Signet Solar, a leading manufacturer of silicon thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, has announced the fabrication of the industry’s first ever Gen 8.5 (5.7 m2) silicon thin film solar PV module at its new factory near Dresden, Germany, in a record-setting ten months from the start of construction.

Having finishing construction of the 200,000 square foot production facility in only seven months, Signet Solar quickly completed installation of equipment and started initial fabrication in less than three months.

The company’s technology lowers the cost of PV modules by combining proven silicon thin film technology, with very large area manufacturing and an industry standard equipment set. The initial modules from the fully automated module manufacturing line met the specification of the product and were confirmed by independent testing by Fraunhofer Institute. Signet will start prototype production in early June 2008.

This was enabled by Signet Solar’s core competency in semiconductor manufacturing along with added expertise from the solar, glass and flat panel display industry. Commercial production will start in Q3 2008 and capacity expansion to over 100MW by 2009 is planned at the same site. The company also benefits from the supply and expertise of industrial and specialty gas from the gases industry and recently concluded a deal with Air Products.

Speaking of the company’s new landmark, Dr. Rajeeva Lahri, CEO and Founder of Signet Solar Inc. said, “The concept of ultra-large modules was very attractive to our customers. We now have demonstrated the capability to produce ultra-large modules on a fully integrated line. This is a very important milestone for us as it sets the stage for a model manufacturing line which will be replicated globally to expand capacity.”

As the company expands and develops its business operations, so too could the demand for an array of gases continue to increase. In January this year, Air Products announced it had signed an agreement with Signet Solar to supply turnkey installation of gas delivery systems & services and related gas needs for a new, thin-film PV module production facility in Mochau, Germany.

The long-term agreement involves the supply of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen and argon, as well as specialty gases such as silane, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and dopant gases. The new plant had been expected to be on-stream as early as this summer (2008).

Corning Painter, Vice President and General Manager of Electronics for Air Products, commented in January, “We are delighted to have been selected as the gas supplier to Signet Solar and are confident that our expertise in turnkey gas delivery solutions will be invaluable in the safe and effective start up of Signet’s new facility in Mochau. We look forward to Signet’s success and growing with the company in the future.”