As a result of the R&D partnership on Interdigitated Back-Contact Cells (IBC) between Silfab SpA (Italy) and ISC Konstanz (Germany), a 21% energy conversion efficiency has been achieved on monocrystalline silicon large area solar cells using a low cost industrial process, with a potential to exceed 24%.

Padua-Italy/Konstanz-Germany, March 26th 2012 – "ZEBRA", the new back-contact solar cell announced in the summer of 2011, has now reached the 21% energy conversion efficiency with the potential exceed to 24%. This result is particularly important because it has been obtained with a standard industrial low cost process. This technology breakthrough was officially announced today by Silfab SpA (Italy), a leading solar provider based in Italy and Canada, and the International Solar Energy Research - ISC Konstanz (Germany), as a result of their joint R&D activities.

The "ZEBRA" cell concept is based on large area (156 x 156 mm2) n-type monocrystalline (Cz) silicon wafers and is a back-contact / back-junction cell, without any metallization on the sunny side. This means that, while the efficiency of today's industrial mainstream monocrystalline cell technology will soon saturate at around 19-20%, Silfab's innovative "ZEBRA" technology starts from 21% and will potentially reach efficiencies of over 24% while significantly reducing the production costs per watt peak. "ZEBRA" solar cell performance starts out where traditional cells end up, opening a new chapter in the photovoltaic industry.

"The combination of high cell efficiency, large area and usage of conventional n-type wafers, as well as a low cost process" - said Franco Traverso, Silfab SpA President and CEO - "leads to a significant reduction of cell and module production costs, and represents a very important step towards grid-parity. This is a technological achievement that is made possible by the long-term industrial experience of our technical team in combination with the excellence of ISC Konstanz in R&D in photovoltaics, especially in the field of n-type IBC solar cell technology. This advanced technology is now ready for industrialization, and Silfab is now moving towards a partnership aimed at the pilot stage and subsequently industrial implementation.

As result of the partnership, the cell and module manufacturing Pilot line will be implemented in the next few months; the proven energy conversion rate of the "ZEBRA" cells will enable the production of 60 cells modules with a nominal output power of 300 Wp at a competitive cost per watt peak and no LID effect.

The "ZEBRA" process sequence is a new and smart combination of single process steps that are already implemented in mass production by the worldwide PV industry, thus avoiding the need of adopting specific equipment for producing interdigitated back-contact cells (IBC). Today's industry standard cell manufacturing lines can therefore be utilized to produce super high efficiency cells at a significantly reduced cost per watt. Silfab will play the role of technology provider to cells and modules manufacturing companies willing to upgrade their traditional lines, thus strongly contributing to their competitiveness and profitability.

"It is extremely rewarding for us to be able to work on important research projects and be financially and technically supported by a company with the outstanding expertise of Silfab. We are amazed how fast we have reached our set goals and in some points are even ahead of schedule. This gives us now the opportunity to focus on industrialization of our first product" - said Dr. Radovan Kopecek, co-founder and director of ISC Konstanz - "We are proud to be able to anticipate and illustrate such results as ours on low-cost IBC cells to the photovoltaic scientific and technical community which will be presented on the Photon Terawatt-hours Conference in Berlin this Wednesday and, in more detail, on the nPV workshop in Amsterdam 13th-14th May this year."

Headquartered in Padova, Italy, Silfab S.p.A is a leading provider of PV products and services globally. With activities spanning manufacturing, consulting and energy generation, the company seeks to further the advancement of photovoltaic energy through employing cutting-edge technologies. The company's founders have more than 30 years experience in the PV industry and have partnered with industry-leading engineering firms and equipment providers to establish a team with knowledge and demonstrated success across the entire photovoltaic value chain. Its founding partners include Franco Traverso, an Italian pioneer in the solar energy industry, Pan Asia Solar Ltd., whose principals co-founded some of the most successful listed PV businesses, including the subsidiary solar cell manufacturer Sunrise Global Solar Energy, and Sino- American-Silicon Products Inc., a stock-market listed provider of premium silicon wafers to the photovoltaic and semiconductor industries.
Silfab is based also in Canada with Silfab Ontario Inc., a Canadian-based modules manufacturing company with an annual production capacity of 90 MWp.
Silfab Spa - Via Medoaco 4 - 35135 Padova (Italy) - Tel. +39 049 9431374 - Fax +39 049 9439735 - -
Silfab Ontario - 240 Courtney P.D. East – Mississauga, ON L5T 2S5 (Canada) - tel. 1-855-SILFAB1 (toll free) - +1 (905) 2552501 - Fax: +1 (905) 6960267 - -

ISC Konstanz is a research institute that focuses on cell concepts, which have a strong potential for industrial use. It specializes in the research and development of crystalline silicon solar cells and modules and is ranked among the top research institutes in the world. Currently ISC Konstanz employs about 50 scientists, who are dedicated to reducing costs and increasing efficiency of solar cells. Since the time of its foundation in 2005, ISC Konstanz experienced vivid growth. n addition to research and development, ISC Konstanz recognizes the importance to promote the use of photovoltaic technology. Thus it provides advanced training for experts in photovoltaic, and it offers internships and study visits to laboratories for schools. It also gives talks and presentations on photovoltaics that are accessible and understandable for the general public and is involved in development collaboration programs in countries like Cameroon, India, Tanzania and Nepal electrifying villages, schools and hospitals using solar electricity but also educating people in those countries in respect to PV installations and applications.
Rudolf-Diesel-Str.15 - 78467 Konstanz (Germany) - Tel +49-7531-36 18 3-0 - Fax +49-7531-36 18 3-11 - -

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