GCL Optoelectronic Materials and SC-Solar just signed a strategic cooperation agreement to jointly develop and promote tandem perovskite PV cells. The signing ceremony took place on May 15 in Kunshan and was attended by representatives from both sides. The ceremony was followed by further exchanges. Under the agreement, both companies will be working closely together to develop the equipment and production line for tandem perovskite cells. They will share resources and find ways to complement each other’s strengths with respect to process technology and fabrication equipment. GCL Optoelectronic Materials is a subsidiary of vertically integrated solar enterprise GCL. SC-Solar is a subsidiary of J.S. Machine, which develops packaging and manufacturing solutions for many industries.
Tandem perovskite cells are cells with a perovskite layer and a silicon layer joined together to fully absorb the entire spectrum of sunlight and raise the conversion efficiency rate. Perovskite, which is any material with a crystal structure similar to that of calcium titanium oxide, has recently been introduced to the solar PV sector as an alternative to crystalline silicon (c-Si). The advantages of perovskite over c-Si are higher tolerance to internal defects, fabrication at lower temperature, lower production cost, and higher conversion efficiency. While c-Si materials require almost 100% in purity in order to be acceptable for the PV application, perovskite materials only need to reach around 90% in purity. Moreover, manufacturing silicon wafers for conventional PV cells involves melting polysilicon in a furnace, pulling ingots out of crucibles, and wafer slicing. All of these steps are very energy intensive. By contrast, perovskite layers can be produced with a simple solution deposit method.
It should also be pointed out that conventional c-Si cells have a theoretical limit for the maximum conversion efficiency rate. Therefore, perovskite can help break this ceiling. Currently, tandem cells that comprise perovskite and silicon have attained a conversion efficiency rate of more than 30%. Therefore, the prospect is bright for the adoption of perovskite materials in the solar PV sector.
GCL Optoelectronic Materials was established to devise revolutionary PV technologies and is now committing resources into the manufacturing of large-size PV modules (i.e., 1m x 2m) featuring perovskite cells. The company has already set up the world’s first pilot production line for the product with the production capacity currently at 100MW. At the same time, efforts are being made to raise the conversion efficiency of the perovskite material, improve the stability of the material, and lower the overall production cost. The aim is to significantly scale up production of perovskite products and make this material technology commercially viable.
As a wholly-owned subsidiary of J.S. Machine, SC-Solar mainly engages in the R&D, production, sales, and maintenance of smart manufacturing equipment for wafers, cells, and modules. The company can provide clients with a solution package that encompasses the entire automated production line. With innovations come opportunities, and SC-Solar has begun to develop core manufacturing technologies for HJT cells and tandem perovskite cells. The wider goal of the company is to expand into the cell manufacturing section from the module manufacturing section. By doing so, the company will be able to extend its coverage of the supply chain and accelerate the localization of manufacturing equipment for PV products in China. The company will also contribute to the general progress in the development of the global PV industry.
Although perovskite has its shortcomings related to durability and toxicity, it offers higher efficiency, lower cost, and less energy consumption for the production process. Therefore, many participants in the solar PV sector believe that tandem perovskite cells have a lot of potential and will become one of the leading high-efficiency and low-cost technologies in the future. GCL Optoelectronic Materials together with SC-Solar is expected to be a strong combination as the former is a pioneer in the development of perovskite cells, while the latter has amassed expertise in the development of manufacturing solutions for PV products. The partnership will accelerate the scale-up of the production of tandem perovskite cells in China and thereby upgrade the PV industry as a whole.