The prospects for the international PV market were very positive in 2010, with significant growth anticipated. According to a statement published by iSuppli before Intersolar Europe 2010, the world was set for annual growth of around 13.5 GW.Italy, the United States, and Japan were on their way to becoming gigawatt markets.
Large PV markets were also forming in France, China, Spain, Belgium and the Canadian province of Ontario. The offgrid solar sector also grew throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
However, Germany retained the leading position. The country had installed almost 10 GW by 2010, with 3.8 GW added in 2009. iSuppli claimed that Germany would continue to lead the growth of the European market in the coming years, despite cuts in feed-in tariff rates.
Ten years ago, US President Barack Obama inaugurated the largest PV installation in Florida. Utility Florida Power and Light (FPL) built the 25 MW plant with monocrystalline silicon modules and trackers. SunPower supplied more than 90,000 of the panels, while the inverters came from Siemens. It took just under a year to build, with an investment of almost €100 million ($118.2 million).
China announced the construction of its largest thin-film solar park a decade ago in the Inner Mongolia region. China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP) announced plans in May 2010 to build a 5 MW solar plant using silicon-based thin-film solar modules. CECEP also signed a memorandum of understanding with Applied Materials to explore projects to accelerate the development solar PV.
However, in September 2010, Applied Materials said that it was abandoning production at its Sunfab turnkey thin-film factories, creating difficulties for many of its customers. The manufacturer failed to meet its 2010 targets of achieving 10% efficiency and costs of $ 1 per W.
The third generation of solar cells was the focus of the 25th EU PVSEC European Photovoltaic Conference and Fair, held in Valencia in September 2010. It had 963 exhibitors from 39 countries, but the number of visitors was low, according to the organizers.
The efficiency values for monocrystalline wafers reached 19%, and 17% for multicrystalline variants. But by 2010, Germany's Roth & Rau AG had started collaborating with the University of Neuchâtel to develop a process to produce heterojunction cells, in which a cell with a thin layer of silicon was deposited onto a crystalline cell.
In cells measuring 4 square centimeters, Roth & Rau achieved an efficiency of 21%, and 19% in standard cells. They then offered a turnkey production line to achieve cell efficiencies of around 20%, with a throughput of 2,400 wafers per hour.
Sanyo also presented a 98 micron thick heterojunction HIT cell at the Valencia event with an efficiency of 22.8%.
Twenty-two companies participated in what they called the Mexican Renewable Energy Cluster in 2010. The initiative was designed to accelerate the development of PV technology throughout the country, both in generation and distribution.
Vicente Estrada, director of Solartronic, was the president of the consortium. The group aimed to work with Mexican universities and the National Association of Solar Energy (ANES). It included eight PV companies: Solartech, Solartronic, Energía Solar, Energía Renovable del Centro, Yaaxtec, Arian Solar, and Grupo Sodes.
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