Nanosolar just announced that it’s completed it’s largest project to date, a 10.63 megawatt project in Alfarrasi, a town in Valencia, Spain. The U.S.-based PV manufacturer is among the first to commercialize printable photovoltaics (PV) and this is among the largest, if not the largest nanoparticle-printed array in the world.
The project in Spain was developed by Smartenergy Invest AG and Advanta Capital Ltd., according to Nanosolar. The project was built on 65 acres of former agricultural land and consists of over 50,000 panels. The region is semi-arid with very mild winters and warm to hot summers, Nanosolar said. The installation is expected to produce 16,500 Megawatt hours annually.
While a variety of companies are working on next-gen or even third-generation of thin-film photovoltaics, Nanosolar’s printed copper, indium, gallium, selenium (CIGS) are among the first nano-particle-based PV companies to make it to commercial operation. Most other CIGS manufacturers use other method of depositing the semiconducting materials onto backsheets in a vacuum environment.
Nanosolar’s modules are essentially printed on backsheets in a roll-to-roll process at room temperatures much like how newspapers or magazines are printed. Such technologies are expected to be cheaper to produce than other methods of developing the CIGS technology.
At this point the company has installed a number of smaller arrays, with more on the way, according to Stefan Zschiegner, Nanosolar’s vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Nanosolar is currently working on other installations of a smaller magnitude. We will be announcing more details as they are completed. Our next installation announcement will be coming soon,” he said. He added that the company is pursuing such projects both in the U.S. and in Europe.
While the company wouldn’t disclose it’s current module efficiency levels, Zschiegner said it’s modules enable competitive system costs with competitors. “Nanosolar is very competitive with industry prices. Beyond that, we don’t comment on price projections as they can be influenced by a number of factors,” he said. Already Nanosolar is making good progress towards its goals. In 2011 it announced that it’s proprietary printing technology already yielded 17.1 percent aperture efficiency at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.