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Oerlikon establishes solar business segment

15 Nov 2007

The Swiss company's new business structure will meet the demands of the rapidly growing solar market.

Oerlikon Solar has been established as a new business segment within the Oerlikon Group to provide production systems, components and services to the solar energy industry. The Solar business unit had previously been part of the company's Coating segment. Oerlikon Solar will be led by CEO Jeannine Sargent.

"Due to the huge market and growth potential in the sector, as well as the success of Oerlikon Solar in recent years, Oerlikon has now provided Solar with the structure and resources to continue its successful growth plan," Juerg Steinmann of Oerlikon Solar told optics.org.

Oerlikon believes that the solar industry represents a multibillion Swiss Franc business opportunity, and the new structure will allow an expansion of current solar operations and investments worldwide. "Oerlikon Solar plans to double sales every year," Steinmann observed.

The new Solar segment comprises three business units, Thin Film, Laser and Mechatronics, bringing the company's solar core competencies and technologies under one umbrella.

"Laser was previously part of Oerlikon Optics and comprises the two acquisitions, Exitech in the UK and Silas in Germany," explained Steinmann. "Thin Film is the previous Solar business unit, providing turnkey production solutions for silicon thin-film solar modules. Mechatronics is the renamed Solutions business unit that was previously part of the Components segment, providing development, manufacturing and assembly expertise."

Together these changes double the number of people working in Oerlikon's solar business to more than 400.

As part of its growth strategy, Oerlikon Solar plans to double production capacity at its plant in Truebbach, Switzerland, and has established a 1 MWp pilot line where engineers can be trained under real-world conditions. Additional manufacturing locations in the Asia-Pacific region and the US are also being evaluated.

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