Manufacturer of thin film modules Calyxo from Saxony-Anhalt is reducing its costs and increasing its levels of effectiveness
Increasing levels of effectiveness of the modules, competitively priced complete solutions and innovative manufacturing technology
It is all set to be this year's big event for a booming sector: when 2,200 exhibitors presented their latest products and technologies at the Intersolar Europe at Munich Trade Fair this June, around 80,000 visitors are expected to attend the world's biggest show for the sector. Key focal points of the event include the ever increasing levels of effectiveness of the modules, competitively priced complete solutions and innovative manufacturing technology to reduce costs, all of which will be on show over 170,000 square meters of exhibition space.
The fact that many manufacturers of solar modules and systems are currently making losses or even fighting for their survival - with rapid falls in prices caused by over capacity hitting Germany particularly hard - is set to play an important role not only at the Intersolar but also during the coming months. And the rapid price falls for solar cells and modules - according to figures released by Californian market research portal Solarbuzz of Santa Carla, in 2011 prices for modules fell by 28 per cent ex-works - are set to continue at a similar pace in 2012. This has resulted in huge cost pressures on manufacturers of cells and modules as well as takeovers and insolvencies. In the face of state subsidies to Chinese manufacturers, a situation sharply criticized by German and American companies, the world market share for cells supplied by China and Taiwan increased to 74 per cent, with the market share enjoyed by German manufacturers, who dominated the market just a few years ago, falling just as quickly.
And yet there are exceptions in Germany. Companies who view their business situation as being sound include, for instance, Calyxo GmbH, founded in 2005, which manufactures thin film modules with especially high efficiency factors at its plant in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. In this context, glass plates are coated directly with semi-conductors, with Calyxo using cadmium-tellurium. With a series module with a 0.72 square meter surface area from serial production, this enables an 82.5 Wp (watt peak). At the same time, the modules from the current CX 3 range also enable a system efficiency rating of 11.9 per cent. Representing very good value for money in comparison with crystalline solar systems, the performance that these thin film modules offers is excellent. Technical Director Dr. Michael Bauer wants to achieve much more, however: "At the beginning of May, independent testing agency SGS confirmed the record value of 16.2 per cent for one of our laboratory samples. We are now working on increasing the yields of our top serial production modules to up to 15 per cent," explained the CTO of Calyxo. Until now, the top module has an efficiency rating of 13.8 per cent.
However, high quality and good efficiency ratings do not secure survival in an extremely hard fought market - a fact demonstrated all too clearly by the insolvency of former stockholder Q-Cells at the same location. For Calyxo, which has been owned in full by US company Solar Fields since February 2011, reducing costs is its number one priority. While the photovoltaic industry has had to fight long and hard to cut production costs to below one Euro per Wp, the Bitterfeld company has long since achieved this goal. "With the financial support of Solar Fields, by the end of the year we want to cut our costs to less than 0.60 EUR per Wp, which is a cost reduction of 30 percent compared with the current level," says Managing Director of Calyxo Dr. Florian Holzapfel (CEO) highlighting the company's future plans. If they succeed in doing this, the Bitterfeld company will be manufacturing on a profitable basis this year; capacity in its factory currently totals 25 MWp. Proof that both the parent company and the banks share this confidence was provided just before the Intersolar with the announcement of the decision to further extend the manufacturing location in Bitterfeld. By the end of the year, Calyxo intends to more than triple its production capacity to 85 MWp.
In addition, a complete solution by Calyxo is also set to be presented in Munich: the complete construction kit for a car port, the roof of which is fitted out with CX modules. The 40 modules in total – at twelve kilograms, each weighs considerably less than crystalline variants – supply a peak performance of 2.8 kW and provide electricity which is used for home consumption or that can be fed back into the mains network. The company offers a range of different assembly kits which are especially suited for use on flat roofs and contain everything required for a complete solar system, from the modules, to the attachments, to the electrics – and offers direct delivery via the company homepage.