Track to the future

By Ben Willis,

Technology | Falling prices have seen single-axis trackers become standard issue in utility PV plants in many parts of the world. As the tracker market becomes more crowded, manufacturers are developing increasingly sophisticated technologies to stay ahead of the game and support wider PV power plant innovation. Ben Willis reports

Module technology under the microscope

By Finlay Colville

Modules | PV module technology is more advanced and more varied than at any other time. Having pulled together a throng of senior PV technology experts for our PV CellTech conference, PV Tech’s head of market research, Finlay Colville, discusses with John Parnell the need to match these advances with a dedicated event this November.

Light-induced degradation newly addressed – predicting long-term yield loss

By Dr. Marko Turek, Dr. Marko Turek studied physics at the Dresden University and received his PhD in the field of condensed matter theory at the University of Regensburg. At Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics (CSP) he leads the team for the electrical characterisation of solar cells.

Module degradation | Light-induced degradation has long been recognised for its negative effects on the performance of crystalline silicon solar cells. Researchers from Fraunhofer CSP explain how with the advent of advanced materials and cell technologies such as PERC, new tests and standards are required to minimise the impact of the phenomenon on plant reliability.

Adani overcomes biblical floodling to build a 648MW PV Plant

Set across a semi-arid stretch of land in far south India, the world’s second largest solar plant and India’s biggest to date is a pertinent symbol of India’s emergence as one of the most dominant renewable energy markets on the planet. Already under intense pressure to physically construct the entire project capacity in just eight months, heavyweight Indian infrastructure conglomerate Adani also had to withstand unseasonal and unprecedented extreme weather in late 2015.

Understanding snail trails on PV modules

By Sylke Meyer, Sylke Meyer is head of the research group “Silicon Wafers” at Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP, Germany. ; Marko Turek, Marko Turek leads the team “Electrical characterisation of solar cells” at Fraunhofer CSP. ; Stephan Großer, Stephan Großer studied physics and received his Ph.D. in the field of surface science at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. ; Thomas Manke, Thomas Manke is the head of solar business at pi4 robotics in Berlin. ; Christian Hagendorf, Christian Hagendorf is head of the research group “Diagnostics of Solar Cells” at Fraunhofer CSP, Germany.

Module degradation | When the phenomenon of so-called snail trails first emerged over a decade ago, they prompted concerns of a major new problem afflicting PV modules. Sylke Meyer, Mark Turek, Thomas Manke, Stephan Großer and Christian Hagendorf, who have contributed extensively to understanding the science behind snail trails, review the latest thinking on the phenomenon and what it means for plant performance.

Properties of encapsulation materials and their relevance for quality control and recent field failures

By Juliane Berghold and Tsuyoshi Shioda

Module defects: The properties of module encapsulant materials are coming under closer scrutiny as their role in a number of common field failures becomes better understood. Juliane Berghold and Tsuyoshi Shioda report on new testing methods being developed to analyse the composition of encapsulants and improve the quality control of this crucial material.

High voltage, low costs

By John Parnell, Head of Content, PV Tech

As the solar industry continues to squeeze out cost reductions, 1,500V architecture is tipped to make its mark in 2017. John Parnell looks at the potential pitfalls and likely winners as utility-scale plants dial up the voltage.

Project briefing

By Tom Kenning

Sandfire Resources, a mid-tier Australian mining company that operates the mine, called on developers to co-locate not only a solar power plant, but also a utilityscale energy storage system alongside its existing diesel power station. Showcasing the latest technological advances, the newly completed project in the Peak Hill Mineral Field has been hailed as one of the largest renewable energy systems installed at a mine anywhere in the world and certainly the largest in Australia.

Tracker technology highlights

By PV Tech

With competition in the tracker marketplace becoming extremely fierce, rival companies are adding new features all the time aimed at minimising installation and operation costs, and enhancing durability. Here we profile some of the single-axis trackers currently available on the market and the innovative design features they offer.

Reliability of large-scale PV plants and PV inverters

By Vicente Salas, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

The renewable energy market is currently booming, with large numbers of PV systems being installed throughout the world. However, a primary objective of any PV power system is to ensure that the system operates continuously and reliably. As Vicente Salas from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) explains, this aspect takes on special relevance in the case of utility-scale PV projects.

Impact of installation handling on cell cracks and power loss of PV modules

By Marc Köntges, Michael Siebert, ISFH; Nicole Bessing, Romy Illing & Frank Wegert, Hanwha Q CELLS

PV modules are subjected to various loads during installation handling. Research teams from the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin (ISFH) and Hanwha Q CELLS attended the installations of PV modules in order to develop various test sequences for quantifying the effects of handling loads on the modules. As a result of these observations, lab tests have been designed to evaluate the impact of module-handling loads on cell cracking in the modules. Some rules for module handling are subsequently proposed.

AtaMo: PV meets the high potential of the Atacama Desert

By Pablo Ferrada; Jorge Rabanal Arabach; Enrique Cabrera; Aitor Marzo; Pablo Tello; Andreas Schneider; Radovan Kopecek

Chile’s Atacama Desert has some of the best irradiance resources on the planet but also some of the harshest operation conditions. Scientists are working on a new type of bifacial glass-glass PV module, AtaMo, designed to make the best of the region’s resources while withstanding its rigours. Here they outline some promising preliminary results from the project.