The DOE awarded a $400 million conditional loan guarantee to Abound Solar Manufacturing for the assembly of thin-film, cadmium-telluride solar modules. The project will allow the manufacturing technology to be commercially deployed for the first time ever.

The project will include facilities in Longmont, Colo., and Tipton, Ind. Upon completion, the facilities will be able to manufacture enough panels each year to support up to 840 MW of new solar power.

Using proprietary manufacturing technology developed jointly by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado State University, and the National Science Foundation, Abound will produce photovoltaic panels using an innovative process in which thin films of cadmium-telluride are deposited onto glass panels.

The company says on its website that the process is dry, in-line, continuous, and fully automated. “Glass enters our semiconductor chamber and in less than two hours, a complete product device emerges from the end of the line. The single, in-line semiconductor deposition tool creates significant improvements in [photovoltaic] film quality, device efficiency, device stability, and product yield,” it says.

“Because the semiconductor layers are applied in one piece of equipment, capital equipment costs, factory space, and manufacturing costs are all reduced. In addition, the fast cycle time increases product volume per capital dollars invested.”

When the facilities reach their expected full capacity in 2013, the company will produce millions of solar panels annually for less than crystalline silicon modules cost.

Sources: DOE, Abound Solar