Suzhou Maxwell Technologies (Maxwell) announced on May 30 via a press release that the conversion efficiency rate of the HJT cell made with its own mass production process has reached 25.05%, which is a new record high for mass produced HJT cells. The performance of the cell, which is M6 (166mm x 223mm) in size, has been certified by the Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin (ISFH), Germany. Maxwell is a Chinese provider of manufacturing equipment for PV cells. The company is noted for having a dominant market share for screen printing solutions.
The HJT cells that was tested at ISFH was made with process technologies that were developed in-house by Maxwell. The entire manufacturing process for the product is ready for mass production. In terms of conversion efficiency rate, Maxwell’s HJT cell has been certified to have surpassed 25%. The conversion efficiency rates of most of the existing HJT cells are below this threshold. Thus, Maxwell has not only demonstrated significant advances in laboratory research but also achieved the feat of crossing over the present conversion efficiency threshold for mass produced HJT cells. This event can be regarded as a milestone in the commercialization of HJT cells in the PV market.
Figure: IV Characteristics of Maxwell’s HJT Cell (Source: ISFH.)
Maxwell has employed over 200 technicians and engineers for the R&D of HJT cells and the related vacuum equipment. The low-cost and high-capacity manufacturing solutions that they have devised encompass PECVD, PVD, low-temperature screen printing, and LED light soaking. These are also the core technologies of the cell production process. At the same time, Maxwell is also developing advanced manufacturing solutions for PV modules.
In January 2019, Maxwell began the development of the equipment that are used in the production of HJT cells. Since then, the company has launched its first and second generations of PECVD systems. The first generation has a production capacity of 200MW, whereas the production capacity of the second generation is twice that (i.e., 400MW). Maxwell is the first Chinese equipment provider to offer a complete turnkey solution for manufacturing high-efficiency HJT cells. In other words, the company is the first in China to have localized the entire production line for HJT cells.
With the best theoretical conversion efficiency rate of 27.5%, HJT cells have the potential of becoming a rising star in the PV market in the future. Its numerous advantages include low degradation rate, low temperature coefficient, excellent backside power generation (or bifaciality), and excellent low-light performance. Hence, the generation gain within the lifecycle of a module could be significant with the adoption of HJT cells.
Additionally, the manufacturing process for HJT cells is more streamlined and consumes less energy when compared with the manufacturing processes for other high-efficiency cell technologies. The production of HJT cells mainly involves these four processing steps: wafer texturing, PECVD, PVD, and screen printing. HJT cells could serve as a platform technology on which cell manufacturers can overlay additional advanced processes to further improve conversion efficiency and power output. All in all, the PV industry could use the flexibility offered by HJT cells to simultaneously achieve lower cost and higher efficiency.
As one of the leading providers of equipment in the PV industry, Maxwell remains committed to in-house R&D and localization of manufacturing technologies. The company also stated that it will continue to be a pioneer in the development of cutting-edge technologies for the mass production of high-efficiency cells. By maintaining both a comprehensive view of the industry and a customer-oriented approach, Maxwell will explore various paths for improving the production of HJT cells in terms of yield rate, production capacity, cost, etc. The company will also promote HJT cells in different application segments of the PV market, thereby contributing to the sustained growth of the industry.