At the PV Fab Managers’ Forum in Dresden this week, IBM outlined its plans for partnering with the PV manufacturing industry to improve technology and manufacturing processes. Rainer Klaus Krause, IBM’s ISC Innovation Champion, presented to a high level audience of Fab managers and solar manufacturing executives the strategy to partner with manufacturers and technology providers to help the industry achieve price parity more quickly.
Before the forum it was difficult to understand whether IBM would be involved as a manufacturer directly in the industry (see here).
IBM is currently working on a number of PV manufacturing activities. Thin-film activity using CIGS technology is funded by the BMU, the environmentally-aware energy arm of the German government, and includes partners from HMI Berlin and Schott AG among others. The goals of this research project are to replace CdS as a buffer layer, replace Indium and generally increase manufacturability. The research project is one year into its four-year cycle.
Other activities include work on solar concentrator design and reducing materials use through better techniques of silicon cutting.
Later in the forum, Gerhard Rauter, COO of Q-Cells AG, since 2007 the largest producer of solar cells in the world, was clearly frustrated with the slow development of process improvement for manufacturing PV. He stated during question time that he was extremely pleased that IBM was getting on board with their experience to help fabs deal with scale issues and technology problems creating bottlenecks.
Mr Krause of IBM summed things up nicely: “IBM believes in solar, and we will make it work as a real solution to one of the world’s greatest issues, energy. We can change the world because we already have!!”
The 2nd International PVFMF (Fab Managers’ Forum) was held from 9th-11th of March 2008 at the Dresden International Congress Centre, Germany. The event was organised by the PV Group, a division of SEMI charged with promoting the PV manufacturing sector worldwide.