Midsummer Receives Loan for Production of Flexible Thin Film Solar Cells

The Swedish solar energy company Midsummer, a provider of equipment for cost-effective production of flexible thin film solar cells, receives a loan of 10 million SEK from the regional development agency Almi Företagspartner Stockholm Sörmland AB.

The Swedish solar energy company Midsummer, a provider of equipment for cost-effective production of flexible thin film solar cells, receives a loan of 10 million SEK from the regional development agency Almi Företagspartner Stockholm Sörmland AB.

The Swedish solar energy company Midsummer, a provider of equipment for cost-effective production of flexible thin film solar cells, receives a loan of 10 million SEK from the regional development agency Almi Företagspartner Stockholm Sörmland AB. The loan is meant to support Midsummer’s focus on production and sales of the DUO machines used for the production of flexible thin film solar cells.

Midsummer is a supplier of equipment for cost-effective production of flexible CIGS thin film solar cells. Midsummer’s turnkey production lines are compact, fully scalable and enable small-scale production of solar cells and modules.

Swedish regional development agency Almi Företagspartner AB has now decided to grant Midsummer a loan of 10 million SEK, part of which is guaranteed by the European Investment Fund, EIF. The purpose of the investment loan is to provide Midsummer with increased resources for research and development of machinery for the production of thin film solar cells, known as DUO machines.

“Our loan intends to provide opportunity for innovative companies to develop innovations and business ideas that provide growth and profitability,” says Fredrik Larsson, financial advisor, Almi Företagspartner Stockholm Sörmland AB.

“We sold a DUO system this spring to a foreign multinational company, which is yet another proof of the market potential for our system,” says Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. “The DUO is a compact, fully automated system for production of CIGS solar cells. It is designed for high productivity, operational stability and superior material utilization.”

Midsummer’s customers are manufacturers of flexible thin film solar cells worldwide. An increasing number of companies see the benefits of the technology as it can be easily integrated in buildings (BIPV)—a rapidly growing segment.

Fredrik Larsson continues: “Through the funding we hope to provide Midsummer with the opportunity to develop and pursue its commercialization. It is hoped that Midsummer can become a model for other Swedish environmental technology companies. It will be interesting to follow the company on its journey.”

Midsummer is one of Sweden’s high-profile technology companies and has, among others, been named as one of Sweden’s hottest incubator companies (Almi). Midsummer has been named as one of Sweden’s hottest technology companies and also been repeatedly featured on the list of the nation’s fastest growing technology companies. Midsummer was the fastest growing cleantech company in the EMEA region in 2007-11 (Deloitte, Fast 500).

Almi Företagspartner AB’s vision is to create possibilities for all viable ideas and businesses to develop. Almi provides counseling, debt and equity in the enterprise all phases—from ideas to successful businesses. Almi Företagspartner AB is owned by the state.

The European Investment Fund, EIF supports the growth and development of small and medium enterprises. EIF’s founder members are the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Commission and private European financial institutions.

Flisom Receives Investment from Tata Group for Thin-film Solar Module Production Plant

Flisom, a Swiss company developing innovative technologies for manufacturing of flexible thin-film CIGS solar modules (copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide), has received an additional investment of CHF 10 million following an earlier investment of CHF 42.5 million in 2013 for the pilot production plant with an annual capacity of 15MW in Niederhasli-Zurich in Switzerland. During the last years, Flisom improved the design of roll-to-roll manufacturing machines for processing and scaled them up from 50-centimeter-wide to 1-meter-wide rolls—an unprecedented scale of manufacturing capability for continuous processing of cost-efficient, high-performance monolithically interconnected flexible CIGS solar modules on plastic foil.

This fourth round of funding comes from Flisom’s existing strategic investor, the Tata group, a global enterprise headquartered in India. “We are very pleased with this further investment from the Tata group coming on the eve of the inauguration of Flisom’s 15 MW capacity pilot production plant, and we thank the Tata group and existing investors for their continued support,” says Ayodhya Nath Tiwari, chairman of Flisom Co.

“We appreciate the systematic approach towards innovation and the continuous hard work of Flisom’s team in developing a unique manufacturing plant, while partnering with Empa with several efficiency-related records for flexible solar cells,” says K.R.S. Jamwal, executive director, Tata Industries. He adds, “This investment marks Tata group’s interest in next-generation technology for the solar photovoltaic industry.”

“With the investment received in 2013, Flisom refurbished an old manufacturing building of 4,500-square-meter ground area in Niederhasli, in the outskirts of Zurich, to install all the needed machines for solar module manufacturing on 1-meter-wide rolls. At the same time, Flisom continued technology development on 50-centimeter-wide rolls at its Dübendorf plant, located on the campus of Empa,” says Flisom’s COO, Sudheer Kumar.

The CEO of Flisom, Ulfert Rühle says: “After the successful installation of machines and other factory infrastructure in Niederhasli, the next step is to transfer the process know-how on these high-tech machines using specifically customized designs. Some of the machines are based on many years of development by experts, innovative proprietary designs and complex engineering making Flisom’s machines unique for achieving cost and performance efficiency targets for a breakthrough manufacturing”.

“The 15MW plant will serve as a proven blueprint for establishing larger production plants having a production capacity greater than 100 MW as well as low capital and operating expenditures. Flisom has been working steadily towards lowering the costs of manufacturing of flexible solar modules,” adds CEO Rühle.

Flisom’s high-performance, lightweight, and robust products and systems could lower the price of solar electricity thanks to low material usage, economic production technology, and reduced storage, transportation and installation costs. Markets addressable by Flisom’s flexible solar module manufacturing technology include utility scale solar farms, building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), building applied photovoltaics (BAPV), transportation and portable power.

Ayodhya N. Tiwari, founder of the ETHZ spin-off company Flisom and the head of the Laboratory for Thin Films and Photovoltaics, Empa-Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technologies, believes that the high-efficiency flexible and lightweight CIGS thin-film solar cells have great potential to provide low-cost installed solar systems, bringing many beneficial features together in a very unique manner. In addition to the economic benefits, CIGS thin-film solar modules, known for faster energy payback than the mainstream Si wafer technology, will significantly contribute to CO2 reduction. Future norms and regulations are expected to enforce application of carbon footprint reducing technologies. Therefore, the broad range of applications of flexible lightweight CIGS modules, especially in buildings, will open up untapped markets worth several billion euros while advantageously reducing carbon footprint. This goal is achievable with highly efficient, long-term performance stable, low-cost solar modules produced in a low-capex production plant.

Empa and Flisom have been cooperating for a number of years to develop a unique industrial-scale production platform for CIGS thin-film solar modules. “Scale-up for large-area solar modules and adapting these complex innovative processes for industrial manufacturability is quite a challenge and requires close collaboration between research labs and industrial partners for transferring research excellence to industrial usability,” says Pierangelo Groening, head of the Department of Advanced Materials and Surfaces and member of Empa’s Board of Directors. ”For industrial partners such as Flisom, we provide support on different topics to enable industrial development of novel and innovative concepts, which often require sophisticated analytical tools and skilled experts.” Empa CEO Gian-Luca Bona adds: “We are pleased that Empa’s innovations in the field of renewable energy, especially in photovoltaics, are being transferred to industry for the benefits of a more sustainable society with a growing energy demand. This example perfectly illustrates Empa’s role as a bridge between research and practical applications.”

“Flisom is thankful to Empa for very valuable and sustained research and development support over several years. Flisom also thanks Swiss federal and European funding agencies for their continuous support. Besides the technological progress, the number of employees during the last two years have gone up to more than 55 now, and of course more employment opportunities for technically skilled persons are open for the production plant in Niederhasli,” says Flisom CEO Ulfert Rühle.

Solar Roofing System Delivers More Wattage

CertainTeed Corp.’s Apollo II solar roofing system has been upgraded to 60-watt monocrystalline integrated photovoltaic panels.

CertainTeed Corp.’s Apollo II solar roofing system has been upgraded to 60-watt monocrystalline integrated photovoltaic panels.

CertainTeed Corp.’s Apollo II solar roofing system has been upgraded to 60-watt monocrystalline integrated photovoltaic panels. The lightweight, durable panels are resistant to wind uplift and can be integrated into an existing roof or installed as a new roof that combines solar panels and asphalt shingles or flat concrete tiles. Each 12-pound module features 14 high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells. Its low-profile design does not require structural reinforcement or evaluation. The product also features an open space under the modules to allow for easy electrical wiring. Water channels and raised fastener locations further improve waterproofing of the roof system.

Solar Roof Energy Is the Answer for Mega Cities of the Future

Seven billion people will live and work in urban areas by 2050 and the demand for energy for all these people will be huge. Local production of energy will be needed with building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) key to make cities at least partially self-sufficient with energy. Rapid development in thin-film solar cell efficiency strengthens the business case for BIPV with great opportunities for suppliers of roofing materials and construction companies.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

More than half of the planet’s population lives in urban regions today. This will grow to 75 percent in the next 30 to 35 years. That would mean 7 billion people living in more or less congested areas, all needing shelter, food—and lots of energy.

There is a growing consensus that the mega cities in the future cannot rely entirely on energy produced far away. Besides supply constraints, there are energy losses in the transport of the electricity; logistical nightmares; security issues; and, of course, environmental concerns.

There is a very healthy debate about distributed energy generation, often defined as electricity generation from many small sources. This discussion must be encouraged. We simply cannot solve the energy challenges of tomorrow with energy solutions of yesterday.

The distributed energy discussion has so far mainly centered on local smaller power plants, district energy, more efficient electricity distribution, the ‘smart grid’, etc. That is good. But we must also talk about the potential for local production of renewable energy by the end users on a micro scale, the very individuals who consume all this energy.

What do the end users have in common? Well, they all need a roof over their heads, at home and at work. These roofs can produce renewable energy! So the building industry can play a major role in solving mega cities’ energy challenges.

Building-integrated photovoltaics can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Building-integrated photovoltaics can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Look at an aerial image of a city and you will see an area densely covered by buildings—crisscrossed by roads and the occasional recreational area. All these buildings—houses, apartments, garages, offices, factories, schools and municipal buildings of all sorts—have roofs. New development in solar energy has transformed all these roofs—and even walls—into potential giant solar energy receivers.

The electricity produced by ‘roof solar energy’ could be used for heating, cooling, running office machinery or even fed back to the grid, earning the building owners money.

What I call ‘roof energy’ is building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), one of the fastest-growing segments of the photovoltaic industry. Photovoltaic materials are used to replace (or are added onto) conventional building materials in not only roofs, but also skylights and facades. They can be incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, and existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology.

Traditional wafer-based silicon solar cells are efficient but rigid, thick and heavy, ideal for large solar parks in sparsely populated areas but not in dense cities. They are too heavy for most roofs. However, thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible. They can be made frameless, can be bent, and are ideal for buildings and other structures that are uneven, moving or weak.

The business case for thin-film solar cells is strengthening rapidly since they are becoming increasingly efficient. A Swedish supplier of thin-film solar cell manufacturing equipment has managed to increase the aperture efficiency (the area on the solar panel that collects energy) from 6 percent four years ago to 11 percent two years ago and a record breaking 17 percent today by using a revolutionary all-dry, all vacuum process where all layers are deposited by sputtering.

An office, school, storage facility or factory with a flat roof in a Mediterranean country like Italy could annually yield 1,250 kWh from every kW installed, at a production cost of 7.2 U.S. cents. The production cost would decrease if the roof is slanted by up to 20 percent for an optimal 35-degree angle. The production cost would obviously be higher in colder countries and lower in countries nearer the equator. But even in Sweden the production cost could be as low as 8 cents.

Thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible.

Thin-film solar cells made out of a copper-indium-gallium-selenium metal alloy (CIGS) are thin, light and flexible.

A production cost of 5 to 10 cents is well below the current—not to mention the expected future—electricity prices. There are great variations in the price of electricity today, but many users pay between 10 and 30 cents per kWh (including taxes). Commercial and residential users pay even more.

The $100bn global roofing material market is in a healthy state, growing at 3.7 percent per annum and driven by an uptick in residential building construction (especially reroofing) in developed and developing markets. Here is an excellent opportunity for architects, roofing material suppliers and construction companies to take a leading position in what is destined to be the material of choice for urban planners in the future.

Thin-film BIPV solar energy solutions can be made light and are flexible. They can be fitted or retrofitted onto roofs without perforating the roofs and can be curved or bent. Installation is easy and cost-efficient with no racks or ballast needed. There are no weight constraints and no access limitations (you can walk on the panels). And they can be integrated on bitumen and TPO membranes.

Selling roofing solutions and electricity together opens up to completely new business models: suppliers can offer a discounted roofing price in combination with a stable and independent supply of electricity. Customers can secure electricity price—and get a new roof.

Municipalities and city planners in today’s and tomorrow’s mega cities will make efforts to make their cities greener and more sustainable. It is no wild guess that green buildings with ‘roof energy’ systems will get preferential treatment in public tenders and maybe even subsidies. Building owners will like the prospect of lower energy costs.

So the question to the world’s architects, roof manufacturers and construction companies is: Do you feel lucky? Do you feel confident enough to keep doing business as usual, selling traditional roofs to consumers who might sooner than expected demand energy-producing and cost-saving roofs and buildings? Or will you grab an unparalleled opportunity to gain market share by offering state-of-the-art products that will change the world or at least the way the world’s urban population powers their daily lives?

For me, the answer is simple: If end users can produce part of the energy consumed in a sustainable fashion where they live and work, that would go a long way toward solving the energy and climate challenges of the future. Flexible, efficient, thin-film solar cells for buildings are an integral part of this solution.

New Report Forecasts Global BIPV Markets

BIPV Markets Analysis and Forecasts 2014-2021 research report addresses BIPV glass, roofing and siding and assesses the prospects for the competing underlying technologies including thin-film, OPV, DSC and c-Si. It includes forecasts broken out by product, application, technology and region expressed in MW and units.

This latest report “BIPV Markets Analysis and Forecasts 2014-2021” updates quantitative and qualitative assessments and outlooks for the global building integrated photovoltaic market. The publisher of this research has been covering the BIPV market since 2007. This 2014 version of the BIPV market report examines the latest important technological and market developments as well as the various region specific factors shaping the market. While the last few years have been far from robust for the solar market there are reasons for companies and investors to view BIPV with some optimism.

The report addresses BIPV glass, roofing and siding and assesses the prospects for the competing underlying technologies including thin-film, OPV, DSC and c-Si. The research includes forecasts broken out by product, application, technology and region expressed in MW and units. The report also provides commentaries of the various leading key suppliers and industry influencers.

BIPV Glass Markets: 2014 & Beyond industry research report includes a detailed eight-year market forecast with breakouts by type of building and PV technology and in both volume and value terms. This report also discusses how BIPV glass can better be sold to architects, who are sometimes skeptical of the BIPV glass concept, but remain the key decision makers on the demand side. In part this is about improved marketing. But as we discuss in this report, it is also a matter of playing up the aesthetic advantage of solar glass (for example with tinted and colored products) and by incorporating additional smart features such as hybrid light/photovoltaic capability.

CIGS Photovoltaics Markets: 2014 and Beyond industry research report analyzes the opportunities that are emerging for CIGS in the very new phase of the solar industry. The report takes a detailed look into the technical evolution of CIGs fabrication and encapsulation and show how this will impact CIGS market expansion and cost reduction. Much of the report is devoted to the opportunities for CIGS in building-integrated PV (BIPV market) and how CIGS flexible modules and price parity with silicon solar panels could considerably improve the revenues generated by CIGS technology in the near future.

Table of Contents for BIPV Markets Analysis and Forecasts 2014-2021 research report, available for purchase, covers:

    Executive Summary

    E.1 Changes in Market Conditions for BIPV since Our Previous Report

    E.2 Changing PV Material Mix

    E.3 Opportunity Analysis and Roadmap by Type of BIPV Product

    E.4 Opportunities for BIPV in End user Markets

    E.3 Companies to watch in the BIPV Market

    E.4 Opportunity Analysis by Country/Region

    E.5 Summary of Eight-year Forecasts for BIPV

    Chapter One: Forecasting Assumptions and Methodology

    1.1 Background to this Report

    1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report

    1.3 Methodology of this Report

    1.4 Plan of this Report

    Chapter Two: Product segments and emerging trends

    2.1 Emerging Trends in Non-Glass BIPV products

    2.1.1 Roofing Overlay

    2.1.2 Flexible Roofing

    2.1.3 Monolithically integrated Roofing

    2.1.4 Wall attached PV

    2.1.5 BIPV Sliding

    2.1.6 Curtain Walls

    2.2 Emerging Technology Trends and its Impact on BIPV glass

    2.2.1 Roadmap for the evolution of BIPV glass

    2.2.2 Limitations of crystalline silicon for use in BIPV glass and its future

    2.2.3 Current and future use of CIGS in BIPV glass

    2.2.4 Current and future use of CdTe in BIPV glass

    2.2.5 Future of OPV and DSC in BIPV glass

    2.2.5 Encapsulation issues for BIPV glass

    2.3 The aesthetics and architectural merits and de-merits of BIPV glass

    2.4 Key points made in this chapter

    Chapter Three: Key Market Segments and Regional Markets

    3.1 End-user Market Segments

    3.1.1. Zero-Energy Buildings

    3.1.2 Prestige Commercial, Government and Multi-tenant Residential Buildings

    3.1.3 Other Commercial and Government Buildings

    3.1.4 Residential Buildings

    3.1.5 Industrial Buildings

    3.2 Markets by Region and Country: A Discussion of Market Developments and Subsidies

    3.2.1 United States

    3.2.2 Europe

    3.2.3 Japan

    3.2.4 China

    3.3 Key Points Made in this Chapter

    Chapter Four: Eight-Year Forecasts of BIPV Market

    4.1 Forecast of Non-Glass BIPV Roofing Markets (Shipment Volumes, Market Value and Materials Used)

    4.2 Forecast of Non Glass BIPV Wall Markets (Shipment Volumes, Market Value and Materials Used)

    4.3 BIPV Glass (Forecast by Type of PV Technology Used, Area , Revenues, Type of Product)

    4.4 Forecast of BIPV Revenues by Type of Building and Type of BIPV Products Used

    4.5 Forecast of BIPV by Retrofit versus New Construction: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.6 Forecasts by Region: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7 Forecast of Materials/technology

    4.7.1 Crystalline Silicon BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7.2 Thin-Film Silicon BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7.3 CdTe BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7.4 CIGS BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7.5 OPV BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.7.6 DSC BIPV: By Type of BIPV Product

    4.8 Encapsulation Materials for BIPV Panels

Explore more reports on photovoltaic market (PV) and other reports by NanoMarkets LC.