L R AS Published on Sunday 18 February 2024 - n° 476 - Categories:Europe, various sectors

2nd article: Photovoltaic technologies developed in France

French R&D is capable of delivering innovations in manufacturing processes and thin-film photovoltaic technologies. For tandem-perovskite,

At the heart of gigafactory projects, the focus is on (quasi)-mature technologies. For CIGS and organic PV, which are being developed on the smallest lines, specific sectors need to be structured.

The French industry wants both to launch with technologies that are mature enough to ensure revenue, and to prepare for technologies that will be on the market in three, five or ten years' time. The leaders of large-scale projects such as Holosolis, Carbon and Voltec Solar have clearly understood this, relying on tandem technologies that they are developing with research institutes.

The low production costs of organic photovoltaic cells and the innovative applications of CIGS can also find outlets in France with smaller-scale production lines. With innovations from the CNRS and INES in particular, these projects seek to industrialise innovative processes and create value by structuring quasi-integrated supply chains.

French manufacturers are focusing on TOPCon technology ("tunnel oxide passivated contacts"), which is gradually gaining ground, while at the same time improving thin-film tandem technologies.

Holosolis, Carbon and Voltec Solar have the same strategy: to use mature technology while investing in thin-film technology and the perovskite-silicon tandem.

Holosolis is developing its 2T cells in partnership with the Institut Photovoltaïque d'Île-de-France (IPVF) and the German Fraunhofer ISE institute for the design of the production tool.

Carbon is already planning the industrial development of the 6th generation of "tandem" solar cells, which combine two semiconductors to capture a larger part of the solar spectrum. The study focuses on the so-called 2-terminal silicon-perovskite tandem technology, which will make it possible to perpetuate the investments made in the 5th generation and achieve higher yields (in excess of 30%). Work is also focused on stabilising perovskites, which could be marketed in three to four years' time.

Voltec Solar already produces P and N types (TOPCon and heterojunction). The company plans to present a 4T perovskite-silicon tandem panel demonstrator in 2025, then increase capacity to 5 GW in 2030.

In the 4T tandem, the thin layer of perovskite is placed on glass and the assembly is integrated with a standard silicon cell as an underlayer. According to the IPVF, with which Voltec is collaborating on R&D, this innovation makes it possible to achieve a conversion efficiency of 30% at panel level. For Voltec, it is the technology and the efficiency of the product that will enable it to enter the market.

CIGS and organic PV:

The Soy PV project aims to set up a CIGS (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) production line in France, highlighting the advantages of this technology, which can be adapted to flexible, lightweight substrates. It would draw on the skills of the research teams based on the Saclay plateau (university, CNRS, IPVF and industrial cluster, including EDF), and the French manufacturers of the flexible Solar Cloth panel.

This product is easy to install because electrochemical deposition followed by heat treatment has been developed in France. The first part of the production line is already ready. Funding is currently being sought to set up the final production line. A start to marketing in 2025 on small series would be followed by a production capacity of 30 MW by 2030.

Organic technology still seems too immature to be developed. This is why the Armor group has sold its Asca assets to concentrate on the 2T tandem (alongside Holosolis). It will continue to produce semi-finished organic photovoltaic coils, in the hope that the technology has not said its last word.


PV Magazine 14 February 2024

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