China-based PV manufacturer Yingli Green Energy and industrial technology partners, Dutch research centre ECN and equipment manufacturer Tempress, a subsidiary of Amtech Systems have fabricated their first IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) n-type solar cells on 6-inch monocrystalline wafers at the manufacturer's pilot line in China.  

Yingli Green said that its long-standing n-PERT ‘PANDA’ process was adapted to the IBC cell architecture to provide a lower-cost route to IBC cell efficiencies that deploy fine-line screen printing technology for patterning and metallisation with support from the new production process co-developed by ECN and Tempress. Pilot production was managed in less than 3 months, according to the partners.

Albert Hasper, general manager of Tempress said: “This result shows once again the synergy of our long lasting and fruitful cooperation with Yingli and ECN, who did the majority of work to achieve this. For Tempress this is an important opportunity to adapt and develop equipment and process that can be used in the production process of these next generation cells. A partner like Yingli combined with ECN, puts us in a position where developments can go really fast, which I think is best demonstrated by achievements like this.”

The PV manufacturer noted that the partners aim to produce N-PERT IBC cells that have an efficiency of 22% by the end of 2017, while the development and production of commercial modules using the cells was expected for 2018. The IBC N-PERT cell architecture also enables high-efficiency bi-facial module production. 

“This cooperation and the pilot production of IBC cells are consistent with our long-term commitments to making solar electricity affordable and accessible for all through continued technology innovation,” added Dr Dengyuan Song, Chief Technology Officer of Yingli.

“The pilot line now provides IBC cells in sufficient quantities to enable efficient back-contact module development which will boost the Dutch and EU PV tool and material supplier industry,” noted ECN researcher Dr. Ilkay Cesar. “The ECN Industry Research Program (IRP) aims to bring our simplified IBC technology to 23% within 3 years. IRP partners can start pilot production in less than 3 months as already demonstrated by Yingli.”

At the recently held PV CellTech conference in Penang, Malaysia, Dr. Feng Li, deputy general manager of Yingli Green Energy’s Technology Center, noted that its N-PERT bi-facial cell with an SBSF structure had reached a conversion efficiency of 21.52% on the front side and 19.54% on rear side.

Read the entire story