It’s often tough for new technologies to displace incumbent process, and kerfless wafers have been no exception. But while a number of kerfless wafer makers have faltered along the way to commercial production, 1366 Technologies is breaking new ground for the technology.
Today 1366 announced a new efficiency record for a solar PV cell utilizing its Direct Wafer technology, with a 19.9% efficient solar cell produced by Hanwha Q Cells incorporating passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technology. This is an improvement on the 19.6% efficiency that the two companies achieved last December with a Direct Wafer/PERC combination.
“Our efficiency is improving at a rate that’s nearly double that of the rest of the industry,” claims 1366 Technologies CEO Frank van Mierlo. “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.”
And while impressive, this efficiency does not beat the record for multicrystalline silicon, which Trina Solar set at 21.3%. Regardless, 1366 claims that it has a technology roadmap which provides a path to higher efficiencies than can be achieved with sawn high-performance multicrystalline silicon.
The company also cites other advantages of its production process, including a high-purity growth environment, a better microstructure, and the ability to grade doping agents across the wafer.
Concurrent with its new efficiency record, 1366 reports the first deployment of PV modules made with cells based on its Direct Wafer technology, at a 500 kW commercial installation in Japan.
IHI Corporation has begun construction on the project, which will incorporate IEC-certified modules fabricated by an un-named Tier 1 Chinese module maker. The PV plant is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2017.
1366 currently holds an agreement to supply Hanwha Q Cells with enough wafers to produce 700 MW of PV cells; however this agreement is contingent upon completion of 1366’s first commercial-scale Direct Wafer factory in Upstate New York. The company was not able to supply pv magazine with any update as to progress on that facility, which as of last update was behind schedule to begin construction.