Here is what we are hearing:
Kyocera Corp. announced that it has completed installation of its solar modules for the first phase of the SoftBank Kyoto Solar Park, and that the approximately 2.1 megawatt installation began operation yesterday to coincide with the start of the new Japanese feed-in tariff for renewable energy. The SoftBank Group subsidiary in charge of renewable energy business, SB Energy Corp., will be the operator of the solar power plant. An inauguration ceremony was held on July 1, where SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, and Kyocera founder and chairman emeritus, Kazuo Inamori, both gave speeches to mark the start of operation. “It was only a few kilometers from this place here where Kyocera took the initiative to set up a research center for the development of photovoltaic cells more than thirty years ago,” stated Inamori. “At that time there was little interest in solar energy, but Kyocera tirelessly continued on with our R&D, sacrificing while our solar business segment operated in the red year after year. That hard work eventually paid off as Kyocera was the first in the world to mass produce multicrystalline silicon solar cells.” Effective July 1, 2012, solar installations which produce more than 10 kilowatts of solar energy are subsidized with a feed-in tariff of 42 yen (approx. 53 cents) per kilowatt hour for a period of 20 years. The same rate is also applied to installations with an output of less than 10 kW, but for a period of ten years. With the start of the new FIT on July 1, the domestic solar market in Japan is expected to double compared to the previous fiscal year.
(Times Free Press) AdTech Ceramics, which designs and makes custom electronic components for the military, medical and other business sectors, is growing its Chattanooga facility. The high-tech company will invest $2.25 million and create 25 more manufacturing jobs, says AdTech President Bill Minehan. Minehan says the company currently employs “well over 100 people” at the plant. “We’re continuing to invest in both capacity and capability to meet customer demands and expectations,” he said, adding the new hiring will be done over the next couple of years. Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the [Tennessee] Department of Economic and Community Development, cited the AdTech Ceramics growth as part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s effort to spur companies to produce high-quality jobs.
(Seeking Alpha) Corning recently showcased its large-sized Gorilla Glass at Infocomm 2012 held in Las Vegas. Corning has partnered with Perceptive Pixel to offer large-screen multi-touch devices, and with Chillin Solutions to offer large-screen display solutions. Perceptive Pixel launched a 55-inch multi-touch enabled LCD display featuring the larger Gorilla Glass, which has enabled the device to be very thin and light-weight yet durable and tough. The device offers a highly accurate touch-experience. Chillin Solutions is also going to create a 55-inch outdoor LCD display monitor and a 70-inch display device, both featuring the larger Gorilla Glass. The toughness of the glass ensures damage resistance in the outdoor environment, along side making the device thin and light-weight. These large-sized multi-touch and outdoor display devices are required in the public display market, which is growing due to increased penetration in retail, transportation, educational, hospitality, media, entertainment and several other industries. According to projections of NPD DisplaySearch, shipments of public display market are to increase by 15 percent to reach 3.1 million units in 2012. And the projected 10-year compounded annual growth rate for the same stands at 25 percent to reach 12 million units in 2018.
(GigaOm) IT analytics company Splunk has received a patent for its method of organizing and presenting big data to mirror the experience of browsing links on the web. The patent validates Splunk’s unique approach to the problem of analyzing mountains of machine-generated data and hints at a future where writing big data applications doesn’t require a PhD. Splunk began as a simple IT search company to let systems administrators easily peruse log files, but cofounder and CTO Erik Swan said the goal has always been bigger. Between the filing of the patent five years ago and now, Splunk has been transforming its product to fit its vision of creating what Swan calls a navigable space linking one event to another using “what effectively look like hyperlinks.” Essentially, he explained, Splunk wants users to think about big data like a web problem and not like an analytics problem. And it wants to transform its product from an indexing engine into an application engine. Ideally, the result of Splunk’s efforts is that even web developers can use its products to extract meaningful business insights from machine-generated data. Traditionally, writing big data applications and making sense of the results requires what have come to be called data scientists, but Swan said that’s in part because tools like Hadoop present results as CSV files. Splunk, on the other hand, turns data into HTML. It’s not about algorithmic horsepower, he explained, but about learning how to move around within the web of data.
Glass is vital to buildings, but glass technology is vital to “green” buildings – that was the message from Mehran Arbab, PPG Industries director of research and technology, glass and fiber glass. He says innovation in four glass-related technology platforms will be critical to helping buildings, which now consume nearly 40 percent of US energy output, achieve the goal of becoming energy-neutral by 2030: low-e glass (high-performance coated glasses that block solar heat and transmit natural light); double-skin building facades (two high-performance glass walls that form a cavity between the building’s inner and outer surfaces); switchable glazings (electrochromic and thermochromic windows); and OLED lighting. In addition to these four technology platforms, Arbab said that building-integrated photovoltaic technology and off-site generation of solar power are glass-related technologies that may also enable buildings to become self-sustaining producers of energy.
(Metal-Pages) The development of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni lithium project could receive a shot in the arm following a deal struck by state-owned Mining Corporation of Bolibia (Comibol) with South Korean state company KORES and compatriot steelmaker POSCO, according to Juan Carlos Zuleta, a lithium economics analyst in Bolivia. Speaking to Metal-Pages, Zuleta said that the South Korean consortium had recently discovered and patented a method to produce lithium cathodes directly out of the brines from Salar de Uyuni without first having to produce lithium carbonate. “If successful, this project could change dramatically the lithium industry with important implications for the automotive industry as well,” said Zuleta. The deal signed with KORES and POSCO could side-step the solar evaporation process as it uses a combination of chemicals and high-tech procedures, which may produce large quantities of different kinds of lithium cathodes out of brines. Under the deal, KORES and POSCO will build a pilot plant in Bolivia to produce lithium cathodes, with both sides sharing equally in a $1.5 million investment.
Avalon Rare Metals Inc. is pleased to announce that it has bought out the 3 percent Calabras/Lutoda Net Smelter Return royalty on its Thor Lake property for a cash payment of CAD$2.0 million. The Thor Lake property encompasses the company’s flagship Nechalacho Rare Earth Elements Deposit. The 3 percent Calabras/Lutoda NSR was one of two NSR royalties on the Property that the company inherited when it acquired title to the property in 2005. Avalon has the contractual right to buy out the remaining 2.5 percent royalty on the basis of a fixed formula, which currently approximates CAD$1.3 million and which will increase at a rate equal to the Canadian prime rate until that royalty is also bought out. Don Bubar, Avalon’s president and CEO commented, “Acquiring this royalty interest is an important step in the development of our Nechalacho Deposit. Our ability to move this project forward without the uncertainty of a royalty burden has long been part of our development model and we are pleased that we were able to conclude this agreement with the royalty holders on favorable terms.”
Energy security, and environmental and livability concerns drive government policy on green-building technologies but eventually cost and affordability determine the extent and pace of adoption, according to Lux Research. The firm ranked 21 countries using these factors to determine the best markets for green buildings. Among the findings: countries with high per capita incomes tend to be early adopters of expensive technologies and emerging technologies such as dynamic windows, green roofs and BIPV; global cooperation is growing. such as the work between USAID and India’s BEE on developing the ECBC codes and carbon emission cap-and-trade programs in several countries; and energy-rich countries, such as Brazil, lag in policies to promote green buildings but fast-growing nations are ahead on account of their need to contain ever-increasing energy costs and simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions.