Volume 41

Welcome to Photovoltaics International 41. An emerging theme in the industry further downstream is the growing variety of bankable PV modules. It’s a topic we’ll be picking up on 23-24 October at our PV ModuleTech conference in Penang, Malaysia. This issue of PVI captures the ongoing work to drive improvements across the full range of those technologies. From the exploration of next generation CIGs cells to the commercial improvements of PERC by Trina Solar, this edition neatly captures that variety. Fraunhofer ISE reviews the latest results from efforts to improve the texturing of diamond wire sawn wafers. Trina Solar presents a roadmap for PERC improvements that it claims could halve costs while pushing efficiencies to 24% in around seven years. ECN and imec explore the latest developments in integrated cell to module manufacturing approaches from the more familiar multi-busbar and multi-wire to shingling and woven fabric and foil-based module technologies for back contacted cells. Elsewhere, CSEM INES zooms in on a major limiting factor for silicon heterojunction cells, metallization. All the regular features including our news reviews and R&D spending report make a return, plus lots more. Following on from this bumper edition, PVI42 will be published in Spring 2019.

Volume 40

Welcome to the tenth anniversary edition of Photovoltaics International. Over the past decade this journal has documented the latest developments in the fast-changing of world PV technology, bringing you exclusive insights from researchers working at the industry’s cutting edge. Over that time the pace of change has been astonishing, so much so that it scarcely seems as though one new technology is accepted before the next arrives on the scene. So seems to be the case with the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC), which having become the technology upgrade of choice across the industry now appears to have a successor in waiting. In this edition researchers at Fraunhofer ISE look at so-called tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) technology as a follow-up to PERC. Meanwhile, a team from TÜV Rheinland takes a deep dive into the vexed question of how the industry can most usefully define the benefits of bifacial technology. At the other end of the value chain, US-based 1366 Technologies gives an account of its contribution to reducing costs in wafer manufacturing, a significant ongoing expense in industrial PV cell production and thus a key focus for efforts to drive down the levelized cost of solar-generated electricity. Elsewhere in this edition, Canadian Solar outlines some of the solutions it has developed for tackling light-induced degradation in multi-PERC cells and modules, a persistent challenge with PERC technology. In this edition our deputy editor Tom Kenning reports from the recent PV CellTech event in Malaysia, where the ‘Who’s Who’ of the PV manufacturing world gathered to debate the current state of play in solar technology.

Volume 39

Welcome to the thirty-ninth edition of Photovoltaics International. We go to press just a few days after the conclusion of our PV CellTech conference in Penang. The focus for all the PV CTOs, chief scientists, materials providers, equipment manufacturers and others gathered for the summit was how to keep pushing the industry towards a standard 20% efficiency while also expanding in scale. That expansion ought to be 100GW in three years if demand is to be met, according to one speaker. CEA-INES researchers look at the benefits of exploiting the symmetrical a-Si/c-Si/a- Si structure of silicon heterojunction cells to use ultrathin wafers. Another innovation that delivers materials savings is of course diamond wire sawing and, again, scale and efficiency are dual drivers. Here, CEA demonstrates the need for, and processes involved in, closely monitoring the cutting process to ensure wafer quality is consistent and productivity can remain at the desired level. We look at different sides of bifacial technology (pun intended) starting with JinkoSolar’s appraisal of its mono PERC bifacial cells built using standard production technology and racking up average efficiencies of 21.8%. Away from the crystalline silicon world, German research firm OPVIUS explores how a combination of printing methods could open the door to freeform PV modules, unleashing an entirely new suite of product options and applications. ECN Solar reveals the results of an industrial-scale trial process to develop an n-type bifacial IBC solar cell that is based on tube diffusion and a simultaneous single-step screen-print of contacts at both polarities. Last but not least, CSEM looks at the impact the emerging diversity in cell technology and module architecture is having on metrology.

Volume 38

Welcome to the 38th edition of Photovoltaics International. There is every sign that 2018 is going to be a huge year for the industry as manufacturers continue investing in new tools and technologies. We will doubtless see many of the innovations whose evolution has been documented in these pages becoming increasingly mainstream. Sticking with bifacial solar, Fraunhofer ISE takes a wide-ranging look at a number of challenges surrounding the technology’s leap to widespread deployment. The Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin (ISFH) and Meyer Burger Technology AG present a novel bifacial module architecture. The University of New South Wales, Trina Solar and BT Imaging give a suggestion for predicting the variation in multicrystalline cell performance by measuring the bulk lifetime of ingots. We also have a look at PV recycling and lifecycle management from First Solar, PI Berlin’s assessment of PID issues in thin-film solar and TongWei presents a roadmap for PERC cells with 22% efficiency.

Volume 37

As always we have a selection of technical papers from some of the industry’s leading minds. Radovan Kopecek and Joris Libal from ISC Konstanz tackle one of the biggest issues impeding the rollout of bifacial cell and modules, how to standardise their measurement. As long as there is no commercially available means to measure their gain, bifacial modules will struggle to improve their market penetration. The materials section includes an excellent paper from Fraunhofer THM examining the optimization of diamond wire sawing. The method is becoming increasingly predominant with some equipment manufacturers shelving their slurrybased tools. Here Fraunhofer assesses how to squeeze even more efficiency out of diamond wire saws. CSEM meanwhile explores the required metallization and interconnection process changes required to enable a production-scale shift to silicon heterojunction PV. Mark Osborne provides his latest capacity expansion report as upgrades to higher efficiency lines continue to drive planned investments.

Volume 36

In this issue of Photovoltaics International Fraunhofer ISE presents a concept for a bifacial, shingled cell technology that it claims tracks a cost-effective route to a 400W module using existing industrial-scale concepts. Also one trend now much more than a notion is the ongoing switch to monocrystalline cell technology. Meanwhile the University of New South Wales pulls together and critically assesses the raft of research on perovskite PV technology. Following the success of our PV CellTech conference, we’re also introducing our new PV ModuleTech event focusing on the technology that turns completed cells into supplied modules in the commercial market.

Volume 35

The thirty-fifth issue of Photovoltaics International brings you insights into how investment in high-efficiency cell technology production appears to be showing no signs of slowing down and more about scientists from the R&D team at Canadian Solar look at so-called ‘black’ silicon, one of the new cell technology concepts beginning to gain currency. Additionally, how researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE take up the theme with a paper exploring the question of quality control in the production of high-efficiency silicon solar cells and not forgetting the growing importance of thin-film technologies in the overall PV mix.

Volume 34

The thirty-fourth issue of Photovoltaics International brings you insights into the latest in-depth research from the world of solar R&D. From Solar Intelligence, find out the Silicon Module Super League in 2017 and 2018: a data-driven, bottom-up analysis of technology and capacity forecasts. Also covering cu-plated electrodes with laser contact opening on n-type crystalline silicon solar cells, high-performance screen-printable pastes for HJT cells, ultrafast lifetime regeneration of boron-doped Czochralski-silicon in an industrial belt-line furnace, use of a perovskite layer to boost the efficiency of CIGS modules and improving the efficiency of PV modules using glass reflective strips.

Volume 33

This issue of Photovoltaics International focuses on cell technology trends, manufacturing capacity, cell efficiency, mitigating light-induced degredation, new printing techniques, progress in thin-film technology and studies of studies of multicrystalline PV modules. Finlay Colville also provides a full market analysis of cell technology trends impacting module supply in 2017.

Volume 32

This issue of Photovoltaics International focuses on the steady adoption of PERC as the technology of choice for providing a quick boost to cell performances. Our chief analyst, Finlay Colville, reports that PERC is a key driver for internal technology roadmaps of all silicon cell providers and is indirectly influencing the development of other technologies in competing n-type and thin-film segments. However, PERC is not without its drawbacks, and one of these is its increased susceptibility to light-induced degradation. Other highlights include ISC Konstanz on the future of back-contact technology and ECN on the development of a new technique for minimising recombination losses in silicon solar cells.

Volume 31

This issue of Photovoltaics International features an industry-first analysis of the rate at which manufacturing expansion announcements over the past two years are being turned into real nameplate production capacity. In another special report Finlay Colville characterises the nature of the current PV capex cycle as compared to the last. Whereas the previous spending cycle was notable for being “frantic”, the latest one has so far been more measured, with manufacturers focusing on strengthening their positions in specific segments of the value chain. Other highlights in this issue include a paper from researchers at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) exploring cell-to-module losses.

Volume 30

With PV supply and demand finding equilibrium once again, manufacturers are turning their attention to the next big question they must face: what their technology of choice will be for the next round of production expansions they are planning, announcements of which are now coming thick and fast. In this issue of Photovoltaics International we feature an exclusive preview of research undertaken by Finlay Colville, head of our new Solar Intelligence activities. Colville will be publishing a full report on next-generation cell technologies in the new year, ahead of the PVCellTech event we will be hosting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in March 2016. Together the report and event promise to bring some much-needed focus to the debate around cell technology evolution, which is happening against the backdrop of break-neck growth in the solar industry worldwide.

Volume 29

Forecasting the evolution of a young, dynamic industry is by definition an uncertain business, and solar is no exception. Rarely, if ever, do the numbers broadcast by any of the various bodies involved in the PV prediction game tally, and even historical deployment rates remain the subject of hot debate. The paradox is that getting forecasts broadly right is going to become increasingly important over the next few years, particularly for those involved in producing the equipment that will support whatever levels of demand come to pass. As discussed by Gaëtan Masson, director of the Becquerel Institute, on p.110 of this issue of Photovoltaics International, although global PV demand appears in rude health, complex political and economic conditions in many individual markets mean the question of how vigorously it will continue to grow in the coming years is less than clear. Yet for the upstream part of the industry, correctly forecasting PV market developments will be critical to ensure the right investments are made along the value chain in technologies that will help spur PV to new levels of competitiveness and thus drive continued demand.

Volume 28

In the past few issues of Photovoltaics International we have tracked in detail plans being implemented by the leading module manufacturers to expand production capacity. That process began tentatively last year as end-market demand began to catch up with the chronic overcapacity that had built up in the preceding years, prompting industry-wide upheaval. Our latest capacity expansion report (p.11), a unique resource in the industry, reveals that while that activity was maintained throughout much of 2014, spiking in a strong final quarter of 2014, announcements of new capacity slowed slightly in the opening quarter of this year. Nevertheless, all the signs point to the pace picking up again later this year as manufacturers look to take advantage of the surge in activity expected in the US at the back end of this year and into 2016, in anticipation of the cutting back of the solar investment tax credit at the end of that year.

Volume 27

Now that the PV industry has unquestionably entered a new growth phase, all eyes are on which technologies will win through into the mainstream of PV manufacturing. PERC, n-type, p-type bifacial, heterojunction – all have become familiar terms in the ever-growing constellation of solar cell technologies. The question is which will offer manufacturers what they are looking for in improving efficiencies and cutting costs.

Volume 26

Looking back, 2014 was a year of convalescence for a PV industry still battered and bruised from a period of ferocious competition. End-market demand continued apace, with analysts towards the end of 2014 predicting the year would see between around 45 and 50GW of deployment. That has begun to feed through to the supplier end of the market, with all the main manufacturers announcing capacity expansions in 2015 and further ahead.

Volume 25

In this issue we offer some insights into what the next wave of photovoltaic technologies may look like as that upturn gathers pace. Industry observers have been in broad agreement that the major next-gen PV technology innovations won’t happen straight away. But there’s also little doubt that the search is now on in earnest for the breakthroughs that will come to define the state of the art in the industry in the years to come.

Volume 24

Signs earlier in the year of the global industry entering a growth phase have now been confirmed beyond any doubt. Almost all the big-name suppliers have now announced some form of manufacturing capacity expansion, a trend that analysts agree will only gather pace as long as the levels of demand predicted over the next few years turn out to be correct.

Volume 23

This issue of Photovoltaics International, our 23rd, offers key insights into some of the technologies that are ready to move from lab to fab in support of these goals. ISC Konstanz offer a glimpse of what the low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells of the future might look like. On page 35 the institute’s authors give an overview of what they call Konstanz’ “technology zoo”, encompassing their so-called BiSoN, PELICAN and ZEBRA cell concepts, all of which are aimed at increasing energy yield at the lowest possible cost.

Volume 22

The period of ‘profitless prosperity’ in the PV industry is finally at an end. Throughout 2013, despite continued economic woes, the PV industry has continued to expand and finally become a global industry. Market forecasts indicating that the sector could reach its next 100GW milestone in just the next two years suggest the industry is on the cusp of another period of strong growth. All the signs confirm this is the case, with utilization rates at their highest level since 2010, companies reporting full order books well into next year and the first tentative announcements of factory capacity expansions making the headlines.