There is a new mass-production process that has allowed Kyocera to manufacture solar cells with a thickness of 180 micrometers using the latest advances in silicon ingot slicing and wafer coating. On June 3 the company announced that the process offers higher efficiency in its consumption of multicrystalline silicon, the essential raw material used to make photovoltaic solar cells and modules.
The industrys standard mass-production methods for multicrystalline silicon solar cells yield thicknesses between 200 to 260 micrometers.
This new process will help Kyocera reach its goal of more than doubling its global production capacity for solar modules within the next three years, while minimizing its consumption of silicon, according to Steve Hill, president of Kyocera Solar, Inc. "Long-term contracts with our supplier partners assure us of sufficient silicon stocks to expand our production output from about 207 megawatts of solar modules in 2007 to a target of 500 megawatts in the year ending March 31, 2011," Hill stated.
Additionally the company is seeing improvement in the energy conversion efficiency of its solar cells and reported achieving a new world record of 18.5% efficiency in its multicrystalline silicon solar cells in October 2006, using a design with electrical contacts mounted on the underside of the cell. The company plans to have cells of this design in mass production by March 2010.
The company achieved another first back in 1982, when it became the first company to mass produce multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method. This method remains the industry standard today.