EU PVSEC: imec calls for greater focus on PV systems

While acknowledging that upstream solar researchers, technologists, manufacturers and equipment suppliers have made great strides on the PV component front, imec has called for more to be done on grid integration, energy forecasting and PV on a system basis.

Jozef Szlufcik, imec’s Director of Silicon PV, Smart Systems and Energy Technologies, argued that as PV penetration continues to increase, progress on grid integration issues will become increasingly important.

"The research field into electric systems including PV is still developing," Szlufcik told pv magazine. "We can develop smart PV systems from cell right up to systems in various regions."

Imec has chosen the EU PVSEC event to make a series of announcements, including Japanese manufacturer Kyocera joining its advanced silicon solar cell technology program, a breakthrough in fullerene-free OPV technology and new texturing process for PERC cells – the latter developed in partnership with RENA.

Growing importance of grid integration

The EU PVSEC conference chair has echoed imec’s remarks regarding grid integration. Teun Bokhoven, the head of the Dutch renewable energy agency – Duurzame Energie Koepel – said that a better understanding of electricity networks with high levels of PV and renewable penetration is required.

“We need to increase our focus on grid integration,” said Bokhoven. “If high levels of PV penetration are going to be achieved, the level of research in this field has to increase.”

Bokhoven believes that the Dutch PV industry could be worth 1 GW in annual volume by 2020.

The Dutch renewables industry has also chosen the EU PVSEC event to announce that the PV sector is now generating over €1 billion in turnover in the country annually. While Holland does not have any PV component manufactures, it does have a substantial research community and upstream and equipment suppliers.

One such supplier is Amtech Systems, a furnace supplier to the seminconductor and PV industries. Amtech has a large booth on the EU PVSEC trade room floor.

Amtech Systems President Fokko Pettinga said that while achivements in terms of cost reductions have been significant over the past few years, the PV industry should now turn its attention to efficiency gains. Pettinga said an industry-wide goal of 0.5% annual efficiency could be achieved each year.