The NextBase consortium consists of 14 partners from 8 different EU countries:
– Forschungszentrum Jülich GmBh (DE) – Jülich
– Csem centre Suisse d’electronique et de microtechnique sa – recherche et developpement (CH) – CSEM
– Interuniversitair micro- electronicacentrum IMEC vzw (BE) – IMEC
– Helmholtz-zentrum berlin fur materialien und energie gmbh (DE) – HZB
– Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (CH) – EPFL
– Fraunhofer gesellschaft zur foerderung der angewandten forschung e.v. (DE) – Fraunhofer
– Technische Universiteit Delft (NL) – TUD
– Commissariat a l energie atomique et aux energies alternatives (FR) – CEA
– Fyzikalni ustav av cr v.v.i (CZ) – FZU
– Meyer burger research ag (CH) – MBR
– Enel green power (IT) – EGP
– DSM advanced surfaces bv (NL) – DSM
– Norwegian crystals as (NO) – NC
– Uniresearch bv (NL) – UNR
The NextBase project deals with the development of innovative high performance c-Si solar cells and modules based on the interdigitated back-contacted silicon heterojunction (IBC-SHJ) solar cell concept targeting cells with efficiency above 26.0% and corresponding solar modules with efficiency above 22.0%. At the same time, the NextBase project pursues the development of a new industrial manufacturing tool and low-cost processes enabling a competitive IBC-SHJ solar module cost of < 0.35 €/Wp.
The energy transition from traditional fossil energies to renewable energies is one of the greatest societal challenges of the present generation. Among the different types of renewable energies, photovoltaics (PV) is considered as one of the most stable and matured technologies. The mainstream of the current PV technology is based on crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. The research and development in this field is mainly driven by the improvement of the energy conversion efficiency and the reduction of module production cost.
The commercialization of high-efficiency PV modules based on next-generation c-Si solar cells will depend on their cost competitiveness to the existing conventional c-Si technology. Despite their higher efficiency as compared to the standard Aluminum Back Surface Field (Al-BSF) technology, a large-scale industrial changeover to these new concepts has not yet been initiated due to several reasons:
– Wafer manufacturers need to make a huge change in their production lines from p-type to high quality n-type mono wafer;
– Cell and module manufacturers also have to significantly upgrade their production line with new equipment or invest in new production lines;
– The simple process and thus the low production cost of the Al-BSF currently used in industry is yet hard to compete with by new technologies.
High-efficiency solar modules by SunPower (USA) and Panasonic (Japan) in “interdigitated back contact (IBC)” and “silicon heterojunction (SHJ)” configurations, respectively, are already commercially available.
The project aims to conclude the 3 years of research with the development of competitive cells/components and reliable modules. It is expected to have approx. 2 year of research activities and one year of test/validation; even if collaboration and discussion for the optimization of the technology will be a constant factor during the entire project.
Most of the research work will be performed in the lab of the university and research institute across Europe (Germany, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic) ; while the demonstration tests (real environment) foreseen for reliability assessment of the NextBase modules will be carried at EGP’s sites (Italy).
The expected outcome of this project is to realize IBC-SHJ solar cells with efficiency above 26.0% and corresponding solar modules with efficiency above 22.0%. In particular, a number of new designs, new generations of materials and process innovations throughout the wafer, cell and module fabrication that go beyond the state-of-the-art will be introduced into the device to achieve the targeted efficiency values. Numerical simulations at device level and energy yield modeling at module level will additionally support the evaluation of the potential of the innovations brought into the IBC-SHJ device. The relatively large discrepancy between targeted cell and module efficiency is due to the stronger focus on the cell development. Nevertheless, there is sufficient room for achieving IBC-SHJ module efficiencies well above 22.0% beyond the NextBase project. The very high efficiency of the IBC-SHJ technology, as long as the costs are not higher, is the key driver for cost reduction of IBC-SHJ based PV systems, since the increase of efficiency gives rise to the direct decrease of the levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE). A LCOE close to 0.04€/kWh in the Sunbelt region can be expected based on the targeted module efficiency and cost.