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PV facilities: opportunities for conversion and re-use of semiconductor fabs

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By Nate Monosoff, Technologist, CH2M HILL

Crystalline wafer and thin-film photovoltaics manufacturing have experienced dramatic expansion in recent years, but future growth requires increasingly effective strategies to reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of PV power. Reducing PV manufacturing costs has been a prime focus of the industry. In the current climate, cost reduction is especially critical given the industry shakeout that many analysts are forecasting. Now more than ever, it is important to bring manufacturing capacity online quickly and cost effectively. The vast majority of commercial-scale PV manufacturing capacity is new construction (greenfield), meaning it is purpose-built on an unused piece of land; however, there are alternatives. This paper will outline opportunities for re-use of existing obsolete semiconductor fabs, and the steps required to convert from one manufacturing strand to another.

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The second edition of Photovoltaics International was published in November 2008. It includes the cost benefits of conversion of used 200mm semiconductor fabs for the PV industry by CH2M Hill in Fab & Facilities, in-line plasma-chemical etching from Fraunhofer IWS in Cell Processing and NREL presents design criteria for back- and front-sheet materials in PV Modules.

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