Project: Advanced Modules with high Efficient Rear contact N-Type solar cells

Today, solar electricity generation costs range from ~0.25 €/kWh in the North of Europe to ~0.13 €/kWh in the South (based on most competitive turn-key system price in Europe which are typically found in Germany where the market is more mature). Due to the current economic crisis, especially Asian producers of photovoltaic (PV) systems are dumping their products on the market. However, the market is showing a need for high-efficiency medium-cost solar modules, with costs ranging between 0.14 – 0.07 €/kWh._x000D__x000D_European PV manufacturers can only survive pressure from Asian markets if they reCO able to produce highly efficient solar cells and modules with excellent environmental profile against competitive costs. This creates opportunities for innovative equipment manufacturers like Eurotron to develop new processes and equipment for high-efficiency solar cells. _x000D_Eurotron is a manufacturer of PV module assembly lines, that sells module manufacturing lines that assemble MWT (Metalisation Wrap Through) cells into solar modules with high throughput and high yield at low costs. Based on market predictions, it is expected that the interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cell concept has very high potential to become the next standard or “baseline” for European PV production, as it will:_x000D_• enable use of very thin (80-120 µm instead of 180 µm) silicon wafers, which can reduce materials and energy consumption by at least 25% as compared to state-of-the-art PV modules;_x000D_• avoid shading loss on front side and thus featuring a very high efficiency potential_x000D_• reduce cell-to-module losses to a minimum. _x000D__x000D_To adapt to this trend towards IBC solar cells, Eurotron needs to adapt its current assembly line for this new type of solar cells. As IBC cells have smaller contacts that interdigitate closely together, Eurotron’s pick-and-place technology needs to be adapted for higher accuracy. This entails both redesign of its current mechanical parts of the pick-and-place unit (e.g. to achieve robot arm accuracy) and development of a new vision system, that will guide positioning of the cells. Moreover, to accommodate for new encapsulation materials and the new IBC rear-side design, Eurotron needs to evaluate its current punching system and adapt it where necessary. At project end, Eurotron aims to demonstrate that its module manufacturing line is highly attractive when combined with IBC solar cells, as it will achieve: _x000D_• low “costs of ownership”, i.e. high throughput (5400 cells/hour), high yield (99.9%), € 0.27/Wp assembly costs without cells_x000D_• highly reliable modules as output_x000D_• a guaranteed reliable process, with high yield (99.9%)_x000D_• the ability to integrate customer requirements in the manufacturing line_x000D__x000D_However, the step towards back-contacted solar modules is challenging for the PV-industry because the cell contact layout is different which requires a different interconnection technology. Hence, equipment with low cost-of-ownership (CoO) must be developed, in accordance with this high-efficiency cell and module architecture, and its subsequent process know-how needs to be transferred to industrial production. _x000D_To demonstrate the full potential of the module assembly equipment for IBC cells, both solar cell and module concept have to be optimized integrally, and important cell process parameters have to be transferred to the equipment manufacturer. Moreover, CoO is largely depending on solar cell efficiency, so it is necessary to demonstrate this potential. Hence, Eurotron found a P in the research institute ISC-Konstanz, which has knowledge and expertise on IBC solar cell processing and can support Eurotron by:_x000D_• Providing relevant parameters to Eurotron_x000D_• Collaborating closely to optimise cell and module design in an integral way_x000D_• Provide IBC cells with high efficiency to demonstrate the cost of ownership_x000D__x000D_With ISC-Konstanz’ IBC solar cell process in combination with Eurotron’s module assembly line, European PV-manufacturers could become world leading with its solar cell and module products._x000D_However, an objective economic and ecologic assessment is needed to convince PV-manufacturers on the prospect of the equipment and processes, without compromising the confidentiality issues. Hence, BCC, an SME that specialises in the field of New Business Development and related funding acquisition, will carry out the assessment on economic viability and environmental impact according to the aims of the project._x000D__x000D_The ModerN-Type consortium aims to demonstrate at least 20% efficiency on the module level, for a cost of ownership of less than € 0.7 per Wp. The highest standard module efficiencies at the moment are well below 20% because of the lower solar cell efficiencies and high cell to module losses._x000D_Eurotron and ISC will have to solve the following bottlenecks in relation to each other:_x000D_• Material choices for front sheet + backsheet_x000D_• Rear contact formation_x000D_• Adapting the assembly line to IBC standard_x000D_

Acronym ModerN-Type (Reference Number: 7232)
Duration 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2015
Project Topic Eurotron, equipment manufacturer for solar module assembly lines, and top-institute ISC-Konstanz will collaborate to realise modules with at least 20% efficiency on module level, for a cost of ownership of less than € 0.7 per Wp. BCC will assess their choices on materials and processes.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
CO result of the project has been the demonstration of solar modules based on the IBC solar cell concept with a module efficiency exceeding 20% at € 0.49/Wp costs, which is significantly lower than the expected production cost estimated at the beginning of the project (€ 0.7/Wp was expected). Eurotron's CO result has been the development of • Pick and place technology, including a vision system, that matches the IBC required accuracies and beyond • Encapsulant perforation station that fits the requirements for new encapsulant (important parameters are: speed, wear and tear of punch die, “punchability of material” and its accuracy / reliability) • Demonstration of its module assembly line for IBC cells, with the aimed technological specifications at even lower costs per Wp ISC's CO result has been the demonstration of: • Rear contact formation for IBC solar cells • Solar cells >20% efficiency BCC's CO result was the cost calculation throughout the project to ensure module materials costs (all materials, except cells) evaluated /chosen are below € 0.2/Wp and the opportunity to collaborate with ISC and Eurotron on this topic, giving the company exposure in an international setting.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Eurotron BV Coordinator Netherlands
3 International Solar Energy Research Center Konstanz e.V. Partner Germany
3 Consulting BV Partner Netherlands