PV Standards Update Annual Europe Strategy Meeting

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PV Standards Update: Annual Europe Strategy Meeting

One of the first SEMI PV Group initiatives focused on International Standards development. PV standards development is now underway in Europe, North America, Japan, and Taiwan, and is an area of major growth in the SEMI International Standards Program. While a few industry stakeholders question the need for manufacturing standards in PV, fearing standards stifle innovation and reduce IP value, the majority points to the lessons learned in 40 years of semiconductor manufacturing and the impact that industry standards have had on reducing manufacturing cost and increasing supply chain efficiency.

Standardization speaks clearly to the needs of the young manufacturing supply chain to collaborate, exchange, and share. Standards development is a proven method to overcome shared challenges and help expand manufacturing business worldwide. This article reviews PV Standards progress in the last month, including European Standards activities and the new PV3-0310: Guide for High Purity Water Used in Photovoltaic Cell Processing.

Europe’s Annual Strategic Standards Review

Once a year, European leaders of the SEMI Standards Program convene for a Standards strategy review meeting. Based on a sound quality management model, the meeting addresses key industry needs that can be tackled through effective standards.

Presentations and discussions at this year’s event, hosted by the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy in Freiburg, Germany, confirmed the importance of PV standardization for most current committees, including materials, automated manufacturing processes, and equipment safety aspects.

In addition, specific standardization needs in crystalline silicon PV were suggested: feedstock production, ingot production, wafer production, cell production, module production, and module test and certification (click here for details of Fraunhofer presentation)

There are high expectations for standardization in the PV industry, based on evidence from other sectors: “At Bosch we experience the benefits of manufacturing in highly standardized industries, such as the automotive, and expect the same from the photovoltaic industry,” says Lars-Oliver Stock, VP of Crystalline Production at Bosch Solar Energy.

Annual Strategy Meeting of the European Regional Standards Committee

While some semiconductor standards may serve as the basis for PV standards, they may be overly complex for PV and need to be modified. This is where the expertise and leadership of the PV industry is critical, to ensure that PV standards directly address the real needs of PV manufacturing: “Schott and other PV manufacturers are ready to work with equipment and materials suppliers to set standards to enhance the efficiency of PV manufacturing,” says Ingo Schwirtlich, VP Technology at Schott Solar AG.

SEMI PV Group, with almost forty years experience in standards development, is the right organization to support the PV industry. A recent example of SEMI driving PV Standards is the new SEMI Standard PV3-0310, which addresses high purity water used in photovoltaic cell manufacturing.

“SEMI has a long history of successful standardization; this is why SEMI is the preferred platform to develop the standards needed to drive down PV cell manufacturing cost.”

- Gerhard Rauter, COO, Q-Cells

PV Standards Meetings

The European PV Standards Committee recently met in Berlin during the PV Fab Managers Forum (March 2010), and SEMI recently hosted Standards meetings in March 2010 at SEMI Headquarters in San Jose, California. In addition to the PV Standards Committee, several other groups, including the PV Materials Task Force (TF), the PV Analytical Test Methods TF, the PV Electrical & Optical Properties TF, the PV Gas & Liquid Chemicals TF, the Minority Carrier Lifetime Working Group (WG), the Transparent Conductive Oxide WG, and the c-Si Cell Specification WG met to review current proposals as well as to chart out future work. Additionally, the Taiwan PV Standards Committee met in late March, while Japan will conduct PV Standards meetings on April 2010 at the SEMI Office in Tokyo. See the full calendar of events. For more information, please contact your local SEMI Standards staff.

Call for Participation

The SEMI PV Group needs your participation. If you are in the PV supply chain, please contact SEMI PV Group International Standards Director James Amano at jamano@semi.org. Over 71 percent of companies participating in Standards Committees believe that it helps them anticipate future market requirements! Participation is free, but registration is required.

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