Sunnyvale, Calif.–That whooshing, whirring machinein the video is how solar will one day compete directly against fossilfuels, according to AQT Solar.
The company, which makes copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar cells, has come up with a manufacturing process that the company says allows it to produce relatively high efficiency solar cells fairly cheaply. AQT’s cells right now exhibit a 14-percent efficiency, which leads toCIGS solar cells that are around 12 percent efficient. That’s average to above-average in the context of the CIGS space. Miasole is around 11percent and won’t get to 13 percent in modules until the end of theyear.
The cells cost around $1 per watt on the prototype production line,said Kirk Hayes, an Applied Materials alum that now works as theequipment and site operations engineer for AQT. CIGS cells for $1 perwatt isn’t competitive with First Solar, which can churn out modules for 79 cents a watt. But this is a prototype production machine — theprice will drop when AQT moves into mass production. To be this closealready is somewhat intriguing.