GTAT Bringing Merlin To Solar Industry

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This is an interview with the team (Sr. Vice President/General Manager Dr. Venkatesan Murali, Sr. Director of Marketing Jeff Nestel-Patt, and Vice President of Sales Andrew Barta) from GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) at San Francisco, CA, during InterSolar North America 2014, on July 9, 2014,overlooking the Yerba Buena Gardens on top of Moscone North. Video below:


As the global demand for solar energy continues to grow while the industry is facing downward pricing pressure, reduced subsidies, and solar trade tensions, it becomes increasingly important for PV manufacturers to achieve further cost reductions and improved cell efficiency. GTAT accomplishes this by introducing the innovative metallization & cell interconnect technology (Merlin Advanced Metallization Technology) that transforms the solar module into a less expensive, more efficient panel that is easier to install.

The Merlin Advanced Metallization Technology enables greater performance than the traditional modules by:

  1. Eliminating up to 80% of the expensive silver paste used in the traditional cells and modules, leading to cost reduction.
  2. The same screen printing equipment installed in cell line can be used to print the segmented fingers onto the cell
  3. Flexible grid that eliminates silver bus bars: a plated copper grid is attached to the segmented fingers on the top of the solar cell. The combination of segmented fingers and flexible grid makes it easier to move current off the cell. The flexible grid provides 20 paths/highways for the current to travel along rather than the three bus bars found on the traditional solar cells.
  4. Reducing shading by bus bars and increasing electrical connections on the surface of the cell  lead to increased cell efficiency and increased power output (by 3-5% compared to standard module).
  5. Improving the interconnection between cells by eliminating the need for stringing and tabbing of the old technology, providing highly flexible and durable way to connect cells while eliminating the bus bar tabs of traditional cells. Cells can therefore be connected closer together, allowing a smaller and more flexible module than the conventional module.
  6. The flexible tabs at the end of each grid solve the problem generally associated with breakage of modules during transport resulting from metal fatigue when ribbons break due to dynamic loading conditions during shipping.
  7. GTAT is almost 50% lighter than the conventional modules.
  8. Easier installation results in lower balance of system costs

(Please also refer to this video for visual demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf2E_Uq3Lzw)

GTAT is already working with select customers to implement Merlin, involving custom-made copper meshes soldered on to PV cells instead of bus bars. GTAT will produce and sell customized copper meshes to customers, and expects to reach a production capacity of 100 MW annually by the end of 2014. In early 2015, it will begin to offer a wire attachment tool to customers, which will replace the tabbing stringer. Orders may be taken in last quarter of 2014, so in 2015, solar PV module makers will be able to work with this new technology to replace silver bus bars with a customizable copper mesh, reducing silver usage, increasing power output, and allowing lighter modules to be transported and installed.

GT Advanced Technologies Inc. is a global provider of polysilicon production technology and sapphire and silicon crystalline growth systems and materials for the global solar, LED, and other electronics industries and specialty markets. The company’s products and services accelerate the adoption of new advanced materials that improve performance and lower the cost of manufacturing. For additional information about GT Advanced Technologies, please visit www.gtat.com.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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