27/10/06

Würth Solar opens CISfab solar manufacturing plant in Schwäbisch Hall Worldwide first mass production of silicon-free CIS solar modules

Schwäbisch Hall. Almost exactly one year after the ground-breaking ceremony, Würth Solar today celebrated the opening of CISfab, its new production site for CIS solar modules in Schwäbisch Hall. The company is thus opening a new chapter in photovoltaics, as this represents the first mass production of CIS solar modules worldwide. Contrary to conventional modules, CIS solar modules make do without silicon, a currently scarce raw material, and are therefore viewed in the industry as very future-oriented. "Würth Solar will continuously increase production capacity until yearend and then reach full capacity at CISfab as planned at the turn of the year. This makes us the forerunner in the new technology of photovoltaics and sets a milestone in the booming solar industry," says Karl-Heinz Groß, CEO of Würth Solar. From 2007 onwards, Würth Solar plans to manufacture around 200,000 CIS solar modules per annum, which corresponds to around 14.8 megawatts of available energy. CISfab will boast a headcount of around 175 in 2007, of which 35 staff will report to the Würth Solergy sales unit.

Around 400 staff and guests from politics and the industry joined the opening ceremony of the fully automated production line, amongst them Baden-Württemberg's State Prime Minister Günther H. Oettinger, and Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Würth Group. "I am delighted that Würth Solar's CIS technology not only represents an excellent innovation which has been developed and brought to mass production stage here in Baden-Württemberg, but which will also be manufactured here," Oettinger enthused at the opening ceremony. The Prime Minister emphasised that climate protection is one of the core challenges for sustainable politics. The key lies in a responsible mindset on energy policy, based on a mix of energy supply: "We want Baden-Württemberg to be the frontrunner when it comes to the research and implementation of renewable energy. CISfab will contribute significantly to this."

From vision to reality

Würth Solar was established in 1999 by Reinhold Würth with the aim of refining the still young but very promising solar technology to industrial mass production maturity. The EU, the German federal government and the state of Baden-Württemberg sponsored the fundamental research. The technology itself and production technology were both developed further in close cooperation with Würth Solar and the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoffforschung Baden-Württemberg ("ZSW", Baden-Württemberg Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research). Würth Solar has been operating pilot lines in Marbach, Neckar, since the year 2000. The Würth Group has invested 55 million Euros in the construction of the new manufacturing site in Schwäbisch Hall, the highest single investment in the history of the Würth Group. Reinhold Würth comments on the background reasons: "I have always been an inquisitive person, and photovoltaics fascinates me. Even before the establishment of Würth Solar I was convinced that CIS technology has a great future."

Brilliant prospects for CIS solar modules

Würth Solar's investment in CIS technology will contribute to the promising developments in photovoltaics. Here, a chemical compound containing copper (Cu), indium (In) and selenium (Se) replaces the currently scarce semiconductor silicon, which has so far been used for the transformation of energy from sunlight. CIS technology holds great potential, as it contains promising development possibilities when it comes to product features and production technology, especially compared to the more or less technically mature silicon technology. At the begin of mass production, Würth Solar's CIS modules have already reached an average efficiency level of 11.5%, placing them at eye-level with silicon-based solar modules. Furthermore, they are aesthetically appealing and flexible in dimension. This provides some interesting applications and usages: the modules can be integrated into facades either as semi-transparent or printed films.