Linde Nippon Sanso recently announced that it has been awarded an exclusive contract to supply high purity gases to Spain’s first thin film solar cell manufacturing plant, set up by T-Solar S.A. in Ourense, Galicia.

Under the agreement, Linde Nippon Sanso will provide T-Solar with turnkey installation of the plant’s bulk and special gases supply systems and ongoing delivery of the gases essential to making thin film solar cells.

Such gases include large volumes of silane and hydrogen gas, used to deposit silicon light absorber layers on large area sheets of glass used in solar panels. The solar cell-photovoltaic market is an increasingly prominent growth driver for the industrial gas business and this latest deal is just another sign of this development.

“As the search for renewable energy sources gains momentum globally, Linde Nippon Sanso’s collaboration with T-Solar is in line with our mission to enable solar energy to achieve grid parity and become more affordable for mass consumption,” said Andreas Guenther, President of Linde Nippon Sanso.

“T-Solar’s choice of Linde Nippon Sanso as the exclusive supplier reiterates our strengths in advanced gas technologies for thin film manufacturing.”

The T-Solar plant, fully operational in mid-2008, is using a new technology that enables the production of giant solar panels – more than five times larger than those currently produced. Such technology is expected to lower the cost of solar electricity toward grid parity, making solar energy competitive with conventional grid-supplied electricity.

Juan Laso, CEO of T-Solar, commented enthusiastically, “The first thin film manufacturing plant places Spain among the front-runners in the global solar energy market. It confirms T-Solar’s commitment to making photovoltaic technology a key contributor to a sustainable approach to power generation.”

“We view Linde Nippon Sanso as a strategic long-term partner in our efforts to reduce the cost of thin-film solar cells as also minimise the environmental impact of manufacturing these – as we strive to bring the benefits of solar energy to the mass-market,” Laso added.

Solar panels have traditionally been made using silicon semiconductor wafers to absorb light. But standard wafer sizes limit panel size, and the amount of solar energy each panel can capture. Thin film solar production has adapted technology originally developed for the production of thin film, liquid crystal displays to create significantly larger panels that can deliver solar energy at a lower unit cost.

Linde Nippon Sanso (LNS) is a joint venture of The Linde Group and Japanese industrial gases company Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp.