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EU PVSEC: Oerlikon Solar wins Solar Industry Award

Oerlikon Solar, a supplier of thin-film silicon photovoltaic (PV) process and production equipment and end-to-end manufacturing lines, has been named winner of the 2009 Solar Industry Award, presented at the EU PVSEC 2009 Conference in Hamburg.

The jury selected Oerlikon Solar's TCO 1200 system as winner of the "Thin Film Innovation Award". The innovation enables, according to Oerlikon Solar, the highest thin-film silicon efficiency on the market, leading to project cost savings.

"With this award, the mass production maturity of Oerlikon Solar's TCO technology has been recognised. We are very proud of this recognition of Oerlikon Solar's technology and market leadership," Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar, said.

The Oerlikon Solar TCO 1200 is a fully automated, high volume, low pressure chemical vapour deposition (LPCVD) system for the deposition of an adjustable transparent conductive oxide (TCO) film. The TCO 1200 process technology allows adjustment of film morphology and conductivity to match ideal parameters for the solar PV absorber stack while utilising an innovative zinc oxide film composition. The zinc oxide composition offers superior light trapping compared to prior TCO solutions.

The TCO 1200 LPCVD manufacturing system deposits a single layer that optimises the tandem absorber stack with very high haze light scattering, very low sheet resistance and good transmission characteristics. Also, the low temperature nature of the deposition allows the same TCO layer to be used successfully for the TCO back contact, again increasing light trapping within the solar cell.

According to CLSI Research, Oerlikon Solar is the number one supplier of end-to-end production. With 10 customers representing over 450 MWp of installed production capacity, the TCO 1200 systems have become the de facto industry standard for the production of thin-film silicon solar modules.

To develop next generation thin-film silicon solar PV cells, light trapping by advanced TCO is essential. The new LPCVD process from Oerlikon Solar has demonstrated higher light-trapping abilities compared to competing technologies. This is especially important for Micromorph solar cells where the absorber layers are engineered to be as thin as possible while keeping the efficiency high. Efficient light management allows a reduction in layer thickness, fundamental for high stabilized module performance.

Direct cost saving

Over 960,000 panels have been produced using TCO 1200 systems from Oerlikon Solar for front and back contacts. The additional 0.5% efficiency gained translates into higher power-per-module and also in a significant economic benefit. For example, 100 W modules become 105 W solar modules, which offer the solar farm developer a direct module savings of 5%. In a 30 MW solar farm with 300,000 solar modules, this means saving 15,000 installed panels or about $US3 million. This is an indication of the company’s effort to make solar power economically viable, Sargent said.

This is the second renowned industry award for Oerlikon Solar in 2009.

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