Over the past 2 days, European Union (EU) funded Horizon 2020 projects GoPV, HighLite, SUPER PV and HIPERION, along with their industrial partners and research institutes spoke at length about the high-quality research work on high efficiency solar cells and modules, manufacturing and advanced BOS technologies  during the  Virtual Conference on What’s Hot in European Solar R&D, hosted by TaiyangNews.
The last and final day of the conference on June 30, 2021 brought together various stakeholders to delve into approaches to reduce LCOE on the system side.
Introducing the day 3 agenda of the conference, Stephane Guillerez, Department of Technologies Solaires at national French solar institute CEA-INES, and Project Coordinator of GoPV  said solar PV presents a massive economic opportunity with its use in producing green hydrogen, and this technology is becoming cost competitive due to its ever-declining LCOE. Research work under Horizon 2020 is aimed at further bringing down this LCOE, hence it needs to be promoted and shared widely.
Stressing on indoor characterization and reliability investigations on shingled c-Si PV modules in the HighLite project was Stefan WendlandtR&D Project Manager for Photovoltaics with Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin AG (PI Berlin). He said initial results of his research show interconnection is the ‘weak point’ of shingled modules, but key to quality shingled designs lies in the properties of the Electrically Conductive Adhesives (ECA) and encapsulation. However, he added that there are brands available which pass the quality tests.
Jose Domingo Santos Rodriguez, Senior Researcher with Spanish research center Tecnalia,  discussed initial learnings of the research work of the GoPV project on detection and diagnosis of failure modes based on the array state parameters, PV metrics and ML approach. He explained that using various algorithms to identify failure modes are aimed at enabling energy production and loss forecast which eventually would help in forecasting possible revenue loss and to fix it in time.
Adding to the points shared by Rodriguez, Giosue Maugeri, Researcher at Italian Research Energy System SpA (RSE), —also working in the GoPV project—shared fault detection and diagnosis (FDD) modes to share that PR metric-based algorithm triggers different fault alarms with various severity levels which support PV operators. The team is now working on an integrated pilot to validate the initial results of their research.
Another Researcher at Tecnalia, Asier Sanz touched upon GoPV project’s Cadarache pilot’s 1st monitoring results that has been designed to test energy production of GoPV’s solution against commercial fixed structures with mono/bifacial systems, and said he is confident that the results will be valid for utility scale solar PV installations as well going forward.
bnw-energy’s Managing Director Torstein Haarberg described the hybrid approach combining technological innovations and data management methods along the PV value chain for innovative PV system cost reduction as the objective of the SUPER PV project. Haarberg believes new prospective innovations from the research supported by price reductions and other improvements in the PV supply chain ‘can form winning combinations in the market, leading to substantial LCOE reductions’.
He did add that solar cells, wafers, ingots and polysilicon are outside the project scope.
Also pat of the SUPER PV project, Lithuania based module maker Solitek’s Director and COO Julius Denafas shared findings on demonstration and evaluation of PV module performance in various climate conditions using technologies and methods developed under the project including module, power electronics and data management.
Andre Lopes, Head of Product Engineering at 3S Solar Plus, discussed the relevance and benefits that high-energy density hybrid PV modules developed in the HIPERION project can bring for areas with space constraints, basis initial results of the ongoing research work. He showed that the hybrid CPV/PV modules also have better LCA values than standard modules.
Panel discussion
The Day 3 panel discussion during the conference was moderated by SolarPower Europe’s Deputy CEO & policy director Aurelie Beauvais who sought views from panelists on the role of centralized and distributed PV in the energy transition of the EU, and if there is a need to re-anchor the policy to improve support for European solar manufacturing with an eye on overall CO2 reduction for the world.
German testing and quality control company PI Berlin’s Founder Paul Grunow believes Europe has another benefit in supporting solar PV manufacturing at economies of scale to the continent since it would mean bringing down CO2 emissions caused by transporting solar products from elsewhere in the world to meet growing demand. Another factor he stressed on to improve the efficacy of solar PV technology will be to further improve module efficiency, thereby bringing LCOE further down.
Yet another opportunity solar offers is when it is integrated with other avenues including system integration for local buildings, electrification to support electric vehicles, according to French utility Engie’s  Solar Lab Manager Stijn Scheerlinck. Hence according to him, distributed solar is as important as centralized PV solutions.
Growing demand for PV should point at circular economy, pointed out Tecnalia’s Solar PV Manager Eduardo Roman since companies and governments need to factor in the end-of-life PV system use and handling if they don’t want to end up contributing to landfills. Roman strongly argued that policymakers need to make it mandatory for manufacturers and developers to ensure modules are designed keeping in mind recycling measures to nip the possible problem in the bud.
In agreement was Enel Green Power’s Head of Innovation Lab, Andrea Canino who added that solar products need to be made thinking they need to be used again, so the effort should start from the design and manufacturing steps. He also feels European policymakers as well as the solar industry must involve all stakeholders in the clean energy transition process with dissemination of correct information, and take them along on the journey, with a view to addressing consumer concerns and aspirations.
Detailed coverage of day 1 and day 2 of the conference can be viewed on our website.