Colorado-based thin-film PV manufacturer Ascent Solar is to build a new factory in China after agreeing a joint venture with the municipal authority of Suqian, a city in Jiangsu Province.
The plant will manufacture modules using Ascent’s copper, indium, gallium, selenide (CIGS) thin-film technology.
Under the agreement, Ascent will provide intellectual property, funding and equipment from its Colorado plant, in return for around US$32.5 from the Suqian authority and rent-free use of a 27,000 sq metre factory.
The authority will also provide a package of support for Ascent, including a corporation tax holiday and subsidies for key employees.
Ascent will have an 80% interest in the joint venture, with an option to buy Suqian’s interest as well as the factory.
The factory will have the capacity to be expanded almost four times in size, something Ascent is planning to do under subsequent phases of the agreement.
The total project size of the first phase is valued at US$160 million.
“This partnership is a strong endorsement of Ascent's industry leading flexible CIGS technology,” said Victor Lee, president and chief executive of Ascent. “This partnership enables us to accelerate our paradigm shift into consumer electronics and specialty market applications given China's very large and growing consumer base and readily available contract manufacturers for our EnerPlex range of consumer products.”
Lan Shao Min, top leader and Governor of the Municipal City of Suqian, said: “We are convinced that CIGS, and more specifically Ascent's proprietary CIGS technology utilising a flexible plastic substrate, is the next breakthrough in photovoltaics.
“The aim of our alliance with Ascent is to build a state-of-the-art industrial park in Suqian for solar and solar-related products, anchored by the Ascent factory, but including equipment suppliers, contract manufacturers and other supporting industries.”
Amit Kumar, chairman of Ascent, added: “The funding and other subsidies will enable Ascent to develop the scale of manufacturing needed to bring the cost of CIGS down substantially.
“The combination of cost reduction and our higher margin EnerPlex products and other specialty market applications will allow Ascent to carry on to its next stage as a high-growth company.”