36th EU PVSEC, 09 - 13 September 2019
Marseille Chanot Convention and Exhibition Centre, Marseille, France

16 July 2019

Let us introduce you to Topic 3 “Perovskites, other Non-Silicon-Based Photovoltaics and Multi-Junction Devices” today

Topic 3 addresses the wide range of technologies beyond crystalline Silicon. Even though the current market share of these technologies only accounts for about 5%, it is not only a driver of low-cost production but also a very active and successful research field. It is continuing due to the surprising progress in efficiency of Perovskites solar cells, which achieved on a laboratory scale already around 20% after only a couple of years. With 21 oral presentations the Perovskites take the lead in the coverage of Topic 3 at EU PVSEC2019, closely followed by CIGS technologies.

The majority of presentations on Perovskites deal with heterostructures like Perovskite-Silicon Tandems. The plenary presentation “Towards Highly Efficient Monolithic Tandem Devices with Perovskite Top Cells” [3CP.1.2] gives guidance on how to boost Perovskite tandem efficiency to values above 30%, by integrating perovskite top-cells monolithically on top of CIGS bottom cells. The authors will show in this presentation how they succeeded to reduce the current mismatch when the device is exposed to the standard AM 1.5 solar spectrum.

09 July 2019

Preview on Topic 2: Silicon Materials and Cells

The Plenary titled “Silicon PV Highlights” reveals today’s top technologies for high-efficiency Silicon cells. The authors of the first plenary presentation titled “Bulk Defects in Monocrystalline Silicon, Multicrystalline Silicon and Mono-Like Silicon Materials” [2BP.1.1] have been invited in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the bulk defects and their passivation on today’s Si wafer materials. The authors will show that the possible concepts for depositing dielectric layers for passivation, SiN, Aluminium oxide and amorphous Silicon deposited with different PECVD tools, produce similar bulk hydrogenation effects for high performance multi-crystalline Silicon materials when annealed at optimal conditions. The results are important for better understanding of the suitability of multi-crystalline base material for use in e.g. PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell/Contact).

02 July 2019

Preview on Topic 6: PV Applications and Integration

We are excited to continue presenting some of the highlights of our conference programme – today Topic 6 “PV Applications and Integration” will be brought to you in more detail.

This topic presents the application side of PV and reaches far beyond the purely technical components of a PV system. In 2019, the EU PVSEC has increased the number of presentations in this topic. The decreasing costs of PV Generation open more applications which haven’t been cost-effective in the past and therefore not pursued.

During Friday’s Plenary session 6EP.1 there will be two keynotes showcasing the services PV can deliver to all citizens. The first one titled “Solar Electricity and Safe Drinking Water: Global Opportunities and Challenges” is about the solutions PV can provide for a global problem of increasing impact: The production, upgrade and distribution of water for people and agriculture.

27 June 2019

EU PVSEC 2019: Preview of Highlights. Topic 5 “PV Systems”

Before our Early Bird Offer ends on Sunday, let us continue to present the highlights and best moments at EU PVSEC – today’s preview looks at presentations of Topic 5 “PV Systems”.

Under this title a wide range of subtopics will be presented such as designing, modelling and operation of PV systems as well as their performance and maintenance. There are also sub-topics on forecasting and system failure studies but this year a special focus is given to storage of PV energy. As costs of PV electricity continue to fall, storage gains in importance which not only allows for smoother grid integration but also for modelling and designing grids with a very high share of PV electricity, including seasonal storage. Any 100% renewable energy scenario depends on efficient storage technology.

Our chairperson, Dr Florence LAMBERT of CEA Liten will deliver a keynote presentation of the PV system topic giving a comprehensive overview of the “Current status of battery energy storage” (5DP.2.1). Dr Lambert will certainly explain several technologies in the race for electricity storage. One for instance is featured in the oral presentation titled “Demonstration of a Novel HBr-Flow Battery for Grid Integration of PV” (5CO.14.3), where you will learn about the advantages of a commercially available battery system with a chemistry beyond the mainstream lithium-ion flavour.

19 June 2019

EU PVSEC 2019: Preview of Highlights. Topic 4 Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components

Topic 4 deals with the components which combined make up a whole PV system. The range of presentations therefore covers the design and assembly aspects of PV modules, their performance evaluation, lifetime and reliability. Beyond modules Topic 4 also covers mounting structures, cabling, inverters and dedicated control systems.

At the Plenary Session on Thursday, 8:30 three keynote presentations of 30 minutes each will be featured. The first one is titled “From Sunlight to Power: The History of Achieving a Globally Harmonised Approach to Photovoltaic Measurement” [4DP.1.1] and will bring the audience a historic overview of PV measurements. Starting in 1982 on the level of the International Electrotechnical Commission it has gone a long way, until electrical performance measurements on cells, modules and systems are in agreement within laboratories and industries. It is the base of today’s investors’ and consumers’ confidence in both manufacturing technology and deployment of PV Systems. Being from the European Commission’s JRC, the authors are certainly some of the few who know the entire history from their own commitment.

05 June 2019

We kick off our introduction and series of EU PVSEC 2019 Programme Highlights – starting today with Topic 1: New Materials and Concepts for Photovoltaic Devices:

Since 1998, it has been a tradition at EU PVSEC to start the conference with the plenary session on Topic 1 on Monday morning. This plenary is seen as the scientific opening and deals with questions on front end research as well as further developments promising new results and astounding presentations. This session is then followed by the prestigious Becquerel Prize Ceremony and the political opening.

In 2019, the first plenary “III-V//Si Three-Junction Solar Cells Reaching 30% Efficiency Using Smart Stack Technology” [1AP.1.1] will publicise record efficiencies for III-V/Si triple-junctions. The Japanese/German collaboration achieved this interesting result by combining a double-junction top cell with the lower-cost Si Cells through a mechanical stacking process (“smart stack”). This could ultimately lower the cost for triple-junction cells considerably by using conventional Silicon cells as substrate. The consortium will certainly use the remaining time before the conference to optimise the design in a way that we can expect even higher efficiency figures.

23 May 2019

The 36th edition of EU PVSEC is only 16 weeks away. Starting today, your EU PVSEC Conference Team would like to brief you regularly about the features of the conference, the scientific content, presentation formats as well as the beautiful location and much more that might be of interest to you. We encourage you to comment, suggest and contribute to this preview at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This time we will start off with some thematic novelties within the scientific programme:

EU PVSEC 2019: Photovoltaics and Beyond

You might have already read the message “Photovoltaics: writing the next chapter” on our website written by our Conference Chair Dr. Florence Lambert. She underlines how the future of Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conversion will rely on a more holistic approach for speeding up the energy transition. In a time where PV Power generation is possible at prices approaching 20...40 EUR/MWh, quite some innovation can be expected regarding grid-integration, storage, electricity intensive industrial applications, Power2X, the energy-autonomous buildings and electromobility. Consequently, EU PVSEC 2019 will feature presentations on all these new aspects.

15 March 2019

Beautiful France – a Perfect Location for the Upcoming EU PVSEC for Many Reasons

This year, the 36th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) will be held from 9-13 September 2019 in Marseille, France. The country is not only one of Europe’s largest economies but also one of the continent’s most promising solar markets. France has a long tradition in solar manufacturing and is home to leading European solar scientists. It hosts energy and power companies that are major international solar developers with huge plans for their home country as well.

The solar market: The French government aims to install up to 45.5 GW of solar power by 2028. This means an addition of nearly 36 GW within 10 years or an average of 3.6 GW per year. This target was published in the recent draft of the French government’s ‘Programmation pluriannuelle de l’énergie’ or Multiannual Energy Programme (PPE). While France did not belong to the solar leaders in Europe in recent years, the country wants solar to play a much bigger role in its energy strategy in the coming years. As of this year until 2024, France plans to launch tenders for both ground-mounted as well as rooftop solar adding up to a total of 17.2 GW.

France aims to increase the share of renewable energy in its total electricity mix from 48.6 GW at the end of 2017 to 74 GW in 2023 and 102 to 113 GW by 2028. Solar is projected to contribute 20.6 GW by 2023 and expected to be the leader among all renewable energy technologies, reaching between 35.6 GW to 44.5 GW by 2028.

14 February 2019

Keep an Eye on HJT!

Several European Solar Players Are Increasingly Active in Commercializing High-Efficiency Heterojunction Cell Technology

Implementing next gen high-efficiency cell architectures is a key topic among PV manufacturers after PERC. While commercialization of several cell concepts is evaluated at different development levels – all the way from conceptual research to pilot and production phase –, there is one that has been gaining a lot of traction in Europe as of recently: Heterojunction Technology (HJT) with its promise of low cost and high efficiencies (see EU PVSEC Blog: Higher & Higher).

Swiss PV production equipment supplier Meyer Burger announced end of 2018 that it bagged a big HJT order worth CHF 74 million from an undisclosed ‘non-Chinese’ company. Meyer Burger signed a strategic contract for a 600 MW integrated heterojunction technology cell and module facility. As part of the deal, Meyer Burger will supply the core equipment for the HJT cell process and its proprietary ‘multiple-busbar’ module technology, called SmartWire Connection Technology (SWCT). Meyer Burger is offering PECVD tools for depositing doped and intrinsic amorphous silicon layers and PVD systems to apply transparent conductive oxide films; both the steps are key to heterojunction processing. Meyer Burger also operates a demo line for heterojunction solar cells at its German facility. While SWCT is compatible with other cell designs as well, this cell connection technology matches particularly well with HJT, as it supports its low processing temperature feature, enabling use of thinner wafers and reducing silver paste consumption.

06 February 2019

Photovoltaic and Beyond

The 2019 European Photovoltaic Conference and Exhibition features a number of programme enhancements compared to previous years. This we owe to the remarkable development of PV Science and engineering. The deployment of PV surpassed the 100 GW per year mark, which means that in each second 750 solar cells are produced, and every single day somewhere in the world 250 MW of modules are installed.

By far the majority of modules belongs to systems connected to existing electricity grid. As a consequence, the increased share of PV in the supply of electricity of many countries, it becomes essential for further increase of PV deployment to store electricity. The EU PVSEC has introduced a new topic particularly for “Storage” and encourages scientists, engineers and system designers to submit abstracts to this conference.

04 February 2019

Higher & Higher: The Year Starts With Solar Efficiency Improvements Across the Board

The PV industry continues to make progress on all fronts. Not only are global solar installations expected to grow significantly this year (see EU PVSEC Blog), solar cell efficiencies are key enablers to lowering costs for solar power as well. And in the last two months there were several impressive announcements for efficiency improvements of different cell technologies.

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Look at heterojunction technology (HJT), one of the most promising high-efficiency solar cell candidates these days. The French research institute CEA achieved a 23.9% conversion efficiency for a HJT PV cell. The significance of this efficiency level is that it has been attained on a standard wafer size in an industrial environment using HJT production equipment supplied by Swiss company Meyer Burger. The CEA team manufactured 5-busbar cells on equipment that can support an hourly throughput of 2,400 cells an hour. It achieved the 23.9% efficiency over the whole surface of a standard size solar cell (244 cm²). Germany’s CalTec-ISFH certified the efficiency.

23 January 2019

Solar Demand Higher than Anticipated

While 2018 was an unexpected growth year for solar, the market outlook is significantly higher for 2019 when EU PVSEC will be held in one of Europe’s most promising markets – France

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The year 2019 is starting with plenty of good news for the global solar sector. Several market researchers have published their 2018 analysis – and it is much better than what they forecasted half a year ago. After the world’s largest market China had announced its solar restructuring efforts on 31 May 2018, most PV experts decreased their market outlook – with the most negative downgrade probably coming from Goldman Sachs’ analysts, who said last July that the solar sector would only install around 75 MW in 2018, down 24% year-on-year when compared to the 99 GW installed in 2017.

It turned out to be very different. Again, solar surprised everyone positively. Bloomberg NEF announced its 2018 preliminary solar numbers in mid-January, finding 109 GW of newly added PV capacity worldwide last year. This is even higher than the 103 GW, Taiwan based EnergyTrend published in early January.

29 August 2018

35th EU PVSEC 2018 - The conference plenaries preview by Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink / part 3

The conference plenaries are pre-viewed around the three strands of photovoltaics:

Strand 1: Science & Technology of PV Conversion
Strand 2: PV Electricity Systems
Strand 3: PV as Energy Source

Exposed in more detail now:

Strand 3: PV as Energy Source

PLENARY SESSION 7EP.1 10:30-11:30 A Vision for PV in the Energy Sector

A number of expert assessments agree that within a few years PV will reach 500 GW of cumulative installations globally. PV starts to become the major electricity source in many countries. Prices continue to decrease, and so do applications in many regions of the world. The plenary session, which rounds up the conference intends to provide you a cross-section to current views and visions for PV deployment for the next years to come.

As the global agreements on climate change continue to be a strong driver for PV markets, the following plenary presentations deal with the promise of the Paris agreement to decarbonise the energy sector by 2050.

21 August 2018

35th EU PVSEC 2018 - The conference plenaries preview by Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink / part 2

The conference plenaries are pre-viewed around the three strands of photovoltaics:

Strand 1: Science & Technology of PV Conversion
Strand 2: PV Electricity Systems
Strand 3: PV as Energy Source

Exposed in more detail now:

Strand 2: PV Electricity Systems

PLENARY SESSION 5DP.1 08:30 - 10:00 Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components
PLENARY SESSION 6DP.2 10:30 - 12:00 PV Systems Performance, Applications and Integration

The plenaries in this strand provide span from the technology of the components over assembly into application specific systems to the actual experience of electricity delivered by PV. They will give deep insight into the art of engineering of complex, but yet reliable and performant PV components and whole installations.

14 August 2018

35th EU PVSEC 2018 - The conference plenaries preview by Dr. Heinz Ossenbrink / part 1

The EU PVSEC in September 2018 will display all aspects of the very dynamic development of Photovoltaic Solar Energy. This development is characterised again of being very technology rich and very innovative, as the positive market conditions allow to bring recent R&D achievements rapidly into the market. The market itself has two facets which play in parallel. One being the ever decreasing prices at large utility scale tenders under “Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)”, being below 30 EUR/MWh for sunny countries, but even in Germany undercutting onshore wind energy with PPAs below 40 EUR/MWh. The second one are large, policy assisted deployment programmes in all major economies around the world, which keep production rates high, are however often subject to changes in policies. PV industries seem to be robust enough to cope with this market variability, but needs to lower prices in situations of too high production capacity:

Because of its meanwhile surprisingly low electricity production costs there is no doubt among experts (see for instance plenary session 7EP1 on Friday) that PV will be the major electricity- or even energy- source by the middle of this century, if the challenges of its intermittency and seasonal variation can be resolved at reasonable cost. A smart energy system will be at the heart of such solutions, intelligently matching supply and demand, making best use of low cost storage not only by battery technology, but by any other storage or conversion technology with advanced maturity.

Europe is not the number one when it comes to deployment of PV in 2017. With the 2017 PV deployment champions being China, the United States and India, Europe is only number four with a bit more than 8 GW of installations, which is, however, a rise of almost 30% on top of 2016. But Europe excels in research and development, and during the EU PVSEC there will be ample prove of it.

The concept of the EU PVSEC has always encompassed a number of plenary presentations which play a particular in such a scientific conference: They serve for a bringing the state-of-the-art knowledge to the wider audience, and are scheduled without any other oral or visual presentations in parallel. International renowned scientists provide insight, often in keynote lectures and invited presentations. Following all plenaries gives the participant an excellent opportunity to get briefed in depth about the overall progress of photovoltaic solar energy conversion.

The conference plenaries are pre-viewed around the three strands of photovoltaics, exposed in more detail now:

Strand 1: Science & Technology of PV Conversion

Strand 2: PV Electricity Systems

Strand 3: PV as Energy Source

30 July 2018

Welcome To A New Solar Growth Phase In Europe, Welcome To EU PVSEC

As the platform for the European solar technology community from its early days, EU PVSEC is very glad to see that solar in Europe is starting to see a new growth phase. With our upcoming 35th event taking place from 24-28. September 2018 in Brussels - the heart of the European Union - several presentations in the EU PVSEC programme’s Topic 7 on ‘PV Economics, Markets and Policies’ will look at the drivers of solar demand. This is accompanied by several side events that deal with market demand related themes as well.

As of 2018, solar power demand will grow very strong in Europe over the next few years – and as SolarPower Europe outlines in its new Global Market Outlook 2018 – 2022, there are several reasons for this next PV growth phase:

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04 July 2018

EU PVSEC – Where the Latest in Science & Technology Meets Industry

The advancements of solar scientists continue to be impressive, and so are the constant product innovations of solar companies – that’s why next to the EU PVSEC conference events we’ve been traditionally having an industry exhibition. At the 35th EU PVSEC in Brussels, Exhibition from 24 to 27 September, the scientific PV developments discussed in various conference sessions will be again complemented by solar companies and research institutes along the value chain offering their latest technical PV solutions.

It almost seems that increasing efficiency has never been higher on the agenda of the PV industry, which is evaluating and quickly putting into production various advanced cell architectures. To facilitate the industry’s march towards high efficiency cell structures, equipment makers are churning out innovative product platforms. All four sponsors of the upcoming EU PVSEC – h.a.l.m. elektronik, RENA Technologies, SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES, VON ARDENNE – are offering specific solutions for many of the advanced cell concepts, such as heterojunction cells, among others.

Heterojunction is hot
As with traditional cell processing, the heterojunction process starts with surface conditioning of the wafers, which require a high degree of cleaning. Leading wet solution providers RENA Technologies and SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES are also providing wet-benches for accomplishing specially cleaning regimes suitable for heterojunction cells. Both companies are offering ozone-based cleaning solutions, for example. RENA Technologies has extended its BatchTex N platform under the name BatchTex SHJ, which accomplishes etching, texturing and required cleaning for heterojunction. SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES is promoting SILEX II CLEAN as a dedicated cleaning machine for pre- or post-deposition in heterojunction processing.

19 June 2018

Upcoming EU PVSEC in Brussels will Discuss Latest World Class Solar R&D Research – Crystalline Silicon Remains Key

Who would have thought a decade ago that crystalline silicon would be such a dominating force in today’s solar world. Not only is an end of this high flight very hard to imagine, crystalline silicon solar stakeholders in R&D and manufacturing continue to surprise even longtime experts. At the 35th EU PVSEC from 24 to 28 September 2018 in Brussels, the world leading researchers in the crystalline silicon field will provide their latest updates. Check out our EU PVSEC Programme, which we’ve just published here.

First comes PERC
There are many silicon solar cell technologies. The new standard, however, is PERC cell technology. According to a new PERC report from TaiyangNews, the technology will reach manufacturing capacities of 65.7 GW in 2018, compared to 28.9 GW in 2017. Nearly half of the total production output in 2018 is supposed to come from PERC.

06 March 2018

Multi-busbar Technology for Record Solar Cells

One reason for solar power’s success in reducing cost is improvements in cell efficiency. While world record efficiency solar cells are light towers that are many years away from commercialization – if at all, they do show potential for optimization and innovation of a technology and inspire other researchers to work even harder on their scientific developments in that or a competing field.

A recent record efficiency of LONGi Solar has again put Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) architecture into the spotlight. The vertically-integrated monocrystalline solar module manufacturer announced on 28 February that it attained a world record conversion efficiency of 23.6% for a commercial-size 6-inch monocrystalline PERC cell. In less than half a year, LONGi has improved its peak PERC cell efficiency three times – it reached a 23.26% efficiency level on 27 October 2017, beating its 22.71% record it announced only 10 days earlier.

21 February 2018

Mono or Multi?

The Crystalline Solar World Seems to Turn Towards Mono Cell Technologies

There is no doubt on the leading solar cell technology today – it is and will stay for the foreseeable future based on crystalline silicon wafers. The jury is still out about the crystallization type - multicrystalline and monocrystalline.

While multicrystalline has been the prime choice for low cost solutions, monocrystalline with its higher efficiency and higher cost was rather used for applications with limited space. As the PV market has been always very price sensitive, multicrystalline has been dominating the solar sector, in particular in the utility-scale segment, where most PV modules has been deployed so far. However, the recent trend towards PERC has been pushing the scale towards mono.

12 February 2018

Impressive Solar Cell Efficiency Improvements across the Board

The strong growth of the global solar market in 2017 to nearly 100 GW from 77 GW the year before had caught any expert in the sector by surprise. The recent efficiency increases were not all that surprising but the constant and manifold improvements have been very impressive across the board. The latest solar cell efficiency table (version 51 in Dec. 2017) of the semi-annually published Progress in Photovoltaics alone listed 10 new efficiency records for various cell and module technologies from companies and research institutes in Europe, Asia and America:

 

08 September 2017

Discussing PV System Performance & Integration at EU PVSEC 2017 in Amsterdam

The ultimate metric for all improvements accomplished along the value chain of PV manufacturing is a solar system’s performance. But yield is one thing, another is integration of a solar system into the concert of power generators using the grid – a topic that is growing in importance with the quickly increasing share of solar around the world. As system performance and integration go together, these topics are combined in the programme of the 33rd EU PVSEC conference, which will be held from 25-29 September 2017 in Amsterdam.

Programme Topic 6 - PV System Performance and Integration covers several system configurations and grid integration aspects. The EU PVSEC scientific committee selected 246 scientific papers in this field, of which 176 are poster contributions, 66 oral presentations and 4 are part of plenary session.

24 August 2017

Challenging the Theoretical Solar Cell Efficiency Limits - Discussed at Upcoming EU PVSEC in Amsterdam

Step by step PV scientists are improving cell efficiencies – and the latest 26.33% record of Kaneka is another step narrowing the already close gap to the theoretical efficiency limit of 29.4% for single-junction crystalline silicon based solar cells. So what’s next?

At the same time, that companies are improving commercial cells, researchers are working on advanced materials and concepts to overcome the theoretical efficiency limitation. The upcoming 33rd EU PVSEC in Amsterdam from 25-29 September will provide insights into such advancements in programme topic 1 “New Materials and Concepts for Photovoltaics Devices”. This topic is represented with 3 talks in the plenary session, 29 oral presentations and 78 posters, resulting in a total of 110 scientific papers from scientists of leading research centers in Europe and many other parts of the world.

 

10 August 2017

Leading Solar Materials and Equipment Companies as well as Research Institutes at EU PVSEC Exhibition in Amsterdam

This year’s EU PVSEC in Amsterdam from 25-29 September 2017 will have again a research and industry connecting exhibition – and the entire space is already fully booked. We have included this business and research platform to offer attendants the opportunity to complement the scientific exchange at the conference with first-hand updates from leading PV equipment and material suppliers as well as from institutes at the exhibition.

03 August 2017

The Latest on Thin-Film PV R&D at EU PVSEC 2017 Will Stage Record Efficiency Announcements

One should not forget that there is more than crystalline silicon wafer based technology in the photovoltaics world. Even though the market share is much, much smaller than that of its omnipresent c-Si based sister, thin-film PV offers a number of advantages – including better temperature coefficients or the possibility of using flexible substrates. And there is a lot of untapped R&D potential – as the quick efficiency progress in the field of perovskites proves.

This year’s EU PVSEC will also look at the latest innovations and improvements in thin-film PV. Programme topic 3 “Thin film Photovoltaics” features a total of 242 research papers of which 181 are posters and 57 are oral presentations

29 July 2017

Crystalline Silicon Research Highlights at the Upcoming 33rd EU PVSEC

While crystalline silicon continues to enjoy the lion’s share in PV manufacturing, it is impressive how much innovation and progress we are still seeing for this long-time incumbent solar cell technology. For the upcoming EU PVSEC in Amsterdam from 25-29 September, our Programme Committee has selected exciting research presentations for Topic 2 “Silicon Photovoltaics” (to be precise, 292 papers of which 84 are oral, 5 are plenary and 203 visual presentations).

A very good summary on hot topics in crystalline silicon R&D will be provided in the 5 presentations of the Silicon Photovoltaics Plenary Session (2 BP.1 on 26 Sept. at 10:30):

30 January 2017

Kerf-less Wafers – Start-Ups Working On True Revolution For Crystalline Silicon Solar Wafer Manufacturing

Reducing silicon consumption has always been the focus of PV manufacturers – and it still makes a lot of sense. Though silicon is not expensive these days, this core material for most cells is still a significant contributor to module costs - with a share of over 20% for the cost leaders. One way to reduce silicon usage per cell is to decrease the thickness of the wafer. An even more interesting option is to reduce the so-called kerf. As much as close to 50% of the silicon is lost as waste (kerf) during the ingot sawing process to produce wafers. While reducing kerf losses is on the agenda of wafer makers, some companies, especially start-ups, are trying to eliminate kerf losses completely. Their kerf-less solutions not only dramatically save on silicon raw material, if it worked in large-scale manufacturing, it could revolutionize today’s value chain for crystalline silicon modules by eradicating the upstream production processes of ingot growing and wafering, but depending on the process, even polysilicon production. According to one company active in that field, NexWafe, their technology could save up to 60% of silicon lost during sawing, reduce energy consumption during manufacturing by up to 80%, and require 70% less investment cost for its scrap-free wafer production.

 

nextwafe

Photo Credit: NexWafe

04 January 2017

Trends in Solar Module Manufacturing

From the distance, today’s solar module might not look any different than 20 years ago, but researchers and module manufacturers have been pretty innovative on improving the solar module’s contribution to efficiency and yield, often independent from the cell.

The so-called cell-to-module losses (CTM) value is a clear indication of this progress. According to the 7th edition of the International Technology Roadmap for PV (ITRPV), published by the German Engineering Federation’s (VDMA) PV Chapter, the CTM losses for multicrystalline modules would be zero already by 2017, whereas monocrystalline modules would reach this level in 2019. This difference is mainly due to monocrystalline cells featuring already a superior surface texturing that leads to relatively lower reflection losses, but it also means that they benefit less from the ‘coupling gain’ after encapsulation.

19 December 2016

Perovskite Solar Cells – Impressive & Fast Efficiency Developments, Now It’s About Research On Stability

The development speed of perovskite solar cell efficiencies is breathtaking. When the technology was reported first in 2009, efficiencies were mere 3.8%. But in only 7 years, single-junction perovskite cell efficiencies skyrocketed beyond 20%, getting increasingly closer to the level of incumbent crystalline silicon technology.

Perovskite is a structured compound made of a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, which is used as the active PV layer. The fundamental advantages of this new material class are twofold - perovskites crystals can be manufactured at low temperatures of about 200 °C, and they can be produced at low cost. Perovskite solar cells are also several folds thinner than typical crystalline wafer-based cells. They enable simple application methods, such as spraying and printing, provide flexibility in choosing different substrates, such as glass or plastic, which in the end offers sheer endless product designs.

7 December 2016

Heterojunction Solar Cells – A High-Efficiency Technology With Huge Potential

For years, heterojunction-based silicon solar cells have scored high in efficiency rankings. The well-known HIT cell from Panasonic reached a world record 25.6% efficiency in early 2014, according to the solar cell efficiency tables edition of Progress in Photovoltaics, -  and has kept this record for over 2.5 years.

The reason for Panasonic’s dominance is simple – Sanyo (which was overtaken by Panasonic) developed the crystalline silicon heterojunction cell concept, has been mass-producing it, and protected the intellectual property. But Sanyo’s patents expired in 2010. Since then the race is on, with several PV module companies and equipment manufacturers working on product solutions for heterojunction cells.