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Thin Film Innovation Award 2009 for Oerlikon Solar's TCO 1200 Deposition System

Published on September 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Oerlikon Solar, the world's leading supplier of thin film silicon photovoltaic (PV) process and production equipment and end-to-end manufacturing lines, has been named winner of the 2009 Solar Industry Award, presented at the EU PVSEC 2009 Conference in Hamburg. The jury selected Oerlikon Solar's TCO 1200 system as winner of the "Thin Film Innovation Award."

"With this award, the mass production maturity of Oerlikon Solar's TCO technology has been recognized. We are very proud of this recognition of Oerlikon Solar's technology and market leadership," said Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar. "The award reflects our intensive research and development in thin film PV and our clear dedication to making solar power economically viable."

The Oerlikon Solar TCO 1200 is a fully automated, high volume, low pressure chemical vapour deposition (LPCVD) system for the deposition of a novel and adjustable transparent conductive oxide (TCO) film. The TCO 1200 process technology allows adjustment of film morphology and conductivity to match ideal parameters for the PV absorber stack while utilizing an innovative zinc oxide film composition. The zinc oxide composition offers superior light trapping compared to prior TCO solutions. The TCO 1200 LPCVD manufacturing system deposits a single layer that optimizes the tandem absorber stack with very high haze light scattering, very low sheet resistance and excellent transmission characteristics. Also, the low temperature nature of the deposition allows the same TCO layer to be used successfully for the TCO back contact, again increasing light trapping within the cell.

Oerlikon Solar is the number one supplier of end-to-end production lines according to VLSI Research. With 10 customers representing over 450 MWp of installed production capacity, the TCO 1200 systems have become the de facto industry standard for the production of thin film silicon solar modules.

Enabling Next Generation Thin Film PV Cells

To develop next generation thin film silicon PV cells, light trapping by advanced TCO is essential. The new LPCVD process from Oerlikon Solar has demonstrated higher light-trapping abilities compared to competing technologies. This is especially important for Micromorph® solar cells where the absorber layers are engineered to be as thin as possible while keeping the efficiency high. In addition, amorphous silicon single junction cells have an enhanced susceptibility to Staebler-Wronski degradation. Efficient light management allows a reduction in layer thickness, fundamental for high stabilized module performance.

Direct Cost Saving

Over 960,000 panels have been produced using TCO 1200 systems from Oerlikon Solar for front and back contacts. The additional 0.5 percent efficiency gained translates into higher power-per-module and also in a significant economic benefit. For example, 100-watt modules become 105-watt modules, which offer the solar farm developer a direct module savings of five percent. In a 30 megawatt solar farm with 300,000 modules, this means saving 15,000 installed panels or about $3 million.

"Just one more milestone in Oerlikon Solar's mission to make Solar Power economically viable."

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