China Technology Development Group (CTDC) has begun commercial production of tin-oxide (SnO2) solar baseplates, a transparent conductive oxide substrate used as a top electrode for amorphous-silicon thin-film photovoltaic solar cells and modules.
The company’s first volume manufacturing line, located in the China Merchants Zhangzhou Development Zone near Xiamen, China, will have an annual run rate of 70,000–80,000 plates when it reaches full capacity. CTDC says it expects to expand its capacity to the equivalent of approximately 20-30 MW by 2009.
CTDC and its engineering partners, Terra Solar Global (licensor of the proprietary technology and manufacturing process) and Chinese United Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturing, continue to develop advanced TCO processes. The joint efforts have led to the adoption of an advanced heating process and an improved SnO2 spray application, which will contribute to a 50% reduction in energy consumption and higher continuous working hours, as well as producing baseplates with greater electrical conductivity stability, according to the company. Because of the enhancements, the TCO substrates meet international commercial specifications and standards with high transmission, good conductivity, and high haze to better trap light into the amorphous silicon layer of the cell.
Hong Kong-based CTDC entered the solar energy sector in September 2007. The company began testing its products in May 2008 at its R&D pilot-line facility in Jiangsu, China, and shipped its first batch of SnO2 baseplates to China Stream Fund Solar in June.
“We are excited to have reached this milestone in less than a year. This is a big step toward our goal of reaching the full production capacity of our product in the near term,” noted Alan Li, chairman/CEO of CTDC. “We expect to continue to meet the growing market demand for solar baseplates. In addition, the production and sales of the baseplates will become a new and stable profit growth point of the company. We aim to substantially raise production capacity of product and reduce production cost through expansion of the production lines, as well as steadily [incorporating] technical innovations.”
— Tom Cheyney