By Kari Williamson
“This technology breakthrough marks another critical milestone in our effort to improve solar cell efficiency, which will ultimately make solar competitive with fossil fuels,” says Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s Chief Technology Officer, and Director of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering (SPREE) at the University of New South Wales.
The Pluto solar PV technology has been developed by Suntech’s R&D team in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, Australia.
The Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore has independently confirmed the 20.3% efficiency of the improved Pluto solar PV cell technology. With further optimisation, the efficiency of the improved Pluto cell technology is projected to reach 21.0% in the next 6-12 months.
One of the key improvements for the Pluto cell technology is the incorporation of similar high-efficiency characteristics of the PERL cell technology in the conventional Pluto solar PV cell manufacturing process, Suntech says.
These act to improve the rear surface design of a conventional Pluto cell, primarily by reducing the metal/silicon interface area while keeping the remaining non-contacted area well-passivated. In addition, Suntech has introduced process changes that minimise the use of high temperatures which make it possible to apply the high efficiency processes to the most commonly used commercial solar PV wafers.
Following the laboratory success of the improved Pluto cell technology, Suntech is now focusing on commercialising the technology.