Reported by Stella Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What are the major products, systems or services your company provides to the Industry?
Today, we cover with our products solutions for the crystalline cell production as well as for thin-film module production.
For crystalline cell production, Manz is offering selective emitter laser doping systems, fully automated wafer/cell tester with sorter and metallization lines with our latest High Accuracy Printer (HAP). Further on we have launched at the end of last year our latest generation of SpeedPicker Automation.
For thin-film module production, we offer on single equipment base laser scribers and mechanical scribers. Further on we offer complete fab automation solutions including cassette handling and storage. Another major product family is our glass cleaners and TCO etching tools. By having signed the know-how licensing and cooperation contract with Wurth Solar, Manz gains the exclusive right to use the worldwide outstanding CIGS production technology of Wurth Solar. Manz is now the only supplier able to offer an integrated and fully-productive production line for bankable CIGS thin-film modules.
Do you think continuous improvements over the past years made you more confident?
Your question is mentioning one important statement, ‘continuous’. Being in such a dynamic industry with lots of changes, continuous smaller and bigger improvements are inevitable for Manz. Let me just give you one example for our thin-film scribing system.
With the development of the Inline Precision Control System (IPCS), Manz has significantly improved the precision of laser scribing facilities. The inline precision control system can reduce the dead area to under 160 micrometers. For comparison, typical market standard for the dead area of solar modules is approximately 350 micrometers.
The secret to the IPCS is a fast control circuit that follows the position of the lowest line through the use of optical components and constantly adjusts the position of the laser scribe so that the distance between the lines is kept as small as possible, all at a scribing speed of up to 1.6 meters a second. In this way, even ‘crooked’ lines created by thermal deformations during the coating process in the substrate can be ‘scribed’ with a low dead area.
Beside the better production yields, the gained increased surface area on the module leads to an increased efficiency and a higher and faster Return of Investment.
What makes you different from other competitors? What is your strength?
Manz has been a global leading equipment supplier for the PV industry since many years ago. Unlike many other companies, Manz is not new to the solar industry. In 1988, at a time when the solar industry was still in a very early stage, Manz already developed the first automation system for processing crystalline solar cells in a pilot manufacturing project. It means our equipment is really dedicated and specifically designed and built for the needs of the solar industry.
After I have given you, with IPCS above, an example for continuous improvements in the thin-film product range, let me give you now an example for our differentiation for the crystalline cell product range.
There is no doubt that more or less all the different selective emitter concepts which are available in the market will result in an efficiency gain on the final cell, but the main question is how many efforts, cost and headache are required to achieve this efficiency gain. For Manz ‘One Step’, we use the dopant material which is already applied in the dop/diffusion process on the wafer. By a controlled laser irradiation, the highly doped finger area is generated by only one additional step. So Manz ‘One Step’ Selective Emitter Laser Doping system is a real ‘sexy’ product, offering lowest investment and running cost paired with lowest technical complexity.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen recently in PV industry? Do you see the industry trend moving toward Asia?
I would say this is not only a trend towards Asia─the PV industry is already there in Asia. For sure, major new investments for increasing production capacities in the entire value chain are driven in very large scale mainly in Asia. Manz as a traditional German engineering and solution provider has already started operations in Asia many years ago. More than half of our worldwide staff is already located in Asia. Just end of February this year, we had our groundbreaking ceremony for our new production site in Suzhou, China. We see in this step another major commitment of Manz for the Asian market and a perfect combination of German engineering and local Asian cost and flexibility.
Compared with 2010, do you expect growth in the global market volume of PV power?
The market will be volatile and dynamic but overall I expect huge growth in the global market. Still almost 50% of all manufactured modules are installed in Germany, which is in global comparison a country with a relatively small area with not so many hours of sunshine. PV still has a very small share in the worldwide produced electrical power. Considering all this, we have to be creative and just imagine if this share will grow from 0.1% to 1% only, the global market for PV has a huge potential.
When do you expect to see grid parity?
Good question but this varies according to so many factors from region to region, cost of the conventional electricity and overall manufacturing costs per watt. Optimistic statements expect grid parity in Germany for 2012. We will increase all our efforts in order to contribute to that aim by further developing equipment for higher efficiency at lower manufacturing cost.
Korea has outstanding strength in semiconductor technologies. The synergies between PV and semiconductor manufacturing are complex but apparent.
Semiconductor and crystalline solar cell manufacturing show many similarities. Many processes in cell production have been proven already many years ago in semi conductor e.g., upcoming implant technologies. However, the main challenge is the ‘downgrading’ and adaption of complex and highly sophisticated manufacturing processes from semiconductor to PV. Comparing a 300 mm wafer for several thousand EUR with. a solar wafer/cell for very few EUR, it is very obvious that certain adaption is required in order to avoid overspecification.
How will the solar industry look in 5 years from now? And your company?
As already mentioned before, the market will become even much more volatile─ consolidations will take place on equipment manufacturer side and also on our customer side. With technologies becoming more mature, there will be more standards which will overall lead to lower manufacturing costs.
Manz will take a very active role in this industry and contribute with most reliable, innovative mass production capable solutions in order to drive the costs per watt down. Overall I am absolutely confident that we are at the right time in the right market and I wish us and our customers a sunny and bright future.
Stella Lee is Editor of InterPV. Send your comments to email@example.com.
For more information, please send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ⓒ2011 www.interpv.net All rights reserved.