FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Solar Market

Q: How is the situation for the Solar Cell market?
A: The world solar module market has grown incredibly fast during the recent years and 40 GW of solar cell modules are estimated to have been installed in 2014, which measures up to a growth of 5% compared to 2013 [IEA PVPS]. Although there is still interest in building solar parks the market analysts estimate that the main increase in potential is found on commercial rooftops and on constructions [2]. Falling PV prices has lowered the installation cost. This has in many cases also led to reduce FIT (Feed-in Tariff). It is often more profitable to use the electricity generated in-house rather than selling it to the grid.

Q: How can we compete with Si modules?
A: Si modules are competitively priced due to the scale of manufacturing operations and overcapacity in all steps of the supply chain. Si modules are well proven and are widely used for conventional installations, but there are limits for when they can be used. Midsummer uses the unique properties of our flexible stainless steel substrates to make lightweight, durable and flexible modules weighing only about 30% of a Si module. 

Lightweight modules are a fast growing market for membrane roofing, vehicle applications, portable power plants etc. where low weight and durability is required. The answer to the question: How can we compete with Si modules? is – you don’t. You target new markets where Si modules cannot be used. The sales price of flexible lightweight modules is at least 2–3 times that of Si modules.  With the right market approach you will have a profitable operation already at 5 MW capacities.

 

Solar cell Manufacturing

Q: I do not have any experience in the solar business, how do I start manufacture solar cells?
A: Except from the delivery of turnkey manufacturing line, Midsummer will also provide the customer all the know-how and technology of how to manufacture competitive and high efficient solar cells.

Q: When can I start manufacture solar cells?
A: The delivery time for a 5 MW DUO tool is around 8 month after the customer has placed a purchase order. Before shipment to customer, a FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) will be performed together with the customer to ensure that the equipment can produce solar cells according to the agreed specifications. The entire turnkey line takes approximately 2 months to be installed followed by a SAT (Site Acceptance Test) and training of the staff at the customer’s site.

Q: What is the highest capacity line you can deliver?
A: With the Midsummer concept you add several identical machines to build production capacity. There is no upper limit.

Q: What kind and size of factory do I need for solar cell manufacturing?
A:
 300 m2 working space in a 100.000 class clean room is required for an entire solar cell manufacturing.

Q: Can we get access to future process improvements if we buy your DUO tool?
A:
Absolutely. One of the benefits with our concept is that we have the same equipment and substrate size in R&D as you have in production. Process improvements and cost saving measures can be directly transferred from R&D to production.

Q: What kind of warranty is included in the manufacturing equipment?
A: The turnkey manufacturing equipment has 1-year warranty and can easily be extended by a service contract. If a production problem occurs, a service engineer will be on site within 72 hours.

Q: Can I use glass substrates instead of stainless steel?
A: We started our development on glass substrates, but we soon came to the conclusion that stainless steel is a better choice. These substrates are; cost effective, more durable, more suitable for rapid thermal cycles in manufacturing, thin enough to be laminated in a module and act as a conductive back contact.



Q: Do I have to buy all the production materials (substrates, sputter targets and process gases) from Midsummer?
A: We normally do not sell the production material, but we will provide you with a list of our certified suppliers, so that you can source all the production material directly to your factory without costly middlemen.

Q: Is your equipment limited to CIGS only?
A: The DUO and UNO tools are versatile deposition equipment that can be used for many different materials and applications. We are currently developing a CZTS (Copper, Zinc, Tin, Sulphide) process, which will be implemented into the UNO.

 

Module

Q: What is the lifetime and performance of Midsummer’s solar cell modules?
A: Providing a Midsummer customer use our recommended encapsulation materials the modules will have a lifetime of 20 years and performance conforming to IEC 61646 and IEC 61730 standards.

Q: What kind of modules can I make with your cells?
A:
You can use the Midsummer cells as replacement for crystalline Silicon cells in conventional glass modules, or you can utilize the fact that our cells are strong and flexible to make lightweight flexible modules.

Q: Can I use my existing module manufacturing line with your cells?
A:
In general yes, sometimes with some minor modifications.


[1] http://solarcellcentral.com/markets_page.html
[2] Research and Markets, Photovoltaic Solar Panel Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2010 to 2016