Germany targeting 22.5% PERC efficiency

Global demand for PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) technology is on the rise, with industry experts predicting it will become the dominant technology for crystalline solar cells in the coming years.

At 21.7%, the HELENE project, coordinated by SolarWorld, and part of the research initiative, "R&D for Photovoltaics," achieved a new world record for industrially manufactured monocrystalline p-Type PERC solar cells in mid-July. The record-breaking cells were produced in the pilot plant of SolarWorld Innovations GmbH.

While positive, the project is aiming for higher efficiencies, with Phedon Palinginis, coordinator of the research initiative and project director of the solar cell development group at SolarWorld, saying the goal is to crack the 22.5% barrier by the end of 2017.

The task is now to transfer the new efficiency to industrial production lines as quickly as possible, in order to increase the competitiveness of Germany’s solar industry. Back in July, SolarWorld, which claims to have the world’s largest PERC cell manufacturing capacity, at 800 MW, indicated it would expand its high-efficiency manufacturing capacity. According to a report carried by the Nasdaq Globenewswire website, the manufacturer will begin offering a module with a 300 W-plus capacity in the coming months.

The R&D for Photovoltaics initiative is part of the sixth energy research program of Germany’s Federal Government and the funding program Photonik Forschung Deutschland. Over a three year period, the Research and Economic ministries have committed €50 million to supporting PV research projects. Over ten were selected to participate.

In addition to SolarWorld, the HELENE consortium includes the University of Konstanz, the Institute for Solar Energy Research (ISFH), the Fraunhofer Institute ISE and CSP, and industry partners, centrotherm photovoltaics and Heraeus.