RETC releases 2022 Module Index Report

Image: RETC

The Renewable Energy Test Center has released a new report on PV module performance.

From pv magazine USA

The Renewable Energy Test Center (RETC) has released its “2022 PV Module Index” (PVMI) report, highlighting module performance across a variety of lab tests, while also providing industry-cited clarifications on the real-world significance of the results.

The 2022 PVMI marks the first edition released since VDE acquired a 70% stake in RECT. President and CEO Cherif Kedir said the move will allow RETC to expand its testing services to a broader network of manufacturers, investors, insurers and developers, all in pursuit of minimizing risk and uncertainty in favor of long-term reliability, sustainability and profitability by designing better data-driven risk mitigation programs and service products.

RETC Vice President of Business Development Daniel Chang told pv magazine the 2022 PVMI takes a more forward-looking approach than previous editions, supplementing testing results and hardware performance with emerging industry trends that are going to guide the use of this hardware and investments in projects that utilize it into 2023 and beyond.

Cherif Kedir, President and CEO of RETC

“We focus on what we think are going to be topics that are going to be relevant for the upcoming year, like the onset of N-Type modules, and field services,” explained Chang. “There are a lot of installations out there degrading at a faster pace than expected. These installations are investments in assets made by banks to yield some sort of financial benefit to them, right? If they have some sort of degradation, then that’s not performing the way that was expected and planned for.”

Specifically, RETC is interested in forensic analysis of PV systems to determine the root causes of underperformance. This investigation is the culmination of different analyses to be done over the life of a project, starting with a baseline third-party module health assessment during project commissioning.

In instances of underperformance, RETC recommends Electroluminescence (EL) testing. EL testing uses a special camera system to document the light emissions that occur when an electrical current passes through PV cells. The technology has long been used in labs to detect a wide range of hidden module defects.

Another aspect of forensic analysis is predictive maintenance, wherein a third party inspects plants from periodically to detect issues that may not be visible at a base overview, but could develop into much larger issues if allowed to linger.

While Chang brought to light the ongoing issue of degradation and the developing need for advanced field services, Kedir focused more on the technology side, researching where the next wave of module innovation will come in a post-large-format world.

Panasonic Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin Layer (HIT) solar cell

That innovation, he thinks, will come from heterojunction n-type modules (HJT).

“I think leading manufacturers are kind of a crossroad point right now, in terms of how to get more power out of modules without making the modules just unreasonably large, because they’re already pretty damn big,” Kedir said. “The other reason I think manufacturers may be hesitant to make their modules larger is that everybody is testing the waters with heterojunction cells, so that they can eke out more more watts per module, without having to increase the size. With the module technologies they currently have, I don’t think they’re able to get a lot more efficiency out of the cell, so they’re trying to figure out how to get more power without increasing the module size, and the next, the next logical thing is to go to different technologies, Topcon and heterojunction.”

In an op-ed for pv magazine in November 2021, Nadeem Haque – chief technology officer at Heliene – outlined some of the distinct technology advantages that HJT presents. HJT cell manufacturing involves the deposition of an amorphous layer of silicon on both the top and bottom of the wafer followed by a transparent conducting oxide deposition and making of metal contacts.

HJT cell production lines are currently expensive, almost prohibitively so, and new lines need to be built. The cells require a more expensive metallization paste to manufacture. HJT cells are by nature bifacial, with bifaciality rates above 90%, the highest of any cell technology. Higher bifaciality and lower temperature coefficients result in higher energy output, and HJT cells in mass production are expected to reach about 27% efficiency.

“You can gauge where the industry is going based on where investment money is going, and we hear a lot about companies investing money in heterojunction cell lines in Asia, so I think that’s probably going to be a trend,” said Kedir.

The last industry trend examined by RETC is mitigating the effects of extreme weather on PV systems, a topic which pv magazine has reported on extensively with RETC and other partners, like VDE Americas.

Module index

The core of the report is a review of modules’ performance across a range of tests that are designed to go beyond the parameters of tests for certification and accurately project what each module’s strengths are, rather than compare and rank them against one another.

The tests are split up into three categories, each of which analyzes a different aspect of module excellence: quality indicators, performance indicators, and reliability indicators. In testing, the researchers at RETC noticed a new trend that some of the performance and reliability gaps from manufacturer to manufacturer have widened, as opposed to the narrowing they observed in recent years.

“Some of the issues that we saw over the last year have been related to manufacturers faced with their own supply chain issues and inability to get their raw materials,” explained Kedir. “They’ve had to go to other sources, secondary and tertiary sources of cells and backsheets, and then that triggered a few failures, we saw more of them last year. What’s been lingering is potential-induced degradation (PID) and some related performance stuff. On cells, PID, for all intents and purposes, had been completely solved a few years ago, but then it reappeared throughout the pandemic, with the supply chain issues, we see some of that leftover.”

This is a phenomenon that Kedir expects to see continue, at least in the short term. The issue may linger as a result of the recently-announced two year moratorium on the DOC’s anticircumvention case, he said.

“Demand is going to is going to pick up in the US,” he began. “The upcoming traceability requirements are going to put a constraint on the cell supply from forced labor regions, which means you’re not going to have enough cell supply for them for the market demands. This causes supply separation between manufacturers. Some larger manufacturers have already completely mitigated that issue, developed a new supply chain for polycrystal, and have new cell lines in Southeast Asia. Those guys are going to fare out much better than a manufacturer who hasn’t put in that infrastructure already. They’re going to have to try to source cells from other places or other manufacturers that may or may not be as good as their initial supply.”

While the gap between top-tier, established module manufacturers and some newer market entrants is widening, RETC still had a number of manufacturers perform well across their litany of tests.

Based on available testing data, RETC highlighted Hanwha Q CELLS, JA Solar, and LONGi Solar as the overall top three performers of the year. The recognition does not stop with the top performers, however, and RETC listed some of the manufacturers who scored the highest marks in individual tests, listed below.

Hail durability:

  • LONGi Solar

Thresher test:

  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • JA Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Tesla

LeTID resistance:

  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Trina Solar

LID resistance:

  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Trina Solar

Module efficiency:

  • JA Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • REC Solar
  • Silfab Solar
  • Tesla
  • Yingli Solar

Pan file performance:

  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Trina Solar

PTC-to-STC ratio

  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • JA Solar
  • REC Solar
  • Silfab Solar
  • Tesla
  • Yingli Solar

Damp heat test

  • JA Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • Tesla

Dynamic mechanical load test:

  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar

PID resistance:

  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar

Thermal cycle test:

  • Hanwha Q CELLS
  • JA Solar
  • Jinko Solar
  • LONGi Solar
  • Tesla

RETC said the rankings are comprehensive only to data that the company has collected, so modules from other manufacturers could perform similarly to the ones listed above, but the organization cannot make an overall determination regarding high achievement in manufacturing without module tests data across the three categories.

The report concludes with a look at a number of notable changes and revisions anticipated in the upcoming edition of IEC 61730, a two-part standard pertaining to PV module safety qualification, as well as upcoming updates to IEC TS 62915, a technical specification pertaining to PV module approval, design and safety qualification.

The standards analysis is expansive, and pv magazine will cover these pending changes in a follow-up to this article.

Author: Tim Sylvia

Solar window generates electricity, thermal energy

Image: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Advanced Science, Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0

A research team in Hong Kong has built a solar window that can generate power on the external side via a luminescent solar concentrator and thermal energy on the internal side via transparent solar absorbers.

From pv magazine

Scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have developed a dual-band selective solar harvesting (SSH) window based on transparent photovoltaics (TPVs) and transparent solar absorbers (TSAs). The TSAs are used to convert ultraviolet (UV) or near-infrared (NIR) light by converting it into thermal energy.

“The harvested thermal energy is extracted by ventilated air to provide indoor space heating in cold seasons or abate indoor cooling loading in hot seasons,” they explained. “We demonstrated that the SSH window has a visible transmittance of 42%, achieves a solar-electricity conversion efficiency of 0.75%, and a solar-thermal conversion efficiency of 24% with a ventilated air temperature rise of 10 C.”

The research group used a luminescent solar concentrator (TPV) based on copper indium sulfide and zinc sulfide (CuInS2/ZnS) quantum dots (QDs) as the exterior window. It is able to collect UV light and convey it to opaque PV devices that are located at the edge of the transparent substrate for electricity generation. The TSAs were instead used to fabricate the interior side of the window where heat is produced and collected.

“The thermal energy is mostly extracted by the ventilated air within the gap for various purposes such as indoor space heating in cold seasons,” the group said.

The academics fabricated a prototype measuring 30 cm x 30 cm x 2.4 cm by assembling the TPV elements with the TSAs on the interior side. They claim the device showed a substantial visible transmittance and that it was able to generate 6 W per square meter of power and the thermal power of around 150 W per square meter.

“Thermal power is 25 times of the generated electrical power, suggesting that the harvesting thermal power is of primary importance for building-integrated solar energy harvesting windows,” they said. “With thermal energy harvesting by air ventilation, the total effective efficiency was estimated over 30% at a typical operating condition for building space heating applications.”

They presented their findings in “Selective Solar Harvesting Windows for Full-Spectrum Utilization,” which was recently published in Advanced Science.

“The SSH window can save the annual heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) energy consumption by up to 61.5% compared with the normal glass, in addition to the generated electricity that accounts for up to 19.1% of the annual energy saving amount,” they said.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Harvard, Cambridge scientists improve durabiliy of redox flow batteries with anthraquinone

Anthraquinone (C14H8O) is an aromatic organic compound. Image: Ben Mills and Jynto, Wikimedia Commons

A research team has used a molecule known as 2,6-dihydroxy-anthraquinone (DHAQ) to improve the durability of organic aqueous redox flow batteries. They claim the molecule enables a net lifetime that is 17 times longer than past research has shown.

From pv magazine

Scientists from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University claim to have considerably increased the duration of organic aqueous redox flow batteries. They used a molecule known as 2,6-dihydroxy-anthraquinone (DHAQ) – or more simply, anthraquinone – to avoid the decomposition of chemically unstable redox-active species, which is the main factor affecting the storage capacity of these storage devices.

“Organic aqueous redox flow batteries promise to significantly lower the costs of electricity storage from intermittent energy sources, but the instability of the organic molecules has hindered their commercialization,” said researcher Michael Aziz. “Now, we have a truly practical solution to extend the lifetime of these molecules, which is an enormous step to making these batteries competitive.”

DHAQ decomposes slowly over time, regardless of how many times battery cycles have been performed. When it is in contact with the air, after a cycle, this molecule absorbs oxygen and turns back into its original status. For this reason, the researchers refer to the molecule as a “zombie quinone,” as it is kind of returning to life after being dead.

“But regularly exposing a battery’s electrolyte to air isn’t exactly practical, as it drives the two sides of the battery out of balance – both sides of the battery can no longer be fully charged at the same time,” they said.

Through nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), the academics discovered that the battery’s active materials can be recomposed via deep discharge. This occurs in a battery when it has been discharged at its full capacity.

“Usually, in running batteries, you want to avoid draining the battery completely because it tends to degrade its components,” said researcher Yan Jing. “But we’ve found that this extreme discharge where we actually reverse the polarity can recompose these molecules – which was a surprise.”

They said redox flow batteries developed via this approach could offer a net lifetime that is 17 times longer than previous research has shown.

“Getting to a single-digit percentage of loss per year is really enabling for widespread commercialization because it’s not a major financial burden to top off your tanks by a few percent each year,” said Aziz, adding that the proposed approach was applied with success to a range of organic molecules.

They described their findings in “In situ electrochemical recomposition of decomposed redox-active species in aqueous organic flow batteries,” which was recently published in Nature Chemistry.

“Now, utilizing 2,6-dihydroxy-anthraquinone (DHAQ) without further structural modification, we demonstrate that the regeneration of the original molecule after decomposition represents a viable route to achieve low-cost, long-lifetime aqueous organic redox flow batteries,” they said.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Solar panels based on biosourced materials

A recycled glass panel on the front and a linen composite on the back. Image: GD

French solar energy institute INES has developed new PV modules with thermoplastics and natural fibers sourced in Europe, such as flax and basalt. The scientists aim to reduce the environmental footprint and weight of solar panels, while improving recycling.

From pv magazine France

Researchers at France’s National Solar Energy Institute (INES) – a division of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) – are developing solar modules featuring new bio-based materials in the front and rear sides.

“As the carbon footprint and the life cycle analysis have now become essential criteria in the choice of photovoltaic panels, the sourcing of materials will become a crucial element in Europe in the next few years,” said Anis Fouini, the director of CEA-INES, in an interview with pv magazine France.

Aude Derrier, the research project’s coordinator, said her colleagues have looked at the various materials that already exist, to find one that could allow module manufacturers to produce panels that improve performance, durability, and cost, while lowering the environmental impact. The first demonstrator consists of heterojunction (HTJ) solar cells integrated into an all-composite material.

“The front side is made of a fiberglass-filled polymer, which provides transparency,” Derrier said. “The rear side is made of composite based on thermoplastics in which a weaving of two fibers, flax and basalt, has been integrated, which will provide mechanical strength, but also better resistance to humidity.”

The flax is sourced from northern France, where the entire industrial ecosystem is already present. The basalt is sourced elsewhere in Europe and is woven by an industrial partner of INES. This reduced the carbon footprint by 75 grams of CO2 per watt, compared to a reference module of the same power. The weight was also optimized and is less than 5 kilograms per square meter.

“This module is aimed at the rooftop PV and building integration,” said Derrier. “The advantage is that it is naturally black in color, without the need for a backsheet. In terms of recycling, thanks to thermoplastics, which can be remelted, the separation of the layers is also technically simpler.”

The module can be made without adapting current processes. Derrier said the idea is to transfer the technology to manufacturers, without additional investment.

“The only imperative is to have freezers to store the material and not to start the resin cross-linking process, but most manufacturers today use prepreg and are already equipped for this,” she said.

The INES scientists also looked into the solar glass supply issues encountered by all photovoltaic players and worked on the reuse of tempered glass.

“We worked on the second life of glass and developed a module made up of reused 2.8 mm glass that comes from an old module,” said Derrier. “We have also used a thermoplastic encapsulant which does not require cross-linking, which will therefore be easy to recycle, and a thermoplastic composite with flax fiber for resistance.”

The basalt-free rear face of the module has a natural linen color, which could be aesthetically interesting for architects in terms of facade integration, for example. In addition, the INES calculation tool showed a 10% reduction in the carbon footprint.

“It is now imperative to question the photovoltaic supply chains,” said Jouini. “With the help of the Rhône-Alpes region within the framework of the International Development Plan, we therefore went looking for players outside the solar sector to find new thermoplastics and new fibers. We also thought about the current lamination process, which is very energy intensive.”

Between the pressurization, the pressing and the cooling phase, the lamination usually lasts between 30 and 35 minutes, with an operating temperature of around 150 C to 160 C.

“But for modules that increasingly incorporate eco-designed materials, it is necessary to transform thermoplastics at around 200 C to 250 C, knowing that HTJ technology is sensitive to heat and must not exceed 200 C,” said Derrier.

The research institute is teaming up with France-based induction thermocompression specialist Roctool, to reduce cycle times and make shapes according to the needs of customers. Together, they have developed a module with a rear face made of polypropylene-type thermoplastic composite, to which recycled carbon fibers have been integrated. The front side is made of thermoplastics and fiberglass.

“Roctool’s induction thermocompression process makes it possible to heat the two front and rear plates quickly, without having to reach 200 C at the core of the HTJ cells,” Derrier said.

The company claims the investment is lower and the process could achieve a cycle time of just a few minutes, while using less energy. The technology is aimed at composite manufacturers, to give them the possibility of producing parts of different shapes and sizes, while integrating lighter and more durable materials.

Authors: Gwénaëlle Deboutte and Marie Beyer

EV battery can reach 98% charge in less than 10 minutes

Image: Enovix

Enovix has shown that its US-made silicon anode lithium-ion batteries can charge from 0% to 80% in just five minutes.

From pv magazine USA

California-based Enovix said that it has demonstrated the ability of electric vehicle battery cells to charge from 0% to 80% capacity in as little as 5.2 minutes, and above 98% charge capacity in less than 10 minutes.

The cells also surpass 1,000 cycles, while retaining 93% of their capacity. These achievements have shattered the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) goal of achieving 80% charge in 15 minutes.

Other goals for USABC at the cell level include a usable energy density of 550 Wh/L, a survival temperature range of -40 C to 66 C, and a cost of $75/kWh at an annual output volume of 250,000 units. A full set of USABC targets can be found here.

The company demonstrated the fast-charge ability in its 0.27 Ah EV cells in its silicon lithium-ion batteries, which it said contain a novel 3D architecture and constraint system. The cells contain a 100% active silicon anode. Enovix said the material has long been heralded as an important technology in the next generation of battery anodes.

Silicon anodes can theoretically store more than twice as much lithium than the graphite anode that is used in nearly all Li-ion batteries today (1,800 mAh/cubic centimeter vs. 800 mAh/cubic centimeter).

“Fast charge capability can accelerate mass adoption of EVs and we’ve been able to demonstrate a level of performance that meets and exceeds many OEM roadmaps,” said Harrold Rust, co-founder, CEO and president of Enovix. “EV manufacturers are in pursuit of batteries that support longer range, while the public and private sectors work to increase EV driver access to fast chargers. We’re proud to support these goals to help electrify the automotive industry and demonstrate our batteries are an exciting option to power long-range, fast-charging EVs.”

“Our unique architecture enables a battery that not only charges in less than 10 minutes, but also maintains high cycle life,” said Ashok Lahiri, the CTO of Enovix. “We can improve battery performance today using the same chemistries, but more importantly, we can accelerate the industry’s roadmap.”

Lahiri spoke this week at the 12th International Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) Europe in Mainz, Germany. His presentation on silicon-anode lithium-ion batteries for EV applications will provide an update on the company’s EV program. The slide deck can be found here.

Author: Ryan Kennedy

Solar cell efficiencies at a glance – updated

A heterojunction solar cell made by the University of New South Wales. Image: University of New South Wales

A research group led by Professor Martin Green has published Version 60 of the Solar cell efficiency tables.

From pv magazine

An international research group led by Professor Martin Green from the University of New South Wales in Australia has published Version 60 of “Solar cell efficiency tables” in Progress in Photovoltaics.

The scientists said they have added 15  new results to the new version of the tables since January. They also noted that an appendix describes new approaches and terminology.

Since 1993, when the tables were first published, the research group has seen major improvements in all cell categories.

“Copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) and multijunction cells have seen the most consistent gains, although perovskites have recently seen similar overall gains compressed into a shorter timescale,” Green told pv magazine in an interview last year.

He said that the most important factor for inclusion in the tables is that all results should be independently measured at test centers on the group’s list.

“All of our recognized test centers are carefully vetted prior to inclusion on our list and have been involved in round-robin testing with one another, ensuring consistency of measurements to well within the uncertainty estimates included with the published results,” said Green.

The research group includes scientists from the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, the US Department of Energy, and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Author: Emiliano Bellini

Hydrogen generation from organic waste, non-recyclable plastic

The oH2 system is installed in a 20-foot standard container. The plants are cascadable. Image: H2 Industries

US-based H2 Industries plans to produce hydrogen from organic waste and non-recyclable plastic. pv magazine recently spoke with its executive president, Michael Stusch, about the main technologies behind the project.

From pv magazine

New York-based H2-Industries has announced a plan to produce 300,000 tons of hydrogen per year in Egypt, out of up to 4 million tons of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic.

The company said its Suez Canal Project is the first of its kind in the world. It explained that hydrogen production at the planned facility could achieve a levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH) that is almost half of other existing green hydrogen production technologies, and also lower than that of gray hydrogen.

“We are currently in discussion for similar projects in 30 countries from South America, Europe, the Middle East to all areas in Africa,” H2 Industries Executive Chairman Michael Stusch told pv magazine, noting that preliminary approvals for the project in Egypt have already been secured.

H2-Industries uses a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology, which it considers to be the cheapest, safest, and most reliable transportation method. Its system is based on integrated thermolysis plant units based on pre-assembled scalable modules in standard container frames, which are designed to produce hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic waste such as hydrocarbons like polyethylene, biogenic residues from agriculture, forestry, food waste, and sewage sludge.

“Thermolysis is not waste combustion, but rather a high-temperature conversion process without oxygen or air to produce hydrogen,” Stusch explained. “The thermolysis units decompose waste at temperatures of around 900 C and close to ambient pressure in the presence of steam reforming. The integrated process splits and regroups the feedstock molecules into a hydrogen-rich gas mixture and, finally, the hydrogen is purified from this mixture.”

Stusch claimed that waste-to-hydrogen is a game-changer. “A change in paradigms takes a little longer, but we are convinced it will have the bigger impact,” he said.

The technology will jump-start when the first production plants show that hydrogen from organic waste and non-recyclable plastic will be cheaper than green hydrogen, he said, noting that this may also require a supportive regulatory framework. In addition, he noted that Europe’s waste sectors are over-regulated, which poses a range of challenges.

“Nevertheless, we are in touch with potential partners in various European regions. Countries with underdeveloped waste sectors often are very open to our technology,” said Stusch.

In late April, H2 Industries unveiled plans to develop a $1.4 billion waste-to-hydrogen plant in conjunction with PV solar power plants and baseload capacity in Oman.

Core criticism

Not everybody is in favor of using waste-to-hydrogen technology. Canadian expert Martin said that municipal solid waste (MSW) contains some energy but that any fuel that you make out of it has to be considered fossil fuel.

“Once you take into account the energy needed to dry it, the net energy in excess of the energy required for drying, is of fossil origin,” he told pv magazine, adding that it is better to bury non-recyclable plastics. “They cease to degrade. They do not release their fossil CO2 content for thousands of years.”

According to Martin, there is a growing interest in technology, especially in countries running out of landfill space. “They should therefore focus on better waste segregation, waste reduction, and recycling. Switching from landfilling to air-filling is not a good tradeoff.”

He also argued that wet organic content should be removed at the source and fed to anaerobic digesters to make biogas. “It needs not to be converted to hydrogen, wasting at least 30% of its energy content in the process.”

Author: Sergio Matalucci

Chinese PV Industry Brief: 1 GW TOPCon module supply order for JinkoSolar

Image: JinkoSolar

JinkoSolar has scored a 1 GW PV panel order in China and Risen suspended a $758 million private placement of shares.

From pv magazine

Module maker JinkoSolar announced this week it secured a solar module supply agreement from Chinese property development company Datang Group. The order relates to the supply of 1 GW of n-type TOPCon bifacial modules with a power output of up to 560 W for use in large scale projects.

Module manufacturer Risen said on Thursday that its CNY 5 billion ($758 million) private placement of shares has been suspended for a month. The net proceeds from the transaction should be devoted to the construction of a new solar module factory that still needs to get final approval from the China National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC).

China’s Shandong Province announced this week that its fourteenth five-year plan spanning 2021 to 2025 envisages deploying at least 65 GW of PV capacity by the end of 2025, including at least 12 GW of offshore PV for which a specific tender was issued last month. The provincial authorities have already identified 10 offshore sites along Shandong’s coast where the projects could be constructed. Binzhou, Dongying, Weifang, Yantai, Weihai and Qingdao are some of the preferred areas.

Shunfeng International’s proposed sale of four solar projects has collapsed. The heavily-indebted developer announced in January plans to sell 132 MW of solar generation capacity to state-owned entity State Power Investment Group Xinjiang Energy and Chemical Co Ltd to raise CNY 890 million ($134 million). After postponing four times publication of details of the shareholder vote required to approve the sale, Shunfeng this week said the deal had fallen through. The transaction was complicated by the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court of Jiangsu Province in April, which granted a freezing order on the 95% stake in one of the solar project companies held by a Shunfeng subsidiary. The order was granted at the request of two investors in a 2015 Shunfeng bond who claim money is owed them by the developer. “The board will explore other opportunities to dispose of … some or all of the target companies in order to improve the financial position of the company,” Shunfeng told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange this week.

Author: Vincent Shaw & Max Hall

Megasol reveals new solar PV in-roof system

Megasol’s Nicer X modules are available as black and translucent versions. Image: Megasol

Swiss module manufacturer Megasol has unveiled a novel rooftop PV system in two variants — full-black and translucent. The installation consists of vertical supports, a ridge profile, and solar modules.

From pv magazine

Swiss solar module manufacturer Megasol has released a new in-roof system that it claims can be used to deploy homogeneous and flush-fitting rooftop PV installations.

The Nicer X in-roof system is available in two versions — the full-black and the translucent variants. The first system relies on 400 solar modules with a power conversion efficiency of 21.7%, black cell gaps, cross-contacts, and rear busbars. The second solution utilises larger, transparent cell spacing enabling light to penetrate by around 10%. Both solutions comprise three components: vertical supports, a ridge profile, and solar modules.

Megasol head of communications Michael Reist said installation is a simple process with the first step involving the screwing of the vertical supports directly onto the existing roof battens after the old tiles have been removed. In the case of a new building, reduced roof battens can be installed. In the second step, the ridge profiles are clicked and modules can be installed.

“The modules are laid completely without tools, they are pushed up to the upper stop and then closed, similar to a trunk lid,” Reist said. “An audible click and a corresponding haptic feedback confirm that it is securely locked in place.”

The Megasol Nicer X system. Image: Megasol

Reist said it is also possible to visually check whether the solar modules are securely fixed. With the manufacturer’s snap-lock fasteners, the modules can easily be attached and detached several times.

According to Megasol, 20 square meters of the Nicer X substructure and solar modules could be deployed by one person in an hour.

The manufacturer also offers matching eaves grilles for the system if required. The system is also claimed to be completely rainproof from a roof pitch of three degrees, which is achieved by a double labyrinth seal.

Megasol said the system is not only suitable for in-roof photovoltaic systems, but also for solar parking lots, canopies or facades. Existing parking spaces could be retrofitted and, in the case of facades, the system is particularly suitable for hall-like buildings or steel structures. In the case of non-insulated hall constructions, no further facade elements are necessary and the trapezoidal sheets can be left out completely.

Author: Sandra Enkhardt

Module cleaning is just the beginning

Optimizing the performance of solar panels often comes down to ensuring their cleanliness. Levels and types of soiling, local weather conditions and the surroundings of your plant can lead to soiling problems and subsequent energy losses. Over the past year, ChemiTek has worked with O&M companies and PV asset managers to develop a range of products that will solve specific soiling challenges the solar industry is facing – and recent testing has yielded impressive results.

From pv magazine

Over the past six months, Portugal- based ChemiTek has tested a number of antistatic and hydrophobic coatings designed for solar modules. The coatings were tested at the “Green Energy Park” in Rabat, Morocco, and the results point to a bright future in their adoption.

However, the results also demonstrate that the coatings are most effective when tailored to environmental and climactic conditions. To meet this need, ChemiTek studies the different conditions of each solar park, down to the amount and type of dirt, the location of the panels and the weather, along with the cleaning method, all to ensure the solution meets the specific project’s needs.

Soiling losses 

Studies show that dirty panels can result in energy losses of up to 50%. ChemiTek has developed a range of agents to remove contaminants and harsh soiling, such as lichen, cement dust, gypsum, hard water, bird droppings, pollen, beeswax, and others.

For example, if a solar plant is affected by cement dust, stone dust, gypsum, and other alkaline contaminants, ChemiTek’s Cement Removal Agent (CRA) will react chemically with these contaminants, removing them in a highly effective way. 

Another problem that affects the production of energy from PV modules, and that can even damage the system, is the appearance of lichens, mosses, and other fungi on their surface, especially in very humid environments and in sites with large amounts of organic matter – near forests, agricultural plantations and so on. For this, ChemiTek has developed its Lichen Removal Agent (LRA). 

For the removal of organic dirt, such as pollen and bees’ wax, bird droppings, sand, dust, and resin, it is recommended to use the cleaning and protection solution Solar Wash Protect (SWP). SWP is not only highly effective in removing accumulated dirt, it also results in an antistatic coating that repels dust and prevents the adhesion of soiling. 

It is important to use the correct type of water in module cleaning, in order not to leave water stains on the module. Hard water – containing high levels of minerals and metal ions – can result in stains and deposits, which will block light transmission and can even lead to the creation of hotspots on the module. To solve this, ChemiTek has developed the Water Softening Agent (WSA), a biodegradable agent that captures minerals and metal ions, making the water completely safe to use for PV cleaning.

After cleaning care 

ChemiTek has several coatings that can be applied during or after cleaning and tested by TÜV Sud. Including antistatic coatings for dry and moderate climates and hydrophobic coatings for rainy environments.

SWP and Antistatic Solar Armor (ASA) are antistatic coatings. SWP and Antistatic Solar Armor (ASA) are antistatic coatings. SWP is a cleaning and protection product designed for manual cleaning and/or plants with heavy soiling. ASA, meanwhile, is an antistatic coating applied by professionals on solar plants in dryer climates, preferably used with semiautomatic equipment (for example, brush on a tractor and/or robot).

For locations with very humid and rainy weather, it is recommended the use of hydrophobic coatings, such as the D-Solar Defendor (DSD), which is for professional use and to be applied at high dilutions with brush on tractors or robots; and the Industrial Glass Protect (IGP) – an easy to apply, long-lasting (+5 years) coating that provides high hydrophobicity and is very resistant to adverse environmental conditions such as acid rain, high salinity, and extreme temperatures. The application of IGP can also lead to a reduction in the amount of cleaning required.