- Oxford PV announced construction completion of Brandenburg facility, with 100 MW annual capacity
- It has also terminated the exclusive relationship it had with Meyer Burger
- Meyer Burger has threatened to explore legal options to enforce its rights after what it called as an ‘unexpected announcement’
Meyer Burger Technology Ltd has revealed that its perovskite tandem technology partner Oxford PV has terminated their collaboration agreement on its own for its ‘own strategic reasons’, forcing Meyer Burger to start considering legal options to enforce its rights. Meyer Burger is the single largest stakeholder of Oxford PV with 19.76% share. Oxford PV is the global leader in the development of perovskite silicon tandem technology, holding the world record efficiency for that technology considered to be the most promising next generation solar cell to follow on today’s single junction crystalline silicon cells (see Oxford PV Claims 29.52% Perovskite Solar Cell Efficiency).
Both the companies had been in an exclusive partnership to mass produce perovskite tandem solar cell technology using Meyer Burger’s heterojunction (HJT) silicon cell technology and other ‘novel’ perovskite production equipment. They were to jointly develop the required technology (see Oxford PV Places CHF 18Mn Order With Meyer Burger).
On July 23, 2021 Oxford PV announced having completed the construction of its manufacturing facility in Germany’s Brandenburg an der Havel where it will start first volume manufacturing line of its perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells with an annual capacity of 100 MW. It now said that complete ramp up is expected to start in 2022. However, the company’s CTO, Chris Case reportedly said that one of the three perovskite tools has yet to arrive at the facility. This puts a question of the announced readiness of the facility.
In a statement, Oxford PV confirmed, “With the achievement of this factory milestone, Oxford PV has terminated its exclusive relationship with Meyer Burger.” While a company spokesperson told TaiyangNews that it had reached out to Meyer Burger before going out with the news in public domain, the latter called it an ‘unexpected announcement’.
Meyer Burger not only was a leading equipment supplier for many cell technologies including HJT, the Swiss/German company has acquired long experience and strong know-how in the HJT field, perhaps next only to the HJT inventor Panasonic. Meyer Burger’s Smart Wire module technology is one of its kind cell connection method suitable for low temperature processing. With HJT being a great fit for a bottom cell for perovskite based tandem devices, perovskite leader Oxford PV had a competitive advantage through their cooperation with Meyer Burger. But when Meyer Burger changed its business model turning into a cell/module maker, it was clear that the two companies would inevitably become competitors at some point.
However, Oxford PV’s breakup with Meyer Burger raises many questions, leaving aside contractual terms. What cell technology will be used as the bottom cell for Oxford PV’s tandem structure, if not for HJT? If Oxford PV continues with HJT, it would be interesting to understand how they deal with Meyer Burger’s many patents for the HJT structure? There are also no other HJT PECVD tool suppliers around in Europe beyond Meyer Burger. Will Meyer Burger still provide product support and maintenance to Oxford PV? And would Oxford PV choose HJT equipment made in China in the long run? What are the reasons for Oxford PV’s changes in ramp up timeline and capacity buildout?
Oxford PV’s spokesperson told TaiyangNews that there are alternative suppliers for HJT production equipment that it can consider, without sharing any further details.
In August 2019, the company had announced, “it has placed an order with Meyer Burger, for a turnkey 100 MW silicon heterojunction solar cell line. Oxford PV’s phased ordering of equipment will continue over the coming months. This will include the order of a second silicon heterojunction solar cell line and associated perovskite top cell production equipment. The complete 250 MW production line will commence perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell production at the end of 2020.”
On the other hand, Meyer Burger said that Oxford PV’s announcement will have no impact on its existing guidance. Meyer Burger’s assessment was and is that the perovskite tandem technology will only reach the required technology and process maturity, product reliability and cost structure for competitive mass production in a few years. Any consequences of Oxford PV’s announcement therefore have no impact on the success of Meyer Burger’s transformation nor on Meyer Burger’s communicated guidance. The company further added that the perovskite tandem technology is also an integral part of its own technology roadmap.
“Based on its own developments and know-how, Meyer Burger has a comprehensive portfolio of processes, technologies and production techniques for its own potential mass production of tandem solar cells and modules,” stated Meyer Burger. “This includes the essential manufacturing processes and machines for perovskite tandem solar cells and corresponding solar modules with Meyer Burger’s proprietary SmartWire interconnection technology. Meyer Burger thus holds a key to critical success factors such as product reliability and cost-efficient mass production.”