Solopower searches for staff for new US fab

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The Californian-based flexile copper indium gallium (di) selenide (CIGS) module manufacturer, this week announced that it is searching for engineers and technicians for its fab located in Portland, Oregon. The company expects the fab to begin commercial production later this year.

Solopower plans to employ 450 people, when the fab is running at its full capacity of 400 megawatts (MW). The company uses a roll-to-roll electrodeposition process, which it claims is low cost and can produce high-efficiency modules.

The construction of its first high-volume fab has been funded by Hudson Clean energy Partners, Crosslink Capital, Convexa and Firsthand. In August of 2011, the company announced that it had received a USD197 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thomas Barker, the Director of Human Resources at SoloPower, said that the company is "looking for equipment engineers, chemical engineers, production and process engineers and front-end and maintenance technicians."

In its recent report on CIGS manufacturers and market, Lux Research wrote that Solopower will have to produce "tangible results … to stay in the race."

Speaking to pv magazine, Lux Research’s Pallavi Madakasira said that the market for flexible CIGS modules, in flexible encapsulates, has the potential to serve the lucrative BIPV market, however it will remain a niche market in the near term. "It could be a premium price product, given the aesthetics that need to be built into the system," said Madakasira. "But I think that at the end of the day the golden rule in the industry is always to be able to manufacture something that’s already been tried and tested … which is standard glass modules."

With Solyndra’s spectacular failure casting a large shadow over novel applications, the Lux Research analyst continued that if specialist downstream expertise is required, for the installation of modules, there are major hurdles to be overcome. However, in saying all of that, Madakasira concluded that the flexible-application market could be worth five to 10 percent of the photovoltaica market in the future.