The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German engineering association VDMA. The report, which forecasts technology trends across the solar industry, expects PERC to maintain its position as the dominant cell technology and notes that large wafer formats are here to stay.
According to the Silver Institute, global industrial silver production is expected to grow 8% this year due to strong demand for consumer electronics and solar. The price for silver is expected to peak at $32 per ounce later this year and its average price to increase 33% over 2020.
Scientists at Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE developed a model to simulate different setups for screen printing in solar cell metallization. The model provides a comparable ‘screen utility index’ value that can predict the usefulness of different architectures in the printing equipment in relation to the properties of a given silver paste. The approach, says Fraunhofer, will assist the PV industry in reducing the amounts of silver needed in silicon cell manufacturing.
The share of silver in the total cost of PV modules has increased by around 5% in recent months, according to US analyst Matthew Watson. He told pv magazine that silver prices are set to rise, adding that the metal will eventually account for an even larger percentage of overall module costs.
Increasing prices may prompt module manufacturers to find alternatives, or at least reduce silver use in solar cell metallization, according to a recent study. Researcher Samuele Lo Piano, however, told pv magazine silver availability does not represent an issue for large scale PV. Copper-nickel alloys may offer an alternative, he added, but there could be a long wait for them to be viable.
Silver demand for PV production worldwide is forecast to grow to 105 million ounces this year, as overall demand hits an eight-year high. Prices for the precious metal could reach a seven-year high of $30.00 per ounce this year but, according to the Silver Institute, this level is still far away from any critical threshold that would make silver supply for the solar industry problematic.
In a new paper published in the journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, renowned PV scientist Pierre Verlinden examines the solar industry’s trajectory towards the 70 TW of installed capacity that will be needed by 2050, as the best choice for meeting climate targets set out in the 2015 Paris agreement. Silver consumption and recycling, according to Verlinden, will be the biggest challenges in the years to come, as well as ensuring balanced growth and avoiding a major installation rush in the years close to 2050.
Scientists led by staff from Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE have demonstrated a new laser printing process in pilot production, which could replace silver paste and screen printing in solar cell manufacturing. The system is said to offer much more flexibility in the layout of contact fingers on the cell surface and a wider choice of metallization materials.
Using an innovative high-speed video setup, scientists in Germany were able to observe the screen-printing process used in solar cell metallization, on a time scale of less than 50 milliseconds. Insights into the paste’s behavior and the mechanisms at work during screen printing will improve the process and the formulation of the silver paste it relies on.
Solar Inventions, the winners of the first American-Made Solar Prize, plan to commercialize their newest product, which is claimed to reduce silver content and increase module power, while potentially saving manufacturers up to $1 million per year.
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