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AQT Solar reckons it has achieved near world record efficiencies using a low cost and production friendly sputter deposited CZTS (copper-zinc-tin-sulphide) thin-film solar cell.


AQT has established that the same manufacturing-ready processes and platforms used to make its CIGS 2.0 solar cells are ideally suited for CZTS. The firm has adopted the term CIGS 3.0 to refer to its future CZTS product to reflect the broad production compatibility and similarities of the two systems.


Like their CIGS counterparts, AQT CZTS cells are manufactured as drop-in replacements for crystalline silicon cells making their adoption seamless with existing crystalline silicon module manufacturing equipment and infrastructure.


The “earth abundant” raw materials comprising CZTS are claimed to be substantially cheaper than those in CIGS, making it much cheaper to produce. An added benefit of these constituents is that they are mined and available worldwide, mitigating any geopolitical influence on raw material sourcing.


The firm says this will eliminate concerns such as the Indium availability and price volatility that have impacted the display and thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) industries in the past.


A great deal of research and development has been conducted on CZTS since the mid- 1990s, and CZTS thin-film solar cells made by IBM employing a complex organometallic spin coating process have recently achieved efficiencies as high as 10.4 percent. In contrast, AQT has rapidly achieved close to 10 percent efficiencies for sputtered CZTS by leveraging the manufacturing process and platform foundation established for its CIGS product.


AQT plans to have CZTS modules “under sun” later this year and actively begin the product commercialization process. By employing the same capitally-efficient platform for its CZTS


product as it does for its CIGS product, AQT is further validating the flexibility and long shelf life of its equipment and manufacturing strategy.


“The founders of AQT, all of whom have previously worked in capitally intensive commodity industries, have experienced firsthand the huge disruption to business that occurs when re-capitalisation is required due to technology migration and we have done everything possible to avoid this from affecting our business,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT Solar. “Early on we recognised the critical necessity to adopt a future-proofed manufacturing platform and strategy and it remains a cornerstone of our business, enabling us to easily adapt solar cell production to new, advantageous materials such as CZTS.”


CIS modules to power largest commercial California plants


The completed project between Solar Frontier and enXco is set to become the world’s largest solar installations


Solar Frontier and enXco have signed a module supply agreement for up to 150 megawatts peak (MWp) of Solar Frontier’s CIS solar modules.


A firm order for 26 MWp was completed and delivered in the last quarter of 2011 for the Catalina Solar Project located in Kern County, California.


The second plant in California will be built in two phases – the first phase of approximately 60 MWp is targeted to go online by the end of 2012 and the remainder of the project by June 2013. The plant will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of about 35,000 homes annually and will offset about 74,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.


January / February 2012 www.compoundsemiconductor.net 167


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