Hanwha, using 1366 Technologies’ multicrystalline silicon solar wafer technology, was able to push the efficiency of its Q Cells to 19.9 percent. The efficiency results were verified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab and demonstrate that 1366 is following through with its commitment to produce multicrystalline silicon wafers that can deliver high-efficiency photovoltaics at lower costs.
Monocrystalline silicon solar cells are usually more efficient, but also more expensive to produce, than multicrystalline solar cells. 1366’s production of cheaper, more efficient multi-crystalline silicon wafers, a key component of silicon solar cells, is blurring the lines of efficiency between the two technologies within the solar industry.
“Our efficiency is improving at a rate that’s nearly double that of the rest of the industry. Late last year, we exceeded the cell efficiency of the high-performance multi (HPM) reference group in a head-to-head comparison, and we continue to make progress. This latest milestone demonstrates the rapid gains still possible with our Direct Wafer process because our technology is not limited by the inherent weaknesses of ingot-based wafer manufacturing,” said Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366 Technologies.
1366’s Direct Wafers are thin, three-dimensional silicon wafers with a thicker border, generally a high-stress area vulnerable to breakage. According to 1366, its technology is stronger and more resilient than standard wafers currently used in the solar industry. Additionally, the company said that its products’ tapered inner dimensions reduce silicon consumption roughly to 1.5 grams per watt.
By reducing impurities in the wafer manufacturing process, 1366 said its silicon wafers can produce higher photovoltaic efficiency levels. The company’s process keeps silicon ingots near their melting point for more than 24 hours, which it claims, improves micro-structures and eliminates impurities, resulting in a more uniform wafer.
1366 also announced in October 2015 that is was building its first commercial solar wafer manufacturing facility in Genesee County, NY. The $700 million production facility is partially funded by the US government and received a $56.3 million incentive package from the state. When completed, the facility is projected to produce over 600 million silicon wafers annually, while employing over 1,000 people. The production levels should allow it to produce more solar wafers at lower costs.Tweet