Semiconductor Industry News, Trends, and Technology, and SEMI Standards Updates

Long-Term Growth in the Photovoltaic (PV) Industry

Posted by Cimetrix on Apr 13, 2012 9:01:00 AM

by Rob Schreck
Marketing Manager

In March 2012, SEMI released a policy white paper that discusses the state of the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry in the United States and recommends actions the U.S. government should take to increase the manufacturing output and employment in the photovoltaic industry. The basis for the discussion is that the SEMI PV Group believes that solar is at the beginning of a long growth cycle.

Indeed, it is easy to understand the huge growth potential for solar. First, there is a rapid decline in the cost of generating solar power, as the paper explains (see Figure 1).

PV Decreasing Cost resized 600

Figure 1.

This cost decline is one factor in the rapid increase in demand forecasted by the International Energy Agency (see Figure 2).

 

PV Industry Growth Forecast
Figure 2.

Second, the U.S. and many other countries are seeking alternatives to petroleum as a primary energy source. As Bettina Weiss, executive director, SEMI Photovoltaics Business Unit, stated in the announcement of the white paper “Despite a significant contraction in the global PV market this year, solar is at the beginning of long-term growth cycle and will be a major contributor to energy independence and help the U.S. to break from its reliance on fossil fuels.”  

To download “Manufacturing Solar Photovoltaic Products in the U.S.” and see specific recommendations in the report, visit www.pvgroup.org/node/2046.

We at Cimetrix are seeing an increased interest in the PV2 standard. Companies want to know how they should use the interface standard as they develop new equipment for the solar industry. We have updated our Cimetrix Introduction to SEMI Standards: PV2 (PVECI) white paper to provide a tutorial for anyone who wants to know more about the standard. If you are interested, go to http://info.cimetrix.com/pv2-overview/.

Topics: PV Standards, PV2 Standard, PVECI

Windmills, solar panels and the effect of feed in tariffs

Posted by Cimetrix on Apr 1, 2010 8:12:00 AM

Solar Panels in Germanyby Bob Reback,
President and CEO

I always enjoy meeting with customers. I may be a little “old school,” but the personal touch of sitting across the table from someone, having a cup of coffee and learning firsthand what they think of our products, our people and our services is always educational, and even more so when the news is not good, as that gives us the opportunity to learn and improve going forward. Of course, the non-verbal communication is often times more important than the words, and you just can’t get that over the phone.

Due to the downturn in economic conditions during late 2008 and early 2009, we limited all company paid travel. As president, I also set the example to use the telephone and web conferences for most customer interactions. As business conditions began to improve in late summer of 2009, we began to relax our travel constraints. This led me to take a business trip to Europe to meet with some of our semiconductor customers as well as a few of our new PV customers.

Being on the road visiting customers usually involves a very full schedule, and Cimetrix business trips are even more so. This business trip started off meeting with customers in The Netherlands and then we drove across Germany meeting with customers in a number of cities as we made our way to our final destination in the Munich area. As we drove across Germany and stopped in a number of cities and small towns, I was surprised to see quite a few modern, high tech windmills, but I was shocked at the solar panels. We saw solar panels on the roofs of commercial buildings, residential building, farms and just about any type of structure with a roof. We saw solar panels in cities, towns and the countryside as we drove by on the Autobahn.

The German government has been the world leader in promoting renewable energy. The German government implemented a program of “feed in” tariffs that provide subsidies for entities (people, businesses, etc.) to install solar panels. As it was explained to me, it is typical in Germany to purchase electricity at a rate of say $0.08 to $0.10 per kilowatt hour. The government feed-in tariff means that if someone installs solar panels on their roof, the German government will guarantee that it will purchase all of the electricity from your solar panels for the next 20 years at the price of $0.45 per kilowatt hour. (Note that the feed-in tariffs decline every year). Since you have a guaranteed contract to sell this electricity to the government, people are able to go to a bank and borrow the funds to cover the upfront costs of installing the solar panels. Then the profit obtained on a monthly basis is sufficient to pay back the loan and interest charges. After about 10 years, the loan is paid off and then the person with the solar panels can enjoy the operating profits for the remaining years on the original 20 year contract. It was fascinating to see firsthand the results of this program, as well as have discussions with many of the German people. Not only did we discuss with many of the engineers that are our customers, but we had discussions with the average citizens in various restaurants and hotels. Everyone knew the term “PV” and there was certainly an air of excitement about leading the world in renewable energy.

You might ask, “How does this affect Cimetrix?” Well the theory is that government feed-in tariffs will stimulate demand, which in turn will stimulate production of more solar panels, which will then lead to improved efficiencies in both the technology used in solar panels as well as the economies of scale, which will ultimately lead to better price/performance solar panels that are cost effective on their own merits without government subsidies. Since solar panels are based on silicon or thin film substrates and have a similar manufacturing process to computer chips, there is a need to continually improve the manufacturing process to make better solar cells and lower the manufacturing costs. That is where factory connectivity and advanced software systems similar to those used in semiconductor manufacturing come into play. Many of the German PV manufacturers have adopted the “PV2” software for connecting manufacturing equipment with factory software. Cimetrix has enhanced its product offerings to meet these needs and hopes the industry is successful in promoting widespread usage of these PV software standards. If this happens, this should significantly increase the available market for Cimetrix products and services.

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Topics: PV Standards, SEMI Standards, PV2 Standard, PVECI, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Germany

Have you heard the latest regarding the PV2 standards?

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 29, 2009 8:19:00 AM

Cimetrix was among those recognized for their work on the PV2 Standard last week. On Tuesday, the PV-EIS task force was awarded the SEMI Europe Standards Merit Award 2009. This was the first time that a team has received the award since it was established in 2001. Our own Bruce Febvret was there to receive the honor on behalf of Cimetrix. He and Brian Rubow have served on the task force since its inception in September 2007.

PV2 Standards Award

Bruce is the one on the left =)

Also, don't miss our FREE webinar on maintaining quality and performance in your PVECI & GEM Standard Implementation!

DOWNLOAD THE RECORDED WEBINAR HERE.

Brian Rubow, principal engineer,will discuss common quality issues and performance challenges for PV 2 Standard implementation. The paper that we presented at the European PV SEC event last week will also be made available to all webinar registrants. 

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Topics: PV Standards, SEMI Standards, PV2 Standard, PVECI, Events, Honors

Presenting at the "most inspired platform for the PV Solar Sector"

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 17, 2009 9:47:00 AM

PV 2 Standard InformationIn June of this year, the SEMI PV 2 Standard - Guide for PV Equipment Communication Interfaces (PVECI) was approved for publication by the global Audits and Reviews Subcommittee and became available for download on www.semi.org.  

Curious about the new PV standards? Planning on being in Hamburg, Germany this week? 

Cimetrix will be participating in the Visual Presentations at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (PV SEC) in Hamburg, Germany next week.  Bruce Febvret will be representing Cimetrix at the conference and available to answer questions regarding our paper "Maintaining Quality and Performance in your Implementation of PVECI and GEM Standards." He will be near our poster (#2CV.1.77) on Wednesday, September 23 from 8:30 am - 10:10 am. The poster presentations will be on display in the Congress Center Hamburg (CCH) in the POSTER AREA in Halls D, E, F, G and Foyer D-G (2nd Floor). Click here to view a map of the venue.

Won't be in Germany? No problem.  We will be hosting a webinar on the same topic on Thursday, October 1. For your convenience, we will be presenting at 2 different times: 8:00 am MT/ 2:00 pm UTC as well as 5:00 pm MT/ 11:00 pm UTC. Brian Rubow, principal engineer,will discuss common quality issues and performance challenges for PV 2 Standard implementation. The paper being presented at PV SEC will be made available to all webinar registrants. 

Other PV2 Standard Resources:

Topics: PV Standards, SEMI Standards, PV2 Standard, PVECI, Events, Photovoltaic (PV)

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