01.08.2022  |  Company

The historical development of AVANCIS

Dr. Thomas Dalibor has been with AVANCIS from the beginning and has been Director CTO since January 2022. He has helped shape the development of AVANCIS and provides a brief history of the company here.

AVANCIS' roots in photovoltaics go back to the 1980s. Our predecessor company, ARCO Solar, began pioneering research in 1981 on ultra-thin, high-performance coatings of copper, indium, gallium, selenium and sulfur, the CIGS compound, as an alternative to conventional silicon wafer solar cells.

Since then, CIGS photovoltaics have continued to evolve under AVANCIS. We launched the first commercial CIGS series production in Camarillo, California in 1998 and marketed the first CIGS modules worldwide. The companions of this further development were big names such as Siemens, Shell Solar and Saint-Gobain.

In 1990 Siemens Solar took over ARCO Solar and in 2002 Shell Solar took over Siemens Solar. Shell then spun off its CIGS division in 2006 and brought it into a joint venture with Saint-Gobain. The Shell-Saint-Gobain joint venture gave AVANCIS its name and opened its first production line in Germany in 2008 with an annual capacity of 20 MW. In 2011, the second production line was commissioned in Germany with an annual capacity of 100 MW.

Since 2014, AVANCIS has been part of the China National Building Materials (CNBM) Group, a leading global manufacturer of glass and high-tech building components with over 300,000 employees. With the acquisition by CNBM, the first production line in Germany was converted into a technology center for the further development and flexibilization of AVANCIS modules.

Already in the same year 2014, AVANCIS received the general building approval (abZ) for its frameless thin-film module PowerMax SMART as the first of its kind from the German Institute for Building Technology. Further development of the module ultimately led to the launch of the second SKALA product platform in 2016 as an energy-generating façade cladding material for buildings and infrastructure facilities. Since then, the establishment of BIPV has been our declared main goal.

AVANCIS supplied the CIGS technology for the successful production start-up in 2017 of the largest CIGS solar module production facility in China by CNBM. With the establishment of AVANCIS Korea in 2018 and AVANCIS Shanghai in 2020, two subsidiaries in Asia now join the AVANCIS group of companies.    

AVANCIS as a pioneer and innovation leader for over 40 years. As a pioneer in CIGS photovoltaics, we are continuously working to improve our technology. We are a multiple efficiency world record holder and pursue an ambitious performance roadmap. In this context, we were able to increase the peak efficiency for a fully encapsulated thin-film module with integrated series interconnection of size 30 x 30 cm2 to an independently certified value of 19.8% most recently in 2022.

In addition to improving efficiency, the environmental compatibility of CIGS technology is a focus for AVANCIS as an innovation leader. With the introduction of the first generation Cd-free buffer with commissioning of the second production line in Germany in 2011, AVANCIS has also been able to set an example in the direction of green photovoltaic technology.