Veeco to supply CIGS thin-film PV production tools to Daiyang Metal

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Veeco Instruments and Daiyang Metal have entered into a strategic partnership in which the equipment supplier will provide the Korean steel company with CIGS thin-film solar PV manufacturing tools. Daiyang has placed an initial multimillion-dollar purchase order with Veeco for a set of FastFlex web-coating systems to outfit a flexible CIGS cell production line in Yesan, Korea.

The tools on order are comprised of a molybdenum deposition system, a transparent conductive oxide deposition system, and a pair of CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-diselenide) absorber-layer deposition systems. Veeco said it expects to ship these systems during the fourth quarter of 2009, after which it hopes to close a follow-on order with Daiyang.

Piero Sferlazzo, senior VP of Veeco’s solar equipment business, said that “Daiyang’s selection of Veeco is confirmation of our leadership in thermal evaporation sources. Thermal source technology is quickly becoming the preferred CIGS deposition method because it provides customers with high-volume, low-cost manufacturing solutions that drive down the manufacturing cost per watt.”

The companies’ CEOs both applauded the deal.

Daiyang’s Chan Ku Kang explained that his firm “has an aggressive multiyear, multisite plan to become a leading worldwide manufacturer of CIGS solar cells. Our short-term goal is to aggressively ramp to 200-MW capacity during 2010 and 2011, which will entail the purchase of additional Veeco systems. Ultimately it is our goal to achieve 1 GW of CIGS production capacity by 2013.”

“We spent a lot of time researching and surveying the suppliers of CIGS manufacturing tools, and were very impressed with the level of process support and collaboration we received from Veeco during that period,” the chief executive continued. “We chose Veeco because they are best prepared to meet our manufacturing and technology needs today and in the future.”

Veeco’s John Peeler added that his company is “pleased to be selected by Daiyang as they enter the CIGS solar cell market. This partnership is especially important to us because together, with Daiyang as the substrate manufacturer and Veeco as the production equipment supplier, we can accelerate the solar industry’s efficiency roadmap. CIGS is emerging as the next-generation solar technology, offering combined benefits of higher efficiencies and lower costs when compared with silicon.”

Daiyang joins the increasingly crowded field of companies attempting to commercialize CIGS thin-film PV, a sector seen by many analysts as having great growth potential and multiple end-use applications. In a recent market report by Greentech Media/Prometheus Institute, CIGS will make up 12% of  total producible solar-module capacity–or 2.97 GW–by 2012, while Nanomarkets forecasts that CIGS capacity will reach 1.4 GW that year.

News of the Daiyang-Veeco partnership marks the third CIGS equipment purchase announcement in recent weeks. Smit Ovens will supply its thermal tools to Taiwanese manufacturer Jeng Feng, and centrotherm will provide a turnkey CIGS-on-glass module production line to German concern Ilies Renewables.

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