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Title: Polycrystalline Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Laboratory to Solar Fields

Abstract

We review the status of commercial polycrystalline thin-film solar cells and photovoltaic (PV) modules, including current and projected commercialization activities.

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
943990
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-99-GO10337
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: [Proceedings] 2006 IEEE 4th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion (WCPEC-4), 7-12 May 2006, Waikoloa, Hawaii; Related Information: For preprint version see NREL/CP-520-39838
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; COMMERCIALIZATION; ENERGY CONVERSION; SOLAR CELLS; Solar Energy - Photovoltaics

Citation Formats

von Roedern, B., Ullal, H. S., and Zweibel, K. Polycrystalline Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Laboratory to Solar Fields. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1109/WCPEC.2006.279470.
von Roedern, B., Ullal, H. S., & Zweibel, K. Polycrystalline Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Laboratory to Solar Fields. United States. doi:10.1109/WCPEC.2006.279470.
von Roedern, B., Ullal, H. S., and Zweibel, K. Sun . "Polycrystalline Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Laboratory to Solar Fields". United States. doi:10.1109/WCPEC.2006.279470.
@article{osti_943990,
title = {Polycrystalline Thin-Film Photovoltaics: From the Laboratory to Solar Fields},
author = {von Roedern, B. and Ullal, H. S. and Zweibel, K.},
abstractNote = {We review the status of commercial polycrystalline thin-film solar cells and photovoltaic (PV) modules, including current and projected commercialization activities.},
doi = {10.1109/WCPEC.2006.279470},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

Conference:
Other availability
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  • We review the status of commercial polycrystalline thin-film solar cells and photovoltaic (PV) modules, including current and projected commercialization activities.
  • The conclusions of this report are that: (1) many issues how thin-film solar cells work remain unresolved, requiring further fundamental R and D effort; (2) commercial thin-film PV module production reached 29% in 2005 in the US, indicating much more rapid growth than crystalline Si PV; (3) commercial module performance is increasing based on current knowledge, more R and D will lead to further improvement; and (4) stability of thin-film modules is acceptable ({le} 1% per year power loss) if the right manufacturing processes are used for manufacturing.
  • A key issue for photovoltaics (PV), both in terrestrial and future space applications, is [ital producibility], particularly for applications utilizing a large volume of PV. Among the concerns for fabrication of polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaics, such as copper-indium-diselenide (CIS) and cadmium-telluride (CdTe), are production volume, which translates directly related to cost, and minimization of waste. Both the rotating cylindrical magnetron (C-Mag[sup TM]) and pulsed electrodeposition have tremendous potential for the fabrication of polycrystalline thin-film photovoltaics due to scaleability, efficient utilization of source materials and inherently higher deposition rates. In the case of sputtering, the unique geometry of the C-Mag[sup TM] facilitatesmore » innovative cosputtering and reactive sputtering that could lead to greater throughput, reduced health and safety risks, and ultimately lower fabrication cost. For pulsed electrodeposition, the films appear to be more tightly adherent and deposited at an enhanced rate when compared to conventional DC electrodeposition. This paper addresses Martin Marietta's investigation into innovative sputtering techniques and pulsed electrodeposition with a near-term goal of 930 cm[sup 2] (1 ft[sup 2]) monolithically-integrated CIS and CdTe submodules.« less
  • Polycrystalline, thin-film photovoltaics represent one of the few (if not the only) renewable power sources which has the potential to satisfy the demanding technical requirements for future space applications. The demand in space is for deployable, flexible arrays with high power-to-weight ratios and long-term stability (15-20 years). In addition, there is also the demand that these arrays be produced by scalable, low-cost, high yield, processes. An approach to significantly reduce costs and increase reliability is to interconnect individual cells series via monolithic integration. Both CIS and CdTe semiconductor films are optimum absorber materials for thin-film n-p heterojunction solar cells, havingmore » band gaps between 0.9-1.5 eV and demonstrated small area efficiencies, with cadmium sulfide window layers, above 16.5 percent. Both CIS and CdTe polycrystalline thin-film cells have been produced on a laboratory scale by a variety of physical and chemical deposition methods, including evaporation, sputtering, and electrodeposition. Translating laboratory processes which yield these high efficiency, small area cells into the design of a manufacturing process capable of producing 1-sq ft modules, however, requires a quantitative understanding of each individual step in the process and its effect on overall module performance. With a proper quantification and understanding of material transport and reactivity for each individual step, manufacturing process can be designed that is not `reactor-specific` and can be controlled intelligently with the design parameters of the process. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the current efforts at MMC to develop large-scale manufacturing processes for both CIS and CdTe thin-film polycrystalline modules. CIS cells/modules are fabricated in a `substrate configuration` by physical vapor deposition techniques and CdTe cells/modules are fabricated in a `superstrate configuration` by wet chemical methods.« less
  • Polycrystalline thin films have made significant technical progress in the past year. Three of these materials that have been studied extensively for photovoltaic (PV) power applications are copper indium diselenide (CuInSe{sub 2}), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and thin-film polycrystalline silicon (x-Si) deposited on ceramic substrates. The first of these materials, polycrystalline thin-film CuInSe{sub 2}, has made some rapid advances in terms of high efficiency and long-term reliability. For CuInSe{sub 2} power modules, a world record has been reported on a 0.4-m{sup 2} module with an aperture-area efficiency of 10.4% and a power output of 40.4 W. Additionally, outdoor reliability testing ofmore » CuInSe{sub 2} modules, under both loaded and open-circuit conditions, has resulted in only minor changes in module performance after more than 1000 days of continuous exposure to natural sunlight. CdTe module research has also resulted in several recent improvements. Module performance has been increased with device areas reaching nearly 900 cm{sup 2}. Deposition has been demonstrated by several different techniques, including electrodeposition, spraying, and screen printing. Outdoor reliability testing of CdTe modules was also carried out under both loaded and open-circuit conditions, with more than 600 days of continuous exposure to natural sunlight. These tests were also encouraging and indicated that the modules were stable within measurement error. The highest reported aperture-area module efficiency for CdTe modules is 10%; the semiconductor material was deposited by electrodeposition. A thin-film CdTe photovoltaic system with a power output of 54 W has been deployed in Saudi Arabia for water pumping. The Module Development Initiative has made significant progress in support of the Polycrystalline Thin-Film Program in the past year, and results are presented in this paper.« less