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CMC and Oerlikon Solar plan to expand production capacity to 1 gigawatt

CMC launches pilot operation

  • 40 MWp pilot operation launched today
  • Production start in the second half of 2008
  • Planned expansion to Micromorph Tandem
  • Gigawatt production set as medium-term capacity target
  • All agreed targets met or exceeded

 

Trübbach/Taiwan, April 16, 2008 - With CMC, Oerlikon Solar's first Asian customer now gets production underway. Over the last few months, the turnkey 40 MWp (megawatt peak) line was transported from Truebbach (Switzerland) to Taiwan, assembled and configured to begin pilot operation today. Oerlikon experts are providing support for the entire process through to the ultimate start of production in the second half of 2008. "Oerlikon Solar has done an excellent job. All targets have been met or exceeded - this is our idea of how successful cooperation should work," said Bob Wong, Chairman of CMC, expressing his enthusiasm. The plant now installed is the beginning of a long-term partnership between CMC and Oerlikon in the solar market, which also includes joint development projects.

The launch of the first Asian production line means that another milestone has been reached in Oerlikon Solar's recent success story. The highly modern facility is thus the first of its kind to start production in the rapidly growing Asian thin-film photovoltaic market. "We are proud to begin a new chapter in our successful partnership with CMC," says Dr. Uwe Krüger, CEO of Oerlikon.

500,000 modules annually - for now
The turnkey 40 MWp production facility for the production of highly modern amorphous (a-si) thin-film silicon solar modules makes it possible to produce approximately 500,000 modules every year. It covers the entire production process from glass purification to the testing of finished solar modules. The project scope also includes the implementation of the entire metrology system for quality control, the "back end" of module production as well as the Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO) technology. Plans for expanding the existing production capacity are already in the works. In a next step, a turnkey 60 MWp Micromorph Tandem line - the latest Oerlikon Solar PV technology - will expand the CMC production volume at the existing site in Taiwan.

Micromorph Tandem: 50 percent increase in efficiency
Once thin-film technology using amorphous silicon had been successfully established, Oerlikon Solar also brought its micromorphous tandem cell to the market last September. Compared with cells made from amorphous silicon, the second generation of thin-film technology possesses an additional microcrystalline silicon film. This double-layer structure makes optimum use of the sun's light spectrum, as the two cells combine to convert the entire spectrum of solar radiation, in the visible as well as infrared range, into electric power. This is why the efficiency of a micromorphous tandem cell is some 50 percent higher than that of the amorphous cell, and is thereby set to achieve efficiency levels of ten percent and higher by 2010. Given that the transition from amorphous to micromorphous technology is already underway, numerous individual positive effects, such as lower costs for materials, improved cycle times, higher module efficiency, will contribute towards achieving grid parity in many areas of the sun belt as early as 2010.

Gigawatt in sight
It is also CMC's medium-term goal to reach an annual production output of one gigawatt. These technologically ambitious plans are in line with major economical and ecological objectives. "At CMC we want to make an active contribution to combating global warming," says Wong. Because this is at the same time one of the most promising future growth markets, CMC is thinking in larger dimensions. In a few years the company wants to build up production capacities of over one GWp and to be among the top three providers of thin-film silicon solar technology. As the technology supplier, Oerlikon is a fixed part of this strategy. "CMC and Oerlikon are now about to repeat the success story that we wrote together in the market for optical storage devices - this time at Solar. And perhaps even beat it by a wide margin," adds Wong.

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