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Solar grade silicon solar cells

Exploitable results

The production of crystalline silicon solar cells is currently constrained by the limited availability of the basic raw material employed. Feedstock availability could significantly limit global solar cell production in the near future. This study investigates opportunities to solve this problem by investigating the production and application of new solar grade silicon in solar cell manufacture. Solar cell production is currently constrained by the quantities of electronic grade feedstock which reach the photovoltaics (PV) industry as off-spec or left-overs from the micro-electronic industry. Severe worldwide shortages of this substance are predicted for the next few years and this could significantly effect solar cell production volumes. The technical goal of this project is to investigate the usability of unconventional silicon sources as a substitute for electronic grade feedstock. It will review the current and future industrial sources of the new, so-called "solar grade" silicon, which is distinct from the electronic grade silicon. The quality of solar cells is, however, closely related to the chemical purity of the silicon and thus a fairly high grade material is required, i.e. one offering at least 10% efficiencies. Also, in order to be economically viable, the "solar grade" silicon needs to allow good economies of scale in production. The work carried out in this project therefore included market research, a crystal growth experiment, materials benchmarking and solar cell manufacturing using different technologies.

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