Applied Materials drives innovation in a variety of ways, including investing in internal R&D to continue to offer new products and technologies and collaborating with the world’s leading universities, research institutions, industry associations and consortia as well as government entities.
We’ve also developed internal programs to advance technology breakthroughs by encouraging and funding disruptive ideas that can accelerate product development.
Applied Materials invited me to write a blog post about SEMI’s recently released the 4th edition of the ITRPV, the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics to highlight the importance of establishing an industry direction for R&D and planning. The ITRPV outlines expected technology developments and helps set a basis for dialog about required improvements and standards. The ITRPV effort began in 2008 in Europe and was the first SEMI effort to bring the photovoltaic (PV) industry together around shared challenges and a consensus outlook on where Crystalline-silicon (c-Si) is going.
One of the many highlights of working at Applied Materials is collaborating with extremely innovative, talented and passionate people who are changing the world as we know it. One in particular is our very own Dr. Charlie Gay – also known as “Doctor Solar.”
I’m delighted to congratulate Charlie on his election to the National Academy of Engineering – the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer in the United States – for his seminal contributions to the development of the global solar photovoltaic (PV) industry.
Solar installations are rocketing worldwide as solar electricity becomes cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels – it’s already happened in 105 countries. This is the tipping point where economics takes over from altruism and solar PV becomes a serious part of the global energy mix.
The steady drop in cost-per-watt is great news for the end user and is enabled by simultaneous increases in cell efficiency and lower manufacturing costs.
If you’re a cell manufacturer, though, dropping prices are a double-edged sword: strong demand is good, but you must continuously lower costs by improving your manufacturing processes in order to be profitable.
So, in a fiercely competitive industry, how is this done?
After the jump, we’ll look at a great example of how cell manufacturers can boost profitability using an emerging technique called “double printing”.
Applied Materials is pleased to be recognized once again for our commitment to green energy. In the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent Green Power Partnership report, Applied ranked no. 15 on the list of the Top 20 Tech and Telecom companies and no. 35 on the Fortune 500 list.
As I’m caught up in Olympic fever at the moment, this feels like winning a medal!
600 million people without power – and those were the ones expecting to have power. I’m not going to join the chorus of critical voices reacting to two of the world’s largest power black-outs this week in India. While surely there is ample blame to go around, it’s not really clear what happened. It could have been the lack of infrastructure investment, the light monsoon weather causing farmers to use more electricity for pumping irrigation water or states taking more than their allotted share of electricity from the grid. But one thing is clear, this power outage ground India’s economy to a halt, left 10% of the world’s population without power and rolled through 22 of India’s 28 states. And that’s not counting the 300 million people there who have no regular access to electricity.
Summer solstice is a great time to celebrate the sun and all the benefits we receive from it–light, resources for life and warmth for the Earth. It’s also a great time to talk about solar energy and its adoption around the world. For the past four years, Applied has used this day to highlight the benefits of solar technology, as well as dispel common misperceptions about this renewable energy source.
Today, we released the results of our annual solar energy survey which measures consumer understanding and awareness of solar in China, India, Japan and the United States. We chose these countries because the anticipated growth of photovoltaic (PV) installations is greatest in these markets.
I want to invite you to a special Applied Materials blog event on Twitter featuring the senior director for Energy Policy and Market Development at Applied Materials, Cathy Boone. Topics she will discuss include solar energy policy, jobs and myths. The Twitter chat is on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific; 1:00 p.m. Eastern and will last for one hour.
India’s solar industry is finally taking off, but before it can make a meaningful contribution to the country’s growing power demands, many hurdles must still be overcome say experts and business leaders in the field.
In order to remain competitive in the global solar market and compete with countries like China and others, Indian manufactures will need to scale up and quickly. The market is there and booming, but manufacturers need capacities of 300-1,000 MW to remain competitive.
Applied Materials, Inc. was recognized as the largest supplier of photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturing equipment in 2011 by VLSIresearch, a market research firm located in Santa Clara, Calif. This is the fourth consecutive year that Applied has been ranked number one in revenue in the PV solar market, and fiscal 2011 represented its third year of achieving more than $1 billion in sales in this market.*
As the market leader in PV manufacturing equipment, Applied currently supports over 1,800 solar manufacturing systems including screen printing, precision wafering, ion implantation and thin film deposition equipment at more than 200 customer sites worldwide through its Applied Global Services division. Applied also provides factory automation software and service solutions for optimizing solar cell efficiency and factory operations.
Last year, the Japanese government announced the creation of a national feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar, joining Germany and China in creating robust public policy to drive deployment of renewable energy. The program is set to launch on July 1, 2012 and solar is regarded as one of the brightest spots in the Japanese recovery from the tsunami.
The new program will guarantee payment of 40 Yen/kWh ($0.50) for solar energy produced by projects >10kw (non-residential) and 42 Yen/kWh ($0.53) for energy from projects <10kw (residential) for twenty and ten years, respectively. Today, installed system prices in Japan far exceed global norms – 2011 system costs averaged ~$6.25/w reflecting a high cost of regulation, grid connection, land, labor and construction costs in Japan as well as a module supply largely dominated by higher priced domestic manufacturers. Solar panel prices in 2011 ranged from 150-200Yen/watt ($1.90-2.70/w) which is almost twice what installers in the U.S. pay.
The solar market has grown far beyond what most analysts had predicted even 5-10 years ago, and Applied Materials has played a key role in driving down the costs of solar modules by helping to improve efficiencies and through advances in solar cell manufacturing technology.
However, while falling module prices have made solar somewhat more affordable, the net system installed cost is still very high, especially in the residential and commercial markets. As anyone who has tried installing a solar system on their rooftop knows, the final, installed price is still high, largely because of the balance of system (BOS) – all the upfront costs associated with a photovoltaic system except the module* – hasn’t declined at the same rate as the modules prices. If we could lower the BOS cost, we believe a great deal of pent-up demand could be unleashed.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) hosted a renewable energy tax equity seminar recently at the White House. The seminar was designed to promote private sector investment in tax equity partnerships for solar, wind and other renewable energy projects. Since the 2008 economic crisis, financing available for renewable energy projects has been limited as the renewable tax equity markets have been very slow to recover.
There is compelling new evidence that well designed standards for energy consuming products can drive innovation and save consumers enormous amounts of money over the life of those products. This is a thesis that I have expressed support for on more than one occasion.
A new report entitled “The Efficiency Boom” is the work of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and a multi-stakeholder group called the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (“ASAP).
The report takes a retrospective look at the various energy standards that have been adopted since the 1980s as well as potential new or updated standards in 34 categories (e.g. industrial boilers, dishwashers, microwaves, computers, televisions, lighting fixtures and so on). The energy and dollar savings from these standards are truly impressive.
A recent Department of Defense (DoD) study found huge potential for solar deployment on military bases in California. Responding to a Congressional request, the DoD spent a year evaluating the potential for affordable solar energy on military bases in California and Nevada. Although 96% of the land on the bases was deemed incompatible with solar, the DoD identified 25,000 acres that are “suitable” and 100,000 acres that are “likely” or “questionably” suitable for solar.
If solar were deployed on all the suitable land and 25% of the likely suitable land, seven thousand (7,000) megawatts (MW) of energy could be generated – equivalent to the output of seven nuclear power plants and 30 times the energy consumed by the bases today!
Applied Materials was named among Technology Review’s 2012 TR50, which lists the world's 50 most innovative companies, for the third consecutive year. Applied is recognized for “helping lower the cost of solar power through a new innovative manufacturing system that allows solar producers to increase the output and efficiency of their cells.”
The Department of Energy announced the 20 university teams selected to participate in the next Solar Decathlon in the U.S....and California is a big winner with four teams from the Golden State. The third place winner in 2009, Santa Clara University, will be joined by newcomers Stanford, University of Southern California, and a collaboration between Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology.
And, none of the four teams will need to travel far.
A notable development in the renewable energy industry has been the swift ascendency of China in solar cell manufacturing. It took under five years for Chinese manufacturers to dominate production and the global market. Many of these manufacturers are Applied Materials customers. So, when MIT’s Technology Review started to research their February cover feature on “manufacturing breakthroughs” that includes a look at China’s leadership in solar, they reached out to Applied for perspective. Applied EVP and GM for the Energy and Environmental Solutions team, Mark Pinto discussed with Technology Review the evolution of China’s solar industry and how it is changing to being driven by not only scale but also technology advancements in conversion efficiency to reduce cost.