SoloPower announced today that it’s the first in the solar photovoltaic industry to receive a needed safety certification for its flexible CIGS solar module — panels that are easily adhered to roofs or building materials, and made of copper, indium, gallium and deselenide (hence, CIGS). The safety greenlight paves the way for the company to debut its product line and begin commercial-scale manufacturing.
The modules were made with SoloPower’s proprietary roll-to-roll electroplating process to make the low-cost cells. The certification came from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an industry standard in safety, and is required by some markets.
The San Jose-based company is touting this achievement as a “watershed breakthrough” for the solar PV industry, though flexible CIGS competitor Ascent Solar spokesperson played down SoloPower’s achievement, telling Green Tech Media that “If you don’t have IEC — then UL is just a symbol,” referring to the European safety standard of IEC, which is an even more rigorous test that checks climate durability in addition to safety. The flexible, high-power modules will initially be introduced to customers in North America and Europe, and SoloPower plans to add 75 megawatts of production capacity at its plant.
As pv-tech.org noted earlier this year, UL certification for SoloPower will be a “starting gun” of sorts for the company to ramp up production, where it currently lags behind rivals such as MiaSolé.
The company’s next hurdle: to obtain a Department of Energy loan guarantee for the construction of an additional production facility, which would allow SoloPower to ink supply deals it has been anxious to pursue. It also recently settled a lawsuit with its founder and former CEO.
In a statement, SoloPower CEO Tim Harris said: “SoloPower’s core manufacturing process will enable rapid scale-up during our next phase of expansion … the company is in the process of adding a second manufacturing line that will significantly increase capacity to meet expected demand.”
SoloPower is backed by Firsthand Capital, Crosslink Capital and Convexa Capital Ventures.