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7 March 2008


GSE opens 40MW CIGS PV plant

Global Solar Energy (GSE) of Tucson, AZ, which claims to be the only company reliably producing copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic cells that can be encapsulated in either glass or flexible substrates, has opened its new manufacturing plant.

The firm claims that the plant’s phase one, full-production capacity of 40MW in annual US production sets new industry records for CIGS production capacity, enabling it to meet high demand from solar adoption worldwide. GSE is simultaneously breaking ground on what it reckons will be one of the world’s largest utility-scale CIGS solar fields (750kW), generating production power on-site. The firm is commissioning its 35MW plant in Berlin, Germany (to open in fall 2008).

Expanding from its former 33,000 square-foot factory to the new 100,000 square-foot facility in Tucson and the 32,000 square-foot factory in Berlin, Germany will increases GSE’s capacity from 4.2MW to 75MW. The firm also plans to put an additional 100MW into production at the end of 2009, raising its total capacity to 175MW in 2010.

The expansion will enable GSE to continue to deliver CIGS solar cells for use in traditional glass module manufacturing as well as to develop new business channels for its CIGS material for integration into products targeted at the emerging building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) market, the firm says.

“Given that Global Solar is producing the highest volume of CIGS thin-film solar material available, the opening of its plant in Tucson is a remarkable event,” said Tom Kimbis, acting director at the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Program. GSE also claims that, as a result of its three years of full-scale production, it is also the only firm to have achieved an average efficiency of 10% for CIGS technology on a flexible substrate over numerous production runs. “Production from this facility will help satisfy the strong demand for solar product across the world, while providing local residents of Tucson, already a Solar America City, with jobs in a rapidly growing, high-tech industry,” Kimbis added. “The addition of the Tucson Global Solar plant will help meet the 2015 goal of the Solar America Initiative of achieving solar electricity cost competitiveness with grid electricity, especially through the use of flexible CIGS thin-film technologies in building-integrated applications.”

Analysis by the firm BCC Research projects that the global PV market will grow to $32.3bn by 2012, with thin-film solar growing at 45% to almost 19% of the market by 2012.

See related items:

GSE’s PowerFlex CIGS material extends product integration

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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