Currently, several players are active in the HJT arena representing different streams – PV producers, equipment suppliers, research institutes and material suppliers. When it comes to manufacturers, an executive from a European equipment maker, who requested anonymity, said that there are at least 20 to 30 players investigating business cases in different stages. “Some I wouldn’t count as likely to really move forward, but others are more serious,” said the representative, who declined to name the companies. The pack includes both existing larger players as well as startups. Approximately 18 PV producers are currently publicly known to be actively pursuing HJT (see infographic). A number of them are starting production this year, like Enel Green Power in Italy or Ecosolifer in Hungary. The latest on the list, and not yet on the map, is REC, which ordered a 600 MW cell/cell connection HJT line from Meyer Burger.

The list includes expansion plans of established companies, along with the addition of new entrants to PV. And since deposition plays a key role in HJT manufacturing, it is offering silicon thin-film PV makers, which have largely lost their battle against crystalline wafer-based silicon, a second chance to redirect their expertise.

HJT technology can be implemented in existing thin- film production lines without completely redesigning the factory. GS-Solar is one example. The Chinese company was initially in the silicon thin-film PV business and was focusing on every aspect of it – vertical integration from material, equipment, equipment integration, process, module making and all the way downstream to developing solar farms. “It was logical for us to venture into HJT,” says CTO Shulin Wang. GS-Solar has been working on the technology since 2010. Hanergy and Hevel also belong to the ‘old guard’ of thin film PV companies that are developing HJT.

As to the process equipment required, it is mostly makers of deposition tools, such as Meyer Burger, Archers, Von Ardenne, Singulus and GS-Solar, that have been moving toward HJT. In addition to offering key production equipment such as PECVD and PVD, Meyer Burger and GS-Solar are also offering a complete package of turnkey solutions for HJT.

When it comes to process consumables, special silver pastes are required, which are offered by leading paste makers, including Heraeus and DKEM. Research institutes involved in development of HJT are not just confined to research but are also closely working toward commercialization, with a few – such as Europe based CSEM, CEA-INES and Fraunhofer ISE – having already installed pilot lines. CSEM and CEA-INES started working on heterojunction technology quite early – 2006 and 2005 –, respectively. Both research centers cover the entire process chain up to modules and systems starting from texturing at the Swiss institute, while its French counterpart is also active at the wafer level.

This text orignates from our first TaiyangNews Heterojunction Solar Technology Report, which was released in March 2019 and can be downloaded for free here.