Future of PV production: Impact of digitalization and self-learning concepts on wafer, solar cell and module production

By Dr. Swaytha Sasidharan; Florian Herzog; Johnson Wong; Rudolf Harney

This paper explains how these modern production concepts are implemented in ISC’s lab, and details the plans for their utilization in future production sites, with illustrations of the key benefits in practice. With these modern manufacturing concepts, it will even be possible to bring future c-Si PV production back to the EU with the choice of an appropriate cell concept (high efficiency but proven technology, e.g. interdigitated back-contact (IBC) cells, such as ZEBRA) and a sound business plan.

Competitiveness of a European PV manufacturing chain

By Dr. Jochen Rentsch; Dr. Sebastian Nold; Dr. Ralf Preu; Dr. Andreas W. Bett; Dr. Wolfgang Jooss; Dr. Jutta Trube; Dr. Peter Fath

Today, solar power is one of the cheapest ways of providing energy internationally, partly because of the excellent R&D work in Europe. Prices of modules have fallen by half in the past three years, and at the same time the use of solar power has been steadily increasing. The reason why there has been an increase in the use of solar energy in Europe and Germany is the achievement of the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. While the machines for the production of solar modules are still manufactured in Germany, the production of cells has now almost completely migrated to Asia. Therefore, the VDMA commissioned a study from Fraunhofer ISE to evaluate whether the production of solar modules at competitive costs could again be realized in Europe. This paper presents the results of the VDMA study.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in 2018

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in 2018 were significantly impacted by major policy changes mid-year in China. This paper looks in detail at the contrasting developments in the first half of the year, compared with the second half. Attention will also be given to the regional site selection changes as well as to the advanced manufacturing trends emerging in 2018. Finally, after five years of tracking capacity expansion plans, an overview of cumulative expansions, coupled to global solar demand and to capacity trends specifically in China, will be provided.

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.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in Q2 2018

By Mark Osborne, Senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the second quarter of 2018 were slightly higher than the previous quarter, although activity slumped specifically in June, following China’s decision to suddenly cap utility-scale and distributed generation projects. The quarter was also characterized by activity in India, partially driven by a major Chinese manufacturer. The report will also analyze first half year capacity expansion plans and targeted locations, globally.

Transition to Industry 4.0: Opportunities and challenges for the PV sector

By Dr. Eszter Voroshazi; Kris Van de Voorde; Dr. Jozef Poortmans

After defining the term Industry 4.0 according to the authors’ interpretation, this paper elaborates on the opportunities and challenges that the Industry 4.0 transition will bring to the PV sector. The topic is approached from various angles. How can the PV industry and the related value chain itself progress to Industry 4.0? And how does this reflect in different application sectors, such as construction and automotive? This paper presents a future scenario towards which the industry could be heading; some of the steps already being taken and some of the main challenges ahead are described. The value of PV technology as an enabler for other sectors, such as edge versus cloud computing, to move into Industry 4.0 is also touched upon. Additionally, a number of enablers and boundary conditions are highlighted in the context of Industry 4.0 and their relevance to the PV industry (legislation, cyber security, etc.) The status of Industry 4.0 in PV compared with other sectors is also explored. Wherever appropriate and possible, examples of projects and activities that illustrate the described topics are given.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in Q1 2018

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in the first quarter of 2018 continued to mirror those of the previous two years, highlighting the recent trend of the last quarter and the first quarter of each year (since the end of 2015) being the most active. The quarter being discussed also represents a revival in thin-film expansion plans, the return of PV module assembly outpacing solar cell announcements and the return of India and the US as major destinations for new capacity plans.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcement plans and analysis for 2017

By Mark Osborne, Senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements in 2017 far exceeded the three preceding years, despite the significant slowdown in new plans in the third quarter. The year was dominated by c-Si solar cell expansion plans and the return of CdTe and CIGS thin-film activity – the highest seen in many years. This quarterly report reviews the fourth quarter activity as well offering a full-year review and analysis of a record year across all segments of upstream manufacturing.

Life cycle management and recycling of PV systems

By Dr. Parikhit Sinha, is a Senior Scientist in the Global Sustainability group at First Solar and a member of the International Energy Agency PVPS Task 12; Sukhwant Raju, is the Global Director of Recycling Operations and Services at First Solar; Karen Drozdiak, is the Sustainability Communications and Analysis Manager at First Solar; Andreas Wade, is the Global Sustainability Director at First Solar and the Deputy Operating Agent of the International Energy Agency’s PVPS Task 12

In 2015, estimated annual global volumes of electronic waste (e-waste) reached a record 43.8 million metric tons and global e-waste generation is expected to increase up to 50 million metric tons by 2018. Even though solar PV panels significantly differ from typical consumer electronic products, global regulators view PV panels increasingly in the context of e-waste regulations. Solar PV currently accounts for less than 1% of total annual e-waste volumes.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcement plans and analysis for Q1 2017

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International

Although capacity expansion announcements in January remained subdued and followed the low level of activity seen in the second half of 2016, February proved to be the third busiest month since 2014 and the strongest February in more than three years. March did not maintain that momentum but still posted strong figures, the second highest March figures in more than three years.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion plans in 2016 exceeded 55GW

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International

In this quarterly report on global PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcements we will provide a detailed analysis of 2016. Despite a significant slowdown in new announcements in the second half of the year, 2016 surpassed 2015 by around 16% to exceed a total of 55GW of thin-film, dedicated solar cell and module assembly and integrated PV expansion plans.

SolarCity’s 1GW Buffalo fab using technology from Japan, Germany and Taiwan

By Mark Osborne, senior news editor, Photovoltaics International

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.

PV manufacturing capacity expansion announcement plans and analysis for 1Q 2016

By Mark Osborne, Senior News Editor, Photovoltaics International ABSTRACT In

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).