New solar modules: Greater performance, more intelligence

9/12/17, 11:00 AM -

PV Guided Tours: The demand for solar panels is rising sharply. During our guided tours at the Intersolar in Munich it became apparent which manufacturers are ahead of the game in terms of innovation.

PV expert Goetz Fischbeck war the guide for our tours during the trade fair in Munich.

Just before the Intersolar, the crisis of the European solar panel market claimed its final prominent victim: Solarworld had to go into insolvency and their exhibition space at the fair in Munich remained empty. Many suppliers had been struggling with low demand for a number of years. Only since the middle of 2016 has it been starting to rise again. One year on, and signs are that a storm is in the offing: The US market is drawing off products because President Trump has threatened to impose import tariffs on products from China. It might even happen that solar panels may become scarce in Europe.

So far, the markets are hanging by political threads. Any manufacturers who see such circumstances as opportunities, do not have a future in economical markets. Why? Because they risk losing the trust of their customers. Key to having market success in Europe are the three fundamental virtues common to all sectors: ability to deliver, high quality of the products and innovations.

REC comes out with multi-crystalline half cells

After some lean years, the readers of photovoltaik were shown a number of exciting innovations – at last. Our Guided Tours PV, headed by the solar expert Götz Fischbeck, presented some astonishing innovations.

For instance, REC brought their new panel Twin Peak 2 to Munich, a series of half-cell panels. These multi-crystalline panels made up of 72 PERC cells have an output of up to 350 watts. The completely black panel BLK 2 manages as much as 285 watts.

High-performance panels from Wismar

The Wismar-based panel factory that once belonged to Centrosolar has already gone into insolvency. In the meantime, the newly founded SC Wismar GmbH – under the brand Sonnenstromfabrik – has developed a wide range of very high-quality solar panels. In Munich they meekly presented themselves at the joint stand “Innovation made in Germany”.

The Sonnenstromfabrik fits 60 mono-PERC cells into glass-glass panels that produce an output of 300 watts. At 72 cells, they produce 355 watts. “Our customers are once again calling for more panels, even the wholesalers,” CEO Bernhard Weilharter confirmed. “This door is now wide open, which presents new opportunities for us.” The Guided Tours PV brought him into contact with potential buyers, technicians, retailers and project managers – in spite of the small and a little inconspicuous stand. “That has worked out well for us.”

Axsun offers bespoke sizes

The panel manufacturer Axsun from Laupheim near Ulm has specialised in bespoke builds, i.e. narrow or otherwise special geometric shapes of panels to meet the needs of customers. The 36-cell AX M36 3.2 Premium is available as a laminate or with a frame. The cover glass is made of 3.2 millimetres of tempered safety glass. It is available in two versions: white and silver. The AX M-54 3.2 Premium Black Highpower has a smart connector socket by Solaredge. The integrated performance optimiser manages to get up to 25 percent higher yields out of this panel. In addition to 3.2 millimetres of safety glass, a 40 millimetre aluminium frame gives this panel a high degree of stiffness and stability.

An innovation that was presented this year was the monocrystalline 60-cell panel AX M-60 Performer (305 watts). With tempered glass in front and back, it is also available as the double-glass panel AX M-60 Infinity – again, with the Solaredge performance optimiser as an optional extra.

SI with modular connector sockets

SI-Module from Freiburg has a modular system of connector sockets (Tigo) in their portfolio. The Tigo sockets are equipped according to the needs of the customers. Starting with the integrated monitoring functionality, the intelligence in the socket can be enhanced: with a safety shut-off on the DC side or optimised MPP tracking in case of shading.

Furthermore, SI have further developed their series of coloured panels. They now offer their panels SI-Saphir Skin. Their front is masked to such an extent that it is hard to even notice the solar panel. Among others, highly structured glass is used. These panels are built especially for specific projects, and depending on the colour, a 60-cell panel can reach an output of between 240 and 295 watts.

Luxor combines safety and intelligence

At Luxor Solar, everybody was focussing on the Secure Line Black EDT, a panel that produces between 270 and 290 watts. This double-glass panel features a black look and monocrystalline cells. Specialities of Luxor are how the edges are sealed and a process for lamination that they themselves have developed. The panel looks more like a pane of laminated glass than a conventional solar panel. And this is the key to its longevity. Upon request, Luxor will also equip their panels with the smart sockets by Solaredge.

Also, the Stuttgart-based manufacturer presented a new monocrystalline panel with 60 cells and seven busbars. It will become available soon and produce 320 watts. Another innovation was the 300-watt Eco Smart Line Full Black M60, which comes with the optimiser by Solaredge. Luxor give both a product warranty and a linear performance warranty to 88.5 percent for 35 years on their Secure Line glass-glass panels in transparent or black.

Jinko goes for smart panels

The smart panels by Jinko Solar isolate the cells within the panel and increase the DC output in order to align it with the current in the string. This allows every group of cells to independently run at its respective maximum output. The monocrystalline panel Eagle MX that uses this technology produces up to 295 watts. Because the optimisation is already integrated in the panels, they are compatible with any inverter.

Jinko uses PERC cells where the rear side is passivised using aluminium. That way the rear side acts like a mirror that reflects the light back into the semiconductor. The MX Smart technology allows MPP tracking at the level of individual cells. Hot spots cannot occur and in case of partial shading, these panels deliver higher yields compared to non-optimised panels.

The voltage of the panel being five percent lower makes longer strings possible. Simple inverters with one MPP tracker are enough to manage these stings, even with varying orientations or inclination of the panels. The panels are resistant to salt water and ammonia.

Panels by Jinko Solar have three sockets (in the centre, to the right and to the left), which requires less wiring. Jinko also use half-cells to get the most out of the aperture surface and keep internal losses in performance as low as possible.

Aleo presents bi-facial PERC cells

As part of their X-line, Aleo Solar offer new high-performance panels with 60 bi-facial PERC cells and a slender frame. Late this summer, these panels will be available in black as the X59 and X79. Aleo will also present their performance-optimised (Solaredge) S79 panel starting September 2017.

One more innovation is a polycrystalline 60-cell panel with an output of 300 watts that will be available from this autumn. This panel will also be based on PERC cells. Furthermore, they presented the glass-glass panel Elegante 2 that uses bi-facial cells. Used in combination with a Schmidt und Thürmer car port, no wiring or connector sockets are visible.

Sunbrush: Mobile cleaning systems

Sunbrush mobil GmbH develops, produces and sells cleaning brushes for PV arrays and for cleaning facades. The company that was founded by CEO Franz Ehleuter in 2009 in Lachen im Allgäu has developed their own technology and are operating their own testing facility.

In Munich, they presented a variety of systems for cleaning solar panels. The width of the brushes varies between four and eight metres, their diameter is 30 centimetres. The brushes are fully hydraulic, using a tractor that can provide its own hydraulic power.

The unit is controlled either via a 12-volt system or using 24 volts. The water is provided by an electrical pump or a pump connected to the PTO shaft. The operator of the unit uses a camera system to supervise the cleaning of the panels. (HS)

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