CIGS White Paper 2019

CIGS White Paper 2019

The "CIGS White Paper 2019" provides a comprehensive overview of the Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technology, outlining its unique features, applications, manufacturing advancements, and environmental impact. Here's a summary of the key points in approximately 500 words:

Introduction and Global PV Industry Trends:

  • In 2019, solar electricity generation on rooftops became more cost-effective than purchasing from utilities for many homes and businesses.
  • Bloomberg NEF's 2018 forecast predicted that by 2050, wind and solar PV would account for 50% of global electricity generating capacity.
  • The paper emphasizes the need for efficient, environmentally friendly, and versatile PV technologies like CIGS to meet the growing demand in various applications.

Unique Features of CIGS:

  • CIGS exhibits high conversion efficiencies both in labs and production, combined with long-term stability.
  • Its production costs are competitive, with potential for further cost reduction, especially in large-scale manufacturing.
  • Environmentally, CIGS has a low CO2 footprint and is highly recyclable.
  • Aesthetically, CIGS modules are superior, offering options like monolithic, all-black, colored, or patterned modules.


  • CIGS is a stable and high-performance PV material, suitable for utility-scale and rooftop applications.
  • It performs exceptionally in diffuse light conditions and high temperatures, with minimal degradation compared to silicon technologies.
  • Its aesthetic appeal, flexibility, and lightweight characteristics make it ideal for integration into buildings, vehicles, and consumer electronics.
  • CIGS' adaptability to various forms (e.g., semi-transparent, custom-shaped) makes it suitable for building-integrated and applied photovoltaics.

Technological Advancements:

  • The CIGS semiconductor composition has remained stable since 1986, indicating both its reliability and potential for future improvements in efficiency and production cost.
  • As of 2018, CIGS cell efficiencies surpassed other thin film PV technologies, achieving up to 23.35% on the cell level and 17.5% on the module level.
  • There's ongoing research into CIGS applications in ultra-high efficiency tandem cells and perovskite/CIGS tandem cells.

Manufacturing Landscape:

  • CIGS has seen significant growth as a thin film PV technology, driven by its cost competitiveness and suitability for various applications.
  • Major global investments in CIGS manufacturing, particularly in China, indicate a move towards large-scale production.
  • European production equipment suppliers are key players in developing advanced CIGS production processes, contributing to reduced costs and increased efficiency.

Environmental Impact:

  • CIGS thin film PV has a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV.
  • It exhibits a shorter energy payback time and is highly efficient in material usage.
  • Recycling and end-of-life management for CIGS modules are low impact and high value, aligning with emerging regulatory frameworks.

Efficiency and Innovation:

  • Continuous innovation in material and device design is crucial for the advancement of CIGS technology.
  • The paper highlights the importance of not locking out certain material pathways, but rather empowering researchers to develop efficient solutions.


  • The future energy system will heavily rely on efficient and versatile PV technologies like CIGS.
  • CIGS technology is well-positioned to meet the needs of a carbon-constrained global economy, with its suitability for traditional and innovative applications, scalability, and environmental benefits.
  • The paper underlines the growing momentum behind CIGS technology and its potential for future growth and investment opportunities.

Overall, the white paper presents a strong case for CIGS technology as a leading solution in the renewable energy sector, emphasizing its efficiency, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and environmental friendliness.

Document Details and Download

Date published
15 February 2019
Publisher (Company, Organisation)
Zentrum für Sonnenergie und Wasserstoff-Forschung (ZSW) Baden Würtemberg
Companies mentioned (up to 8); separate by Semikolon

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