Thalheim/Wolfen and Uppsala, 23 November 2006 - Q-Cells AG is investing in a new photovoltaic technology to complement its current technology portfolio. Q-Cells, the world's second-largest manufacturer of solar cells, is joining forces with Solibro AB from Uppsala, Sweden, to set up a joint venture under the name of Solibro GmbH, in which Q-Cells will hold a share of 67.5%.
Solibro GmbH will commercialise the copper indium gallium di-selenide (CIGS) thin-film technology developed in Sweden by Solibro AB. For this purpose there are plans to build an initial factory in Thalheim, which will have an annual production capacity of 25 to 30 MWp.
Q-Cells AG will initially pay Solibro AB € 4 million for its 67.5% share and € 20 million against the achievement of technological milestones, and has committed € 60 million to the joint venture. The parties involved are expected to take a decision on the construction of the first production site in Thalheim by mid 2007. The amount of € 60 million will then be invested in this first stage of expansion.
Solibro AB is a spin-off from the widely renowned CIGS research group at the University of Uppsala’s Ångström Solar Center with a unique technology developed with the support from the Swedish Energy Agency. The shareholders of Solibro AB are the Swedish pension fund Sjätte AP-Fonden (45%), the Norwegian investment firm Energy Future Invest (30 %), the four founders of the company (12.5%), Vattenfall (6%), ABB (3 %), Uppsala University (1.5%) and Innovationsbron in Uppsala AB (1.5%).
Ownership of the technology developed by Solibro AB, for which three patent applications have been filed, and all related assets will be transferred to Solibro GmbH. The current pilot line in Uppsala will be transformed to a manufacturing development centre, operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Solibro GmbH. This centre will provide technological support to the production and drive further CIGS developments of strategic importance.
Solibro processes at its pilot line in Uppsala solar active CIGS layers on glass substrates of industrial size. Out of these coated substrates modules with efficiencies exceeding 11.5% (independently confirmed) have been achieved. Based on a closely related technology, the affiliated research group at the Ångström Solar Center has realised efficiencies of up to 16.6% (minimodules) and 18.5% (solar cells) under laboratory conditions.
CIGS technology combines several benefits: it does not require any silicon and compared with other thin-film technologies CIGS has the potential of very high module efficiencies, exceeding 12% in industrial production. The aesthetic appearance of the black modules also makes them well suited for integration into the facades and roofs of buildings.