Vikram Solar eyes Cencorp links

India’s Vikram Solar has begun exploring “collaboration opportunities” with Finnish technology group Cencorp that could see it begin using the latter company’s metal wrap-through (MWT) technology for its PV cells.

The exploration, set to play out over the next six months, will see the two negotiating “both business opportunites in [PV] and opportunities for ownership arrangements between the companies”.

Helsinki-listed Cencorp, majority owned by Finland’s Savcor Group, last year staked its future largely on the PV industry, stating its intention to take advantage of the PV industry downturn to become a global supplier of technology related to PV cells and their production equipment – and perhaps a module maker in its own right.

Kolkata-based Vikram is one of India’s largest module makers, with 150MW of domestic capacity, and has also transformed into a significant project developer in that country.

Vikram has been vocal in its belief that India’s domestic-content rules as they apply to PV cells are counterproductive, as the country does not have enough competitive polysilicon and wafering capacity to supply Indian module makers.

MWT cells based on conductive back sheets, like those developed by Cencorp, are widely expected to play a significant role in the next generation of PV modules – a transition delayed to some extent by the industry’s downturn of 2012, which put manufacturers off buying new production equipment.

MWT cells are interconnected on their rear sides – rather than on the front as in normal crystalline silicon PV modules – giving them a higher conversion efficiency, and ultimately making them easier to string together into modules and less prone to breakage.

China’s JA Solar last year became one of the few major PV manufacturers to be making MWT cells on a commercial basis, claiming an average conversion efficiency of 19.6% for its MWT monocrystalline cells.

Cencorp plans to start operation this year of a pilot PV fabrication line at its headquarters in Mikkeli, Finland, in order to demonstrate and continue refining its conductive back sheet technology.