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Oerlikon and it's approach to Photovoltaics

Posted on: 01-Aug-2007

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I got a chance to sit down and have some quality time with Oerlikon’s Hans Braendle, who is the Executive Vice President of Coating. First, he’s the real deal technically. He really knows his stuff. The company has been around since 1906, so it’s not some fly-by-night supplier. In fact, you’ll recognize some of their legendary brands: Balzers, Leybold, and ESEC. Now, Oerlikon is looking to be a major contributor to solving the world’s energy needs over this century.
 
The game plan is to drive module price per watt down to where it is competitive with on-grid fossil fuel generation. At $75 a barrel, oil for on-grid power generation is above $1/W (remember, this is an amortized figure, for as Don Lancaster writes in his excellent article Some Energy Fundamentals , a kilowatt hour retails for about 10 cents and you can get about three times that for the same amount of gasoline). Right now, PVCs (PhotoVoltaic Cells) are roughly $4/Wp. Hans believes they can take thin film PVCs to $1.40 by 2014. As for efficiency, the set a world thin film cell record of 9.5% back in 2003. Of course, this is a development figure for the cell only. But they can get 6.8% out of a production-made module today.
 
The University of Applied Sciences Buchs, Switzerland ran a test of Oerlikon’s 1 gen cells and they stayed in a 6-7% efficiency range over a year, accumulating over 2 megawatt hours per meter squared.
 
One of Oerlikon’s strengths that makes this possible is their high degree of vertical integration. Their proprietary TCO (Transparent Conductive Oxide) is key to their success at doing this. They have also developed a Tandem cell that uses both amorphous and micromorphous silicon films to tram more energy. This new cell is about 10% efficient in module form.
 
This is why their stock has been so hot this year, which you can find more on in the Taking Stock section of www.vlsiresearch.com.
 
I got a chance to sit down and have some quality time with Oerlikon’s Hans Braendle, who is the Executive Vice President of Coating. First, he’s the real deal technically. He really knows his stuff. The company has been around since 1906, so it’s not some fly-by-night supplier. In fact, you’ll recognize some of their legendary brands: Balzers, Leybold, and ESEC. Now, Oerlikon is looking to be a major contributor to solving the world’s energy needs over this century.
 
The game plan is to drive module price per watt down to where it is competitive with on-grid fossil fuel generation. At $75 a barrel, oil for on-grid power generation is above $1/W (remember, this is an amortized figure, for as Don Lancaster writes in his excellent article Some Energy Fundamentals , a kilowatt hour retails for about 10 cents and you can get about three times that for the same amount of gasoline). Right now, PVCs (PhotoVoltaic Cells) are roughly $4/Wp. Hans believes they can take thin film PVCs to $1.40 by 2014. As for efficiency, the set a world thin film cell record of 9.5% back in 2003. Of course, this is a development figure for the cell only. But they can get 6.8% out of a production-made module today.
 
The University of Applied Sciences Buchs, Switzerland ran a test of Oerlikon’s 1 gen cells and they stayed in a 6-7% efficiency range over a year, accumulating over 2 megawatt hours per meter squared.
 
One of Oerlikon’s strengths that makes this possible is their high degree of vertical integration. Their proprietary TCO (Transparent Conductive Oxide) is key to their success at doing this. They have also developed a Tandem cell that uses both amorphous and micromorphous silicon films to tram more energy. This new cell is about 10% efficient in module form.
 
This is why their stock has been so hot this year, which you can find more on in the Taking Stock section of www.vlsiresearch.com.
 

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