Sharp Announces Mass-Production of Thin-Film PV Modules

August 01, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Sharp Corp. (Osaka, Japan) announced that it will introduce a new mass-production system for thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules at its Katsuragi Plant in Nara Prefecture, and will begin operation in September of this year. The company plans to spend about ¥2 billion on the new manufacuturing facility. Compared to crystalline silicon PV modules, Sharp's thin-film solar cell modules can be manufactured using a tiny amount of silicon. The new cells will achieve conversion efficiencies of approximately 11 percent.

Sharp is aiming to further expand the range of solar-cell applications, and has advanced the idea of thin-film PV modules that use crystalline thin- film tandem cells. The cell design is based on a proprietary architecture that integrates amorphous silicon technology with crystalline thin-film silicon technology to boost conversion efficiency by 50 percent. However, demand for building materials in industrial fields is increasing, and Sharp has decided to proceed with full-scale construction of a production system with an annual capacity of 15 MW. In addition to currently available single-crystal and polycrystalline silicon solar cells, Sharp intends to strengthen "thin-film" type solar cells as a second stage of its product line.