Emerging from stealth mode, US-based Silevo, is launching a new type of PV module that is claimed to have the industry’s best performance-to-cost ratio. This is said to be achieved by combining high-performance crystalline silicon N-type substrates, thin-film passivation layers and a unique tunneling oxide layer – all in a single solar module.
Until now, the solar industry has not had a module that optimizes both performance and cost at a ratio that creates optimal levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), according to Silevo. While thin-film modules offer good cost and energy harvest, their low efficiency leads to BOS costs. Conversely, high-efficiency crystalline silicon can drive lower BOS costs. However, high manufacturing costs and poor energy harvest negate these efficiency advantages.
Powered by ‘tunneling junction’ architecture, Silevo’s proprietary ‘Triex’ technology is combined to deliver high efficiency, competitive module costs, and optimal energy harvest, according to the company. Triex’s ‘silver free’ technology also eliminates the use of costly silver pastes that traditional c-Si device manufacturers rely on for electrodes – typically the second highest priced material in a module after silicon itself. By utilizing a low resistivity copper-based metallization scheme instead, Silevo is immune to silver’s increasing cost issue in the marketplace, while capturing the performance advantages of copper.
A wide-range of installations form residential to utility-scale.
Silevo is currently producing modules in pilot production, manufacturing Triex cells that demonstrate between 20 – 21% conversion efficiency on full-size substrates. The Triex technology roadmap shows headroom for up to 24% conversion efficiency in commercial products. The company claims that the Triex technology yields cell temperature coefficients of -0.22%/C, which will enable thin-film modules like energy harvest in real world service environments. The company has US headquarters and R&D facilities with scalable, automated, low cost manufacturing operations in Hangzhou, China.
Customer qualification samples are currently shipping from the pilot production facility in Fremont, CA, with high-volume commercial production to begin the first half of 2012.