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

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.

Not only Japanese HJT pioneer Panasonic, the first company to commercialize heterojunction technology, has ordered an SWCT tool to evaluate the technology last year, Norway-headquartered integrated PV module maker REC Group announced recently that it is planning to introduce modules made using SWCT in mid-2019. This is part of its strategy to expand into HJT. REC, which manufactures PERC and n-type cells and modules in Singapore, said it invested $150 million in developing and commercializing heterojunction technology.

Enel Green Power’s 3SUN has high aspirations with heterojunction technology in Europe. The Italian utility Enel Group’s subsidiary, one of the world’s leading developers of solar power plants, is currently converting its silicon thin production facility in Sicily, Italy to process heterojunction cells starting in the middle of 2019 on a 200 MW line.

enel

Enel Green Power’s 3SUN has high aspirations with heterojunction technology in Europe. The leading Italian renewables developer is currently converting its silicon thin production facility in Sicily, Italy to process heterojunction cells starting in the middle of 2019. Pictured is Antonello Irace, head of 3Sun.

Indeotec, a start-up from Switzerland, with core competence in developing PECVD tools, has designed an innovative machine platform that can coat doped and intrinsic amorphous silicon films on both wafer sides without the need to flip the silicon slice. The company is now offering lab and pilot scale systems for heterojunction technology development.

Europe has been a leading hub for heterojunction technology, this is not only true in the field of HJT production equipment but also R&D. Leading European research institutes, such as CSEM from Switzerland and CEA-INES from France, have been working on developing heterojunction technology for over a decade. These European research centers have been active in all fields of heterojunction technology – from wafers to the system level. Europe’s largest solar research institute, Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE, has also established a pilot line for heterojunction as well as for passivated contacts.

In fact, heterojunction is just one way to improve cell performance, there are several other technologies in the race as well. However, the ultimate goal is to make solar power shine over fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation sources – and all components of a PV system, including energy storage can contribute to improve solar’s low cost even further.

Abstracts Submission Deadline on 15 February

Join the EU PVSEC community, if you are involved in any part of this equation of making PV power more efficient and cost effective. EU PVSEC is the leading platform for solar scientists from all over the world to share their research findings. For those who were not able to meet the original deadline we have good news: The abstracts submission deadline was extended by a few days to 15 February 2019.