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Solar cells’ silver lining

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By Carl Firman, Metals Analyst, VM Group

In the perpetual struggle to reduce the costs associated with PV energy generation, one aspect of the manufacturing process has potential to shine. To date, the PV sector is dominated by crystalline silicon wafers (90%), which largely use silver as the conducting medium for the front side grid, and to a lesser extent the backside contact. The conducting media are crucial to the overall efficiency of the cell by providing the means for current to flow when sunlight strikes the doped silicon wafer. This paper presents silver as a vital factor in the PV process, and discusses the future industry requirements as well as a projection for the overall silver market for the next eight years.

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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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