Manufacturing the Solar Future: a snapshot of a vibrant industry

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The photovoltaic industry has lived through an amazing decade in which it has grown from a small-size sector worth a few billion dollars to one with a turn-over reaching almost $100 billion and with thousands of jobs associated with it. It goes without saying that the sector is presently going through a consolidation process, but there is little doubt that PV is here to stay, given the fact that it is the renewable energy source with the largest potential, a track record of continuous cost reduction and with room for further improvements in terms of performance, reliability and costs.

Manufacturing the Solar Future: The 2013 Production Annual takes the form of a compilation of a number of articles from Photovoltaics International, which characterise this vibrant environment of new, cutting edge technology development. The review spans the full value chain, from material aspects and cell technology to module and system items.

A few remarkable elements come forward from the annual. On the level of materials (e.g. metal pastes), it is quite astonishing how far evolutionary development has brought us. It was difficult to imagine a few years ago that manufacturers would develop pastes to contact emitters with sheet resistances in the range of 100 ohms/square. Careful optimisation of solar polysilicon feedstock allowed strong reductions of cost and energy, adding to the possibilities of going to thinner Si wafers and foils. The costs associated with the sawing of wafers were drastically reduced thanks to the optimisation of slurry and new types of wire.

Cell technology development, meanwhile, has led to a significant acceleration of improvement in efficiency in solar cell production, stimulating thin-film PV producers to go for even more aggressive developments to catch up on the moving target of continuously decreasing cell and module prices.

The overview also highlights a number of developments in module materials and concepts, a topic often overlooked but essential if one wants to fully exploit the improvements in cell performance and module reliability. This requires new materials as well as fast methods to evaluate these materials. Last, but not least, a number of the papers outline module concepts in which cell and module manufacturing converge, even for crystalline Si.

Overall the content of this book provides the reader with an excellent overview of these evolutions and revolutions and illustrates that innovation has also accelerated over the last decade in line with the growth of the PV market.

Jef Poortmans is director of PV technologies at IMEC in Belgium. For details on ordering a copy of the annual click here

10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
15 November 2021
The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!
23 November 2021
The solar, storage and EV industries in the UK are going from strength to strength. There is no better place for the community to meet, share ideas and do business than Solar & Storage Live from 23-25 November at the NEC.There’s something for everyone; more than 150 exhibitors, a high-level conference, a start up and innovation zone, a poster zone, strategic partners to network with and much more. 
1 December 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content, access to session recordings and chat/messaging tools for delegates to connect.
2 December 2021
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Mumbai is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
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Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America “Come Together” for the first time in Long Beach, CA—connecting installers, developers, utilities, technology providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance the clean energy future. With best-in-class conference programming, integrated exhibits and pavilions, and the live Solar Games installer competition, #isnaesna21 will showcase the industry trends, innovative solutions, and emerging talent transforming the solar, energy storage, and e-mobility markets. Register today to redeem our exclusive offer for PV Tech readers—free expo hall or 20% off full conference pass.

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