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Solar Frontier and State University of New York Consider R&D and Manufacturing JV

MOU initiates feasibility study to bring Japanese CIS solar PV technology to U.S
Tokyo based Solar Frontier and the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering have signed a memorandum (MOU) of understanding to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study for potential joint R&D and manufacturing of CIS thin-film modules in Buffalo, New York.

This move is part of Solar Frontier’s plans to establish production bases for its proprietary technology outside of Japan, the company’s home market that currently accounts for 100% of its production.

“Solar Frontier will continue to advance itself as a global leader in the solar energy segment, and establishing overseas production bases is at the core of our mid-term growth plan,” said Hiroto Tamai, President and Representative Director of Solar Frontier. “We are honored to work with the CNSE to study the potential for joint R&D and manufacturing of our proprietary CIS technology in New York State.”

“Governor Andrew Cuomo challenged the State of New York to become a leading high-tech knowledge economy. Our feasibility study with Solar Frontier, the holder of a proprietary CIS thin-film solar photovoltaic technology, is a step toward unveiling that vision – toward the reality of new high-tech jobs, new economic growth, and to becoming a centre for advanced nanotechnologies,” said Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, CEO of CNSE.

CNSE is a global education, research, development, and technology deployment resource supporting New York’s job creation and growth agenda for emerging high-tech industries. CNSE has made more than $20 billion in high-tech investments since its foundation in 2004, representing the world's most advanced university-driven research enterprise. CNSE’s Solar Energy Development Center in Halfmoon provides a prototyping and demonstration line for next-generation CIGS thin-film solar cells and supports CNSE’s leadership of the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC).

Under the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Assembly, New York is making multi-billion strategic investments in high-tech programs, ranging from long-term innovative R&D to workforce development and product commercialization. Public-private partnerships are a cornerstone of this program, inviting foreign investment and driving economic development and job creation across the state.

Solar Frontier has developed CIS technology for 20 years, achieving world-record 20.9% conversion efficiency on CIS solar cell (0.5 cm2). In 2007, the company entered commercial production in southern Japan before ramping up its 900MW Kunitomi manufacturing plant in 2011. Its advanced production process has enabled it to achieve the highest level of mass production thin-film efficiencies at world-class production costs. The upcoming 150 MW Tohoku Plant, a model for future overseas manufacturing facilities, is the latest step in Solar Frontier’s mid-term growth plan, enabling production of CIS at higher conversion efficiencies and best-in-class cost levels.

“Solar Frontier’s proprietary CIS technology is unlike today’s standard solar module technologies. Our CIS generates a higher electricity yield than crystalline silicon modules in real operating conditions – where environmental factors show that labelled efficiency isn’t everything. Together with high-quality, high-precision manufacturing, Solar Frontier is creating cost-competitive and reliable returns on investments in the solar energy market,” concluded Charles Pimentel, Chief Operating Officer of Solar Frontier Americas.

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