Hanwha Q Cells steps forward as 1366 Direct Wafer PERC collaborator

While under development for some time, 1366 has taken major steps towards commercializing its potentially disruptive solar wafer technology. Hanwha Q Cells has come forward as the development partner with which it achieved the impressive 19.1% cell conversion efficiency result, on the 1366 wafer.

It is likely that 1366 produced its wafers at its Massachusetts furnace facility, for it then to be shipped to Hanwha’s Technology and Innovation headquarters in Germany for them then to be turned out as a high efficiency PERC cells. Hanwha used production equipment on its pilot line and has deployed its Q.ANTUM technology to achieve the 19.1% result.

The efficiency result was confirmed in Fraunhofer ISE testing.

“These latest results demonstrate the potential in combining 1366´s Direct Wafer Technology with our unique Q.ANTUM technology,” said Daniel Jeong, Hanwha Q Cells global R&D head. “Together they can push the efficiency limits of multi-crystalline solar cell technology while at the same time reducing the cost significantly. We’ll continue on our track to jointly mature 1366’s Direct Wafer Technology.

That Hanwha Q Cells Q.ANTUM technology, which combines PERC processes with a number of other proprietary features, demonstrates that 1366’s wafer technology appears suitable for the production of high efficiency cells.

1366’s Direct Wafer technology takes a markedly different approach to wafer production, with wafers being formed from molten silicon, as opposed to the conventional method of sawing wafers from silicon ingots. 1366 believes this results in reduced silicon waste, energy consumption and factory floor space required for production.

“The disruptive nature of the Direct Wafer process is not only evident in the cost and material savings it provides, but in its ability to break the technology limitations of conventional wafer manufacturing,” said 1366’s Frank van Mierlo.

Reports are mounting that a conventional PV wafer shortage may be affecting solar supply chains. While many companies will have locked in long or mid-term supply deals, alternative wafer production technology may pique the interest of manufacturers in a supply-constrained environment.