China Solar Power, a manufacturer of thin film amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules, announced earlier this week that it purchased ThinSilicon, Inc., a developer of thin film manufacturing process technology based in Mountain View, Calif. No financial terms were disclosed.
CSP's initial manufacturing facility, located in the city of Yantai, China, recently began commercial operation. The plant, whose initial configuration will produce a-Si solar panels utilizing production equipment supplied by ULVAC, Inc. of Japan, will have an annual capacity of approximately 32MW once it reaches full production in 2010.
The company recently broke ground on its second manufacturing facility, located in Jiangyin, China, and has entered into development and financing agreements with two other Chinese municipalities to build and operate additional production facilities within those cities. Upon completion of manufacturing facilities under construction and currently under development, CSP's annual production capacity is expected to exceed 500MW, making it by far Chinas largest manufacturer of thin film PV modules.
ThinSilicon was founded three years ago and has since developed a unique device and process technology that significantly boosts both panel efficiency and manufacturing throughput. This advanced technology enables modules to convert a greater proportion of the suns energy into electricity, allowing thin-film silicon solar modules to approach the efficiency of wafer-based modules at a much lower manufacturing cost. This will enable installations utilizing these modules to compete directly with grid-produced electricity and thereby help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"China Solar Power's mission is to become a major global, low-cost manufacturer of thin film PV modules. The environmental benefits of thin film technology over traditional mono and polycrystalline silicon are well documented. The acquisition of ThinSilicon will help position us as China's lowest-cost manufacturer of PV modules, in addition to having the lowest carbon footprint per MW of any PV module manufacturer in China," said Charles E. Johnson, CSP's Co-Founder and Chairman, and former Co-President of Franklin Templeton Investments.
Industry analysts estimate that thin film technology accounted for about 10% of the PV industrys installed manufacturing capacity in 2008. With the emergence of new entrants and thin films inherent cost advantages, thin films share of the global PV market is expected to increase to 20% 25% within the next 3-5 years.