Big news from Switzerland’s Nanosolar: the photovoltaics manufacturer is set to start pumping out solar panels big time at both its German and US factories.
Its just-completed and fully automated panel-assembly factory in Luckenwalde near Berlin will be able to produce one solar panel every 10 seconds. That means, running 24/7, the plant could potentially churn out up to 640 megawatts of solar-energy capacity every year. (It will start with the more modest goal of 1 megawatt per month, raising levels as customers obtain financing for solar projects.)
A similar factory in San Jose, California, began operations earlier this year.
“Getting to the point of serial production with the unusual cost reduction involved in our technology is an accomplishment due to the incredible work and perseverance of our team,” said Martin Roscheisen, Nanosolar’s CEO.
Upon inaugurating its German plant, Nanosolar also unveiled the technology behind its product, the Nanosolar Utility Panel™. The firm describes it as an industry first that’s specifically designed for utility-scale deployment. The panel overcomes the disadvantages that thin panels have previously had compared to more expensive and higher-efficiency silicon-based solar panels, according to Nanosolar.
“Electrically, it is the industry’s highest-current thin panel, by as much as a factor of six,” Roscheisen writes on the company’s blog. “It is also the industry’s first photovoltaic module certified by TUV for a system voltage of 1500V, or 50 per cent higher than the previously highest certified. Together this enables utility-scale panel array lengths and results in a host of substantial cost savings during the deployment of solar power plants.”
Nanosolar’s cells are printed onto metal foil rather than glass, a strategy that had in the past raised concerns about its potential efficiency. This year, however, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory verified that Nanosolar’s cell foils could reach a conversion efficiency of up to 16.4 per cent.
“At 16.4 per cent efficiency, our foil cells represent two world records in one: It’s the most efficient printed solar cell of any kind (all semiconductor and device technologies) as well as the most efficient cell on a truly low-cost metal foil (with a material cost of only a cent or two per square foot and mil thickness),” writes Roscheisen.