When 3D Printing Technology Meets PV

- Jul 24, 2018 -

Energy is an important material basis for the existence and development of human society. With the development of society, the non-renewable resources such as coal and oil are decreasing, and the development of clean energy is imminent. Solar energy has received much attention as the most abundant energy source on the planet. At present, solar cells are an important way for people to use solar energy, which can convert unlimited and clean solar energy into electricity.

The photovoltaic industry has shown a growth rate of more than 40% in the past 10 years and has become one of the fastest growing emerging industries in the world. According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 1,000 units engaged in the research, development, production and application of solar energy emerging technology industry in China. Since 2008, China has become the world's largest producer of solar cells, and its production of solar cells ranks first in the world for five consecutive years. In the current PV market, the mainstream products are crystalline silicon solar cells, with a market share of more than 85%, and the highest commercial efficiency has reached more than 22%. It is expected that crystalline silicon solar cells will still dominate in the next 10 years.

With the development of the photovoltaic industry, crystalline silicon solar cell technology is developing rapidly. Crystalline silicon solar cell technology is mainly concentrated in two major directions: First, based on the existing battery structure and process, introducing new production processes in one or more processes (such as optimized surface passivation technology, selective emitter) Technology, optimized surface texturing technology, point contact technology and 3D printed electrode technology to improve battery conversion efficiency; second, change existing battery structure, process or materials (such as HIT battery or price-key saturated solar cell) Etc.) to improve battery conversion efficiency.

Among them, the 3D printing electrode technology, due to the high utilization rate of metal materials, simple process, suitable for use in thin-film batteries, can save battery production costs to a greater extent, and thus has attracted more and more attention in the industry.

In addition, 3D printing technology can be applied to thin film batteries in addition to crystalline silicon solar cells. For example, researchers at Oregon State University have successfully produced copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin film solar cells using 3D printing technology, saving 90% of raw materials. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) prints thin-film solar cells onto paper through a special 3D printer that currently provides 1.5% to 2% battery efficiency.

3D printing technology not only can print grid lines with high resolution and good conductivity, but also can reduce production cost. It can be combined with high-resistance emitters and applied to various new solar cell technologies. At home and abroad, we are actively researching and applying the development of this technology. Therefore, the application of 3D printing technology to the manufacturing process of solar cells will be the trend of the times. This technology will also bring about a significant increase in the quality and efficiency of solar cells.

Photovoltaics is no longer a market segment, but will be a growing part of the energy market, or even further, solar energy will be our main source of energy by 2050. However, current technologies have reached the limit of their efficiency. Therefore, the key to unlocking the potential of solar power generation and making it the main energy source available to humans lies in the advancement of photovoltaic technology. It is hoped that 3D printing technology will reduce the cost of solar power generation to the cost of conventional power generation.

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