Sunfilm to Manufacture Thin Film Photovoltaic Modules

April 04, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Good Energies and NorSun have established Sunfilm AG to manufacture what is claimed to be the world’s first 5.7m2 tandem thin film photovoltaic modules on glass substrates on a production line supplied by Applied Materials, Inc.

"Sunfilm opens new frontiers; it goes beyond what today’s industry is projecting – in size and in performance – and could change the way solar energy is viewed. We believe that solar energy is of paramount importance for our energy future. However, we need to stay focused on bringing the cost down. This venture aims at grid parity. Applied Materials’ technological leadership is the key element for us in this project," stated Dr. Sven Hansen, Good Energies’ Chief Investment Officer.

Applied’s production line will feature new tandem cell technology – a dual-junction approach that combines an amorphous silicon top film to absorb short wavelengths of light with a microcrystalline silicon bottom layer to absorb longer wavelengths. These tandem cells are expected to deliver significantly higher energy conversion efficiencies at a cost per Watt that is comparable to that of single junction technologies. By coupling tandem technology with ultra-large 5.7m2 substrates, Sunfilm expects to substantially reduce the cost of solar panel manufacturing.

"With this initiative we introduce second generation solar energy technology," said Dr. Alf Bjorseth, founder and board member of NorSun. "Solar panels based on this tandem cell technology will provide clients with electricity at a very competitive price and have countless areas of application. This new technology will strongly support the continued growth of the solar energy market."

"We are excited to work with Sunfilm, Good Energies and NorSun, whose people are among the most influential and respected leaders in the solar business," said Dr. Mark Pinto, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Applied’s New Business and New Products Group. "The Good Energies and NorSun teams have proven that they can shape the industry - and we look forward to working with them to deliver leading-edge, cost-efficient PV module technology."

Sunfilm AG is currently designing the building and facilities for its first PV line and will start construction work in Q2/2007 on its local site. This project will be supported with grants from the State of Saxony and is expected to employ about 180 people when the line is fully operational in 2008/2009. Sunfilm’s contract with Applied is for a fully-integrated equipment line for an ultra-large panel tandem module factory with a nominal rated capacity of 60 megawatts per year. This is claimed to be approximately three times the capacity of conventional thin film solar facilities.