Applied Sees Big Demand for Esatto Technology, SunFab Modules UL Certified

Applied Materials Inc. announced at the SNEC 2010 PV Power Expo in China this week that its Esatto Technology is on its way to being used in more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of annual cell manufacturing capacity in the next few months at customer sites in China, Taiwan and Europe.

Customers have demonstrated 0.46% absolute cell efficiency gains with Esatto Technology, and up to a 14% reduction in consumption of silver printing paste, Applied Materials said. This combination of higher efficiency and reduced material expense is projected to lower manufacturing cost by over 3 cents-per-watt and deliver a return on investment in as little as 8 months.

Esatto Technology is a high precision, multi-step printing capability for Applied’s Baccini back-end solar cell processing systems. This production-proven screen printing technology is used to fabricate advanced contact structures in crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.

“Our Esatto Technology demonstrates Applied’s unmatched ability to overcome the challenges in integrating new cell technologies and to provide easy-to-implement, cost-effective solutions to our customers,” said Davide Spotti, vice president and general manager of Applied’s Baccini Cell Systems division. “We’re seeing an enthusiastic response from cell makers because they can drive their efficiency roadmaps using their existing production equipment and process flows.”

Applied also got good news this week when Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced that PV modules produced by an Applied Materials SunFab Thin Film Line were the first to qualify for UL’s Master Certification Program for the solar industry. The program, introduced in 2009, is an enhanced service offering with streamlined testing and certification procedures intended to help PV module and production equipment manufacturers get products to market faster.

With this qualification, Applied Materials’ customers who produce modules on a SunFab production line are candidates for UL’s Fast Track Certification Program. The Fast Track program allows manufacturers to greatly reduce the time and cost to certify the modules produced on their SunFab lines.

The SunFab Thin Film Line, which produces one of the world’s largest and most powerful solar panels available today at 5.7 square meters, is an automated, glass-in/panel-out manufacturing line for amorphous and microcrystalline silicon-based thin film PV manufacturing.

“The Master and Fast Track Programs and UL certification are critical to SunFab line customers working in the U.S. solar market, which is expected to grow from generating 400 megawatts to nearly two gigawatts of solar energy during the next two years,” said Kirk Hasserjian, corporate vice president, Applied Materials.

Customized test fixtures and equipment were designed to handle the large-sized SunFab modules. Due to the large size of some of the modules, UL’s PV Technology Center of Excellence is one of the few testing labs in the country that operates environmental testing chambers equipped to handle this technology. UL’s photovoltaic programs are able to test to both national and international standards, including UL1703, UL 61730, IEC 61215, IEC 61646 and IEC 61730.

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