INDIA: Tata group recently invested in Flisom (Flexible and lightweight solar modules), a Switzerland-based company, to mark its interest in the solar photovoltaic industry and focus on developing the next generation of clean energy as a future growth area.
Further, a private Swiss investor with business interest in start-up companies who provided initial support and investment to scale-up the technology has increased the investment.
Flisom specializes in flexible and lightweight thin-film photovoltaic solar modules and is in the process of setting up a 5 MW pilot plant in Duebendorf, Switzerland for commercializing its breakthrough technology.
The estimated cost is approximately 25 million Euros and in a phased approach, the company intends to scale up to over 100 Megawatt of annual capacity. These solar cells will provide electricity at ultra-low costs and will enter the mass market globally.
The plant will use superior technology and develop high quality flexible solar cells which in turn will produce electricity at ultra-low cost. These high performance and low-cost solar cells will create a significant impact on clean and sustainable solar electricity generation.
With over 10 employees at present, Flisom plans to further increase its personnel with experienced manufacturing and technical specialists. Flisom will also raise additional funding in the near future in order to accelerate the production ramp-up and commercialization of its lightweight flexible solar cells.
Kishor Chaukar, Managing Director, Tata Industries said: "Flisom is an innovative start-up company, which is on its way to enter the international market. It is led by a team of highly motivated and talented individuals.
"Depending on the performance of the company and the growth of the sector we would be looking at furthering our association with them. We see value in this technology and the resultant product not only as manufacturers or sellers but also as users of it. It is a positive step to actively stimulate the market for renewable energy, especially solar."
Added Anil Sethi, Chief Executive Officer, Flisom: "The Tata group has a significant presence in the energy sector and is known worldwide for its quality consciousness and constant endeavours for improvement and innovation.
"We have leadership in next-generation flexible thin-film solar cells that have the potential to deliver electricity at costs competitive with nuclear or fossil fuels. Tata group has instilled their faith and trust in our breakthrough technology and we are confident of delivering a quality product."
The global market for PV has grown at about 30 percent annually for over 10 years. The cumulative solar energy production still accounts for less than 0.1 percent of the global energy demand. PV growth is set to accelerate in the coming years as it becomes cost-competitive with the retail price of electricity in many parts of the world.
FLISOM aims to produce flexible thin-film solar cells with low-cost roll-to-roll manufacturing technology. The solar cells are based on the compound CIGS, which absorbs light extremely efficiently.
Tiny amounts of material and energy are required for their manufacture, and light-toelectricity conversion efficiencies are high. This offers significant advantages over prior-art technologies – from application, business, as well as from environment points of view.
The solar cells are prepared on a polymer (plastic) foil. They are thinner than a sheet of paper and extremely lightweight. The absorbers are intrinsically stable and hardly degrade during use –- on earth and in space.
Flisom’s edge on clean energy
The FLISOM technology is based on the concepts that led to the world record for light-to-power conversion efficiency (14.1 percent) of solar cells on plastic, developed at ETH Zurich. The cost of electricity produced with such solar cells will be significantly lower than with the solar cell technologies common today.
Roll-to-roll manufacturing technology allows continuous deposition of thin films onto flexible plastic substrates at high speeds. Coating in vacuum enables fabrication of very pure materials that reach highest efficiencies.