Photovoltaics: 2007 Post Review and 2008 Trends to Watch – Part 2

My Top 5 Headlines and Posts, Top 5 Most Popular Posts, and 5 Trends to Watch in 2008

Polysilicon shortages, Thin Film Photovoltaics, CSP, HCPV, and Recession Risk

First, I want to thank Katie Fehrenbacher over at Earth2Tech for linking to Photovoltaics: 2007 Post Review and 2008 Trends to Watch – Part 1 in the January 3rd, 2008, post of The Daily Sprout.

Before getting to the 5 Trends to Watch in 2008, let’s look at the Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2007 with readers and subscribers. Skip ahead if you just CANNOT wait.

Even though I use Site Meter to track my Blog statistics, selecting the Top 5 posts of readers and subscribers is a bit subjective for these reasons:

  • Site Meter tracks a sliding window of visits much less than a year of traffic and just tallies entry and exit pages.
  • Many visitors to the Blog enter through the home page,
  • Google search results tend to favor the first of my Blog’s multiple posts on a specific topic.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2007 with readers and subscribers:

5 Trends to Watch in 2008 and predictions:

Polysilicon and solar grade silicon shortages persist

Per the Price of scrap wafer closes to polysilicon at bidding market by Nuying Huang and Esther Lam at DIGITIMES (subscription may be required), spot market polysilicon prices rose to USD $300-330 per kilogram (kg) in the second half of 2007. Production delays have been the norm for new entrants like AE Polysilicon, Solarvalue, and numerous Chinese polysilicon start-ups. This silicon shortage seems set to continue until at least 2010 regardless of the self serving predictions of certain Solar CEOs.

Thin Film Photovoltaics

At the start of 2008, First Solar is the king of the hill in thin films and photovoltaics with the lowest variable production cost per Watt in the industry. Will Micromorph Tandem thin film panels produced by Oerlikon Solar production equipment and perhaps later by Applied Materials Solar begin to compete? Or will Nanosolar, Inc. Utility Panels assume leadership based upon CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) nanoparticle ink printed on metal foils with both lower variable production costs and lower capital expenditure costs per Watt?

While everyone is searching for a Nanosolar module datasheet, it isn’t so easy to find a FIRST SOLAR – FS-262 / FS-265 / FS-267 / FS-270 datasheet either.

CSP (Concentrating Solar Power)

CSP is positioned to remain the hottest segment in solar power. I expect the drawbacks of CSP to become better known in 2008 though these may be offset by progress in energy storage (see the Ausra, Inc. portion of my Energy Storage post).

HCPV (High Concentration PhotoVoltaics)

Contrary to other claims, the largest HCPV (the “H” here stands for Heliostat) project to date is the 154MW Victorian Project in Victoria, Australia, discussed in my PV Industry Forum 2007 post. In 2008, I am expecting the next major High Concentration PhotoVoltaics project to be announced and located in the southwestern United States, Spain, or Greece. Construction may even begin in 2008.

Recession Risk

As I first suggested in Solar Power 2007: Discussion Panels Aplenty – Part 3, it now appears my recession fears were not unfounded. I said:

My fear is the US housing bubble and its liquidity crunch aftermath will result in a slowdown or recession in 2008 later impacting the world economy. I observe the PV Industry and Renewable Energy boom has coincided with a robust long term expansion of the global economy, and I wonder if concerns about global warming will continue to drive high PV Industry growth rates through a global recession.

Will concerns over global warming and sustainable secure energy solutions trump the normal business cycle? By contrast, will photovoltaics thrive in regions with feed-in tariffs goosed by falling interest rates or will stagflation be worse than a recession?

And here is my out there bonus prediction:

Solar Stocks, Oil, and Gold

A majority of investors seem convinced solar stocks and these two commodities are poised to reach new highs in 2008. While two out of three ain’t bad, I predict only one of these will pan out.

Solar stocks traded on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges in the United States are overdue for a significant correction. I think oil may revisit $50 per barrel if the recession goes global by the second half of 2008 barring an unforseen calamity and even if Peak Oil is here. Gold is your best bet if stagflation takes hold or the US dollar continues to decline in value or both.

For another viewpoint, check out Earth2Tech’s Predictions for 2008.

Debuting in 2006 and despite updates, the top three (3) most read Blog posts of all time have now achieved classic post status:

This is GUNTHER Portfolio Post 200!
Thanks again to all the readers, subscribers, and friends of GUNTHER Portfolio.

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