12 December 2011

Soltecture re-brands as it wins European F&S Award for Entrepreneurial Company of the Year

Soltecture GmbH of Berlin, Germany says that it is taking another step in its growth from a manufacturer of sulfur-based CIGS and selenium-based CIGSe ‘CIS’ thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules to becoming a source of provider of complete system solutions for solar construction. With the introduction of a new design, Soltecture has restructured its array of services for residential and commercial solar energy, aiming to improve client accessibility.

“The focus of our new brand design is our client: they will get a focused overview of our services and portfolio,” says chief scientific officer Henrik Kruepper. Integration of the firm’s system solutions with its range of services, and renaming products in less technical terms, gives the firm’s brand a more focused and clear identity, he reckons.

Soltecture provides a single source of complete system solutions for solar construction, with products meeting the demands of projects ranging from residences up to large commercial sites. For commercial and industrial building-applied photovoltaic (BAPV) projects, Soltecture offers Tectum for flat-roofs and Sertum for sloping roofs. In addition, both the facade system Corium and the roof-integrated system Pallium meet the demands of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Soltecture is also integrating services further into the new brand design. Its array of services ranges from its online planning tool SOLdesign (which allows quick and efficient planning and ordering of a solar energy system) to SOLtraining (a specialized training service for Soltecture’s partners). The systems have been developed and tailored to various solutions, offering custom-fitted consulting services for developers and installers.

Soltecture has also renamed its entire range of products to reflect a more client-friendly planning and installation process. Its thin-film solar module is now called Linion (reflecting its pin-striped appearance). The anthracite laminated and framed modules Linion L and Linion F can be used as building materials on facades as well as roofing. Components from the Inteo product family have been developed by Soltecure to custom-fit its products and guarantee precise installation as well as optimum performance of the PV-systems. Finally, the Omnio product line offers technical components for the various system solutions.

Soltecture wins European Frost & Sullivan Award for Entrepreneurial Company of the Year

Based on its recent analysis of the photovoltaic market, Frost & Sullivan has recognized Soltecture with the European Frost & Sullivan Award for Entrepreneurial Company of the Year.

The Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award is presented to the firm that has demonstrated excellence in growth strategy and innovation, has achieved innovation with its products and technologies, has shown proven leadership in offering customer value, and whose speed of response to market needs has been commendable.

“In an intensely competitive market, Soltecture GmbH has transformed its business from a mere module manufacturer to a complete system solutions provider,” notes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Neelam Patil. “Going beyond its core competency of producing high-quality, thin-film solar modules, Soltecture now provides modules complete with mountings and cables, marking an enterprising transformation.”

Soltecture says that its approach to becoming a complete system solution provider is focused mainly on optimizing the overall system cost and delivering more value to customers. For instance, the new Tectum flat-roof system, when delivered, is already pre-fabricated, laminated, directly glued to the sub-structure and completely commissioned with the cables already in the correct locations for easy connection. Benefits include easier, faster and more cost-effective installation.

Soltecture has also employed a differentiated sales model for mature and emerging markets. For emerging markets, it is focused on educating customers about CIGS technology and its German-made product line through what the firm terms ‘challenger distributors’ (distribution partners). In mature markets, Soltecture has launched an online marketing platform where customers can access a tool that takes into account the regulatory requirements of the roof. It designs the installation according to local legal requirements in each country, including all the paperwork. “This is currently available for only one solution, although Soltecture is planning to expand it for all system solutions and across different markets so that users can benefit from a one-stop-shop experience where, at the end of the configuration exercise, clients can get a complete design and customized pricing for their project,” remarks Patil. “This marketing platform reduces the need for field sales staff, while facilitating better control over the average selling price,” he adds.

Among the various photovoltaic technologies, CIS is the only technology that has shown a lab conversion efficiency of over 20%. After being spun off in 2001 from the Hahn-Meitner-Institut (now the Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy) as Sulfurcell GmbH and then launching its first CIS-based thin-film PV modules in 2005, in 2010 the firm started producing its generation-2 modules with selenium instead of sulphur to attain higher module efficiencies. Renamed Soltecture in May 2011, the firm has achieved champion module aperture-area efficiency of 13.4%. It continues to work on optimizing other parts of the process, targeting 14% by mid 2012.

“Soltecture definitely finds itself in the group of top contenders where only a few other competitors have achieved better efficiencies,” says Patil. “Based on the fact that the company has been doing the CIGSe technology only for around a year, the efficiency attained in such a limited period of time is indicative of its strong innovative potential,” he adds.

Tags: Soltecture CIGSe thin-film photovoltaic solar modules

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