11 October 2010


Saint-Gobain forms CIGS JV with Hyundai Heavy Industries

After in June starting construction of a second plant in Germany for its subsidiary Avancis in Torgau, Saxony Germany to produce copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules, Saint-Gobain of Courbevoie, France (which designs, makes and distributes building materials and electronic materials) has announced the construction of a third PV panel manufacturing plant in Korea after forming a 50:50 joint venture called Hyundai Avancis in association with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd (HHI). Each firm will invest 110bn won (about $100m), making a total of 220bn won (just under $200m).

As well as being a leading shipbuilder, HHI is one of few firms to manufacture both solar power and wind turbine system products, and is said to be South Korea’s only company able to produce the entire solar value chain of products, ranging from polysilicon, solar cell and solar module all the way to power conditioning systems. HHI is currently expanding its facilities to increase annual production capacity of silicon solar cell and modules from 330MW to 600MW (in August winning a $700m contract to build a 175MW plant from US-based Matinee Energy).

The JV’s first manufacturing facility will be designed identically to the second Avancis plant under construction in Germany, in terms of both technology and manufacturing capacity, making it South Korea’s largest thin-film solar cell plant. It will hence produce an annual volume of 850,000 modules based on CIGS thin-film PV technology, designed for rooftops and solar fields (giving a power output of 100MW, or the equivalent yearly energy requirements of a town with 15,000 inhabitants). Construction will start in December, so the site should be operational from second-quarter 2012 and will supply the global market. Its modules will be marketed independently by Avancis and HHI (which will be the only Korean firm able to produce both crystalline silicon and thin-film solar cells).

Based on depositing coatings of CIGS on a glass substrate, the technology developed by Avancis avoids using traditional crystalline silicon. It could allow production costs as low as other thin-film based techniques, while its solar energy conversion efficiency (above 12% industrially and up to 20% in the laboratory) is close to the higher yields achieved using polycrystalline silicon cells, says Saint-Gobain. As well as being suitable for solar fields, CIGS thin-film PV modules are especially suited to roof installations, due to their simplicity of assembly, attractive appearance and reliability, the firm adds.

“Already well located in Korea (particularly in flat glass, where it has four float lines and several processing units for the automotive and building sectors), Saint-Gobain strengthens its position in this country in association with HHI, whose industrial and technological know-how is recognized worldwide,” says Jean-Pierre Floris, senior VP of Saint-Gobain and president of its Innovative Materials Sector. Saint-Gobain will provide glass for the CIGS PV cells via its Korean unit HanGlas.

“By expanding into the high-efficiency CIGS PV market, under a joint-venture with Saint-Gobain, HHI is on track with its plan to become a global supplier in the renewable energy sector via innovation and diversification,” says HHI’s chairman Keh-Sik Min. HHI aims to be a top-five solar power producer by 2015.

See related items:

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

Avancis claims record 15.1% CIS PV efficiency

Search: Saint-Gobain Avancis CIGS thin-film PV



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