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Challenges in producing photovoltaic modules on thin wafers

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By Emmanuel Van Kerschaver, Senior R&D Engineer, IMEC; Kris Baert, Program Manager of Solar Cells, SOLO Department, IMEC; Jozef Poortmans, Departmen Director Photovoltaics, IMEC

The principal paths to cost reduction for the photovoltaics industry are increasing the efficiency of solar cells and the power density of modules, together with the reduction of the specific consumption of silicon. Following the slowdown in the ever-increasing growth of the PV market earlier this year, and the reduction in the market cost of polysilicon, wafer producers and most cell producers moved back to the 180µm generation substrates. It may take some time for manufacturers to tackle the technological issues that need to be addressed in order to successfully decrease wafer thickness further. In this article, some of the issues related to the production of thinner and thinner cells are outlined and discussed.

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The fourth edition of Photovoltaics International was published in May 2009. It features an exclusive interview with First Solar’s Bruce Sohn on manufacturing and the future. SunPower also outlines the economic benefits of LCOE drivers in Power Generation and Fraunhofer IPA gives an overview of automation in the photovoltaic industry.

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