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The opportunity for wafer-based reduction in LCOE

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By Adam Lorenz, 1366 Technologies, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA; Jochen Rentsch, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Sebastian Nold, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Freiburg, Germany; Todd Templeton, 1366 Technologies, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA; Laureen Sanderson, 1366 Technologies, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

As the PV industry strives to reach terawatt scale, addressing the last remaining cost centres of the crystalline silicon value chain will play a critical role in ensuring that the industry can continue to achieve lower systems costs, and provide the extremely low levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) required to drive the adoption of this form of energy. Wafer manufacturing remains the single largest cost driver in industrial cell production. While incremental improvements, such as diamond wire (DW) sawing, have helped to lower silicon consumption, wafer manufacturing has lacked the significant step change necessary for achieving dramatic cost reduction.

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Welcome to the tenth anniversary edition of Photovoltaics International. Over the past decade this journal has documented the latest developments in the fast-changing of world PV technology, bringing you exclusive insights from researchers working at the industry’s cutting edge. Over that time the pace of change has been astonishing, so much so that it scarcely seems as though one new technology is accepted before the next arrives on the scene. So seems to be the case with the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC), which having become the technology upgrade of choice across the industry now appears to have a successor in waiting. In this edition researchers at Fraunhofer ISE look at so-called tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) technology as a follow-up to PERC. Meanwhile, a team from TÜV Rheinland takes a deep dive into the vexed question of how the industry can most usefully define the benefits of bifacial technology. At the other end of the value chain, US-based 1366 Technologies gives an account of its contribution to reducing costs in wafer manufacturing, a significant ongoing expense in industrial PV cell production and thus a key focus for efforts to drive down the levelized cost of solar-generated electricity. Elsewhere in this edition, Canadian Solar outlines some of the solutions it has developed for tackling light-induced degradation in multi-PERC cells and modules, a persistent challenge with PERC technology. In this edition our deputy editor Tom Kenning reports from the recent PV CellTech event in Malaysia, where the ‘Who’s Who’ of the PV manufacturing world gathered to debate the current state of play in solar technology.

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