Monday, May 2, 2011

Nanosolar: Nanosolar Signs Supply Agreements with Strategic Customers

Leading European installers Belectric, EDF Energies Nouvelles and Plain Energy expand global footprint in partnership with Nanosolar

On April 28, 2011 thin film solar company Nanosolar, Inc. announced that it has signed long-term supply agreements for up to one gigawatt of Nanosolar Utility Panel supply with Belectric of Kolitzheim, Germany; EDF Energies Nouvelles of Paris, France; and Plain Energy of Munich, Germany.

As several of the largest and most experienced installers of thin film panels in Europe, these long-term strategic Nanosolar partners will utilize the cost-efficient Nanosolar Utility Panel to expand their solar power plant developments. Each of the supply agreements ranges from a three to six year term, and in total may account for up to one gigawatt of committed module deliveries as Nanosolar achieves its volume and cost targets. Each of the three companies has worked closely with Nanosolar as a strategic partner since 2008.
Nanosolar combines proprietary technology with advanced system design and manufacturing processes to reduce both panel and balance of system costs. Leveraging its competitive CIGS solar cell and panel efficiencies in combination with proprietary printing techniques, Nanosolar can become the lowest-cost panel manufacturer at hundreds of megawatts of production versus gigawatts within the next several years.

Nanosolar’s roll-to-roll printing process allows the company to benefit from the combination of low capital expenditure and high throughput, which results in an extremely low fixed-cost portion of the production cost per watt. This when combined with a panel design that uses less overall materials for production and installation will enable the company to surpass the $.60 per Watt cost threshold within the next several years. Nanosolar will reach an annual production capacity of 115 megawatts by Fall 2011, and expects to at least double capacity each year thereafter.

'Nanosolar’s industrial printing approach to manufacturing its utility-scale panel combined with its lower balance-of-systems costs will allow solar to be cost competitive with fossil fuels,' said Bernhard Beck, CEO Belectric. 'We look forward to combining Belectric’s state-of-the-art, low-cost installation methods with the Nanosolar Utility Panel to further drive down the cost of solar power plants.”
Press Release dated April 28, 2011

At Martin LaMonica of reports

Nanosolar ... said it has customer orders that could be as much as 1 gigawatt worth of solar panels over six years if the company meets technical milestones and ramps up volume as it projects. The panels are designed for utility-scale solar projects over 1 megawatt in size.

The contracts are a boost to San Jose, Calif.-based Nansolar, which has raised close to $500 million but replaced its CEO last year, a sign of some troubles at the company....
[The] cells are transported to Germany where another factory makes panels specifically designed for utility customers.

Once it's at full capacity in its San Jose plant, Nansolar expects its production costs will be at a $1 per watt, making its costs lower than panels made with traditional crystalline silicon cells, according to Brian Stone, Nanosolar's vice president of sales and marketing.

The company expects that improved efficiency of its solar cells, from 10 percent now to 14 percent in 2014, will get production costs below 60 cents a watt by the end of 2013, making it competitive with other thin-film solar manufacturers. The key to its lower production costs is Nansolar's roll-to-roll cell manufacturing, said CEO Geoff Tate....

Most thin-film solar companies use a vaccum deposition process where solar cell material is layered on to a substrate. Nanosolar's photovoltaic material, made from a combination of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS), starts in a liquid form and is coated onto an aluminum foil. The layer evaporates and then is heated to create a crystalline structure needed for a solar cell, explained Tate.

The manufacturing process, where cells are essentially printed, allows for faster production and greater cost reductions over time, compared to both other CIGS makers and companies that make cadmium telluride thin-film cells, including industry price leader First Solar.

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