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The Completion of the Center for Advanced Solar PV Technology, a Forefront for Next-generation Ultra-gap Technology

  • Date 2024-03-27
    Writer 관리자 Views 414

- The Korea Institute of Energy Research has constructed the country's only open innovation platform for solar power, thereby enhancing the national industrial competitiveness.

- Construction of a forward-looking, enterprise-customized infrastructure capable of developing mass production technology for next-generation solar cells.
- Enhancing competitiveness in process and performance evaluation technology through strengthened cooperation with leading global institutions

An open solar power innovation platform for securing global competitiveness in carbon-free energy innovation technology, specifically solar cells, and for the development of next-generation technologies has been completed. As the only platform in the country where companies can verify the manufacturing process and performance before mass production of their developed products, it is expected to open new horizons for the development of domestic solar power technology.

The Korea Institute of Energy Technology (hereinafter referred to as 'KIER') held a completion ceremony for the 'Center for Advanced Solar PV Technology' (hereinafter referred to as 'the CAST') on March 27th at 2 PM, located in the Sindong district of the International Science Business Belt in Daejeon.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) evaluates solar power as a technology that will play a crucial role in achieving climate goals. It is projected that the new installation capacity of global renewable energy, including solar power, will reach 1.1 terawatts (TW) in 2024. In response to China's monopoly over the solar value chain, major countries are actively supporting policies to protect their domestic industries and strengthen energy security, along with the development of the solar industry and technology.

The KIER plans to enhance the efficiency of national research and development related to solar power and strengthen industrial competitiveness through academia-industry-research collaboration at the research center. This collaboration will focus on developing ultra-gap new technologies, developing and verifying mass production technologies, and securing advanced performance and efficiency measurement technologies through cross-comparison with leading global institutions.

Despite possessing world-class solar cell and module technology, domestic solar power companies have faced difficulties in price competition. To overcome this, the CAST has been designed to fully reflect the requirements of domestic companies and enable the verification of manufacturing processes and performance of products developed by companies before mass production. By verifying various elements and mass production technologies that form the basis of innovative technologies through the CAST, it has become possible to maximize the potential for product commercialization and cost reduction.

The CAST, spanning an area of 2,400 pyeong (approximately 7,920 square meters), is equipped with a 50 megawatt (MW) class solar cell manufacturing clean room and a 100 megawatt class large-area solar module pilot manufacturing line. This setup enables the development and verification across all sectors, including the manufacture of solar cell modules, reliability evaluation, and technologies related to the supply chain encompassing related materials, parts, and equipment.

The CAST is equipped with manufacturing lines not only for commercial silicon solar cells (PERC*), which account for 70% of the market share, but also for the latest technologies expected to dominate the market within the next 10 years: charge-selective solar cells (TOPcon)* and heterojunction solar cells (HJT)*. Additionally, since the process lines were constructed using equipment and process technology developed by domestic companies, The CAST can also serve as a test bed for domestically produced equipment, contributing to the enhancement of the equipment's export capabilities abroad.

*PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Contact) is a leading commercial silicon solar cell technology with a market share of over 70%. It employs technology that suppresses surface recombination within the solar cell, thereby enhancing its efficiency.

*TOPCon (Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact) is a technology that enhances conversion efficiency by inserting a thin oxide layer within the silicon solar cell structure. Its market share is expected to rise from approximately 10% in 2022 to 60% by 2033, becoming the mainstream technology in the market.

*HJT (Heterojunction Technology) involves a structure that adds an amorphous silicon thin film to monocrystalline silicon, enhancing efficiency by reducing surface energy loss during photovoltaic conversion. Although currently holding less than 10% of the global market share, it is expected that its share will increase to over 25% within the next 10 years.

In the pilot line for large-area solar modules, it is possible to manufacture large modules using cells of various sizes. The Photovoltaics Research Department of the KIER has successfully manufactured high-output commercial silicon solar cell modules with a maximum output of more than 660 watts (W) using the pilot line, thereby also completing the verification of the mass production capability of the developed equipment.

Additionally, the KIER plans to take the lead in international standardization for the measurement of tandem solar cells, an area that currently lacks international accredited standards, through the CAST. We aim to secure measurement technology for large-area tandem solar cell modules and proceed with early commercialization.

In addition to the mentioned initiatives, the CAST aims to establish itself as an "open innovation platform" that not only responds to the immediate issues faced by domestic companies but also contributes to the development of next-generation innovative technologies following the carbon-neutral technology development road-map. It seeks to promote industrial development and job creation, global cooperation and the cultivation of specialized personnel, and contribute to sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.

During the welcoming speech at the completion ceremony, KIER President Yi Chang-keun stated, "In line with the purpose of establishing the CAST as a solar power open innovation platform, we will contribute to the creation of national growth engines and the leadership of South Korea's solar power technology through enhanced academia-industry-research collaborative research."

Kim Sang-hyup, the private sector chairman of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth & Carbon Neutrality, who attended the completion ceremony, stated, "Solar power is one of the carbon-free energy technologies that play a pivotal role in carbon neutrality," and expressed his expectation that "the CAST will greatly contribute not only to national carbon neutrality but also to the cultivation of climate tech and the global market expansion of our companies as a test bed for the development of next-generation technologies."

Meanwhile, the research center was established with the support of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy's Energy Technology Infrastructure Enhancement Project and the Daejeon Metropolitan City.

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