Q-Cells hits 19.5 percent solar cell efficiency

The German company explains that the solar cell, which achieved the 19.5 percent efficiency on an area of 243 cm squared, is based on its Q.ANTUM cell concept. The concept has been nominated for this year’s Intersolar award.

Peter Wawer, Q-Cells senior vice president of technology additionally told pv magazine that the company has already begun pilot production on the cells.

"Thanks to the close interlocking of R&D and production at our Solar Valley Thalheim site, we are able to bring this technology into volume production with competitive timing," he said, adding, "Prerequisite for ramp-up of volume production however is the achievement of productivity, quality and cost targets, which is not expected before end of 2011. Until then we focus on our high efficient generation 2, which will officially be launched at the Intersolar in Munich 8 to 10 June."

He went on to say that the company is looking to achieve up to 100 megawatts peak (MWp) production capacity "by retrofitting part of the existing manufacturing base in Thalheim".

In terms of the technology employed, the company says that the new cell goes through a process which involves the metallization of a polycrystalline, 180-µm-thick silicon wafer. This is then passivated with functional nanolayers on the back side.

In a statement, Q-Cells explains: "This new type of structure for the back side, consisting of dielectric layers combined with local contacts, improves the solar cell’s optical and electrical characteristics and significantly boosts output as compared to the previous standard technology, which uses a completely aluminum-metallized rear."

The new cell structure is said to be appropriate for both a range of silicon qualities and very thin wafers. "This," continues the statement, "opens up potential for further cost savings in the industrial production of solar cells."

Q-Cells says it will now work towards series production of its third generation solar cells and modules. Going forward, Peter Waver, senior vice president of technology, adds that the company is also looking to reach efficiencies of over 20 percent. Wawer added: "We expect first cells with 20 percent efficiency based on Q.ANTUM technology on monocrystalline CZ material until end of 2011."

The state of Sachsony-Anhalt and the German federal government, among others, provided funding for the research and development.