35th EU PVSEC, 24 - 28 September 2018
SQUARE - Brussels Meeting Centre, Brussels, Belgium

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.

The next step and also a key part of heterojunction processing is deposition. After deposition the active intrinsic and doped amorphous silicon films, the heterojunction structure receives a transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coating on both sides (for bifacial solutions), which is typically accomplished by sputtering systems. Having more than 4 decades of experience in supplying machines for TCO deposition – and a product leader in the thin film PV field – VON ARDENNE is offering a wide range of sputtering tools for each production stage, ranging from lab scale R&D development and pilot production systems to commercial scale mass production equipment. The SCALA range of products of the company are mainly designed for lab and pilot scale related applications. VON ARDENNE has in its portfolio also a full fledge production system for TCO deposition called XEA|nova. SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES, a specialist in equipment for CIGS thin film cells, is also offering sputtering technology specifically designed for heterojunction cells. The tool is called GENERIS PVD and offered in three different configurations – one for process development and two production scale systems with different throughputs. An undeniable advantage of heterojunction technology is its inherent entitlement for bifacial with highest bifaciality of above 90%.

Bifacial is the new buzz word of today’s PV industry. However, the approach has one major bottleneck - that’s how to test the solar cell on both sides. While an IEC standard to characterize bifacial PV devices is in the final stages, h.a.l.m. elektronik is one of few companies that is offering a high-quality commercial scale solution for testing bifacial products. h.a.l.m. elektronik has designed its tester comprising of two synchronized AAA class xenon flashers with flexible flash profiles to illuminate PV substrates from both sides to obtain very accurate IV characteristics. The tester enables IV measurements at standard test conditions on both sides as well as typical outdoor illumination conditions for bifacial cells.

More Solar Cell Technology Approaches
Heterojunction is just one example for high-efficiency crystalline solar cells. An increasing number of PV manufactures are evaluating other cell structures, such as n-PERT. Here, the key difference over standard cells is emitter formation with boron diffusion. Tempress from the Netherlands has more than a decade of experience in supplying such special diffusion furnaces.

Advanced cell architectures are hot, but EU PVSEC exhibitors Tempress and SVCS from Czech Republic are also offering diffusion and PECVD furnaces for standard cell manufacturing.

One step upstream from cells to wafers, that is where Arcelor Mittal is active in solar. The company is well known for supplying sawing wires used in wafer production. With wafers being the starting material for cells, the quality of the silicon substrate is critical for the following process steps. Sinton Instruments from USA has been offering several high end testing and characterization tools from wafers to finished cells. Other exhibitors active in the field of characterizations tools are: Bentham Instruments, Endeas, Kopel / Kyoshin Electric, neonsee, Newport Spectra-Physics.

Don’t Forget Automation!
As solar factories get more and more automated, choosing the right product is key for producing solar cells with high mechanical yields. In addition, Jonas & Redmann says automation can also influence performance characteristics. Among others, the German company has designed a complete automation solution for manufacturing heterojunction cells, which not only provides high yields and ease in processing, it also helps in attaining higher efficiencies.

Tools for Next Gen Modules
Lasers take a very important position in today’s PV manufacturing. In addition to producing high efficiency cell structures, like PERC and PERL, lasers are also key tools in advanced module technologies, such as half cells and shingling, where cells are sliced into two or more pieces. Innolas from Germany is a leading laser solutions provider for such advanced applications.

Shingling modules also require electrical conductive adhesives to attach cell strips similar to roof tiles. ECM has been supplying such conductive adhesives, which can also be used for interconnecting temperature sensitive solar cells like HJT as an alternative to the traditional soldering process.

Process consumables play an important role in module manufacturing, regarding quality and cost. In the field of backsheets, which is considered vital for a long lasting solar module, there are many new developments to report. One exhibitor will be chemical company AGFA from Belgium, which has recently forayed into the backsheet segment with a very interesting mono layer concept, applying a non-fluoropolymer coating on both sides of the PET core film.

In addition to these equipment suppliers, the industrial exhibition also has booths from leading research institutes such as ISC Konstanz and ZSW from Germany or imec from Belgium to share their latest PV innovations.

The European solar markets are expected to grow very strong in the coming years. The upcoming EU PVSEC will also include a pavilion from SolarPower Europe, the Brussels based association of the European solar sector.

 

Sponsoring EU PVSEC: If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of EU PVSEC, please check our sponsor packages
Industry Exhibition: For details on exhibition space at EU PVSEC, please check the Information for Exhibitors