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Solar Frontier and IBM to Develop CZTS Solar Cell Technology

The Japanese innovator in thin film solar technology based on the Copper, Indium, Selenium, Gallium, and Sulfur (“CIS”), together with IBM will create a cost competitive solar technology that is inexpensive and uses earth-abundant materials.

 Solar Frontier has signed an agreement to jointly develop thin film solar cell technology with IBM based on the elements copper, zinc, tin, sulfur, and selenium (“CZTS”).

IBM and Solar Frontier will collaborate to expand upon IBM’s innovations in this area. In February 2010, IBM announced record results of 9.6% efficient solar cells using CZTS material, a 40% efficiency increase over previous CZTS solar cells. This joint development will couple IBM’s groundbreaking research with Solar Frontier’s thin film development and manufacturing capabilities to create a cost competitive solar technology that is inexpensive and uses earth-abundant materials. Like Solar Frontier, DelSolar has also recently partnered with IBM in developing this technology.

Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., is an industry leader in CIS thin film solar cell technology. It currently has two manufacturing facilities with a third facility that will become operational in 2011. At 900 MW, the third plant will become the world’s largest photovoltaic production facility. This will bring Solar Frontier’s total photovoltaic device manufacturing output to 1 gigawatt (GW) of production; expected to be the largest CIS photovoltaic capacity in the world.

 “Solar Frontier’s extensive experience in the research and development of CIS thin film photovoltaic technologies has delivered numerous conversion efficiency breakthroughs that have resulted in world class records,” said Satoru Kuriyagawa, Solar Frontier’s Chief Technology Officer. “We are interested in exploring CZTS for its evolutionary compatibility with our CIS thin film technology. The goals of the project correspond with Solar Frontier’s mission to combine both economical and ecological solar energy solutions.”

 "Solar Frontier is one of the world’s leading experts in CIS-based thin film solar panels and we look forward to working with them.” said T.C. Chen, VP of Science and Technology IBM Research. “Adding Solar Frontier’s deep expertise in thin-film-based solar device technology to this project will strengthen the collaborative effort we began in this area with Tokyo Ohka Kogyo Co.,Ltd., for developing chemistry and tooling expertise; and more recently adding DelSolar’s solar module and manufacturing expertise. This team will significantly increase our ability to create CZTS photovoltaic technology that achieves sustainable grid parity."

 CZTS-based technology utilizes materials that avoid heavy metals and are readily available at a lower cost. By virtue of these materials, the goal of this project is to create next generation solar technology that lowers the cost of producing electricity, enabling solar energy to become a ubiquitous alternative to carbon-based energy sources.

 The research for this joint development program will mainly take place at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

 Solar Frontier is a subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and is committed to creating the most economical, ecological solar energy solutions in the world, on the world's largest scale. Solar Frontier’s proprietary CIS technology, is claimed to have the best overall potential to set the world’s most enduring standard for solar energy. This is based on the firm’s legacy of work in solar technology since the 1970s, the priority focus our laboratories have given to CIS since 1993, and its success in large scale CIS commercialization since 2007.

The critical factors that combine to make CIS the overall economical and ecological leader include high efficiency and low production costs as well as superior reliability, stability, sustainability, non-toxicity, and lower overall energy consumption in the manufacturing process to yield a faster energy payback time. 
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