Metallization innovation lowers solar module costs, boost efficiency
GT estimates that current solar total system costs are around $2.90/Wp but the Merlin technology is capable of reducing the total system cost by more than 10 percent.
The Merlin technology, which includes a flexible grid that replaces the three silver bus bars, will reduce the amount of expensive silver paste while improving panel efficiency. Merlin could reduce silver content by up to 80 percent. The modules are expected to be more reliable and durable and enable form factors that are lighter and easier to handle resulting in lower shipment and installations costs.
"We are very excited about the progress we are making in developing what we believe will be a true game-changing technology to lower the cost of solar modules," said Tom Gutierrez, GT’s president and CEO. "Our Merlin technology uses mature, proven manufacturing processes to produce the flexible grids and we are confident that we can scale grid production to meet the requirements of the solar industry. Our Merlin technology is expected to fundamentally change the way modules will be manufactured, shipped and installed in the future."
GT’s patented Merlin technology integrates into existing cell and module manufacturing lines with simple changes to the screen used for patterning segmented fingers onto the solar cell. The segmented fingers are thinner and produce less shading than conventional fingers. The combination of the flexible grid and the segmented fingers results in lower resistive losses thereby increasing cell and module efficiency. Additionally, the on-cell and cell-to-cell interconnect features of the grid make the module substantially more resilient when subjected to temperature cycling and mechanical flexing. Merlin technology will enable customers to design highly reliable, lightweight, lower cost modules that are less expensive to install.
GT Advanced Technologies, which has already filed 12 patents relating to the Merlin technology, plans to comission the company’s first grid manufacturing line in the second half of 2014. The Merlin solution is scheduled to be commercially available in 2015.
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