Saint-Gobain accelerates its growth in the photovoltaic (PV) solar sector and sets up, with Hyundai Heavy Industries, a joint-venture in Korea
This partnership between the two groups will take the form of a 50-50 joint-venture, called Hyundai Avancis. The first manufacturing facility for the joint-venture will be designed identically to the second Avancis plant currently under construction in Germany, both in manufacturing capacity and technology terms. In this way, it will produce an annual volume of 850,000 modules based on CIGS (Copper – Indium – Gallium – Selenide) thin-film technology, designed for roofs and solar fields. In other words, an annual power output of 100 MW, or the equivalent yearly energy requirements of a town with 15,000 inhabitants. The site should be operational from the 2nd quarter of 2012 and will supply the global market. Its modules will be marketed independently by Avancis and HHI.
Based on depositing coatings of CIGS on a glass substrate, the technology developed by Avancis avoids using traditional crystalline silicon. This technology makes it possible to imagine production costs as low as other thin-film based techniques, while its electrical efficiency (above 12% industrially and up to 20% in the laboratory) is close to the higher yields achieved using polycrystalline silicon cells. As well as being suitable for solar fields, CIGS thin-film based modules are especially recommended for roof installations, due to their simplicity of assembly, their attractive appearance and their reliability. In 2010, the PV solar power market has grown tremendously and installed power worldwide is currently estimated at 30 GW, i.e. enough energy to meet the requirements of 5 million Western Europeans. This rise should continue at a steady pace over the years to come, enabling the sector to grow by relying less on public subsidies.