CIGS thin-film sector grows, blends hype, promise: Part II, Ascent Solar and ISET

A continuation of the story in PVTech about new developments in solar technology: …Although they both participate in the emerging copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaics sector, Ascent Solar Technology and International Solar Electric Technology (ISET) have at least as many differences between them as things in common.

Ascent’s PV roots go back to work begun at ITN Energy Systems in the early 1990s, while ISET first hung out its shingle in March 1985. ITN created Ascent in 2005, and the new venture has been publicly traded since 2006, while ISET has been and remains fiercely independent. Ascent’s process technology uses vacuum-based coevaporation and sputtering, yet ISET favors a nonvacuum ink-print/selenization approach.

Both use molybdenum for back contacts and zinc oxide for their front contacts, although ISET adds ITO to the front. ISET’s current manufacturing strategy employs batch processing on glass, while Ascent pursues a roll-to-roll production scheme, with flexible plastic as its substrate of choice. Ascent is based in Littleton, Colorado; ISET calls Chatsworth home, in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.

Ascent and ISET do share one common value: they passionately believe in the enormous potential and importance of solar power and thin-film CIGS’ place in the promised PV land of <$1-per-watt grid-parity cost….

Photo shows the Brise Soleil shading devices (in development), which integrates the Hydro Building aluminum systems with Ascent’s flexible CIGS modules. (Photo courtesy of Ascent)

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