Solar Frontier begins ramp of new 150MW CIS thin-film module plant



Japan-based CIS thin-film module manufacturer Solar Frontier said it had completed the construction of its Tohoku Plant in March 2015 as expected and plans to start ramping production immediately.

Solar Frontier’s 150MW Tohoku Plant is also the test bed for ramping production-ready cell efficiency gains, previously developed at its Atsugi Research Center, creating modules with conversion efficiencies of 15% and higher. 

Solar Frontier announced the Tohoku Plant plans in January 2014 and has met the timelines originally set out by the company. 

The new plant pushes Solar Frontier’s volume production nameplate capacity to over 1GW, having its main Kunitomi Plant with capacity of 900MW in southern Japan. 

According to PV Tech and sister technical journal Photovoltaics International reports on effective capacity expansion announcements, just over 2GW of new thin-film capacity expansions were announced in 2014, signalling a renaissance in the thin-film module segment after major closures, bankruptcies and exits over the last four years. 

On an actual production volume basis, Solar Frontier is the largest CIS/CIGS technology producer by a wide margin and second only to CdTe leader First Solar in all thin-film technology types in volume production. 

In 2014, First Solar announced capacity expansions totalling 728MW, via re-commissioned idled lines, upgraded conversion efficiencies and new lines, topping expansion plans of Hanergy Thin Film Power for its 600MW plant in China to house technology acquired from CIGS thin-film firm Solibro and flexible CIGS technology from MiaSole. 

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