Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

The history of the global PV industry is one that is defined by innovation. And now, more than ever, the continuing growth and sustained health of the solar sector is further enabling companies to invest in R&D. From tech start-ups to global electronics companies, new components that deliver marginal improvements or game-changing solutions, the efficiency and performance of PV systems across the world continues to be advanced by technological innovation. One characteristic that unites innovators across the solar industry is the unwavering focus on optimizing solar PV systems, always looking to deliver higher yields, reduce O&M costs and increase the ROI for system owners. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that in recent years there has been a significant increase in the use of module-level power electronics (MLPE), such as power optimizers or microinverters. As the name suggests, MLPE place power electronics on the modules of the PV system, with the aim of isolating individual panels in order to improve overall system performance. The introduction of MLPE marks a shift from the conventional PV system design, where the inverter would be responsible for handling so many of the functions and processes that a PV plant is required to carry out. The proliferation of

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With bifacial PV devices a large gain in solar power generation in the range of 10%-20% can be achieved in the field. Despite this, selling bifacial devices at higher prices is still a difficult task. With peak-performance of solar cells and modules at standard testing conditions being the price meter, true bifacial testing is a key step to achieve bifacial pricing in the future of PV. We present deeper insight into bifacial testing and analyse the economic impact of different approaches. Large-scale production of bifacial solar cells and modules has become possible mainly by three developments over the last few years – dielectric passivation layers on both sides of the solar cells, thinner glass for solar modules and alternatively transparent backsheets. Offering a major increase in electricity generation at a comparably low increase in costs for device manufacturing, bifaciality has become one of the largest industry trends in photovoltaics in the recent years. Bifacial devices achieve a gain in power generation of 10% – 20% compared to monofacial references [1-5], depending on system design, albedo of the systems’ location as well as the bifaciality coefficient of the modules. This gain, which corresponds to 2% – 4% higher solar cell efficiency, is

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High purity argon (greater than 99.999%) is used as a shield gas in the production of silicon ingots, to be fabricated into wafers for solar cells and micro-electronic devices. The argon is used to control the impurity levels present during the manufacturing process to an acceptable level. In response to rising costs, the trend in the solar industry has been to reduce the argon purge flows to a minimum, typically about 30slm; however, this cost reduction comes at the expense of wafer purity which can result in lower performance solar cells. Ultra-High purity wafers for use in micro-electronic applications typically utilise two to three times as much argon as for the solar PV application, so rising argon costs are an even more critical issue in this sector. The current trend in the Solar PV wafer market is to move to higher purity high performance and/or n-type doped wafers, to maximise the efficiency of the resulting solar cells and generate added value. This requires argon purge gas flows to increase up to about 70-90slm. The supply of high purity argon is primarily a by-product of the air separation process generating oxygen used in steel making. This means, at best the, supply of high purity

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Gantner has been selected numerous times to supply complete monitoring solutions for new, large solar power plants in e.g. Egypt, Denmark, Thailand and the Netherlands. In the past 12 months we have repeatedly confirmed our position as a leading global player in utility scale PV industry. After participating in two 50MW projects in Kazakhstan previously, Gantner will now provide its complete monitoring solution to the biggest solar farm in Central Asia, Saran, expanding its exposure in the country by another 100MW. This includes the Q.reader as data logger and power plant controller, DC combiner boxes, meteo stations and Gantner.webportal, a SCADA system. Thanks to the dropping cost in solar energy production and an increasing global awareness of the advantages of clean energy, we are confident that the recent upward trend in solar industry will continue for several years. Now the application of solar energy is not only justified by its advantages to the environment but has also become economically competitive. Witnessing significant growth in PV in most geographical regions, the installed assets and investments require reliable and effective data monitoring solutions to meet the rising expectations of the plants’ stakeholders. A monitoring system should serve to reduce risks for investors and to provide reliable

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PES brings you the latest exciting news from EKO. With the constant increase of PV projects globally and new standards in place, there is an increasing requirement for a compliant and cost-effective solution to monitor plant performance. Last year was another successful year for the Photovoltaic (PV) market, with approximately 96 GW of PV installed globally. Following this trend, 2018 is set to surpass 2017 with nearly 105 GW of PV projects forecasted, an increase of 10%. This substantial increase would have been even higher, were it not for the sanctions on new solar projects by Chinese government entities. Worldwide PV investment and development is set to maintain its stellar performance for the foreseeable future – for example, the European market, after several years of stagnation, is now entering a period of rapid development and investment, with a forecasted 14GW of PV installed per year by 2022. With this growing increase in PV investment and development, the industry is becoming more aware of the importance of performance monitoring. Optimal energy output of a PV plant is essential to ensure an adequate return on investment, and this can only be assured with continuous performance monitoring of the yield and efficiency of PV plants.

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Solar panel manufacturers strive to minimize cost and maximise efficiency of their modules. Their success is confirmed by the substantial decrease in $/Wp factor for the modules. In 2006, crystalline silicon based module prices were approximately 5.2$/Wp. By 2017, this had dropped to 0.42$/Wp, over an order of magnitude decrease in ten years. There has also been a massive relocation of the cell and module manufacturing industry. In 2006, China and Taiwan produced ~7% of the world production of solar modules as expressed as MWp. At that time, over 40% of production was in Japan, and over 30% in Europe. By 2017, China and Taiwan dominated module manufacturing, with over 70% of the world production, ~60% of that being in China alone. Both Japan and Europe had dropped to less than 5%. It is important to stress that $/Wp values are dominated by availability and cost of capital, land prices, environmental regulatory restrictions, and production scale – these parameters contribute to operating costs more than labor. Module efficiency contributes to the $/Wp performance indicator. The table provides absolute and relative module efficiencies. The best heterojunction modules are 50% more efficient than those modules based on thin films. The Chinese government has been very actively

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Chip Palombini, Director of Energy Storage at Dynapower Company, LLC, Vermont US, was full of enthusiasm when PES caught up with him. Customers value their complete energy storage solutions, which they deploy world wide to commercial and utility-scale companies. PES: Welcome to PES Solar/PV magazine, it’s great to talk with you. would you like to begin by explaining a little about the background of Dynapower and the importance of the solar/PV industry to you? Chip Palombini: Dynapower is a fifty-five year old power electronics company, headquartered in Burlington, Vermont, with equipment installed worldwide. Over the last decade independent power producers [IPP], utilities, solar developers, and integrators have been relying on Dynapower to design, build, and deploy more than 425 MW of energy storage inverters for projects ranging from 100 kW microgrids to 40 MW. We’ve been fortunate to be involved in a number of groundbreaking solar plus storage projects including the United States first utility-scale solar plus storage installation with Green Mountain Power in Rutland, Vermont. We worked with Tesla, and what was then Solar City, to help the island of Tua in American Samoa transition from diesel power to 100% solar power 24/7. Most recently we commercially deployed the industry’s first

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Ron Corio is the founder of Array Technologies, pioneers of solar tracking technology. Array Technologies built its first tracker for bifacial modules in 2009 and has been studying bifacial modules coupled with utility scale trackers at a test-site for the last year, and recently launched a new partnership with a national laboratory in New Mexico. At Intersolar North America 2018, Array explained that it will continue to push its study of the convergence of bifacial and tracking technologies; namely how these studies will help to better identify and interpret the multitude of factors which go into predicting the energy output of future plants combining these two technologies. Innovation has driven the growth and development of the PV industry. With that innovation has come increased reliability, bankability, optimized energy yields, and higher efficiencies – making solar more and more appealing to stakeholders. One of the most promising innovations is the emergence of bifacial PV cell and module technology. By producing electricity from both the front and backside of a solar module, PV project owners and developers can profit from increased energy yields from the diffused light hitting the backside of the module. When coupled with an optimized and reliable PV tracking system, bifacial

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Monica Manara, CCO Photovoltaics, for Coveme gave PES a frank interview on the ups and downs in the PV market. This company has been in photovoltaics since the beginning and is still finding new, innovative and technological advances to share with their customers. They have invested in two R&D sites to further these developments. PES: Thanks for meeting up with us Monica, it’s great to talk with you. Coveme is a regular contributor to our publication so, for the benefit of our new readers, would you like to begin by explaining a little about the background of Coveme and the importance of the solar/PV industry to you? Monica Manara: The solar and photovoltaic market has always been and is still today of crucial importance in Coveme’s business strategy. In fact, our company’s photovoltaic business unit was set up at the same time as photovoltaics became a market. Coveme back then was the very first producer of backsheets in Europe and the world. Nevertheless, this is a challenging market with many ups and downs, but it is still Coveme’s focus. We have two state-of-the-art production sites in Europe and Asia that guarantee the capacity and flexibility to face these challenges. PES: We have been hearing

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Infrastructure is not a short-term investment. Once installed, these critical systems have to remain useful for at least 20 years. Public utilities looking to invest in solar power and other renewable energy systems face pressure to ensure that these systems are cost-effective and meet the energy demand. As the cost of solar power has come down considerably, and more public utilities seek to incorporate it into their energy mix, infrastructure is where we will see the next phase of technological development. For investors, this presents a powerful opportunity to back the solutions that will transform the energy industry over the next decade. The next phase of investment In reality, energy generation only accounts for 35 percent of a utility’s costs, be that from solar power, wind power or natural gas. The bulk of utility costs come from operating and maintaining the underlying distribution infrastructure. Even the most efficient energy generation methods will result in excessive costs if the distribution infrastructure fails or functions incorrectly. For newer systems to be installed effectively on a large-scale, it is not enough to simply shoehorn them into old structures. The state of solar power today demonstrates this phenomenon. As it stands, solar photovoltaic (PV) hardware is more affordable

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