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The quest for better performance and cost savings

Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, CEO Singulus Technologies AG, caught up with PES to tell us about the latest business activities and technology.This is a company which makes a significant contribution to the solar/PV market. It is innovative and always strives to improve performance and save costs.

PES: Welcome back to PES Solar/PV magazine. Thanks for talking with us. Would you like to begin by explaining a little about the background of SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG and how you currently serve the solar industry?

Stefan Rinck: SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG’s business activities centre on developing, manufacturing, and marketing machinery and equipment in the fields of vacuum coating technology, surface engineering, wet chemistry, and thermal processing technologies.

The company’s primary focus is on the solar, optical disc, and semiconductor applications, with particular attention to consumer goods and medical technology in the future.

In the solar segment, SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG offers machinery for manufacturing crystalline solar cells and thin-film solar cells based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), cadmium telluride (CdTe) vacuum deposition equipment and equipment for wet-chemical processing. The field of activity of crystalline solar cells includes production solutions for high-efficiency solar cell concepts such as HJT (heterojunction), IBC (interdigited back contact) and PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) solar cells.

PES: Can you please give us an update on changes, especially in your copper indium gallium selenide solar cells (CIGS), over the last 18 months?

SR: Our biggest customer in China, the state-owned China National Building Materials (CNBM), has already started construction work on four domestic production sites for CIGS thin-film solar modules. The planned output volume for each factory at the end of the first phase of expansion is around 300 MW. The plan is to complete further expansion phases over the next few years to increase the output volume at each location to around 1,500 MW, creating capacity of 6,000 MW in China.

The contracts for the machine systems to be delivered by SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG for the first two production sites in Bengbu and in Meishan, were signed in May 2016. The systems for the Bengbu factory were delivered last year and will be available for production in 2018. We delivered machinery to Bengbu with selenisation furnaces, sputtering systems and evaporation systems, all of which are key production steps for manufacturing CIGS solar panels.

For the second site, construction of the systems began after receipt of the agreed prepayment and is expected to be largely completed by the end of 2018. We are talking with CNBM about the investment for the other two factories.

Our company is also active in other projects for the setup of CIGS production facilities. In 2017 we signed contracts for the delivery of VISTARIS vacuum sputtering systems, as well as systems for wet chemical buffer layer deposition with the brand name TENUIS II. Buffer layer deposition with TENUIS II presents another promising development on the way to the efficient wet-chemical coating of thin film solar modules made of CIGS on glass.

Due to the unique concept in terms of dosing and temperature control, the developers at SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES AG were successful in reducing the process time, which in turn has a positive effect and a means considerably higher output in production.

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