Solar Frontier and HopSol sign deal to move into southern Africa


Swiss-based HopSol deliver experience and expertise in photovoltaic power plant installation and management in extreme desert regions to the agreement and will utilize Solar Frontier’s CIS-based solar panels. These panels are claimed to perform strongly in these extreme conditions and HopSol has focused its African projects on the, “so-called sunbelt countries such as Namibia, Botswana and the Republic of South Africa,” the companies added in statement.

Solar Frontier’s CIS technology, so named for the key ingredients of copper, indium and selenium, with gallium and sulphur, is claimed to be advantageous in desert climates. This advantage stems from a "lower temperature coefficient compared to crystalline silicon"; reinforced frame construction, to withstand sand and dust effects; and high-quality Japanese manufacturing.

Solar Frontier is a 100 percent owned subsidiary of the Japanese arm of the Dutch Oil Giant, Shell. In 2001 Solar Frontier established the world’s first gigawatt-scale CIS module factory. Last week they announced a deal to establish a 500 kilowatt photovoltaic power plant on the Red Sea island of Farasan, Saudi Arabia. Hot, dry conditions and sand build-up are also major factors to contend with in this application.

"Africa has ideal conditions for solar energy so long as solar energy systems can withstand the extremes of the climate," said HopSol’s Robert Hopperdietzel. The Swiss company has its African headquarters in Windhoek, Namibia and Hopperdietzel continued that the Solar Frontier modules perform well in these conditions and have an additional benefit, "being free of cadmium and lead."

For Solar Frontier, the collaboration with HopSol allows them to benefit from HopSol’s experience in the south African market and climate. "The countries of Africa’s sun belt are especially interesting to us," said Solar Frontier’s Wolfgang Lange, "the market has huge growth potential."