CIGS cell efficiency of 15% targeted at Solar Frontier’s ‘blueprint’ module factory

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Work continues apace on the new factory that will serve as a “blueprint” for the future plans of Japanese thin-film module manufacturer Solar Frontier, with the company confirming to PV Tech that it will target a cell efficiency of 15% on its production lines.

The company posted an update complete with photographs to its website earlier this month, from the north-eastern Tohoku region of Japan where the company is building a module production facility with a nameplate capacity of 150MW. Construction of the facility was announced late last year and began in March. Photographs provided by Solar Frontier show a traditional ceremony held to pray for health and safety at the site, the laying of foundations and also shows that construction began despite heavy snow and ice in the region. 

According to Solar Frontier, owing to necessary earthquake-resistant construction techniques, known as 'taishin' in Japanese, foundations included 90 columns of reinforced concrete embedded deep enough into the ground to reach the underlying bedrock. The heavy steel framework of the building's shell has also been erected to its full height, nine metres. The walls and roof of the building will be added next, before manufacturing equipment begins to arrive.

Speaking to PV Tech in June at the Intersolar Europe show in Munich, Solar Frontier senior vice president Atsuhiko Hirano said that demand for the company’s modules in Japan was strong enough that Solar Frontier found it difficult to service its home country while also delivering in non-Japanese markets.  

Hirano said: “We are busy in Japan, we continue to have a lot of focus outside of Japan as well, but because of the very strong demand in Japan, we are having difficulty in allocating our product to the non-Japanese market.”

Hirano went on to say that in the past year, around 90% of Solar Frontier’s sales went to the Japanese market, with an additional significant backlog of orders. 

The new factory will not only serve to meet existing demand for modules, but, the company claims, it will also serve as a “blueprint for future production facilities”. The main idea is that by building a relatively small facility such as the 150MW Tohoku plant the company will gain knowledge and experience of building facilities as geographically close to the markets it is intended to serve as possible. 

Solar Frontier’s chief technology officer Satoru Kuriyagawa also told PV Tech that the design and construction of the facility is modular, meaning that factories built in future from the same blueprint could be scaled appropriately to be larger or smaller than the 150MW Tohoku plant, depending on what is deemed necessary to serve the particular market of each region where a factory is located. This is seen to be increasingly important as the company has recently made clear its intent to expand into new markets including the UK, where it will develop an 8.1MW solar farm in the west of England, announced last week.

“The upcoming Tohoku Plant is a blueprint for future production facilities,” confirmed Kuriyagwa in a written statement yesterday. 

“Harnessing the latest technology from our world-record-setting Atsugi Research Center, we are targeting the production of CIS thin-film modules with conversion efficiency of over 15% at best-in-class production costs. The modularity of our new production lines will also enable us to deploy new factories faster and more efficiently in the future.” 

Kuriyagawa said construction is on track to meet the facility's scheduled opening date, March 2015.

In addition to conducting research at the Atsugi Research Center in Japan, which in April yielded a CIS solar cell with an efficiency of 20.9% as verified by Fraunhofer Institute ISE and building the Tohoku facility, Solar Frontier announced its intent in June to look into performing research and development in the USA. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to carry out a feasibility study of a collaboration on research and development and manufacturing of CIS thin-film modules in Buffalo, New York.

28 July 2021
LONGi has launched its Hi-MO N module, the company's first bifacial module with N-type TOPCon cells, designed to deliver ultra- high value and lower LCOE to utility-scale PV power plants. This PV TechTalk Product Series webinar will provide an overview of the module’s technology and how the introduction of n-type technologies will provide efficiency and performance gains for solar project developers.
29 July 2021
This free webinar will explore the ongoing opportunities in the UK solar PV market, looking at global technology trends and how they apply to the UK. Join us for an overview of the project pipeline and forecast for deployment over the coming years. We'll be looking at the types of modules available and being used in the UK and presenting a case study on the deployment of bifacial modules in this market.
19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?

Read Next

July 26, 2021
A solar-wind-energy storage hybrid project is to power a Madagascan mine after Rio Tinto signed a power purchase agreement with independent power producer CrossBoundary Energy.
July 26, 2021
The pace of climate action in the US is “wholly unacceptable”, according to the director of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programme Office
July 26, 2021
Support for distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar, community solar and battery storage could save Californian ratepayers US$120 billion over the next 30 years, according to a new report
July 26, 2021
Oil and gas giant Eni has acquired 1.2GW of Spanish renewables from Madrid-based European private equity manager Azora.
PV Tech Premium
July 26, 2021
Boris Farnung and Keith Punzalan of VDE and David Moser of EURAC’s Institute for Renewable Energy take a look at the positive impact comprehensive quality assurance measures can have on the early stage of a project’s lifespan, exploring yield assessments, LCOE projections and the critical need for high quality components.
July 26, 2021
US utility giant NextEra Energy added 1.84GW of renewables and energy storage projects to its backlog in Q2 2021, but its Energy Resources division reported a fiscal loss of US$315 million.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
July 29, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
October 6, 2021