Fraunhofer ISE develops software to analyse c-Si solar cell-to-module power losses

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The software tool assists in analyzing potential yields, thus enabling PV manufacturers to determine how new materials or concepts would affect module efficiency. Image: Fraunhofer ISE

Fraunhofer ISE has developed a new software tool that determines the cell-to-module (CTM) effects that occur when solar cells are integrated into a module. The SmartCalc.CTM software enables manufacturers of PV modules and materials to optimize the assembly and material combination in a PV module before fabricating a prototype. SmartCalc.CTM is based on a simulation model which has been published and is under development at Fraunhofer ISE since 2008.

Problem

c-Si cell-to-module (CTM) power losses vary according to a complex number of interactions that can limit the overall performance potential of PV modules. The PV industry makes significant investment in improving solar cell efficiency but in order that PV modules benefit from the advances in cell efficiency, the cell-to-module integration process must be performed reliably with low losses.

Solution

The SmartCalc.CTM software starts with the cell power, calculating the optical losses and gains (e. g. reflection), electrical losses (e. g. due to resistances) and the geometrical losses (inactive areas) in solar modules. The software tool assists in analyzing potential yields, thus enabling PV manufacturers to determine how new materials or concepts would affect module efficiency. In the model, the interaction between components and process steps are optimized in such a way that the best possible module – with the highest power or the maximum efficiency under the given boundary conditions can be achieved. The software also offers added value in that it can quickly analyze the interplay between the influencing factors for a module design and present these in a clear manner. The underlying models in the software provide detailed yet flexible control, while the properties of solar cells, encapsulation material or module glass can be adapted easily. The software can also be used to optimize costs. For example, different less-expensive materials can be compared and evaluated with respect to the module’s performance efficiency.

Applications

Simulation of c-Si cell-to-module (CTM) power losses.

Platform

SmartCalc.CTM is based on a simulation model which has been published and is under development at Fraunhofer ISE since 2008. The software has a user-friendly interface with an accompanying operating manual. As well as the software license, the team at Fraunhofer ISE offers consulting and R&D support for analyzing and optimizing the simulation results. The software is continually developed in order to keep pace with future module technology developments.

Availability

December, 2016 onwards.

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