Press release BoxID: 113306 (Bosch Solar Energy AG)
  • Bosch Solar Energy AG
  • August-Broemel-Strasse 6
  • 99310 Arnstadt

ersol Group inaugurates thin-film module production site

Factory constructed within 12 months / Serial production planned to begin at the start of August 2007

(PresseBox) (Erfurt, ) ersol Solar Energy AG (ersol) is today inaugurating its first factory for the production of silicon thin-film modules together with Erfurt's Lord Mayor Andreas Bausewein and many other guests. Following an almost one-year construction phase, the new production facility will be opened with much celebration in Erfurt's Güterverkehrszentrum (freight transport centre). Since the ground-breaking ceremony in July the previous year, the production building has almost been completed. It is planned to launch serial production as early as August of this year. Initially the plant is designed for a nominal production capacity of 40 MWp (Megawatt-peak), while production outputs of 6 MWp in 2007 and of 24 MWp in 2008 are expected. To this end, more than € 80 million is being invested in the thin-film module production site. To a major part, the production equipment for ersol's thin-film module factory comes from Swiss firm Oerlikon Solar, one of the world's leading companies in the area of thin-film and vacuum technology. Oerlikon installed the first thin-film production plant of its type at ersol Thin Film GmbH. And so it happened that one of Europe's most modern photovoltaic production plants was developed in Erfurt within just one year. By the end of 2008, 160 staff are planned to be employed here. Currently the ersol Group's thin-film team is about 120 strong. The headcount of ersol Thin Film may grow to around 200 employees in the medium-term, because ersol plans to increase the nominal capacity of its thin-film module production to 100 MWp, probably by 2010.

"The first product that is expected to leave the ersol Thin Film's production line in a few weeks' time is called 'Nova'®. Our silicon thin-film module is 1.10 metres wide by 1.30 metres tall. Initial tests confirm the expectation regarding the anticipated efficiency, which was based on trial run results achieved in the pilot production line of Oerlikon Solar," said Karsten Weltzien, Managing Director of ersol Thin Film GmbH, pleased with the status. "At just under six percent, our thin-film modules are less efficient than crystalline, i.e. conventional, solar modules. However, we expect from thin-film modules a better price-area ratio. This is advantageous particularly for large roof and open space applications. Nova® will also be very easy on the eye - which is quite an important factor when it is used to cover large areas," points out Dr. Lutz Mittelstädt, also a Managing Director of ersol Thin Film GmbH, as he describes the benefits of Nova®. The power of the first thin-film modules to come off the production line is planned to be just under 80 Wp (Watt-peak, power under full solar irradiation). Later, this shall be increased to 85 to 95 Wp and then to around 120 Wp per module.

Bosch Solar Energy AG

ersol Solar Energy AG produces and markets high-quality silicon-based photovoltaic products. The Group comprises the divisions Silicon, Wafers, Solar Cells and Modules. With sales of € 128 million in financial year 2006, the Thuringia-based company is one of the leading companies in the solar industry. Listed since 30 September 2005 on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the young ersol share had already been added to the TecDAX on 19 December 2005. Currently the ersol Group has more than 500 employees.

The Company's main goal is to establish itself even more strongly as a manufacturer of high-quality silicon solar cells and to account for a disproportionate slice of the anticipated growth in the photovoltaic industry. To achieve this, ersol concentrates presently on technologically demanding stages of the value chain for photovoltaic plants, and in particular on the production of wafers and solar cells. The Company's supply of silicon raw material is based on several pillars. To the dominant part it is secured by long-term supply agreements with leading polysilicon producers. The company-internal recycling capacities within the Silicon division deliver an important additional contribution. The silicon is processed within the Wafers segment. The monocrystalline wafers manufactured there are preliminary products for the manufacturing of highly-efficient silicon solar cells within the Solar Cells segment. Since early 2006 the Company has been delivering a part of its solar cells for the production of solar modules to the joint venture Shanghai Electric Solar Energy Co. Ltd. (SESE) in which the ersol Group has a 35% holding. The sales of these and other photovoltaic modules are handled in part by the Modules business segment. In the future, this business segment is planned to also include the Company's own module production, scheduled for 2009. Furthermore, ersol develops the silicon saving thin-film technology within the Modules segment. Here, a production facility for silicon thin-film modules is under construction.