Manz refines its CIGS fab


Manz AG has completed the refinement of its CIGS fab manufacturing facility, announcing this week that its new center will be able to produce thin-film modules for 10% cheaper than the market average.

The German machine manufacturer has completed its three-year research and development work on the CIGS fab as part of its work with the Photovoltaics Innovation Alliance.

"With the machines and optimized processes newly developed in the research project CIGS fab, we can reduce the cost of manufacturing thin-film modules by about ten percent," said Bernhard Dimmler, the Manz research project coordinator.

Working together with the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research at Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), it was possible to succeed in doubling the speed of the coating processes in module production, while reducing coating material costs. The CIGS thin-film solar modules, evaporated on to a glass substrate with a semiconductor compound composed of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, could, due to the new manufacturing facilities, continue to make up ground in terms of efficiency on crystalline photovoltaics, said Dimmler.

Moreover, the cost of manufacturing CIGS thin film modules is significantly below that of crystalline solar modules. The research project cost a total of €12 million ($16.6 million). The Federal Ministry of the Environment provided half of the funding as part of the Photovoltaics Innovation Alliance, while Manz contributed the remainder.

Manz worked on three adjusting screws on the new machines. The deposition process for the CIGS layer was enhanced by a factor of two, meaning that only half of the production facilities in large factories will be needed. The deposition of the buffer layer, which hitherto was effected in single stage procedures, has been developed into a continuous process, and investment costs have been roughly halved. Additionally, extended use of the laser increased efficiency by 0.5 percentage points.