China's Hanergy is not content to merely collect American CIGS thin-film solar companies. The Chinese energy giant just released some new performance records for Solibro and MiaSolé's thin-film processes, signaling its intent to actually apply this technology.

Hanergy just announced that it has reached 19.6 percent conversion efficiency in the lab on a small area sample, certified by the Fraunhofer Institute. The 19.6 percent figure comes on the heels of an 18.7 percent efficiency announcement in October.

Solibro uses a batch co-evaporation process, while MiaSolé uses a roll-to-roll sputtering process -- two very different processes requiring very different equipment sets.

Hanergy has also hit 15.5 percent efficiency with the MiaSolé sputtering technology and claims a temperature coefficient "lowered to less than -0.40 percent per degree C" for its low-weight flexible panel.

The CIGS record holder, ZSW, hit a Fraunhofer-confirmed 20.8 percent efficiency for a CIGS thin-film solar cell in October. The record-setting cell was built using the co-evaporation process. 

Earlier this month, Hanergy acquired gallium-arsenide (GaAs) solar developer Alta Devices for an undisclosed amount, according to sources close to the company. Alta joins Solibro, MiaSolé, and Global Solar Energy (all CIGS thin film) under the Hanergy roof. (Alta's CEO could not confirm the sale.)

Currently, the only CIGS vendor of commercial consequence is Solar Frontier. Solar Frontier just shipped 86 megawatts of its CIS thin-film panels to engineering and EPC firm Chiyoda for use in a number of projects in Japan. Like SunPower and a few other module firms, Solar Frontier is prospering in a market bolstered by Japan's generous feed-in tariff. Solar Frontier is the leader, by far, in cumulative shipments of CIGS solar panels.

Solar Frontier sells 13-percent-efficient modules and has more than 1 gigawatt of module capacity. Stion, TSMC, Siva and a few other CIGS players soldier on in this materials system, which continues to tantalize with its potential performance and price.

CIGS efficiency records as per NREL