ErSol Solar Energy Expands to Produce Thin-film Solar Modules

The ErSol Group signed a letter of intent with the Swiss enterprise UNAXIS S.A. on production equipment for silicon thin-film modules. The ErSol Group plans to develop production capacities of 40 megawatt (MW) per year, up to 2008. To this end, more than Euro 80 million [US$98 million] will be invested in the thin-film module production plant to be erected in Thuringia, Germany, creating about 100 new permanent jobs, with a medium-term annual capacity target of 100 megawatt peak (MWp).

“The expansion of the technological core competence to include this silicon-saving thin-film technology is part of the ErSol Group’s vigorous growth strategy,” said Claus Beneking, Chairman of the Management Board. The ErSol Group will manufacture thin-film solar modules in a vacuum process called PECVD (Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition), on the basis of amorphous silicon, which is directly deposited on a low-cost base material. The advantage of the amorphous silicon technology is that all materials used are available on an almost unlimited extent and are not environmentally hazardous. Plus, the active layer of the thin-film module is more than a factor of 100 thinner than that of a traditional crystalline module. In a second announcement, ErSol’s subsidiary ASi Industries GmbH will expand its solar wafer production hall to 600 square meters in Arnstadt for an overall capacity of approximately 45 MW upon completion. To this end, an amount of approximately Euro 16 million [US$20 million] will be invested and about 30 new jobs will be created by mid-2006. The wafer production expansion project is supported by the State of Thuringia. By the end of 2007, the capacities for ingots and wafers will be expanded to approximately 100 MW. Currently, the ErSol Group has production capacities of about 25 MW at its Arnstadt production plant. An amount just under Euro 50 million [US$61 million] will be invested in these expansions, creating about 100 new jobs. “The expansion of wafer production capacities is now a priority issue, as the silicon volumes secured by ErSol are to be processed as soon as possible,” said Jurgen Pressl, the Management Board member of the ErSol Group in charge of the wafer division.
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