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Thermal processes open the way to competitive CIGS manufacture

2012 promises to be a good year for CIGS. Among others, Japan’s Showa Shell Sekiiu KK and France’s EDF have announced major new CIGS production projects. However, questions remain whether high volume CIGS production can really become competitive. This is where Smit Ovens’ thermal processes can make the difference…

Amorphous silicon and CdTe may have established strong positions in the thin film PV markets, but CIGS is rapidly gaining ground. With its higher potential cell efficiencies, low materials requirements and aesthetic appeal, there are many reasons why investing in CIGS manufacturing makes sense.

Nonetheless, CIGS production processes have a reputation for being complex, inflexible, and difficult to adapt as process requirements evolve. Hence, manufacturers continue to have doubts about the profitability of high volume production. That’s why thermal processes are so interesting and so different. They are flexible, adaptable and proven in mass production industries. And they can significantly reduce cost of ownership in high volume CIGS production.

Proven solutions
Smit Ovens knows thermal processes in-depth. For over 75 years, the company has been developing, building and supplying thermal processes for glass and display manufacturing. Over 10 years ago, Smit Ovens began translating this experience and know-how to thin film PV, with a clear aim – to enable high quality production in large volumes at low cost. Since then, it has built up an extensive product portfolio and a large installed base in various thin film market segments (amorphous and microcrystalline silicon, CdTe and CIGS).

Low cost of ownership for CIGS
The Mark II inline CIGS crystallization platform is the latest addition to this portfolio. It can be used with Smit Ovens atmospheric pressure selenium deposition solution, or with any other downstream processes, in discrete or roll-to-roll substrate production. And like all Smit Ovens’ thermal processes, it is reliable and adjustable, providing the scalability and flexibility necessary for commercially viable high volume manufacturing.

“For us, reducing cost of ownership is the absolute priority. In thin film solar, we can supply solutions for layer deposition and selenization that cut material costs, use less energy and produce high yields at high capacity,” says Wiro Zijlmans, President of Smit Ovens.


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