Oerlikon builds and configures a turn-key thin film solar panel plant for you or your utility company. They've built two such plants in Germany, one on Taiwan. More on order both in Asia and Europe. One future plant is going into China, already a major player in standard solar panel manufacturing. It will be China's first thin-film plant.
SOLAR AND THE CAPITAL CRUNCH
I spoke recently with Chris O'Brien of Oerlikon Solar of North America. He says the current capital drought has reduced capital spending globally, but as that eases there is pent-up need for solar powered generation across the globe. In the past political and economic policies have been large drivers of solar investment. O'Brien said current U.S. federal law give solar tax credits an eight-year run. And the new law is far more favorable for home solar installations. In the past the limits was $2,000 worth of credit. Now homeowners get 30% of total cost with no top limit. The federal law now crucially extends the tax credits to utility companies and high income individuals so we'll be seeing solar-powered swimming pools, tennis court lights, spas and bar-b-ques in Hollywood and Hilton Head pretty quick now.
In Europe there are policies that push utilities and industries to use renewable energy sources. That's also driving solar installations there.
SOLAR OWNERS' ECONOMICS
At utility scale, O'Brien says, their thin film solar panels will within a few years provide electricity competitive with other renewable technologies, and even with new traditional fossil fuel plants.
In Germany the law creates a firm twenty-year contract between the solar panel owner and the electric utility. The owner knows going in the capital costs and the twenty year buy-back income on the electricity that is expected to be produced. It allows firm business plans on a commercial scale.