3D Micromac lands supply contract for Enel Green Power’s module gigafactory expansion

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Enel hopes to ramp up its production capacity at the 3Sun factory to 3GW by mid-2024, up from around 200MW today. Image: Enel Green Power.

German laser engineering company 3D Micromac is to supply its laser cutting technology to Enel Green Power’s 3Sun gigafactory in Sicily, Italy as the company strives to expand its production capacity of high-efficiency modules to 3GW by 2024.

The microCELL MCS laser cutting system was purchased by Bottero S.p.A., which is serving as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the 3Sun project, and will be used in Enel’s 3Sun Gigafactory for cutting high-efficiency heterojunction solar cells.

Bottero said 3D Micromac was selected in part because of its patented thermal laser separation process, which is used by the microCELL MCS to provide ablation-free cell cutting that Micromac said minimised power losses and provided superior edge quality for heat-sensitive heterojunction cells over traditional laser scribe and break processes.  

“3D-Micromac’s microCELL systems are proven in heterojunction solar module and cell manufacturing and all of our experience from these past installations will be fully utilised to support this major expansion project,” said Uwe Wagner, CEO of 3D-Micromac.

The company said the microCELL MCS laser cutting system has a throughput of more than 6,000 wafers per hour (full-cells) and is capable of cutting mono-crystalline as well as polycrystalline silicon square and pseudo-square wafers ranging in sizes from M2 to M12/G12 into half-cells or shingled cells without compromising throughput or yield.

One of Europe’s largest PV factories, Enel Green Power’s 3Sun Gigafactory produces modules for the company’s solar projects. In April, the factory had a production capacity of 200MW but intends to ramp this up to 3GW by July 2024.  

The facility will require €600 million euros (US$631 million) and will see Enel Green Power’s investment supported with €118 million (US$124.1) in EU funding via the bloc’s Innovation Fund for large-scale projects.

Enel said 3Sun’s lines will also produce heterojunction bifacial panels and has teased the development of modules featuring tandem cell structures in the future, but has provided no specific timeline for this. While heterojunction modules are already commercially available, tandem cells are still considered to be some years away from commercialisation.

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