Digitalization meets PV production technology – Outline of a smart production of silicon solar cells and modules


By Martin Zimmer, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Matthias Demant, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Norbert Bergmann, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Stefan Rein, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Jochen Rentsch, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Ralf Preu, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg, Germany

Ever since the manufacturing of PV modules began suffering from a huge price decline, the reduction of the production cost has been a task of high priority. Digitalization is a subsequent further development of the automation of today’s PV cell and module manufacturing processes and can help to decrease production costs. A central concept of digitalization is the digital twin, which represents the properties and behaviours of physical assets, materials, processes or eventually the entire production line (the so-called smart fab). Different cases of its use are presented in this paper, along with a discussion of the corresponding applications of such digital twins. Finally, a smart fab for PV production is described.

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With a recent spate of new solar cell records announced for PERC-based architectures pushing conversion efficiencies past 24%, it is a good time to reflect on the pioneering work at SolarWorld – the first to commercialise and ramp PERC to volume production. A special in-depth paper from former members of SolarWorld’s R&D and manufacturing team should be a compelling read and a leading reference paper in the future. Adding to the PERC-based theme is the paper from ISC Konstanz, providing further real world insight into achieving manufacturability of nPERT cells with conversion efficiencies approaching 23%.

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