German solar production equipment company Manz AG has entered into a major strategic cooperation with Chinese firms Shanghai Electric Group and Shenhua Group on CIGS thin-film technology.
Shenhua Group is the largest coal enterprise in China and the largest coal supplier in the world. Shanghai Electric is a leading equipment supplier in China for power generation.
Both companies have to shift their strategic focus towards renewable energies in order to be able to fulfill the environmental objectives of the Chinese government.
Manz has already received two bulk orders worth €263 million as part of the agreement: one for a turnkey mass production line (CIGSfab) with a capacity of 306MW and another one for a CIGS R&D line with 44MW capacity.
Part of the deal involves the acquisition of Manz CIGS Technology GmbH (Manz AG’s CIGS R&D division) for €50 million by a newly formed R&D Joint Venture. In return, Manz becomes a 15 percent shareholder of the R&D Joint Venture for an amount of € 25 million. The remaining shares will be held by affiliated subsidiaries of Shenhua Group and Shanghai Electric.
Manz AG has the world record for CIGS thin-film solar cell efficiency on glass at 22.6 percent thanks to its longstanding and exclusive collaboration with the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research of Baden-Wuerttemberg (ZSW).
The aim for the R&D Joint Venture is for it to become the world-leading research company dedicated to CIGS thin-film technology, focused on efficiency increases and reduction of manufacturing costs.
To further accelerate the R&D process, an R&D line will be installed in Beijing in addition to the existing one of Manz in Schwaebisch Hall. The involved parties also agreed to guarantee the site and jobs in Schwaebisch Hall for the next five years.
The CIGSfab, which will be the largest CIGS production line in China and the second largest worldwide, will be built in Chongqing. The installation will start in 2017 and will be finished in the following year 2018.
Equipment Joint Venture
The three companies are also establishing an Equipment Joint Venture, which will exclusively start sales activities for the CIGSfab in China, realise the engineering services during upcoming projects and support the ramp-up.
The major shareholder in the Equipment Joint Venture is Manz AG with 56 percent. Shanghai Electric and Shenhua Group hold the remaining shares. In the rest of the world CIGSfabs will be sold solely by Manz AG. Within the further commercialization, the Equipment Joint Venture will also have access to the future research results of the R&D Joint Venture as well as from the collaboration with the ZSW through exclusive license rights agreements.
In the rest of the world CIGSfabs will be sold solely by Manz AG. The Equipment Joint Venture will also have access to the future research results of the R&D Joint Venture as well as from the collaboration with the ZSW through exclusive license rights agreements.
Dieter Manz, CEO and founder of Manz AG, said: “This cooperation is absolutely outstanding in the solar industry worldwide. We were always convinced of the superiority and potential of our CIGS thin-film technology since CIGS modules from Manz already offer the lowest electricity generation costs in comparison to the crystalline silicon technology. Today's agreements mark the breakthrough in our solar business. Our confidence in our excellent engineering know-how will now pay off."
He added: “We have been working hard towards this day and finally our longstanding perseverance as well as the high investments in the further development of our CIGS technology are paying off. The past years have not always been easy, neither for our employees nor for our shareholders. But it was worth it!
“Manz now takes over a leading role with its fully integrated turnkey production line CIGSfab regarding the technological change from the labour- and material-intensive crystalline solar technology towards the resource-saving and efficient thin- film solar technology. This makes us all very proud.”
The acquisition of the Manz CIGS Technology GmbH by the R&D JV still has to be approved by the governmental authorities in China. The purchase orders will become effective as soon as the approval is granted. Manz assumes that this will happen within the next weeks.