BUSINESS

Hyundai Heavy develops new solar cells

By Shin Hyon-hee
  • Published : Apr 25, 2012 - 19:35
  • Updated : Apr 25, 2012 - 19:35
Hyundai Heavy Industries said Wednesday it has developed selective-emitter solar cells with a record electricity conversion efficiency of 19.7 percent, which could curtail production costs for the fast-growing energy source.

The figure beat the previous record of 19.6 percent by Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s largest maker of photovoltaic panels based in Shanghai. It has also been confirmed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, a leading think tank in Munich, the Korean shipbuilder said.

Selective-emitter solar cells have higher efficiency as their two different doping concentration zones on a silicon wafer surface facilitate current flow, whereas regular cells have only one type.

Hyundai Heavy said its latest 6-inch cells are 1 inch larger than those of Suntech. Their per-unit capacity reaches 4.7 megawatts, up 57 percent compared with its existing products.

The firm also said it can slash manufacturing costs by up to 30 percent by replacing silver electrodes with copper.

The nascent technology is deemed to be one of the most promising solutions in solar cell processing as it can notch up the cells’ efficiency by 0.3 to 0.6 percent and be easily integrated into the current production line, according to the Taiwan-based Industrial Technology Research Institute.

According to research firm Solar & Energy, selective-emitter cells are projected to make up nearly 51 percent of solar cells in 2015, up from 10.3 percent in 2010.

The world’s largest shipyard has been expanding its solar energy business since 2004. It runs a 600-megawatt photovoltaic power station in Eumseong and plans to launch a thin-film cell plant in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province, in the second half.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)