Natcore and Eurotron aim for “Perfect Synergy”

March 23, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

Natcore Technology Inc. has signed a joint development agreement with Eurotron B.V., a Dutch company that manufactures automated equipment for the production of photovoltaic modules. Located in Bleskensgraaf, the Netherlands, Eurotron has perfected a technology based upon a patterned conductive backsheet that provides excellent cell-to-module performance for back-contact solar cells. Because Natcore scientists have had great success producing back-contact cells with their proprietary laser technology – most recently a silicon "HIT-structure" (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cell, this collaboration with Eurotron is a "perfect example of synergy," according to Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini.

The collaboration has three primary objectives: To adapt Natcore's laser process to a contact design that is compatible with Eurotron's back contact technology; To enable Natcore to incorporate six-inch cells into commercial-style modules, using both its own technology and Eurotron's Backcontact Module technology; and To explore possibilities for further cooperation wherein Natcore would commercialize Eurotron's Backcontact Module technology as it may be used in conjunction with Natcore's laser-based technology on a new cell design.

Joint work will be performed in the Eurotron Competence Center, a facility opened in May 2014 to provide lab-to-fab testing and pre-production services for solar cell/module technologies. The Competence Center is said to be the first in the world dedicated to back-contact cell/module technologies. Once Natcore has optimized their technology on a small scale, they will produce prototype six-inch demonstration cells for delivery to Eurotron.

"This alliance has enormous benefits for Natcore," says Provini. "Because Eurotron's revolutionary back-contact technology is very well suited to our technology, it will be relatively easy for us to optimize the back contacts of our solar cell to fit with their Backcontact Module.

"Whenever solar cells are assembled into modules, there is a significant loss of efficiency," he adds. "According to Eurotron, these cell-to-module losses, which are common in traditional modules, will not occur on modules made using their production tools. Modules built in the Eurotron Test Center have shown up to 4% cell-to-module power gain in best situations. Furthermore, this would give us another product to offer to prospective best-of-breed customers."

"Our laser-processed back-contact cell and HIT-structure cell were important proofs of concept for these high-efficiency solar cells," notes Brien Lundin, Natcore's Chairman. "Now our cooperation with Eurotron is designed to put these cells into panels and prove commercial viability. We are taking Natcore to an entirely new level."

"The developments we performed during the last years are calling for high-efficiency cells," says Jan Bakker, CTO of Eurotron. "Since ohmic losses are reduced to an absolute minimum level, all investments in high-end cells can now be harvested to the full extent." The Project Managers will be Dr. David Levy for Natcore Technology and Bart de Gier for Eurotron. David Levy is Natcore's Director of Research and Technology. Bart de Gier is Eurotron's R&D Program Manager.