Advance Could Challenge China's Solar Dominance In Solar Power  

Posted by Big Gav in

Technology Review has a look at new advances in solar oanel production which should hopefully push prices down further - Advance Could Challenge China's Solar Dominance.

Chinese solar-panel manufacturers dominate the industry, but a new way of making an exotic type of crystalline silicon might benefit solar companies outside of China that have designs that take advantage of the material.

GT Advanced Technologies, one of world's biggest suppliers of furnaces for turning silicon into large crystalline cubes that can then be sliced to make wafers for solar cells, recently announced two advanced technologies for making crystalline silicon. The new approaches significantly lower the cost of making high-end crystalline silicon for highly efficient solar cells.

The first technology, which GT calls Monocast, can be applied as a retrofit to existing furnaces, making it possible to produce monocrystalline silicon using the same equipment now used to make lower quality multicrystalline silicon. It will be available early next year. Several other manufacturers are developing similar technology.

It's the second technology, which the company calls HiCz, that could have a bigger long-term impact. It cuts the cost of making a type of monocrystalline silicon that is leavened with trace amounts of phosphorous, which further boosts a panel's efficiency. This type of silicon is currently used in only 10 percent of solar panels because of its high cost, but could gain a bigger share of the market as a result of the cost savings (up to 40 percent) from GT's technology. The technology will be available next year.

A standard solar panel, made of multicrystalline silicon, might generate 230 watts in full sunlight. A panel the same size made of monocrystalline silicon could generate 245 watts. But phosphorous-doped monocrystalline silicon (also called n-type monocrystalline) enables a type of solar panel that generates 320 watts, a huge leap in performance.

4 comments

Anonymous   says 2:36 AM

An interesting report indeed.

For anyone who wishes to learn more about sustainability and energy issues I strongly suggest you check out this upcoming Agrion Energy Conference. The event will touch upon of variety of subjects involved in energy security and renewables with key figures from the government and large businesses discussing these issues.

Here is the link: http://www.agrion.org/sessions/agrion-ny-Residential_Demand_Response_and_Enabling_Technologies_.htm

GT Advanced Technology, formerly called GT Solar, is on a roll. They are also a leading supplier of furnaces for making synthetic saphires, that are used in LEDs.

This past year, they received large orders for the saphire furnaces, that were appoximately equal to their previous annual revenue.

And I was glad to read this article, because I have a small stake in their stock, which is currently selling at quite low valuation, by most such metrics.

Another furnace development. Faster throughput, less energy, cheaper to build, potential 25% increase in panel efficiency.

http://www.nrel.gov/news/features/feature_detail.cfm/feature_id=1629

Thanks Bob - good to see plenty of progress being made...

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