Bifacial IBC Solar Pilot To Develop GW Scale Vertically Integrated European Production Value Chain

  • EU is supporting the IBC4EU project with €13.5 million grant under its HORIZON project
  • Coordinated by ISC Konstanz, it will demonstrate the cost competitiveness of bifacial IBC technology vis-à-vis others for GW scale vertically integrated manufacturing in the EU
  • A pilot production facility of IBC wafers, cells and modules will be developed with cost-effective production equipment

The European Commission (EC) has launched its IBC4EU project, coordinated by German research center ISC Konstanz, with an aim to demonstrate bifacial IBC technology as the ‘most promising choice’ for fast launch of GW scale PV production in the European Union (EU).

They target to prove cost competitiveness of the IBC technology against future heterojunction (HJT) and tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) along with present day PERC technology for the polyZEBRA and POLO IBC cells, with a pilot production facility of IBC wafers, cells and modules, interlinked on all levels of production. It is planned to be scaled up to GW level until 2030.

Work constitutes developing cost-effective production equipment while employing eco-design approaches to reduce the need for scarce materials as silicon metal and silver, with no indium.

“The advantage of the chosen IBC technology is that it is based on existing production technology. Thus, the project will focus on improving existing processing steps on already available equipment, introducing some novel equipment to reduce the cost of ownership, and employing Industry 4.0 solutions for predictive maintenance, quality control and traceability,” stated the commission.

Total cost of the project is around €17 million out of which the EU has contributed €13.5 million. Having started on November 1, 2022, it will run till October 31, 2025.

Co-founder and Director of ISC Konstanz, Radovan Kopecek shared that the project is being carried out by 17 EUropean REar Contact Alliance (EURECA) partners. Some of them include French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Norway’s Norsun, Netherlands’ Energyra Europe BV, Italy’s FuturaSun, Finland’s Valoe Oyj, Turkey’s Kalyon Gunes Teknolojileri Uretim AS, Germany’s Centrotherm, Japan’s Toyo Aluminium, and Germany’s RENA Gmbh, among others.

Of these, Finland’s ValoeCell has already operationalized a 80 MW facility in Vilnius, Lithuania using ISC developed ZEBRA technology that has an average efficiency of over 23.8%.

While Italy’s FuturaSun already rolls out n-type IBC solar modules, Kopecek said it is also planning 1 GW ZEBRA solar module production in Italy from 2023. ISC is working with France’s Carbon for their 5 GW TOPCon solar module fab in France, however Kopecek said the French company will be one of the additional strategic off-taker partner for IBC4EU (see ISC Konstanz To Help French Solar Gigafab Go TOPCon).

Details about the IBC4EU project, as part of the EU Horizon program, are available on the EC’s website.

TaiyangNews has invited globally leading solar steakeholders to discuss various commercial high efficiency cell technologies, addressing next-gen technologies as well during our 3-day virtual conference on High Efficiency Solar Technologies, from November 23 to 25, 2022, with various stakeholders. Registrations to the event are free here.