Non-Silicon Manufacturing Plant to Open in 2008

With news headlines around the world reporting on the silicon shortage and its potential impact on the future of the solar industry, two European-based companies are banking that next-generation non-silicon technology will be a cost-competitive — and energy efficient — alternative to silicon solar modules.

Shell Erneuerbare Energien GmbH and Saint-Gobain Glass Deutschland GmbH, recently announced plans to join forces and create AVANCIS — an entity that will develop, produce and market next generation solar technology based on Shell’s advanced Copper-Indium-Selenium (CIS) thin-film deposited on glass. One of the first orders of business for AVANCIS will be to build a manufacturing plant in Torgau, Germany that will produce photovoltaic panels using the CIS technology. The initial capacity of the plant will be 20 megawatts, with plans to be rapidly scaled up. The joint venture was recently approved by the European Commission and production at the plant is expected to begin in 2008. “Based on our R&D experience in Munich, where the laboratory line delivered record 13.5% efficiency, we believe this facility can achieve industry-leading performance amongst thin-film technologies. The joint venture is part of our continued commitment to alternative energies. Working with Saint-Gobain, our combined experience makes an excellent fit for joint development of this exciting new technology,” said Graeme Sweeney, Shell’s Executive Vice-President of Renewables, Hydrogen and CO2. According to Shell and Saint-Gobain, non-silicon based solar technologies such as CIS offer high electrical efficiency, and is potentially very cost competitive with conventional sources of electricity. “Shell is an ideal partner for us with its years of experience in the solar power market coupled with our expertise in glass manufacturing. It is envisaged that the first plant will be based at our state-of-the-art production facilities in Torgau, Saxony, which has emerged as the best choice among several other locations we have analyzed,” added Jacques Aschenbroich, Executive Vice-President of Saint-Gobain’s Flat Glass division. Flat Glass is one of the five business sectors of the Saint-Gobain Group. Saint-Gobain Group specializes in the design, production and distribution of functional materials for the construction, industrial and consumer markets.
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