It was an interesting year for the thin-film industry, with Applied Materials’ first ‘SunFab’ turnkey 5.7m2 glass substrate (amorphous Si) thin-film modules. Several companies have jumped on this technology, one of the most prominent of which was Best Solar, who we saw place a $1.9 billion order for the company’s SunFab lines in March.
This revelation was followed by the May 2008 order placed by Masdar PV for two of Applied’s SunFab lines. The initial investment of $600 million will see the establishment of the two lines in Erfurt, Germany and in Abu Dhabi. The company also disclosed its plans to up production capacity by establishing manufacturing facilities in China, Mexico and Bulgaria, thereby increasing the company’s total production capacity to 1GW by 2015.
First Solar’s announcement early in the year that it is on track to reach its 1GW targeted production by the end of 2009 was another well-received story. The much longed-for capacity figure was brought about by the expected full ramp of all four plants in Malaysia going to plan, and with the recent announcement of a low cost-per-watt of 75 cents being reached by the company at the Malaysia-based plants, it seems the only way is up for First Solar.
STANGL Semiconductor Equipment AG hit the headlines as the supplier of eight roll-to-roll wet-chemical coating machines to Ascent Solar. The machines are expected to be used in Ascent’s volume ramp of its flexible thin-film CIGS cells at a new manufacturing plant, and mark a compelling path for future developments within the thin-film industry.
And with the thin-film industry on the mind, our report in September illustrated the anticipated major growth in the Taiwanese thin-film industry, with key suppliers Applied Materials, Oerlikon Solar and Ulvac gaining a large share of the business from companies choosing this route. The region’s thin-film production has been shooting up over the past few years, with expectations of thin-film MW capacity accounting for over half the capacity in Taiwan in 2010.