Nanosolar Prints Thin Film Solar At 100-Feet-per-Minute

For all those that have been waiting to catch a glimpse of how Nanosolar has been printing its next-generation thin film solar cells, here’s some eye candy for you. The company, which started manufacturing in just December, put up this video clip of what the company says is the solar industry’s first 1 GW production tool. The $1.65 million machine prints at an awesome 100-feet-per-minute pace and uses nanoparticle ink, which the company says is their secret sauce.

Nanosolar CEO Martin Rocheisen writes on his blog that the speed of the process makes the company’s printing “two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.”

The 1 GW annual capacity is also significant, as Rocheisen says that most solar industry production tools deliver closer to 10-30MW capacity per year. We’re not sure if this milestone will be maintained for the rest of the company’s production tools, or for its other plant in Germany. Update: Roscheisen tells us that the company’s plants are not standardized on 100 feet-per-minute because different processes run at different widths and degrees of parallelism.

While Nanosolar is ramping up its production capabilities, startups like HelioVolt and Miasole are also working hard on thin film solar production processes using CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide). And the older chip and IT companies are moving in, too. IBM just jumped into the fray, looking to make CIGS in a joint effort with chip gear maker Tokyo Ohka Kogyo. We’re thinking the timing of Nanosolar’s video blog post — just a couple days after IBM’s announcement — is no coincidence.

For more info on Nanosolar:

10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen

Read about Nanosolar’s CEO in:25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech

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Nanosolar Raises $50M More, Secures French Buyer