New Jersey-based Natcore Technology Inc. has signed a joint development agreement with Eurotron B.V., a Dutch company that manufactures automated equipment for the production of PV modules.
Natcore said Eurotron had perfected a technology based upon a patterned conductive backsheet that provides excellent cell-to-module performance for back-contact solar cells. Natcore has produced back-contact cells with its proprietary laser technology most recently a silicon HIT-structure (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cell. A collaboration with Eurotron would therefore be a perfect example of synergy, said Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini.
The company said its collaboration with Eurotron had three primary objectives:
- To adapt Natcores laser process to a contact design that is compatible with Eurotrons back contact technology
- To enable Natcore to incorporate six-inch cells into commercial-style modules, using both its own technology and Eurotrons Backcontact Module technology
- To explore possibilities for further cooperation wherein Natcore would commercialize Eurotrons Backcontact Module technology as it may be used in conjunction with Natcores laser-based technology on a new cell design.
Joint work will be performed in the Eurotron Competence Center, a facility that opened last year to provide lab-to-fab testing and pre-production services for solar cell and module technologies. Natcore said the Competence Center was likely the first in the world dedicated to back-contact cell/module technologies.
Natcore will produce prototype six-inch demonstration cells for delivery to Eurotron once it has optimized its technology on a small scale.
"This alliance has enormous benefits for Natcore," Provini said. "Because Eurotrons revolutionary back-contact technology is very well suited to our technology, it will be relatively easy for us to optimize the back contacts of our solar cell to fit with their Backcontact Module."
There is a significant loss of efficiency whenever solar cells are assembled into modules, Provini added. According to Eurotron, these cell-to-module losses, which are common in traditional modules, will not occur on modules made using their production tools, he pointed out.
Modules built in the Eurotron Test Center have shown up to 4% cell-to-module power gain in best situations.
"Our laser-processed back-contact cell and HIT-structure cell were important proofs of concept for these high-efficiency solar cells," said Natcore Chairman Brien Lundin. "Now our cooperation with Eurotron is designed to put these cells into panels and prove commercial viability. We are taking Natcore to an entirely new level."
"The developments we performed during the last years are calling for high-efficiency cells," added Jan Bakker, Eurotron’s chief technology officer. "Since ohmic losses are reduced to an absolute minimum level, all investments in high-end cells can now be harvested to the full extent."