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Thin Wafer startup Crystal Solar expects to cut Module price by 50%

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Solar Wafers are traditionally manufactured by growing polysilicon crystals in specialized furnaces. These crystals are then sawed to make thin slices of purified polysilicon which is then acted upon by various chemical processes to convert them into solar cells. There have been a number of companies in the past that have tried to find an alternative cheap way to make these solar wafers. The companies have tried to cut down the crystal growing and wafering processes by directly converting the polysilicon or silence gas into wafers.

Read on GWI about Global Solar Thin Film Companies.

Evergreen Solar was the first successful company to use a different “ribbon” approach to make solar wafers. The company enjoyed sharp growth and saw its stock price soar in 2008. However, the company could not compete with the low costs of traditional wafer companies. Also its wafers were not compatible with most of the cell making equipment used by most cell and module makers. The company also used to make cells and panels itself and did not license the technology. The company is now bankrupt unable to compete with the larger players. Evergreen Solar planned to shutter US factories to open a solar plant in Wuhan, China with Chinese government support. Evergreen Solar literally cried for government support without getting any.

Crystal Solar is another company that is now coming up with a thin wafer process and is backed by NREL. The company hopes to cut the module cost by half as it starts production in 2014.

I have seen a number of past cases where start-ups have bragged about totally changing the industry and then going bankrupt. Solyndra, Nanosolar, Sulfurcell, Energy Conversion Devices and the list goes on and on. It will be interesting to watch whether Crystal succeeds or joins the huge graveyard of solar start-ups.


US-based ultra-thin silicon wafer start-up Crystal Solar is planning to complete pilot production of its ‘Epi Thin-Silicon’ technology this year with volume production targeted sometime in 2014.The company claimed its technology would result in overall PV module production costs being reduced by approximately 50%. Dow Corning had also previously announced that it would work with Crystal Solar to jointly develop new products for building-integrated PV applications, using its ‘direct gas to wafer’ process for ultra-thin wafers.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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