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Copper plated solar cell to module reliability tests by imec and BESI exceed expectations

The minimal power loss came after a monocrystalline 60-cells Ni/Cu/Ag plated solar module passed 600 thermal cycles (-40°C to + 85°C), three times the IEC61215 specification.

Work carried out by nanoelectronic research centre imec and equipment supplier BESI and wholly owned subsidiary, Meco Equipment Engineers has shown PV modules featuring copper plated solar cells are highly reliable and outperform IEC61215 life test criteria with only 1% degradation.

The minimal power loss came after a monocrystalline 60-cells Ni/Cu/Ag plated solar module passed 600 thermal cycles (-40°C to +85°C), three times the IEC61215 specification. 

“We are very pleased with this superb result,” said Richard Russell, prinicpal scientist at imec. “It proves our unique and excellent know how on how to make reliable Ni- Cu-Ag plated solar cells and modules with an industrial manufacturing process.”

Specifically, the module consists of 60 front-side laser ablated and Ni-Cu-Ag plated p-type moncrystalline solar cells, that used Meco’s ‘Direct Plating Line’ system, followed  by annealing in an inline belt furnace. The copper plated cells were interconnected using a standard solder and lamination process.

The industrial partners noted that previous damp heat testing on 30 cells in mini modules successfully passed 1.5X standard IEC61215 specification. imec’s and Besi’s Cu-plated cells and modules were said to have outperformed the industrial standard for reliability, which requires less than 5% loss relative to initial power after 200 thermal cycles or 1000hrs damp heat testing.

Martijn Zwegers, product manager solar at Besi said: “This breakthrough gives further momentum to the industry acceptance of Ni-Cu-Ag plating as a low- cost alternative to front-side screen printing of Ag pastes.”

Attend the inaugural PV CellTech technical conference being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between 16-17 March, 2016 covering the latest technology and manufacturing developments. More details here

Tags: c-si manufacturing, pv modules, solar cell, pv celltech, imec

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