Energosolar Hungary has started to ship the first production tools of a complete turnkey production line to Solarpro for the module manufacturer’s new €20 million amorphous-silicon thin-film PV plant in Silistra, Bulgaria. The first phase of installation will be finished by the end of 2008, with the three-line, 18-MW production facility expected to reach full annual capacity of 400,000 square meters of TFPV modules by mid-2009, according to the companies.
The turnkey package includes PECVD tools, lasers, sputtering machines, and edge-deletion gear made by Energosolar as well as other miscellaneous front- and back-end systems, installation of the systems, and training of Solarpro staff by Energosolar.
The new building, cleanroom, and necessary utility facilities are close to completion, the companies said, and the site is ready to start installation of the Energosolar equipment. First module samples are expected in first-quarter 2009.
Solarpro, which is 80% owned by mineral company Kaolin, has already signed a contract to supply modules to a 2.4 MW solar power plant in northeast Bulgaria.
The Solarpro facility is the second module-making plant in Bulgaria, along with Energy Solutions SA’s crystalline-silicon panel production facility. Russian-Moldavian concern Topaz has also said recently that it intends to invest €20 million in a new solar module factory in the Balkan nation. In addition, the 6.5-MW Zlaten Yug project outside of Burgas, the country’s first hybird wind-solar PV power-generating plant, is scheduled to receive €38 million in investment over the next several years.
At the recent Solar Power International conference in San Diego, participants on the “Winning PV Partnerships” panel held at the German American Business Assn. luncheon, cited Bulgaria as a promising location for low-cost solar module manufacturing in Europe.
— Tom Cheyney