In the last decade or so, the amount of solar power that has been installed has grown with tremendous rates. Unfortunately, the finance crisis has resulted in stunned growth within the solar industry. New technologies that promises to push the prices of solar power down, gives us new hope. In this article, I’m going to look closer at two new companies, Twin Creek Technologies and Ampulse Corporation, that both have developed methods to reduce the use of silicon material without compromising the PV-cells ability to generate electricity.
We’ve all read the monocrystalline vs polycrystalline vs thin film solar panels war and it sure can be confusing. Just to be clear, both companies mentioned above uses silicon as the ground material to create thin film solar cells, which are highly flexible, but still generate electricity at high efficiencies.
Let’s first look at the major drawbacks of conventional methods to produce PV-cells from crystalline-silicon:
- The processes themselves generate a lot of waste in the form of silicon. In fact, more than half of the silicon the silicon that is put into the production line comes out as waste.
- Manufacturing of conventional crystalline-silicon solar panels uses a lot of energy, which results in higher costs for the end user.
- The thickness of the solar wafers themselves can be reduced without compromising the effectiveness of the PV-cells themselves. In other words, we can make solar cells that are just as effective for less silicon material.
Ampulse Corporation – Chemical Vapor Deposition Process
The heart of Ampulse’s manufacturing process is that they grow silicon by a deposition process that “grows” silicon by the use of a textured metal foil from the vapor phase. This does not require as high temperatures that is used in convectional crystalline-silicon growth processes.
Twin Creek Technologies – Ion Implanting
Without going to deep into this technology, Twin Creek’s ion implanting machine, is able to produce solar wafers without the use of conventional equipment such as saws and furnaces.
Both manufacturing technologies’ main advantage is that they use much less silicon wafer. The produced solar cells are 10-20 microns thin, somewhere around one tenth of a typical solar wafer. This is what’s responsible for large parts of the costs when it comes to traditional solar panels, and by reducing the use of this material, prices naturally goes down.
Less than 50 Cents per Watt
Both companies promises to develop technologies that long-term will result in the prices of solar power to drop below 50 cents per watt, which is almost half of what today’s prices are.
Within the category of renewable energy, and especially within solar power, new patents with groundbreaking new technologies are secured every week – only a small fraction that actually reaches the market. On the other hand, the two companies we’ve talked about in this article both has strong points and shows a lot of promise. Only time will tell if the technologies of Ampulse Corporation and Twin Creek Technologies will pan out.