Blaubeuren, February 17, 2011, centrotherm photovoltaics AG is presenting new products and product updates at this year's 5th International Solar Industry and Photovoltaic Exhibition & Conference in Shanghai (SNEC) that further boost efficiency along the solar value chain. Lower operating costs allow customers of the globally leading technology and equipment provider for the photovoltaic sector to enhance their competitiveness. SNEC in Shanghai (February 22 – 24, 2011) is regarded as one of the most important trade fairs and conferences this year in the photovoltaic sector.
Solar cell & Module product update
The Solar cell & Module division is showing two new top products in public for the first time: with its "c.NITE Inline" nitride coating system and the "c.FIRE" fast firing furnace, the photovoltaic specialists from South Germany are presenting a new cost-efficient generation of key equipment for solar cell production.
With its "c.NITE Inline" in-line PECVD system that provides antireflective coating for solar cells, centrotherm photovoltaics has combined the advantages of the established batch PECVD system with in-line technology. The result is a nitride coating system that is unique on the market. Thanks to direct plasma separation, the system is distinguished particularly by excellent passivation characteristics and an extremely homogeneous coating thickness. Compared to other in-line technologies, the system achieves a significant efficiency enhancement amounting to around 0.2 percentage points for multicrystalline wafers. Further advantages of the new "c.NITE Inline" system include higher throughput and longer uptime compared with other in-line technologies on the market. As is the case with batch processing, this tested plasma coating process occurs exclusively within compact process boats, thereby avoiding regular downtime for reactor chamber cleaning.
Additional key equipment for solar cell production includes the fast firing furnace in which front and rear contacts are burned into wafers at high temperature. The "c.FIRE" is the new version of the established fast firing furnace, and is distinguished by a compact and space-saving construction. Besides this "footprint", the photovoltaic experts from Blaubeuren have further optimized ease of installation and maintenance compared with its existing furnace in order to achieve additional reductions of cell manufacturers' operating costs. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that arise during the burning process were also taken into account: VOC treatment was fully integrated into the restructured housing, thereby enabling solvents that are emitted to be fed back on a reliable and energy-efficient basis.
According to market estimates, the global sales volume for furnaces across the sector this year amounts to a triple-digit figure in millions of euros.
Silicon & Wafer product update
centrotherm SiTec, in which the centrotherm photovoltaics Group bundles its silicon expertise, is presenting the already successful in the market introduced multi-crystalline ingot furnace. The high-performance furnace has an optimized hot zone, and is appropriate for capacity volumes of between 450 and 600 kg of silicon. Along with the flexibility, its particular strengths include a high productivity because of lower energy costs and process time as well as the high product quality. A further unique selling proposition is the high operating safety of the furnace. In future, centrotherm SiTec will also be offering the hydrochlorination process without STC-TCS converters for the production of polysilicon.
Roll-to-roll product update
With its "FHR.Roll.800" platform, FHR Anlagenbau, a wholly-owned centrotherm photovoltaics subsidiary, is presenting a new generation of roll-to-roll systems. This is a foil coating system for 800 mm-thick plastic or metal foils. Compared with predecessor models, it allows foils more than two and a half times as wide to be coated. This system is appropriate for manufacturing flexible solar cells on a CIGS basis, for example. The flexible, light and unbreakable cells are also particularly suited to large industrial roofs, and applications such as the textile, automotive and aerospace industries. Thin film solar cells generated using this roll-to-roll procedure are unrivalled where uneven surfaces are concerned. Put simply, the roll-to-roll process runs a plastic foil over a tape drive with several rolls, and vacuum-coats it photovoltaically.
"We are presenting our innovative strength in all business areas at SNEC in Shanghai. We offer our customers state-of-the-art technology at every step along the solar value chain that allows them to achieve further efficiency enhancements in the production process”, commented Dr. Peter Fath, CTO of centrotherm photovoltaics. "Our aim is that our customers will be able to expand their premium cost leadership thanks to centrotherm technology."
Source: centrotherm photovoltaics AG