Yesterday, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE announced it had established a spinoff company, NexWafe in Freiburg, Germany, to transfer its kerfless wafer production technology into production.
Stefan Reber, former head of department Crystalline Silicon Materials and Thin Film Solar Cells at Fraunhofer, told pv magazine Fraunhofer Venture will supply under 1 million in seed funding. "We are seeking further funds for setting up the pilot production and for preparation of full production," he added.
Commercial samples are expected to be shipped to customers towards the end of 2016, with pilot production beginning in 2017, Reber said. The first production plant will have an annual capacity of 250 MWp.
In the announcement yesterday, NexWafe said it will serve the high-end wafer market, with wafers that are a "fraction of the cost" of standard wafers. Reber added that while prices have not yet been established, he is confident they will be "very competitive."
No orders have yet been secured for NexWafes "disruptive" kerfless wafer technology, which has been under development over the last 15 years.
Rebers epitaxial deposition process focuses on atmospheric pressure chemical vapor deposition (APCVD) at temperatures up to 1,300°C. "This process is well-known from microelectronics, but had to be radically adapted for photovoltaic applications in terms of throughput of the equipment," explained the Fraunhofer yesterday.