Macquarie Park, New South WalesARENA Program
University of New South Wales, Soleritas, Hanwha Q Cells GmbH
This project aims to reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing by using low-cost consumer electronics as drop-in replacements to optimise conventional production line tools.
The solar PV industry has dramatically matured over the last decade and continues to show strong growth. However, the time-critical race to reduce emissions demands improvement in the cost-effectiveness and consequential uptake of sustainable energy production. A promising approach to improve cost efficiencies is to develop equipment for production lines that can increase their capability while reducing running costs. If tools can be developed that provide low upfront costs as well as low operating costs, then they will be economically viable for existing production lines and will maximise savings for new facilities.
This project aims to improve the cost efficiency of solar PV by reducing the cost and increasing the capability of select tools used in solar cell manufacturing. This will be achieved by developing and applying production line equipment based on low-cost consumer-electronics technology. These new tools will ideally act as drop-in replacements for conventional technology.
The project will focus on three forms of consumer-electronics technology:
- microwave heating to replace conventional thermal processes
- flat-bed scanner technology for texture monitoring
- thermal imaging technology for defect detection.
These technologies will be developed and optimised, targeting cost reductions and capability improvements.
The project will increase knowledge and understanding of the technical capabilities and cost reduction opportunities for the three technologies mentioned above. These technologies will be developed to replace conventional high-cost and energy-intensive equipment currently used to manufacture solar PV.
New prototype tool designs will be tested in a pre-commercial production line (pilot line) environment. The resulting test data will be used to present a case for full commercialisation and broad uptake of the technology. Such uptake has the potential to significantly lower the cost of solar PV manufacturing and improve product reliability through advanced monitoring.