Hyundai Heavy Industries Chairman Min Keh-sik, left, sits with Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA Chairman Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, center, after HHI and Saint-Gobain agreed to build a new CIGS solar module plant. (Credit: Hyundai Heavy Industries.)

Saint-Gobain today announced (PDF) the building of its third high-efficiency photovoltaic panels facility in Korea. Saint-Gobain is partnering up with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. to form a 50-50 joint-venture called Hyundai Avancis.

The facility is expected to produce an annual volume of 850,000 modules based on CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-selenide) thin-film technology, designed for roofs and solar fields. The site is expected to be fully operational by mid-2012.

Hyundai Heavy Industries says that upon completion, the solar cell factory will have an annual production capacity of 100MW of CIGS units. The plant is a step toward HHI’s target of being among the global top five solar power producers by 2015 (when it hopes to have an annual capacity of 400MW). The new plant will also make HHI the only Korean company that can produce both thin-film and crystalline solar cells.

Saint-Gobain will provide high quality glass for the production of CIGS solar cells through its Korean unit, HanGlas.

According to the Saint-Gobain press release:

Based on depositing coatings of CIGS on a glass substrate, the technology developed by Avancis avoids using traditional crystalline silicon. This technology makes it possible to imagine production costs as low as other thin-film based techniques, while its electrical efficiency (above 12% industrially and up to 20% in the laboratory) is close to the higher yields achieved using polycrystalline silicon cells. As well as being suitable for solar fields, CIGS thin-film based modules are especially recommended for roof installations, due to their simplicity of assembly, their attractive appearance and their reliability.

“With this investment, Saint-Gobain significantly accelerates its growth on the solar market, by banking on a competitive and innovative technology,” says Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, chairman and CEO of the glass company.