6 April 2007


Interview with Alain Lévis; Chemical Engineer TIV company

Please introduce your company, tell us briefly about its history, main activities and key products.
T.I.V (Thermique Industrie Vide), vacuum furnaces and process development, employing 20 engineers..Fields of activity: standard equipment for metal treatment, special equipment (nuclear, electron beam welding), dedicated skills in shaping of refractory metals (molybdenum, tungsten, tantalum).

What are the ambitions of your company for the coming 3 years in terms of markets and volumes?
1/ Creation of a test laboratory with different furnaces to give customers the possibility of developing a service of dedicated furnace design.
Areas: solid state (metal, powders, PM, 2/ Photovoltaïcs: new design of silicon ingot production furnace based on wide previous experience in this field.

NDC, Europe, North America

T.I.V is in discussion with a venture capital company involved in renewable energy. The low scenario targets 8 million € turnover. The upper scenario targets 20 million €.

What is your opinion about the current PV market situation in your country?
75% of electricity in the national grid is produced by nuclear power stations. As renewable energies are politically correct internationaly , it is impossible that nothing is undertaken in the area, but it is not yet the “Millenium Wave”.

If you were looking for international cooperation, which kinds of business partners would you be specially interested in?

Which issues or developments are you specially interested in?
Issues: Governments’ decision on photovoltaics support, which technology for which market-application (thin film, …)
Technologies: alternatives to multi-crystalline silicon.

What will help your company grow even faster?
Good health, concentration, positive thinking, good meetings, organization, good information flow, leadership and the very efficient SolarPlaza TEAM.

What market development has surprised you the most in recent years?
The development of Asian companies that could raise capital from the international financial markets or funds, with a less conservative approach than some European companies….A lesson.

What do you see as the major challenges in the PV market?
France has a public deficit of 109 €.
The challenge, if PV production develops in France, within the next 75 years…, with incentives from the government for the 5 first years, will be that after those 5 years this new energy will not be taxed 80% as the fuel for cars. This is a real challenge.

What do you consider as the biggest failures or mistakes made in the solar industry?
Shortage of silicon, lots of modules produced, prices should decrease for the end-users. Capacities are high for wafers and are increasing, so if the feedstock price stops its rapid rise at some point, the value chain could become smoother and a real flow of demand/offer could (at last), shape this technology as a real industrial and economical market.

What are your expectations for the global PV market in the next 5 years?
The same as those from 1970:

- The State’s political stop/go incentives. Whether we like it or not, PV- electricity is a complementary source. This means that for significant production of electricity thousands of square metres are needed: where ? (apart from on urban roofs (Si) and in deserts (thin film)
- Bubbles creation within the value chain that could dislocate the PV train and induce instabilities in the associated prices sequence down to final users.
- Cost of ISO 14000.
- Clean production technology of electricity for sure,
- Clean to manufacture equipment ?

What do you consider to be winning companies and technologies for the future?
- The “always surprising silicon valley California”, but this would be in a longer future.
- PV policy of all countries.
- Brent prices and OPEC policy (when they succeed in agreeing with each other) .
- Profile status of the value chain of polysilicon modules and systems:

1/ Polycrystalline price ww: MEMC, HEMLOCK, Dow Corning, metallurgical silicon alternative .

2/ Ingots, bricks and wafer prices.

3/ modules prices.

Thank you for the interview.

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