SCHMID has made a name for themselves worldwide as the technology leader in the photovoltaic, printed circuit board and flat panel display sectors. As one of the leading manufacturers of integrative process solutions, SCHMID operates worldwide and offers high-quality solutions from the innovative individual process to the complete turnkey system.
The production of solar cells is a sophisticated process, which places high demands on the technology of the system. Dr. Christian Buchner, Vice President of Business Unit Cell at SCHMID GROUP and President of SCHMID Technology GmbH, talks about what makes SCHMID the technology leader in the photovoltaic industry.
Reported by Jeanny H. Lim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Schmid is one of the leading manufacturers of photovoltaic process solutions offering solutions from the innovative individual process to the complete turnkey system. To help our readers understand you better, please give us a brief account on how Schmid entered the solar photovoltaic business.
Since the 60th of the last century, Schmid has been a leading company in the electronics industry, especially the PCB industry. In 2001, Schmid strategically decided to enter the PV industry. The first step was done by acquiring an automation company in Germany, which already had delivered module equipment, and then by introducing its wet process systems, well known in the PCB industry, also for horizontal wet processing of wafers.
Could you tell us some of the competitive edges that differentiate you from your competitors in the solar market?
Our offering covers the whole value chain from silicon to module with equipment almost 100% manufactured by Schmid. Running the industry’s biggest technology centers for each part of this value chain, we not only improve our equipment performance for yield, efficiency and OPEX reduction, but also push continuously the device technology ahead.
In the photovoltaic market, what is your priority this year, business-wise and technology-wise?
After our successful introduction of our Selective Emitter (SE) technology into production last year, we now will focus on bringing the manufacturing costs down, diamant sawing and our new wafer cleaning, fine line touch free metallization, backside passivation and a new module concept supporting SE and fine line metallization. Business-wise, we will extend our business to modern battery technologies support storage electricity generated by PV.
Producing high-efficiency solar cells in a cost-effective way has always been the issue for the solar industry. How is Schmid tackling it?
We tackle the issue of producing high-efficiency solar cells in a cost-effective way by continuously improving all manufacturing processes of a standard solar cell as well as the interfaces between silicon, wafers, cells and modules. We still believe there is much potential to reach 19% module efficiency without introducing new concepts like IBCs.
How much investment and effort are put into innovations at Schmid?
Huge efforts. You can see that from the fact that we run industrial-scale manufacturing for silicon to module in our technology centers without selling end products, but just doing R&D on industrial production systems.
What’s next at Schmid as you strive to improve your technologies and drive solar manufacturing innovation?
At the PVSEC this year in Hamburg, we will introduce a new technology that reduces manufacturing costs by 6 cents per watt peak. That’s a quantum leap.
What have you been doing to grow your presence in the international solar arena?
Presence at all major shows and conferences worldwide as well as expanding our strong sales and service team in all major PV manufacturing countries.
What are your expectations for the development of the PV market in Germany and Europe in the coming years?
The growth rate will definitely slow down and may come to zero in Germany. However, new markets will grow in India, China and Korea.
Schmid has introduced a selective emitter technology and claimed the utilization concept of the selective emitter increases the efficiency of the solar cell by up to 0.8%. Could you please explain about this technology and why you see it has a future?
We do use a masking and back etching process. Since we do start with a highly doped emitter, we do see this process as the only process having a large process window. It can be controlled by and in situ closed control loop and has the big advantage that even if misalignment occurs during the metallization, we still do get a reasonable solar cell. All other processes introduced to the industry starting with a lightly doped emitter have smaller process windows and create shunting. In our belief, this will become the standard in PV manufacturing very quickly.
How do you evaluate your performance last year and how much growth do you expect for this year?
Last year, we grew about 30% and we fortunately do see the same for this year if not a bit more.
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