The rapid decline in conventional crystalline silicon module production costs has wiped-out a significant part of the cost advantage once benefiting thin-film module producers. As falling polysilicon prices continue to find their way through to volume producers in 2012, the pressure on thin film cost reduction intensifies. To compete, Oerlikon Solar is prepping the launch of its second generation ‘ThinFab’ line that claims a module cost of around US$0.5/Wp (€0.35/Wp), compared to its previously claimed cost of US$0.64 (€0.50/Wp) of the original turnkey system launched in September, 2010, at EU PVSEC.
According to the company, new design improvements result in a capital expenditure reduction of more than 20%, with an estimated price for a complete end-to-end production line of US$1/Wp, which includes engineering support and performance guarantees.
Oerlikon Solar said that some of the key improvements included in the second generation line include increased manufacturing line output, guaranteed higher module efficiency and new narrow-gap reactor design for silicon deposition. The previous generation line had an annual capacity of 120MW.
The new ThinFab line is said to be officially launched at the World Future Energy Summit 2012 (WFES) in Abu Dhabi in January, 2012.
Oerlikon Solar also noted that it expects to announce a new high efficiency record for its Micromorph thin-film silicon technology. In late 2010, NREL had confirmed record stabilized conversion efficiencies of 11.9% on its champion micromorph tandem-junction solar cells.