Solar Power 2007: Discussion Panels Aplenty – Part 1

Cost Competitiveness, CEO Panel, and Solar Stocks

If only they were solar panels…

On Tuesday at Solar Power 2007, GABA (German American Business Association) held their 2nd Clean Technology Industry Group event during the Solar Power Conference and Expo. I reported second hand about last year’s event in German Market for Solar Modules soft.

Solar Power: Achieving Cost Competitiveness was this year’s theme, and the panel included five CEOs and Managing Directors from a range of established to new companies:

Anton Milner, CEO, Q-Cells AG
Kristin Roth, Managing Director Photovoltaics, Roth & Rau AG
Robert Gattereder, Managing Director, M+W Zander
Suvi Sharma, CEO, Solaria Corp.
Rajeeva Lahri, CEO and Founder, Signet Solar

Garrett Hering, Editor with PHOTON International, acted as Moderator of the panel as they addressed the theme of cost savings through scalable, differentiated technologies and the expected time frames.

In my opinion, there were few revelations from this discussion panel. First, Suvi Sharma revisited Solaria’s plans to ramp a new 25MW production line located in the Philippines towards the second half of 2008. And Signet Solar CEO Rajeeva Lahri reiterated plans to ramp their Applied Materials thin film line, I presume SunFab, in Döbeln, Germany, by mid 2008, beginning with amorphous silicon (A-Si) for time to market and migrating to tandem micromorph later.

At EU PVSEC, I was interviewing someone who made an observation that I must have realized on an unconscious level. Q-Cells CEO Anton Milner always has something insightful, profound, and to the point to say in response to a subject or question. As a result, I have numerous video clips from Solar Power 2007 Panel Discussions featuring Anton Milner.

In this first clip, Mr. Milner discusses the historical solar cost reduction curve, perturbations caused by polysilicon shortages, cost, price, profit, and reinvestment.

Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma gets tagged here with a question about whether photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing is cost effective in the USA. A number of photovoltaic production equipment and services companies participated in this year’s Expo to test the waters for US based PV manufacturing. Signet Solar CEO Lahri also chimes in later.

Garrett Hering asks CEO Milner his opinion about High Concentration PhotoVoltaics (HCPV), the one area of PV Q-Cells has not made an investment. I asked Mr. Milner this question in Milan but I haven’t had time to post his response. Mr. Milner said HCPV may have a place in niche markets for centralized applications, but it is not a mainstream PV technology.

For me, the highlight of the evening was getting to see and handle a Solaria solar cell. I was lucky enough to walk over just as Philipp Kunze, Solaria Director of Strategic Marketing and Business Development, pulled one of the cells from his jacket pocket for show and tell. After a polite query, I was able to hold and examine the Solaria solar cell. I must admit, although I just wrote Solaria Solar Cell Revisited Redux, it is difficult to understand the structure of the cell by looking at the front side. Apologies are in order for CNET’s Martin LaMonica who I criticized in Solaria spills low concentration photovoltaic technology at Symposium. The back of the cell was covered in black plastic with a few thin metal contacts. Next, I would like to see how these Solaria solar cells are built into a module.

On the CSP front, I learned panel participant M+W Zander is a turnkey contractor for Concentrating Solar Power plants and is already planning three (3) CSP 30 MWel or MegaWatt (installed electric capacity) plants in Southern Europe with their technology partner, NOVATEC BioSol AG per M+W Zander and NOVATEC BioSol: Cooperation agreement to build solar thermal power stations in Spain. Then again, I have not been following the CSP space.

I’ll start off Part 2 with brief insights into the CEO Panel Discussion.

The final tally is in and Solar Power 2007 attracted a r
ecord 12,500 people.


  1. Edgar A. Gunther says:

    Here is the GABA "Solar Power" Event video from Long Beach, CA. Hey, how did the back of my head get in this video?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi. This is actually more of a question. What’s your take on Solaria’s decision to outsource manufacturing to Ionics EMS? Given that the ability to ramp up production will be the real key to Solaria’s success, was it a good decision not to do the manufacturing in house?

    They must really believe in Ionics’ abilities. Do you have any idea how much Solaria will pay for each MW of production?

    Many thanks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think your suggesting solaria’s top management to put up their own facilities rather than do the sub-contracting with IONICS, Right?

    My own point view if that’s the case. Solaria should put up their own facilities coz it will lessen their cost ( manufacturing, quality and productivity ) and it will also create more jobs for the filipino people.

    Your thoughts?

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