5 August 2011

Manz awarded €3.8m for German project to boost efficiency and cut cost for CIGS PV

Manz AG of Reutlingen, Germany, which supplies integrated production lines for crystalline silicon solar cells and thin-film solar modules (as well as lines for manufacturing flat-panel displays), says that it is participating with various industry and research partners in two cooperative research projects of the Photovoltaics Innovation Alliance.

As part of the Photovoltaics Innovation Alliance (launched in August 2010), Germany’s federal government is funding select industry projects in order to speed the achievement of grid parity for solar power (the point at which the cost of generating solar power is competitive with other sources of energy).

Manz has entered the first cooperative research project with copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic module maker Würth Solar GmbH of Schwäbisch-Hall, Germany and the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, ZSW) in Stuttgart. The goal is to speed development of the CIGS thin-film technology licensed to Manz as part of the exclusive expertise and cooperation agreement with Würth Solar announced in mid-July.

CIGS modules are the most efficient of all thin-film PV technologies available. Cells in ZSW’s laboratory, which holds the record for CIGS solar energy conversion efficiency (20.3%), demonstrate that there is still enormous potential for increasing the efficiency of mass-produced cells. The main goals of the project are to both rapidly increase efficiency while simultaneously reducing investment and manufacturing costs. The project has a total budget of €12.5m. Manz will receive €3.8m in subsidies over the next four years from Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Manz has also entered into a development partnership with solar module maker Schott Solar AG and Europe’s largest solar energy research institute, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). The joint research project is focusing on developing key technologies for the affordable mass production of crystalline silicon solar cells, specifically developing novel methods that will help boost efficiency and open up new possibilities for cutting material costs. The project’s budget totals €7.7m, with €1.85m coming from government subsidies from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Research.

“The issue here is Germany’s ability to compete in our industry on an international scale, and we are up against strong research initiatives in many countries, not only in China,” says Manz’s founder & CEO Dieter Manz. “For Manz, the support is important as we move down the path toward our strategic goal of becoming the leading supplier of fully integrated production systems.”

Founded in 1987, the firm has grown from being an automation specialist, and has been listed on the stock exchange in Germany since 2006. The firm operates production facilities in Germany, China, Taiwan, Slovakia, and Hungary. At the end of second-quarter 2011, Manz had about 1900 staff, including 800 in Asia.

Tags: Manz CIGS PV

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