Intelligent Energy

MiaSolé taps Intel to mass produce solar film

MiaSolé taps Intel to mass produce solar film

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Low-cost Chinese solar manufacturers are forcing American companies to up the innovation ante. MiaSolé has tapped Intel to achieve cost efficiency in manufacturing its CIGS thin-film solar panel technology.

(CIGS) thin-film solar panel technology being manufactured. Photo credit: MiaSolé

Cost pressure from Chinese solar manufacturers has prompted Silicon Valley’s MiaSolé to seek out Intel’s expertise to produce its ultra thin photovoltaic panels at scale.

MiaSolé has drawn significant venture capital investment for producing its large-area copper indium gallium selenide  (CIGS) thin-film solar panel technology, which has been certified with a 15.7 percent efficiency rating.

CIGS is not as efficient at converting solar rays into energy than traditional solar panels, but promises to be significantly less expensive and easier to manufacture. The CIGS solar modules use stainless steel or class substrates instead of silicon.

However, an innovative design isn’t always good enough to compete in a global economy. MiaSolé is partnering with Intel to become more competitive with low-cost Chinese manufacturers, according to Forbes.

"The engagement is part of Intel's broader strategy to partner [with third parties] promising high tech innovation with Intel's world class manufacturing and Copy Exactly! methodology. This will enable companies like MiaSole to scale to high volume manufacturing cheaper, faster, and better," said Brian Krzanich, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Manufacturing and Supply Chain.

MiaSolé’s plant is 60 percent complete, and the company forecasts shipping 80 megawatts worth of solar panels this year, split between commercial installations on rooftops and ground-based solar farms, Forbes noted.

A large part of this story is that Intel is monetizing its in-house processes, but it also highlights the growing trend of solar start-ups looking to the semiconductor industry to reach scale in manufacturing.

The public’s unceasing demand for consumer electronics is a boon to the solar industry, which is climbing out of its initial growth stage and headed toward rapid growth.

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure