First Solar Technology Wins R&D Award

First Solar, a developer and manufacturer of solar modules, in collaboration with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Center for Photovoltaics, has won a 2003 R&D 100 Award for the development of a high-rate vapor transport deposition (HRVTD) process. HRVTD is at the heart of First Solar’s high volume manufacturing line, which produces thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules.

Phoenix, Arizona – September 12, 2003 [] Click on image for larger version “The cost savings realized by this deposition process is, in some sense, the answer to the widespread utilization of PV modules,” said Ken Zweibel, manager of NREL’s Thin Film Partnership. “I believe this will help us turn the corner in thin film PV. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if this technology is fully developed and manufactured in large volume.” According to First Solar, their HRVTD process dramatically lowers the cost of PV modules since only small, micron amounts of semiconductor material are deposited onto the glass substrate, which are then processed though an automated, continuous feed production line. The company states that as a result, First Solar’s PV modules take less time to manufacture than traditional solar technologies and have low raw material and labor costs. “We are very proud of the award winning collaborative development of the HRVTD process”, said Rick Powell, manager of Semiconductor Technologies with First Solar. “NREL’s long standing support has been instrumental in achieving this breakthrough.”
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