First Solar and GE’s Power Conversion business are utilizing their recently established technology and commercial partnership to develop a more cost effective and productive utility-scale PV power plant design that combines First Solar’s thin-film CdTe modules with GE’s new ProSolar 1500 Volt inverter/transformer system, which is claimed to be the largest inverter in the industry capable of accommodating 1,500 volt DC solar arrays.
GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) has announced an innovative cell metallisation and interconnect technology, dubbed ‘Merlin’ that is expected to provide substantial savings in both the manufacture and installation of solar modules. A key component of the new technology includes a flexible grid that replaces conventional two and three silver bus bars, while significantly reducing solver paste consumption.
JA Solar is rolling-out globally a new series of high performance solar cells and modules in 2014. Highlights included the launch of its monocrystalline silicon (mono-Si) solar cell (156x156 mm2), ‘PERCIUM’ with 20%-plus conversion efficiency.
SMA Solar Technology has launched a next-generation microinverter that claims to have 50% less component content than competitor versions. The ‘Sunny Boy 240’ microinverter is billed to be easy-to-install and provides an expandable modular solution for PV systems.
Isovoltaic’s recently introduced PV module backsheet combines both ‘Tedlar’ and ‘Polyamide’ materials to provide improved characteristics for field durability and module efficiency increase, especially in challenging conditions.
Locus Energy has introduced its next-generation of smart meters designed to allow solar installers and asset managers to more easily collect, monitor and analyse performance data from both residential and light commercial solar PV systems. The LGate 120 and 320 are the first cellular smart meters designed specifically to measure the performance of PV installations.
Skytron energy has made considerable performance upgrades to its monitoring, control and supervision solutions for PV power plants. The ‘PVGuard’ Supervision Platform has been enhanced with improved SCADA software capabilities for energy production planning, performance analysis and system integration.
Eyelit has started the general availability of version 5.1 of its ‘Eyelit Manufacturing’ suite of MES (Manufacturing Execution System) software with key enhancements that enable engineers to quickly configure special instructions and processing that enforce special work requests (SWRs) for research and development projects.
Enphase Energy has introduced new hardware and software products that are claimed to lower solar system installation and operations costs for solar professionals.
Panasonic has launched the ‘HIT-N245’ and ‘HIT-N240’ PV modules. The HIT-N245 module has a conversion efficiency of 19.4% and comes with several upgraded features intended to provide overall improved operational performance, notably for residential rooftop markets.
Dow Corning’s silicone-based, next-generation Electrically Conductive Adhesive (ECA) ‘PV-5802’ will be used in Tianwei New Energy’s Metal Wrap Through (MWT) module production line, developed by ECN of the Netherlands. PV-5802 is said to provide improved electrical properties and stability, which will greatly enhance the electrical performance, reliability and durability of MWT modules.
GCL-Poly Energy Holdings has started commercial mass production for its second-generation quasi-monocrystalline silicon wafer product. The GCL ‘Monocrystalline G2’ wafer is claimed to be comparable in conversion efficiencies with that of conventional Czochralski-based monocrystalline wafers.
FLEXcon has expanded its solar module backsheet ‘multiGUARD’ offering with the addition of Black/White and Black/Black products. The new, more aesthetically pleasing black backsheet products appeal to the high-end commercial market and a much greater portion of the residential market.
3D-Micromac has developed a novel, highly productive laser system for opening the rear sides of PERC cells. Innovative on-the-fly technology makes it possible to achieve an improved cost-benefit ratio. The system is modular, combinable with different laser-source technologies, and achieves a typical efficiency increase up to one percentage point.
AEG Power Solutions (AEG PS), a global provider of power electronics for renewable energies, introduces two new members of its broad inverter line for the Americas market.
Scorpius Trackers claims to be the first company to have pioneered a frictionless pivot system that does not require bearings for free movement in solar tracking systems. The Vader-xFP tracking system is claimed to have zero wear and tear of mechanical parts with less than 0.1% of the generated power being consumed for tracking a >1MW PV power plant.
US start-up, Scifiniti is developing a low-cost ‘SmartWafer’ that is claimed to enhance the performance and significantly lower the cost of silicon-based products.
BELECTRIC’s new 3.0 MegaWattBlock is claimed to set new standards in solar power production. The power plant unit is designed to create electricity at the lowest possible levelized costs of electricity (LCOE). On a par with the functionality of large conventional power plants, the grid-stabilizing plant technology is designed to intelligently integrate renewable energy sources in existing power grids.
IBM has introduced an advanced power and weather modeling technology that will help utilities increase the reliability of renewable energy resources. The solution combines weather prediction and analytics to accurately forecast the availability solar PV energy. The Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting” (HyRef) technology uses weather modeling capabilities, advanced cloud imaging technology and sky-facing cameras to track cloud movements, while sensors on the turbines monitor wind speed, temperature and direction.
The SolarMax 360 TS-SV central inverter from Sputnik Engineering AG and the TS-SV Compact Station, with a rated output power of 720kW, are designed as a cost effective solution for large PV power plants. The 360TS-SV has a European efficiency of 97.4%.
Meyer Burger and LayTec have collaborated to produce the world’s first fully integrated EVA cross-linking metrology solution for PV module production lines.
Designed for solar modules with cells for rear-side contacting, ‘AKACON BCF’ PV backsheet is being offered by the KREMPEL Group and is ready for volume production. The backsheet comes with a copper layer and is structured according to customer’s design for back-contact cells.
VINSPEC solar VCOFLC1 camera system from VITRONIC enables exact and reliable front print and color inspection.
Virtual Industries, a supplier of manual vacuum handling solutions, has made available its new general-purpose wafer vacuum handling tool, ‘WAFER-VAC’ system with 8” molded wafer tip (WV-9000-MW8).
Texas Instruments has introduced the industry’s first fully programmable DC arc detect reference solution. The RD-195 makes it faster and easier for designers to address a growing need to safeguard high-power DC systems against the catastrophic damage that can result from arc faults.
Kömmerling has launched its new butyl based framing sealant ‘HelioSeal’ PVS 120. In contrast to existing framing sealants on the market HelioSeal PVS 120 is claimed to provide immediate green strength and superior water and moisture vapour tightness, while being hot applied and able to be used by hand or in fully automated high speed production lines.
Start-up Sol Voltaics has unveiled ‘SolInk’, which is claimed to be an economical nanomaterial that promises to increase the efficiency of crystalline silicon or thin-film solar modules by up to 25% or more. Gallium arsenide nanowires are fabricated via a high-throughput process called ‘Aerotaxy’ invented by company founder and Lund University professor Lars Samuelson.
Hanwha Q CELLS has introduced its versatile polycrystalline-based ‘Q.PRO-G3’ series module. Using its ‘Q.ANTUM’ high-efficiency solar cell technology (19.5% conversion efficiencies) and performance induced degradation (PID) free technology, the module also employs a lighter and slimmer design, using higher tensile aluminum frame.
PV-Tech’s publisher Solar Media has recently produced the 2013 Production Annual, which brings together the best of our Photovoltaics International articles from the last year. Jef Poortmans, director of PV technologies at IMEC, offers his thoughts on what insights the annual offers into the state of PV technology.
Huntsman Advanced Materials has launched a new product for potting of solar inverters. The polyurethane system ‘Arathane’ CW 5660 / HY 5610 has been designed to meet the key requirements of inverters for PV applications. Fast processing, high thermal endurance combined with low temperature flexibility and high thermal conductivity are the key features of the new system.
First Solar has launched a new evolution of its Series 3 CdTe thin-film PV module platform. The ‘Series 3 Black’ is said to incorporate First Solar’s latest advances in conversion efficiency as well as additional features to enhance its performance in utility-scale power plants.
Enecsys has introduced its second generation microinverter platform, including a new communications gateway and online monitoring service. The microinverter technology is said to power scale up to 300W AC enabling the use of many high powered 60-cell modules, providing maximum energy harvest in the smallest footprint.
The IMO Solar Cube has been developed by IMO Precision Controls as an easy to set up solar tracking and measurement controller with the flexibility to adapt to either one or two axis PV module installations to track the sun’s movement.
PSE AG has developed a new test stand, Degratest Labtool, designed for the testing of the light-induced degradation (LID) effect on silicon solar cells. The testing technology monitors and records degradation effects, and offers manufacturers and research institutions a fast and reliable tool for testing and developing solar cells. The LID test system was developed at ISC Konstance.
SURAGUS GmbH, a spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing Dresden, offers the ‘EddyCus Thin-Film lab’ specifically for contactless real-time thickness and sheet resistance determination of low and high conductive thin-films on glass, wafer, plastics or foils.
Vela Solaris has introduced ‘Polysun 6’ PV planner software that includes new features that ease the daily work of solar system planners as well as being enhanced to provide simulation analysis of battery storage requirements for self-consumption.
Datapaq has launched a tailored version of its SolarPaq temperature profiling system for contact paste drying processes.
Engineered Conductive Materials is offering the ‘DB-1569-1’ low temperature curing conductive adhesive for use in organic photovoltaics (OPV). This material formulation has been optimized for improved conductivity and stability on various substrates when cured at 80°C or higher.
Scanlab has broadened its offering with ‘SCANalign,’ a vision system tailored specifically to the demands of laser processing steps used in solar cell fabrication steps.
Meyer Burger’s patented ‘SmartWire Connection Technology’ (SWCT) is designed to replace conventional silver-based busbars on solar cells using thin copper wires on both sides of the cell. Typically, 30 very fine copper wires are used for cell connection generating up to 2,000 contact points per cell that provide 5% higher power output compared to best-in-class 3BB (three busbar) technology, while reducing production costs.
Trina Solar is planning to introduce the 60-cell PDG5, the first in a new line of dual rated frameless modules. The PDG5 is said to be resistant to potential induced degradation (PID) and micro-cracking, and does not require grounding. The PDG5 is optimized for reliable performance under stressful environmental conditions.
SoLayTec has introduced its InPassion ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) tool for depositing Al2O3 in mass production. Al2O3 is well known in the PV community for highly effective surface passivation properties and negative fixed charge density, which is required for thinner wafer usage. InPassion ALD tool is capable of processing up to 4,500 wph.
SMA Solar Technology has launched its new SMA ‘Cluster Controller,’ which is designed to support the monitoring and control of decentralized PV power plants in connection with its string inverters up to the megawatt range.
Canadian Solar has launched its next generation ‘ResidentialAC’ system less than six-months after the initial launch. The upgraded system combines the 250W PV module with its next generation microinverter while maintaining a standard 25-year system performance warranty.
In the field of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Parabolic Trough Collector (PTC) technology is one of the most widely used, and Dunkermotor’s new ‘Bifurcated Wormetary’ gearmotors are designed to meet that application’s requirements, while offering several unique benefits.
Ecoprogetti’s triple class A sun simulator ‘ECOSUN 10L’ represents a new generation of sun simulator which employs LED’s as the light source for greater comparison with real world conditions.
PPG Industries flat glass business unit has said that it can now manufacture heat-strengthened glass in thicknesses of less than 3mm, which makes it among the first major glass manufacturers in North America to offer this capability. PPG offers the SOLARPHIRE glass in heat-strengthened configuration with thicknesses of 2, 2.5 and 2.7mm.
Following the success of the SMP series of smart pyranometers released last year, Kipp & Zonen is continuing to develop smart instruments with the launch of its SHP1 smart pyrheliometer, designed for measuring Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) from the sun, which is essential for concentrating mirror or lens based CSP systems.
The Dow Chemical Company has developed a diamond wire ingot squaring coolant that improves PV wafer manufacturing efficiency while also improving the sustainability of the production process. ENLIGHT DC-8300 is water-based and provides better cutting precision and efficiency.
Mondragon Assembly has launched the new Tabber & Stringer TS 1200 Plus, with a net capacity of 1,300 solar cells soldered per hour. Mondragon believes the new system is one of the fastest and most versatile combined tabber and stringers, available on the market.