Monday, January 14, 2008

CIGS thin-film PV sector grows, blends hype, promise: Part I, Overview (NanoSolar; SoloPower; Heliovolt...)

From Fabtech:

Few solar photovoltaic sectors exhibit as volatile a combination of hype and promise as the copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) thin-film segment. A handful of companies--Global Solar, Wurth, Showa Shell, for example---are already manufacturing relatively modest amounts of commercial products using CIGS (or its cousin, CIS) films on glass, stainless steel, or flexible substrates, while a larger number are just developing (or trying to develop) processes, building and characterizing (or trying to build and characterize) pilot or initial manufacturing lines, or talking (and talking) about building volume-manufacturing facilities.

CIGS companies are a mix of public and private, venture-funded start-ups and units of large corporations, relative newbies and long-time veterans. Process technologies employed by the CIGS crowd, many of which have been in R&D for decades, range from vacuum to nonvacuum, evaporation/coevaporation to sputtering, ink-print to selenization, electrochemical to RTP diffusion techniques---or combinations thereof.

Some use rigid substrates, others prefer flex, some employ batch process techniques, while others take a roll-to-roll or web approach. Module integration strategies include both discrete and monolithic approaches....MORE