Shell Bets on Thin Film Solar
Last week, Shell bowed out of the crystalline solar industry, agreeing to sell all of its yearly solar crystalline production capacity to SolarWorld. A combination of the tight silicon supply and a very strong German market is actually driving solar costs higher and making the technology less competitive. Shell will instead focus on CIS thin film solar, based principally on Copper, Indium and Selenium. The cells typically produce a lower total energy output than crystalline solar cells but they're also cheaper to manufacture; most of all, they don't rely on silicon. The efficiency of thin solar film is getting better. Last fall, Shell announced its CIS solar had achieved 13.5 percent efficiency, a new world record for thin-film.
So in divesting its entire crystalline operation -- approximately 80 MW of yearly production capacity potential -- the company held on to its small, 3 MW production line in California for thin-film CIS solar. And on the same day as this announcement from Shell, the company struck a deal to explore the eventual construction of a 20 MW CIS module production facility with the France-based glass specialists St. Gobain.