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Photovoltaics International Volume 12

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The 12th Edition was published in May 2011. Highlights from this edition include Conergy’s in-depth study of MES in PV facilities; University of Konstanz heralds the return of UMG-Si; RWTH Aachen University details the gettering options available for selective emitters; TU Delft presents an overview of breakage issues for silicon wafers and cells; and the University of Toledo outlines the benefits of RTSE in polarized light metroscopy.

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In this issue...

Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers
There are still a lot of “ifs” when it comes to concentrator photovoltaics, but it’s starting to look like the question of “when” the technology will start to gain serious market traction may be sooner than some think. With tens of megawatts of projects either recently finished, under construction, or in the last phases of project development — and hundreds more MWs in the longerterm pipeline — deployment of the highefficiency systems may reach triple digits by the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. On the technology front, as many as a half-dozen cell companies are bringing 40%-efficient cells to market this year, which will help to further reduce CPV’s increasingly compelling levelized cost of energy.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers
Liyou Yang started in the thin-film game in 1985 with BP Solar, where he eventually ran the company’s amorphous-silicon research efforts. “Once you get into it,” he smiled, “you get hooked.” During the course of our conversation at Astronergy’s headquarters, the Rutgers-educated president/CEO would often reference his time at the old company, using his early experiences as reminders of just how far the technology and the solar industry in general have come since those pioneering days in the 1980s and ‘90s.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Fab & Facilities, Photovoltaics International Papers
This paper presents the Q-Cells research line (RL) as a core of the Reiner Lemoine Research Centre, including the technical set-up, the organization of the operation and current results of cell concepts processed in the RL on a regular basis. Trends of cell parameters for those processes are shown, and a focus is presented regarding the results of our high-efficiency cell concepts for multi- and monocyrstalline material processed in the RL with stabilized record efficiencies of 18.4% and 19.2%, respectively. In addition, we discuss the process flow and the results of a monitoring procedure that is used to check the rear-side passivation quality of the company’s equipment. Results of our current passivation stack show a surface recombination velocity of below Srear < 10cm/s, well suited to fabricating p-type Si solar cells with efficiencies above 20%.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Materials, Photovoltaics International Papers
Reduction of silicon wafer thickness without increasing the wafer’s strength can lead to a high fracture rate during subsequent handling and processing steps. The cracking of solar cells has become one of the major sources of solar module failure and rejection. Hence, it is important to evaluate the mechanical strength of silicon solar wafers and influencing factors. The purpose of this work is to understand the fracture behaviour of multicrystalline silicon wafers and to obtain information regarding the fracture of solar wafers and solar cells. The effects on silicon wafer strength of saw damage and of grain size, boundaries and triple junctions are investigated, while the effects of surface roughness and the damage layer removal process are also considered. Significant changes in fracture strength are found as a result of different silicon wafer crystallinity and surface roughness. Results indicate that fracture strength of a processed silicon wafer is mainly affected by the following factors: the saw-damage layer thickness, surface roughness, cracks/ defects at the edges and the number of grain boundaries – which all serve as possible crack initiation points. The effects of metallization paste type and firing conditions on the strength of solar cells are also considered, with findings indicating that the aluminium paste type and firing conditions influence the strength of solar cells.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Materials, Photovoltaics International Papers
Upgraded metallurgical-grade silicon (UMG-Si), once looked on as a cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative to Si produced via the Siemens route, has experienced a severe regression of late. This has been caused both by the market conditions and by specific physical properties of these materials. Meanwhile, the qualities and the rated influence of negative physical effects have changed partially. Hopes are again rising that these materials, which have to be compensated to meet the desired net doping specifications, might achieve an economical breakthrough instead of long-dreaded low breakdown voltages. In the following paper, we summarize a few of our results on multicrystalline UMG silicon as well as results published by other research groups in the last few years.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, Thin Film
A growing number of thin-film photovoltaic module producers are either trying to keep up with the current cost leader or aiming to differentiate on product design. Calyxo is dedicated to both keeping the pace in the US$0.50/Wp race and introducing new product generations, therefore delivering more value to the customer. We have tried to improve the methodology and approaches for knowledge building in the individual process steps, by learning the relevant interactions between them, as well as ramping volume and lowering manufacturing cost in the first production line. Developing and building the deposition equipment suited to the high process temperatures of approximately 1000°C at atmospheric pressure took some time, but the technology itself now enables Calyxo to benefit from significant cost savings both on capital investment and operational cost – compared to some well-known vacuum deposition methods. Besides the continuous decrease in manufacturing costs, even early on in building the manufacturing capacity, the ability to design the product itself according to the needs of the customers proved itself to be a decisive factor in ensuring competitiveness. This paper aims to give an insight into some of the basic design features of a new product generation and how the so-called new CX3 product will generate more watts by improved performance: delivering better customer value by decreased voltage to save on BOS costs and ensuring further increased field durability through an optimized package design.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Fab & Facilities, Photovoltaics International Papers
Supporting a smooth application of new wafer materials and handling equipment into photovoltaic mass production requires extensive testing of new wafers and equipments under a range of potential operating conditions. The management of such experiments, both in laboratory and production environments, demands the integration and management of a multitude of differing information. This includes static data-like equipment, specifications and experiment settings, online machine data regarding process signal and events – but also unstructured human knowledge, which is available in manual and test reports. To efficiently deal with these kind of complex environments, knowledge management techniques have proven to be a promising approach in various industrial applications. This paper depicts, by means of a photovoltaic wafer-testing platform at Fraunhofer IPA, how the application of automation systems and knowledge management techniques leads to more effective experiment management. More precisely, the gathered knowledge from the wider range of information included in the analysis of experiments can be re-used during future experiments and the manual effort is significantly reduced.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Market Watch, Photovoltaics International Papers
Over the past two years the solar industry has shown itself to be incredibly resilient to general economic crisis. Supported by cost-cutting and efficiency improvements, the PV industry managed to achieve a growth rate of 120%, or 16.2GW, of newly installed capacity in 2010. Although individual companies are feeling the strong price and margin pressure and intensifying competition, the large, international and vertically-integrated companies are surviving. At least eight new PV markets with a potential annual capacity of 500MW are expected to be added over the next two years. The PV industry will therefore acquire the stability and political autonomy it needs to be able to grow unimpeded and to enter new dimensions. There might also be further tailwind for the PV industry from the catastrophic nuclear crisis in Japan.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Fab & Facilities, Photovoltaics International Papers
In 2006, Conergy AG started construction on one of the most advanced solar factories in the world in Frankfurt (Oder). On 35,000 square metres, a fully integrated and fully-automated wafer, cell and module production facility was created – all under one roof. Since 2008, production has been running at full speed and every day more than 3,000 premium modules roll out of the factory. This paper outlines the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) process put in place by Conergy during the planning phase of the factory, to monitor and control the complex and merging production processes.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Market Watch, Photovoltaics International Papers
The Italian PV market is poised to become the leading market worldwide. However the recent GSE estimates have revealed unexpected volumes installed in 2010. This may lead to an adjustment of the feed-in tariff (FiT) level in the course of this year. GIFI (the Italian PV industry association) is preparing the field for a proposal to make the market development more sustainable, long-lasting and to upgrade the 2020 target.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, Thin Film
Optical probes based on polarized light spectroscopy, including spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) and polarimetry, have been applied in research and process development for the three major thin-film photovoltaics technologies, including thin-film hydrogenated silicon (Si:H), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium-gallium diselenide (CuIn1−xGaxSe2). Real-time SE during materials fabrication has provided insights into the nucleation, coalescence, and structural evolution of these thin films. These insights have led, in turn, to guiding principles for PV performance optimization, as well as future directions for real-time process control. The optical properties deduced simultaneously with the layer thicknesses using real-time SE have been applied to characterize the phase composition of materials (amorphous versus crystalline), the mean free path and grain size, and the relative free carrier concentration. As a result, analytical formulae for the optical properties of PV materials have been developed with free parameters that are linked to basic materials properties. This paper shows how the formulae and associated parameter-property relationships can serve as a database for analyzing complete PV stacks, with future prospects for mapping layer thicknesses and basic materials properties in on-line monitoring applications for large-area PV plates and modules.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
Quality assurance and process control are becoming increasingly important in the industrial production chain to the manufacturing of silicon solar cells. There are a number of relevant wet chemical processes for the fabrication of standard screen-printed industrial solar cells, mainly for texturization and cleaning purposes. While one-component systems like pure HF for oxide-removal are easy to monitor, i.e., by conductivity measurements, typical texturization processes are much more complex due to the number of constituents. For acidic texturization of multicrystalline silicon wafers, typical mixtures involve amounts of hydrofluoric acid (HF), nitric acid (HNO3) and water. It has also been documented that mixtures can be found where additional additives like phosphoric acid (H3PO4), acetic acid (HOAc) and sulphuric acid (H2SO4) have been used [1, 2]. In alkaline random pyramid texturization for monocrystalline wafers, a base like potassium hydroxide (KOH) or sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and organic additives like 2-propanol (IPA) are used [3]. In addition to these processes, recently developed high-efficiency cell concepts require several additional wet chemical process steps like advanced cleaning processes, chemical edge isolation or single side oxide removal processes [4]. In order to obtain continuously stable and reproducible process results and to overcome process operations based on operator experience, a reliable monitoring of the bath concentrations is essential. Such quality control has the potential for significant cost reductions due to optimized durations between replacements of bath mixtures or shortening of processing times. In this context, the application of on-line analytical methods, either by means of chemical, optical or electrical measurement techniques, is of particular interest.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
Since the 1980s, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) has been the standard encapsulation material for crystalline photovoltaic modules. From a mechanical point of view, the encapsulant takes the function of a compliant buffer layer surrounding the solar cells. Therefore, understanding its complex mechanical properties is essential for a robust module design that withstands thermal and mechanical loads. In the cured state after lamination, its stiffness features a high sensitivity to temperature especially in the glass transition region around -35°C, and a dependence on time which becomes obvious in relaxation and creep behaviour. This paper outlines the viscoelastic properties of EVA and the corresponding standard experimental methods, as well as the impact on the accuracy of wind and snow load test procedures for PV modules.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
This paper reviews the status of solar cell technology based on n-type crystalline silicon wafers. It aims to explain the reasons behind the strong and increasing attention for n-type cells, including the inherent advantages of n-type base doping for high diffusion length, and for the industrialization of designs with good rear-side electronic and optical properties. The focus will be on cells using diffused junctions.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
Solar enterprises will each be faced with the occasional surplus or lack of solar modules in their lifetimes. In these instances, it is useful to adjust these stock levels at short notice, thus creating a spot market. Spot markets serve the short-term trade of different products, where the seller is able to permanently or temporarily offset surplus, while buyers are able to access attractive offers on surplus stocks and supplement existing supplyarrangements as a last resort.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
After the encapsulation step, a c-Si solar module’s output is usually decreased, in comparison to its cells’ power, which is referred to as ‘power loss’. This paper focuses on the various factors that can impact power loss of solar modules, such as solar cell classification, encapsulation material, match of solar cells, the encapsulation process used, and so on. The conclusion indicates that power loss in solar modules can be significantly decreased with a resulting increment of a module’s output by appropriately optimizing those factors.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
Processing silicon substrates for PV applications involves texturing, cleaning and/or etching wafer surfaces with chemical solutions. Depending on the cleanliness of the industrial equipment and the purity of the chemical solutions, surface contamination with metals or organic residues is possible [1]. The presence of trace contamination at PV junctions leads to both mid-level traps and photonic defects, which ultimately cause reduced efficiency and rapid cell degradation. Metallic impurities have a greater impact on PV cell lifetime due to their deeper energy levels in the silicon band gap [2]. On the other hand, non-metallic impurities may modify the electrical activity of PV cells because these species involve complex interactions with the host silicon lattice and its structural defects. In other words, very small amounts of contamination can result in poor PV efficiency. This paper presents an overview of the effects of adding a biodegradable complexing agent in cleaning and rinsing baths to minimize surface contamination and thereby enhance solar cell efficiency.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Market Watch, Photovoltaics International Papers
The behaviour of PV markets over the last decade in Europe has taught us that not only it is necessary to optimally design support schemes, but that priority access to the grid for renewable energy sources and the reduction of administrative barriers are the key market drivers for sustainable development and essential for the markets to sustainably develop in the long term. This paper provides an overview of Europe’s PV market performance and delivers policy recommendations by means of EPIA’s PV Observatory model.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, Power Generation
Exceptional demand characterized the PV industry in 2010. Uncertainty regarding incentive schemes in a number of key markets drove global installations, and inverter shipments grew by over 160% as investors and developers rushed to complete projects, fearing that incentives would be reduced or removed altogether. IMS Research estimates that inverter shipments exceeded 20GW in 2010 and sales of small three-phase inverters, rated between 10-20kW, grew by around 200% in 2010. Inverters rated at over 500kW are estimated to have grown at a similar rate, but continue to represent a smaller share of revenues.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
Technology computer-aided design (TCAD) is pervasive throughout research, development and manufacturing in the semiconductor industry. It allows very low-cost evaluation of process options and competing technologies, guides process development and transfer to production and supports more efficient process improvement with minimal down time in the factory environment. This paper reviews the use of TCAD in the semiconductor industry and shows, with some illustrative examples, its important enabling role for the PV industry.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
Phosphorus dopant pastes are an attractive alternative to the conventional phosphorus oxychloride (POCl3) dopant source for emitter processing in solar cells, as they allow the fabrication of selective emitters on an industrial scale. In this paper it is demonstrated that single-sided uniform screen-printed emitters, processed with phosphorus dopant pastes, can getter multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) wafers more effectively than conventional double-sided uniform POCl3 emitters. This result is confirmed by minority carrier lifetime measurements with the quasi-stead-state photoconductance (QSSPC) method. Solar cells with selective emitters were processed using phosphorus dopant pastes on mc-Si wafers and were subsequently characterized. The current-voltage (I-V) results are improved compared to uniform POCl3 emitter solar cells and an increased internal quantum efficiency (IQE) for selective emitter solar cells is demonstrated.

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