News Column

Solar energy: German firm expands activities in KSA

May 2, 2014

By Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr., Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia



May 02--RIYADH -- Manz -- a high-tech German multinational engineering company -- has announced its intention to grow its business activities in Saudi Arabia by seeking investors in its CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide) thin-film solar technology that generates electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity.

The announcement followed Manz's participation as co-organizer at the official inauguration of the Solar and Photovoltaics Engineering Center (SPERC) at the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST).

The center was inaugurating the completion of its world-class laboratory facilities, which support research into photovoltaic and other technology relevant to renewable energy.

Renewable energy is one of the top priorities on the Kingdom's list following the Saudi government's announcement that it intends to generate as much as a third of the local energy demands by using solar power by 2031.

The inauguration coincides with an international two-day scientific workshop on CIGS solar cells, with the first day devoted to basic research and the second day focusing on applied research and production technology.

"Our participation as co-organizer of the COGS workshop at this prestigious event does not only show our commitment to the Saudi market, but also shows the progressive and technology-driven outlook of the Saudi government through the impressive advances in solar research being concluded at KAUST," said Dieter Manz, founder and CEO of Manz AG.

He said: "We plan to strengthen our involvement in advancing this sector and delivering solutions that positively affect the Saudi economy and people."

Claus Kuhn, vice president for Thin-Film Solar at Manz, discussed how CIGS will provide the highest potential for cost reduction and efficiency increases with solar energy in the Kingdom.

He also highlighted the fact that 80 percent of the material along the value chain necessary for the production of CIGS solar modules will be sourced locally, creating job for the country in the process.

CIGS technology, Kuhn said, is the most promising solar technology with 10 percent higher energy yields compared to polycrystalline panels.

"Today we come with a fully-integrated, turnkey solution, under the brand name CIGSfab that offers production lines that can be configured for an annual output of between 40 and 500 MW," he added.

He said: "With an efficiency of 20.8 percent on a CIGS solar cell, our exclusive research partner, the renowned Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), holds the efficiency world record in all solar technologies."

Kuhn said: "Due to this exclusive partnership, customers of a Manz CIGSfab are granted exclusive access to this mature German world-record technology."

He said there are endless benefits for Saudi Arabia from this technology.

"Fossil energy resources are limited, but locally produced renewables are the future," he said.

He added: "As of today, the Manz CIGSfab is the only integrated and fully productive turnkey production line for CIGS modules that generates profit."

He said Manz is in a position to secure the lowest solar energy production costs and thus contribute to the growth and well-being of Saudi citizens by setting up local manufacturing sites.

"Aside from the obvious benefits to the country, commercialization is just as lucrative. With the most experienced CIGS team in the solar industry, Manz has already demonstrated low production costs, a significant potential for maximum efficiency and an ability to scale production from 40 Mwp up to 500 Mwp," Kuhn said.

He said that Manz's developers are working continuously on identifying areas with cost-cutting potential, for example, through the use of improved coating processes.

"The Manz CIGSfab has an average guaranteed module efficiency of 14 percent, making it the turnkey line with the highest efficiency (module and aperture area) at the present time," Kuhn said.

Manz AG, headquartered in Reutlingen, Germany, is one of the world's leading high-tech engineering firms. Founded in 1987, the company has grown from an automation specialist into a supplier of integrated production lines.

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(c)2014 the Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)

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Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)