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TSMC decides to focus on Solar CIGs technology instead of mainstream c-Si

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TSMC has made a late entry into the Solar Energy sector but it has invested smartly into this space.The company’s management seems to have a cohesive strategy of investing into this nascent Green Energy sector unlike many of the other companies.TSMC seems to have made a strategic call to focus on the thin film Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGs) Technology instead of the mainstream crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology.Note CIGs technology is the most promising thin film technology with yields much higher than the other technologies like Cadmium Tellurium (CdTe) used by First Solar and amorphous Silicon (a-Si) which was  used by AMAT’s Subfab division.A number of startups like Solyndra,Miasole and Nanosolar are focussing on this technology.However the hype around these startups has yet to match up to real life action.Solyndra has had to defer its IPO while Miasole and Nanosolar still remain in the stealth mode.Miasole recently gave a PR of commercially shipping high efficiency modules in 2011.Vinod Khosla backed Stion has been the other start up that has claimed high efficiency CIGs module being produced at low costs on a commercial scale.

TSMC makes mulit-million dollar investments into building a CIGs plant

TSMC recently bought a 21% equity stake in CIGs startup Stion for $50 million.The partnership will involve TSMC licensing Stion’s technology and doing  joint research on further enhancing the technology.Stion has claimed that it has achieved a >13% efficiency and plans to increase it to 15% in the near future.TSMC has been quietly making further investments to build a large capacity in Taiwan using this technology.It recently bought module making equipment from another Taiwanese company and has also invested a substantial amount in constructing buildings and facilities for the new CIGs fab.TSMC has earlier invested in c-Si through a equity stake in Motech.However it is making investments into CIGs manufacturing rather than c-Si manufacturing.TSMC has also joined a local Taiwanese CIGS association which also has AUO as a member.Looks like the TSMC management has staked the future on CIGs being the dominant thin film solar technology in the future.

GPM lands solar equipment order from TSMC, says paper – DigiTimes

Taiwan-based Gallant Precision Machining (GPM) has reportedly secured NT$3 billion (US$93 million) worth of orders for equipment used to produce CIGS thin-film solar cells from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), according to a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report.GPM has issued a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE) clarifying it is not the source of the report, and declined to comment on the speculation.

GPM was quoted in previous reports saying the company is developing equipment for CIGS PV solar modules, and expects to unveil the machines in 2011.GPM specializes in manufacturing equipment for LCD panels and IC packaging, and began to supply solutions for the solar energy sector at the end of 2007.

TSMC to Build PV Cell Factory in Central Taiwan – CENS

Silicon foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will construct a factory in the Central Taiwan Science Park to turn out CuInGaSe2-based (CIGS-based) thin-film solar cells, according to the company`s New Business President Rick Tsai.
Tsai declined to disclose details of the solar factory plan, simply stressing that TSMC will focus on thin-film technology when setting up its PV manufacturing capability.  Industry executives estimate the investment to cost billions of NT dollars.

It is TSMC`s another PV investment case since the company announced last year it would venture into green-energy sectors, namely PV and light emitting diode (LED) manufacturing, in an effort to keep its operation lucrative at a time when competition in silicon foundry is growingly intense. TSMC Chairman and CEO Morris Chang said LED and PV are high-profit, high-growth market and will play significant roles in contributing to the company`s revenue over the next five to 10 years.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Aaron Chew


    Please note that CIGS stands for COPPER Indium Gallium Selenide and does NOT include cadmium. Only CdTe panels (cadmium telluride) contain cadmium. As the toxic nature of cadmium has become an ever more prominent issue lately (with European parliament’s Restriction of Hazardous Substance “RoHS” restrictions and recent study by NGI), the difference is enormous.


  2. Abhishek

    Thanks Aaron for pointing that out,have corrected the error…. On a side topic though I don’t think the cadmium tellerium (CdTe) has a problem with toxicity.There is a lot of literature on this issue but don’t think the French and Chinese govt would have supported First Solar if the toxicity was such a big issue


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