Moser Baer, a New Delhi-based technology and data storage manufacturing company, announced on Monday that it plans to inject a massive $1.5 billion investment in subsidiary company PV Technologies Limited India, which produces thin film photovoltaic modules.
The money will be used to increase production capacity of thin film by a whopping 565 megawatts by 2010. When paired with the manufacturer's current production level of 40 megawatts, Moser Baer will be able to produce more than 600 megawatts, making the plant one of the largest thin-film manufacturers in the world.
Moser Baer also said that it signed an agreement with "a leading U.S-based equipment supplier" to carry out the expansion, but did not specify the actual company that would be collecting the $1.5 billion.
"We see an increasingly significant role for thin film technologies in meeting peaking power requirements and now aim to be a significant player in this arena," said Ravi Khanna, the CEO of PV Technologies India Limited, in a statement.
Moser Baer is not the only company that wants to enter the game. The shortage of silicon has led to a flurry of investments and interest in creating affordable thin-film solar technologies, which use little to no silicon but are known to be less productive than traditional solar panels.
In fact, a research report by Greentech Media Research and the Prometheus Institute found that the production thin-film solar grew from 5.8 to 7.5 percent of worldwide solar-electric equipment in 2006, and that thin-film is expected to capture about 20 percent of the market share by 2010.
Phoenix-based First Solar has proved itself to be one of the leading companies in the arena, particularly after it signed $1 billion in agreements with Babcock & Brown and Ecostream Switzerland last November. (Thin Film Solar Production to Leap Forward) First Solar was already the largest solar producer in the United States last year, with a capacity of 60 megawatts, and now has plans to crank out another 480 megawatts of capacity.
But recent investments have made big players out of companies anxious to compete in the thin film space. For example, earlier this month, German solar company Ersol snagged $48 million from U.S. private equity firm Ventizz.
Still, the 600-megawatt goal of Moser Baer is no small feat, according to Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute and a Greentech Media Partner. "That's a very aggressive expansion," he said. "But it's not any more aggressive than other people are claiming."
The real winner in this situation, Bradford said, is the unnamed supplier for Moser Baer's $1.5 billion deal. "The question in my mind is, how cheap will it be if they have to spend such a huge amount of capital to produce it?" he said.
"Whether they'll be able to sell that much PV at a profit in a world where lots of other people are aggressively expanding will determine whether it's good news for Moser Baer."