Upgraded metallurgical-grade (UMG) silicon is a lower cost and lower quality form of solar-grade silicon that is capable of producing solar cells at over 16% efficiency. This paper presents some of the economic advantages and technical concerns and solutions associated with producing silicon based PV from UMG, as well as preliminary solar cell results using this material. Results are based on a comparison of cells made in a turnkey line (Schmid Group) using alloy blends of 10%, 20%, 30% and 100% UMG, mixed with solar-grade Si before ingot growth. Detailed characterization was carried out on these finished cells according to lifetime, LBIC, diffusion length and luminescence imaging to determine correlations of performance with basic parameters. Requirements for material cost and cell performance necessary for UMG solar cells to be cost competitive are also presented.
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