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Cell-to-module losses in standard crystalline PV modules – An industrial approach

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By Eduardo Forniés, Aurinka PV Group SL, Madrid; José Pedro Silva, CIEMAT – División de Energías Renovables, Madrid, Spain

One of the main concerns of module manufacturers is the power loss that takes place when the solar cells are incorporated in PV modules. This power loss, known as cell-to-module (CTM) loss, results from the influence of many factors which occur during module production. Some of these factors lead to a gain in power at the end of the process; on the other hand, some are responsible for a loss of power and offset the positive effects of other ones, resulting in a net power loss. In this paper the CTM losses will be addressed from an industrial point of view and for standard crystalline PV modules. The focus will first be on some of the most frequent issues detected in production lines and their influence on module power loss. More extensive research is then carried out to arrive at an explanation of their origin. This paper describes some of the mentioned factors along with the different ways of detecting them.

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Forecasting the evolution of a young, dynamic industry is by definition an uncertain business, and solar is no exception. Rarely, if ever, do the numbers broadcast by any of the various bodies involved in the PV prediction game tally, and even historical deployment rates remain the subject of hot debate. The paradox is that getting forecasts broadly right is going to become increasingly important over the next few years, particularly for those involved in producing the equipment that will support whatever levels of demand come to pass. As discussed by Gaëtan Masson, director of the Becquerel Institute, on p.110 of this issue of Photovoltaics International, although global PV demand appears in rude health, complex political and economic conditions in many individual markets mean the question of how vigorously it will continue to grow in the coming years is less than clear. Yet for the upstream part of the industry, correctly forecasting PV market developments will be critical to ensure the right investments are made along the value chain in technologies that will help spur PV to new levels of competitiveness and thus drive continued demand.

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