Thin-Film Photovoltaics: First Solar Partners With German Research Institute

by | 19. Apr 2024 - 11:09 | Economy

The cooperation focuses on advancing the performance and scale of thin film photovoltaics.

U.S.-based First Solar, the largest solar module manufacturer outside China, has signed a strategic research partnership with the German research institute Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) to advance thin-film photovoltaics. According to a press statement, the cooperation will focus on advancing the performance of thin film photovoltaics and the potential to develop and optimize tandem technologies on a gigawatt scale. Tandem or multi-junction solar cells combine two or more photovoltaic absorbers, each with different properties, which utilizes the sun’s spectrum more efficiently

ZSW’s research fields extend beyond solar to lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, for example, and it has been advising the German Government in these fields for over thirty years.

In 2022, First Solar announced a massive investment of over one billion dollars to expand its thin-film production in the United States. In addition, the company has continuously expanded its portfolio, for example, by acquiring the Swedish copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) industry company Evolar, which specializes in thin films made from perovskite, a mineral group that can be used in the construction of tandem cells. The main ingredient First Solar relies on for its thin-film modules, however, is cadmium telluride. The semiconductor material can generate energy in dim sunlight and under high temperatures, but its efficiency is lower than that of widely used silicon-based modules.

Photo: iStock/anatoliy_gleb

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