Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTI), created by ITN Energy Systems in 2005 to develop and produce state-of-the-art thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, has taken a big step toward commercial production. Orders for the building and delivery of production tooling and equipment have now been made, with manufacturing equipment to be in place by the third quarter of 2009. The equipment will be used for layer deposition, encapsulation, and testing, providing an initial 30 MW production capacity for the company’s new manufacturing facility now being completed in Thornton, Colorado.
The exciting thing about Ascent is that its solar modules are more easily integrated into standard building materials, though also applicable to space, consumer, and large scale power applications. Once in production at the new facility, the product will use a proprietary laser patterned cell integration process, eliminating time intensive cell-to-cell connection operations required with other technologies. The product comes out in large rolls of durable light-weight plastic, providing flexibility in configuration, and providing for direct integration into roofing and other building materials. The large roll sizes reduce the number of modules required for typical applications.
Ascent Solar plans to be the first solar technology company to take monolithically integrated PV on plastic into full production. Ascent, and its parent company ITN Energy Systems, have a strong history in the development and production of multi-megawatt production equipment for CIGS photovoltaics on flexible substrates, like plastic. ITN has been involved in over 35 private and government contracts in advanced PV technologies since 1994, and has many government sponsors, including the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, as well as DARPA and NASA. ITN founded Ascent Solar Technologies primarily to commercialize CIGS photovoltaic technology.
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