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Monday, October 16, 2006

Update on Solar Energy

Kyocera announced today that it has achieved a new world record of 18.5% energy conversion efficiency for a 15cm x 15cm multicrystalline silicon solar cell. The achievement represents the latest in a series of advances by Kyocera, which in 1985 became the first manufacturer to commercialize multicrystalline silicon solar cell technology. Prior records for energy conversion efficiency in multicrystalline cells of this size were also set by Kyocera, including 14.5% in 1989, 17.1% in 1996, and 17.7% in 2004.

In other solar news:

-- Google will begin installation of 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at their Mountain View campus (or enough to power 1,000 California homes). The world's largest dedicated solar-powered generation station is a 12-megawatt facility in Arnstein, Germany, near Frankfurt. The top U.S. dedicated solar facility generates 4.6 megawatts and sits in the Arizona desert near Tucson.

-- Under a new agreement, Evergreen Solar, Inc. will ship approximately $100 million of photovoltaic (PV) modules to Mainstream Energy over the next four years. This agreement is Evergreen Solar's sixth major contract in the past 12 months. The value of these six contracts totals more than $700 million over the next five years.

-- SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of the world's highest efficiency, commercially available solar cells and solar panels, today announced its newest solar panel, offering significantly higher power output and conversion efficiency than its current products. The new SPR-315 solar panel utilizes the company's newly developed 22-percent-efficient Gen 2 solar cells and carries a rated power output of 315 watts.

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