PV) industry,” the company has said. A reported 160 employees will be affected by the plant closure.

Masdar PV CEO Tushita Ranchan said that the company had continued production despite ongoing losses, in the hope that the situation will improve in the industry. However, Ranchan said the situation had continued to deteriorate.

It was reported that Masdar is working with local authorities to find other employment options for the factory's workers. Masdar PV plans to deal with existing contracts until the plant closes.

Silent Falcon powered by Ascent completes first flights

Ascent Solar Technologies, a manufacturer and developer of flexible thin-film PV modules, along with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies (SFUAS), reported that the successful first flights of the production Silent Falcon Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) powered by Ascent Solar’s flexible photovoltaic modules.

Silent Falcon UAS, which is jointly developed by SFUAS, Bye AEROSPACE and Ascent Solar, is a tactical drone designed to be easily deployed, and has been reported to integrate proprietary, disruptive technology to deliver superior UAS performance.

The patent-pending Silent Falcon is a solar/electric powered, all composite and modular small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) equipped with an interchangeable wing configuration designed for commercial, public safety and defense applications both domestically and internationally.

The combination of efficient aerodynamic design, lightweight composite construction and Ascent’s monolithically integrated and ultra-lightweight thin film photovoltaic modules, enables the 25 lb. Silent Falcon™ UAS a remarkable 6 to 12 hour flight endurance.

“These first flights represent the culmination of tremendous collaboration between Ascent Solar, Bye AEROSAPACE, and Silent Falcon UAS,” said Dr. Joseph Armstrong, Chief Technology Officer of Ascent Solar.

“Overcoming technological challenges, our teams have demonstrated the ability to integrate our flexible photovoltaics with appropriate power management systems into a feature-rich small unmanned aircraft system enabling extended mission flight time and, as a result, enhanced mission flexibility.”

The PV modules integrated into the wings represent a lightweight version of our production materials, and as such, are immediately available, according to Armstrong.

John Brown, President of SFUAS, said sales teams are targeting domestic, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region.

EDF’s Catalina Solar Project finds financial buyer

Financial services provider TIAA-CREF has plans to acquire a 50% stake in the 143MW peak (110MWac) Catalina solar project, which is wholly owned by EDF Renewable Energy.

EDF Renewable Energy will retain the remaining 50 percent stake in the project and continue to provide operations and maintenance services through its EDF Renewable Services affiliate.

Located in California’s Mojave Desert, Catalina Solar is comprised of 82 MWp Solar Frontier and 61 MWp First Solar thin film photovoltaic modules generating electricity to serve approximately 35,000 homes. The project’s clean energy is provided to San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement.

Catalina Solar represents EDF Renewable Energy’s largest utility-scale photovoltaic project and the 6th largest photovoltaic plant in the United States.

Raphael Declercq, EDF Renewable Energy’s Director of Divestiture and Portfolio Management said the sale illustrates its ability to redeploy capital to fund future development while staying deeply involved in existing projects.

TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organisation with approximately $569bn in assets under management and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

Singulus launches new machines

Singulus Technologies has launched new machines and technologies for the production of crystalline silicon and thin film solar PV cells and modules.  Singulus said that it offers technology to cover two-thirds of the required machines for CIGS PV production.

The new product launches include the company’s Singulus XP coating machine for passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) PV cells and its Tenuis R&D system for copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) buffer layer deposition.

The machines offer a modular cluster build, which Singulus says both provides savings in terms of required floor space and allows for the simultaneous one-sided coating of two substrates.

Singulus says that the Singular XP works well for integration into existing PV cell production lines due to its compact design. The machine allows both the aluminum oxide and silicon nitride layers be applied without discontinuation of the vacuum.