Showa Shell Solar soon to be Solar Frontier, 1GW global sales of CIS modules target

Japanese thin-film photovoltaics company Showa Shell Solar will, as of 1 April 2010, be known as Solar Frontier. The company has decided to make the brand change as part of a plan to expand its global…

Japanese thin-film photovoltaics company Showa Shell Solar will, as of 1 April 2010, be known as Solar Frontier. The company has decided to make the brand change as part of a plan to expand its global network, aiming at a target of 1GW of sales per year of its copper-indium-selenide (CIS) modules to customers worldwide. The rebranded company (Solar Frontier was the original name of its international sales subsidiary), which already has two production facilities in Japan, will open offices in Northern California and Munich, while a third factory, with a nominal capacity of 100MW, will begin operations in Miyazaki in 2011. Solar Frontier will, with these three factories, have a total nameplate of 1GW – by far the largest collective capacity for any CIS/CIGS company – on par with Sharp Solar“s stated plans to open a 1GW triple-junction thin-film silicon PV fab in Osaka. The figure is second only to First Solar, which already has more than a gigawatt of CdTe production of current and projected total capacity in the thin-film PV sector online. According to Brooks Herring, director of international business, the opening of the third plant will allow the company to “offer the full benefits of economy of scale to our customers. This is matched by the strong economics of panel performance we have developed through years of research, development, and testing in the field.” “Our panel development engineers understand that economics is the key driver of a panel“s value, which depends on the combination of efficiency, durability, stability, temperature coefficient, degradation, and numerous other factors, whether you are a home owner, business, or utility,” he continued. “There is far more than a gigawatt of demand for the superior economics we can deliver.” CEO Shigeaki Kameda said that the company“s “production, factory, and quality assurance engineers understand this as well. Our gigawatt-scale capacity is an engineering decision as well as an economic decision because this is what we can do today for maximum production efficiency and minimum energy payback time.” “Moreover, our panel efficiency will continue to climb toward the aperture area efficiency of 16.0% on a 30cm _ 30cm module [that] we achieved recently in our laboratories, he added. While the aperture area efficiency of panels coming off of the assembly line today are at a competitive efficiency of around 13.0%, we expect to reach 14.2% when our third plant starts operating in 2011, and approach 15.0% by 2014.” “We chose Solar Frontier as the name of our international division a few years ago because we knew we stood at the frontier of the photovoltaic industry in terms of research and development,” Shigeaki Kameda said. “With CIS solar technology, our PV modules today combine compelling economics, nontoxic materials, lower energy consumption in production, increasingly higher efficiency, and greater potential for tomorrow.” “With this announcement, we signal our commitment and capacity to set and supply the new global standard for photovoltaic panels into the future, starting with the European and North American office expansions,” he concluded.