HIT Solar Cells

Cheaper Manufacturing for HIT Solar Cells

This is a guest post by Mathias Aarre Maehlum of  Energy Informative

Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig, Germany, has been working on making the manufacturing of HIT solar cells cheaper by engineering an improved coating process.

Hetorjunction with Intrinsic Thin layer (HIT) solar cells are currently one of the most promising new technologies in the PV industry. They have consistently shown high performance in laboratory conditions – in some cases up to 23% – significantly higher than the majority solar modules on today`s market.

Fraunhofer IST`s new way of producing HIT solar cells includes hot wires instead of the plasma-CDV process, which allows for cheaper mass production. The plasma-CDV process is dependent on large quantities of silane gas to function. Somewhere of 85-90% is lost through the process and becomes waste, which of course brings costs up.

By using the hot wire method “we can use almost all of the silane gas, so we actually recover 85 to 90 percent of the costly gas. This reduces the overall manufacturing costs of the layers by over 50 percent. The price of the wire that we need for this process is negligible when compared to the price of the silane” states Dr. Lothar Schäfer, department head at Fraunhofer IST.

The generators that power the manufacturing system are also ten times less expensive in terms of energy consumption than those that power the plasma CDV-process.

Even though the technology seems to have significant advantages over convetional ways of producing solar cells, it is still nowhere near being released on the market. It will likely be another three to five years until Fraunhofer IST`s new technology will be used for large-scale manufacturing of solar panels.

For more information on the new technology, check out the official press release.

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