In the short and medium run, PV growth will be limited by the availability and cost of polysilicon, and the lack of it –or the dependence of external sources- can impede the expansion of European PV companies- Moreover, we firmly think that the way of approaching this issue is not only by installing polysilicon plants of industrial size in Europe (because that may not mean that the technology is European), but also complementing that with the development of new and improved technologies.
Two universities and three companies are leading this initiative. They are:
- Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), in particular the Instituto de Energía Solar (IES)
- Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), in particular the Departamento de Ingeniería Química;
- DCWafers, a Spanish company that will begin production of multicrystalline Silicon by the beginning of 2008;
- Isofotón, a well known Spanish PV cell and module producer;
-Técnicas Reunidas, Spanish company leading in design and building of industrial and energy plants.
The five institutions have formed a society, Centro de Tecnología del Silicio Solar (CENTESIL), Center on Solar Silicon Technology, to focus their efforts in the field of Si ultrapurification. CENTESIL will run and operate a pilot plant (production in the range of 100 t of Si per year) based on the technology developed in this project The project in total will cost about 20 Million Euro and the general agreement is that companies take care of the running costs of the Centre and the Universities provide the knowledge. Part of the funds is to be found form public sources and most of it is not yet available.
There is a building now under construction that will host the pilot plant, located at Getafe (south of Madrid) in a Technological Park of UPM. CENTESIL has recently received funding from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia to accomplish the research: in a four year project, called SOLARSÍ, 2.500.000 € have been assigned for years 2007 and 2008 to design and fabricate the infrastructures: fluidized bed reactor for chlorosilane synthesis, distillation columns and deposition reactor.
The partners’ technical contributions are obviously related to their expertise; for instance, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Técnicas Reunidas are responsible of the synthesis and distillation of chlorosilanes. The Instituto de Energía Solar from UPM is mainly responsible of the deposition of the silicon from the chlorosilane source, as well as the characterisation of the material. In our opinion, it is strategic that Europe reaches a relevant position in polysilicon technology if we want to maintain a leading role in the deployment of photovoltaics.