Q-Cells claims CIGS aperture efficiency world record

The Fraunhofer ISE Institute has verified the Q-Cells test module’s efficiency. Q-Cells subsidiary Solibro manufactures the CIGS modules in Thalheim, Germany.

Q-Cells, in announcing the record, said that it used its co-evaporation CIGS process which applies: "Temperature profiles as well as process time similar to Solibro’s current production." While full-size 17.4 percent modules shouldn’t be expected to roll off Solibro production lines any time soon, the statement claims that the processes used to achieve the record are: "Fully scalable to cost-effective production."

At present, Q-Cells has told pv magazine that full-size Solibro modules, called Q.Smart, are being produced with 13.4 percent efficiency.

It appears that in the face of difficult market conditions for many photovoltaic manufacturers, Q-Cells has scaled back its CIGS production volumes. While the Thalheim fab has a nominal annual output of 135 megawatts (MW), Q-Cells has informed pv magazine that, at present, production is running at 80 MW annually, or around seven MW per month.

Plans to expand the Solibro manufacturing capacity to 500 MW, as previously announced, have been put on hold, as Q-Cells searches for a partner with which to carry out the expansion. The company said that, "talks are still ongoing".

Q-Cells is however continuing to endeavor to get large volumes of the thin-film modules into the field and in October announced the opening of, what it claims is, the world’s largest CIGS power plant. The plant has a capacity of 20.8 MW and uses 200,000 Q.Smart modules. Module24 and Martin Bucher developed the project, in the Lower Saxony region of Germany, with the installation completed by GP Joule.

The December edition of pv magazine includes a CIGS special feature.