Friday, June 20, 2008

NanoSolar Ahead in Solar Race?


"The Great Solar Race"
A State of Play Report

The New Solar "Printing Press"

NanoSolar Inc., one of the new US PV solar cell manufacturers, have just announced a new world record speed for the production of CIGS printed PV solar cells.

The current efficiency of NanoSolar PV solar cells however do not break any records but nevertheless offer a very respectable efficiency of 14%.

A View of the Complete Machine

They claim that they have the solar industry's first 1Giga Watt per year manufacturing machine all up, tested and running, and they have a video on-line showing the machine rolling out solar panel material at 100 feet or 30.48 meters every minute.

“Printing is a simple, fast, and robust coating process that in particular eliminates the need for expensive high-vacuum chambers as traditionally used to deposit thin films.”

You can see the ink delivery tube and the first coating on the sheet

“Our 1GW CIGS coater cost $1.65 million. At the 100 feet-per-minute speed shown in the video, that's an astonishing two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.”

Most factory production machines in the solar cell industry are in the 10-30 Megawatt bracket annual production capacity.

Here is a link to the Nano Solar video from where I drew the photos on this post: video

NanoSolar’s speed record is essentially achieved through a printing process, similar to printing a newspaper, but using a proprietary nanoparticle ink and special foil backing sheet.

The new machine allows for top speed manufacturing at the current tried and tested speed of over 30 meters a minute. However, NanoSolar say that; “if we cared to run it even faster, we could. The same coating technique works in principle for speeds up to 2000 feet-per-minute too. In fact, it turns out the faster we run, the better the coating!”

Now if what their claim is true, in time and with a bit of tweaking, their machines should be able to pump out between 10 and 20 Giga Watts of solar panel material each year. So 100 of these machine could roll out 1000 to 2000 Giga watts of material a year. That capacity would swing the solar panel industry into a completely new direction – if true, and if possible.

Scientific principle to be applied here: WAS (wait and see) But it certainly looks very promising.


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