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Directory:Vivian Alberts thin film solar

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Johanna Solar Technology

South African solar panels invented by Vivian Alberts of the University of Johannesburg consist of a thin layer approximately five microns thick (a human hair is 20 microns thick) of a unique metal alloy that converts light into energy at a fraction of the cost. The photo-responsive alloy can operate on virtually all flexible surfaces.



Official Website

  • Johanna Solar Technology GmbH - Our solution is the use of the currently most efficient thin film technology based on CIGSSe for the production of solar modules, developed by Professor Vivian Alberts and the University of Johannesburg. CIGSSe-technology utilises copper, indium, gallium, sulphur and selenium, a direct semiconductor with a high absorption capability, in layers not thicker than a hair.

Brief Description


Apparently the technology resulted from over 10 years of research, led by Professor Vivian Alberts of the University of Johannesburg. He and his team seem to have developed a flexible, thin, metal alloy that is “photo-responsive‿. This alloy is said to result in panels with are only 5 micron thick (compared to a human hair at 20 micrometers, and silicon photovoltaic cells at 350 micrometers.) Earlier reports (in 2004) indicated the alloy was copper-indium(gallium)-diselenide (CIGS), with another article inferring the panels would have a useful life of about 20 years, with the energy in fabricating them recovered within the first 1-2 years of operation. And that the materials used could all be later recycled to make fresh cells. It is said that a standard family home would need around 30m/sq (“(about the size of a living room‿) of CIGS solar panels to meet all its electricity demands.
Unspecified new storage devices (batteries of some sort) and converters have been created alongside these new cells to store the collected energy. It is suggested these new panels can generate electricity even during winter, not requiring direct sunlight to function. Seemingly German investors are behind establishing European plants, which will be producing 1,000 such panels per day, with local South African factories also be contemplated. Much Thanks to TH Tipster Conrad Z. for pointing us to the piece in the ::Cape Argus.

In the News

  • Johanna Solar CIGSSe modules to be distributed by aleo - Johanna Solar Technology is licensing distribution rights for its CIGSSe (copper indium gallium sulfur selenide) thin-film solar modules to aleo solar. The prototype of the new module, invented by Vivian Alberts, is to be introduced in September at the 22nd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Milan. (Inside Greentech; Jun. 13, 2007)
  • A place in the sun - As the commercialisation of Vivian Alberts' and the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) thin film solar technology gathers momentum, SA stands to benefit significantly from this technology. Not just from the sizeable royalties and licence fees that will accrue to the company that owns the intellectual property. But also from the intensive and sustained technology transfer process that will lead to the development of a hi-tech solar panel manufacturing industry where previously none existed. (Financial Mail; Nov. 3, 2006)
  • Germany‘s Aleo Solar plans 30 MW thin-film factory for 2007 start - German module manufacturer Aleo Solar GmbH is planning to build a 30 MW thin-film factory after securing the rights to a newly developed process through a licensing agreement with a South African development company. In Nov. 2004, pilot production of a thin-film module using copper, indium, gallium, sulfide and selenium (CIGSS) began at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The process, developed by a team under physics professor Vivian Alberts. A UJ subsidiary, Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTIP), founded to license the technology, signed a contract in August with IFE Projekt und Beteiligungsmanagement GmbH & Co. KG, based in Oldenburg, Germany, worth nearly €50 million ($59.4 million). IFE holds a 46 percent stake in Aleo Solar, which has produced crystalline modules in Prenzlau, Brandenburg since 2002. When IFE set up Johanna Solar Technology GmbH last year to produce the modules and market the sublicenses, the participation of Aleo Solar was included. (Photon International; April 2006)
  • South Africa Pioneers New Solar Technology - Summarizes Cape Argus story; provides additional links. (TreeHugger; Feb. 16, 2006)
  • SA thin film solar eclipses others - South African solar panels consist of a thin layer approximately five micrometers thick (a human hair is 20 micrometers thick) of a unique metal alloy that converts light into energy at a fraction of the cost. The photo-responsive alloy can operate on virtually all flexible surfaces. (, Cape Argus; Feb. 11, 2006) (mirror)
  • Here comes the sun - Despite a soaring oil price and a panic-stricken planet, there is a glimmer of sunshine. And sunshine is all it takes, says an enterprising South African academic who is sitting on potentially one of the biggest solar energy breakthroughs to date. (iafrica; Oct. 25, 2005)

Related Technologies

  • DayStar Technologies - Photovoltaic Foil™ is a unique combination of Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) technology solar cells placed on flexible specialty metal foils. Unlike traditional solar cells which are brittle and require rigid, heavy module packaging to protect the cells from the environment, DayStar's CIGS-based Photovoltaic Foil™ is very lightweight, flexible and robust. (PESWiki)
  • First CIGS thin-film panels shipped - Nanosolar has started shipping thin-film solar panels, making it the first company to market copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS, solar products. They are going to a solar power plant in Germany that will use Nanosolar's Utility Panel to drive the cost efficiency of solar electricity systems. (Cleantech; Dec. 18, 2007)


See Discussion page


Johanna Solar Technology GmbH 

Münstersche Straße 24
D-14772 Brandenburg an der Havel
Telefon: +49 (0) 3381 7975 -0
Telefax: +49 (0) 3381 7975 -222

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