Product Briefing Outline: SunSil of Denmark has launched its SunSil 300 module which is a fully integrated system producing a nominal 300W 240V AC that will increase yields for its owner by up to 30% per annum as well as reducing initial costs, making solar electricity significantly more financially appealing. The company sums it up as ‘Sun in – AC out.’
Problem: For Solar Electricity to really take off the return on investment (ROI) for the installation has to be improved which breaks into two parts – the capital costs and the yield. The solar panel industry has been shaving the costs for panels by outsourcing the labour intensive work of soldering the strings of cells together to ever cheaper labour markets but this has reached rock bottom with no more savings to be made. The cells need to be sorted precisely to match each other within a panel, with an expensive logistics operation to reduce losses in the cell production and handling chain. In addition, due to the fact that the installation is made up from several different components – panels, converter, inverter and wiring, every installation is a custom design which takes time and money. Replacing damaged components or adding more capacity at a future date again requires careful calculation and sourcing. The panel design, with typically four strings, is very vulnerable to shadows, leaves, snow etc. A leaf on one cell means that an entire string ceases to function and output is reduced by 25%. A shadow that stretches across the width of the panel knocks out all strings and the output drops to zero.
Solution: The SunSil solution combines several innovations into one solution that claims to improve the PV systems ROI. All the components of a standard PV system are combined into one standardised module that includes a micro-inverter to produce a nominal 300W 230V AC from the plug at the back. The modules can be simply daisy-chained together with up to 14 modules in a single row. This dramatically simplifies installation as it now is just a matter of fitting the required number of modules together on the roof and then connecting the AC output to the grid in the country appropriate manner. And, as the modules standardisation covers the size and the 230V AC output, it means that it is incredibly easy to replace or add units in the future in true plug and play fashion as it makes no difference what the wattage of the module is. This reduces the installation and capital expenditure costs. Each standard cell is laser cut into eight microcells. These are connected together to form a cluster of 12 microcells generating around 6 volt and each cluster is controlled by an embedded ASIC that optimizes the performance of the cluster should shadows or dirt affect any of the microcells. This patented design of ‘Dynamic Microcell Optimisation’ ensures that the module as a whole can keep producing electricity under circumstances when the conventional string arrangement would have partially or completely shut down. There are 48 clusters per module giving a level of fine tuning and optimization that enables the company to achieve up to 30% better electricity harvesting over a year compared to conventional string panel designs. In addition, the module achieves efficiencies of 94% thanks to the DMO and the company’s own design of micro-inverter that is 95% efficient as the 48 clusters are arranged in series to feed in around 300V DC so that the losses in AC conversion are minimal. Combined together these innovations significantly reduce the payback time.
Applications: A wide range of applications ranging from commercial to residential markets. They can also be used for small solar farms which don’t have dedicated on site staff as the inbuilt electronics can provide monitoring and alerts to a central station.
Platform: The SunSil 300 is assembled in the company’s fully-automated and high-throughput manufacturing line in Denmark with 4-6 times the output of standard PV module assembly lines being used by many module manufacturers in the world today. The company is already in discussions with possible partners around the world who want to license the technology to manufacture the SunSil integrated modules for their local markets.
Availability: Initial production of SunSil 300s starts in Q4 2010 with volume in Q1 2011, costing around €900 each. The units are currently undergoing certification by Intertek.