Is Austin-based thin-film solar startup HelioVolt getting close to producing its solar material made of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)? Sounds like it — the company just sent out invites for a “ribbon-cutting ceremony” for its factory on the morning of Friday, Oct. 24, followed by a tour (location: 6301-8 E Stassney Lane, Austin, Texas). We’re thinking if the plant isn’t churning by that date, it will be soon after.
HelioVolt is one of several thin-film solar startups that have raised over a hundred million dollars in venture capital funding to produce what could be the next generation of solar — thinly deposited materials on flexible substrates that use little or no silicon, and can be produced cheaply and used in building materials. Competitor Nanosolar started production last December. The global thin-film photovoltaics market is expected to rise to $7.2 billion by 2015 from just over $1 billion today, according to research firm NanoMarkets.
HelioVolt has said it plans to start selling its solar material in early 2009, so production had better start sometime soon. The company has boasted claims of 12.2 percent efficiency and solar cell production times of six minutes.