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Posted: September 21, 2009
Major solar breakthroughs in Germany ahead of PVSEC
(Nanowerk News) Germany's photovoltaic industry is marked by yet another milestone ahead of this year's European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference & Exhibition (EU PVSEC), taking place from September 21 - 25 in Hamburg. Last week California-based Nanosolar opened its fully-automated thin film panel factory in Luckenwalde near Berlin. This new factory sets several new benchmarks for the industry.
Germany is the longstanding global leader in photovoltaics. There are more than 500,000 solar electricity systems in Germany that have an output of 5.3 GWp of cumulated power, of which 1.5 GWp comes from systems installed in 2008. Germany’s market accounts for 37 percent of the entire global industry. The PV industry in Germany posted over EUR 7 billion in revenues in 2008 and expects 15-20 percent market growth until 2013.
The opening of the Nanosolar plant has the potential to shift the industry in a number of ways. First, the fully-automated plant is an affirmation of German efficiency in production. When operating on a 24/7 basis, it will have an annual module producing capacity of 640 MW. This is equivalent to one panel every 10 seconds.
The thin film cells also set a new efficiency record for this type of cell, reaching a median efficiency rating of 11 percent and a maximum electricity conversion of 16.4 percent.
On the technical side, Nanosolar uses aluminum rather than a glass substrate, which lowers costs and increases application possibilities due to the lighter weight of the cells. This change combined with the nanoparticle ink printing technique used to produce the cells mark a leap forward for Germany and the entire photovoltaic industry.
The opening of this state-of-the-art Berlin plant could have a strong impact on the price of thin film cells, meaning that the industry could reach grid parity sooner than expected.
Nanosolar's new plant also demonstrates how new developments in research can be implemented rapidly. Public and private players invested over EUR 190 million in solar R&D in 2008 to support further breakthroughs in photovoltaics. With over 57,000 employers in the industry in 2008, Germany is host to a wealth of qualified workers for new investors in the solar industry. Germany Trade & Invest provided comprehensive support for Nanosolar with its decision to invest in Germany.
This year's EU PVSEC returns to the world's photovoltaics leader (after being held in Valencia in 2008, Milan in 2007, and Dresden in 2006). Hamburg is a fitting choice, as it was named the European Green Capital for 2011, only the second city to receive this honor, due to its leading role in renewable energies. The solar industry is well represented here: Conergy AG, Centrosolar AG, CIS Solartechnik GmbH, BP Solar, Colexon AG, and SunEnergy are all based in Hamburg.
Representatives from Germany Trade & Invest will be on hand at stand B4G/29 at this year's EU PVSEC to present the opportunities available in Germany's photovoltaic industry including the latest developments in R&D and production.