Abound Solar, Thin-Film Panel Makers, Ready To Cross The Pond

Abound Solar, which makes thin-film cadmium telluride solar panels, has attained certifications that will allow the company to receive feed-in tariffs in the U.K. and pursue sales there aggressively.

With a feed-in tariff, utilities agree to pay a premium, but stable, rate for power generated from renewable sources, both as the utility uses the power, or as it is fed back through the grid to be redistributed and sold elsewhere.

Often controversial, feed-in tariff are meant to drive the rapid adoption of clean energy by homeowners and utilities alike. Critics believe they give a better payout to utilities, and hurt consumers, or that they tip the scales in favor of one technology (like solar) over others (such as wind, or geothermal) unfairly.

Solar subsidies in France, Bloomberg reported last week, led to an all-out boom in the installation of residential solar systems, and then to government debt. The agency that guaranteed premium rates for solar generated power can’t cover as much as installed systems have begun to produce at the locked-in, higher-than-market rates according to the report. As a result, the country is cutting the incentives, and that could hurt solar companies that have heavily invested, there.

A similar thing happened to the solar market in Spain around 2008, according to a report by analyst Stephen Marcus for Cleantech Group. Japan is currently considering cutting down its solar feed-in tarrifs now, too PV-Tech reported today. A decision there is due in February.

Abound Solar’s modules previously received certifications from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) which helped the company to gather momentum, domestically. The company manufactures its technology in Indiana, having recently secured a federal loan guarantee of $400 million to build its operations there in a facility that once made auto transmissions.

To date, Abound Solar (formerly known as AVA Solar) has raised $150 million from private investors and institutions, including: Invus Group, DCM, Bohemian Companies, Technology Partners, GLG Partners, and the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Program.

Mark Chen, a director of marketing and product manager at Abound Solar, said on Tuesday:

“We have no immediate projects in the pipeline in the U.K. but are optimistic about our market potential there, as the government is highly supportive of solar. We will follow some of our existing customers there from Germany, Italy and the U.S. including probably Juwi Solar and WirSol both German companies.”