What is Split Cell Technology?
During the hectic Q4 in the solar industry, it’s all too easy to narrow one’s focus on pricing and availability while glossing over new manufacturer breakthroughs. Even though split cell module technology will not be available until next year, CivicSolar would like to brief you on this simple, yet a revolutionary advancement in cell manufacturing.
In its most basic sense, split cell technology is a new cell architecture that increases voltage by halving the size of the silicon chips.
Split cell panels provide the following advantages:
Cutting the standard cell in half and bus-barring it, therefore increasing efficiency, lowering voltage, and lowering operating temperature.
Increasing the module longevity through decades of thermal cycling, eliminating hot spots.
Bolsters stability on the back sheet of the panel and lowers cost.
Promotes higher absorption in the P-type layer.
Split cell panels are stronger than traditional modules. Back bar aluminum frames provide additional support in static and dynamic wind loads. According to Vance Ambrose, GM of Canadian Solar North America: “On the 72-cell side, our commercial/utility-scale product, we use an aluminum frame back bar that splits down the back of the frame and gives additional support to the module. We use a thinner glass but use the back bar for additional stability. It works well in applications with high wind loads.” This is both true for 60 and 72 cell modules.
Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause hot spots, decreasing a module’s output. Thermal cycling can cause broken interconnections, broken cells and junction box failures, to name a few. Cutting the standard cell in half and bus-barring it, increases efficiency, lowers voltage, and lowers operating temperature.
Split cell offers new advances in power output. Vance Ambrose explains, “This split-cell technology lowers operating temperatures of the modules while increasing efficiency and power output. It’s a win-win for us and our customers.” For example, the Canadian Solar split cell module now offers two junction boxes that mitigate shading on a cell level.
While the module discussion has been dominated by talks of tariffs and availability, the promise of solar is growing stronger with breakthroughs in reliability and durability. Advances such as split cell are another milestone in how far solar has come and how much progress is yet to come.
Is this split cell technology referring to half-cut cells as shown here by REC? These are already widely available and we've been using their modules for years.
Andrew, Sales Manager
Assured Solar Energy
Split cell technology and half-cut cells are indeed the same. While REC was one of the first the implement the technology, we expect more manufacturers to do the same in 2018.