May 5, 2010
Harvard University spin-off SiOnyx has entered into a joint development agreement with Coherent to evaluate and develop the start-up’s light-absorbent material for solar cell fabrication applications. Fabrication of black silicon uses femtosecond laser processing of the target material to produce absorbent layers that better capture infrared light, potentially boost solar cell conversion efficiencies over conventional processes. Coherent has been active in developing laser-based techniques for both c-Si and thin film process technologies.
April 28, 2010
Having announced in February revenue of US$2,066.2 million in 2009, thin-film leader First Solar was crowned the number-one photovoltaics manufacturer by revenue for the first time. It also shipped over 1GW in modules, the first PV company to reach that milestone. However, First's time in the top slot would seem to have been short lived, as Sharp retook the position after issuing revenue of 208.7 billion yen (US$2.214bn), up 32.8% over the previous year.
March 29, 2010
With an initial production capacity of 160MW, Sharp has started volume production at its 1GW a-Si thin-film plant in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. According to the company, the new facility will be a model plant for future Sharp thin-film solar cell plants around the world.
March 2, 2010
Organic photovoltaics developer Konarka Technologies and Konica Minolta Holdings have signed a comprehensive R&D collaboration and strategic investment agreement. The deal calls for an investment of $20 million by Konica Minolta in Konarka and for the companies to start full-scale collaboration in April in the joint development and distribution of organic thin-film PV.
March 1, 2010
Mitsubishi Electric has said that it has completed construction of PV Cell Plant #2, a 50MW solar cell production facility at its Nakatsugawa Works Iida Factory in Nagano Prefecture. When ramped in 2011, the new plant will give Mitsubishi an annual capacity of 270MW. The company noted that the new facility will also produce monocrystalline-silicon cells and start production by March 2011.
December 23, 2009
Every year we dig deep into the archive of web statistics to rediscover the most popular news stories that have captured the attention of readers in that year. While we have found that in previous years, one or two stories stand out above all others from a pageviews perspective, this year more than four stories are in close contention for the ‘top spot’ and barely a cat's whisker separates the Number 1 and Number 2 stories. In what could hint at the battle that lies ahead in the thin-film realm, the top story for 2009 was Nanosolar's announcement of volume production plans for its unique CIGS thin-film modules. A certain level of controversy had surrounded Nanosolar as the early hype had not been followed up with any concrete plans for scaling the technology. The thin-film start-up's order backlog also demonstrated that it can actually compete with market leader First Solar.
December 2, 2009
Organic photovoltaics developer Solarmer Energy has achieved the highest conversion efficiency recorded so far for a plastic OPV champion cell—7.9%. The aperture-area test results, recently certified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, represent an improvement over independent exams conducted a few months ago at Newport Corp.’s Technology and Application Center’s PV Lab, where cell efficiencies of 7.6% and module efficiencies of 3.9% were recorded.
September 15, 2009
The race to higher conversion efficiencies in volume production for both monocrystalline and multicrystalline cells continues with news that Canadian Solar plans to boost cell performance to 18.5% and 16.8%, respectively. This will be accomplished by using several advances that include improvements in screen printing techniques, better texturization and a modified selective emitter process. The company said that these successful R&D projects will be migrated to production lines in the fourth quarter of 2009.
September 9, 2009
After staying relatively quiet for much of the past year, thin-film PV manufacturer Nanosolar has come out with a full docket of announcements: the completion of its 640MW panel-assembly factory near Berlin celebrated during an event attended by the German Minister of the Environment and other dignitaries; the start of serial roll-to-roll production of its flexible copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide cells in the company’s San Jose facility; $4.1 billion in panel purchases from customers--including some of the world’s largest utility companies; NREL-verified cell efficiencies up to 16.4%; and new technical details of both its printed CIGS cell technology and utility-scale panels.
July 22, 2009
Allora Minerals has been busy, acquiring the remaining assets of OptiSolar, receiving preliminary approval to garner millions of Euro in grants for German projects, and getting shareholder approval to change its name to that of another company whose assets it's buying, EPOD Solar (ESI). The OptiSolar deal will bring the once-promising thin-film PV company's intellectual property and its manufacturing and R&D facilities in Northern California into ESI's portfolio.

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