SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, has been included in the 2012 TR50, Technology Review's annual list of the world's 50 most innovative technology companies, for its success in developing and commercializing advanced solar technology.
TR50 members are nominated by Technology Review's editors, who look for companies that over the last year have demonstrated original and valuable technology, are bringing that technology to market at a significant scale, and are clearly influencing their competitors.
"Suntech shows why mastering manufacturing is crucial in getting energy technologies to scale," said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review. "It is driving down the cost of solar cells and improving their efficiency."
Since inception, Suntech has steadily increased the conversion efficiencies of its commercial solar cells from about 14 percent in 2001 to over 20 percent today, all while reducing the costs of production. These developments have helped to drive down the global market price of solar panels from about $6 per watt in 2001 to roughly $1 per watt today.
"We're honored to be recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the world's most innovative companies," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder and CEO. "Due to incremental innovation and economies of scale, the best photovoltaic technologies are now competing in the mainstream against traditional sources of power generation. Suntech will continue to invest heavily in advanced photovoltaic research, and, more importantly, in bringing that technology to the market. All of our efforts are focused on one thing: making solar electricity affordable for everyone, everywhere."
Two Suntech innovations that achieved large-scale production in 2011 are its Pluto cell processing technology and its SuperPoly silicon processing technology.
* Suntech's Pluto cell processing technology, developed in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, features a proprietary front surface metallization process that creates grid contacts thinner than 30 microns wide, about a quarter the size of traditional screen-printed cells. These ultra-thin metal lines - made primarily of copper instead of silver - reduce shading on the cell surface, allowing the cells to absorb more sunlight and generate more electricity.
* Suntech's SuperPoly technology utilizes advanced silicon ingot casting techniques commercialized internally along with the expansion of Suntech's internal silicon wafer production capacity. Suntech's innovations help produce high-quality multicrystalline wafers using modified multicrystalline casting equipment. The technology achieves lower oxygen content for multicrystalline wafers leading to strong resistance to light-induced degradation and ultimately allows for the production of higher output solar panels at a lower cost.