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Canadian Solar taps ECN metal wrap-through tech

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar cell? metal wrap-through technology? solar module?

Canadian Solar Inc. has signed a joint technology development and transfer agreement with Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) to apply the technology for metal wrap-through (MWT) cells to Canadian Solar's production lines.

Canadian Solar Inc. will use the metal wrap-through (MWT) cells technology of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN). The two companies signed a joint technology development and transfer agreement to this effect.

MWT cells cut the need for front side bus-bars, thus increasing effective surface and the conversion efficiency of a solar cell. A more advanced version of this technology, emitter wrap-through (EWT) structures, can further eliminate the front surface grid and therefore further increase the cell conversion efficiency. Both of these wrap-through technologies also increase module conversion efficiency by enabling back-side interconnection technology in module production. The specialized module assembly equipment will be developed and manufactured in cooperation with Eurotron, a Netherlands-based manufacturer and supplier of handling equipment for module assembly. Higher conversion efficiency cells will allow the Company to produce more powerful solar modules, while potentially reducing manufacturing costs. The transfer of MWT cell technology is expected to take approximately six months.

The agreement is part of Canadian Solar's comprehensive high-efficiency research program. In Q4 09, the company expects to begin commercially introducing a new cell structure which combines a modified selective emitter process and, better texturization, precise screen printing and several other improvements. The new structure is expected to raise the conversion efficiency of monocrystalline cells to 18.5 percent and multicrystalline cells with an estimated 16.8 percent conversion efficiency. Longer-term objectives for Canadian Solar's research program include researching on hetero-junction intrinsic thin-layer cells and tandem junction cells. These activities are expected to take several years and could result in cells with conversion efficiencies in excess of 20 percent to as high as 25 percent.

"We are very pleased to have the Energy Research Center as a technology partner. ECN is a leading institute for high-efficiency cell and module technologies such as MWT. Working together will help us to improve the higher-powered modules currently preferred as a premium product by Canadian Solar's customers," commented Canadian Solar chairman and CEO, Shawn Qu. "Producing high-efficiency cells is an important part of our commitment to producing premium branded products. In addition to the brand value of these products, higher power modules can reduce manufacturing and installation costs, both of which are critical to making PV systems more cost-effective for end customers."

"Canadian Solar is an ideal partner for us. Its long-term commitment to leveraging R&D to provide higher quality, more cost-effective PV products has made it an industry leader," said ECN chairman of the board, Ton Hoff. " As a strong and independent research institute, ECN gives their partners a perfect opportunity to apply the latest technologies. By working with ECN, Canadian Solar now has created an opening to achieve a better competitive edge in the PV market. We are excited to be working together because Canadian Solar has the financial strength, global reach and scale needed to move our technology from a laboratory environment to real-world, commercial applications that can help increase the use of environmentally friendly, solar energy systems."

Bram Verschoor, commercial director of Eurotron, said, "We are very eager to make this a successful project. We have collaborated with ECN for several years now and developed the technology to a level that it can be taken out of the research phase. We foresee that this project will be the launch of back-contact module technology into the PV market. We will support Canadian Solar in making this happen."

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