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Clean Energy Revolution Needs Clean Solar Panels $HPQ.ca

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 12:01 PM on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Solar energy is a clean alternative to fossil fuels; however, making the panels themselves comes with an environmental price tag.

  • Solar power is the fastest-growing source of that new renewable energy.
  • According to a report published by research firm Zion Market Research, the global solar panel market accounted for US$30.8 billion in 2016
  • Expected to reach US$57.3 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.9 percent.

The Clean Energy Revolution is all about sustainability from cradle to grave. 

Both investors and consumers in this space want the manufacturing process for clean-energy products to have as small an environmental footprint as possible. Otherwise the movement away from fossil fuels will not lead us to a truly low-carbon economy.

Renewable forms of energy such as solar are key to that transition. In 2017, new renewable-energy-generating capacity surpassed that of net new fossil fuel capacity. “We are at a turning point … from fossil fuels to the renewable world,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, told Reuters. “The markets are there and renewables can take on coal, they can take on oil and gas.”

This INNspired Article is brought to you by:

HPQ Silicon (TSXV:HPQ) is a technology and resource company working towards becoming a vertically integrated producer of high-purity, solar-grade silicon metal.Send me an Investor Kit

Solar power is the fastest-growing source of that new renewable energy. According to a report published by research firm Zion Market Research, the global solar panel market accounted for US$30.8 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach US$57.3 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.9 percent.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes solar will dominate future growth in the renewable energy sector, with global capacity in five years’ time expected to be greater than the current combined total power capacity of India and Japan, reports the Guardian. “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics (PV). We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up to 2022,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA executive director.

That increased solar capacity will require more solar panels, and that means more silicon, the material responsible for converting solar energy into electricity.

Silicon is the solar energy metal

Silicon, an excellent semiconductor, is essential in the fabrication of solar panels. Unlike other metals, its conductivity improves as temperatures increase — making it ideally suited for solar-energy generation.

Yes, solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases when they are generating electricity; however, the conventional process for producing solar-grade silicon, or polysilicon, uses harsh chemicals and requires a lot of energy.

Environmental cost of conventional silicon production

According to a 2014 National Geographic report, the entire process results in the emission of greenhouse gases and the production of toxic chemicals. “The dirty little secret about solar panels is that while solar energy as a concept is green because you can generate electricity without generating pollution, you create a lot of pollution during the manufacturing of those solar cells,” Bernard Tourillon, CEO of HPQ Silicon (TSXV:HPQ), told INN. HPQ Silicon owns a portfolio of high-grade quartz properties in Quebec, and with PyroGenesis Canada (TSXV:PYR) is developing a new carbothermic process that has the capability to convert quartz into solar-grade silicon metal in just one step.

Although silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, it doesn’t occur freely but rather is found in compound form with oxygen as silicon dioxide (SiO2) or silica. Quartz is the most common form of silica. The conventional process for producing pure silicon from quartz and further refining it for use in solar panels requires a lot of energy and the use of caustic chemicals — leading to the emission of greenhouse gases and the production of the very toxic chemical silicon tetrachloride.

“Traditionally this is a very high-CAPEX smelter process that requires large-size plants and is extremely pollutive because to transform quartz into silicon metal by default you create carbon monoxide,” added Tourillon.

Silicon has a melting point of 1,414° Celsius, nearly that of iron. Freeing silicon from SiO2 requires passing quartz through a carbothermic process (basically adding carbon through extremely high heat) in giant electric furnaces, which in turn requires a lot of energy, notes Fengqi You, assistant professor of engineering at Northwestern University and a co-author of a study on the subject conducted in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory.

Further increasing the carbon footprint of solar-panel manufacturing, coal is often the source of energy used to heat the furnaces, especially in China where the majority of the world’s polysilicon and solar panels are produced. Hence, as the Economist points out, “when a new solar panel is put to work it starts with a ‘carbon debt’ that, from a greenhouse-gas-saving point of view, has to be paid back before that panel becomes part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.”

Nearly all of the silicon used in today’s solar panels comes from the refining of metallurgical-grade silicon using a chemical purification method known as the Siemens process, which involves the use of caustic chemicals, including sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid. This process produces waste in the form of highly toxic silicon tetrachloride.

While most manufacturers recycle this waste to produce more silicon, the reprocessing equipment can carry a hefty price tag — in the range of tens of millions of dollars — leading some companies to dump the waste. Once silicon tetrachloride comes into contact with water it releases hydrochloric acid, which acidifies the surrounding soil and emits toxic fumes.

In an effort to crack down on illegal dumping of toxic waste produced by polysilicon manufacturers, environmental regulators in China shut down operations at several offending factories in 2017. The move sent prices of polysilicon soaring on shortages and spiked production costs for solar panel manufacturers.

Clearly, without sustainably produced silicon, solar panels are not a genuine clean-energy alternative to fossil fuels.

Game-changing technology

A potential solution to this challenge may come in the form of the fourth state of matter: plasma.

Plasma is a charged gas capable of strong, electrostatic interactions, making it a great conductor of electricity. Plasma’s semiconductive property is why in 2015, HPQ Silicon approached PyroGenesis, one of the largest concentrations of plasma expertise in the world, and inquired about the possibility of using its plasma-based knowhow to transform quartz into solar-grade silicon metal.

PyroGenesis has successfully developed plasma-based systems for the US Navy, including technology that destroys chemicals-based weapons, and has invented a plasma-based process for producing power for 3D printing that is now used internationally.

The resulting cooperation between HPQ Silicon and PyroGenesis led to the development of the PUREVAP™ Quartz Reduction Reactors process, a new carbothermic process that has the capability to convert quartz into solar-grade silicon metal.

In less than 18 months, the PUREVAP™ QRR process has demonstrated the possibility of converting quartz into solar-grade silicon metal at commercial scale in one step.

“Plasma is a very exciting area of technology. Our PUREVAP™ metallurgical process harnesses the advantages of plasma to commercially produce solar-grade silicon directly from quartz,” Peter Pascali, president and CEO of PyroGenesis, told INN. “If you can conduct that transformation in one step using a clean technology like plasma then without a doubt there are significant environmental benefits from that.”

A third-party revenue analysis of the process, conducted by private France-based Apollon Solar, found that at the commercial scale, the PUREVAP™ process could lead to the production of solar-grade silicon at a significantly lower cost compared to conventional processes.

PyroGenesis’ recent GEN2 testing results have validated the commercial scalability of the PUREVAP™ process. “The results we have achieved recently with the GEN2 PUREVAP™ give us increased confidence and assurance that at pilot scale, we will be able to reach significant higher production yields of the high-purity silicon metal that we are targeting,” said Pierre Carabin, PyroGenesis’ chief technology officer.

HPQ Silicon owns the PUREVAP™ technology as it relates to the transformation of quartz to silicon through a binding agreement with PyroGenesis. HPQ Silicon provides the strategic direction, marketing and funding for the project for a 90-percent interest.

HPQ Silicon, PyroGenesis and Apollon Solar are working together to conduct the GEN3 Pilot Plant phase, now in the planning stages, to further validate the commercial scalability of the PUREVAP™ process.

The takeaway

There are of course other factors that contribute to the carbon footprint of solar energy outside of how silicon is produced; for example, in the fabrication of the solar panels themselves. But solving this one challenge may still be a huge step forward for the solar industry and could bring the world closer to a more energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable future.

This INNspired article is sponsored by HPQ Silicon (TSXV:HPQ). This article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.

Source: https://investingnews.com/innspired/environmental-impacts-of-solar-panels-manufacturing-threaten-the-clean-energy-revolution/?mqsc=E3953446

Global #Solar PV Installations to Surpass 104GW in 2018 $HPQ.ca $FSLR $SPWR $CSIQ $NEP

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 5:36 PM on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

  • Global Solar PV Installations to Surpass 104GW in 2018
  • GlobalsolarPV market will add over 100 gigawatts of capacity for the first time in 2018 — and there is no looking back.

Key findings from GTM Research’s latest Global Solar Demand Monitor.

Mike Munsell April 16, 2018

According to the latest Global Solar Demand Monitor from GTM Research, installations will reach 104 gigawatts this year, representing 6 percent annual growth. After that, annual installations will easily exceed the 100-gigawatt milestone through at least 2022.

The year-over-year growth is due in part to geographic diversification, as the top four markets are anticipated to collectively decline by 7 percent.

Source: Global Solar Demand Monitor, Q1 2018

Installations in China will fall from 53 gigawatts in 2017 to 48 gigawatts in 2018, although China alone will account for 47 percent of global demand this year.

For the first time in China’s history, annual distributed solar installations (<20 megawatts) are expected to surpass 50 percent of the nation’s annual installed capacity.

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“Trade-restrictive measures continue to be a barrier to growth in the U.S. and India,” said GTM Research solar analyst Rishab Shrestha. “Although the availability of tariff-free modules in the U.S. and the announcement that compensation will be provided to Indian developers negatively impacted by tariffs and duties provides some encouragement.” According to the report, the U.S. market is expected to add 10.6 gigawatts of solar PV in 2018 while India will install 7.1 gigawatts.

In 2018, Latin America will add 5.6 gigawatts and the MENA region (Middle East and Africa) will add 4.7 gigawatts, representing explosive year-over-year growth of 61 percent and 281 percent, respectively. Up to 1 gigawatt of projects awarded through Mexico’s A1 auction are expected to come online this year, as is Egypt’s 1.8-gigawatt Benban solar park. These two markets will top their respective regions in 2018.

According to the analysis, Egypt and Brazil will become gigawatt-scale markets for the first time in 2018. This year will also see the re-emergence Spain. Meanwhile, France, which will firmly establish itself as one of Europe’s top three largest markets.

Number of Gigawatt-Scale Solar Markets by Year

Source: Global Solar Demand Monitor, Q1 2018

Source: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/global-solar-pv-installations-to-surpass-104-gw-in-2018#gs.7nb29HI

Solar Panels Now So Cheap – Great news for $HPQ.CA who state they can reduce CAPEX and OPEX for solar grade silicon

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:58 AM on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
  • Spot prices fell to a record-low of 36 cents a watt this week
  • ‘A challenge for anyone to make money at that price’

 

Solar manufacturers led by China’s Trina Solar Ltd. are probably selling at a loss after prices fell to a record low this week.

The global spot market price for solar panels fell 2.4 percent to an average of 36 cents a watt on Dec. 28, according to PVinsights.

That’s the bottom end of the cost range for most producers in the third quarter, according to Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co. Suppliers are expandingcapacity this year while demand is expected to slow in 2017, helping to push prices down.

“Certainly it would be a challenge for anyone to make money at that price,” Osborne said in an e-mail. “The blended cost for most last quarter was about 36 cents to 38 cents.”

The current price is also lower than cost estimates from Trina. The biggest supplier of 2015 expected to reduce costs to about 40 cents a watt by the end of the year, from 45 cents in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Merry Xu said in an August conference call. The Changzhou, China-based company’s shareholders on Dec. 16 agreed to a $1.1 billion deal to take the company private. A spokesman declined to comment Friday.

Some companies’ cost structures remain competitive, even with prices this low.

Canadian Solar Inc., the second-biggest supplier, reported costs of 37 cents in the third quarter, down from 39 cents in the second quarter. The company has said its costs are among the lowest in the industry, and it expects to reach 29 cents a watt by the fourth quarter of 2017. Many of its competitors expect costs in the low 30s by then, Osborne said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-30/solar-panels-now-so-cheap-manufacturers-probably-selling-at-loss

Solar Boom Driving First Global Panel Shortage Since 2006

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:32 AM on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
By Ehren Goossens Aug 19, 2014 10:26 AM ET

The solar industry is facing a looming shortage of photovoltaic panels, reversing a two-year slump triggered by a global glut.

The oversupply pushed prices through the floor, making solar power more competitive and driving up demand. It also dragged dozens of manufacturers into bankruptcy, and slowed capital investment at the survivors. With installations expected to swell as much as 29 percent this year, executives are bracing for the first shortfall since 2006.

Scarcity will benefit the biggest manufacturers, including China’s Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co. (YGE) and Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) A shortage may slow development outside the top markets in Asia and North America if suppliers favor their largest customers. Shipments to large, utility-scale solar farms may get priority over smaller, rooftop systems, threatening one of the industry’s fastest-growing markets.

“The cell and module glut has certainly dried up,” said Stefan de Haan, a solar analyst at IHS Inc. “There is no massive overcapacity anymore.”

The looming shortage shows the rapid expansion of solar energy. The industry may install as much as 52 gigawatts this year and 61 gigawatts in 2015. That’s up from 40 gigawatts in 2013, and more than seven times what developers demanded five years ago, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Workers operate on the assembly line that makes photovoltaic cells, the main energy… Read More

The industry has about 70 gigawatts of production capacity, New Energy Finance estimates, including a significant amount of older equipment that’s not profitable. The supply-demand balance is tighter than those numbers suggest. De Haan estimates capacity at about 59 gigawatts, excluding manufacturing lines that are out of date or obsolete.

‘On Par’

Considering only “factories that are meaningful and active,” supply and demand is “almost on par,” said Luc Grare, senior vice president for the Norwegian panelmaker REC Solar ASA.

The last time supplies were hard to find was in 2006, when the nascent industry installed just 1.5 gigawatts of capacity. The following year, the top Chinese manufacturers raised $1.8 billion selling stock to Wall Street to finance new production capacity.

Chinese manufacturers sold about $5 billion of shares from 2005 to 2010, and wrested control of the market from companies in the U.S., Germany and Japan. The added capacity drove down prices and pushed dozens of manufacturers into bankruptcy. Solar panels sell for 76 cents a watt now, compared with $2.01 at the end of 2010. The price has slipped 12 percent this year.

The Commerce Department on Tuesday (3 June 2014) imposed steep duties on importers of… Read More

Expanding Now

Nobody is predicting upheaval now. Production capacity this year is “expected to stay more or less flat, but consolidate, with new-build balancing exits,” said Jenny Chase, lead solar analyst at New Energy Finance.

Some manufacturers are already expanding. In May, Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ) began construction on a new cell factory in China, a joint venture with GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. that will initially have 300 megawatts of annual capacity.

The solar industry is cyclical and near a turning point, said Canadian Solar Chief Executive Officer Shawn Qu. He’s expanding now because he anticipates a shortage.

“Every industry goes through cycles,” Qu said. “It’s inevitable to see a cycle in solar.”

Other manufacturers already see a shortfall.

“It would be fair to say our panels are in short supply,” said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp. (SPWR) The San Jose, California-based company’s factories are running at full, and it announced in July plans for a new factory that may begin production in 2017 and will be able to make at least 700 megawatts a year. That’s more than double the plant it’s bringing online next year.

Supply Chain

When panels become scarce, they’ll probably be routed to customers placing the biggest orders, said Angelo Zino, an analyst in New York at S&P Capital IQ.

“The large-scale utility projects are going to be where the modules go,” Zino said. “If there’s any sort of tightness in the supply chain, you would think that the push-outs would be on the residential side.”

That potential threat to the rapidly growing U.S. residential solar market prompted SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) to buy a panelmaker in June. The rooftop developer expects demand to surge, especially for systems atop homes and commercial buildings.

SolarCity Deal

“At some point, it will be a 400-gigawatt-a-year market; it’s just mathematical,” said CEO Lyndon Rive. Smaller companies without supply contracts may be unable to get enough panels.

Billionaire Elon Musk, SolarCity’s chairman, said the acquisition will guarantee supply. “If we don’t do this, we thought there was risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need,” he said during a conference call announcing the deal.

Any shortage may also limit deliveries to markets where stronger demand means better pricing, said REC Solar’s Grare.

Regions with “heavy price competition” such as Latin America will feel a shortage first, while regions with stable prices, such as the U.S. and Japan, will be prioritized, he said.

Companies that make manufacturing equipment such as Germany’s Manz AG expect the looming shortage to spur orders.

“According to our estimation, the gap between supply and demand will be closed at the end of 2014,” said Axel Bartmann, a spokesman for Manz. “This will definitely lead to rising investments in advanced equipment.”

Panel Pricing

Unlike other industries, a shortage probably won’t boost prices, said Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, a San Francisco-based developer owned by Sharp Corp.

As production costs slide, manufacturers can increase profit without raising prices. That’s important because solar power is extremely price-sensitive, Harris said.

“It would be difficult for module pricing to really go up because there isn’t going to be natural demand for those products at those higher price points,” Harris said. “If you raise the price too much they’ll move on to something else. They’ll move on to gas, they’ll move on to wind.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ehren Goossens in New York at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at [email protected] Will Wade

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-18/solar-boom-driving-first-global-panel-shortage-since-2006.html