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Transition to Industry 4.0: Opportunities and challenges for the PV sector

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By Dr. Eszter Voroshazi; Kris Van de Voorde; Dr. Jozef Poortmans

After defining the term Industry 4.0 according to the authors’ interpretation, this paper elaborates on the opportunities and challenges that the Industry 4.0 transition will bring to the PV sector. The topic is approached from various angles. How can the PV industry and the related value chain itself progress to Industry 4.0? And how does this reflect in different application sectors, such as construction and automotive? This paper presents a future scenario towards which the industry could be heading; some of the steps already being taken and some of the main challenges ahead are described. The value of PV technology as an enabler for other sectors, such as edge versus cloud computing, to move into Industry 4.0 is also touched upon. Additionally, a number of enablers and boundary conditions are highlighted in the context of Industry 4.0 and their relevance to the PV industry (legislation, cyber security, etc.) The status of Industry 4.0 in PV compared with other sectors is also explored. Wherever appropriate and possible, examples of projects and activities that illustrate the described topics are given.

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Welcome to Photovoltaics International 41. An emerging theme in the industry further downstream is the growing variety of bankable PV modules. It’s a topic we’ll be picking up on 23-24 October at our PV ModuleTech conference in Penang, Malaysia. This issue of PVI captures the ongoing work to drive improvements across the full range of those technologies. From the exploration of next generation CIGs cells to the commercial improvements of PERC by Trina Solar, this edition neatly captures that variety. Fraunhofer ISE reviews the latest results from efforts to improve the texturing of diamond wire sawn wafers. Trina Solar presents a roadmap for PERC improvements that it claims could halve costs while pushing efficiencies to 24% in around seven years. ECN and imec explore the latest developments in integrated cell to module manufacturing approaches from the more familiar multi-busbar and multi-wire to shingling and woven fabric and foil-based module technologies for back contacted cells. Elsewhere, CSEM INES zooms in on a major limiting factor for silicon heterojunction cells, metallization. All the regular features including our news reviews and R&D spending report make a return, plus lots more. Following on from this bumper edition, PVI42 will be published in Spring 2019.

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