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29 January 2008


GSE reaches 10%-efficient CIGS production on flexible substrate

Global Solar Energy Inc (GSE) of Tucson, AZ, USA claims that in December it became the first firm in the copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) market to achieve an average efficiency of 10% on a flexible/ lightweight substrate over several production runs. Efficiency had been just over 9% at the start of 2007.

Founded in 1996, the privately held firm already claims to be the only manufacturer of CIGS thin-film solar products in full-scale production with stable processes on a flexible substrate. In 2007, it manufactured and shipped 4MW of photovoltaic material (a record for the firm since starting production in 2004).

GSE’s proprietary solar cell process technology can be used in both traditional rigid glass panels as well as flexible applications that require more durability. Such applications extend over a broad range, including energy, utility, building construction and design, government, military and consumer products.

“In 2007, we saw a range of economic and environmental factors converge to create a substantial market opportunity for renewable-energy technologies across all facets of the economy,” says CEO Mike Gering. “Government, commercial and consumer demand for renewable-energy products and building materials are growing at a fast pace, thereby putting pressure on CIGS producers and other types of solar manufacturers to deliver high-efficiency products that are flexible/lightweight and lower cost per watt installed.”

“A number of CIGS thin-film companies have exceeded 10% efficiency in the lab or in individual cells,” says Dr Jeffrey Britt, VP of technology. For example, the US National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) has achieved a 19.5%-efficient CIGS cell on glass and a 17.5%-efficient CIGS cell on a flexible metal substrate. “But achieving 10% average solar cell efficiency over the course of several sustained, continuous production runs is a significant achievement,”he adds. “This is the culmination of three full years of being in production and evolving our proprietary production techniques to continuously improve the efficiency and output of our production.” GSE aims to raise efficiency to 13-14% in 2008.

Last November 2006, GSE said it was spending $75m over 18 months to renovate a building near the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park, in order to increase annual production capacity from 2MW to 40MW in early 2008. Also, in January 2007 it announced plans to invest about $39 m to set up a production facility in Germany at the Berlin-Adlershof science and technology park (scheduled to start in first-half 2008 and ramp up in two phases to an annual capacity of about 30MW). By end 2008, total annual capacity should be at least 64MW.

See related items:

‘Third-wave’ solar panels power Nanosolar’s first contract

Ascent installs 1.5MW CIGS PV production line

Global Solar modules certified to US military MIL-STD-810E standard

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