Top 5 solar module manufacturers in 2016

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor

PV Tech can reveal the preliminary top 5 solar module manufacturers in 2016, based as usual on final shipment guidance from third quarter financial results.

Multi c-Si technology here to stay

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

Producing one multicrystalline silicon solar module per second does not suggest that the technology is about to disappear, based on the headline presentation at the first day of the inaugural PV CellTech conference in Malaysia.

Polysilicon spot prices in China hit US$20/kg

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

Polysilicon spot prices had bottomed in January, 2016 at just above US$13/kg on overcapacity, notably due to US producers selling excess inventory as access to the China market had been severely curtailed due to new import duties applied as part of the trade war with the US.

SolarCity’s 1GW Buffalo fab using technology from Japan, Germany and Taiwan

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

Ever since the 1GW production plans were announced back in July, 2014 speculation has remained over the tool selection. Indeed, no conference or exhibition that PV Tech had attended since that time, did the subject of tool selection not arise with industry people.

First Solar goes back to the future

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

Leading CdTe thin-film module producer First Solar is shifting it business emphasis back to module sales after becoming a leading PV project developer as part of a mid-term business plan that takes advantage of its restored cost-per-watt advantage and two new module products that will be introduced in the coming years that are intended to further its competitive position. We analyze the key metrics behind the transition, such as R&D expenditure, module conversion efficiencies and production capabilities and cost reductions.

Status of FolMet technology: How to produce PERC cells more cheaply than Al-BSF cells

By Jan Frederik Nekarda, Martin Graf, Oliver John, Sebastian Nold, Henning Nagel, Dirk Eberlein, Achim Kraft, Rico Böhme, André Streek & Ralf Preu, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg; Innolas-Solutions GmbH, Krailling; Laserinstitut Mittweida, Mittweida, Germany

R&D activities related to solar cell production technology generally aim for higher cell efficiencies and lower production costs in order to decrease the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). Today the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) is poised to become the preferred state-of-the-art cell architecture. ‘FolMet’ technology – a new metallization and contacting upgrade – therefore has particular relevance to PERC gains.

Solar PV technology trends for 2016

By Finlay Colville, Head of Market Intelligence, Solar Media

Solar photovoltaic manufacturing is benefiting today from increased allocations by leading producers for capex into new facilities and technologies. Capturing these trends in March 2016, the PVCellTech conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hosted by Photovoltaics International’s publisher, Solar Media, provided a fascinating insight into what can be expected during the second half of 2016. Leading the drive to higher cell efficiencies and panel powers are efforts to increase the production of passivated emitter rear contact, or PERC, cells. This new trend can be seen to be driving the internal roadmaps of all silicon cell manufacturers, in addition to competing n-type and thin-film providers.

n-type multicrystalline silicon for highefficiency solar cells

By Stephan Riepe, Patricia Krenckel, Florian Schindler, Martin C. Schubert & Jan Benick, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), Freiburg, Germany

High-efficiency silicon solar cells require silicon wafers of high electrical quality as the base material. One advantage of n-type compared with p-type doped silicon is the smaller impact of many metal impurities on the electrical material quality. This applies especially to n-type multicrystalline silicon ingots produced by the directional solidification process, with dissolved metal impurities typically introduced by the crucible system.

LPCVD polysilicon passivating contacts for crystalline silicon solar cells

By Bart Geerligs, Maciej Stodolny, Yu Wu, Gaby Janssen & Ingrid Romijn, ECN Solar Energy, Petten, & Martijn Lenes & Jan-Marc Luchies, Tempress Systems BV, Vaassen, The Netherlands

This paper presents the progress made by ECN and Tempress in developing and integrating the processing of polysilicon passivating contacts aimed at use in low-cost industrial cell production.

Investigation of cell-to-module (CTM) ratios of PV modules by analysis of loss and gain mechanisms

By Hamed Hanifi, Charlotte Pfau, David Dassler, Sebastian Schindler, Jens Schneider, Marko Turek & Joerg Bagdahn Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP, Halle; Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Faculty EMW, Koethen, Germany

The output power of a solar module is the sum of the powers of all the individual cells in the module multiplied by the cell-to-module (CTM) power ratio. The CTM ratio is determined by interacting optical losses and gains as well as by electrical losses. Higher efficiency and output power at the module level can be achieved by using novel ideas in module technology. This paper reviews methods for reducing different optical and electrical loss mechanisms in PV modules and for increasing the optical gains in order to achieve higher CTM ratios. Various solutions for optimizing PV modules by means of simulations and experimental prototypes are recommended. Finally, it is shown that designing PV modules on the basis of standard test conditions (STC) alone is not adequate, and that, to achieve higher CTM ratios by improving the module designs in respect of environmental conditions, an energy yield analysis is essential.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcement plans and analysis for 1Q 2016

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International ABSTRACT In

In this quarterly report on global PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the first quarter of 2016, key analysis is devoted to the continued high level of intensity, which is continuing to track significantly higher than in the prior-year periods of 2014 and 2015. The report will also provide insight into the specific capacity expansion plans of the largest PV manufacturers, known as the ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL).

Back-contact technology: Will we need it in the future?

By Radovan Kopecek, Joris Libal, Andreas Halm, Haifeng Chu, Giuseppe Galbiati, Valentin D. Mihailetchi, Jens Theobald & Andreas Schneider, International Solar Energy Research Center (ISC) Konstanz, Germany

The back-contact (BC) technology currently available on the market is considered to be either highly efficient but extremely expensive (interdigitated back contact – IBC – from SunPower) or, if cost-effective, not very efficient (metal wrap-through – MWT) compared with what is becoming today’s new standard: passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) technology. Something in between, such as low-cost, high-efficiency IBC cells and modules, would therefore be desirable. This paper briefly describes the past, focuses on the present, and forecasts the possible future developments of BC technology in respect of efficiencies, costs and applications.