Over the past few years interest in thin-film PV technologies has dried up as the costs of silicon-based solar photovoltaics (PV) has dropped dramatically. That means interest in some of the most promising PV technologies, like thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) PV has fallen significantly, even though such technologies could ultimately be less expensive and easier to produce than silicon PV. But now the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) has developed a roadmap for CIGS that’s designed to help the technology gain speed.
“Photovoltaics and especially thin-film PV are again at a tipping point,” said Larry Kazmerski, co-chair of the U.S. CIGS PV Roadmap. “We want PV to be a substantial part of the world’s energy portfolio and our efforts with this roadmap are aimed to help make CIGS thin films a significant part of that solar success.”
The PVMC is spearheaded by SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SEMATECH and is part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative. The consortium is supporting collaborative research and development between industry, university, and government partners to help speed development of new PV technologies. The roadmap, “2013 U.S. CIGS PV Roadmap Reports,” the first developed by the consortium, is part of its efforts to help CIGS manufacturers get to market.
“In building on the innovation strategy of Governor Andrew Cuomo that is establishing New York as a hub for solar energy technologies and companies, we engaged over 75 partner firms and 100 industry experts to develop a 10-year projection in the first-ever U.S. CIGS PV roadmap,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, PVMC chief operating and technology officer. “This blueprint identifies the critical challenges for CIGS PV manufacturing, applications for sustainable innovation, and technical developments that will serve our members and stakeholders, and enable a competitive U.S. solar industry amid the global marketplace.”
The roadmap itself identifies and addresses six areas relevant to CIGS manufacturing. Since CIGS is a thin-film, technology, for instance, it can be deposited on flexible substrates with roll-to-roll technologies akin to newspaper printing and can be used in different applications like roof tiles. It can also be used in glass-based PV like silicon. The reports also explain metrology, modules and packaging, substrates and materials, and reliability/certification/test. Each part outlines where the industry is, what the challenges are, and identifies potential key areas for innovation.
In response to the announcement at least one investing company, Investorideas.com, took a look at which companies to watch in the CIGS space. Among them it mentioned XsunX, Ascent Solar Technologies, Solar Thin Films, Solar Frontier (a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K.) and TSMC Solar (a subsidiary of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.