Announcing the USD 771 million deal for Norway-based REC, Reliance Industries said that the acquisition provides its new energy initiative “a global and significant operating and technology platform". REC Solar, the company said, will drive Reliance’s goal of becoming a global scale solar cell manufacturer with its “industry leading ‘HJT’ cell technology". Here’s a look at why HJT has been called the “next generation" of solar cells.
What Is HJT?
HJT is short for heterojunction technology, a method for creating solar cells that was pioneered by Japanese company Sanyo in the 1980s, before it was acquired by Panasonic in the 2010s.
Experts say that HJT “is considered as a potential successor to the popular PERC solar cell… besides other technologies" as it has “fewer number of cell processing steps, and much lower cell processing temperatures".
In a statement announcing the REC acquisition, RIL said that REC was the “first to introduce half cut Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) technology, which is adopted by all major manufacturers today, while REC has moved on to its next generation HJT", which experts say “has the potential to simplify the current solar cell manufacturing lines that are currently heavily based on PERC technology".
How Does It Work?
HJT combines two different technologies into one cell — “a crystalline silicon cell sandwiched between two layers of amorphous ‘thin-film’ silicon". The gain it delivers is in the form of greater efficiency as the technologies “can be used together to harvest more energy".
REC says HJT “is the future of the solar PV (photovoltaic cell) since it is a module-level innovation combining two tested technologies — thin films and N-type mono". Solar PV cells are made of a thin material that can absorb sunlight. But such panels are not completely opaque and allow some sunlight to pass through while some of the light is also reflected off the surface.
But the three-layered HJT cell sees the middle layer of N-type mono silicon “complete most of the work of converting sunlight into electricity". HJT cells thus manage to achieve greater efficiency than other solar cell technologies with reports saying that they have been clocked at close to 25 per cent efficiency as against approximately 22 per cent by the other technologies.
The efficiency of a solar panel has to do with how much light it can convert into electricity. The higher the efficiency, the more electricity can be obtained from the panel under the same amount of light.
What Are RIL’s Clean Energy Plans?
At its annual general meeting earlier this year, RIL chief Mukesh Ambani had announced plans to invest Rs 75,000 crore over the next three years to set up four renewable energy gigafactories in Gujarat’s Jamnagar.
The Jamnagar complex is planned to cover the entire spectrum of renewable energy with an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory, an advanced energy storage battery factory, an electrolyser factory for the production of green hydrogen and a fuel-cell factory.
Speaking about the REC acquisition, Ambani said that it will provide a push towards the company’s goal of achieving production of “100GW clean and green energy before the end of this decade". With India aiming to produce 450GW renewable energy by 2030, he said the RIL mission “will constitute the largest contribution by a single company" to the target.
“I am immensely pleased with our acquisition of REC because it will help Reliance tap the unlimited and year-long power of Soorya Dev, the Sun God, that India is fortunate to be blessed with," he said, adding that “it will enable India to become a world leader in green energy transition to overcome the climate crisis".