MiaSole Progress Report: 8.5MW Deal with Juwi

This year is shaping up to be a pretty good one for MiaSole, which began to disclose its customers earlier this year after spending roughly two years to get the manufacturing technology right. The Kleiner Perkins-backed company on Tuesday said it has a deal to supply Germany’s solar developer Juwi with 8.5 megawatts of solar panels.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based MiaSole already delivered 1 megawatt to Juwi in the second quarter of this year. The CIGS panels were destined for projects in Germany and San Antonio, Texas. MiaSole will deliver the rest of the 7.5 megawatts of solar panels by the end of this year. Those panels will be installed on the ground and rooftops in Germany.

Earlier this year, MiaSole discussed its sales to Chevron, ProLogis and Phoenix Solar. Both Chevron and ProLogis are using solar panels from MiaSole and other companies for field-testing, representing small contracts for the solar panel makers involved. The deal with Phoenix in Germany is larger, starting with 4.5 megawatts in the second quarter of this year, and it’s set to continue until 2013.

Stephen Barry, MiaSole’s vice president of corporate development, said multi-year deals typically involve a firm shipment commitment for an initial period, followed by orders that will depend largely on the buyers’ forecast of their project development plans. And those plans could vary depending on the developers’ ability to line up customers, private financing and government subsidies. “Any forecast further out a year is almost lunacy,” Barry said.

The CIGS solar panel maker is still on track to ship 22 megawatts of products overall in 2010, Barry said. The company had the annual capacity to produce 60 megawatts of CIGS cells by the end of last year, but not the same capacity for packing those cells into panels. MiaSole is currently working on reaching 60 megawatts of annual production capacity for solar panels by the end of 2010, and plans to expand that to 160 megawatts by the end of 2011, Barry said.

The company will continue to ship solar panels with an average efficiency of 10.5 percent until it receives UL certification for solar panels that it expects to achieve around 13 percent efficiency next year, he added.

The company told Earth2tech earlier this year that it was able to show the ability to produce a module at 85 cents per watt. The company expects to reach that cost across its production lines by the end of this year, Barry said.

MiaSole and some of its fellow CIGS players are finally making their way from pilot to commercial production. Stion, a Khosla Ventures-backed company in San Jose, Calif., recently announced a $70 million round and plans to expand its annual solar panel production capacity from 10 megawatts to 100 megawatts over the next year. The company is selling CIGS panels with 10 percent to 11.8 percent efficiencies. Nanosolar, another startup with hefty VC backing, is shipping solar panels with 8-9 percent efficiency, reported PV-tech.

Meanwhile, Solar Frontier (part of Showa Shell in Japan), has two factories totaling 80 megawatts and is building a 900-megawatt complex. Last month, company executives said Solar Frontier was producing solar panels – which have lower power ratings than those from MiaSole, Stion or Nanosolar – with an average efficiency of 11.5 percent.

Then you have a company like Solyndra that is in the league of its own. Solyndra withdrew its IPO plan in June and is building a factory near its headquarters in Fremont, Calif., with the help of a $535 million federal loan. The company makes unconventional solar panels with tubes containing solar cells. Last year, the company once boasted having signed more than $2 billion worth of contracts. The company said it has a “panel and mount cost reduction roadmap that enables a total system cost of goods sold of less than $2.00 per watt by 2013.”

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