Innovative manufacturing solutions that substantially improve the competitiveness of the EU PV manufacturing industry will be demonstrated at high TRL in three core activities (cut-cells, cut-cells assembly, module) covering a large portion of the production chain. As these three core activities are closely interlinked, major outputs (e.g. samples) and feedback (e.g. specifications) are indicated by arrows. Module technologies will be validated and benchmarked against commercially available solutions in the outdoor demonstrators’ activity. All four activities will be supported by characterization & modelling and cost & life cycle analysis.
The cut-cells activity focuses on the implementation of novel layers & processes to maximize efficiency of cut-cells. Large quantities of thin (160 μm or below) SHJ and IBC cells will be manufactured at existing solar cell pilot lines installed at CEA-INES and SoliTek respectively. In this way, we will not only speed up the cut-cell research and demonstration activities, but we will also provide the large quantities of samples required for the other activities (cut-cells assembly, module development, outdoor demonstrators).
In the cut-cells assembly activity, we will develop production equipment tailored for the assembly of cut-cells targeting market-readiness at the end of the project. The tasks are: (1) Development of a next-generation shingle assembly tool. Two versions of the tool will be developed with the first one targeting the assembly of thin (100-160 μm-thick after texturing) SHJ cut-cells at a throughput of 4000 wph and the second one integrating advanced laser cutting technology. (2) Development of a next-generation assembly line for IBC cut-cells. For this a prototype machine with 1000 wph will be built and a mass-production tool with either 1800 or 3600 wph (depending on what is found to be most economical) will be designed.
The module activity addresses the development of modules tailored for residential/commercial rooftops (BAPV), building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and vehicle-integrated photovoltaics (VIPV). The bill of materials, electrical layout, and encapsulation processes will be optimized for each application since they each have different requirements. With the support of the cost & life cycle analysis activity, special attention will be paid to encapsulation materials that help reduce carbon footprint and improve recyclability. Large quantities of modules (>100) will be fabricated for both reliability tests (with the objective to demonstrate improved durability compared to commercially available modules) and outdoor demonstrators.
The outdoor demonstrator activity aims to demonstrate the superior performance as well as the optimum integration achieved with the technologies developed in the project. For each application (BAPV, BIPV, VIPV), modules will be fabricated in the module work package and installed in prototype systems in the outdoor. Monitoring of BAPV and BIPV systems will be performed for a period of up to 11 months in order to evaluate the response to real-world stresses and collect sufficient data to support energy yield modelling (in the characterization & modelling activity). Monitoring of VIPV systems will be performed for cumulative driving distance of up to 1000 km.
The characterization & modelling supporting activities are designed to improve understanding and accelerate the developments within the project. Advanced characterization and numerical simulations will be used to lead to a full understanding of edge losses after cutting and edge re-passivation for the various approaches developed in the cut-cell topic. Indoor testing of modules will be performed to assess and optimize: (i) cell-to-module (CTM) ratios, and (ii) response to partial shading. Modules will be subjected to extended reliability tests to demonstrate the improved durability of the technologies developed. Optical, electrical, and thermal modelling of modules will be conducted to accurately simulate their response to different scenarios (e.g. high temperature, partial shading, etc.).
The cost and life cycle analyses supporting activities will be used to demonstrate the competitiveness of the innovative solutions developed in the project and their potential to be scaled-up to GW-size. For this, we will perform detailed cost and life cycle analyses of the individual materials and processes developed as well as of the different tailored module products (BAPV, BIPV, VIPV). A comparison will be performed against state-of-the-art commercially available solutions. Results from these analyses will be translated into meaningful metrics (production cost in €/Wp, levelized cost of electricity at system level in €/kWh, return on investment in years, carbon footprint in kg-eq.CO2/kWp). Finally, their potential to be scaled-up to GW-size will be demonstrated by making concrete plans for innovative manufacturing facilities.