Bigger modules, yes, but better…?

It is now a well-established trend. After the switch to larger wafer sizes played out in 2019, this year has seen virtually all of the biggest PV manufacturers introduce new modules in dimensions above the 2-meter mark, and with power ratings in excess of 500 W – in some cases, as high as 800 W. As these modules begin to roll off production lines in larger quantities, it’s vital to take a look at the challenges and opportunities they bring to system design, installation, and long-term operation.

China’s ‘Liquid Sunshine’ project demonstrates PV powered methanol

A pilot project in China was brought online this month, combining 10 MW of PV with electrolyzers for hydrogen production and carbon dioxide hydrogenation to synthesize methanol. The methanol is supplied to the chemical industry, or can be converted back into hydrogen for energy use. And the project’s creators say their next goal is scaling the project up to 10 or even 100 times its current size.

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A solar module stress test for all seasons

Scientists led by NREL have developed a new stress testing protocol for PV modules, one designed to simultaneously expose modules to multiple stresses, as they likely would be in the field. Putting modules through this test, the researchers have already been able to reveal new information regarding backsheet degradation, and they promise new insights into other degradation mechanisms.

Nuclear ‘not an effective low carbon option’

Researchers in the UK have analyzed 25 years of electricity-production and carbon emissions data from 123 countries. Their findings show renewables are considerably more effective than nuclear in reducing carbon emissions from energy generation and that the two technologies tend to get in each other’s way when considered in a joint approach.

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In search of the ‘most rational design’ for anti-reflective coating

Scientists in Spain have tested various properties of anti-reflective and anti-soiling coatings for PV module glass, aiming to develop a material that offers the best balance of desired material properties at the lowest cost. Over a year of testing, the best coatings were shown to boost module output by around 2%, and the group also made several observations that could influence future developments of coatings for PV module front glass.

Scratching the surface of LeTID

The mechanisms behind light-elevated temperature-induced degradation are still not fully understood, but it is known to cause significant performance losses for modules in the field. Scientists in China are investigating the causes of the phenomenon, and are currently focused on the surface of the materials and the interfaces between the silicon and passivation layers.

Pirates of the PV industry

Product piracy is a well-known threat in many industries, and in solar the risk posed by poor quality products from disreputable manufacturers making their way onto rooftops and other PV installations should not be underestimated. With manufacturers investing in solutions to protect against inferior products bearing their logo, pv magazine looks at the size of the problem.

Bifacial PV modules are going mainstream but more field data is needed — and NREL is on the case

Getting the most out of a bifacial module requires a rethink at almost every level of system design and the industry is hungry for field data generated by such systems to better inform energy yield modeling and define the best approaches to maximizing yield at minimal cost. NREL’s three-year study into bifacial performance is beginning to yield results.

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The inner workings of a lithium battery

An international group of scientists has developed a method to track the microscopic processes at work in lithium batteries. Employing a ‘virtual unrolling’ model developed for ancient manuscripts too sensitive to be opened, the group peeked inside the layers of a commercial battery to gain a better understanding of the processes at work and the degradation mechanisms affecting them.

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Recycling heat for a ‘385% efficient’ solar desalinator

MIT scientists have developed a solar desalinator which sends heat from the sun through a ten-stage process of evaporation and condensation. The group estimates that a $100 device incorporating their innovation could provide the daily drinking water needs of a family.

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