CIGS developer AQT Solar opens 15MW cell-production line, signs first major customer installation

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CIGS cell developer AQT Solar has opened it first manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, CA. The company said that it took less than eight weeks to go from preparation, build-out, line implementation and qualification, and production initiation at the plant. The factory has already begun to fill current customer orders of 20MW, with substantial purchase orders in the pipeline.

AQT also announced its first customer installation, Sol Pacifico, a large property development, which has ordered 2MW of PV systems to power its gated resort community on the Pacific Coast in Baja, Mexico.

The new production facility, benefiting from a recent $10 million round of funding, houses a 15MW copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide cell-manufacturing line and can be easily scaled up to 60MW capacity, according to AQT.

The company attributes the rapid ramp-up of the manufacturing line to its modular design, which allowed for quick onsite deployment. AQT also credited the company’s partnership with equipment firm Intevac. 

The small footprint of each highly automated machine provides an efficient use of space within the 20,000 sq ft facility, according to AQT. As a result, the company claims it can produce up to 60MW in an area many times smaller than its nearest competitors.

AQT expects to move its HQ and R&D from its original location to the current site in August. It plans to add 40 jobs over the next six months.

The company also said it is evaluating sites for a second high-volume facility and anticipates breaking ground on this site early next year.

“Starting commercial production so early in our company’s lifecycle is a confirmation of our business model, the leverage we receive from world-class partners like Intevac and our breakthrough CIGS production process,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT. “We have set aggressive production goals for the remainder of 2010 and beyond.”

The Sol Pacifico installation is scheduled to break ground in 2011, starting as a 2MW project with the potential to grow to 9MW.

“This project represents a concerted effort at renewable and responsible resort development,” said Antonio Cordova, project manager, Sol Pacifico. “Our vision was of a sustainable and eco-friendly project, and we are excited to work with AQT to make this vision a reality.”

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