Innovative PV modules at Intersolar San Diego

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From pv magazine USA.

The Intersolar San Diego trade show featured a host of new products, including ISP Solar’s module innovation, which can minimize the usage and cost of silicon and potentially halve the price of solar panels – MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory think minimizing silicon is valuable too.

The company uses 24.3% efficient solar cells, slices them into thin strips and surrounds them with reflective mirrors that can boost overall panel efficiency to a projected 20%.

A small motor is used to track the sun and because it is employed with a low duty factor and kept in a sealed environment, its lifetime is extended to the required 25-plus years for solar modules, according to ISP Solar co-founder Suneet Singh Tuli.

Cell diodes

The 552x755mm panel is around one-fifth the size of a standard product and uses a twentieth the amount of silicon of a standard 72-cell module. The ISP Solar product also connects to standard commercial rooftop racking.

The Canadian manufacturer is looking to offset the use of two diesel generators in First Nation territories in the coming months, and hopes to deliver real-world data by the end of summer.

German manufacturer AE Solar recently released its Hot Spot-Free panel, which includes a diode between each solar cell. This isolates the cells so that if a shadow hits one it doesn’t reduce output in the entire string.

AE Solar staff at the company booth said that adds a few percentage points to the price but might add 5-15% more electricity production per year. Check out this video from the floor of Intersolar:

Fellow German manufacturer Ergosun’s solar roof tile looks and feels like a black rubber square up close and is defined by its developer as a “solarized concrete roof tile”. Each tile generates 15 W and, measuring 298x335mm, it boasts efficiency of just over 15%. Since the product is a solar panel and a roof it effectively brings a tax credit on new roofs.

British company Ecosolaroof makes a corrugated metal roofing product with solar cells attached to the surface. Each “solar panel” produces 200 W and with dimensions around 10% larger than a standard commercial module, effective efficiency is around 10%.

Cutting my teeth as a residential solar guy in South Florida in the 2000s, companies paid the bills via solar thermal products – either for pool heating or domestic hot water. With the region not suffering hard frosts of four hours at or below freezing we could install simple systems that were financially viable. Australian business Solahart showed off its solar water heating gear at Intersolar San Diego. The firm offers units that work in high and low-solar insolation areas as well as frost-protected units.