Nanosolar - Making Electricity Broadly Affordable!

Nanosolar was the First Solar Energy Company to come up in Silicon Valley in 2002.

This Thin Film Startup Company as it was in 2002 was led by Martin Roscheisen and Brian Sager. Martin Roscheisen is an Austrian – American Technology Entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He graduated in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the Munich Technical University. During 1992 he moved to the Stanford University for obtaining a Doctorate in Engineering. His co-founder colleague Brian Sager is also a Doctorate in Engineering from Stanford University.

The Company is based in San Jose, California. Nanosolar has developed and commercialized low cost printable solar cell manufacturing process.

Nanosolar Office
Nanosolar Office Image by Robert Staton

They use the silicon replacement material, yes you got it right, Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide. The basic idea behind using a semiconductor based ink makes it possible to manufacture thin-film solar cells using simple printing and annealing processes. This effectively removes the slow and high expense vacuum based thin-film deposition process.

The procedure of manufacturing the thin film solar cells is very much simple and straightforward. A low cost metal foil is used as a "substrate".

An electrode layer is deposited on the substrate. This electrode layer helps in collection of the electricity generated by the interaction of electrons & holes.

Once the electrode layer is deposited on the metal foil an optical absorber layer is deposited. Upon deposition the nanocomponents present in the semiconductor ink align themselves properly via molecular self assembly. This optical absorber layer is nothing but CIGS ink which absorbs the incident sunlight.

Upon the deposition of the absorber layer over the electrode layer is complete, then another electrical coat is applied over the absorber layer. This layer allows the Sunlight to pass through it and hit the absorber layer. The same layer also collects the electricity from top of the solar cell.

Nanosolar achieved this feat of roll printing semiconductor on a low cost metal foil substrate in June 2004.

The same dedicated research and development team produced solar cells with a world record efficiency of 14.6% making them the world’s most efficient printed solar cells, NREL duly certified the same.

This CIGS printed aluminium foil is cut and sheeted into appropriate pieces to from the thin film solar cells. Then each cell undergoes testing, upon completion the cells are grouped together according to matching electrical characteristics. The same solar cells are interconnected in series and laminated with glass to from solar panels. These panels are termed as Nanosolar Utility Panel.

Salient features of Nanosolar Utility Panels
  • These thin film solar panels are available in capacity sizes ranging from 180 Watt - 240 Watt, here high power per panel reduces the installation cost along with panel costs as you require less number of solar panels.

  • A High Current Design helps make longer panel arrays which reduce your cabling and labor requirements.

  • An Industry First High Voltage solar panel Design of 1500 Volts makes sure that the inverter is utilized efficiently.

  • Rugged and high strength glass laminate makes the solar panels very much durable and this durability even helps in reducing mounting costs as the panels can be mounted over wider spans.

  • Edge connectors help making installations as fast as 85% more than solar panels using standard connectors.

Common Electrical Characteristics
  • Rated Power: 180 Wp to 240 Wp
  • Maximum Voltage: 34.3 V to 42.2 V
  • Maximum Current: 5.4 A to 5.8 A
  • Open Circuit Voltage: 46 V to 51.4 V
  • Short Circuit Current: 6.6 A to 6.7 A
  • Maximum System Voltage: 1500 Volts
  • Tolerance: (+/-) 5%
  • Limited Warranty of 5 years of Material & Workmanship, 90% of Nominal Power output for first 10 Years and 80% of Nominal Power Output for first 25 Years.
  • The panels also have certifications of IEC 61646 & 61730, UL 1703, Fire Resistance Class A, and TUV Safety Class II up to 1500 Volts DC.

This Company also works with experienced Independent Project Partners and Power Producers and EPC firms to Develop, Install, Operate and Maintain Solar power projects.

Finally it boils down to one thought, "Nanosolar is definitely worth working with."

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