21 September 2012
Posted in News - SPVI news
This year, Applied Materials will display its new products aimed at improving cell efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs
The 27th European Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) is scheduled for 24th to 28th September in Frankfurt, Germany. The five-day event is one of the primary trade shows of the global solar industry and attracts the scientific community as well as the leading PV manufacturers from around the world.
This year, Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) will display its new products aimed at improving cell efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs. It will feature its fine line double print technology that uses the Baccini Esatto TechnologyTM, which makes the conducting lines of a solar cell more efficient. This technology results in cost savings, as only 110mg of the expensive front silver paste is required for each wafer as opposed to the more than 132mg normally required. Moreover, it improves absolute efficiency of cells by 0.2%. The overall impact is that return on investments can be reduced to just about six months. The company will also present the Solion® ion implanter system, which enhances the p-n junction quality, thereby improving the c-Si cell efficiency by 20%.
The China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (ADR)(NYSE: STP) will also feature its newly launched SuperPoly STP305-24/Ve module with 15.7% efficiency, which is suitable for larger projects. This cell is from the company’s new Ve-series, which is thinner and lighter as compared to other modules, and measures 1956x992x40mm. The improved slim-frame design has reduced frame thickness by 20% from 50mm to 40mm, and is 1.2kg lighter, which reduces the storage and shipment costs by 16%. The new modules will come with the traditional 25-year power output and 10-year workmanship warranties.
The German-based Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films (IST) has announced that it will use the conference to exhibit some of its new coating processes and thin layer systems that can substantially reduce the manufacturing costs for solar cells, particularly HIT cells that have crystalline silicon absorber as well as thin layers of silicon, and can be up to 23% efficient. In a recent press release, the research institute claimed that it will give the low cost advantage back to German solar panel manufacturers, as dozens of them have already gone bankrupt due to intense competition from Asian rivals. Their objective is to achieve higher cell efficiencies and one way of doing it, IST claims, is by using hot wires, instead of plasma, to activate the expensive silane gas which ensures maximum use of the gas. Plasma only uses 10 to 15% of the gas, while the rest is lost. Hot wire makes sure that almost all of the gas is utilized, which results in a more than 50% reduction in layer manufacturing cost. “The price of the wire that we need for this process is negligible when compared to the price of the silane,” said Dr. L. Schäfer, department head at IST. The entire process is still under testing phase and it could take up to five years before it becomes commercially available.