What is c-Si?

PVMC is focused on improving the quality of metrology and reducing wafering costs for c-Si technology—a reliable, highly efficient way to harness the power of sunlight into electricity

c-Si Photovoltaic Technology

Crystalline silicon PV cells are manufactured from silicon wafers, which are sliced from silicon crystals into the correct shape and thickness in a process called wafering. c-Si has proven to be scalable to very high levels of production These wafers are turned into solar cells after going through a series of fabrication steps involving thermal treatments, the deposition of various coatings and films, and various chemical processes. Cells are interconnected together electrically using bus bars in a process known as “stringing” and then encapsulated into a sandwich of glass and polymeric materials to ensure that the final product, called a PV module, can withstand 20 or more years of operation outdoors.

c-Si technology continues to hold the dominant market share with more than 80 percent of all solar PV panels produced globally, thanks to high-efficiency, excellent reliability and ongoing cost reductions spurred by rapid growth and scale and technology-driven innovations. There is still significant room for improvement, however, as the industry drives toward competitive levelized cost of energy (LCOE) which is the cost of the energy-generating system including all the costs over its lifetime: initial investment, operations and maintenance, cost of fuel, cost of capital.

PVMC is working with organizations and private industry to continue to serve growing market demand by leveraging investments in innovation and product development and scale-up manufacturing, drive down costs, and improve quality through advanced metrology solutions and new wafering methodologies.

Benefits of c-Si

The benefits of c-Si modules are:

  • As the market share leader for decades, c-Si has proven to be scalable to very high levels of production while still retaining high quality and uniform field performance. The c-Si supply chain is robust, with many U.S. companies holding strong positions in areas like polysilicon production, wafering, materials supply, equipment manufacturing and metrology.
  • With standard module conversion efficiencies in the 15-16 percentile range (the percentage of available sunlight converted to electricity) and some modules produce up to 20 percent, c-Si is the market leader in efficiency for flat-glass modules (i.e. non-concentrator) PV. These high efficiencies mean that less roof space or land area is needed for PV systems, and that installations require less time and mounting hardware.

For more information on PVMC c-Si or to participate, please contact Winston Schoenfeld, winston.schoenfeld@uspvmc.org