29 February 2012

Abound to accelerate production of next-gen 12.5-13%-efficienct CdTe PV modules by end-2012

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker Abound Solar of Loveland, CO, USA says that it will cease production of its first-generation solar module in a strategic decision to accelerate the manufacturing process and equipment changes needed for the production launch of its next-generation high-efficiency module.

Compared with 10.5% for Abound’s current product, its new ‘AB2’ module has a solar energy conversion efficiency of 12.5% (and output of 85W), as verified by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Several-hundred AB2 modules were produced in early January on commercial production equipment.

The suspension of first-generation module production will result in the temporary reduction of about 180 permanent jobs from the firm’s Colorado facilities. The firm determined that continuing production of its current modules was not favorable to accelerating development of its next-generation, higher-efficiency product. “Given current market conditions, Abound decided that now was the right time to make this change,” it adds.

“We will continue to support all customers and partners using our current-generation product, and will continue to honor all warranties and our industry-leading, escrow-funded recycling program,” says Abound. “We will be working with our customers and channel partners to install field trials of our new product and specify it into future solar projects.”

After manufacturing equipment has been modified and performance tested, Abound expects to produce batches of modules this summer for customer field trials, and to re-scale mass production in 6-9 months, resuming mass production with a 12.5-13% efficient module by the end of 2012.

“While this is a difficult move with regards to temporarily reducing our workforce, we know that accelerating the introduction of our next-generation module will bring significant benefits to our customers and allow us to create even more jobs in the future,” says president & CEO Craig Witsoe. “Current market conditions are challenging for all US solar manufacturers, but the long-term winners will be manufacturers of the lowest-cost-per-watt, most reliable systems,” he adds. “By focusing our resources to accelerate scale-up of our next-generation high-efficiency technology, we will sustainably lower total system costs for our customers, increase our own profitability, and grow US jobs and energy security.”

In late 2010, Abound was approved for a loan guarantee of up to $400m under the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. Abound says that it has been working closely with the DOE, which has led to the release of about $70m in loans under the guarantee, and that the DOE continues to be supportive of Abound.

The firm adds that it still has long-term plans for a manufacturing facility in Tipton, IN, once production of its next-generation modules begins. It anticipates having an update on a Tipton facility build-out in mid-2013.

Tags: Abound Solar CdTe thin-film PV

Visit: www.abound.com

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