ErSol breaks ground on new ErSol Thin Film module production plant in Erfurt, Germany

On Friday, July 7, 2006, ErSol Thin Film GmbH (ETF), a wholly owned subsidiary of ErSol Solar Energy AG (ES6.DE), held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new amorphous silicon, thin film module production plant. ETF will ramp annual production capacity to 40MWp by 2008 and plans to expand to 100MWp in the “medium term”. ErSol is investing €80 Million in the plant and expects to create over 120 jobs in Erfurt. ErSol has partnered with UNAXIS S.A., a global leader in integrated solutions based on thin film and vacuum technology, to equip the production plant.

ErSol CEO Dr. Claus Beneking outlined the strategy behind the entry into amorphous thin film technology:
1) Growth independent of supply constrained raw polysilicon
2) Potential to achieve efficiency of >10%
3) Production cost could fall significantly below €2 per MWp by 2010
4) Positioned thin film for large photovoltaic power plant and BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic) applications

Erfurt’s Oberbürgermeister (Head Mayor) Andreas Bausewein (SPD), ETF Managing Directors Karsten Weltzien and Dr. Lutz Mittelstädt, and ErSol CEO Dr. Claus Beneking participated in the ritual “spade of earth” ceremony. The 6,000 sq. meter (64,600 sq. feet) plant will be built on a 35,000 sq. meter (8.65 acre) site located east of Erfurt in the Güterverkehrszentrums (freight center) and should be completed by the summer 2007.

The thin film modules will consist of a few micrometers of amorphous silicon deposited on a 3mm glass substrate using a batch process with an initial efficiency of 6%. The raw polysilicon material requirements will be reduced by a factor greater than 100 versus mono and polycrystalline solar cells.

ErSol Press Release (Deutsch, English).

GP View: Photovoltaics is basically a commodity business, despite the current raw polysilicon shortages constraining production and propping up solar cell and module prices amid strong worldwide demand. Lowest cost per watt will beat highest efficiency per unit area for many customers, even in space constrained, residential roof top applications. This will especially be true where rebates or net metering rates or both are not subsidized by government incentive programs. Customers will be content with whatever capacity fits on their roof and reduces their dependence on the centralized electric utility. ETF’s amorphous thin film modules have the potential to exploit this trend for the ErSol Group.

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