Thin-film PV turnkey competition heats up with customer ramps for Applied Materials, Oerlikon Solar

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

Two of the leading players in the amorphous-silicon thin-film PV turnkey factory competition have announced important customer production ramps. Applied Materials says that vertically integrated Spanish concern T-Solar Global has begun volume production of large (5.7 m2) panels at its fab (pictured at left) using the tool supplier’s SunFab line, while Oerlikon Solar is touting the ramp of Sun Well Solar’s 40-MW amorphous thin-film silicon production line in Taiwan, which was completed one month ahead of schedule.

Applied says that the SunFab line and modules produced by T-Solar have been awarded Intercert Certification, verifying achievement of all manufacturing, module efficiency and yield specifications. Oerlikon notes that Sun Well (a subsidiary of CMC Magnetics) achieved IEC certification on the line in October 2008. Both equipment vendors claim their customers have plans for future capacity expansions at the respective sites.

T-Solar plans to produce 700,000 m2 of a-Si panels (equivalent to 122,800 of the large modules) with the potential to generate up to 45-MW equivalent module production per year with Applied’s fully automated SunFab line. Oerlikon says that a PV module leaves the Sun Well line every 50 seconds, which adds up to more than 1250 panels, or 110 kW, produced on a daily basis.

Oerlikon Solar revealed that it has implemented a special high-performance front- and back-contact method in its production lines, in which a LPCVD process generates a transparent conductive oxide (TCO) that the company claims is superior to conventional methods.

Applied’s Jonathan Pickering told PV Tech that “our customers are buying glass with TCO coating on it,” adding that “we shipped TCO coaters last year, not for SunFab, but for Gen. 5 thin film, so we understand that technology very well.”

In an exclusive interview, Pickering, who is Applied’s VP of global marketing and business development for solar, also explained that T-Solar actually achieved factory acceptance testing (FAT) last quarter, so the resultant revenue was included in Applied’s first-quarter financials.

Although he could not disclose “factory timing” for the T-Solar plant, he did say that “they were  the third customer to sign up (for SunFab) and the third customer to get FAT. It’s all gone pretty much to plan. The most challenging (job) for us so far has been doing the big site (Moser Baer) in India,” because of the logistics involved. He added that module efficiencies coming off of T-Solar’s single-junction a-Si TFPV line were 6.2% at the moment.

Pickering would not comment on how much of T-Solar’s big-glass production run was being used at full size, but did note that “it’s very easy to switch from quarter to half to full size. Everything is made at full size, then it’s a matter of cutting it down and the final steps in the process changing. What we see are several of our customers switching glass sizes. The certification that we have is actually for the quarter size.”

Citing presentations made by Applied executives at the company’s annual analyst event that took place Wednesday in New York, Pickering said that 14 SunFab projects are under construction, eight complete factories have been shipped to customers, and three fabs have signed off (Signet Solar, Moser Baer, and now T-Solar).

The Applied VP would not divulge which of the other SunFab customers might be coming to volume next and getting their FAT, but there are several candidates.

A survey of previously announced plans by the companies involved reveals ENN Solar saying it will have its production ramp in the first-quarter 2009, Sunfilm claiming it should reach volume by mid-2009, Masdar citing the second half of 2009 as its target timeline, and Suntech projecting 15-20 MW of TFPV production by year’s end.

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.
7 September 2021
Intersolar Mexico sits at the cross-section of photovoltaics, solar heating & cooling technologies, and energy storage. The event serves as the industry’s go-to source for invaluable technology trends and premier B2B contacts in the promising Mexican solar market. In its second edition from September 7–9, 2021 Intersolar Mexico together with the co-located The GREEN Expo® and Aquatech Mexico will move to a new venue – Centro Citibanamex.

Read Next

August 5, 2021
Unreliable methods of calculating irradiation in Africa could slash energy savings for commercial and industrial (C&I) solar buyers and reduce investment returns for developers and investors, new research has suggested.
PV Tech Premium
August 5, 2021
While solar deployment throughout Europe is expected to soar, can the same be said for manufacturing on the continent? As part of this week’s special feature on European solar, Liam Stoker assesses the potential for solar manufacturing to return to Europe.
August 5, 2021
McDonald’s and eBay have signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Lightsource BP to acquire electricity from its 345MWdc Ventress solar project in Louisiana
August 4, 2021
Danish investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners has signed an agreement with Amp Energy to enable the addition of 1.7GWp of renewables projects in India.
August 4, 2021
Walmart will buy renewable energy credits from 23 community solar projects across New York State through an agreement with developer Nexamp.
August 4, 2021
Israeli independent power producer Enlight Renewable Energy has secured a deal to acquire a portfolio of solar projects in Spain with a combined capacity of 490MWdc.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
BRISTOL, UK