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The importance of laser processes

In the PV industry the demand for solar modules used to be much higher than the production capacity. Nowadays companies are fighting for every part of the market share and obtainable margins are minuscule. And laser processes play a major role in this competition.

The end customers have become picky about quality issues to do with PV products and project financiers keep a careful eye on the overall system costs. The constantly growing photovoltaic industry market and the development of new technologies got an additional push, as a lot of money has been put into research and development, especially close to industrial application.

The survival of the fittest is basically fought on two key parameters. The production costs in USD/Wp (costs per watt peak) on the one hand and highest module power values on the other. The former was achieved by heavy reduction of consumable costs. Over the past decade most of the low hanging fruits have been picked. New sawing techniques sped up the wafering process and allowed thinner nominal wafer thicknesses, consuming less Si.

Development of widespread used printing screens, metal pastes and printers reduced the consumption of silver on a cell. Both supported by falling prices for silicon and silver. The high degree of automation, led to minimal human capital costs, and by reaching GW cell capacity, this contributed to the reduction of overhead costs.

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