Oerlikon Solar and Tianwei open 46 MW solar thin-film production in China

As China boosts solar energy to meet growing power demand and reduce dependence on imported fuels, Tianwei and Oerlikon Solar announced the completion of one of the mainland China’s largest thin film solar panel factories. The facility was completed ahead of schedule. This first phase of the Tianwei project produces 500,000 modules per year, which generates a total of 46 megawatts of power.

Oerlikon Solar leads the thin film solar equipment sector with ten factories in production and the fastest time to market. Thin film solar offers a cost-advantage over traditional crystalline silicon, and is making strong efficiency gains. Tianwei is using Oerlikon Solar’s Amorph High Performance PV technology for Phase 1.

"Oerlikon Solar surpassed its promised completion time and efficiency," said Mr. Ma Wenxue, General Manager of Baoding Tianwei Solarfilms Co., Ltd. "Watching this state of-the-art fab go from an empty room to full production in six months was stunning."

Reaching production quickly is essential to allow Tianwei to address the rapidly growing Chinese solar market. Under the "Golden Sun" program announced on July 21, China’s Ministry of Finance will subsidize half of the construction costs for on-grid solar power plants. The ministry of finance will also pay for up to 70 percent of off-grid installations and cover transmission costs where necessary. In response, analysts have predicted that China could develop more than 500 megawatts of solar power within three years. Just 50 megawatts of solar power were installed in 2008.

"Oerlikon Solar has designed, tested and perfected its methodology for bringing new factories and equipment online on time and on budget," said Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar. "This is key in being the leader on the path to grid parity and placing clean renewable solar power on equal footing with traditional fossil fuel sources.

Oerlikon Solar has the first thin film silicon technology to have IEC certification from TÜV Rheinland for Amorph Basic, Amorph High Performance and Micromorph®. Certification compresses the time to production by reducing administration efforts and guaranteeing durability and performance. With more challenging credit markets, certification also makes Oerlikon Solar’s customers projects more predictable and bankable. TÜV certification for the Tianwei line is expected in September 2009.

Thin Film Si Solar Modules

Oerlikon Solar’s applied technologies for the mass production of thin film silicon solar modules consist of different processes to deposit transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layers for front and back contacts, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) to build the photosensitive layers and laser patterning to generate the serially connected cells.

For the photosensitive layer, Oerlikon Solar offers two production technologies, including:

* Amorphous Solar Modules – This very cost effective solar cell is made by depositing amorphous silicon (a-Si) on the TCO layer.
* Micromorph® Solar Modules – In addition to the a-Si layer, the Micromorph® cell has a tandem structure with an additional microcrystalline absorber. This layer converts the energy of the red and near infrared spectrum, allowing an efficiency increase of approximately 30%. Oerlikon Solar’s production solution permits a modular upgrade from the single a-Si cell to the Micromorph® tandem cell.

Oerlikon Solar’s proprietary micromorph® process significantly boosts solar cell efficiency by adding a second microcrystalline absorber layer to the amorphous silicon (a-Si) layer. This layer converts the energy of the red- and near infrared spectrum, facilitating efficiency increases of up to 50 percent. The micromorph® technology also bolsters overall module power, enabling customers to produce cost effective thin film silicon solar modules.

About Baoding Tianwei SolarFilms Co. Ltd.

Tianwei is an international high-tech company with more than 50 years experience in the energy industry and is the leading company in the power transmission industry and the world’s biggest transformer supplier in output as the only state-owned enterprise in China with a vertical industrial chain in PV industry. Its affiliate Tianwei SolarFilms Co and specializes in designing, manufacturing, selling and installing thin film solar modules and related accessories. Located in the National Renewable Energy & Equipment Industry Base, with its well-recognized R&D teams and facilities Baoding Tianwei SolarFilms Co., Ltd. invested about RMB 1.2 billion for Phase 1 and a capacity of round 50 megawatts.

About Oerlikon Solar

Oerlikon Solar offers field proven equipment and end-to-end manufacturing lines for the mass production of thin film silicon solar modules. Engineered to reduce device cost and maximize productivity, its end-to-end solutions are fully automated, high yield, high uptime, and low maintenance.

The production lines are complete systems, yet modular and upgradeable in both throughput and process technology. As a global leader in thin film PV technology, the company provides its customers with extensive experience in both amorphous and high-efficiency Micromorph® tandem technology.

Oerlikon Solar is ranked "global number one solar turnkey line supplier" by VLSI and has been named winner of the 2009 CELL AWARD for the "best technical product for thin film module manufacturing".

Oerlikon Solar is headquartered in Switzerland, has over 750 employees in 13 locations world wide and maintains sales and service centers in the USA, Europe and China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Japan.