“It is great to see how
companies and research
institutes are helping
each other.”

Henk Kamp, Minister of
Economic Affairs

Solar energy

2013 witnessed the continued success of Metal-Wrap-Through Solar Cells. Not content merely with conquering global markets, ECN has managed to improve the technology of these super-efficient solar cells even further.

A shortage of silver can drive up the price of solar energy

Multimillion contract

In November, ECN was part of a trade delegation to Qatar and Abu Dhabi, headed by Minister Henk Kamp. ECN signed a contract there with a local research institute for the joint development of solar panels in the Middle East and Africa. In addition, the Dutch company Eurotron signed a multimillion contract for the construction of a production line for MWT solar cells at a factory in Qatar. The technology for this has been developed by ECN.

Silver scarcity

There is enough sun to supply the whole world with solar energy, but not enough silver to produce MWT solar cells. A shortage of silver could drive up the price of solar energy. This is why ECN is using conductive copper foil in MWT solar cells, instead of the usual silver threads on silicon wafers. The lab-scale model is performing well: it has a capacity comparable to that of MWT solar cells containing silver, and it is durable and strong. The silver replacement technology can also be used in traditional solar cells.

New partners

The Silicon Competence Centre, part of TKI Solar Energy (Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation - Solar Energy), welcomed three new partners in 2013. Within this consortium, leading research institutes, such as ECN and AMOLF, work together with companies, such as Eurotron, Levi Tech and DSM. Together, we build state-of-the-art production and testing facilities. The aim is to introduce solar power products, developed with the help of Dutch technology, more quickly in the market. This creates more opportunities for the Dutch economy, because it allows our country to remain a leader in this field. ECN's activities have definitely contributed to this.