Hugo Schoot is the Business Development Director for Conductive backsheets at DSM Advanced Solar. A chemist by training, he held business-related jobs in various market segments until switching to solar more than a decade ago. He has helped launch several of our company’s biggest solar innovations. So, what’s so special about back contact cell technology?
The global solar residential rooftop segment is growing at 18% annually and its current market share of 10% is expected to double in the next decade. I only need look out of my home office window to see the fast-growing number of modules installed on my neighbors’ roofs to see the growth in adoption of this technology - based on both performance and beautiful, clean aesthetics. Ultimately, it’s consumers driving this change, for good reason. I now have 24 panels on my roof at home and it’s one of the best investments I ever made. Not only is this helping the planet, but I am now a net electricity producer – and the utility company pays me!
Until now, this technology has failed to make a real breakthrough because the supply chain was not very well aligned. Needless to say, the conductive backsheet is incredibly important because the cell interconnection is made at the backside of the cells, rather than from front-to-back. Well, the team here at DSM developed a super-efficient conductive backsheet design that extracts up to 3% more power from each module by minimizing the cell-to-module power loss. Thus, our Conductive backsheet enables the highest power density and output available in the market today, maximizing every square centimeter of space available. This in turn enables the production of a premium product with premium value for cell producers and module manufacturers alike.
Perhaps more than any other technology I’ve been involved in launching at DSM, this one requires a major collaborative effort across the value chain. Not only from the suppliers of the components for the module and the module manufacturers; but also assembly equipment suppliers, institutes, consultants, etc. This is my role: to reach out and connect the solar players who can really make a difference in developing this technology (and of course benefit from the market opportunity it presents). In the United States, we have now launched several products through our joint venture with Silfab Solar, including the new 370W Silfab Elite model – manufactured using highly automated module assembly equipment from another solar partner, Eurotron.
All over the world, our Conductive backsheet is now set to be used in exciting and innovative Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) technology like the ZEBRA IBC technology, which is developed by ISC Konstanz.
One thing I can promise you: this is just the beginning!
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