By Thomas Huld, European Commission Joint Research Centre; Marcel Šúri, Executive Director, GeoModel s.r.o.; Tomáš Cebecauer, Technical Director, GeoModel s.r.o.
Thin-film module production has proven itself as a forerunner in the race to drive down costs for photovoltaics. The type of semiconductor material used is the most differentiating factor for thin-film photovoltaics, playing the decisive role for determining which core processes are employed and what type of equipment is used. This explains why discussions related to thin-film costs and technologies usually focus on the semiconductor type. However, the effects of glass production, processing and handling are often underestimated: factors such as scaling, yield, unit cost and total cost of ownership of the equipment are defined by the glass-production side of the industry. This paper discusses the challenges faced in glass washing and handling in thin-film PV production.