Masdar breaks ground on photovoltaic factory in Germany  

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Nanotechnology Now reports the Masdar initiative has started construction of its first thin film PV factory - Masdar breaks ground on photovoltaic factory in Germany.

The plant will use advanced production technologies to bring PV closer towards grid parity, and enhance a local economy with a rich history of manufacturing and technology.

The US$230 million German plant marks the first phase of Masdar's US$2 billion investment in thin-film PV manufacturing, one of the largest investments ever made in solar. To be opened in third quarter 2009, the plant has a targeted annual production capacity of 70MW, and will create more than 180 green jobs.

It will produce the world's largest (5.7 sqauare metres) and most powerful PV modules, on equipment from the world's leading supplier Applied Materials, to drive the cost reductions necessary to make solar energy an affordable reality.

As a leading global centre for PV technology, Germany was selected as Masdar's first PV plant location. The German plant will act as a blueprint for technology and knowledge transfer to a 140MW Abu Dhabi plant, which will begin initial production by third quarter 2010. Output from both facilities has already been committed to major PV system installers in Europe, and for Masdar's own energy generation needs.

Cleantech.com reports that thin film manufacturer Nanosolar is receiving more funding to expand production of panels - Thin-film gets fat on cash.
Investors pour big money into two thin-film solar companies, along with 14 other deals we spotted over the past week.

Funds flowed into solar this week, but not just any solar — the spotlight was on thin-film, with San Jose, Calif.-based Nanosolar and Fort Collins, Colo.'s AVA Solar both grabbing healthy amounts of cash.

The big winner was Nanosolar, which pulled in a whopping $300 million in equity. This brings the company to nearly half a billion dollars of capital raised. Nanosolar plans to use the funding to expand production of its thin-film solar panels

The Moscow Times reports that solar is hot in Russia too - Investors Bet Millions on the Sun.
The image of Russia as a dark northern country that lives off its fossil fuels might be well-founded. But companies that rely on global demand for solar energy and Russia's scientific base have investors convinced. The next step: convincing their own government.

Nitol Solar, a private company in the east Siberian town of Usolye-Sibirskoye, has raised $600 million in investment since opening five years ago, including $190 million from Alfa Bank on Aug. 12 and $75 million from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation in late July.

The latest investment agreements were signed after Nitol Solar produced its first batch of polysilicon, an energy-intensive raw material that is the main component of solar cells.

Nitol Solar's production of polysilicon was big news in the solar power market, which currently provides about 1 percent of global energy consumption and has been growing rapidly in the past couple of years, fueled by rising energy costs and environmental awareness. The main reason the market is not expanding more quickly is a shortage of polysilicon, which absorbs the sun's photons in order to generate an electric current.

Nitol Solar, based in a restructured Soviet chemical plant in the Irkutsk region, plans to produce 3,700 tons of polysilicon per year, or about 9 percent of last year's global supply, by the end of 2009.

These plans have attracted big players like Chinese solar power holding Suntech Power, the world's third-biggest producer of solar cells with a market capitalization of $6.3 billion. Suntech has signed a seven-year supply agreement with Nitol and has agreed to purchase $100 million worth of newly issued ordinary shares in the Russian company.

Cleantechnica reports an Israeli solar power plant has commenced operation - First Solar Power Station in Israel is Up and Running.
In the department of “How has this not already happened?”, Haaretz reports that Israel’s first solar power station is now functioning. The 50 kW solar array is on a farm in the Negev, and will be hooked up to the national power grid in two weeks.

The reason for the long wait? Israel’s state solar incentives just kicked in on July 1st. They allow home and industrial customers to receive NIS 2.01 per kWh for electricity produced. Household power plants are limited to 15 kW, and business plants are limited to 50 kW.

The new solar station, built by Moshe Tenne, consists of thin-film solar panels on a cowshed roof and an array of multicrystal silicon solar cells that are spread out over the farmland.

Tenne also plans to build small wind turbines on his property even though wind power incentives aren’t yet in effect.

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