The high-tech engineering firm Manz presented the latest advances to its integrated production line for the manufacture of CIGS thin-film solar modules, the Manz CIGSfab, at the fourth Thin-Film Conference held by the solar industry magazine PHOTON. This includes achieving the previously attained increases to module efficiency under mass production conditions, cutting the capital expenditures (capex) required for the Manz CIGSfab by nearly one fifth, and reducing the cost of manufacturing modules by 25 percent since 2010. “Efficiency, capital expenditures for the equipment, and ongoing production costs – all three criteria help module manufacturers significantly cut their costs per watt. And in the current market phase, cutting costs is one of the main keys to a company’s success”, says Dieter Manz, founder and CEO of Manz. Under the CIGSfab brand name the company has offered complete turnkey production lines, which are scalable from an output of 43 MW to over 350 MW, since 2010.
Market analysts are forecasting that the market for CIGS modules will double in the coming three years. CIGS technology, which is based on a semiconductor, made of copper, indium, gallium, and selenide, has the highest potential to cut costs and increase efficiency of all the thin-film technologies. As such, Manz’s strategic partner ZSW, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, located in Stuttgart, Germany, has already achieved efficiencies of over 20 percent in a laboratory setting. Manz manufactured the solar panel that currently holds the world record for the highest level of efficiency ever achieved in a mass-produced panel, with an efficiency of 14 percent (15.1% aperture), on the CIGS innovation line that the company acquired in its entirety from Würth Solar at the beginning of this year.
In addition to the complete rights to the technology, Manz also acquired 118 specialists with the CIGS innovation line. “This level of expertise gives us an absolutely unparalleled position in the PV industry and can accelerate technological advancements in the field of CIGS,” explains Dieter Manz. The next upgrade to Manz’s CIGS innovation line installed in Schwäbisch Hall will be a completely new system for co-deposition developed by Manz Coating. This system allows throughput to be increased by 50 percent. When it comes to advancements to its CIGSfab turnkey lines, Manz is also concentrating on cutting materials costs. Since these costs amount to about 50 percent of the costs of manufacturing solar modules, Manz also sees significant potential to help solar power achieve grid parity in this area. In its technology road map, Manz offers module manufacturers a detailed schedule as the industry travels along the path to this goal.
Solar PV |
News published on 02 / 02 / 2012 by Andrew Callaway