Long-term reliability of PV module based on Ni-Cu-Ag plated solar cells

15 March 2016

imec and Besi demonstrated long-term reliability of their 60-cells Ni/Cu/Ag plated solar module, passing 600 thermal cycles with only minimal power loss of 1%.

The module consists of 60 front side laser ablated and Ni-Cu-Ag plated p-type Cz-Si cells. The plating was done in an industrial Meco vertical plating tool (Direct Plating Line) followed by annealing in an inline belt furnace. Cells were interconnected using a standard solder and lamination process. Thermal cycling tests (-40°C to +85°C) carried out on the full 60 cell module resulted in an overall power loss of only one percent after 600 hours—three times the standard IEC61215 test protocol. 

Previous damp heat testing on 30 cells in mini modules successfully passed 1.5X standard IEC61215 specification. These test results prove the long-term reliability potential of imec’s and Besi’s Cu-plated cells and modules, as they have now outperformed the industrial standard for reliability, which requires less than five percent loss relative to initial power after 200 thermal cycles or 1000hrs damp heat testing. 

Martijn Zwegers, product manager solar at Besi, said the results prove that modules featuring on-copper plated cells are reliable and outperform IEC61215 life test criteria. This breakthrough gives further momentum to the industry acceptance of Ni-Cu-Ag plating as a low-cost alternative to front side screen printing of Ag pastes.

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