Manz AG: New efficiency world record from exclusive research partner ZSW substantiates the technological advantage of CIGS thin film technology

23.09.2014 | Reutlingen

  • Efficiency enters new dimensions with 21.7% and surpasses the world record for thin film solar laboratory cells by 0.7 percentage points
  • With access to leading world record technology, Manz has secured ongoing technological leadership in mechanical engineering for thin film solar modules
  • CIGS technology is already realizing the lowest costs for solar power through ongoing technological advances and has enormous potential for additional cost reduction at its disposal.

With 21.7%, the center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wuerttemberg (ZSW), Manz AG's research partner in the field of CIGS thin film solar technology on glass, has presented a new world record for CIGS thin film solar cell efficiency. It is the highest efficiency ever achieved in thin film solar technology and significantly exceeds even the previous record held by today's market-leading multicrystalline silicon solar technology. The world record was officially confirmed by the Frauenhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg.

Dieter Manz, CEO and founder of Manz AG stated: "The new world record is an impressive result of efficient collaboration between the ZSW and Manz as an exclusive industry partner. With 21.7% the ZSW has not only negated the last world record but far surpassed it. This makes me very proud and is clear evidence that CIGS thin film technology demonstrates the highest potential by far for continued enhancement of the rate of efficiency. In the previous years, only thin film technology was putting out new world records - with a clear advantage for us in further developed CIGS technology. And we are far from having reached the end of the development." With the world record the gap in comparison to multicrystalline technology now increases to 1.3 percent, which further strengthens the attractiveness of CIGS technology: In the future, CIGS thin film solar modules are thereby not only more powerful than multicrystalline solar cells but also significantly cheaper to produce. CIGS technology will therefore assume an important role in the next photovoltaic investment cycle.

The record breaking cell was produced in a co-evaporation process, a technology which was further developed and patented by both Manz and ZSW. The excellent reproducibility of the record process suggests good transferability of the technology in production technology for mass production. For this purpose Manz operates a CIGS innovation line at the Schwaebisch-Hall location where CIGS modules are manufactured in large quantities and knowledge from the laboratory is being transferred to mass production. Manz researchers have been able to achieve considerable results since taking over the production line from Würth Solar: significant increase of efficiency while simultaneously cutting the required investments for a thin film factory in half are important milestones on the ambitious development road map. The production costs of CIGS thin film technology in a CIGS turnkey factory built by Manz (CIGSfab) are, depending on the location and size of the factory, up to 50% lower than the costs of today's still prevalent crystalline silicon solar technology.

As part of ZSW and Manz's collaborative research, which is supported by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, cost reduction of solar energy will continue to be promoted. The competitiveness of solar power increases steadily through the increase of the efficiency rate and simultaneous decline in cost. In many parts of the world solar power is now at a similar price level as power from fossil energy sources and considerably below the price of power gained from offshore wind farms.

Dieter Manz goes on to say: "CIGS technology is currently the superior solar technology in every respect and combines the best of about 40 years of German development history funded by the Federal Republic. It is a triumph for politics, basic research and mechanical engineering: Whoever wishes to invest in photovoltaics today and make money doing so cannot pass up on CIGS technology. The close collaboration between research and industry was a key to success along Germany's path towards playing a leading role in this area. Particularly in large markets with regulations regarding local value creation like China, India or the Middle East, CIGS technology can make the most of its unique advantages. Due to the high level of integration, the production process is faster and considerably more affordable than any other solar technologies. The required materials can largely be procured on location. Because CIGS solar plants will make power generation more efficient and affordable worldwide, I am optimistic that CIGS thin film technology will gain significant market shares. As the only worldwide provider of a fully integrated production line for CIGS thin film modules, major opportunities for growth are opening up to us, which we want to take advantage of!"