Leading solar company First Solar and research institute ZSW have announced a partnership to develop new technology for thin film solar PV. 

Based in Stuttgart, Germany, ZSW is a research institute with three decades of experience developing copper, indium, gallium and diselenide thin-film solar technology. Meanwhile, First Solar is a major player in thin-film solar PV technology, with manufacturing facilities in Ohio and California, in addition to another factory expected to be commissioned in the US south-east in 2025.  

First Solar’s thin-film solar PV tech is a lower-carbon alternative to other solar PV tech. It is the only one of the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers that is based in the US rather than China. 

In a press release announcing the partnership, ZSW said that the aim of the collaboration is to “explore opportunities to make thin-film modules more efficient by a better use of the solar spectrum”. The combined research will focus on the “potential to develop and optimize all-thin-film tandem technologies on a gigawatt scale”, while also working to improve the performance of thin-film PV tech.  

ZSW added that tandem solar cells are “widely recognized as the next generation of photovoltaics”, and as every tandem contains at least one layer of thin-film solar cells, their development is “of utmost importance to the next generation of solar technologies”. 

This international collaboration also represents the next step in First Solar’s efforts to increase its presence in Europe. In 2023, First Solar acquired Evolar AB, a European leader in perovskite technology with research facilities in Uppsala, Sweden. This research facility has since been transformed into First Solar’s European Technology Centre, with around 30 Evolar research and development staff moving to First Solar as a result.

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