Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thinner, better, already sold out—the new new thing in solar?

By Harry Fuller for ZDNet:

...Now Global Solar Energy is a major producer of thin-film photovoltaic Copper Indium Gallium DiSelenide (CIGS) solar cells, an alternative to the older solar panel technology. Among solar converter units CIGS has the lightest weight per kilowatt, says Global Solar’s CTO, Dr. Jeff Britt. I spoke with him recently, and he explained that Global’s just beginning to produce their thin film strings at a new, expanded plant in Tucson. And they’re already sold out for all they can produce this year. Most of the expected product for 2009 has been spoken for. Remind you of when the iPod launched?

Dr. Britt said the basic materials needed for their thin solar film is more expensive per pound than the material in traditional solar panels. Those traditilonal panels are 100-200 micrometers thick while Global produces more efficient conversion materials with 1-2 micrometers. That nmeans much less material is needed, less weight, and …get this: the ability to attach the thin film to metallic foil that is flexible. Dr. Britt said the key to expansion of use and application for their CIGS solar cells is: the coating. That’s right: the polymers that protect the CIGS from water and other potentially destructive elements. Global is right now working with polymer pros and building materials makers to creat solar roofing that lasts twenty years. We could never trap all the hot air, but imagine if we could at least put the U.S. Capital and White House to work producing electricity?

Global Solar is owned by two German firms. That’s
Solon AG and I-sol Ventures. I-sol is a German venture firm that specializes in alternative energy investments....MORE