Kaneka has made a significant move to become a major player in the thin-film PV market with news that it has teamed with IMEC to develop an a-Si:H heterojunction-based solar cell with a planned conversion efficiency of over 20%. The bilateral cooperation is intended to underline Kaneka’s strategy of boosting solar cell capacity to 1GW by 2015 (currently under review), which could see the company establish a manufacturing presence in Europe.
Researchers from Kaneka will help create and work in a lab at IMEC’s facilities in Leuven, Belgium, which will be equipped with Kaneka’s manufacturing equipment.
“IMEC was chosen as the preferred R&D partner because of its longstanding expertise and excellent track-record in photovoltaics, and because of its unique knowledge and capabilities in materials processing and photonics;” says Kaneka’s President Kimikazu Sugawara.
“By closely collaborating with IMEC’s research team we will enhance Kaneka’s current thin-film solar cells and develop a new industrial hetero-junction solar cell technology,” commented Dr. Kenji Yamamoto, lead engineer for Kaneka, who will be working at IMEC.
“This collaboration with Kaneka is an important research activity complementary to the silicon photovoltaics industrial affiliation research program running at IMEC,” added Dr. Jef Poortmans, IMEC’s Photovoltaics Program Director.
Although exact details regarding the length the project will take, the assumption is that the a-Si:H heterojunction solar cell would be designed and demonstrated before 2015, when large-scale thin film production is planned.
Currently, Kaneka has 40MW a-Si thin-film production capacity.
Caption: Dr. Kenji Yamamoto, Kaneka’s General Manager Photovoltaic and Thin Film Device Research Laboratories en Dhr. Luc Van den hove, IMEC’s President and CEO