6 April 2011

Nanosolar reaches printed CIGS efficiencies of 13.9% for cells and 11.6% for panels

Nanosolar Inc of San Jose, CA, USA, which makes copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic panels using the industry's first roll-to-roll solar cell printing factory together with a panel-assembly plant in Luckenwalde, Germany, has announced new efficiency benchmarks of 11.6% for its Nanosolar Utility Panel (its first product, started shipping in late 2007) and 13.9% for its printed CIGS solar cells, as measured by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy (ISE) and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“Our mission is to produce the most cost-efficient solar power possible,” says CEO Geoff Tate. “We are doing this through our printed CIGS technology, innovative panel design and sound manufacturing decisions that lower panel costs in tandem with balance of system costs,” he adds.

Nanosolar prints its proprietary CIGS and nanoparticle inks directly onto low-cost aluminum foil, both faster and more cost-effectively than with traditional high-vacuum manufacturing equipment, it is claimed. Leveraging robotic manufacturing practices, the firm assembles the electrically matched, all-back-contact thin-film solar cells into uniform solar panels using its cost-effective metal wrap through process at assembly factories that can be located at the point of panel demand.

Nanosolar says that it will reach an annual manufacturing capacity of 115MW by Fall 2011. The firm is currently shipping 10%-efficient, 200W panels in volume, with plans to reach 11% and 12% efficiencies in volume within the next 12 months.

The firm says that a unique design enables the Nanosolar Utility Panel to significantly reduce mounting hardware costs, wiring cable volume, and required installation labor in multi-megawatt installations. The panel has two pieces of durable, tempered glass (versus one tempered glass sheet for most thin-film panels), uses two edge connectors (as opposed to a standard junction box), and produces more power and operates at a far lower voltage than standard thin-film panels, Nanosolar claims. In addition, it is the first solar panel to be certified by TUV to operate at up to 1500 system volts. These system design features allow for balance of systems cost savings of up to 30% over competing thin-film solar panels in utility-scale power plants, the firm adds.

Nanosolar recently signed a panel warranty insurance policy with Munich Re in preparation for future multi-megawatt installations and panel bankability. The policy covers Nanosolar's 2011 factory production and serves as a backstop to the firm’s 25-year limited performance panel warranty. “Through our extensive due-diligence process, we were impressed with the quality and controls in the Nanosolar manufacturing process,” comments Christian Scharrer, head of Green Tech Solutions, Special Enterprise Risks at Munich Re. “We are confident in standing behind the Nanosolar Utility Panel as a credible and bankable technology for low-cost utility-scale solar installations,” he adds.

As part of its commitment to an effective waste management and recycling policy for the company and its partners, Nanosolar has joined Brussels-based PV Cycle, the European organization committed to responsibly recycle solar panels. The Nanosolar Utility Panel has one of the industry's lowest carbon dioxide and toxic emissions lifecycle footprints, and its energy payback time is less than eight months, claims Nanosolar.

“We will soon announce strategic supply agreements with a number of solar power plant developers and installers that will leverage Nanosolar’s ability to drive down the cost of solar power,” notes Tate.

Tags: Nanosolar CIGS thin-film PV panels CIGS

Visit: www.nanosolar.com

Visit: www.pvcycle.org

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