The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: December 23, 2009
RUSNANO approves project for bifacial crystalline silicon solar modules
(Nanowerk News) Realization of the project will bring Russian bifacial crystalline silicon solar modules to the world market. The new modules will have efficiency factors that surpass unifacial modules by 10% to 70%—10% when installation is done without additional construction; 70% when reflectors and tracking systems are built. These modules transform direct sunlight as well as light reflected from the natural surface or from specially built reflective elements. The module design is based on patented technology developed by Russian company Solar Wind and research and production company Kvark; the latter—a member-company of the Konti Group.
The main production line for the new modules will begin operating in 2012. Full design capacity should be reached in 2015, bringing production to around 120 MW per year. At that level, the project’s annual sales are forecasted at 11.4 billion rubles. RUSNANO will invest about 2.5 billion rubles in the project.
The modules will be manufactured with silicon layers that are 20 nm to 80 nm thick, the ideal thickness for backside light sensitivity; the element itself will have transparency for infrared emission with wavelengths exceeding 1,100 nm. Production costs for these modules are competitive with those for unifacial units. To exploit the advantages of bifacial solar elements fully, the project plans to develop the technology further in the future. It will also reduce costs of production.
“What we are talking about is establishing Russia’s first commercial production of bifacial solar modules. Its cost is entirely competitive with production of unifacial modules,” RUSNANO Managing Director Konstantin Demetriou explained. “Today solar modules based on monocrystalline technology are the most in demand, thanks to their optimal ratio of cost and effectiveness; their share in the global market for photo energy is now around 80%. This project will diversify the corporation’s portfolio in photo energy and make it possible for a competitive product with original Russian technology to enter the market.”
The global market for solar modules is estimated at $19.9 billion in 2009. Specialists forecast growth to $30.4 billion in 2013 (average annual growth of 9%). If one considers market growth in terms of units, annual increases in installed capacity of solar modules are currently running at 29%; energy production will rise from 5.9 GW in 2009 to 18.5 GW in 2013.
Currently Europeans are the largest consumers of this form of energy. Therefore, the project will target sales of its products to Europe’s solar power facilities in Italy, Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, and other countries. Kvark, the project’s research and production partner, already holds sales contracts for a significant part of planned production capacity.
Solar Wind was founded in 1992 by Russian photovoltaic professionals with extensive experience in hi-tech and space programs. In the past, leading scientists and engineers of the company have developed unique technologies for space-based solar energy conversion systems. Some of those technologies were later used for terrestrial PV applications.
The company manufactures PV products with a proprietary process, using both standard and custom-made equipment and materials and accessories from Russian and foreign vendors.