Design and Stability of Cu(In,Ga)Se2-Based Solar Cell Modules

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) is one of the most promising semiconductor compounds for large-scale production of efficient, low-cost thin film solar cells, and several research institutes have announced their plans for CIGS production lines. But for the CIGS technology to become a commercial success, a number of issues concerning manufacturability, product definition, and long-term stability require further attention.Several studies indicate that CIGS-based modules are stable over many years in field operation. At the same time, it is shown in the present work that they may have difficulties in passing standard accelerated lifetime test procedures like the IEC 1646 damp heat test. In particular, CIGS modules are sensitive to humidity penetrating through the module encapsulation, which will increase the resistive losses in the front contact and cause severe corrosion of the back contact. It is also shown that cells experience degradation in both voltage and fill factor, and the causes of these effects are addressed.By concentrating the light falling onto a solar cell, the device will deliver a higher power output per illuminated absorber area, which can lower the electricity production costs. For CIGS-based solar cells, low-concentrated illumination could be an economically viable approach. In this work it is shown that the yearly performance of a photovoltaic system with CIGS modules can be significantly improved at a moderate cost by using parabolic aluminum mirrors as concentrating elements. However, in order to avoid detrimental power losses due to high temperatures and current densities, the modules need to be designed for the higher light intensity and to be sufficiently cooled during operation. A design where the front contact of the module is assisted by a metal grid has shown promising results, not only for concentrated illumination but also for normal operation. The benefits are enhanced window processing tolerance and throughput, as well as improved degrees of freedom of the module geometry.