German PV production equipment provider RENA technologies GmbH has announced the sale of 1.8 GW of new tools for chemical etching of silicon wafers during cell production. The new tool, NIAK 4, was introduced to the market just a few weeks ago at The smarter E exhibition in Munich.
“We are thrilled to see such a positive response to the InEtchSide NIAK 4,” said Peter Schneidewind, CEO of RENA. “We have always been committed to providing our customers with the latest and most efficient technology, and the new NIAK4 platform is another great example.”
This first sale of the new tool goes to a manufacturer operating a gigawatt-scale TOPCon production line. RENA did not confirm the name of the manufacturer, other than to say it was a long-term partner of theirs based in South Asia. Given the mentioned cell technology and scale, it is likely to be a Chinese module manufacturer. RENA said that the tools are expected to be delivered and installed by early 2024, and has not disclosed any financial details of the sale.
The tool builds on RENA’s existing expertise with chemical etching processes, offering fully automated etching on just one side of the wafer, including rinsing and drying. RENA says that the customer was convinced by the high throughput of 13,800 wafers per hour.
The NIAK 4 tool presents a solution to a challenge that emerged early on in TOPCon’s commercial development – that cells require layers of different materials on each side, which need to remain isolated from each other, and fully single-sided deposition processes are more complex to run at scale. So material deposited on the rear side of the wafer during low-pressure deposition needs to be removed.
“The tool finds its application in various areas of solar cell production. It excels in rear side oxide etching for high-efficiency solar cells, as well as in the single side removal of SiO2, PSG, or BSG,” explained RENA, announcing the sale. “Moreover, the NIAK 4 is fully compatible with PERC, IBC, and TOPCon technology, offering flexibility and versatility to manufacturers.”
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