MiaSole, which makes copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar modules, has signed a contract to deliver 7.5 megawatts of panels to juwi Solar in Germany. The panels will be placed on roofs and in the ground at utility-scale solar parks in that country.
MiaSole delivered 1 MW to juwi in the second quarter.
The company is one of the Big Five in CIGS startups. MiaSole, NanoSolar, Solyndra, HelioVolt and Solopower all burst onto the greentech scene in the middle of the decade and all have had to face production snafus, management changes and delays. Even worse, the price of silicon solar panels has dropped considerably since then thanks to the rise of Chinese solar manufacturers, a glut of raw materials and a worldwide economic downturn. Meanwhile, cadmium telluride specialist First Solar says it has dropped its prices production costs to 76 cents a watt, creating a formidable barrier for new companies trying to break into the market.
Still, CIGS vendors say they will undercut the price of silicon solar panels and produce products that can generate more power than cadmium telluride and/or amorphous silicon panels at equivalent or better prices.
Miasole started shipping modules commercially this year and rolled out ambitious goals. The plan is to ship 22 megawatts' worth of panels this year and, by the end of the year, to boost the efficiency from a mid-year level of around 10.5 percent to 13 percent.
“At the end of the year, we will ship 13-percent-efficient modules. That is not a maybe. By the beginning of next year, we will have 13-percent-efficient modules right on the edge of the poly guys and we think we have the ability to be in the same league as the First Solar guys in terms of cost,” CEO Joseph Laia told us in June. "The only reason we are not shipping these modules today is that we are awaiting the completion of our UL certifications.”
The heart of MiaSole's technology is a fast, complex machine for sputtering CIGS solar cells. The company has also come up with an interesting packaging technology -- think of Lego bricks -- for snapping solar cells together to make a module.
The juwi deal indicates that, yes, MiaSole is cranking out the modules. However, the juwi deals announced to date account for just under 40 percent of the production goal, so we await other announcements.