The European Investment Bank will lend €40 million to Thin Film Solar Technologies to support the construction of a 30-MWp production facility for CIGSSe photovoltaic modules in Paarl, located in the Western Cape region of South Africa. The plant will hire up to 150 employees, who will receive training and specialist skills development.
The copper-indium-gallium-sulphur-selenium TFPV technology for the new module production was developed by a University of Johannesburg research team led by Vivian Alberts, the same CIGSSe technology deployed at Johanna Solar’s recently commissioned 30-MWp fab in Germany.
At the start, most of the modules will be exported, according to EIB; however, the share of locally sold units is expected to increase gradually as the South African PV market develops. The new plant will eventually provide PV systems to schools and clinics in rural communities, where solar is often more cost-effective than power-grid development, as well as microsized installations for individual homes, at competitive prices.
Details of the timeline for plant construction, factory production ramp, or commercial product launch have yet to be announced.
Commercialization of the technology will proceed by way of a public-private partnership among the South African government (CEF and National Empowerment Fund) and private investors (Sasol and the university).
The EIB is providing this loan under its Structured Finance Facility, which was established in 2001 to enable the bank to support to priority projects with a higher risk profile than it normally assumes.