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Unaxis receives major solar contract

Pfäffikon, Switzerland, 30 March 2006 – Technology corporation Unaxis has reported being awarded a major contract for its up-and-coming solar business line. In a Letter of Intent (LOI) signed yesterday the German ErSol Group awarded a contract for production systems for thin-layer solar modules valued at CHF 33.6 million. By 2008 ErSol plans to establish 40 MWp of annual capacity in Thüringen, which is to be expanded in phases up to 100 MWp while creating over 100 jobs. Unaxis’ long-term strategy of transferring its expertise in thin-layer display technology to the field of solar energy has thus been validated, as commented Thomas P. Limberger, CEO of Unaxis: “Our research efforts over the last two years are paying off – we have achieved a breakthrough in the field of thin-layer solar technology”.

The theoretical benefits of thin-layer technology versus conventional crystalline solar cells have been known for a long time. Whereas conventional solar cells are made of highly pure silicium, this innovative new method involves an extremely thin film of silicium vaporised onto specially prepared glass substrates, requiring roughly 100 times less material than solar cells currently in use. This method had not yet found its way into mass production however. This is precisely what Unaxis has now made possible with the new KAI 1200 system generation. “We are the world's first provider not only capable of building systems but also able to master the extremely complex manufacturing process”, said Limberger. Unaxis is able to provide customers turn-key production lines. Unaxis’ CEO estimates the company's competitive technology advantage will last for about two years.

The thin-layer method is at the very start of the technology cycle. Unaxis’ systems currently allow manufacturing of modules with surface areas of up to 1.4 m2 . This offers key advantages for integration into buildings and installations versus conventional solar cells, which are smaller. Further significant reductions in manufacturing costs can also be expected over the medium to long-term through optimised processes and faster production of thin-layer solar technology. “Over the coming years, solar energy will become fully economically competitive with fossil fuels”, said Limberger.

This press release contains information that is based on the current state of knowledge. Unforeseeable risks and events could potentially result in circumstances which deviate from the statements made.

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