China-based solar firms are keen on adopting MCCE (metal-catalyzed chemical etching) to treat the surface of diamond wire cut (DWC) poly-Si wafers, while Taiwan makers have mostly been slower in adopting the process, according to industry sources.
These China-based makers include the largest solar poly-Si wafer maker GCL-Poly Energy Holdings and cell maker CSI.
China's solar wafer makers have been switching to DWC to increase output since mid-2017. MCCE- or RIE (reactive-ion etching)-treated wafers can be used to produce black silicon poly-Si solar cells with energy conversion rates significantly hiked, the sources noted. Since MCCE equipment development is more mature than that of RIE, China makers prefer MCCE, the sources indicated.
However, silver nitrate produced from MCCE process causes water pollution and some MCCE lines in China may be ordered to stop operation, the sources said.
Among Taiwan-based solar wafer makers, only Gigastorage has moved fast in adopting DWC, the sources noted. However, Green Energy Technology (GET) has cooperated with government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to develop MCCE equipment able to collect silver ions to meet environmental protection requirements, with the equipment to come into trial production in second-quarter 2018, the sources indicated.