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Japanese Company Breaks Out New Solar Panels

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted January 18, 2012

A brand new solar panel technology is heating up the market and offering to bring panel prices down even further.

EnXco Inc. is working on a solar farm in Kern County, California that is projected for completion in June 2013.

But instead of using regular thin-film solar panels from cadmium telluride or the more expensive silicon panels, the project is getting up to 150 megawatts of CIGS thin-film panels from Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. (TYO: 5002) subsidiary Solar Frontier.

Based in Japan, Solar Frontier is the world’s main producer of CIGS panels, or thin-film panels made from copper indium gallium selenide.

These types of panels are competitive to cadmium telluride thin-film panels because they generate about the same amount of electricity but are cheaper to produce.

They have yet to take off as a leading panel because silicon panels convert electricity much more efficiently, but as the market looks for a cheaper option, silicon panels are waning in popularity.

Called the Catalina Solar Project, the solar plant will be completed in two phases.  The first will be complete by the end of 2012 and will generate 60 megawatts.

Once finished, it will be the largest plant powered by CIGS panels.

Gregory Ashley, COO of Solar Frontier Americas, told Forbes:

“This is a landmark moment not only for Solar Frontier but the CI(G)S industry as a whole.  We have demonstrated successfully that the unique characteristics of CIS technology are compelling to major customers by delivering more [kilowatt-hours] over the lifetime of a project for a lower cost.”

This technology could soon catch on to lead the solar industry, surpassing the traditional thin-film solar panels in overall efficiency.

Some other companies looking into CIGS manufacturing are Stion, HelioVolt, and SoloPower.  But for now, Solar Frontier remains far in the lead.

Showa Shell Sekiyu was up 2.14% to 524.00 JPY, or $6.82, at close today.

That’s all for now,


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