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Inside TSMC Solar's CIGS fab strategy

Stephen McKenery, TSMC Solar North America, talks at Solar Power International 2011 about the company's highly automated CIGS solar fab, its solar manufacturing capacity strategy, and why a semiconductor manufacturer wants to get into PV.

October 20, 2011 -- Stephen McKenery, TSMC Solar North America, talks at Solar Power International 2011 (this week in Dallas, TX) about the company's highly automated copper/indium/gallium/selenide (CIGS) solar fab, its solar manufacturing capacity strategy, and why a semiconductor manufacturer wants to get into PV. McKenery speaks with Debra Vogler, senior technical editor.

TSMC took its semiconductor manufacturing automation experience into the CIGS fab. Solar is an opportunity for the company to apply its "manufacturing prowess, technology capabilities," culture, and other core competencies learned from leading-edge IC fab.

Also read: TSMC Solar readies CIGS PV fab for 1GW future

TSMC Solar will produce its proprietary CIGS technology at the fab. CIGS was TSMC's photvoltaics technology of choice because it has "inherent materials science properties that [TSMC] really likes; it has the ability to manufacture at a fairly low cost, competitive with the other thin-film products, including [cadmium telluride] CadTel; and it has the opportunity to get the efficiencies up very close to crystalline silicon," McKenery says. TSMC is continuing its R&D efforts in the space while ramping its photovoltaics manufacturing.

While the last 6 months have been "eye-opening" in terms of oversupply in the photovoltaics industry, TSMC is being "prudent, cautious, and conservative" in its manufacturing scale-up. McKenery points out that smart manufacturers are "in it for the long haul," riding out the solar industry's boom-and-bust cycles.

More interviews from SPI 2011:

Skyline Solar unveils CPV technology at SPI, chats about subsidies

Solar Power Technologies: Using the cloud to achieve ROI

Suniva adds BOS components to PV offering

Canadian Solar makes a play for re-engineering solar economics

Paula Mints on Solyndra, PV grid parity

CA's solar leadership today and tomorrow

CPV ramps to utility status

Heraeus nods to PV cost pressures with lower-silver pastes

Solar energy on the grid: Intermittency session at Solar Power International

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