22 January 2010


Avancis claims record 15.1% CIS PV efficiency

Solar module manufacturer Avancis GmbH & Co KG of Torgau, Saxony, Germany has reported a record for CIS (copper indium selenide) photovoltaic efficiency with a 30cm x 30cm fully encapsulated CIS PV module.

Based on an aperture area of 668cm2, an efficiency of 15.1% has been confirmed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), says the firm. Avancis claims that, with this result (achieved at its R&D department in Munich, which has more than 40 staff), it heads the list of independently certified world records in thin-film solar modules published in the journal ‘Progress in Photovoltaics’.

“This world record is testimony to the fact that CIS boasts the best performance of all thin-film technologies and, with our patented, two-stage manufacturing method, we have an unrivalled production process at our disposal,” says chief technology officer Dr Franz Karg. “Since the start of production in October 2008, we have been able to increase the efficiency of standard production modules from an initial 9% to 11% [for the highest performance class (120Wp) of its PowerMax modules],” he adds. In October 2009, running in four-shift operation seven days a week to meet the demand, Avancis’ first plant (which has more than 150 staff) reached its maximum annual production capacity of 20 MWp, concluding its start-up phase.

Avancis stresses that, in order to turn the record performance into an industry standard as quickly as possible, its research department only uses processes and materials that are also used in series production.

Avancis was formed in November 2006 as a 50:50 joint venture between Netherlands-based energy company Royal Dutch Shell plc and France-based glass and construction materials maker Saint-Gobain SA, in order to combine the know-how of Shell research, development and production in CIS thin-film technologies and Saint-Gobain’s expertise in manufacturing glass and building materials. However, last August, Saint-Gobain acquired Shell's 50% stake in the joint venture, making Avancis a wholly owned subsidiary.

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