Advanced automation of the PV manufacturing process will make a major contribution to reduced costs for solar cells and panels through increased throughput, improved product quality, better yields, and lower maintenance and operational expenses. No single company can fully realize these benefits without working closely with their suppliers and their competitors. Highly automated and advanced manufacturing systems are comprised of multiple equipment types, technologies and supporting products from best-in-class suppliers from around the world; enabling these different processes, products and technologies to work seamlessly and cost-effectively together require diverse, well-informed and effective industry standards.

Understanding the essential role of standards in enabling low cost, high quality manufacturing, the SEMI International Standards Committee recently approved formation of a new PV Automation Standards Committee. The first chapter of the global committee was established in Japan, and a European counterpart was approved in July at SEMICON West / Intersolar NA. For more information on this important development, see the article by James Amano, Director, SEMI International Standards in this issue of the GRID.

This is an important milestone for the industry. Since its formation in 2007, the SEMI PV Standards Committee has grown to now include over 20 Committees, Task Forces and other collaborative groups with participation by over 400 industry volunteers. As it must be, it is a global effort with Committees formed in Asia, North America and Europe. The SEMI PV Standards Committee has now developed and published twelve Standards for both crystalline and thin-film operations, and over 20 other activities are underway. This is a major accomplishment by the industry, but significant challenges remain.

Industry standards are also a natural consequence of technology roadmaps. Early efforts by the Crystalline Technology Manufacturing (CTM) Group, a Special Interest Group operating under SEMI Europe auspices, already include specific areas where a standardized approach to manufacturing challenges are viewed as beneficial, because they directly contribute to non-competitive solutions and allow the industry to focus on innovation and competitiveness.

Pre-competitive collaboration is difficult, and involves hard work by industry experts, but they create significant benefits for the industry as a whole, for companies participating, and for individuals involved in the process. If you or your company is not yet involved in these efforts to shape the future of PV, now is the perfect time to join us. To learn more, please visit http://www.pvgroup.org/standards.

Source: Solar Feeds.

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