Kyocera Achieves to Reduce Solar Cell Thickness

03 June 2008

KYOTO/Neuss – Kyocera is combating the rapid expansion of demands for silicon in the solar industry with the mass production of a new solar cell of 180 micrometres in thickness using the latest advances in silicon ingot slicing and wafer coating. The new achievement in the company's manufacturing process offers higher efficiency in its consumption of multicrystalline silicon, the essential raw material used to make photovoltaic solar cells and modules.

The new multicrystalline silicon solar cell with a thickness of only 180 micrometres provides further evidence of Kyocera’s innovative power: The industry’s standard mass-production methods currently yield multicrystalline silicon solar cells 200 to 260 micrometres in thickness. The achievement is one element of a broader strategy by Kyocera to more than double its global production capacity for solar modules within the next three years, while minimizing its consumption of silicon, according to Mitsuru Imanaka, President of Kyocera in Europe.
“Long-term contracts with our supplier partners assure us of sufficient silicon stocks to expand our production output of about 207 megawatts of solar modules in 2007 to a target of 500 megawatts by March 2011,” Imanaka stated.

In addition to reducing cell thickness, the company’s R&D priorities include continuous improvement in the energy conversion efficiency of its solar cells. Kyocera reported achieving a new world record of 18.5 percent efficiency in October 2006, using a design with electrical contacts mounted on the backside of the cell. This increases the active area on the front, i.e. more light hits the cell surface, leading to increased power output. The company plans to have cells of this design in mass production by March 2010.

Kyocera’s continuous R&D efforts in solar energy technologies since 1975 have made the company a world leader in photovoltaic cells and modules ― enabling it to supply fully integrated solutions, from components to complete solar electric generating systems. In 1982, Kyocera was the first company to mass produce multicrystalline silicon solar cells using the casting method. By producing all of its own components, without outsourcing or procuring any semi-finished products, the company consistently delivers industry-leading quality and reliability.