Cadmium telluride-based thin film solar cells are certainly the technology of the moment. Following First Solar’s announcement in February that it’s producing cells for under $1 per watt, two more firms, Abound Solar (previously AVA Solar) and Sunovia have lined up with news of their own.
Of the two, Abound is the more mature firm, having taken a big $104 million funding last year. Now the company is finishing up construction on a 200 megawatt plant, which will reach full capacity in about a year. But the company is betting that it can beat First Solar’s 98 cent per watt production cost within three months, according to statements by CEO Pascal Noronha in Reuters.
That’s a pretty audacious claim, for a company that currently has only a fraction of First Solar’s output. Noronha claims the key is in factory efficiency, with most of his line fully automated. But cost per watt is not the only important metric; others, like cell efficiency and weight, also figure in. And if First Solar is worried, it certainly has time to invest in improvements to its process.
Next year will see First Solar at over a 1,000 megawatts of production and Abound at 200 megawatts, although the race will not be on in earnest until both are producing at higher volumes. That may not take long, though. First Solar will certainly be looking to capitalize on its market leader position, and Abound is chasing after over $500 million in Department of Energy loan guarantees, according to Clean Technology Investor....MORE