An R&D collaboration between Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and silicon thin-film manufacturer, Masdar PV, could potentially enable module efficiencies above 20%.
Research by HZB on thin-film crystalline silicon created by Liquid Phase Crystallisation (LPC) has produced an open-circuit voltage of 582 mV for c-Si on glass with the depositing of a 10µm layer of silicon, opening the way to significantly higher module conversion efficiencies.
“Thin film crystalline silicon based PV can achieve high efficiency with low material cost,” said Prof. Bernd Rech of HZB. “Thus, it combines the advantages of incumbent, wafer-based crystalline silicon PV and thin film Si technology. Moreover, thin film crystalline silicon uses only abundantly available materials. We are confident to reach efficiencies comparable to wafer based crystalline silicon technology. On a long-term basis we are aiming for 20 % and beyond with thin film Si technology.”
Initially, HZB / PVcomB and Masdar PV are aiming at producing 14% module efficiencies with the LPC technology, though the collaborators simply said that was the near-term goal.
“We expect that thin film crystalline silicon solar cells can achieve 14% efficiency cells in the short to mid-term” added, Prof. Rutger Schlatmann, leader of the technology transfer unit PVcomB at the HZB, “and we are confident that rapid technological progress is possible in this field”.
Masdar PV said that it planned to transfer the technology toits existing production facilities and use it on its ultra-large (5.7m²) substrates in the future.
“Investing in the R&D of this next generation technology of thin film silicon on glass to produce PV panels could enable us to better compete with existing crystalline PV producers who rely on economies of scale rather than significant technology improvements,” said Masdar PV’s MD, Tushita Ranchan.