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Thin film solar cell technology in Germany

: Diehl, W.; Sittinger, V.; Szyszka, B.


Surface and coatings technology 193 (2005), Nr.1-3, S.329-334
ISSN: 0257-8972
Fraunhofer IST ()
application; thin film solar cell; market growth; technology; research activity

Within the scope of limited nonrenewable energy resources and the limited capacity of the ecosystem for greenhouse gases and nuclear waste, sustainability is one important target in the future. Different energy scenarios showed the huge potential for photovoltaics (PV) to solve this energy problem.
Nevertheless, in the last decade, PV had an average growth rate of over 20% per year. In 2002, the solar industry delivered more than 500 MWp/year of photovoltaic generators [A. Jäger-Waldau, A European Roadmap for PV R&D, E-MRS Spring Meeting, (2003)]. More than 85% of the current production involves crystalline silicon technologies. These technologies still have a high cost reduction potential, but this will be limited by the silicon feedstock. On the other hand the so-called second generation thin film solar cells based on a-Si, Cu(In,Ga)(Se,S)2 (CIGS) or CdTe have material thicknesses of a few microns as a result of their direct band gap. Also, the possibility of circuit integration offers an additional cost reduction potential.
Especially in Germany, there are a few companies who focus on thin film solar cells. Today, there are two manufacturers with production lines: the Phototronics (PST) division of RWE-Schott Solar with a-Si thin film technology and the former Antec Solar GmbH (now Antec Solar Energy GmbH) featuring the CdTe technology. A pilot line based on CIGS technology is run by Würth Solar GmbH. There is also a variety of research activity at other companies, namely, at Shell Solar, Sulfurcell Solartechnik GmbH, Solarion GmbH and the CIS-Solartechnik GmbH. We will give an overview on research activity on various thin film technologies, as well as different manufacturing and production processes in the companies mentioned above.