18 September 2012

Smit Ovens surpasses 10 installations of in-line production systems for CIGS PV production

Smit Ovens of Eindhoven, The Netherlands has announced the installation of 10 in-line production systems for copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) applications at five customers worldwide. The systems cover selenium deposition and/or crystallization/annealing systems for the pilot and or mass production and development of thin-film CIGS photovoltaic cells that are produced using the two-step CIGS manufacturing process. Both roll-to-roll and sheet-to-sheet applications are served.

Smit Ovens claims that its in-line production system designs are proven to be more cost effective due to the output being double that of existing batch and in-line solutions. They also demonstrate high flexibility and repeatability in production, providing improved layer quality, high uptime and productivity, the firm adds.

Some systems are equipped with active selenium reactors, linked to the crystallization/anneal reactor. The balance of the systems installed are configured for annealing of glass and flexible substrates. Control of the selenium pressure at different process steps is realized, offering overall process stability. For instance, output performance is less dependent on precursor parameters as the active selenium process is correcting for differences in pre-deposited selenium layer thicknesses.

“This milestone underscores the strong relationship we have with our customers, who aim to be leading players in the global CIGS cell market,” says CEO Wiro Zijlmans. “Thermal processes are a key way to achieve competitiveness in this growing market. We are already seeing cell efficiencies of 15%. And, with advanced thermal processes, manufacturers can get close to production costs as low as €0.04 per Watt for the selenization process, including the selenium contribution – a crucial threshold for creating a mass market for thin-film CIGS photovoltaics,” he reckons.

“As a machine builder, Smit Ovens has extensive experience in high-precision thermal solutions for the solar energy industry, and we are eager to apply this know-how to new market areas such as CIGS,” continues Zijlmans. “The Solliance Institute, which uses our R&D/pilot system, is a highly valuable technology partner with a vast knowledge of CIGS materials, processes and requirements,” he adds. “The system at Solliance is available for Smit Ovens customers to use for verification and process development.”

Smit Ovens is exhibiting in Hall 3.0 booth C16 at the 27th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC 2012) in Frankfurt, Germany (25-28 September).

Tags: Smit Ovens CIGS

Visit: www.smitovens.nl

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