Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Solar competitive in five years ?

by David Manners

Solar power will be competitive with mainstream electricity generation methods in five years, according to Cypress Semiconductor, which has a solar cell manufacturing subsidiary called SunPower.

“We’re four to five years away from the point at which solar is cost-effective with traditional electricity generation without any subsidy,” Norm Taffe, executive vice-president for the consumer and computation division at Cypress.

SunPower is one of the growth drivers in the Cypress stable of businesses. In its current fiscal year it expects sales of $210m compared to $78.7m in fiscal 2005.

“We use two tons of silicon a day,” said Taffe. “The solar market has grown at 31 per cent compound annual growth rate since 1995 in terms of MegaWatts.”

Cypress sold off 15 per cent of SunPower in an IPO last November raising $115m, assisted by a plug from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The solar power sector is soaring. The Nomura Solar Energy Index rose by 161 per cent in 2005 and by a further 56 per cent in January 2006. The market capitalisation of the sector now stands at over $20bn with European companies accounting for nearly half of that.

The current leaders in solar cell production are: Sharp, Kyocera, BP Solar, Mitsubishi Electric, Q-Cells, Shell Solar, Sanyo, Isofoton, SunTech Power, Deutsche Cell/SolarWorld Europe and RWE Schott.

ElectronicsWeekly.com - Solar 'competitive in five years' says Cypress


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