Australian solar technology company SunDrive continues to make headlines with its copper-based solar cell technology, achieving 26.41% efficiency in a full-size silicon cell using mass-manufacturable heterojunction technology. increase.

Using a large-scale production process provided by China-based equipment manufacturer Maxwell Technologies, SunDrive has achieved a 26.41% yield on full-size silicon heterojunction (HJT) solar cells featuring the company’s copper-based technology. achieved efficiency results.

Sydney-based SunDrive said the result, which improves on the 26.07% efficiency mark the company announced earlier this year, has been officially verified by Germany’s Hamelin Institute for Solar Energy (ISFH).

According to the company, improvements in HJT cells with a total area of ​​274.3 cm2 (M6 size) are observed in all three key performance parameters including open circuit voltage (Voc), short circuit current (Isc) and fill factor (FF) it was done. ), an improvement attributed to “some equipment and processing upgrades”.

According to SunDrive, Maxwell’s latest generation of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment incorporates the deposition of double-sided microcrystalline silicon layers to further improve backside passivation and contact resistance. In addition, a more transparent conductive oxide (TCO) layer was applied using Maxwell’s state-of-the-art physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating equipment.

SunDrive said using its copper plating technology to manufacture solar cell electrodes, rather than traditional silver screen printing, also played a key role in improving efficiency. SunDrive replaces the silver used in conventional solar cells with cheap and abundant copper, improves the copper plating chemistry and processing sequence, and with aspect ratios close to 1 he achieves feature sizes of less than 10 microns. said he did.

This result has been verified by the Solar Energy Institute.

Image: Sundrive

“What we have shown is that copper can effectively replace silver in these next-generation solar cell structures, but more importantly, further increase efficiency beyond what can be achieved with silver. is possible,” the company said.

As solar power plays a major role in the world’s transition to a clean energy future, SunDrive co-founder Vince Allen says copper will open the floodgates for more efficient solar cell structures. and using copper instead of silver could enable solar power generation. Unleash the full potential of technology.

“Solar cells that will supply most of the world’s future energy needs will be very different from today’s solar cells,” he said. “Efficiency, cost and materials scalability are fundamental to the continued growth of solar adoption.

“Copper is about 100 times cheaper per kilogram and about 1,000 times more abundant than silver.

Sundrive replaces the silver used in traditional solar cells with copper.

Image: Sundrive

Sundrive is currently planning to establish a pilot production line by mid-2023 and scale up for market entry later this year.

The location of the planned production facility has not been specified, but Allen said Australia has many of the ingredients needed to host a solar manufacturing industry.

“We recognize that countries are increasingly competing in this area, but with the right policy settings, Australia has the potential to become a global solar manufacturing powerhouse,” he said.

“We have a need. We have the fastest growing rooftop solar market in the world and Australia could be home to the five largest solar farms in the next decade. We have the people, many of the world’s top solar executives, scientists and engineers are trained at Australian universities and we have the capabilities.Today’s commercial solar Invented here in Australia, Australia holds the world record for efficiency in 30 of the last 40 years.

Allen said the country is also blessed with resources that are considered essential in the transition to clean energy.

“Australia has the world’s top three reserves of all the key minerals needed to make solar panels, which no other country can claim,” he said. “Australia also potentially has the greatest opportunity of any country not only to reach net zero, but also to help other countries reach net zero. It is a sunny, windy continent with a very large land area and a very low population density.”

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