Nanosolar plans to build the world-record-breaking manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay area, and has started ordering volume production equipment for the facility. The company currently operates a pilot-scale facility in Palo Alto, Calif., and expects to achieve high production volumes through technology similar to the roll-to-roll printing presses employed by newspapers and other high-volume printers.
Using nanotechnology, the company can spray a thin film of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) onto an inexpensive foil, and the minute particles - on the scale of a billionth of a meter - will line up with each other, "self assembling" to form a layer of semiconductor. Such semiconductors form the heart of solar cells, allowing them to convert sunlight into electricity. The company uses a similar technology to add a transparent electrode layer on top of the semiconductor.
According to Nanosolar, the planned manufacturing plant would cost $1 billion to build using conventional thin-film solar technologies, but will cost much less using roll-to-roll technology. To support the buildup to production, the company has raised $100 million through a combination of venture firms and a preferred stock offering.
Publication date: 07/17/2006