Siva Power, a relative newcomer to the CIGS material system, hit an NREL-certified 18.8 percent efficiency with its three-stage co-evaporation CIGS process, achieved in a claimed ten-month time span. The CIGS record holder, ZSW, holds a Fraunhofer-confirmed 20.8 percent efficiency for a CIGS thin-film solar cell, also built using the co-evaporation process.
Markus Beck, CTO at Siva, told GTM that the the 0.5 cm2 sample "uses a thinner absorber (<2 micro meters) than ZSW, NREL or EMPA employ. This is to demonstrate that this is a truly manufacturable result. The voltage of the device is 711 millivolts, demonstrating the process capability; the same applies for the fill factor of 79 percent."
Siva CEO Brad Mattson said, "We plan to break the world record this year, and the trajectory indicates we have a good chance."
Mattson adds, "One interesting point is that our average efficiency is relatively close to this maximum. In other words, we are not selecting an outlier to get a record. This indicates the process is more stable and repeatable than others think CIGS would be, more transferable to manufacturing. Also, we are doing this with a thin layer. We make it thin so we can hit our throughput numbers. So we are testing the process we want to transfer to manufacturing, not a specialized process designed to achieve records."
Siva also added solar energy expert Charlie Gay, Ph.D. to its Technical Advisory Board.
Hanergy Solar is set to "begin construction of a planned 3 GW CIGS thin-film manufacturing complex in Caofeidian, Hebei Province, China in March 2014, with tool install starting by the end of the year," according to a report on PV-Tech. Hanergy Solar claims that it will be launching a 300-megawatt line based on the MiaSolé CIGS sputtering process and a 300-megawatt line based on Solibro’s co-evaporation process, at an estimated cost of $780 million for the two lines, according to reports.
Solibro's batch co-evaporation process and MiaSolé's roll-to-roll sputtering process are two very different processes requiring very different equipment sets.
Hanergy recently hit 19.6 percent conversion efficiency in the lab on a small area sample, as certified by the Fraunhofer Institute.
Solar Frontier announced its intention to construct a 150-megawatt CIS solar module plant, with production starting in 2015, in the Tohoku region of Japan. This will be the solar module manufacturer's fourth production plant and brings its total capacity to more than 1 gigawatt. Solar Frontier has hit conversion efficiency of 19.7 percent for a cell of 0.5cm2 in area.
South Africa’s PTiP, a spin-off from the University of Johannesburg, commissioned a 5-megawatt pilot-production line for manufacturing CIGS solar modules using production equipment from Singulus Technologies.
Here's a partial list of CIGS solar players:
- Solar Frontier, 577 megawatts shipped in 2011, the only CIGS vendor of commercial consequence. Solar Frontier just shipped 86 megawatts of its CIS thin-film panels to EPC firm Chiyoda for use in a number of projects in Japan.
- Solibro, 95 megawatts shipped in 2011 (sold to Hanergy)
- MiaSolé, 60 megawatts shipped in 2011 (sold to Hanergy)
- Global Solar Energy (selling consumer solar, sold to Hanergy)
- HelioVolt (no commercial production, majority owner is SK Innovation)
- Ascent Solar (selling consumer solar, majority owner is TFG Radiant)
- Samsung (module record holder at 15.7 percent)
- Stion (limited commercial production, allied with TSMC, majority-owned by Khosla Ventures)
- SoloPower (quiescent, searching for funding)
- Solarion (limited production on PI substrate)
- TSMC (technology licensed from Stion)
- NuvoSun (acquired by Dow)