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PERCs of the Job

Research is currently underway to develop solar cells with even greater efficiency. As awareness of and demand for the benefits of Solar PV grows, manufacturers are looking for new ways to put their product ahead of the competition.

As the Solar PV market grows more rapidly by the day, it is no longer an option to operate without a technology “roadmap”. The uncertainty of trade disputes along with an increasing level of competition within the industry is forcing manufacturers to improve their efficiencies and maximise the output their Solar PV panels can achieve. According to research within the Solar PV industry, a standard 60 cell, silicone based panel will reach outputs of 275w within the next year.

One example of the new technology is Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology. This is said to add 10w to a standard solar panel. Previously, solar manufacturers have only placed a passivation layer on the back of panels when it was a necessity rather than as an enhancement. Whether or not a panel was passivated at the back to avoid losses depended on the thickness of the panel. This meant that only the thinnest of modules benefited from the technology.

Looking back, falling silicon costs, driven by companies making thinner panels, was seen as a major factor in reducing costs. However the decline of the price of polysilicon put a stop to this. For that reason, PERC remained at the research stage.

As companies progressed through double/dual print technologies from 2010, it became clear that the improvement was only marginal and that a new advancement was needed; enter PERC.

Whilst we are some way off seeing PERC as the norm for PV manufacturers, the early signs are certainly very encouraging. As the technology advances, it won’t be long before “PERC” becomes a recognised and accepted term within the solar industry.

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