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Monday, December 10, 2007

In Search of Nanosolar GmbH

[Luckenwalde (Teltow-Fläming), Germany]

Checking on the status of the Nanosolar photovoltaic module production facility in Germany.
Nanosolar plans a €2.8 Million solar farm reference deployment on a nearby brownfield site.

After the 8. Forum Solarpraxis, I visited my cousin who lives south-southwest of Berlin near Luckenwalde, the home of Nanosolar’s module factory in Germany. I heard from a local source the deal was finalized and the location disclosed on June 12, 2007, per this notice from the Luckenwalde City Hall, Nanosolar übernimmt Stucki-Halle (Nanosolar takes over Stucki Factory), and in the regional newspaper, Zuschlag für Nanosolar, Neue Produktion in der Stucki-Halle (New production in the Stucki Factory).

At first, I proceeded to the end of Frankenfelder Strasse instead of driving down Frankenfelder Chaussee, and I found a small construction site located at a junk yard of sorts on a hill top. Such a small construction site couldn’t possibly be Nanosolar GmbH? No, but located in the Internet Dead Zone without an AirCard, I wasn’t able to double check the address. Navigating by nose, I recognized a familiar view from the direction of the Biotechnology Park Luckenwalde. It was the back of the Nanosolar GmbH module production facility.

Here are a few photos of the Nanosolar GmbH facility on the Sunday afternoon of my search. The Nanosolar signs were unobtrusive so it took a bit before I realized I had found it, and cars were absent from the parking lot. I apologize for the camera’s incorrect white balance setting resulting in the bluish tinge.

Well, reviewing the Nanosolar Blog alone, it is clear the company’s current primary focus is ramping CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) solar cell and module production at their San Jose facility.

In response to a press query and teaser photo taken during my Nanosolar GmbH “visit”, Nanosolar Chief Executive Officer Martin Roscheisen said:

Only preparatory work has been going on in Luckenwalde so far. The 24x6 panel line we operate in California has served all of our initial panel-assembly needs. Our German site is geared towards multi-100MW panel-assembly volume through a fully-automated line that is currently being developed by three tooling partners of ours. Our partners are on track to deliver this line as per our schedule. So there's going to be a lot of things happening in Luckenwalde very immediately!

Per the October 2007 Photon International article by Garrett Hering, Nanosolar to start »unbalanced« CIGS production at 430 MW plant by year-end:

Roscheisen would only say that Nanosolar expects to have an “unbalanced” production capacity by year-end, with some process steps at 100 MW and others already in the gigawatt range, and that the company is “sold out for 2008” at an unspecified level.

“Ours are sufficient to develop panels that are about 10-percent more efficient than First Solar’s,” claims Roscheisen. “The key thing,” he adds, “is that the quality of our CIGS coatings is indistinguishable from ones deposited with far more expensive vacuum machinery.”

About one week later, I visited the Nanosolar, Inc., location in San Jose on a Saturday afternoon. By contrast, there were about 20 cars in the parking lot.

Again, Nanosolar investor’s should be pleased the company isn’t wasting their money on fancy signage.

During my research, I uncovered this October 13, 2007, article in the Märkische Allgemeine, Von der Abfallhalde zur Solaranlage, CDU-Politiker besichtigen Mülldeponie, by Elinor Wenke. If my understanding is correct, Nanosolar is developing a large €2.8 Million reference solar farm project on a retired landfill site in 2008. This site is a few hundred meters down the road from Nanosolar GmbH, and the project is purported to be the first of its kind in the German state of Brandenburg.

The 50 production jobs enabled by Nanosolar GmbH are welcome in Luckenwalde where the unemployment rate touched a low of 15.2 percent for the first time since after the Wall fell. This August 2007 article, Quote bleibt bei 15,2 Prozent, 5274 Arbeitslose im Juli in der Region, by Uta Franke, indicates Nanosolar began hiring 11 employees for a job training program with production beginning in January 2008.

Mr. Roscheisen and the Nanosolar Team remember the balance and are in the process of bringing up module production at Nanosolar GmbH in the first quarter of 2008. Not every In Search of post will discover another AE Polysilicon situation.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Orion said...

In your photo gallery from the San Jose facility, the two vertical tanks in the first frame are for Liquid Nitrogen, I think. They're shown being installed over on the Nanosolar website and they seemed quite proud of them.

9:54 PM  

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