South Korean business conglomerate SK Group has invested a further US$19 million into Texas-based CIGS thin-film PV module manufacturer HelioVolt.

The aim of the investment is to provide capital for the commercial expansion of HelioVolt and allow it to move into volume manufacturing.

HelioVolt have to date raised around US$233 million in investment to fund the move to volume production. This includes over US$80 million in investment from SK Group, the third largest conglomerate, or ‘chaebol’, in South Korea. The business relationship between SK Group and HelioVolt began in December 2010, with SK investing around US$50 million in the company.

HelioVolt claims its modules are of a high enough efficiency and low enough cost to be competitive in the global market when its move to large-scale manufacturing takes place. The firm is considered something of a survivor among thin-film producers, having withstood the industry shakeout of recent years.

Established in 2001, the Texan firm has focused primarily on technical innovation in thin-film modules and was selected by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to deploy three 5kW systems at DoE testing centres under the department’s five-year Sunshot Initiative.

HelioVolt has not yet revealed details of where manufacturing facilities will be located. Some of the new investment is expected to be put toward the building of a large-scale manufacturing facility, which could mean an expansion of the firm’s existing premises in Austin, Texas, or alternatively could mean the building of a new industrial facility from scratch.