Thin Film News Brief 16 – 30 September 2014

ZSW, Manz report new CIGS efficiency record

With 21.7%, the center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-...

Companies mentioned: ZSW, Manz,Frauenhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, IKEA, Duke Energy, North Carolina Utilities Commission

Thin Film News Brief 16 – 30 September 2014

ZSW, Manz report new CIGS efficiency record

Efficiency enters new dimensions with 21.7% and surpasses the world record for thin film solar laboratory cells by 0.7 percentage points.

CIGS technology is already realising the lowest costs for solar power through ongoing technological advances and has enormous potential for additional cost reduction at its disposal. With 21.7%, the center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wuerttemberg (ZSW), Manz AG's research partner in the field of CIGS thin film solar technology on glass, has presented a new world record for CIGS thin film solar cell efficiency.

According to a statement, it is the highest efficiency ever achieved in thin film solar technology and significantly exceeds even the previous record held by today's market-leading multicrystalline silicon solar technology. The world record was officially confirmed by the Frauenhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg.

Dieter Manz, CEO and founder of Manz AG stated: "The new world record is an impressive result of efficient collaboration between the ZSW and Manz as an exclusive industry partner. With 21.7% the ZSW has not only negated the last world record but far surpassed it. This makes me very proud and is clear evidence that CIGS thin film technology demonstrates the highest potential by far for continued enhancement of the rate of efficiency.”

Manz said that in the previous years, only thin film technology was putting out new world records - with a clear advantage for us in further developed CIGS technology. He believes the company is far from having reached the end of the development.

“With the world record the gap in comparison to multicrystalline technology now increases to 1.3 percent, which further strengthens the attractiveness of CIGS technology: In the future, CIGS thin film solar modules are thereby not only more powerful than multicrystalline solar cells but also significantly cheaper to produce. CIGS technology will therefore assume an important role in the next photovoltaic investment cycle,” said Manz.

The record breaking cell was produced in a co-evaporation process, a technology which was further developed and patented by both Manz and ZSW.

Manz researchers have been able to achieve considerable results since taking over the production line from Würth Solar: significant increase of efficiency while simultaneously cutting the required investments for a thin film factory in half are important milestones on the ambitious development road map. The production costs of CIGS thin film technology in a CIGS turnkey factory built by Manz (CIGSfab) are, depending on the location and size of the factory, up to 50% lower than the costs of today's still prevalent crystalline silicon solar technology.

Dieter Manz added: "CIGS technology is currently the superior solar technology in every respect and combines the best of about 40 years of German development history funded by the Federal Republic. It is a triumph for politics, basic research and mechanical engineering: Whoever wishes to invest in photovoltaics today and make money doing so cannot pass up on CIGS technology.”

IKEA to sell solar panels in 8 countries following UK trial

IKEA Group, the world's biggest furniture retailer, will expand its sales of home rooftop solar panels, made possible through a UK trial, to eight countries.

News of the solar panel range expansion follows statements made by IKEA Chief Executive Peter Agnefjall on the eve of the UN climate summit in New York.  The Swedish company also said that products from its plastic home furnishings range will be recycled materials or from renewable sources, such as wood, by 2020.

"We are determined to make sustainability both affordable and attractive to as many people as possible," IKEA Chief Executive Peter Agnefjall said in a statement on the eve of a U.N. climate summit in New York.

IKEA said that it would expand its offer of residential solar panels, sold in its British stores since 2013, in partnership with the British unit of Chinese clean energy generator Hanergy Holding Group Ltd.  It has been reported that the first extensions would be made to the Netherlands in October and Switzerland in December, and to stores in another six nations within 18 months, however, identities of those other markets have not been made public at the time of writing.

IKEA is a big investor in solar and wind projects, amassing $2bn to date. This investment is in line with the company’s goal achieve 50% energy generation from renewable sources within a decade.

Duke Energy names solar project partners

Duke Energy has announced a number of partner companies that it will use to build three previously announced solar projects in North Carolina by the end of 2015.

The company will construct and own some of the largest solar facilities on the East Coast, totalling 128 megawatts (MW) of capacity. These projects are part of the company’s recently announced $500m solar commitment. 

Construction is expected to begin in early 2015. When underway, up to 750 local construction jobs will be created. Before construction, the projects must obtain approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC).

“In addition to helping our local economies, the projects will benefit customers by having experienced solar companies involved,” said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources. “This furthers Duke Energy’s commitment to the communities we serve while meeting our goal of bringing large amounts of cost-effective renewable energy onto our system.”

Duke Energy projects includethe 65-MW Warsaw Solar Facility in Duplin County, Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. The project will use solar panels manufactured by Arizona-based First Solar, and the solar inverters will be manufactured by the German company SMA Solar Technology, with production facilities in Denver, Colorado.

Another project is to be constructed at the 40-MW Elm City Solar Facility in Wilson County; First Solar will supply its Series-4 thin-film solar panels and serve as the EPC contractor. SMA Solar Technology will supply the inverters.

And another project is set for construction at the 23-MW project in Bladen County, near the Cumberland County line; Arizona-based Phoenix Solar will be the project’s EPC contactor. The solar panels will be manufactured by Yingli Solar.

Duke Energy will also purchase power from five other new solar projects to be built and owned by other companies. Altogether, the eight projects total 278 MW.