8 March 2012

PVthin association formed to promote technical, environmental and socio-economic benefits of thin-film PV

An international, not-for-profit coalition called PVthin has been formed in Brussels, Belgium to represent firms active in the thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar industry supply chain manufacturing and marketing products based on chalcogenide compounds, i.e. sulfides, selenides and tellurides (rather than oxides or amorphous silicon) such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

Founding members include CdTe solar cell manufacturers Abound Solar, Arendi, Calyxo, First Solar (the world’s biggest thin-film PV firm) and GE Energy (which makes CIGS PV panels, but said last October that it is switching to CdTe at a new 400MW plant being constructed in Aurora, CO). Another member is materials maker 5N Plus, which supplies not only CdTe but also cadmium sulfide (CdS, a starter material for making CIGS). Any company from the chalcogenide thin-film PV value chain may become a member, says PVthin.

PVthin’s aim is to strengthen global energy security and to help create sustainable energy infrastructures by promoting the social, economic and environmental benefits of thin-film solar photovoltaic technologies. Thin-film PV technologies now make up about 18% of global PV sales (up from “almost nothing” a decade ago), it is reckoned.

“PVthin was created to champion the role of thin-film PV and communicate the unique technological, environmental and socio-economic aspects of this cost-effective and environmentally friendly solar technology,” says PVthin’s president Andreas Wade, who is director of sustainable development at First Solar and also chair of the EPIA’s working group on sustainable development. “PVthin complements the excellent work of umbrella associations such as EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association) in Europe, SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) in the USA, and BSW in Germany and does not seek to create a rival organisation” he adds.

Compared with conventional silicon photovoltaics, thin-film PV can make more efficient use of raw materials and energy and results in both lower costs and smaller carbon footprints. Also, the new association notes that thin-film PV technology lends itself to relatively simple mechanical and chemical recycling, enabling the recovery of valuable raw materials when modules need to be replaced — often at no additional cost. PVthin says that it aims to strongly promote efficient and energy-saving production, raw material use and PV recycling and recovery programs and technologies, in cooperation with other organizations supporting this objective. Commercial-scale recycling operations are already capable of recovering up to 95% of the semiconductor material and up to 90% of the glass for use in new solar panels and other glass products.

Tags: PV CdTe CIGS

Visit: www.pvthin.org

See Latest IssueRSS Feed


This site uses some harmless cookies in order to function click here to view our Cookie and Privacy Policy