Thursday, May 24, 2007

Suntech starts thin film solar module plant

SHANGHAI, May 23 (UPI) -- One of the world's established leaders in integrated photovoltaic solar technology has begun production on a new facility in China to make thin film modules.

Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. announced the thin film research and development and manufacturing facility is being built in Caohejing Hi-tech Park in Shanghai. The first phase of the new plant is expected to begin operation in 2008 with production targets set for 2009.

The thin film module production will be based on technology that deposits amorphous and micro-crystalline silicon thin film on glass substrate. The product will use less than 2 percent of the silicon required to manufacture equivalent crystalline silicon PV products. Suntech projects that the thin film modules will have a solar conversion efficiency of 6 percent to 9 percent and an initial production cost of approximately $1.20 per watt (based on 6 percent solar conversion efficiency), which is forecasted to continue to decline as both production scale and conversion efficiencies increase.

Suntech made strides to become a world leader in the solar industry through its 2006 acquisition of Japan's MSK Corp. Many senior members of Suntech's R&D team and its officers have significant expertise in the thin film field. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's chairman and chief executive officer, was a senior research scientist and the leader of the Thin Film Solar Cells Research Group in the Centre of Excellence for Photovoltaic Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Australia and holds multiple patents in thin film technology.

"After having acquired MSK, one of the industry leaders in the building integrated photovoltaic products, we were very pleased to see that there is both a strong and long term global sales market for these products, especially thin film PV modules," Shi said.