Various energy news outlets have reported that South Korean PV cell manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells will be investing 15.5 million euros into its technology and innovation center in Thalheim, Germany.
The additional investment will be used to develop technologies related to N-type cells and next-generation modules. It is on top of the 20 million euros that Q Cells had earmarked last year for acquiring new equipment. The company is already spending around 35 million euros annually in R&D. Photon.info, a news site covering the PV industry, estimates that with this latest investment, the company will have more than 140 million euros for R&D from this point to 2023.
The 15.5 million is reportedly going to be used for developing N-type cells and modules. SOLARZOOM, another news site covering the PV industry, said that the technological path that Q Cells has chosen for its N-type products is TOPCon. In the view of the company, TOPCon is the cell technology that will eventually become mainstream. The reason is that the efficiency and output gains through TOPCon are significant. This, in turn, leads to a substantial reduction in the cost per kWh for PV generation as well. Moreover, the existing production lines for PERC cells can be converted into production lines for TOPCon cells with relative ease.
Commenting on the latest R&D efforts, Daniel Jeong, CTO of Q Cells, said that “technological excellence” and “leadership” remain the core values of his company. Jeong further explained that the product roadmap that Q Cells has formulated is to ensure that the company will continue to be the trendsetter in the development of new generations of cells and modules for many years to come. As for this year, Jeong said that the work on N-type cells is already in progress. Furthermore, Q Cells will be launching high-efficiency modules based on Q.ANTUM NEO, which is the successor cell technology to Q.ANTUM.
According to the information given by Q Cells, Q.ANTUM NEO is an N-type cell that attains further efficiency and output gains through passivating contacts. Q.TRON is the name for the modules that adopt this “era-defining” cell technology. Q Cells said that compared with the current P-type modules on the market, Q.TRON offers a much higher level of conversion efficiency. Besides N-type cells, the company’s technology and innovation center in Germany is also developing tandem cells with perovskite materials. In December last year, South Korean news agencies reported that Q Cells will lead a consortium of university research teams and private enterprises in carrying out a government-backed project on the commercialization of perovskite cells.