Category: News

Jinergy touts heterojunction module breaking 450W at PV CellTech conference

In a presentation at the PV CellTech conference being held in Penang, Malaysia, this week, Dr. Liyou Yang, general manager of Jinneng Clean Energy Technology Ltd (Jinergy), highlighted its heterojunction (HJT) cell-based JNHM72 (72-cell) champion module had reached 452.5W power output.

According to Dr. Yang, currently, Jinergy’s HJT cell average mass production efficiency has reached 23.79%, and the efficiency of new experimental cells has reached 24.73%.

Dr. Yang said in a statement: “Confronting energy restructuring and FiT reduction, bifacial ultra-high HJT technology is the ideal solution to further reduce LCOE, the widely used standard to evaluate investment of PV power stations. Being newly added to the BNEF Tier 1 solar module manufacturer list, Jinergy will continue to invest in R&D for cutting-edge technologies and contribute to the global renewable energy market with the most advanced and reliable products.”
 
Jinergy is one of the first PV manufacturers to commercialize HJT modules in China. Jinergy’s HJT module received the first new IEC certificate in the world and was listed in DEWA and JPAC, according to the company.

Recently, SunPower Corporation launched its first module using its NGT (Next Generation Technology) IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) ‘Maxeon Gen 5’ cells.

The A-Series module is expected to come in power ranges of 400Wp and 415Wp and billed as “world’s first 400-watt residential solar panels.”

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Meyer Burger sets heterojunction solar cell efficiency roadmap to 25% at PV CellTech conference

Leading PV equipment supplier Meyer Burger has outlined a technology roadmap for heterojunction (HJT) solar cells with efficiencies towards 25% at the PV CellTech conference being held in Penenag, Malaysia this week.

According to Meyer Burger’s CTO, Dr Gunter Erfurt the company has already achieved HJT cells with recent record efficiencies of over 24.2% on its standardized HJT equipment. 

However, Dr. Erfurt also highlighted a technology roadmap for HJT cells that would progress cell efficiencies towards 25% that was already in place at Meyer Burger. 

Dr. Erfurt also noted that its SWCT cell connection technology, also being used in HJT production had surpassed 1GW of sales. 

With current PERC solar cells able to achieve efficiency levels of between 21% and 22%, technology limitations are also present, which affect the potential for further increases in PERC cell efficiency, according to Meyer Burger.
 
However, Dr. Erfurt noted that passivated contact technology could offer an evolutionary upgrade to existing PERC mass production capacities, taking them to efficiency levels around 23%.

For the past two years, Meyer Burger has been developing a platform for the industrialized manufacture of solar cells with passivated contact technology for both n- and p-type wafers.
 
In trials with customers, Meyer Burger said that the ‘CAiA’ platform has already produced cells with efficiencies slightly above 23% and the first lab machine has already been sold to a strategic customer and technology partner, with initial installations planned by midyear. 

The CAiA tool platform works in tandem with its ‘MAiA’ and ‘FABiA’ cell coating portfolio, with either the MAiA or FABiA as the optimal solution for the manufacture of passivated contact cells. Meyer Burger’s SWCT module technology was also a cost-effective solution for modules with passivated contact cells.

Meyer Burger also commented on the recent Hanwha Q Cells patent infringement case against JinkoSolar, REC and LONGi Solar, noting that its MAiA and FABiA cell coating platforms used proprietary Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) passivation technology, which is the leading alternative technology to ALD and thus not in the scope of the patent infringement claim by Hanwha Q Cells.

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PVCellTech Talk: Q&A with Weiming Zhang, CTO at Heraeus Photovoltaics

Ahead of the PV CellTech 2019 meeting in Penang, Malaysia on 12-13 March 2019, conference chair and head of research at PV-Tech, Finlay Colville, caught up with one of the keynote invited speakers at the event this year: Dr. Weiming Zhang, from leading PV materials supplier Heraeus Photovoltaics.

Dr. Zhang is set to deliver one of the presentations within a new feature at PV CellTech this year, looking at detail in how we can expect the PV Technology Roadmap to evolve over the next 2-3 years. Leading up to this, we posed a few questions to Weiming to get his views on where PV technology is today, what the challenges are moving forward, and what to expect within his feature talk at PV CellTech during 12-13 March.

Finlay Colville: Thank-you Weiming for taking the time to catch up with us before PV CellTech this year. We are delighted that Heraeus is giving one of the keynote talks, during our PV Technology Roadmap session. Before we get more into the talk and some other thoughts about where the industry is going in the next 2-3 years: it would be good to know first what the main challenges are today in PV cell manufacturing?

Dr. Zhang: My pleasure, Finlay.  [Regarding to today’s main challenges in cell manufacturing, I think friends in cell producers have much more to say than me, however, Heraeus, as a key contributor in PV industry, does have strong commitment to work with key players to overcome challenges facing today and in the future.  I do believe the ultimate challenge or driver in PV cell manufacturing stays and will remain the same – how to increase eff. And performance while keep reducing the cost.   Thus on wafer level, we saw aggressive movement toward larger and thinner, this trend will continue but watch out yield.  Also shall PV industry again standardize its cell and module size?  On cell level, will evolution improvement continue or shall take revolution path now? For instance, which technology shall we bid after PERC? Is screen-printing reaching its limit? Etc.  I am glad we will have many fruitful discussions on these during the coming forum.]

There has been strong investment within China in particular for n-type cell lines, over the past 12 months? A couple of questions on this for you now: does this create challenges for a company like Heraeus in terms of prioritizing in-house R&D on paste optimization, given that many of the process flows for advanced cells are rather different? And, do you think that 2019 will still be a year of new n-type cell capacity line construction, with utilization rates mainly increasing during 2020?

[Yes, it is certainly a challenge as, unlike standard BSF and PERC, n-type cell technology has many variations in terms of process flow and cell architecture.  For metallization paste development, any change on interface topography and/or chemistry will require certain optimization- R&D effort.  Heraeus fully commits with the largest RD team in metallization field and well positioned with the broadest product portfolio to support our key customers on its advanced cell architecture development; at the meantime, we are working very closely with our strategic partners to ensure technology alignment.
In terms of n-type cell line construction, I agree the main utilization rate will increase from 2020.]

Every few years, the solar industry, in particular at the cell manufacturing stage, focuses more on cost-reduction than capacity expansions. How much more costs do you think can come out of the cell production stage, and where can we see silver consumption levels get to in the next couple of years?

[Once again, friends in cell producers are much qualified to comment on cost reduction potential on cell production stage.  I will leave this challenge to them (but not alone!).  We are very proud that we enabled our customers to reduce >65% silver consumption per cell by developing and delivering new generation metallization pastes year after year for past 10 years.  This effort will continue and further reduction of silver consumption is coming.

However, I think ITRPV roadmap for silver usage reduction was a bit over ambitious. We do see a wide range of paste laydown depending on customer design with some customers pushing very low silver consumption.  Multi Bus Bar and multi-wire module designs do of course enable further lower silver usage.  There are also some promising new print technologies to reduce silver usage, but these still need to be proven in a manufacturing environment (e.g. transfer printing, dispensing at R&D level).

Following an evolutionary path based on screen printing technology, we may expect silver paste laydowns in the level of 70 mg/cell in the next 2 years.]

Your talk next week at PV CellTech is part of the PV Technology Roadmap session. Heraeus actively shows the industry what it expects from a technology-standpoint. How does this differ from some of the other forecasts on technology we see today, such as the features we do on PV-Tech or the long-term forecasts given by bodies such as the ITRPV?

[Our Technology Roadmap is based on discussions with R&D and Production teams at many different customers and we align our development to their needs. We work with customers across all technologies so are able to get a diversity of voices informing our Roadmap. 

Forecasts based more on Production plans may be more conservative, while those based on surveys of research institutions may be more optimistic about step-change technologies and when they will be in mass production.]

What key messages would you like to emphasize while at PV CellTech next week, when you deliver your presentation?

[I am an optimistic believer that we will see many new evolution improvements and revolution breakthroughs in cell technology for years to come.  This is particular true for metallization paste technology.   Advanced metallization paste with ultrafine line ability and well “balanced” of contact and recombination alone can further boost cell eff. By ~+0.3%; coupling with some revolution technologies, ~+0.6% is not out of reach.  But all in all, fundamental studies and understanding is must, which does require constant and heavy R&D investment.]

And finally: apart from the focus on your talk at PV CellTech next week, are there any other key issues that you feel the industry CTO’s need to work better on, as a collective unit, in order to move cell manufacturing forward? Can the PV industry have a roadmap for example like SEMI, or are there still just too many cell producers with different technologies being produced today?

[There are high level roadmaps such as the one from ITRPV which set a big picture goal. The goal posts ambitious challenges to the industry in finding creative ways to stay cost competitive. Hence, it is important for the industry as a whole to take a long term perspective focusing on performance, overall value, and long term reliability of key products, processes and solutions.  Additionally, intimate collaboration (for example, standardizing certain QC testing), efficient R&D spending and speed of innovation will continue to be important.]

Thanks for all the inputs – look forward to seeing you soon!

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PVCellTech Talk: Q&A with Dr. Adam Lorenz, CTO, 1366 Technologies

As the PV-Tech team evaluated the topics best suited for this year’s PV CellTech event (12-13 March 2019, Penang, Malaysia), it was clear that wafering should be a key theme for inclusion at the conference.

In the four years of PV CellTech, the industry has witnessed a dramatic shift in wafer supply for cell manufacturing, stimulated by LONGi Solar and Zhonghuan building tens of GW of ingot pullers in China. This alone has been sufficient to shift the technology balance from multi to mono, even before we factor in cell improvements such as PERC.

However, it should be noted that the shift from multi casting (directional solidification) to ingot pulling (Czochralski processing) is actually reverting back to an older crystal growth method, and still follows the legacy two-step ingot/wafer-slicing stages, each with associated silicon waste, direct costs and intra-plant transportation costs/risks.

While ingot pulling at the 50GW-plus level is a somewhat new concept, and one that many are still getting their heads around, the supply of polysilicon chunks to ingot pulling fabs and then onto wafer slicing factories, is no different to solar-grade wafers that have been produced for decades now.

Current methods of wafer production continue to be the largest cost driver of industrial cell production. The waste associated with sawing has motivated considerable research and investment in finding alternative approaches over the years, but the few ideas that moved past the laboratory stage could not find the investment or industry support to reach mass production status. Instead, resources shifted to making small changes to existing processes – diamond wire being a good example – in an effort to incrementally bring down cost or improve quality.  

The exciting news release last week (1366 Technologies to ramp ‘Direct Wafer’ production at new facility in Malaysia for Hanwha Q CELLS) signalled a potentially disruptive change to this conservative legacy of incremental change in wafer production. The feature on PV-Tech outlined how 1366 Technologies had attracted significant investment from one of the PV industry’s leading technology drivers (Hanwha Q CELLS) to bring 1366’s innovative Direct Wafer(R) method of manufacturing silicon wafers directly from molten silicon into production scale.

With the Direct Wafer(R) method, the elimination of the need for an ingot and the sawing that follows, could be a dramatic enabler for low cost wafer production, and even offers potential within new advanced wafer features. The first factory, located in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, is nearing completion and will produce wafers for Hanwha’s existing cell and module operations. 

The timing therefore of having Adam Lorenz, CTO of 1366 Technologies, deliver an invited presentation at PV CellTech 2019 on 1366’s Direct Wafer(R) technology could not be more pertinent!

Ahead of Adam’s talk at PV CellTech 2019 next week, PV CellTech conference chair and head of research at PV-Tech, Finlay Colville, chatted with Adam about wafering in the industry in general, but more specifically on what lies ahead for direct/kerfless wafering and what impact this will have on silicon-based manufacturing within the PV industry.

Finlay Colville: Welcome Adam, and thanks again for your strong support of the PV CellTech events! The news this week that 1366 Technologies is to ramp ‘Direct Wafer’ production at a new facility in Malaysia for Hanwha Q CELLS is certainly very exciting. Can you talk a little about how this has come about and what some of the near-term targets are?

Dr. Adam Lorenz: Our strategic partnership with Hanwha Q CELLS started in 2015 and the goal of the collaboration was to develop and commercialize the Direct Wafer technology for use in Hanwha Q CELLS’ modules. For the last four years we worked to translate the innovation into production with a focus on making efficiency gains that now have us averaging 20.5%. 

With the factory near completion, the focus will be on the ramp. That means transferring the metrics we’ve demonstrated on our furnaces in the US demonstration facility to production scale, replicating our efficiency averages and then introducing some new wafer features, specifically our work around the 3D wafer or thin wafer with a thick border. 

For 1366, the realization of these near-term targets signifies a real step change that transforms an expensive, complicated process step into something that’s far more elegant.  This enhanced method of wafer production is an enabler of a product that will make the PV industry more accessible to consumers worldwide. That’s the heart of disruptive innovation and it delivers business, economic and societal benefits. 

Many people associate direct/kerfless wafering as being a low-cost alternative to mainstream ingot/wafer manufacturing, but what are the other benefits on offer?

There are many benefits to the process, the biggest of which is the impact on solar’s LCOE, but I’ll start with the silicon savings. Slicing of wafers from an ingot wastes ~40% of the most expensive direct material in a PV module, highly-refined and energy-intensive polysilicon.  The Direct Wafer process utilizes nearly all the silicon input and with thin, 3D wafers it allows for double the output per kg.  This not only impacts cost, but means we use less energy in the manufacture of our product which is very important for an industry growing as rapidly as PV.  Low silicon consumption, combined with efficient crystallization and a much smaller hot zone with higher throughput, cuts the energy payback of a module using Direct Wafer technology to less than a year. 

Another benefit is just how fast the Direct Wafer process can convert silicon chunks into wafers.  We melt chunks on one side of our furnace and Direct Wafer product comes out the other side at a current takt time of 16 seconds/wafer. Contrast this to several days process time using traditional ingot pulling that requires slow melting of large crucible volumes, slow cooling of large ingots to prevent cracking, followed by multiple slow grinding operations for slicing bricks and then wafers.  The high cost of inventory from traditional processes can be significantly reduced as a result of our >100x shorter process time.

This is a new process. The R&D potential of the technology is robust. We’re already in pilot production for our 3D wafers and that feature is something that is impossible to achieve with conventional methods. It is difficult to saw a very thin wafer and when you do, the subsequent cell and module handling results in high breakage. We solve that problem with local thickness control and in doing so, reduce the cost even further.

Looking more generally at PV technology, you have been active in the PV industry through many changes in the past. What has surprised you most about the growth of the PV industry, and technology, during the past few years?

This is an exciting industry that can have a transformative impact on worldwide energy use in the coming decade and the cost reductions that have come about the last few years from debottlenecking the supply chain are truly inspiring. But what surprises me most is how little has actually changed technology-wise. Sure, you can point to the adoption of mono or the shift to PERC but it’s important to remember that these are not new technologies. Today, the underlying processes the industry is relying on for the future of energy are 20th century inventions, and I’d like to see more new ideas. The science that will allow us to move to the next level – on the whole – is there. We just need to put forth the resources that can fuel a more rapid transition to advanced cell concepts, advanced module concepts and truly next generation technologies. I believe Direct Wafer is a great example of what’s possible.  

And on this theme, we have chosen to expand our coverage this year at PV CellTech for n-type cell proponents. When looking at the investments being done by pure-play cell/module producers – which includes almost all the new n-type capacity – how does this impact wafer supply considerations? Is it just a case of waiting and see what actual production comes to fruition?

I think wafer supply can generally be flexible to meet downstream requirements.   The Direct Wafer process can very easily switch between p-type and n-type as needed so we can follow the roadmap of cell and module manufacturers without any trouble.  Up to now, 1366 has focused exclusively on the largest market of ~1 ohm-cm p-type wafer product and partnered with the industry’s best (HQC) to demonstrate the potential of our wafers with their Q.ANTUM PERC process.  I’ll talk a bit more at PV CellTech about some exciting research that shows potential for our wafers in next generation cell architectures with one-dimensional current flow patterns like passivated contacts and PERT.

Looking forward to your talk at PV CellTech next week, are there any themes that you are able to preview for us?

The biggest theme is that there is a better way to make wafers. When you eliminate the ingot, the wafer can become a center of strategic importance. 

Finally, if there was one key PV technology roadmap question you wanted to get clarity on, by the end of the second day at PV CellTech next week, what would it be?

I’m eager to hear about advanced cell concepts and the efficiency entitlements of those technologies as there are many synergies between these concepts and our specific wafer properties. I get most excited when I think about the enabling role our wafers will have in bringing about some of these architectures. 

 

Thanks again Adam. It is just great that your talk at PV CellTech comes on the back of the exciting news out last week on the new factory, and it certainly keeps Malaysia as a country at the forefront of PV manufacturing technology in Southeast Asia. There is certain to be much buzz next week in Penang from many fronts. Safe travels and see you soon!

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PVCellTech Talk: Q&A with Jenya Meydbray, CEO, PV Evolution Labs

Leading up to the fourth PV CellTech conference in Penang on 12-13 March 2019, we continue our series of interviews with leading PV industry stakeholders from across the entire value-chain, connected by the same common goal of wanting to know how PV technology will advance over the next 12-18 months.

During previous PV CellTech events, and also our sister event held each October (PV ModuleTech), one of the most active participants has been Jenya Meydbray, currently the CEO of PV Evolution Labs (PVEL).

During the past couple of years, Jenya’s interest in PV technology and module quality (the two pillars of PV CellTech and PV ModuleTech, respectively) has been evident through his active interest in the two events. Until recently, Jenya held previous roles at DNV-GL (from which PV Evolution Labs emerged recently) and Cypress Creek Renewables; companies that are very much involved with modules, and not directly at the cell production stage.

However, while many downstream companies are focused only on what the local sales rep is offering them today from a module standpoint, the market-leaders in project development, EPC work and module quality/testing/inspection look far more closely at PV cell trends, as developments here are forming the basis of mainstream PV module supply about 12-18 months later.

On returning to PV CellTech 2019 as an avid participant, PV-Tech invited Jenya to moderate one of the sessions, and ahead of the event on 12-13 March 2019, we took the chance to ask Jenya some questions and observations on PV cell technology, from his more ‘downstream’ focus in the industry. The following is a summary of the discussion between PV CellTech chair and head of research at PV-Tech (Finlay Colville) and Jenya:

Finlay Colville: Welcome back to PV CellTech, Jenya. Before we look at technology issues and the event next week, could you give a quick update on how things have been going at PV Evolution Labs since your return as CEO and the new plans for 2019?

Jenya Meydbray: Hello Finlay, it’s great to be heading back to PV CellTech. Since PVEL [PV Evolution Labs] relaunched in January, the market reaction has been excellent. Our labs are busier than ever. Cell and module technology are both evolving faster today than ever before, and this is driving demand for third-party reliability and performance testing. Developers and financial institutions must have confidence in new technology before they can deploy it. PVEL’s services – especially our Product Qualification Programs (PQPs) for modules, inverters and batteries – are as relevant today as they were when I co-founded PVEL nearly a decade ago.

Many downstream players now recognize that crystalline silicon technology is not all the same. Reality has shown us that new aging mechanisms and operational characteristics can impact a project’s financial success, potentially both positively and negatively. For example, light and elevated temperature induced degradation (LeTID) surprised many when PERC started to gain market share. Similarly, there are unknown benefits and risks to glass vs. clear backsheets, bifacial modules, conductive adhesives, shingling, larger wafers, n-type cells, alternative encapsulants, and cast mono, to name just a few of the new technologies that PVEL is currently testing. That’s the key reason I’m looking forward to PV CellTech. It’s the best place to learn about trends in real commercial cell production capacity as we develop the next generation of PVEL’s cell and module qualification tests. 

We have many people and companies attending PV CellTech each year from the downstream segments – mostly global developers – and also test/inspection labs and IE’s. But we don’t often have people that have experience in both these roles! So maybe we can look at the next question from the combined viewpoint of the downstream ‘segment’ as a whole: can you sum up why developers, EPCs and investors need to understand PV technology today?

Since project development is a time-consuming undertaking, most firms are forced into bidding very competitive PPAs today based on pricing and yields for construction that may be years in the future, especially for larger projects. Project economic success is typically measured in Net Present Value (NPV), which is basically a measure of forecasted cash flows and the cost to build and operate the project. It’s impossible to win competitive PPAs without knowing where PV technology is heading and how these advancements will impact price and yield.

Historically, a lot of developers got burned by making assumptions that were too aggressive or by implementing equipment that didn’t meet yield or reliability expectations. Similarly, a lot of developers saw windfall profits from pricing that plummeted faster than anyone couldve predicted. It’s a tough game and nobody has the crystal ball. PVEL [PV Evolution Labs] helps our downstream partners avoid the downfalls of selecting equipment that will not meet expectations.

One of the issues I often see with developers is that they have a quick dive into PV technology and module supply rather on an ad-hoc basis, and then base their site designs and component suppliers/technologies based upon this for some time. However, with the rate of change of technology, how can developers best plan for changes in module performance and technology?

I absolutely agree that this is fairly common practice. The problem is that most technology and most vendors aren’t relevant until they are. That is to say, most developers don’t proactively diligence equipment on an ongoing basis. They wait until they’re ready to buy. This is why an independent party like PVEL can help by maintaining up-to-date data on a wide variety of vendors. When developers are ready for that ad hoc review, PVEL has the information they need for a truly deep dive. We currently support over 300 downstream partner companies. 

The module reliability scorecard provides an excellent reference for investors today. Should we expect to see changes to this during the next 12 months and what factors are driving this from a cell/module production standpoint?

Our goals for the PV Module Reliability Scorecard are to support and educate the industry by publishing highlights from our research as a simple, free download. It also helps us raise the profile of our manufacturer clients that perform well in reliability testing. Investors and other stakeholders can clearly identify the manufacturers who make quality and reliability their top priorities by reviewing the Scorecard rankings over time.

We’re happy that in 2019 we’re continuing to work with DNV GL on the Module Scorecard as a joint publication. This year’s report will be released mid-year and will feature most manufacturers of relevance and some new vendors that are working hard to expand market share. It will highlight long-term trends that we’ve identified over nearly 10 years of module testing as well as the new reliability testing methodologies that will be used in our module Product Qualification Program in 2019-2020.

PV CellTech 2019 will feature much discussion around the potential availability of advanced n-type modules, being offered to non-China located utility-scale plants. This is a relatively new concept in the PV industry, with much of the premium performing modules being restricted to rooftop markets. Aside from successfully ramping new fabs with low-cost, what other factors should these manufacturers consider, before they embark on global sales and marketing campaigns?

There are several important characteristics of advanced technology that will drive adoption over time. Developers that are early adopters of the right new technology will have an important jump start over the market. I’m surprised by how many PV module sales representatives still focus on dollars per STC watt exclusively. In my opinion, advanced technology such as n-type heterojunction can rightfully command a premium with bifaciality at over 90%, much lower temperature coefficients, potentially better low light performance, and higher STC efficiency. This all translates into more value in the field, and several percent of improved yield is worth several cents per Wp of project NPV. If the module premium is below that added value, everyone wins.

Once the industry determines how to properly value advanced technology it will catch on, just as PERC did a few years ago. Of course, choosing a new technology always has risks of new degradation and failure mechanisms, so it must be effectively vetted and qualified.

And finally, PV CellTech 2019 is just one week away. What are you hoping to learn about PV manufacturing technology over the course of the two days?

As we’ve discussed, there are many new exciting technologies being considered today with no obvious front runner yet. PV CellTech is the best place to gain insights into which technology is pulling ahead in technology and manufacturing capacity. What comes after PERC will be more clear after PV CellTech.

Thanks Jenya! We are all looking forward to your involvement at PV CellTech again, seeing you on stage doing your moderating duties, and sharing your inputs from PVEL’s standpoint, as they can best help the industry as a whole to keep offering higher-performing products with qualified reliability metrics that reduce the risk for institutional investors and long-term portfolio owners.

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MacDermid Alpha showcasing leading solar products at PV CellTech Conference

MacDermid Alpha, a key long-standing sponsor of the annual PV CellTech Conference, run by Solar Media Ltd, is to showcase their family of MacDermid Enthone and Alpha brand products specifically formulated for the solar industry at this year’s event, being held in Penang, Malaysia March 12-13, 2019.

MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions serves all global regions with a broad list of products developed for metallization and interconnection of photovoltaic devices, enabling PV customers to reduce cost, increase efficiency and improve reliability. 

Highlighted at the exhibitor portion of the conference will be their Helios wet chemical copper metallization processes that offers advantages and cost savings of eliminating silver paste.  They will also present their ‘Alpha’ 7 Series of low residue fluxes as well as ‘Alpha’ EcoSol, the industry’s first low temperature, Pb-free alloy for PV ribbon tinning. 

Bruce Lee, Technology Manager Electronics Specialties, commented “As the industry evolves into more efficient cells, there is a demand for new plated conductor grid metallization and attachment materials.  These are MacDermid Alpha’s core competencies. Use of chemical processes and high efficiency fluxes and ribbon tinning alloys allow photovoltaics manufacturers a path to significant reductions in $/watt as well as high reliability.”  

The conference networking opportunity will include hundreds of attendees from c-Si cell manufacturers, module manufacturers, technology leaders, major equipment/materials supplies and leading academics at top R&D institutes.

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1366 Technologies to ramp ‘Direct Wafer’ production at new facility in Malaysia for Hanwha Q CELLS

US-based wafer producer 1366 Technologies and ‘Silicon Module Super League’ (SMSL) member Hanwha Q CELLS are taking a major step forward in their long-standing R&D collaboration by establishing a volume production facility in Malaysia for 1366 Technologies ‘Direct Wafer’ technology.

1366 Technologies said the first Direct Wafer Factory was nearing completion and adjacent to Hanwha Q CELLS’ existing cell and module manufacturing facilities in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. The new wafer production plant is expected to ramp no later than the third quarter of 2019.

Ji Weon (Daniel) Jeong, CTO of Hanwha Q CELLS commented, “At the heart of Hanwha Q CELLS’ global leadership is the pursuit of innovation and the exploration of new methods and technologies that can deliver the most value to our customers. In line with this commitment to customer value, Direct Wafer technology will innovate the manufacturing process and, as a result, the quality of the products manufactured.” 

The partnership are also working to accelerate the development of 1366 Technologies ‘3D Wafers,’ which are thinner than standard 180 micron thick wafers in certain controlled regions, while having thicker boarders to limit breakage, while boosting cell performance. 

The companies are targeting lower silicon utilization to be less than 1.5g/W to create a cost position believed to unattainable with conventional ingot-based production methods and production costs of less than US$0.20 per wafer piece (unit). 

“2018 has been filled with extraordinary accomplishments, added Frank van Mierlo, CEO, 1366 Technologies. “We have moved rapidly to fill the void in a wafer manufacturing industry that leaves little room for innovation and ignores the strategic potential of the solar cell’s most expensive component. We are thrilled to take this next step with Hanwha Q CELLS. It is a major milestone in a partnership already recognized for its numerous achievements.” 

The plans, subject to meeting key performance criteria is to move forward with a multi-GW-scale production facility.

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LONGi to build new 1GW mono solar cell plant in Malaysia

Leading monocrystalline wafer producer and ‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) member LONGi Green Energy Technology has announced plans to build a new 1GW monocrystalline solar cell manufacturing plant in Kuching, Malaysia.

LONGi Group said that the plant would be built in the Shama Jaya Free Industrial Park, Kuching City, Sarawak, Malaysia at a cost of approximately RMB 840 million (US$125.5 million) and operated by its SMSL subsidiary, LONGi Solar. 

LONGi already owns and operates 500MW mono solar cell and 500MW of module assembly production at the industrial park in Kuching. 

The company said that the capacity expansion was intended to meet demand in overseas markets and further expand its manufacturing footprint outside China.

The new capacity is expected to come online later in 2019, providing the company with a total of 6GW of in-house mono cell capacity.
 
According to PV Tech’s capacity expansion announcement reports, no new production capacity was announced in Malaysia in 2018. New capacity expansion plans in Malaysia topped 4GW in 2017 and was the second largest home to manufacturing in South East Asia.
 
Only approximately 700MW of new solar cell capacity plans were announced in the second half of 2018, primarily due to changes to solar support in China under the 531 New Deal. 

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REC Group to produce heterojunction modules with Meyer Burger’s ‘SmartWire’ technology

Integrated PV module manufacturer REC Group has said it invested US$150 million in developing and rolling out into volume production a new N-type monocrystalline-based heterojunction (HJ) cell that will use Meyer Burgers ‘SmartWire’ (SWCT) cell connection technology. 

REC said that the new high-performance module would be first showcased at this year’s Intersolar Europe, being held in Munich in mid-May, 2019.

Steve O’Neil, CEO of REC Group said, “Our new flagship product will deliver significantly better power density and will fundamentally change the competitive balance between REC and Tier 1 players, opening up a big power gap far beyond what is available today.

Two PV manufacturers, SunPower and LG Electronics lead the high-efficiency and module performance rankings, both using IBC (Interdigitated back contact) solar cell technologies. 

SunPower’s X Series modules average cell conversion efficiency bit 25% at its Fab 4 facility in the Philippines, the highest in the industry in 2017, while LG Electronics introduced last year its LG NeON R module with a power output up to 370W, with 21.4 percent efficiency in a 60-cell configuration.

Panasonic, the largest producer of HJ modules has a conversion efficiency of 19.6% and power output of 330W.

REC Group touted that HJ modules were manufactured without the higher temperatures of other methods, which simplifies the process and reduces manufacturing energy consumption. However, HJ cells are highly sensitive to contamination issues pre and post deposition of the intrinsic amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin-film passivation layers. 

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SunPower starts ramping 200MW of P-Series modules at Oregon facility

US-headquartered high-efficiency solar panel manufacturer SunPower Corp has started ramping production at its first volume manufacturing plant in Oregon, USA.

The former SolarWorld Americas facility has been converted to produce SunPower’s P Series (19% plus) conversion efficiency modules using its patented ‘shingle’ cell interconnect technology boosting performance of P-type monocrystalline PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) technology. 

The P Series is a relatively new addition to SunPower’s IBC (Interdigitated back contact) solar cell and module product portfolio and has been rated in the annual ‘Top Performer’ testing by DNV GL for the last two years, indicating the reliability and performance stability of the shingled cell technology.

“Today we celebrate the revival of American solar panel manufacturing as SunPower’s high-quality P19 product starts coming off the line in Oregon,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board. “Now that we’re in full production, we look forward to meeting our strong U.S. commercial market demand with these high-performance American-assembled panels.”

The US has undergone a small renaissance in PV module assembly in the last two years, primarily driven by the US Section 201 case, imposing high tariffs on virtually all PV modules from manufacturing centres around the world at the beginning of 2018. 

According to PV Tech’s quarterly capacity expansion announcements report, a total of around 2GW of new module manufacturing plans were announced for the US in 2017, which increased to almost 4GW in 2018. 
‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) members such as JinkoSolar and Hanwha Q Cells are expected to also start ramping module assembly plants in the US in early 2019, accounting for over 2GW of new capacity in the US. 

LG Electronics, which is the key high-efficiency rival to SunPower, is also establishing a 500MW module assembly plant in Alabama to produce its ‘NeON’ 2 series 60-cell N-type mono modules for the US market. 

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