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Saint-Gobain CIGS to power up Saudi Arabia

The firm's copper indium gallium selenide modules are grown on a glass substrate, reducing costs as compared to polycrystalline silicon cells

Saint-Gobain has signed an M.O.U. with HRH Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to set up a high-tech company in the solar energy sector in Saudi Arabia.

The signing ceremony was held in Torgau, Germany, where Saint-Gobain's Avancis affiliate operates one of the world's most modern thin film Photovoltaic (PV) module plants.

Under the terms of the memorandum, Saint-Gobain will provide technical assistance and engineering expertise to build and operate a CIGS thin film PV module manufacturing facility in KSA. This project is part of a larger program which includes the construction of solar power plants in the kingdom.

This strategic alliance will lay the foundation for other businesses in the field of solar. What's more, it will accelerate the development of solar power plants equipped with modules manufactured in Saudi Arabia using Avancis CIGS technology.

The solar electricity generated using sunlight could lead to a reduction in the consumption of crude oil.

Fully aligned with K.A.CARE's (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) strategic priorities, this program will enable the development of a competitive manufacturing base in the kingdom.

K.A.CARE was established in April 2010 by Royal Decree and is in charge of developing nuclear and renewable energy in the Kingdom. It has set itself the target to install 41 GWp of solar power by 2032 - of which 16 GWp should be contributed by PV power generation.

"We are very honoured to work together with HRH Prince Faisal, leveraging our technology and manufacturing expertise to make solar energy a competitive source of electricity for the Kingdom. The cost of the electricity produced in this way will have a very strong local content," comments Jean-Pierre Floris.

HRH Prince Faisal emphasises the Kingdom will benefit in two different ways as a result of this partnership. "On the one hand, it is going to result in an alternative and efficient way of producing electricity and on other hand, the introduction of very innovative technology to the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia will be the outcome."

Based on depositing CIGS thin films on a glass substrate, the technology developed by Avancis avoids using traditional crystalline silicon, enabling low production costs, like other thin-film based techniques.

With its electrical efficiency of over 12 percent industrially and up to 20 percent in the laboratory, the technology is comparable to the higher yields produced by polycrystalline silicon modules. Easy-to-mount, attractive and reliable, CIGS thin-film based modules are suited to both solar fields and rooftop installations.
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