Aussie’s Origin JV seeks PV solar help from Micron

Origin Energy Ltd. and Micron Technology have formed a 50/50 joint venture targeting photovoltaic technology, a combination presumably aimed to help the Australian energy company achieve new levels of high-volume manufacturing efficiencies.

January 27, 2010 – Origin Energy Ltd. and Micron Technology have formed a 50/50 joint venture targeting photovoltaic technology, a combination presumably aimed to help the Australian energy company achieve new levels of high-volume manufacturing efficiencies.

Details were scarce in a brief press release, indicating only that there are perceived benefits in combining Origin’s work with solar PV technology. Besides reselling Sharp multicrystalline silicon solar modules, the company also has been working on technology from the Australian National University dubbed “Sliver”, in which deep narrow grooves are micromachined perpendicular to a silicon wafer surface (typically <40μm wide on a 1-2mm thick wafer), resulting in thin silicon strips (~50-80μm, 600-800mm long) in the center, supported by the silicon substrate at the wafer edge. Touted benefits of SLIVER: low temperature coefficient (helps increase module efficiencies) high power-to-weight ratio and potential for semitransparency (for more flexible module designs including building-integrated PV); and uses less mono/polycrystalline silicon (though this is less of an issue as Si prices stay low).

The firm has an R&D and pilot manufacturing facility in Adelaide and initial certification (IEC 61215 and 61730) for commercial panels produced in “limited volumes.” Stated needs, according to Origin, are to increase Watts/wafer, and improve development of large-scale manufacturing processes — something presumably memory chipmaker Micron would know something about.


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