Germany wants to double the speed of silicon wafer production for European PV panels

Silicon wafers are the key component of solar panels. Fraunhofer ISE is finding ways to make them faster and cheaper.

A consortium of companies, experts and researchers under the direction of Fraunhofer ISE created an experimental production line capable of producing between 15 and 20 thousand wafers per hour.

Production of high-efficiency solar cells doubles

In Germany, production of solar cells has accelerated.

With the aim of rebuilding the European photovoltaic supply chain and keeping up with “made in China”, a group of experts and scientists has been studying new solutions for some time to facilitate the emergence of solar cell factories and high-efficiency panels also in China. Europe.

They developed a proof of concept for a production line capable of producing between 15 and 20 thousand silicon wafers per hour to solar panels.

That’s twice the speed these plants are currently achieving.

To achieve this, the team studied each of the steps involved in manufacturing high-efficiency solar cells.

For some processes, established workflows had to be accelerated, while others had to be reinvented from scratch.

It was a long and complex task, but one that yielded tangible results.

Scientists have implemented, for example, laser scanners for continuous, high-speed processing of large wafers; used rotary screen printing to metallize the cells and combined thermal diffusion doping with thermal oxidation surface treatment in a single step.

Or, they developed two concepts for the final characterization of solar cells. Many “small” improvements that together provide the expected acceleration.

In 2021, 78% of all silicon solar cells were produced in China.

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To expand photovoltaics as quickly as possible and make our supply chains more robust, we must move our high-efficiency solar cell production facilities to Europe.

Increased productivity and resource efficiency translate into substantial cost savings and sustainability potential, which we can leverage with our excellence in process understanding and mechanical engineering.

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