6 September 2012

Manz’s CIGS-based solar panels achieve a record 14.6% efficiency

Manz AG of Reutlingen, Germany, which supplies integrated production lines for crystalline silicon solar cells and thin-film solar modules (as well as lines flat-panel displays), says its integrated production line for CIGS thin-film solar panels, the Manz CIGSfab, can manufacture solar panels that supply power costing between 4 euro cents (Spain) and 8 euro cents (Germany) per kilowatt hour, depending on the location. According to Manz, this brings the cost of solar power in line with
electricity produced from fossil power plants, and is less expensive than electricity from offshore wind parks.

Manufactured on a mass production line, Manz's CIGS solar panel achieve a total panel efficiency of 14.6% and an aperture efficiency of 15.9%, which the firm says sets a world record for thin-film solar panels. Previously, the world record for total panel efficiency was held by First Solar, while the record for aperture efficiency was held by MiaSolé. In addition, Manz says that its new record for thin-film solar panel efficiency now equals that of polycrystalline solar panels.

With its fully automated production line, Manz was able to cut the investment costs for a production line by about 40% during the previous two years. This was primarily made possible thanks to new developments related to the systems in the process, such as the CIGS co-evaporator, a significant increase in throughput, and the standardization of the equipment used.

"The thin-film panels manufactured on our systems are competitive everywhere in the world, and as a result, the solar market's growth will no longer be dependent on national subsidy conditions." said Dieter Manz, founder and CEO of Manz AG.

The manufacturing costs possible using a CIGSfab production line with an annual capacity of 200 MW equal only $0.55 / Wp, and these costs fall to below $0.40 / Wp in factories producing in the gigawatts. In comparison, Chinese crystalline solar cell manufacturers' production costs are close to $1 / Wp on average.

Furthermore, Manz says, CIGS technology is nowhere near its limit. Manz's exclusive development partner, the Baden-Württemberg Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), has already achieved an efficiency of 20.3% in a laboratory. As a result, out of all thin-film technologies, CIGS has the greatest potential for increased efficiency rates and lower costs, concludes the firm.  

Tags: Manz CIGS PV

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