Moser Baer said this week that its India subsidiary has signed $500 million worth of agreements to sell thin-film solar panels to European integrators.

Customers include Ralos Vertriebs and Colexon Energy, both of Germany.

The agreements call for Moser Baer India Ltd. to supply panels made from amorphous silicon through the year 2012, according to the announcement, which didn't say when the company expects to make its first deliveries or how much thin film $500 million would buy.

The contracts include bank-guaranteed "take or pay" obligations, which mean customers must pay a fixed price to back out of deals if they decide they no longer want the panels, said the announcement. 

Last month, Moser Baer announced it had raised 411 crore Indian rupees, which equals 4.11 billion Indian rupees (about $83.7 million) to fund the growth of its solar subsidiary, in a deal that valued the solar business at 63.5 trillian rupees (about $1.44 billion). In the announcement Wednesday, the company said it had recently raised more than 4.15 billion rupees, bringing its total private-equity funding to "well over" 8 billion rupees ($193.5 million).

New Delhi-based technology and data storage manufacturing company Moser Baer in February said it planned to invest $1.5 billion into PV Technologies Limited India to increase the subsidiary's thin-film production capacity by 565 megawatts by 2010 (see Moser Baer to Pump $1.5 Billion Into Thin Film).

That capacity would make the company the largest thin-film producer in the world today. But other manufacturers are also developing massive thin-film solar factories.

First Solar (NYSE: FSLR), the No. 1 thin-film manufacturer today, has the capacity to produce more than 300 megawatts of its cadmium-telluride films annually and plans to exceed a gigawatt of capacity by 2010 (see Thin Film Solar Production to Leap Forward, Shell's Showa Solar Plans 1-Gigawatt Plant and Thin Films Lead U.S. Solar Production).

Sharp Corp. in November said it is building a 1-gigawatt thin-film plant and on Thursday said the company hopes to account for half of the thin-film solar market by 2012 and to grow its thin-film capacity to as much as 6 gigawatts as soon as 2014 (see Earth2Tech post). 

Showa Shell Sekiyu, a Japanese subsidiary of Royal Dutch Sell, is reportedly planning a 1-gigawatt plant. And Oerlikon Corp. and Applied Materials Inc., which make equipment to manufacture amorphous-silicon films, have announced orders for more than 1 gigawatt of capacity.

The Prometheus Institute expects Sharp to become the second-largest thin-film manufacturer by 2010, after First Solar, with 416 megawatts of estimated annual amorphous-silicon production (see Thin-Film Solar Set to Take Market Share From Crystalline Solar PV).

While companies have big plans – and big contracts – for amorphous-silicon films, production has remained small so far.

Signet Solar, for instance, in September became the first Applied Materials customer to announce it had begun commercial production with the capacity to make up to 20 megawatts of panels annually (see Signet to Start Thin-Film Solar Production).

Prometheus President Travis Bradford has forecasted that amorphous-silicon technology will stumble slightly in 2008 and 2009 as bugs are worked out, then take off in 2010 based on the vast number of orders for the equipment (see Thin-Film Solar Has Bright Future).