SunEdison to use Solaria technology to manufacture 400 watt solar PV modules

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Many different approaches have been taken to pull more electricity off of PV cells, other than the standard three-busbar design. These range from moving the electrical contacts to the rear, to adding more busbars, to wire mesh interconnections to replace busbars.

Now SunEdison is taking a new approach and using technology developed by Solaria to remove the busbars entirely, in a new rethinking of the approach to stringing cells into modules.

This will be made possible with technology developed by Solaria, which on Monday announced a technology licensing and equipment deal under which SunEdison will manufacture its new 400 watt ZERO WHITE SPACE line of modules.

The technology provided include Solaria’s proprietary techniques and equipment for slicing PV cells into segments, and then stringing them together.

For the ZERO WHITE SPACE module SunEdison will attach overlapping cell segments with the electrical connection directly between the cells and no busbars, an approach which Solaria estimates offers a 15% improvement in performance.

Solaria says that this performance improvement comes from crystalline silicon occupying more of the surface area of the module, as well as the elimination of busbar shading – both advantages cited by wire mesh interconnection technologies.

Additionally, Solaria notes that with its process only a small portion of the module manufacturing line needs to be replaced, notably the stringing portion.

The timlines to bring these modules to market and the capacities are unclear, however Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma says that he expects SunEdison to commission several hundreds of megawatts of capacity using the new tools over the next year.

Solaria says that while SunEdison is by far its biggest customer to date, that it is finalizing deals with a number of other PV makers, and expects to announce these in coming months.

Another similarity with mire mesh interconnection technology is Solaria’s business model. Canada’s Day4Energy was licensing its wire mesh interconnection solutions until the company failed and its technology was acquired by Swiss equipment maker Meyer Burger.

Solaria CEO Sharma says that he expects greater success. “There have been a couple of different companies that have tried to do a technology licensing approach to solar,” notes Sharma.

“What’s very important in all of this is that the improvement of the gain needs to be big enough to be impactful. What we found from these other technologies, is that you didn’t have enough gain to make up for the cost.”