Honda develops, manufactures and sells next-generation non-silicon thin film solar cells.
Production, sales of CIGS thin-film solar cells goes full-scale at Honda
Honda develops its original non-silicon, CIGS thin-film solar cells as a technology for generating energy with zero CO2 emissions.
In December 2006, Honda established Honda Soltec Co., Ltd. to manufacture and sell Honda-developed CIGS thin-film solar cells. In doing so, Honda became the first automobile manufacturer to enter the solar cell market. In October 2007, Honda began commercial production of the panels. In October 2008, in response to increasing demand, Honda began selling the panels for use on manufacturing facilities and public buildings as well as in private homes.
Utilizing thin film made from a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), Honda's non-silicon solar cells have a generating layer that is 1/80 the thickness of a conventional silicon solar cell’s generating layer. In addition, the energy consumed in the manufacturing process is approximately 50 percent of the amount required by conventional solar cells, making the Honda solar cells even more environmentally responsible.
At PV Japan 2011, a major trade show for the global photovoltaic industry held in December 2011, Honda exhibited two residential solar prototypes, a 140-watt solar module based on the previous solar cell model and a new high-efficiency solar module. The 140-watt solar module offers improved maximum output compared to the previous 130-watt models. This is attributed to better generating performance due to an improvement in the crystal quality of the generating layer and a reduction in the non-generating module surfarce area, achieved through a re-design of the submodule pattern. On top of these performance improvements, the new high-efficiency solar module shrinks non-generating space even further by employing a new module encapsulation structure and also realizes a module conversion efficiency of 13.5%1, ranking it among the world’s most efficient CIGS-based thin-film solar modules. This compact model also fits more solar cells in a limited space, making it suitable to a wider array of rooftop shapes.
In 2012, Honda plans to finish installing a megawatt-scale solar array—the largest of any installed at an automobile plant in Japan—at its Yorii Plant. In another project with plans to install 1 megawatt in combined solar generation capacity at Honda automobile dealerships nationwide by the end of 2013, Honda also began in February 2012 to install photovoltaic systems at Honda Cars dealers.
1. Efficiency of converting solar energy that strikes 1 m2 of module surface into electrical energy
2. As of December 31, 2011