Australian solar startup SunDrive has announced a ‘breakthrough’ in heterojunction technology compatible with mass production, after recording an efficiency result of 26.07% with a commercial-size silver-free silicon photovoltaic solar cell .
From pv magazine australia
Sydney-based SunDrive said it had partnered with China-based heterojunction equipment (HJT) maker Maxwell Technologies to demonstrate what it said was “the future efficiency potential of cells solar HJT exceeding 26% in mass production”.
SunDrive said Thursday it recorded a solar cell efficiency of 26.07% on a full-size silicon HJT solar cell. The company’s technology replaces the expensive silver used in conventional photovoltaic solar cells with cheaper and more abundant copper, using large-scale production processes provided by Maxwell Technologies.
SunDrive, which set a new world record for commercial-size silicon solar cell efficiency in September, said its latest results have been officially verified by Germany’s Solar Energy Research Institute (ISFH). The results are more than 0.5% higher than the world record of 25.54% announced by the company last year. SunDrive said improvements were seen in open circuit voltage (Voc), short circuit current (Isc) and fill factor (FF). The improved efficiency due to “several equipment and processing upgrades,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The metallization of the HJT cell, with a total surface area of 274.3 cm2 (M6 size), was carried out using the “latest generation of direct copper plating technology from SunDrive which makes it possible to obtain characteristic sizes thinner and higher aspect ratios compared to commercial silver screen technologies”.
Silver is a key component of solar panels today, with estimates indicating that solar panel manufacturing accounts for around 20% of the world’s annual precious metal consumption. This volume is expected to increase as the next generation of high-efficiency cells being developed require up to three times as much money as their predecessors.
SunDrive’s solution, developed by chief executive Vince Allen during his PhD at the University of New South Wales (NSW) in Sydney, was to replace the precious metal with copper. Allen said that for solar power to reach its full potential, solar cells must be more efficient, and copper is the key to opening the floodgates of more efficient solar cell structures.
“Copper is about 100 times cheaper per kilogram and about 1,000 times more abundant than silver,” he said. “And aside from the abundance and economic benefits of copper, we found we could improve efficiency beyond what is achievable with silver.”
The company, which successfully manufactured its first full-size panel in December, said it plans to establish cell and module production operations in Australia by the end of 2023 to supply the domestic panel market. rooftop solar PV systems and future large-scale projects.
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