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EGEB: 200MW/yr robotic solar factory needs 8 people, shingled solar cell lawsuits, panel prices falling, more

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news. Featured Image Source.

China market: GCL SIT automates PV module production – Becoming a smart dark factory via full automation, the PV module factory has managed to reduce the number of its workers from 52 to eight and also lowered its defect rate by 0.1pp, said the report. On one side of the building they have pallets coming in, on the other side they have pallets leaving – drivers manage the product. They shut the lights off inside the building. The only people employed are engineers, robot technicians, and those needed to secure the site. This is the future of manufacturing as a whole, but it’s hitting the solar power industry hard as there is a need to scale quickly and economically.

Solar module prices are dropping againThe manufacturers of monocrystalline modules and black frame and black foil – the so-called all-black modules – made the beginning and lowered prices by an average of two percent. The market specialists assume that this trend will continue. First, it’s nice to see that pricing for panels is falling a bit globally. Normally, I quote EnergyTrend – they’re Taiwan/China focused. This site is Euro focused first. Secondly – note the last paragraph talking about the potential US solar tariff. Specifically, that some European solar panel manufacturers look at a tariff as an opportunity to increase market share and support hardware pricing.

GCL-Poly Energy reportedly settles shingled array technology lawsuit with Solaria – Solaria also sued China-based PV module maker Jiangsu Seraphim Solar System and PV equipment maker Suzhou Autoway System for the same reason. The two firms are currently negotiating with Solaria to settle the issue, said the sources. The settlement may include a cooperation between Solaria and GCL Poly-Energy to promote Solaria’s shingled array solutions and jointly defend related patents. In particular, SunPower, China-based Dongfang Electric and Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor have set up a joint venture, DZS Solar, to produce PV modules using SunPower’s patented technology. DZS Solar has been keen to protect SunPower’s shingled array patents in China, said the sources. I wonder how far shingling of solar cells will go. We wrote about it here, and it was the first I’d learned of it. Seems this article covers the major players in the field. Lesson to be learned – getting more silicon directly facing the sun ups efficiency greatly.

Germany ‘to set onshore record’ – FA Wind has analysed data in grid regulator BNetzA’s plant register and found that from 1 January until 30 September, developers commissioned 1430 turbines totalling 4.160GW. Based on the first three quarters of the year, the group estimates total onshore expansion for 2017 could be between 5.9GW and 6.2GW. Record volumes of wind power are never a bad thing.

I had no idea that China was bringing on 120,000 electric buses a year. I don’t think I’ve seen or ridden a single electric bus. I no longer worry about what we’re going to do with all those batteries in all those Gigafactories we’re building worldwide.

Featured image is from the Department of Energy SunShot program. PV panels atop the Tulsa Central Library provide energy in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo by Jared Heidemann.

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