- SunPower has announced it is in late stage discussions with First Solar to develop a tandem solar module exclusively for the company’s rooftop solar business
- First Solar will be using its proprietary thin film silicon free PV technology on the top with crystalline silicon on the bottom of the module
- Product is expected to be available to customer within 18 to 24 months, SunPower said during its Analyst Day 2022
Once competitors in the space of solar PV manufacturing, US solar giants SunPower Corporation and First Solar, Inc plan to collaborate to bring out a tandem solar module in to mass production. The module will comprise First Solar’s proprietary thin film solar technology on top, with crystalline silicon on the rear, and the final product to be provided exclusively by SunPower for rooftop solar segment.
The pair will put together the best of their expertise, which are complementing, especially with regard to the tandem technology. While SunPower, making the announcement on March 31, 2022 during its Analyst Day, did not specify where the silicon part of the module will come from since First Solar’s proprietary thin film solar technology is silicon free, one can assume it will be supplied by SunPower since the company has its roots in developing the highest efficiency crystalline silicon technology (IBC).
SunPower’s manufacturing spin-off Maxeon Solar Technologies headquartered in Singapore, now produces the IBC modules for the US company which now focuses solely on the downstream business in the residential solar segment.
According to SunPower’s Chief Product Officer Nate Coleman, the tandem module is aimed at capturing high energy photons on the top with First Solar’s proprietary thin film technology, and low energy photons at the rear with crystalline silicon layer which is expected to increase its efficiency too.
On the front side, the module will have transparent back contact and glass covering, the silicon side will have glass or backsheet covering it.
SunPower said it will be the most sophisticated technology commercially available for residential consumers for the premium segment as Coleman added that ‘nothing else like this currently exists in the marketplace’.
Both the potential partners are currently in late-stage discussions on the plan, and will share details about annual capacity, efficiency and pricing once a formal deal is in place. The stacked tandem solar module will be available to customers in 18 to 24 months, the management indicated.
First Solar has its US manufacturing centered in Ohio where it is also expanding currently. The company is known for its silicon free production process, so it will be interesting to see it bringing out a module that also incorporates silicon, more so since most tandem cells are still being explored in the laboratory setting, largely comprising perovskite with silicon.
Interestingly, both SunPower and First Solar earlier partnered for 8point3, their joint venture YieldCo which they sold to Capital Dynamics in 2018.