May 2020 update: “The start-up company informed Meyer Burger that it does no longer intend to place orders in accordance with the framework agreement and has given Meyer Burger formal notice of termination with immediate effect with respect to the framework agreement.”
Swiss solar cell equipment manufacturer Meyer Burger announced it has signed a contract with an unnamed solar cell manufacturing startup for its heterojunction technology (HJT) core equipment. Meyer Burger said the North American manufacturer is founded by solar industry veterans. The contract will be recognized after a down payment is received in Q4 2019.
HJT combines the advantages of monocrystalline silicon solar cells (good absorption) and amorphous silicon thin-film solar (superior passivation) into one new cell, leading to increased efficiency and power yield. Meyer Burger has been perfecting HJT processes since 2010 and offers manufacturing equipment that uses lower temperatures and less energy than traditional manufacturing lines. The company announced in March that it has achieved HJT cells with over 24.2% efficiency. REC Group has been a loyal customer of Meyer Burger for years and debuted a new module at Intersolar Europe this year that uses the updated HJT manufacturing process.
Currently, the only cell manufacturer in North America is Panasonic in the Buffalo, New York-shared facility with Tesla. Solar panel manufacturer SolarTech Universal in Florida also uses Meyer Burger technology, and company reps told Solar Power World last summer that it wanted to purchase domestic solar cells from an unspecified U.S. manufacturer for its final solar panel products.
In early 2018, there were rumblings that three Taiwan solar cell producers (Gintech Energy, Neo Solar Power, Solartech Energy) working under the name United Renewable Energy Co. were looking to establish a U.S. manufacturing plant, with a targeted opening date of Oct. 2018. Nothing was ever established.