Day 1: Solar Module Innovations Conference

Expanding Potential For Rooftop PV & BIPV Modules, Focus Of TaiyangNews Solar Module Innovations Conference On 1st Day

Day 1: Solar Module Innovations Conference

TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela (left) was in conversation with Sunman Energy’s Founder Dr. Zhengrong Shi (right) during an exclusive interview on Day 1 of our Solar Module Innovations Conference. (Photo Credit: TaiyangNews)

  • TaiyangNews Solar Module Innovations Conference on day 1 delved into the innovations in BAPV and BIPV applications
  • Subjects covered varied from reliability & durability of the modules to end of life recyclability aspects
  • An exclusive interview with Dr. Zhengrong Shi threw light on the potential for BIPV technology to help the world meet its carbon emission reduction objectives

Technology is changing, advancing even as you read this. We’d have to agree that even though this is a much clichéd phrase to express the sentiment, in the world of solar PV modules it is nonetheless the truth. Not a single month goes by when some module maker somewhere in the world would not announce a higher efficiency record, better performance, and at a cost that’s lower than what’s available in the market. And that’s definitely not the end for this industry.

To discuss the latest developments and improvements in the space of solar modules, TaiyangNews brought together leading module manufacturers and associated industry colleagues and experts during our 2-day Solar Module Innovations Conference.

Day 1 of the conference focused on innovations in building attached-PV modules as residential, commercial rooftop solar, as well as building-integrated PV (BIPV) applications.

Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics (CSP) Director Prof. Ralph Gottschalg in his opening presentation discussed the trends in PV modules and their impact on reliability and durability of the final product. He pointed out that while cost reduction or venturing into newer markets is the major aim of practically all technological innovations in the module manufacturing industry today, he reminded that one of the biggest drivers of costs is reliability for manufacturers and durability for the end users. He added, “Thus looking at long term innovation needs to be also put into context of long-term costs.”

Gottschalg touched upon the various opportunities PV technology provides on the application side like BIPV, vehicle integrated PV (ViPV), floating PV and agri-PV also referred to as agrivoltaic. Bringing down costs further will encourage the proliferation of these technologies, he said.

From JinkoSolar’s Global Product Management, Leo Cong presented his company’s efforts into the BIPV market, something the company is not really known for the world over. Cong called BIPV the most effective way to boost energy savings and cited policies in the EU and California, US as a result of the world’s need to find more and more opportunities to lower its carbon footprint as one of the major reasons for its impending rise.

On the future of the company’s BIPV technology including the its new highly customized curtain wall products, Cong said JinkoSolar expects building requirements to adapt to this growing need in the future, thus opening up more avenues for it to explore. JinkoSolar is also set to introduce to the market its PV steel roofing tile.

Stating the advantages of its N-type J-TOPCOn 2.0 solar cells over PERC technology, Jolywood’s Sales Director of European & America region, Nicolas Zhu said his company’s J-TOPCOn 2.0 average efficiency has reached up to 25%. His talk was about High Efficiency TopCon Modules for Rooftop and C&I Applications, where high efficiency at low cost means higher returns for the investors. And Jolywood, a pioneer in TopCon modules has big plans for the technology. Offering a peak into the group’s future efficiency roadmap, Zhu shared the target to reach up to 27% for J-TOPCon 3.0 by 2025. Between 2021 and 2025, his company aims to report between 26% and 28% efficiency for J-TBC (a mix of TOPCon and IBC technology), and up to 28% efficiency for J-Tandem solar technology by around 2024.

Jolywood currently touts 3.6 GW annual production capacity of n-TOPCon bifacial cell and 3.0 GW of n-TOPCon bifacial module capacity, along with n-IBC cell production capacity. It is now also developing a further 10 GW N-type high-efficiency bifacial solar module capacity in China (see Jolywood Releases H1/2021 Financial Report).

Innovation to improve efficiency, lower cost or expand into new applications is one important thing, sustainability is another key topic. Solar backsheet manufacturer Coveme’s Business Manager Michele Vannini discussed the feasibility of a closed loop recycling system for PV backsheets. The company has been using high grade polyester films for its products. This material allows for the recyclability of the product, something the company attempted successfully in a joint research project. The team was able to demonstrate the circularity of closed loop recycling system for its PV backsheets in a research project.

There is now a need to validate the concept on a larger scale by producing modules based on the recycled rPET, according to Vannini, for testing in the field. He was looking for partners.

Vannini believes the market is quite open to exploring the approach, especially since the European Union (EU) is classifying fluorinated products as hazardous materials that have no viable end of life (EoL) outcome, except for landing up in the landfill. For this, he called for a wider collaboration across the supply chain.

Speaking about innovative applications of applying solar module on steel tile rooftops, Astronergy/Chint Solar’s KA Manager Michael Zhang presented his company’s ‘light as a feather’ Telogy BIPV solution for industrial and commercial applications, that can be stepped upon without the fear of cell cracking, he said. The module maker is currently producing it only in China and deploying it locally, but it has plans to take it abroad in the near future.

Interview with Dr. Zhengrong Shi

A major highlight of day 1 of the conference was an exclusive interview with one of the solar PV industry pioneers and the Founder of Sunman Energy, Dr. Zhengrong Shi. Speaking to TaiyangNews Managing Director Michael Schmela Shi said a solar product to be successful must be created with 3 factors in mind—safety, reliability and affordability. When these 3 elements are in place, it opens newer markets for the product to flourish.

In response to Schmela’s query about the market potential for BIPV, Shi said he is extremely confident of the massive potential of BIPV technology and application, especially solar skins, particularly in markets with low rooftop PV potential due to fragile rooftops.

Countries like Japan that are prone to natural disasters cannot afford to deploy too much of heavy glass modules. For such regions, he explained, glassless modules for BIPV applications would work better. “We have to think about how we are going to satisfy the demand,” said an assured Shi.

Sunman Energy, the company Shi founded, produces ultra-light, flexible, glassless solar panels called eArc that can be deployed without any mounting equipment. Right from building facades to benches, Shi sees potential for deploying solar skins for every conceivable space. He believes his company would be reaching the GW-level in a few years’ time as the world needs more and more solar to achieve carbon neutrality.

Join us for Day 2 of the conference on November 16, 2021, when we will discuss with leading solar stakeholders innovations in utility scale PV modules. Registrations are open for the event here.

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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