Heterojunction Solar Technology Being Deployed at Siberian Site

A joint venture of two Russian companies has built  a solar power project in southern Siberia based on heterojunction technology (HJT), which is touted as a high-efficiency solar cell concept. Researchers have said photovoltaic (PV) systems using HJT solar modules provide higher energy output than other PV systems, lowering the cost of producing solar power.

Hevel Group, a joint venture of GK Renova and Rusnano, is in charge of the new solar park (Figure 1), located in Gorno-Altaysk in the Republic of Altai. GK Renova is a private business group that includes management companies that invest in energy, mining, metals, chemical, and other sectors in Russia and globally. Rusnano is a government-owned, Moscow-based company that finances commercial developments in nanotechnology.

Figure 3_RussiaSolarPark
1. A highly efficient solar array. The solar installation built by Hevel Group in Gorno-Altaysk, capital of the Republic of Altai in Russia, is designed with heterojunction technology, which works well in lower light conditions. Courtesy: Hevel Group

Anastasiya Berdnikova, a spokesperson for Hevel Group, told POWER in late August that construction of the Maima solar power plant began in May 2017, and the plant was placed into service on September 19, 2017. Solar modules for the 20-MW project were produced at Hevel’s manufacturing facility in Novocheboksarsk, about 600 kilometers east of Moscow, in Chuvash Republic.

“Earlier in March this year Hevel Group completed upgrade of its thin-film Fab line and converted it to heterojunction technology production. This technology guarantees efficient operation of solar modules at high and low temperatures, as well as under shading and diffused light, thereby significantly expanding the geographical potential of solar power installations,” Berdnikova said.

Hevel Group Director General Igor Shakhrai in late August told Russian media the project’s cost is estimated at 2 billion rubles ($33.9 million).

According to Meyer Burger, a German global technology company specializing in solar, HJT “combines the advantages of mono crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells with the good absorption and the superior passivation characteristics of amorphous silicon (a-Si) known from a-Si thin film technology using readily available materials.” HJT was first mass produced by Sanyo (now Panasonic) more than a decade ago, but the basic technology patent was discontinued in 2010, opening the systems to more widespread research.

Heterojunction solar modules perform better than other PV technologies in low and dispersed light conditions, and also do well in both high and low air temperature environments.

Hevel already operates three networked solar power stations in the region, each with a 5-MW capacity. It plans to increase its total regional solar generating capacity to 90 MW over the next two years. Hevel earlier put a 100-kW solar diesel hybrid power station in service in the area in 2013, providing electricity to Yaylyu in the Altai Republic, on Lake Teletskoye.

Hevel Group has doubled the annual production capacity of its plant in Novocheboksarsk in Chuvash Republic to 160 MW of solar modules, which it says is enough to cover half of the annual demand in the Russian solar energy market. Shakhrai told media the company’s production ramp-up is “opening up broad prospects in terms of large-scale projects in Russia and abroad.”

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor.