Technology giant IBM has announced plans to join forces with semi-conductor process company Tokyo Ohka Kogyo (TOK) to develop cheaper and more efficient solar power technologies.
The main focus of the venture will be to think up new ways of printing copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) cells, capable of converting more than 15% of absorbed sunlight into power. This would represent a significant improvement on the 6-12% efficiency achieved by the current generation of CIGS cells.
At present, over 90% of solar PV equipment uses silicon to convert sunlight into electricity. This technology is also more efficient than CIGS, often achieving conversion rates of up to 20%. However, the cost of silicon-based applications has rocketed in recent years on the back of soaring demand from the burgeoning solar industry, which has eaten into limited supplies. Silicon cells are also much thicker than thin-film devices, meaning that they are more limited in their applications.
IBM will contribute its expertise in manufacturing cells, while TOK brings its semiconductor and LCD coating technology to the deal. Although there is no news yet on projected sales for the new technology, the partners say that the main objective is to make the cells cheaply enough to achieve grid parity, something most everyone is interested in achieving soon.
Announcing the partnership, an IBM spokesman Supratik Guha said, “I think that if we can get to a module cost of less than $1 per watt, and be able to keep a handle on the system costs, then one should be able to get to grid parity...We strongly feel that we have a shot.”
The long-term plan is to develop the technology and then sell it off to solar companies in a few years time. Interested buyers might include companies like Nanosolar, Global Solar Energy, Heliovolt and Miasole that are also concentrating on CIGS over silicon cells, though market competition may come from other companies like Intel.
written by The Food Monster, June 17, 2008
written by Andrew Leinonen, June 17, 2008
|< Prev||Next >|