Maxeon reveals minimized risk of hotspots in IBC solar panels

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Maxeon Solar Technologies conducted a competitive assessment of its Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar panels, finding confirmation of their resilience against damaging hotspots.

The company has developed its IBC solar panels for 40 years. It tested its Maxeon 7 line of panels against a series of competing technologies including half-cell ribbon-based back contact, half-cell heterojunction (HJT), and half-cell front contact tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) panels. Panels were tested in full sun and then transitioned to partial shading, a condition that forces cells to begin converting power from surrounding cells into heat.

Maxeon found that based on the characteristics of IBC cells, including diode functionality, uniform heating, and lower breakdown voltage, IBC panels like Maxeon 7 exhibit more favorable performance under partial shade compared to other module technologies like PERC and HJT.

IBC panels were found to mitigate the long-term degradation risk of panel materials by better minimizing that heat build-up in shaded cells—staying an average of 67 °C (153 °F) cooler than the ribbon-based back contact, HJT and TOPCon technologies tested.

The Maxeon whitepaper explains hotspot risks:

A solar panel maximizes its energy generation potential when each cell within an electrical string maintains the same current. When a cell can’t match the current of its neighbors, usually due to the presence of shading or cell cracks, it begins consuming power from surrounding cells and converting it to heat—also known as operating in a state of reverse bias. As cell temperatures rise, hotspots can form in the vicinity of the obstruction. Hotspots are very concentrated areas of heat energy that can reach extreme temperatures—temperatures high enough to degrade panel materials by burning the encapsulant and back sheet, as well as damage cells and glass.

Maxeon’s research and development team also tested the resilience of panels to heat build-up after deactivating the panels’ bypass diode, the primary defense mechanism of standard solar panels against hotspots. It found that the IBC panels continued to limit heat build-up even after deactivating the bypass diode.

“Solar panel manufacturers should continue to pursue improved product design—technology risk shouldn’t be the customer’s burden to bear,” said Matt Dawson, chief technology officer, Maxeon. “We believe many of today’s manufacturers are sacrificing product reliability in the pursuit of higher power and efficiency. High performance solar panels truly maximize lifetime customer value when they can match that performance with low degradation and long-term reliability.”

Find the IBC hotspot resilience whitepaper here.

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