Nines Photovoltaic (Nines PV), a technology company based in the Synergy Centre at IT Tallaght, has invented and patented an innovative new process that will significantly reduce the cost of making solar cells.
Nines has invested €1.5 million in a newly commissioned Atmospheric Dry Etching (ADE) pilot demonstrator at IT Tallaght where it can now start trials of their new invention with major international solar cell makers. The Department of Electronic Engineering at IT Tallaght is also supporting the development.
Up to now solar cell manufacturers have struggled to find a suitable silicon etching process that would let them use a lower cost but equally efficient Diamond Wire cut silicon wafers to make their solar cells.
Many attempts have been made to transfer etching techniques developed for silicon semiconductor manufacturing , however the cost and complexity involved wasn’t compatible with large scale solar cell production.
Nines PV developed an etch solution specifically for solar cell production which has dramatically changed the etching processes used to manufacture solar cells thus reducing the cost and increasing production.
This significant breakthrough will enable solar cell manufacturers to cut their costs of production by up to 25%. For a typical solar cell producer this will equate to savings of up to €20 million a year.
Fuelled by growing demand for sustainable energy and new demand in markets such as China, India, Japan and the US, the current addressable market opportunity for ADE production machines is estimated at over $1 Billion over the next number of years.
Ed Duffy (pictured above), Founder and CEO of Nines PV said:
“This progression is an important milestone and the beginning of an ambitious development programme to address a compelling market need.
“Our new demonstration centre will enable work on further valuable process techniques and intellectual property that will help our customers to integrate Nines ADE into their manufacturing processes.”
James Wright, Head of the Department of Electronic Engineering at IT Tallaght said:
“The partnership that has developed between Nines PV and our Electronic Engineering Department has proved to be very valuable.
“It became evident from working with Nines over a number of years that the company has great potential.
“This is not only a valuable research project but also a means of promoting entrepreneurship among our researchers and students who see how their skills and expertise can be translated into successful technology ventures which are investor ready and targeted towards commercial success. ”
“Our collaboration with Nines PV demonstrates the potential for success that can be achieved in joint industry and academic partnerships.
“Over many years we have supported start-up companies by providing design support and advice and commercial supports through our Synergy Innovation Centre.”