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Directory:Sliver Solar Cells

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Sliver® solar cells

Featuring Sliver Technology Research at The Australian National University

"Sliver® cells address the major issue relating to the uptake of solar electric systems – the cost. Sliver® cells use up to 90% less silicon compared with mono crystalline cells of equivalent output resulting in lower module costs." [1]


Sliver solar cells use as little as one tenth the amount of hyper-pure silicon as in square solar PV technology, giving them the potential to produce electricity at grid-competitive prices (once grid prices grow much more expensive). However, the process, while using less silicon, is itself pricey, so this technology is not likely to provide a price breakthrough any time soon.

Sliver solar cells were invented at the Australian National University with funding assistance from Origin Energy. 10 W panels were available for a while but have been discontinued. Emphasis now on commercial applications. (Jan. 14, 2007)

Contents

Official Websites

Sliver

http://www.SLIVER.com.au

ANU

Origin Energy

Latest

Mar. 08, 2007

Featured on ABC TV's Catalyst. (transcript)

Jan. 22, 2007

The below marketing rep from Sliver gave the following clarification:

"In about 5-10 years is when we expect electricity prices to be so high in Australia, that solar PV will be a cheaper alternative than it. That coupled in the slowly decreasing prices of Solar PV should mean that somewhere in 5-10 years, the two prices meet. Everyone's panels should be cheaper then. But obviously I, nor anyone, cannot predict exactly when this will be.
"SLIVER is a POSSIBLE FUTURE SOLUTION to the world's desire for cheaper panels, but not until we achieve some of the economies of scale we will achieve once:
1. we have built a large plant
2. we have secured some very larger orders
3. cost of silicon goes down
4. market demand continues to rise
5. governments respond to public demand and offer incentives to buy PV (as seen in Germany, Japan and Spain etc)
"The media like to promote either scandals or good news and don't like to go into long explanations. So a lot of the detail we say in the media is often left out, or misquoted. ANU are good at promoting the technology and its future benefits, so a lot of what you read in the media could have been generated via ANU. Origin has been purposefully less vocal about promoting the technology as we know the world will want answers on things like timing, cost, scale, efficiency, etc - which we simply don't have firm answers for yet."

Jan. 18, 2007

The following quote from Sliver marketing advisor correspondence arrived anonymously via PES Network submit function:

"Yes SLIVER panels should be high efficiency for their cost, but still will be at around market prices once released - at least for another 10 years or so based on our calculations of electricity prices etc."

Jan. 15, 2007

"Our 10W SLIVER panels are sold out and we're not making any more (due to limited markets, focussing our attention on large, grid connect panels etc). As for those - they are still a while away as we are working towards building a larger manufacturing facility to produce these from. So give it another year or two." (Natali Bennett - Marketing & Communications Advisor, Origin Energy Limited)

2006

"10W panels are available now, but larger panels for grid connect applications are expected to be available to the market in mid-late 2006." [2]

"Origin Energy's manufacturing plant is complete, and process testing is underway. Commercial modules will be available by mid 2007." (Ray Prowse, associate, by email; Sept. 5, 2006)

How it Works

Individual Sliver® cells, micro machined out of a p-type silicon wafer. Source: solar.anu.edu.au brochure
Individual Sliver® cells, micro machined out of a p-type silicon wafer.
Source: solar.anu.edu.au brochure

Excerpt from http://solar.anu.edu.au/docs/Slivers.pdf brochure.


Sliver® solar cells are fabricated using 1 – 2 mm thick silicon wafers. The key step in Sliver® cell processing is to form deep narrow grooves all the way through the wafer. Several processes can be used including laser scribing, a dicing saw or an anisotropic etching process.

The result is a wafer cut into a series of slivers, with each sliver approximately 50-100mm long, 1-2mm wide and 40-60μm thick.

Note that after creating the grooves the slivers are still attached to the wafer. This allows the slivers to undergo further steps in the fabrication process before they are removed and assembled into modules.

Cells can be laid out with no gap between or with any spacing between slivers up to about 1.5 times the width of each cell. With a scattering reflector attached to the rear of each module, most of the light incident in the space between the cells can still be captured.

Image:Sliver cross section diagram ANU 400.gif

Sliver® cells are truly bifacial as they respond equally well to light on either surface.

The open circuit voltage of Sliver® cells is in the range 650-700mV at 250C. Sliver cells can be connected in any series and parallel configuration to deliver the output voltage required for any application.

Advantages

The output of 72 conventionalcells is the same as that from 2 wafers when the wafers are manufactured into Sliver® cells. Source: solar.anu.edu.au brochure
The output of 72 conventionalcells is the same as that from 2 wafers when the wafers are manufactured into Sliver® cells.
Source: solar.anu.edu.au brochure

From http://solar.anu.edu.au/docs/Slivers.pdf


  • More bang for your buck! - The Sliver fabrication method means less silicon per unit area, greater area covered per unit mass of silicon, lower $/W, lower overall system costs or greater efficiency if more expensive materials and processes are used. Thus Sliver® cells use approximately one tenth the amount of expensive silicon compared with conventional cells. A wafer (assume 150mm diameter) configured as a conventional solar cell has an area of 177cm2. However, the same wafer, when processed to produce Sliver® cells, can be used to cover up to 5,000 cm2 of module area, which is 30 times better than for conventional technology.
  • High Voltage - Many Sliver® cells in series still take up very little area, so high voltages can be obtained in very small modules. This makes Sliver® cells ideal for powering small consumer items.
  • Higher Efficiencies - Due to the silicon savings, better quality silicon can be used to maintain higher efficiency. Because fewer wafers need to be processed per unit area of finished module, more sophisticated processing can be used to ensure the highest cell performance.
  • Bifacial Response - The perfect bifacial response of a Sliver® cell means that Sliver modules respond equally well to light falling on either surface. This allows for novel applications of Sliver® modules. For example, highway round barriers can utilise Sliver® modules that are mounted vertically facing east-west.
  • Flexibility - Flexible modules can be created by suitable encapsulation of the Sliver® cells (which are flexible due to their thinness).
  • Slightly Lower Operating Temperatures - Sliver® modules operate at slightly lower temperatures than comparable conventional modules , and so lose less performance on hot days.
  • Energy Payback - The energy payback time of a Sliver® module is short because the quantity of energy-intensive silicon is sharply reduced. The energy payback time is 1.5 years, two thirds of which is due to standard module components (glass Al frame etc.) compared with 4 years for a conventional module.
  • Transparent Modules - Any degree of module transparency can be easily achieved by adjusting the Sliver® cell spacing.
  • Use as Concentrator Cells - Sliver® cells have important potential applications as concentrator cells in the range 10-80 suns. Reasons for this include the fact that the concentrator cells can come from large production runs, high cell efficiency and high voltage capability.

Applications

Quoting from OriginEnergy.com.au


There are infinite possibilities with Origin Energy SLIVER cells.

The unique attributes of SLIVER cells includes their size – 100mm long, 1mm wide and 50 microns thick – their flexibility and efficiency.

Origin Energy is currently investigating opportunities to use this technology in road side noise barriers, transparent BIPV applications and flexible applications.

The technology is also likely to have potential in small area/low powered consumer and industrial applications and high voltage applications.

Publications

Funding by Origin Energy

Technology & manufacturing process Mark Kerr (Senior Module Development Engineer) explains the technology and manufacturing process to John Cooper, General Manager of Choice Electric.Source: OriginEnergy.com
Technology & manufacturing process
Mark Kerr (Senior Module Development Engineer) explains the technology and manufacturing process to John Cooper, General Manager of Choice Electric.
Source: OriginEnergy.com

Origin Energy, an Australian energy company, has committed $35 million to a manufacturing plant in Adelaide, and modules made of Sliver® cells will be commercially available from 2005. [3]

Origin Energy is a energy services retailer.

Construction of Origin Energy’s AUD 20 million solar photovoltaic (PV) pilot manufacturing plant in Regency Park, South Australia is now complete.

Developed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems

Sliver® cells were invented and developed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES) [4] [at the Australian National Universtity?].

Contact

Sliver Technology Research at The ANU

Dr Vernie Everett
Prof Andrew Blakers
Dr Klaus Weber

Address: Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology
The Australian National University
CANBERRA ACT 0200 AUSTRALIA
Tel: + 61 (0) 2 6125 4884 / Fax: + 61 (0) 2 6125 8873

Email CSES: <solar {at} anu.edu.au>

Mail Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, The Australian National University, CANBERRA ACT 0200 Australia.

OriginEnergy.com.au

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