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Photovoltaics International Volume 32

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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.

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In this issue...

Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
PV manufacturing capacity expansions planned this year are expected to push production levels beyond anticipated demand in 2016, creating further cost pressures for suppliers.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
Producing one multicrystalline silicon solar module per second does not suggest that the technology is about to disappear, based on the headline presentation at the first day of the inaugural PV CellTech conference in Malaysia.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Materials, Photovoltaics International Papers
Polysilicon spot prices had bottomed in January, 2016 at just above US$13/kg on overcapacity, notably due to US producers selling excess inventory as access to the China market had been severely curtailed due to new import duties applied as part of the trade war with the US.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Market Watch, Photovoltaics International Papers
High up the debt list is PV module assembly subcontractor and single-axis tracker supplier, via its NEXTracker acquisition, Flextronics International (Flex), which is owed over US$44 million.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Fab & Facilities, Photovoltaics International Papers
Ever since the 1GW production plans were announced back in July, 2014 speculation has remained over the tool selection. Indeed, no conference or exhibition that PV Tech had attended since that time, did the subject of tool selection not arise with industry people.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, Thin Film
First Solar is introducing new production lines to manufacture its 400W large-area ‘Series 6’ modules.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, Thin Film
Leading CdTe thin-film module producer First Solar is shifting it business emphasis back to module sales after becoming a leading PV project developer as part of a mid-term business plan that takes advantage of its restored cost-per-watt advantage and two new module products that will be introduced in the coming years that are intended to further its competitive position. We analyze the key metrics behind the transition, such as R&D expenditure, module conversion efficiencies and production capabilities and cost reductions.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
R&D activities related to solar cell production technology generally aim for higher cell efficiencies and lower production costs in order to decrease the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). Today the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) is poised to become the preferred state-of-the-art cell architecture. ‘FolMet’ technology – a new metallization and contacting upgrade – therefore has particular relevance to PERC gains.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Market Watch, Photovoltaics International Papers
Solar photovoltaic manufacturing is benefiting today from increased allocations by leading producers for capex into new facilities and technologies. Capturing these trends in March 2016, the PVCellTech conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hosted by Photovoltaics International’s publisher, Solar Media, provided a fascinating insight into what can be expected during the second half of 2016. Leading the drive to higher cell efficiencies and panel powers are efforts to increase the production of passivated emitter rear contact, or PERC, cells. This new trend can be seen to be driving the internal roadmaps of all silicon cell manufacturers, in addition to competing n-type and thin-film providers.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Materials, Photovoltaics International Papers
High-efficiency silicon solar cells require silicon wafers of high electrical quality as the base material. One advantage of n-type compared with p-type doped silicon is the smaller impact of many metal impurities on the electrical material quality. This applies especially to n-type multicrystalline silicon ingots produced by the directional solidification process, with dissolved metal impurities typically introduced by the crucible system.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
This paper presents the progress made by ECN and Tempress in developing and integrating the processing of polysilicon passivating contacts aimed at use in low-cost industrial cell production.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
The output power of a solar module is the sum of the powers of all the individual cells in the module multiplied by the cell-to-module (CTM) power ratio. The CTM ratio is determined by interacting optical losses and gains as well as by electrical losses. Higher efficiency and output power at the module level can be achieved by using novel ideas in module technology. This paper reviews methods for reducing different optical and electrical loss mechanisms in PV modules and for increasing the optical gains in order to achieve higher CTM ratios. Various solutions for optimizing PV modules by means of simulations and experimental prototypes are recommended. Finally, it is shown that designing PV modules on the basis of standard test conditions (STC) alone is not adequate, and that, to achieve higher CTM ratios by improving the module designs in respect of environmental conditions, an energy yield analysis is essential.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Fab & Facilities, Photovoltaics International Papers
In this quarterly report on global PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the first quarter of 2016, key analysis is devoted to the continued high level of intensity, which is continuing to track significantly higher than in the prior-year periods of 2014 and 2015. The report will also provide insight into the specific capacity expansion plans of the largest PV manufacturers, known as the ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL).
Photovoltaics International Archive
Photovoltaics International Papers, PV Modules
The back-contact (BC) technology currently available on the market is considered to be either highly efficient but extremely expensive (interdigitated back contact – IBC – from SunPower) or, if cost-effective, not very efficient (metal wrap-through – MWT) compared with what is becoming today’s new standard: passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) technology. Something in between, such as low-cost, high-efficiency IBC cells and modules, would therefore be desirable. This paper briefly describes the past, focuses on the present, and forecasts the possible future developments of BC technology in respect of efficiencies, costs and applications.
Photovoltaics International Archive
Cell Processing, Photovoltaics International Papers
The passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) process has been successfully transferred to mass production, with the market share of multicrystalline (mc) silicon being around 50%. This new technology can, however, lead to severe reliability issues despite the higher initial solar cell efficiencies. In particular, light-induced degradation (LID) of mc-PERC solar cells has been reported to cause efficiency losses of up to 10%rel. This highlights the importance of understanding different types of LID and of testing the stability of solar cells under actual operating conditions.

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