Manz plans to acquire CIGS modules innovation line from Würth Solar

11/15/2011 07:50:00 CET

  • Consistent further development of successful cooperation: All CIGS licences and know-how are transferred to Manz
  • Operation of innovation line accelerates CIGS technology development
  • Takeover to be concluded by early 2012

Reutlingen, November 15, 2011 – Manz AG, one of the world's leading providers of production systems for the photovoltaic and flat panel display (FPD) industry, has signed a letter of intent to acquire the innovation line for CIGS solar modules from Würth Solar in Schwäbisch Hall. As part of the acquisition, Manz plans to integrate the current production site, and a total of 118 Würth Solar employees, into its own Group. The aim is to establish an innovation factory that focuses on the rapid further development of already leading CIGS technology. This technology has the potential to deliver the lowest cost per watt compared to all other technologies, thereby optimally serving current market demands. The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) will continue to intensively support the R&D activities. The takeover is set to be concluded prospectively by early 2012.

This step represents a consistent further development of many years of successful cooperation. The line has been used to date both by Würth Solar for CIGS module production, and by Manz as part of a licensing and co-operation agreement for the further development of CIGS system solutions. With this new agreement, the line is solely intended to serve future research and development activities. This will allow the further development of the technology to be accelerated considerably, and the enormous cost-reduction and efficiency-enhancement potential of CIGS technology to be fully exploited. As a consequence, Manz is making a significant contribution to quickly reducing costs per watt – one of the central topics in the photovoltaic industry. It will also allow the milestones that have been planned to date to be reached earlier than planned. These include the optimisation of manufacturing processes, boosting efficiency, savings in terms of materials, and with them the reduction of production costs. Manz AG is thereby exercising its pioneering technological role in the photovoltaic industry, offering global solar manufacturers an economically attractive production solution.

Dieter Manz, Manz AG's CEO, explains the takeover's significance for the company: "Operating our own research line allows us to qualify our innovations directly in ongoing production operation. By contrast with a conventional pilot line, our innovation line, with its capacity of up to 6 MWp, will produce significantly more solar modules, which Würth Solar will continue to sell in the future." Manz goes on to add: "The agreement that we have now reached is the right response to the solar market's requirements. We are firmly convinced that CIGS will prevail on the market in the medium term due to its high cost-reduction potential. Together with Würth and the ZSW, we have developed a world record module, entailing an aperture efficiency of 15.1% in production format, within a short period of time. We can further accelerate development and expand our advance in technology with the CIGS innovation line that we are creating."

Manz is to acquire the production site without incurring any further one-off costs. The CIGS technology licenses will also transfer to the company on an unrestricted basis. The know-how licensing and cooperation agreement that was concluded in 2010 will be replaced when the new contract is concluded. Manz will adopt most of the ongoing costs for the operation of the line to offset this. With this step, Würth Solar will focus entirely on its core competency of selling photovoltaic systems and components, as well as complete photovoltaic plants and turnkey solar power plants.

"In overall terms, we have developed an optimal solution to enable CIGS technology to realise an even more rapid breakthrough. We are particularly pleased that we will bundle our know-how with that of the employees at the Schwäbisch Hall location, thereby setting new benchmarks as a high-tech engineer for CIGS technology," commented Dieter Manz.

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