Briefly Noted … Solar Energy

– The Australian firm, Solar Systems, is building a commercial solar power station on the border between South Australia and the Northern Territory, following a 20-year trial of an experimental station at White Cliffs in New South Wales. It believes that many rural towns could be powered by solar energy within five years. – Bharat Electronics of India has developed PV cells for military use in remote areas. The flexible cells are light and can be carried in difficult terrains, while panels can be used as a body cover. Trials are underway and Indian officials want to displace imports from U.S. PV companies. – Solar-powered light emitting diode lanterns for marking anti-terrorism nets have been shipped by the Canadian company, Carmanah Technologies, to the U.S. Navy. The first order of US$22,000 will be used on a floating barrier to protect ships in port. The Model 601 LED lantern provide five years of operation without battery or bulb replacement or servicing, are self-cleaning and waterproof with a polycarbonate/polymer housing. – Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii is installing a 250 kW DC sun-tracking PV system to provide electricity for irrigation pumps on its golf course. In 1998, the resort installed a 100 kW solar system on its hotel roof, and later added a 130 kW PowerLight system on the roof of its golf course clubhouse. – Mongolia and South Korea will exchange information and technology on the distribution of solar energy to Mongolian homes through a Solar Home System project. Due to a shortage of electricity and the concentration of nomadic tribes in urban communities, the Mongolian government has asked Korea to support a solar radiation electric generation facility development system that could power 100,000 households. – Charles Gay has joined the advisory board of Thai Photovoltaics Ltd, a private company that plans to manufacture 20 MW of amorphous silicon PV modules by 2005, making Thailand the fifth largest producer of solar cells in the world. Gay was president and CEO of ASE Americas, the third largest solar cell manufacturer in the U.S., following his term as head of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, head of Siemens Solar Industries and its predecessor company, ARCO Solar. He is co-founder of Greenstar, a venture that combines PV power with satellite and terrestrial communication systems for rural communities. – The chairman of Energy Conversion Devices, Bob Stempel, was recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for his leadership in the auto industry and his role in the development of the catalytic converter and the nickel metal hydride battery, ECD, using its amorphous materials technology, has developed solid hydrogen storage systems, fuel cells and thin-film PV products. – Spire Corp reports a 38% increase in revenues for the third quarter, driven by a 340% increase in sales of its solar systems, bringing revenues in Q3 to US$3.9 million. Spire Solar Chicago, which supplies PV systems to the City of Chicago and ComEd, recorded sales of $1.4 million for the quarter. – Evergreen Solar, a manufacturer of PV products, says revenue in the third quarter was US$424,000, up from $109,000 in Q3 last year. It says continued progress with manufacturing scale-up has doubled revenues over last quarter. – Energy Conversion Devices says revenue for its first quarter of its fiscal year increased 122% to US$22.5 million, compared with $10 million in Q1 last year. ECD recently moved its operations, including United Solar and Bekaert ECD Solar Systems, to a new facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The new 25 MW production line under construction at that facility, contributed to a loss. Sales for PV products and battery packs increased 250 percent in the three months.
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