June 04, 2009
Xunlight Thin Film Photovoltaics On Stainless Steel Sheets
Yet another solar start-up with an interesting technology. Roll-to-roll manufacturing is one way to try to make PV production really cheap.
Xunlight, a startup in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels. It has developed a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique that forms thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells on thin sheets of stainless steel. Each solar module is about one meter wide and five and a half meters long.
Their conversion efficiency is currently only 8%. They expect to go into commercial production in 2010.
The odds are against each new solar photovoltaics start-up. Existing companies are going up big learning curves in boosting efficiency and lowering production cost. The production cost leader First Solar has a thin film process that achieves 10.7% efficiency. SunPower's higher cost polysilicon process is turning out silicon cells at 22% efficiency (though it seems commercially they are at 19.3%). Does Xunlight have a really big cost advantage in manufacturing? They'll need one.
Coincidentally, this press release arrived just 2 hours ago:
Steel Products Another Step Closer
The fourth milestone meeting of the joint project between Dyesol and Corus Colors that is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has been approved. The project is developing products, processes and facilities for commercial production of Dye Solar Cells integrated onto strip steel in a coil coating line.
The core elements of this milestone involved demonstrating materials and processes that would be utilised in the pilot production line at the PV Accelerator in Shotton, North Wales. The Dyesol team exceeded the requirements of the WAG milestone demonstrating commercially viable processes for manufacturing scale-up. This is one of the elements of the project acceleration announced last December and importantly it has been achieved without an increase in project budget. The Dyesol team is now at the full level for the pilot production phase occurring over the next year and Dyesol personnel are being progressively concentrated in the joint facility in Wales.
Once again WAG were very positive in acceptance of the report, demonstrations and presentations. Dyesol and Corus presented an integrated project update demonstrating the close and collaborative partnership between the companies.
It was also noted that the Dyesol sponsored DSC-IC 09 conference in Nara, Japan had been an outstanding success in validating the growth of industrial interest and applications developments of DSC products. As identified by Corus at the outset of the collaboration, DSC is a preferred photovoltaic platform for integration into the built environment due to the low cost of production, ease of manufacture and ability to perform in all environmental conditions. Dye solar cell technology integrated into steel roofing promises to be the first solar cell technology that can be grid competitive in the normal light conditions experienced in most cities around the world as compared to full sun conditions needed for other solar technologies. At DSC-IC 09, several industrial and research organisations presented long term testing data to validate the Dyesol data that DSC products can have lifetimes exceeding 25 years of active performance. Consequently, DSC has tremendous potential for application wherever steel roofing is used.
For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0)411 208 951.
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804
Note to editors
The Technology – DYE SOLAR CELLS
DSC technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’ using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and tooth paste) and ruthenium dye deposited on glass, metal or polymer substrates. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. Compared to conventional silicon based photovoltaic technology, Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass panels or metal sheets rather than taking up roof or extra land area.
The Company – DYESOL Limited
Dyesol is located in Queanbeyan NSW (near Canberra) and in August 2005 was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX Code ‘DYE”). Dyesol manufactures and supplies a range of Dye Solar Cell products comprising equipment, chemicals, materials, components and related services to researchers and manufacturers of DSC. Dyesol has subsidiaries in UK, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Korea and Singapore plus representatives and agents in Turkey, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. The Company is playing a key role in taking this third generation solar technology from development into commercial production.
More detail about the company and the technology can be found at: http://www.dyesol.com
I know there have been a number of companies working on dye-sensitized titania cells because the raw materials are so cheap and available (TiO2 is used in paint). The trouble has been getting adequate lifespan. If Xunlight has a breakthrough, it's one that's been a long time coming.
The USA has something on the order of 100,000 km² under impervious surfaces such as roofs and pavement. If 25% of this can be used for solar capture (25,000 km²), the average insolation is 1200 kWh/m²/yr, and the efficiency is 8%, we would generate 96 kWh/m²/yr over 2.5e10 m² or 2.4e12 kWh/yr. This is roughly 60% of US electric consumption. A house with 100m² of roof would generate 9,600 kWh/yr or about 26 kWh/day, roughly the electric consumption of a typical house (quite a bit more in sunny areas).
It all comes down to cost. Low enough cost, and the "energy crisis" suddenly got a lot smaller.