Manz to take over Würth's CIGS operations

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The two parties have entered into a letter of intent, which will see Manz taking over Würth’s CISfab. Contract conclusion is expected to take place in early 2012. The financial terms were not disclosed. A spokesperson for Würth told pv magazine that more information will be released when the contract has been signed. They added that when Manz sells any whole fabs or equipment in the future, there will be a small provision for Würth.

Before the handover occurs, however, Würth will reduce the production line from its current 30 megawatts (MW) to just six MW, effective immediately, and convert it into an innovation line. Meanwhile, 118 of the 150 production line employees will go over to Manz. The remaining 32 will be offered alternative jobs by Würth.

Manz has said the converted line will be used "for the further development of CIGS production and process technology". It added, "The new innovation factory is primarily intended to serve research and development with the focus being on accelerating further technological development, and the related reduction of production costs and boosting of module efficiencies." Würth said that it will continue to sell the modules produced by the innovation line.

In addition to the production line, Manz will also acquire production technology licenses and know how from Würth. This will include the research agreement Würth has with the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), which deals with CIGS modules on glass substrates, and to which Manz already had exclusive access to the research results.

Furthermore, in relation to the know-how licensing and strategic alliance agreement signed last year between the two parties, a spokesperson for Manz said that the first tranche, worth €30 million, was paid in 2010. Meanwhile, had the company sold one of its CIGs fabs, it would have had to have paid an additional €20 million under the second tranche. However, while there is interest in its CIGS fabs, none have been sold. Therefore, under the new terms, the agreement will see the second tranche that was agreed in the original contract removed. "To offset this," says the company, "Manz will adopt most of the ongoing costs for the innovation line."

Strong sales focus

To compensate for the sale of its CISfab, Würth Solar has said its remaining around 250 employees will focus exclusively on the sale of photovoltaic systems, complete plants and turnkey solar power stations. In doing so, the company will "significantly" grow its sales, from a projected €270 million in 2011, to a planned €350 million. Of the €270 million, around €165 million were said to be generated by its trade division and approximately €110 million by its solar power business.

"Outstanding projects among others were design and construction of several solar power stations in Germany and Europe, for example the solar power stations in Farsala, Greece with five MW of effective rated output and in Les Mees, France with a nominal output of 10 MW," continued Würth in a statement released.

Managing director Karl-Heinz Groß concluded by saying that the markets of interest are Germany, the U.S., France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Switzerland.