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Taiwan Eterbright launches the World’s Highest-powered (320W) CIGS PV Module

4/23/2015

During the past four years since its establishment, Taiwan Eterbright has been devoted to equipment development, product design, and process improvement; and finally, launches the world’s most powerful (310W~320W) CIGS thin film solar modules, the CIGS 3000 series. Its conversion efficiency reaches as high as 14%, breaking the long existing business barrier of CIGS thin film solar products and achieving a new threshold that can compete with poly-crystalline. It is 13.5% efficient and can yield over 260W per single module.

Why is the threshold efficiency 13.5%?

Because of its material and thin film structure, CIGS thin film solar module additionally possesses a Power Gain Factor (PGF) compared to mono- and poly-crystalline module, i.e. under the same environment and based on the same labeled power, CIGS solar module could generate additional electricity yield as high as 20%, or even 26%. The power output of CIGS module with conversion efficiency of 13.5% is equivalent to 16.2~17.01% of mono- and poly-crystalline module. As a result, 13.5% is defined as the threshold efficiency for a CIGS solar module to be competitive enough in the industry.The abovementioned Power Gain Factor is determined by the following:

  1. Better response to UV light (refer to Spectral Response);
  2. More heat-resistant (lower temperature coefficient, δ=-0.23%/oC, the Temp Coefficient of Pmax from Taiwan Eterbrightet);
  3. Better response to IR light(refer to Spectral Response);
  4. Better response to light with lower incident angle, scattered light and diffused light;
  5. Having positive light soaking effect (mono- and poly-crystalline module has negative light soaking effect).

Many end users overlook CIGS solar module’s characteristics, and instead focus solely on its conversion efficiency rate. However, the pursuit of end user should not be higher efficiency, but instead, accumulated energy output. Power Gain Factor demonstrates just that.

Due to the contribution of this Power Gain Factor, a power plant constructed with high conversion efficiency CIGS solar modules will have a better Power Density (KWh/ m2), which is the accumulated energy output per unit area, than poly- and mono- crystalline modules.

Because of its high wattage (320W), CIGS solar module has a significantly lower BOS cost and module cost per watt. And because of the contribution of Power Gain Factor, its Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE), i.e. the cost of every KWh, could be lower than the poly- and mono- crystalline.

High-powered (320W) CIGS solar modules light up the way toward the success of CIGS solar industry. We wish to lead and collaborate with the global CIGS industry. We, together with Solar Frontier from Japan, STION from the U.S., TSMC-SOLAR from Taiwan and Hanergy from China, aim to construct big high power modules for lower BOS and module costs, and connect equipment and material supply chains to pave the way for a new era of green industry.

Why work together for CIGS technology and solar industry?

CIGS has many competitive advantages as follow:

1. Product reliability
  1. No potential induced degradation (PID-Free)
  2. No light induced degradation (LID-Free)
  3. Absence of Hot Spot
  4. No Snail Track problem
  5. Rare existence of solder joint (as compared with hundreds of solder joints for mono- and poly- crystalline)
  6. No glint/glare problem
  7. Low shadow effect (which affects electricity yield); does not induce hot spot issue
2. A vision for green energy
  1. A pleasing look: royal black color, blends in our environment easily
  2. Save more energy and generate less pollution: production process does not include Si purification and wafer process
  3. Short energy payback time
  4. Low carbon footprint
  5. Less consumption of raw material and more environmental friendly
3. Return rate for investment:

IRR/payback time is an important indicator for most investors when it comes to investment in the power sector. With the same labeled power, and assuming that price per watt is the same, because of the higher Power Gain Factor of CIGS solar panel, the payback time for such power plant will be greatly reduced and IRR shall be raised significantly.

The power plant sector deems security and reliability as its highest priority. Cheap and inferior mono- and poly-crystalline solar modules might lead to grave consequences, such as fire. Moreover, it is common that mono- and poly-crystalline solar modules do not generate as much electricity as expected. CIGS technology not only guarantee security and stability, but also generate better yield for end-user investment, and finally transforming the solar industry into a greener one.

We categorize CIGS PV module into two kinds: Z-CIGS (Z-type CIGS) and C-CIGS (C-type CIGS). The product that Eterbright launches was Z-type CIGS and not C-type. The buffer layer in its structure was made from Zinc-oxide-sulphide (ZnS) instead of Cadmium-sulphide (CdS) because of the following concerns:

  1. Z-type CIGS has a much higher Power Gain Factor than C-type CIGS. That is, Z-type CIGS’s electricity yield per year is over 10% higher than C-type.
  2. The module contains no Cadmium. Even if leaked to our natural environment or disposed after decades, it will no harm the environment.
  3. It requires no Cadmium along its production line, which lowers the cost for waste management and is less polluting.

Eterbright launches Z-CIGS PV module, which:

Obtains TÜV Rheinland IEC 61646, Thin-film terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) Modules – Design qualification and type approval, and IEC 61730, Photovoltaic (PV) module safety qualification;

Obtains TÜV Rheinland ISO 14067 carbon footprint certification;

Obtains TÜV Rheinland RoHS certification

The product contains no lead or Cadmium, ensuring the safety of product use. Eterbright also strives to reduce the carbon emission of its production process to showcase its dedication to a truly green solar product.

Competition Background of CIGS thin-film technology in solar industry

CIGS solar cell has been a part of solar industry for decades, but its development, in terms of technological advancement and business performance, has been falling behind in comparison to poly- and mono-crystalline solar cells, and the gap has been widening. There are three main reasons for its lack of competitiveness:

  1. Low module conversion efficiency, which leads to a higher module cost per watt;
  2. Low module minimum power (because of small module surface area), and as a result, a higher system cost (BOS) per watt;
  3. Higher cost per watt, including the cost per watt for modules and BOS.

It is misunderstood that CIGS thin-film solar modules have lower cost. In fact, although CIGS thin film module has lower cost per watt for its cells compared to poly- and mono-crystalline solar cells, the module itself raises the overall cost because of its lower efficiency.

It is also misunderstood that it requires heavy investment in capital expenditure (CAPEX) to support thin-film technology, weakening its competitiveness. Indeed, if only the production of modules and cells is considered, thin film technology needs more capital investment. However, the Si purification and wafer process it takes to produce poly- and mono-crystalline solar cells require a much higher amount of capital investment than do thin film technology. In reality, however, the depreciation cost has been calculated in the product cost, and the capacity worldwide has been sufficiently built.

It is generally believed that although the record lab cell efficiency for CIGS thin film cells is more than 20%, there’s still a long way to go before it can be mass-produced. It is true that there are still a lot of issues to be resolved in terms of the development of equipment and process optimization. Technically speaking, developing modules is more difficult because CIGS is more sensitive to humidity. It is indeed more challenging to develop anti-humidity CIGS thin film modules.

High powered (320W) high efficiency (14%) CIGS solar modules are now into the market with absolute competitiveness.


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