8.12.2004: Meldung: Evergreen Solar Unveils Thin Wafer Breakthrough
Evergreen Solar, Inc., a solar panel manufacturer, announced it has achieved a major advance in its String Ribbon(TM) manufacturing process, giving it the potential to produce silicon wafers thinner than 150 microns. "Evergreen Solar"s mission since its inception has been to produce high-quality solar products at a fraction of the cost of conventional methods," said Richard M. Feldt, President and CEO. "With the latest enhancement to our Gemini II double ribbon growth process, we have demonstrated in pilot operations that we can manufacture wafers using one third of the silicon required by conventional methods - significantly reducing the overall cost of producing solar panels. The ability to produce the thinnest wafers in the solar industry affords our Company with a decided competitive advantage that no other company has demonstrated. This breakthrough demonstrates the robustness of our String Ribbon manufacturing process."
"By changing the growing conditions in our Gemini II furnaces, we can produce wafers that are half the thickness of our current standard," said Dr. Brown F. Williams, Vice President, Research and Development. "This achievement directly cuts the use of silicon in half for us and by a factor of three when compared to conventional methods."
"Our competitors produce wafers by sawing slices of silicon off of large ingots. The silicon lost in the width of the saw cut means that other wafer manufacturers are effectively throwing away half of their silicon starting material. Our standard String Ribbon process already avoids that shrinkage. Moreover, because current cutting techniques have difficulty producing wafers as thin as 150 microns, we truly have a unique, defensible competitive advantage," Williams added.
Feldt said, "There is some concern that the tightening silicon supplies may limit the growth of the photovoltaic industry for the next year or two. Our technology"s potential to further reduce silicon requirements is really quite dramatic and holds great promise for our industry. We expect that production of our thin wafers will entail other savings in material costs and the thin wafers will perform at a higher level of efficiency."
"The yield from the pilot quantities of our thin wafers processed into solar cells and assembled into complete panels has been encouraging. As a result, we will methodically scale our pilot operations and debug our wafer, cell and panel manufacturing processes for thin ribbons. Based on our preliminary work to date, we would expect to be able to achieve production status by the end of 2005. Additionally, we expect this breakthrough should position us even more favorably with potential partners as we proceed with planning for our next commercial expansion," Feldt concluded.
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