21 June 2010


Saint-Gobain to build Avancis’ second CIS PV module plant

As part of its solar power growth strategy, Saint-Gobain of Courbevoie, France says that its subsidiary Avancis is to build a new plant to produce CIS (copper indium selenide) photovoltaic (PV) modules for covering the roofs of residential, industrial and commercial buildings as well as for solar plants. The site will be in Torgau, Germany, where the group already has a presence through Saint-Gobain Glass (flat glass and coated glass), Saint-Gobain Sekurit (automotive glass) and Avancis (PV modules).

The new plant will be Avancis’ second German thin-film CIS PV panels manufacturing facility, built close to the first (which has an annual production capacity of 20MWp). With a surface area of 25,000m2, the plant will have an annual production capacity of 100MWp (capable of supplying the electricity needs for cities of 15,000 inhabitants) and should come on stream by first-quarter 2012.

Saint-Gobain says that the technology — which is based on depositing a coating of CIS on a glass substrate — offers a way to avoid traditional crystalline silicon and achieve higher conversion efficiencies than other thin-film technologies (above 12% in production and up to 20% in the laboratory). It is also efficient at lower light levels, and offers competitive advantages in terms of manufacturing costs, the firm adds. The technology requires expertise in coating and thermally treating glass material, two core competencies for Saint-Gobain (which specializes in coated glass for the building and automotive industries).

“With this plant, Saint-Gobain will boost the industrial development of Avancis,” says Jean-Pierre Floris, president of the Innovative Materials Sector & senior VP of Saint-Gobain. The firm says that the technology combines the low production costs associated with all thin-film-based techniques with efficiencies approaching those of polycrystalline silicon cells. While being well adapted for solar fields, Avancis adds that its modules are particularly suited to rooftop installation, being simple to mount and reliable.

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