Uni-Solar plots technology roadmap: 12% efficiencies at 95 cents per watt

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

The subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, Uni-Solar, has detailed its technology roadmap, which is intended to push conversion efficiencies to 12% and a cost-per-watt of 95 cents by 2012. Importantly, the efficiency gains and cost reductions come from material improvements and process optimizations rather than fundamental cell changes, which should ensure a smooth demand driven production ramp in 2011. Initially, Uni-Solar is targeting area conversion efficiency gains to 8.2% in 2010 and by close of 2011 calendar year approximately 10%, with fully loaded production cost-per-watt of US$1.50.

 “We are continuing to develop our technology by focusing on improving our conversion efficiency to 12% and beyond,” commented Mark Morelli, president and CEO of Uni-Solar’s parent company, Energy Conversion Devices. “We have demonstrated that our core technology is capable of conversion efficiency of 15.4% in the lab, and we are now focused on translating those results into commercial production volumes at 12% and ultimately improving the conversion efficiency to 20%-plus.”

Key process development has centred initially on improved light trapping using a significantly improved back-reflector layer, according to Subhendu Guha, executive VP of PV technology at ECD and chairman of United Solar Ovonic.

Speaking with PV-Tech, Guha also noted that an altogether superior a-Si/germanium alloy has been employed, which captures red light more effectively. A proprietary plasma CVD process not only doubles throughput but also offers greater deposition uniformity over a larger area, which in turn has enabled the cell surface area to be expanded on its standard laminate size, further boosting surface area efficiencies from the longstanding 6.7%.

Several important knock-on effects mean that Uni-Solar gains in a reduced cost-per-watt and capex-per-watt going forward. The upgraded CVD tools are expected to cost between US$15 and US$20 million, while boosting capacity by approximately 30MW.

Guha also noted that as the performance and manufacturing throughput gains are not a result of more complex processing, a target of 95 cents per watt with 12% efficiencies with continuous yield improvements, similar to those already achieved, was realistic in a high-volume, high-utilization environment.

The improved light absorption doesn’t involve light-induced degradation, creating robust efficiency gains as well as stability.

However, after a year of falling fab utilization as demand waned, Morelli explained in a conference call to discuss the roadmap developments that this would be a demand-driven ramp. He cited an expanding commercial rooftop market when efficiency and cost reductions kick in in 2011, highlighting that the low-bearing commercial rooftop sector should have a commercial size of 3.3GW by 2013 and that the residential market using specially designed tiles has a market potential of 3.2GW in Europe and nearly 1GW in North America.

Financial analysts noted in the call that the cost-per-watt claims were still higher than the likes of First Solar, which is already below US$1/watt. Morelli highlighted that its core commercial rooftop market of load-bearing roofs could not be served by heavier glass-based thin-film modules and that its simpler installation significantly cut install costs, making Uni-Solar technology highly competitive on system price and LCOE.

10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
15 November 2021
The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!
23 November 2021
The solar, storage and EV industries in the UK are going from strength to strength. There is no better place for the community to meet, share ideas and do business than Solar & Storage Live from 23-25 November at the NEC.There’s something for everyone; more than 150 exhibitors, a high-level conference, a start up and innovation zone, a poster zone, strategic partners to network with and much more. 
1 December 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content, access to session recordings and chat/messaging tools for delegates to connect.
2 December 2021
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Mumbai is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
13 January 2022
Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America “Come Together” for the first time in Long Beach, CA—connecting installers, developers, utilities, technology providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance the clean energy future. With best-in-class conference programming, integrated exhibits and pavilions, and the live Solar Games installer competition, #isnaesna21 will showcase the industry trends, innovative solutions, and emerging talent transforming the solar, energy storage, and e-mobility markets. Register today to redeem our exclusive offer for PV Tech readers—free expo hall or 20% off full conference pass.

Read Next

October 22, 2021
Alight has signed agreements to build three solar parks in Sweden that according to the company will be the largest in Sweden once built with a total installed capacity of 90MW.
October 22, 2021
The clean energy business of US utility NextEra Energy had a record quarter of origination success in Q3, adding approximately 2,160MW to its backlog, including 515MW of new solar projects.
October 22, 2021
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is to fund projects aiming to extend the operational lifetime of solar PV projects to 50 years and support the development of advanced materials such as perovskites.
October 22, 2021
Essentia Energia has begun operations at its 475MW Sol do Sertao solar power plant in the Brazilian state of Bahia
PV Tech Premium
October 22, 2021
Average winning solar bids in Spain’s renewables auction this week came in above those for wind as interest among PV bidders faltered against a backdrop of rising equipment costs and regulatory uncertainty.
October 22, 2021
Norwegian energy giant Statkraft has released a report that urges greater action on decarbonisation to meet climate targets, puts renewables at the centre of any strategy and places huge importance on the role of green hydrogen.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
November 10, 2021
8am (PST) | 5pm (CET)
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021