Toshiba Enters Residential Solar Cell

System Market

Mar 2, 2010 12:57 Motonobu Kawai, Nikkei Electronics

Toshiba Corp will start selling residential solar cell systems using SunPower Corp’s monocrystalline silicon solar battery module April 1, 2010.

“We decided to enter the residential solar cell system market to promote our electric appliance and smart grid businesses,” the company said.

Toshiba plans to sell its solar cell systems together with its “SCiB” lithium-ion batteries and smart meters in the future.

All of the devices used for the residential solar cell system are purchased from outside companies, including the solar battery module, power conditioner (power conversion efficiency: 94%) and color display. Among them, SunPower’s solar battery module, “SPR-210N-WHT-J,” features a cell conversion efficiency as high as 21.5%, which Toshiba claims is the world’s highest level for commercialized solar cells.

The high conversion efficiency was realized by, for example, employing the monocrystalline silicon cell and the back-contact structure, in which electrodes are formed only on the back to increase the light-receiving area. The conversion efficiency as a module is 16.9%, and the maximum output is 210W.

The advantage of the back-contact structure is not only the enhancement of conversion efficiency. Because there is no electrode on the surface, electrodes do not glare when solar batteries are mounted. Some construction firms say that the electrodes on the surface of solar cells are a problem in designing, and this problem can be solved by employing the structure.

Toshiba’s employment of SunPower’s solar battery module will probably influence the business strategies of Japanese solar cell manufacturers. So far, Sanyo Electric Co Ltd’s HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cell has been known as a solar cell with a high conversion efficiency in Japan.

Sanyo and SunPower have been competing for the highest conversion efficiency at academic conferences. Also, as for the back-contact structure, Kyocera Corp is planning to release a product using polysilicon solar cells with the structure.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 4th March 2010


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