The Canadian Connection

Day4 Energy Electrode Gets More From Cells

Canadian company Day4 Energy’s electrode improves the efficiency of common solar cells by nearly 1 percentage point. Modules made from these cells show an increase in power of 5 to 10 percent. However under the protection of a worldwide patent, the technology cannot become widespread-that is, unless Day4 transforms into the major supplier that company executives envision.

In early May at the PV World Conference in Hawaii, John MacDonald, the CEO of Canadian start-up Day4 Energy, would have preferred not to answer any questions from journalists. The white-haired man, who has actually wanted to retire since 1998, said it was still too early to write an article, nothing that module production was not yet up and running and that only the first few prototypes of Day4’s new type of module were being manufactured.

But what a difference two months can make. After whetting the appetite of PV enthusiasts in Hawaii by publishing some scintillating details about a new power-enhancing electrode, the small company based in Burnaby, British Columbia now has divulged that it will begin producing batches of 190 W multi-crystalline on-grid modules at its facility in July. The module, which also is expected to complete UL certification in July, features cells from German manufactured Q-Cells.  We are on the verge of commercial production, says MacDonald.

With equipment tailored for its unique electrode and supplied by Germany’s ACI Ecotec, Day4 Energy plans to produce 2 MW. From 2007 on, we plan to double capacity every year, says MacDonald. The company, which currently employs a staff of 20, also plans to double its workforce over the next year.

For those made curious by Day4’s preview in Hawaii, this comes as welcome news. This new electrode for solar cells should greatly increase the cell efficiency and therefore the module power rating, too – and all that with very little effort. Day4’s head of research, Andreas Schneider, presented preliminary results in Hawaii showing that cell efficiencies could be improved by 0.7 to 0.8 percentage points. The first test of modules displays power increases of 5 to 10 percent.