Innoptus Solar Team is a Belgian entry in the 3,000 km Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and it is the current leader at the end of day three in the so-called Challenger Class. The Innoptus narrow-bodied entry features a wind-managing fin and a PV panel with 257 standard-sized interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cells from an undisclosed supplier.
For assistance in its solar PV plate design, the Innoptus team tapped the tools, such as simulators and laminators, and the experts at Belgium’s Imec, Germany’s Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin (ISFH) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE), according to the team’s high voltage engineer, Simon Decat. They also sourced material from the Dutch integrated PV technology supplier Mito Solar.
The design constraints are the same for all teams in the one-seater Challenger Class: restricted weight, aerodynamics, and a silicon PV surface no larger than 4m2. “To be aerodynamic, the chassis should be rounded but that could put the PV cells at a less than optimum angle to the sun, so we had to search for the optimum between curvature and aerodynamics,” Decat told pv magazine.
To keep weight in check, a traditional backsheet was not used. A white polyolefin encapsulant was used, acting as a backsheet, and a structured film frontsheet was supplied by Mito Solar to boost performance. Decat added that the team considered cutting cells to increase surface coverage, but in the end, after calculations were made, standard-sized cells were chosen.
Two performance-boosting steps related to quality were taken. One was to perform electroluminescence quality testing before and after encapsulation. The second step was to test each and every cell with a lab analysis tool upon delivery, to separate out the best performers. “Each cell was Loana flashed with the help of ISFH,” said Decat. “It might just be a 1% difference, but we wanted to have it,” said Decat.
The race is scheduled to finish in Adelaide on Sunday 29 October.
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