Progress update on the US photovoltaic manufacturing technology project Page: 3 of 5
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Commercial Production of
CdTe Photovoltaic Modules
Solar Cells, Inc. High Throughput Manufacturing of Thin-
Film CdTe PV Modules
Cast Polycrystalline Silicon PV
Manufacturing Technology Improvements
Phase 4A2 Subcontractors
ASE Americas Market Driven EFG Modules
Iowa Thin Film
Large Area Silicon-Film Panels and Solar
PVMaT Monolithic a-Si Modules on
Continuous Polymer Substrates
Manufacturing of the PVI Power Grid
Photovoltaic Cz Silicon Module
An additional phase of the PVMaT project (Phase 5A) is
now being initiated. This phase will also emphasize product-
driven manufacturing R&D. Phase 5A has been divided into
two areas (5A1 and 5A2) similar to the Phase 4A
procurement, to emphasize improvements and cost
reductions in the manufacture of full-system PV products.
The announcement for the Phase 5A solicitation was
released in late June 1997. On September 9, 31 proposals
were received in response to this solicitation-17 in the 5A1
category and 14 under category 5A2. These proposals are
currently being evaluated and awards are planned for early
The Golden Photon, Inc. (GPI) objective was to reduce
the production cost of its thin-film CdTe module, increase the
average module performance in production, and address an
expansion of GPI's commercial production capacity. At the
completion of this research, GPI has an average module
output of 28 watts over 10 production-run batches, with
modules as high as 31.3 watts. This has resulted in a
reported 76% reduction in module-manufacturing costs and
allowed GPI to bring a 2.3 MW production capacity on-line.
The Solar Cells, Inc. (SCI) objective was to reduce the
Phase 2B Subcontractors
module production costs on its high throughput Thin-Film
CdTe module-manufacturing line, increase module
performance, and provide the groundwork for expansion of
its commercial production capacities. SCI has successfully
demonstrated the deposition of 60x120-cm CdS/CdTe
substrates in 30 seconds. Modules, which show reliability
through module qualification tests and multi-year outdoor
testing, are currently being fabricated from these substrates.
With the installation of key equipment for a multi-megawatt
line, SCI has reported reducing its module-manufacturing
costs by 78% and increasing its production capacity by a
factor of 4 since the start of its Phase 2B subcontract. SCI
is now marketing this manufacturing technology, and offering
a variety of complete CdS/CdTe (1 kW/hr, 2 kW/hr, and 3
kW/hour) production lines and plate-finishing lines as part of
the product mix that it offers.
The Solarex objective was to improve its cast
polycrystalline-Silicon PV manufacturing technology to
reduce module production costs, increase module
performance, and expand its commercial production
capacity. Since 1994, Solarex has doubled its casting
capacitythrough the redesign of equipment and modification
of the process, without having to add additional equipment.
The company has also transitioned its production line to
include wire sawing of wafers. Solarex is incorporating wire
sawing into their production line. Currently, 60% of the wafer
production is wire sawn with the obvious concomitant
reduction in costs. Despite problems caused by an increase
in the Si feedstock costs over the past few years, Solarex
has achieved a 13% reduction in module-manufacturing
costs and doubled production capacity.
The ASE Americas objective under its Phase 4A2
subcontract is to reduce EFG module-production costs by
25% relative to pre-4A levels, increase average module
performance of its manufacturing line, and identify and
evaluate modifications for expanding its commercial
production capacity. This year, ASE has reported increasing
its EFG wafer production yield by 5% through improvements
in crystal growth and laser cutting, resulting in a 300,000-
wafers/year capacity increase. ASE has also demonstrated
a new benign wafer-etching process that has lowered cell
add-on production cost by 7%, and reduced fluorine ion
effluent in the waste stream by 50%, hydrofluoric acid
consumption by 2%, and deionized water by 20%. In
addition, ASE reported a 26% reduction in module-
manufacturing costs and a doubling of production capacity.
Combined with the progress under its previous Phase 2A
subcontract and an increase of individual cell production,
ASE has achieved a 75% reduction in module-manufacturing
costs and a factor of 10 increase in its production capacity
from the prototype production levels in 1992.
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Mitchell, R.L.; Witt, C.E. & Thomas, H.P. Progress update on the US photovoltaic manufacturing technology project, article, October 1, 1997; Golden, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc695621/m1/3/: accessed May 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.