Ascent Solar, a Thorton, Colo., based thin-film PV manufacturer, is increasing its partnerships in China as it starts to commercialize its copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics. Most recently it and its Chinese partner, Shenzhen Radiant Enterprise Co., Ltd., partnered with Third Railway Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation (TSDI) of China in an attempt to take advantage of China’s goal to install 800 megawatts of solar in the next five years.
“The strategic alliance is aimed capturing as much of that share as possible,” said Ascent spokesperson Brad Kemp. “We see this as a very significant opportunity for the company.”
Unlike conventional silicon crystalline photovoltaics and even cadmium telluride thin-film photovoltaics, Ascent’s PV modules are available in a variety of form factors, which can be fixed like conventional PV or flexible, more suited for building-integrated installations. The modules could be installed on rooftops, shading structures or even the sides of buildings.
Under the partnership TSDI will install Ascent PV modules on existing and future railway stations in China. It will build on work that Radiant has already done installing rooftops on rail stations throughout China as well. As such it is well positioned retrofit existing railway stations and new installations with solar.
Kemp thinks that through the partnership, Ascent could be on all sorts of TSDI sites. “Our partners in Shenzhen, specialize in construction of very interesting architecturally complex buildings,” he said.
The three parties plan to begin system design and engineering soon. Already they’re finalizing their first contract under the three-way partnership. The first contract is for little over a megawatt, Kemp said. “We expect to start construction in second half of 2013 to start and complete it in 2013,” he said.
To meet the needs of the partnership, Ascent will have to build on it’s agreement with TFG Radiant, a part of the larger Radiant conglomerate. That will require increasing production. Luckily the company’s previous partnership with TFG included building a manufacturing facility in China, however, they have not yet decided on a location for such a plant yet, according to Kemp.