China Solar Power (Holdings) Ltd. (“CSP”), a manufacturer of thin film amorphous silicon photovoltaic modules, today announced that it purchased ThinSilicon, Inc., a leading developer of thin film manufacturing process technology based in Mountain View, CA. No financial terms were disclosed.
CSP’s initial manufacturing facility, located in the city of Yantai, China, recently commenced commercial operation. The plant, whose initial configuration will produce a-Si solar panels utilizing production equipment supplied by ULVAC, Inc. of Japan, will have an annual capacity of approximately 32MW once it reaches full production in 2010. The company recently broke ground on its second manufacturing facility, located in Jiangyin, China, and has entered into development and financing agreements with two other Chinese municipalities to build and operate additional production facilities within those cities. Upon completion of manufacturing facilities under construction and currently under development, CSP’s annual production capacity is expected to exceed 500MW, making it by far China’s largest manufacturer of thin film PV modules.
ThinSilicon was founded three years ago and has since developed a unique device and process technology that significantly boosts both panel efficiency and manufacturing throughput. This advanced technology enables modules to convert a greater proportion of the sun’s energy into electricity, allowing thin-film silicon solar modules to approach the efficiency of wafer-based modules at a much lower manufacturing cost. This will enable installations utilizing these modules to compete directly with grid-produced electricity and thereby help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The world must aggressively embrace solar energy to address its growing energy and environmental challenges,” said Charles E. Johnson, CSP’s Co-Founder and Chairman, and former Co-President of Franklin Templeton Investments. “China Solar Power’s mission is to become a major global, low-cost manufacturer of thin film PV modules. The environmental benefits of thin film technology over traditional mono and polycrystalline silicon are well documented. The acquisition of ThinSilicon will help position us as China’s lowest-cost manufacturer of PV modules, in addition to having the lowest carbon footprint per MW of any PV module manufacturer in China.”
Industry analysts estimate that thin film technology accounted for about 10% of the PV industry’s installed manufacturing capacity in 2008. With the emergence of new entrants and thin film’s inherent cost advantages, thin film’s share of the global PV market is expected to increase to 20 – 25% within the next 3-5 years.
“We’re extremely excited by the opportunity to join forces with China Solar Power,” said Jason Stephens, Co-Founder and principal scientist of ThinSilicon. “China Solar Power’s strong manufacturing foundation in one of the world’s largest PV markets will provide an excellent outlet and greatly accelerate the commercialization of our proprietary process and device technology.”
“This transaction represents a classic combination of Silicon Valley innovation with large-scale, low-cost Chinese manufacturing,” said Frank Liu, Co-Founder and current CEO of CSP. “To sustain our competitive cost advantage, we recognize the need to continually innovate in the R&D lab and on the manufacturing floor. We will remain vigilant in our search for technologies that have the potential to further enhance our low-cost position.”