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4 March 2008


GSE’s PowerFlex CIGS material extends product integration

At this week’s Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC 2008) in Washington DC, USA, Global Solar Energy (GSE) of Tucson, AZ, which manufactures copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic cells on a foil substrate, is introducing PowerFlex, a lightweight, conformable material that is being integrated into products to combine power and building material functionality. The firm says that the launch greatly expands both the potential of solar applications and Global Solar’s market opportunity.

Global Solar says that its proprietary manufacturing process deposits CIGS materials onto a thin, pliable and unbreakable substrate, resulting in an efficient thin-film photovoltaic (PV) material that can be configured and adapted to the changing designs in the solar industry. The firm produces both standard CIGS solar cells and glass module solar cell strings compatible with traditional glass manufacturing (claiming to be the only firm reliably producing CIGS that can be encapsulated in traditional glass modules or in a flexible substrate). In addition, its CIGS material provides an opportunity to create integrated solar products for the next generation of energized building markets, the firm says.

“The unique combination of high efficiency, low cost and flexibility offered by PowerFlex opens Global Solar to new emerging markets, such as building integrated PVs (BIPVs),” says CEO Mike Gering. “Now, in addition to supplying our thin-film cells to the traditional glass module markets, we can furnish companies with highly efficient, affordable and flexible material to be built directly into commercial, residential and government products of their design.”

Based on three years of production experience codifying proven and stable production processes, Global Solar claims it is the only firm reliably producing CIGS in full-scale production. Its solar cells (with an average efficiency of 10% in full-scale production, announced in late January) are encapsulated in glass or on a pliable substrate for applications including energized building products. The firm’s new $75m manufacturing plant, which is opening this week, will enable high-capacity production (up to a capacity of 40MW) to meet the increasing demand. With the opening of another new plant opening in Berlin, Germany in fall 2008 (costing €30m, and with a capacity ramping up to 30MW), Global Solar’s full global production capacity should exceed 70MW.

“We understand that multi-billion dollar companies require reliable, stable, highly-available materials to develop and manufacture innovative new products,” says Tim Teich, VP of sales & marketing. “Our predictable supply of dependable PowerFlex will enable our partners to create and introduce products not yet seen on the market,” he reckons. “For example, building product and roofing companies will now be able to create energized building materials with PV built directly into the functionality of their products.”

See related item:

GSE reaches 10%-efficient CIGS production on flexible substrate

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

Ascent installs 1.5MW CIGS PV production line

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