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Quantum physics, supercomputers, and solar cell efficiency

Scientists in the United States applied quantum computing techniques to the study of singlet fission – a little understood phenomenon that carries the potential to greatly increase solar cell efficiency. For now, the study reveals more about potential applications for quantum computing than for solar cells. But the techniques demonstrated could eventually helps scientists identify better materials for highly efficient solar cells.


Cracked cathodes not all bad, battery scientists find

Scientists in the United States developed an innovative method to observe the inner workings of lithium-ion batteries and found that cracks which form in the electrode – something manufacturers do their best to minimize – may actually have benefits in allowing for faster charging. The work also challenges assumptions on how certain particles behave inside a battery, with potential consequences for their future design.


Laser optimization for half-cut solar cells

Scientists in Korea examined the parameters of laser ‘scribe and break’ processes used to cut silicon cells, in search of optimizations to reduce damage caused at the cut edges. They also found that varying encapsulant thickness or even adding a supportive rail across the back of a module can help reduce performance loss caused by cell cutting damage.

RENA announces 1.8 GW sale for new TOPCon equipment

German company RENA Technologies has announced the first sales of a new tool for silicon cell manufacturing. The tool is used for etching/removal of unwanted material on one side of a solar cell, and will be integrated into the gigawatt-scale production of an unnamed manufacturer in South Asia working with TOPCon technology.

TOPCon PV modules outperform PERC by more than 5% in energy yield tests

A study by TÜV Nord in Malaysia shows that the latest generation of tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) modules surpass their older rivals on energy yield. The researchers compared n-type TOPCon modules with older p-type PERC modules, both manufactured by JinkoSolar over a three-month period earlier this year. The newer product showed an energy yield 5.69% higher than its PERC counterpart.

Using shunts to spot PV module degradation

Scientists in Ireland investigated the effect of shunt resistance on a PV cell’s electrical performance. The group says its finding could potentially lead to the development of models for early detection of various forms of cell degradation, allowing for intervention to repair or replace components before major power losses occur.


Machine learning keeps solar one step ahead of soiling

Scientists in Cyprus evaluated six different models used to predict the power losses caused by the accumulation of dust, dirt, and other substances on the surface of PV panels in the island’s arid climate. Results from the various models were compared with soiling loss data from a “test bench” installation at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, revealing a potential advantage for machine-learning approaches backed by satellite data.

Weekend Read: Waiting is not an option

In May 2022, PV experts from around the world convened in Germany for the third Terawatt Workshop. Almost one year later, takeaways from discussions at the workshop – combined with a wide-ranging review of research on decarbonization pathways, energy demand projections, and the state of the art in PV technology – led to the conclusion that 75 TW of installed solar capacity by 2050 was a realistic global target. More than 50 leading PV industry figures recently outlined the opportunity and the challenges that solar will face in reaching this goal.


Test shows higher yield, lower degradation for n-type solar modules

Research carried out by China‘s National Photovoltaic Quality Inspection Center shows that new n-type TOPCon modules are living up to their promise, outperforming the previous generation of p-type PERC products. Data gathered over six months from a fixed-tilt PV system showed that the n-type products produced 3.69% more energy, and also suffered much lower performance losses.


Thirty years of photovoltaic module degradation

Scientists in Europe have put together a comprehensive guide to PV module degradation, examining literature and case studies on the topic as far back as the 1990s. Their paper details the primary stress factors faced by modules in the field, the most common modes of degradation and failure, and provides clear definitions relevant to reliability, quality and testing standards. Among their key findings is that a full understanding of how combinations of different stresses over varying timeframes is still missing from methods to estimate and improve system reliability.


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