Silicor low-cost silicon may foster greater cell efficiency

To produce the cell, a small mono boule was grown and wafered at Fraunhofer CSP’s lab for crystallization technology in Germany, and then converted into cells by a manufacturing partner that could not be named at this time, Silicor says.

While Trina Solar set a 23% efficiency record for a similar p-type mono PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) cell in December, that effort utilized silicon produced through the industry-standard Siemens process, which costs “substantially more” than the Silicor method, a Silicor spokesperson said.

“Once we begin production, the expected all-in cost for our silicon,  is equal to or less than $11 per kilogram, compared to the industry averages – based on statistics from a prominent industry analyst – of $18/kg in 2017 and a projected $15/kg in 2021,” the company said. “Silicor is taking steps to lower the capital expenditure associated with our plant which will allow us to decrease costs as well as planning various technology improvements that will bring down costs even further,” it added.

The Silicor production method is also more environmentally friendly, since their process does not utilize volatile trichlorosilane gas, unlike the Siemens process, it added.

Similarly, the company suggests that while traditional solar silicon production can require as much as 120 kWh to produce one kilogram of silicon, Silicor’s process will produce the same quantity with as little as 20 kWh per kilogram. This helps reduce cost and provides a greener process, they note.

Silicor is now attempting to ramp up production of its manufacturing process. In July 2014, Silicor announced the selection of a location in Iceland for its next generation manufacturing facility, with a nameplate capacity of 16,000 metric tons per year. Silicor expects to begin production at this facility in 2018, with full production in 2019, a company statement notes.