With only two major glass manufacturers (Asahi and NSG Group) able to offer transparent conductive oxide (TCO) glass, used for thin-film PV modules, a new partnership between equipment suppliers, Beneq Oy and Glaston, is set to open the market to independent glass producers with complete TCO coating lines.
Beneq and Glaston has launched the ‘TFC2000’ line that is claimed to offer the highest capacity (250MW per annum) but smallest footprint (50 metres long) for continuous off-line TCO glass coating. Using its atmospheric sub-micron-sized precursor deposition, Beneq is claiming lower materials usage and greater coating uniformity than current processes.
The company said at the glasstec/solarpeq trade show, being held in Dusseldorf, Germany this week that the system, which uses its nAERO coating technology offers a wide degree of freedom in designing TCO with variable thicknesses achieving haze, which could be as low as <1% or as high as 20%, and is fully temperable and can be laser-scribed or wet-etched.
Glaston’s continuous flat glass heat treatment technology expertise is also being used, with the company offering service and support to the TFC2000 line on a global basis. Sales will be managed by Beneq, the company said.
With scaling of thin-film production, the demand for TCO coated glass is expected to increase in key markets such as the U.S., Germany and Asia. Dedicated TCO lines as well as colocated glass production could be needed close to thin-film production plants, simply due to logistics issues of supplying millions of square metres of glass annually to each plant.