Manz Automation expands CIGS thin film business model under €50 million agreement with Würth Solar

19. July 2010 | Industry & Suppliers, Research & Development | By:  Becky Stuart

Manz Automation AG has signed a know-how licensing and strategic alliance agreement with Würth Solar GmbH & Co. KG. Under the €50 million agreement, Manz gains exclusive rights to the use to Würth Solar’s Copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) production technology and exclusive access to their research results regarding CIGS modules on glass substrates.

Manz Automation AGs thin film production line

The company says says it aims to use the alliance to become the CIGS market leader. Image: Manz Automation AG.

This means, says the company that it is now “the only provider who can currently offer an integrated, fully productive production line for CIGS solar modules that can be operated cost efficiently”. Würth Solar is also contributing its more than ten years of experience in developing and producing CIGS thin film modules to the strategic alliance.

Manz continued by saying the existing contractual relationship with Würth Solar and the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW – Center for solar energy and hydrogen research), means that it also has exclusive access to their research results. “The ZSW currently holds the world record for CIGS technology with the highest efficiency of cells recorded to date of 20.1 percent. This means that CIGS is the thin film technology with the highest efficiency potential.”

The strategic alliance is initially laid out for a period of ten years. Manz Automation says it aims to use this alliance to become the market leader as a provider of fully integrated, cost-effective CIGS production lines (CIGSfab).

As compensation for the expertise licensing and the in-depth support from the partner’s staff, Manz has undertaken to pay €50 million, which is due in installments through to commissioning of the first CIGS fab. In addition, the company is planning additional capital expenditure for research and development and to increase its staff. Financing for the transaction has been secured.

Dieter Manz, Manz Automation AG’s CEO, describes the strategic alliance agreement as being a key milestone in securing innovation leadership for thin film technology. “By bundling our expertise in this strategic alliance, which is the only one of its kind in the world, we can supply solar manufacturers with fully-integrated production lines that will have the lowest manufacturing costs of all turnkey thin film lines in the future. In addition, we can present our customers with a really credible technology and cost roadmap. This makes investments as secure as possible. As a result, we are giving thin film technology a new push and are developing significant market potential.”

The company went on to say that ZSW’s research results serve as a basis in order to further increase the current effectiveness of 12.8 percent, which is currently at the top of the range industry-wide. The partners to the strategic alliance thus believe that the conditions have been put in place for cadmium-free CIGS technology to become the industry standard.

The future additional offering will span entire CIGS production lines, which are to be shipped to manufacturers of thin film solar modules worldwide. In total, the sales potential for a CIGSfab with a capacity of 120 megawatts per year is around €150 million.

Martin Hipp, Manz Automation’s CFO stated: “We are forecasting significant revenue growth from this strategic alliance from 2011. As a result of the enormous potential revenues from the sale of a CIGS production line, we believe that the successful implementation of our business model will bring us into a totally new dimension for revenues and earnings in the coming years.”


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