Ascent Solar to build fab in China

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Colorado-based CIGs thin-film module manufacturer Ascent Solar and the Chinese city of Suqian have established a joint venture to build a manufacturing plant for flexible CIGS solar modules. The fab is expected to reach a production capacity of 100 MW a year within six years.

The city of Suqian, located in Jiangsu Province, is putting up $32.5 million (€24 million) towards the project and will provide an area of 30,750 square meters rent free for the next five years. The city government has approved a number of tax benefits for the factory in the coming years.

Suqian will initially hold a 75% stake in the joint venture, with Ascent Solar owning 25%. However, Ascent is expected to increase its share to 80% by the end of 2014. In 2019, Ascent will have the opportunity to take over the city’s remaining shares.

"The signing of this definitive agreement is a strong endorsement of Ascent’s industry leading flexible CIGS technology," said Victor Lee, Ascent’s president and CEO. "This partnership enables us to accelerate our transformational consumer-centric strategy with the EnerPlex consumer brand and specialty off-grid applications given China’s huge and growing consumer base and readily available contract manufacturers."

Suqian Governor Lan Shao Min added that the municipal government was "fully committed to this partnership and shall provide the utmost support and incentives to Ascent. We are convinced that CIGS, and more specifically Ascent’s proprietary CIGS technology utilizing a flexible plastic substrate, is the next breakthrough in photovoltaics."

Shao Min said the aim of our alliance with Ascent was to build a state-of-the-art industrial park in Suqian for solar and solar-related products, "anchored by Ascent’s manufacturing presence, as well as equipment suppliers, contract manufacturers and other supporting industries."

Ascent Chairman Amit Kumar said the funding and other subsidies would "enable Ascent to develop the scale of manufacturing needed to bring the cost of CIGS down substantially, and provide product for the large demand we expect to see in the next few years. The combination of cost reduction and high margin EnerPlex products along with other specialty market applications will enable Ascent to transition to its next stage as a high-growth company. The alliance with Suqian will provide a means for Ascent to build positive cash flow from numerous sources."