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Archive 2007 (09/03/07) Oerlikon Solar introduces production solutions for technologically advanced micromorph tandem modules

Customer Inventux Technologies AG purchases the environmentally friendly, efficient production line technology

Truebbach (Switzerland), September 3, 2007 - Oerlikon Solar, a leading global supplier of field-proven turnkey solutions for thin-film silicon solar modules, introduced today its micromorph tandem technology highlighting its continued global strength in the growing solar industry. The environmentally friendly, energy-conscience micromorph tandem modules offer customers many advantages including the potential to achieve efficiencies of 10 percent and higher in the near future.

Oerlikon Solar's micromorph module technology, first invented by Dr. Johannes Meier, head of the company's R&D activities, combines two different silicon materials - amorph and microcrystalline - in a top and a bottom cell. In this way, the amorphous top cell is converting the visible part of the suns spectrum while the microcrystalline bottom cell is absorbing the sun power in the near infrared spectrum. Consequently, the new micromorph tandem technology allows boosting the efficiency level by approximately 50 percent compared to traditional amorphous single cells.

"Our new micromorph tandem technology has the potential for efficiencies of over 10 percent and leads to a further reduction of the cost per watt peak making our turnkey production solutions even more attractive," said Dr. Uwe Krueger, chief executive officer of Oerlikon. "All materials we utilize in our thin-film technology are non-toxic, low cost and readily available. The embodied energy used to produce our micromorph tandem modules is merely half versus crystalline cells."

In the next three to five years, the solar industry must reduce costs and increase efficiencies to a point that grid parity with conventional energy sources becomes a reality. With their increased efficiency, Oerlikon Solar's micromorph tandem modules bring the industry one step closer to realizing the pivotal goal of grid parity.

"Oerlikon Solar continues to meet our customers' needs within this fast-paced high growth market environment," Krueger said. "Thin-film production lines for micromorph solar modules are becoming more prevalent in the industry as companies search for environmentally responsible and economically sound options for manufacturing."

Furthermore, the recently introduced TCO 1200 production system which is used to deposit the transparent conducting high quality films helped to complete Oerlikon Solar's product portfolio. The unique surface morphology of the deposited layers helps to increase the share of the captured sun energy. The tool is part of the FAB 1200 production line.

Underscoring the relevance of the micromorph tandem technology to the overall solar industry is its early adoption by customers. One such customer, Inventux Technologies AG, a Germany-based photovoltaic (PV) company, recently signed a contract with Oerlikon Solar for a 30 MWp production line to manufacture micromorph tandem modules. Inventux' production plant will be located in Berlin. The project also includes plans to rapidly expand the facility to 100 MWp capacity in the future.

"We strongly believe that Oerlikon Solar is the most experienced and qualified partner in the field of production solutions for micromorph tandem technology," said Roland Sillmann, chief technology officer at Inventux. "The Oerlikon Solar equipment, combined with Oerlikon Solar's process know-how, represent an ideal basis for Inventux to establish a thin-film PV module production line with high cost reduction potential and to develop our own R&D activities."

As the market leader, Oerlikon Solar already has experienced other successes in regard to its FAB 1200 production lines. Currently, Oerlikon Solar customer ersol Thin Film GmbH is ramping up production at its 6,000 m2 fab in Erfurt, Germany, making it the first industrial-scale manufacturing facility for amorphous thin-film solar modules in Europe. Additionally, customer CMC Magnetics Corp. in Taiwan recently entered into an agreement with Oerlikon Solar for the supply of a 40 MWp thin-film solar module production plant. This deal marks Oerlikon Solar's first major order in Asia and represents the world's first fully automated production line with integrated metrology systems.

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