• A cheaper, faster and greener solar panel manufacturing process

    The cleaning performance of three different fluorine-containing precursors – sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and molecular fluorine (F2) – is compared from theoretical, experimental and commercial points of view. Experiments were performed using an Oerlikon Solar KAI Gen 5 (1300mm × 1100mm) R&D platform. For the experiments with F2, an ‘on-site/on-demand’ generator from The Linde Group was installed at the Oerlikon Solar facility in Trübbach, Switzerland. The SF6-based cleaning process was found to be up to 75% less efficient than the corresponding NF3 or F2 process. A comparison between NF3 and F2 indicates that a significantly larger process window is available for reactor cleaning when F2 is used in place of NF3. This leads to both time and gas mass savings, improving productivity and bringing down the cost of ownership of the reactor cleaning process. As a direct consequence, Oerlikon Solar has decided to transfer the process to their production KAI MT plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) platforms.

  • How automation can benefit the PV industry

    Although the different roadmaps for PV vary somewhat from each other, the bottom line always remains the same: exponential growth is predicted over the next 5–10 years. The latest cell technologies meet the demand for grid parity even in central Europe and PV will therefore continue to be the most popular source of renewable energy. In consequence, the whole PV industry has developed from a niche product towards mass production. Every player along the entire value chain is now faced with the need to stay profitable while meeting the ever-increasing demands of the market. Implementing suitable automation can improve competitiveness and thus pave the way to becoming or remaining successful in this turbulent market.

  • International technology roadmap for PV: Results 2011

  • US environmental permitting for PV manufacturing facilities – requirements & strategies for success

  • Environmental footprinting of photovoltaic module production

  • Integral characterization: Traceability from feedstock to cell


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