Norway-headquartered solar panel manufacturer REC Group has selected Swiss production equipment supplier Meyer Burger’s SmartWire Connection Technology (SWCT) for the production of high efficiency solar modules at REC’s Singapore fab.
The order is another collaborative step between the two companies. REC Group began integrating Meyer Burger’s diamond wire (DW) cutting platform, the DW 288 Series 3, at the Singapore facility last year.
That partnership cemented REC Group’s embrace of DW-cut multicrystalline solar modules, as well as its transition to PERC technology and half-cut cell modules. By employing Meyer Burger’s SWCT interconnection technology, cell connection costs can be lowered quite significantly due to a reduction in silver use.
While it is not clear how much of its approximately 1 GW of manufacturing capacity REC will transfer to SWCT, the deal is a major milestone for the technology – indicating that it is moving into the mainstream. REC was a pioneer in adopting half-cut cell technology, which is increasingly common today.
On the back of strong demand from the U.S. market, REC has been largely sold out for some moths and reportedly throughout 2018. It is well situated to supply the Australian marketplace, due to its Singapore manufacturing base.
The SWCT employs a foil-wire electrode to align and connect up to 24 cells, thereby lowering silver consumption per HJT solar module by up to 75%, and by up to 65% for PERC/PERT solar modules.
This technique can also boost a module’s lifetime and durability while raising efficiency. This is achieved via the creation of a dense wire contact matrix on the cells, which makes them more able to cope with increased power extraction. The low thermal production required for SWCT encapsulation also means less thermal stress is placed on the multi-wire solar cell strings, which results in greater durability.
“With the implementation of Meyer Burger’s innovative SWCT to connect our ground-breaking combination of new cell technologies, we can further significantly increase the power level of our next generation high efficiency PV modules,” said REC Group CEO Steve O’Neil. “This is another step towards lowering the LCOE of solar.”
Meyer Burger recently achieved 320 W average power for its HJT/SWCT modules, reaching a high of 335 W in lab conditions. Company CTO Gunter Erfurt recently told pv magazine that an average output of 335 W per module could be achieved using this technology within 18 months.
Financial results for 2017 revealed that Meyer Burger’s order intake is at its strongest for six years, with an order backlog worth CHF 343 million (€302 million) at the end of 2017.
Edited and localised by Jonathan Gifford