Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.
Successful completion of this project will lead to a multi-megawatt thin-film factory for producing full-size panels to supply electricity to the mains directly from sunlight.
With the assistance of a $1 million grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, Pacific Solar Pty Ltd will install the first solar power systems to use low-cost thin-film photovoltaic technology invented and developed entirely in Australia. The rooftop solar systems will be deployed to produce electricity directly from sunlight and supply it to the electricity mains.
This project is an important step in the commercialisation of Pacific Solar's thin-film photovoltaic technology. The solar panels for these systems will be produced on Pacific Solar's small-scale pilot line located in Botany, New South Wales, with a view to progressively improving the commercial viability of the crystalline silicon on glass technology. With each installation, a report will be submitted assessing the manufacturing cost of the sequence used to produce the thin-film panels compared with that used in previous installations.
Pacific Solar was formed in 1995 as a spin-off from the University of New South Wales, for the purpose of commercialising photovoltaic technology based on thin films of polycrystalline silicon deposited directly onto a glass superstrate. This crystalline silicon on glass technology combines the low manufacturing cost of thin films with the established strengths of crystalline silicon. The development of this technology has progressed steadily, first using individual cells then more recently using modules having an active area between 480 and 900cm2, as illustrated at right. The efficiency of the pilot-line modules is now comparable with other thin-film solar technologies and, importantly, this technology has been found to have the remarkably high yield and stability expected from crystalline silicon, properties essential for low-cost manufacturing and market acceptance.
The low manufacturing cost projected for this technology is due in large part to the usual thin-film manufacturing advantages of monolithic series interconnection of individual solar cells and large unit size for handling during manufacturing. Some particular attributes of the crystalline silicon on glass technology that further reduce the manufacturing cost are:
- its high yield
- the ability to deposit the antireflection coating and all of the semiconductor layers together in a single vacuum process
- no transparent conducting oxides, and
- the incorporation of a light-trapping scheme so effective that less than 2mm of silicon is required.
The pilot-line modules have been interconnected to make prototype large-area modules similar to those that would be produced in a full-scale factory on a single sheet of glass. A prototype module is shown at left mounted on an outdoor test stand. The four systems deployed for this RECP project will use an array of these prototype modules and have a total rated power ranging from 600 watts for the first system to 1000 watts for the fourth system. The first two systems will be mounted on the roof at Pacific Solar where they can be closely monitored, but the other two systems will be situated for high public visibility.
For more information please contact
Dr Paul Basore
Pacific Solar Pty Ltd
82 Bay Street
Botany NSW 2019
Tel (02) 9316 6811
Fax (02) 9666 4079
Project details are also available for downloading as PDF files.
- Download Deployment of Australian thin-film photovoltaic technology
(pv7.pdf - 729 KB)
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