Winners 2011

Solar Materials Enabling Award

Thin Film Innovation Award

Silicon Innovation Award


Industry Development Award

PV Tool Award

PV Process Improvement Award


PV Balance Of System Award

Energy Usage Enabling Award

Module Manufacturing Innovation Award


Rural Electrification Development Award

Turnkey Supplier Award

Project Development Award


SOLAR Award
For Excellence
(Product)

SOLAR Award
For Excellence
(Company)

Ken Zweibel

SOLAR Award
For Excellence
(Professional)


SOLAR Materials Enabling Award

Solar Mirror Film 1100

3M

Note from the Judges

Materials have become a key enabler across a great deal of technology manufacturing and solar is no different. The winning entry in this category has provided a material solution for Concentrated Solar Power. A primary roadblock to expanding the CSP market lies in the high cost and low durability of glass mirrors. The winning product is the result of extensive materials research, in-field studies and cooperative work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) dating back to the early 1990s.The winning entry is a film that exhibits a total hemispherical reflectance greater than 94 % and a specular reflectance above 95. Testing with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has demonstrated the films ability to maintain reflectance of more than 93 % over 14 years


Description

Solar Mirror Film 1100 is a flexible, reflective film designed to provide a high-performance, durable and cost-competitive solution for use in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) installations.

Product Challenge

The primary roadblock to expanding the CSP market lies in the high cost and low durability of glass mirrors.

Problem Solved

Solar Mirror Film 1100 is 75% lighter and 15 % cheaper than glass mirrors while maintaining a reflectance of more than 93 % over 14 years.

Noteworthy

Solar Mirror Film 1100 is the result of extensive materials research, in-field studies and cooperative work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) dating back to the early 1990s.

Product In Detail

3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 combines a tough and durable polymer front-side with silver as its highly reflective layer. The film is then coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive on the backside, which includes a liner. An opaque pre-mask on the front surface protects Solar Mirror Film 1100 during assembly. The film is also lead-free, circumventing the environmental challenges associated with the disposal of traditional mirrors.

Innovation

Solar Mirror Film 1100 has proven to hold a variety of benefits for solar concentrating applications. The film exhibits a total hemispherical reflectance greater than 94 % and a specular reflectance above 95 % (at 25 milliradian acceptance angle), making it suitable for a broad range of solar concentrating applications. Furthermore, testing with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has demonstrated the films ability to maintain reflectance of more than 93 % over 14 years.

When Introduced

3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 was commercially introduced in 2010.

Customer Benefits

3M Solar Mirror Film 1100 enables greater design flexibility than standard glass, allowing for larger geometry reflectors than previously possible. The lightweight, large-area assemblies possible with Solar Mirror Film 1100 have the potential to reduce the total installed cost of CSP systems by more than 15 %. Additionally, reflective film-based reflectors are up to 75 % lighter than glass mirrors, significantly reducing transportation costs while easing the installation process.


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Thin Film Innovation Award

THINFAB



Daniel Lutz, Head of FAB Product Management accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Thin film solar refers to a number of different types of thin film semiconductors covering a substrate. Thin film has had a roller coaster few years but the momentum remains and despite the hiccups the sector is tipped to continue to develop. The main challenge thin film has is to reduce manufacturing costs by 60% to bring it in line with (or improve) the competition. The first generation of thin film silicon manufacturing lines in 2007 allowed modules to be produced at approximately 1.2 €/Wp. To reach grid parity level in sunny regions to make solar power economically viable, manufacturing cost have to cut down to no more than 0.5 €/Wp.

The winning entry for this sector has developed a manufacturing tool that will enable total module production cost at or below 0.5 €/Wp and a 120 MWp output capacity.


Product Description

Oerlikon Solars next generation fab THINFAB will enable total module production cost at or below 0.5 €/Wp and a 120 MWp output capacity. Oerlikon recognized that for PV to become a significant source for energy amongst the traditional energy sources, solar power had to become economically viable. With the THINFAB with module manufacturing cost at 0.5 €/Wp, energy can be produced at 0.10 €/kWh in for example Southern Europe. In many regions of the world this allows energy production at or below grid parity level. Due to highest equipment availability, reduced process steps in the backend and highly optimized line concept (to balance frontend and backend takt times), Oerlikon Solars THINFAB reaches highest uptime with lowest non-productive time. The performance figures of this thin film silicon turnkey solution are as following: - Module Efficiency 10 % - Yield 97 % - Annual Output 120 MWp - 0.5 €/Wp

Product Challenge

Oerlikon Solars THINFAB addresses the challenge to reduce manufacturing cost by 60%. The first generation of thin film silicon manufacturing lines launched 2007 allowed modules to be produced at approximately 1.2 €/Wp. To reach grid parity level in sunny regions to make solar power economically viable, manufacturing cost have to cut down to no more than 0.5 €/Wp.

Problem Solved

Oerlikon Solars next generation fab THINFAB will enable total module production costs at or below 0.5 €/Wp and 120 MWp output capacity. With the THINFAB with module manufacturing cost at or below 0.5 €/Wp, energy can be produced at 0.10 €/kWh in for example Southern Europe. In many regions of the world this allows energy production at or below grid parity level.

Noteworthy

The key performance drivers to make solar power economically viable are module efficiency, high productivity of the manufacturing line and low module material costs. Recent champion modules on full scale with over 11 % initial efficiency and the world record stable cell efficiency for Micromorph® of over 11.8 % form the foundation for 10 % efficiency in average production. In less than 3 years since the market introduction of Oerlikon Solars Micromorph® technology 2007 in Milan the productivity of an Oerlikon Solar fab has been increased by more than 100 % which helps to significantly drive down the CAPEX per Wp. The continuous optimization of core equipment, line concept, module design and qualification of new materials drives down costs and increases the manufacturing robustness by simplifying the production steps.

Product In Detail

Oerlikon Solar has demonstrated ground-breaking milestones for the highest efficiency thin film silicon technology worldwide. To achieve highest efficiency modules in a cost effective mass production, several improvements in layer technology and module design had to be combined within the Oerlikon Solars THINFAB. 1) Thinnest Absorber The quality of the absorber layer and consequently the degradation of the efficiency of the cell are influenced by different factors. One factor is the deposition process, a second factor is the deposition rate (typically layers deposited at lower rate have higher quality) and a third factor is the layer thickness. Oerlikon Solar found in its THINK THIN strategy a match between increased efficiency and cost effective mass production. Thin absorber layers allow for reduced deposition rate and thus improved material quality; in parallel, time gas and energy consumption are lower and the light induced degradation is reduced. The net result is higher stabilized module efficiency. 2) Thinnest Laser Dead Band Oerlikon Solar introduces the next generation of laser scribing systems with eight beam high-speed processing for more than 2x increase in throughput and improvement of scribing accuracy to reduce laser dead band to 180 um. Highly accurate laser scribing systems maximize the active area of the module by reducing the area lost to the cell interconnects. c) Highest Front Contact Transmittance Oerlikon Solars TCO provides high total transmittance of over 86 % in the visible and near infrared spectrum range and recipe tunable surface morphology enabling light scattering with haze between 10 and 25 % and tunable sheet resistance between 10 and 25 Square Ohm Best in class transmission and enhanced light scattering are the perquisites to get the maximum amount of light into the absorber and allow further reduction of the absorber thickness. d) KAI MT The core of the Oerlikons THINFAB remains the absorber deposition tool. All key technologies and improvements from the previous generation KAI 1200 like 40 MHz VHF technology and Isothermal Plasmabox® were adapted to the next generation KAI MT. The KAI MT is designed to serve the low cost demands for mass production. By implementing a third process chamber the deposition area is increased by 50 % from 28 m2 to 42 m2. Doubled cleaning speed is achieved by improving the design through shortening vacuum pipes and implementing a remote plasma source (RPS). The combination of amorphous and Micromorph® layer deposition in one single process equipment eliminates the breaking of vacuum between top and bottom cell depositions which leads to improved process control. e) Backend Equipment With the THINFAB Oerlikon Solar launches the second generation of backend with a multiple contacted low voltage module design. The new edge isolation system allows a smaller accurately removed edge area with high isolation and improved module active area. Full automation avoids handling errors and results in robust manufacturing processes and high module reliability. g) Yield The yield improvement of the end-to-end solution is a significant lever to reduce overall production cost. Thanks to the high robustness of thin film silicon process technology together with Oerlikon Solars industry proven mass production equipment and smart line concept, Oerlikon Solar\'s THINFAB guarantees best in class yield of over 97 % in average. h) Lowest material cost As over 50 % of the module costs can be attributed to direct materials (e.g. glass, foil, junction-box, etc.) these represent large cost reduction potential. As the equipment and technology provider Oerlikon Solar does not limit cost reduction initiatives to deposition technology and equipment innovations, but also drives the development of the module design towards more lean (thin) architectures and evaluates and qualifies new material suppliers.

Innovation

With Oerlikon Solars THINFAB thin film silicon solar power becomes economically viable first time. In less than 3 years since the market introduction of Oerlikon Solars Micromorph® technology 2007 in Milan the productivity of an Oerlikon Solar fab has been increased by more than 100 % which helps to significantly drive down the CAPEX per Wp. The continuous optimization of module design and qualification of new materials drives down costs and increases the manufacturing robustness by simplifying the production steps. Radical innovations in the core equipment of the end-to-end manufacturing line contribute to the reduction in cost per Wp by offering higher efficiency, higher throughput per capital invested as well as lower energy and material consumption. Oerlikon Solars unique line concept includes but is not limited to improved central handling system renewed manufacturing execution system and considers all aspects of material logistics. In a cross-functional development approach every detail is optimized for the THINFAB, Oerlikon Solars most advanced turnkey photovoltaic thin film silicon manufacturing line.

When Introduced

25th EU PVSEC 2010, Valencia 6th of September 2010

Customer Benefits

With the THINFAB with module manufacturing cost at or below 0.5 €/Wp, energy can be produced at 0.10 €/kWh in for example Southern Europe. In many regions of the world this allows energy production at or below grid parity level. Therefore thin film silicon solar power becomes economically viable first time.

Click here to download product information (PDF)

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Silicon Innovation Award

REC's "fluidized bed reactor" (FBR) process



Ron Reis, Vice President accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Silicon based solar and PV have surprised the industry again and again over the last few years. It was only a few years ago when silicon based products were tipped to be hit by materials shortages, efficiency problems and ballooning costs. For those that bet on this direction at that time, they have discovered that the exact opposite has occurred. To achieve some of the startling results of the last few years has taken a concerted effort at every part of the manufacturing chain to reduce costs through the production process.

A major part of the energy consumption associated with producing solar cells is related to the purification of silicon to achieve the raw material for manufacturing. The winning entry is a process that consumes significantly less energy for producing high purity silicon used for high performance solar products as well as producing silicon in a continuous process and results in a ready-to-use output that requires no post-processing reducing manufacturing time and costs.


Description

RECs proprietary Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process represents the cutting edge technology in silicon production. After 15 years of R&D, REC has developed a process that produces silicon in a continuous process (vs. a batch process) and results in a ready-to-use output that requires no post-processing. The NextSi Granular Polysilicon, which is produced by the environmentally-conscious FBR process gives REC-produced solar modules an industry-leading payback time of one year, 20% less time than competing products

Challenge

A major part of the energy consumption associated with producing solar cells is related to the purification of silicon. The "Fluidized Bed Reactor" (FBR) technology, used by REC for the silicon purification process, consumes significantly less energy for producing high purity silicon used for high performance solar products. Moreover, the FBR process lowers the cost of making solar products, whilst saving large amounts of electricity.

Problem Solved

With the "Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process, REC can produce solar-grade silicon, while using 80-90% less energy than the traditional Siemens method for converting silane gas to high purity silicon. Firstly, it does not waste energy by placing heated gas and silicon in contact with cold surfaces. Secondly, it produces more silicon per cubic meter of reactor space because the silicon crystals have a larger total surface area than the rods used in the Siemens process. Thirdly, it is a continuous process rather than a batch process so there is less wasted downtime or setup effort required. And finally, unlike other processes which require the breaking of polysilicon rods, FBR granular is harvested in a ready to use form.

Noteworthy

RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process uses less energy to produce silicon than competing technologies, making it a more environmentally-sound choice. It also gives a payback time of one year, 20% less time than competing products. The company is also committed to reducing waste, using closed processes wherever possible and capturing 95-99% of the remaining production by-products and repurposing them. REC also uses only hydroelectric and wind power to power the production process.

In Detail

The basic technology behind RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor(FBR) process is as follows:  Reactor bed is heated and fluidized  solid particles in constant motion  Process gases are introduced from bottom of reactor  Polysilicon seed crystals are introduced from the top of the reactor  Thermal decomposition of silane gas onto polysilicon on seed crystalsPolysilicon crystals grow in diameter then drop from bottom of reactor due to force of gravity When comparing the FBR process to the existing, traditional silicon production process, the differences are as follows: RECs Proprietary FBR Process  Low Energy Consumption  Continuous Process  Output Is Ready To Use  High Logistics Efficiency Consistent Form Factor  Flowable Form Factor - High Automation Potential  High Process Efficiency Traditional Process  High Energy Consumption  Batch Process  Output Requires Post Processing Higher Manufacturing Cost  Lower Logistics Efficiency  Irregular Form Factor Non-Flowable Form Factor - Lower Automation Potential  Lower Process Efficiency

Innovation

RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process requires less energy to produce than other silicon production processes, giving REC silicon modules an industry-leading payback time of one year. The process produces silicon in a continuous process (vs. a batch process) and results in a ready-to-use output that requires no post-processing. RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process produces NextSigranular polysilicon, which is easier to handle. The FBR process is an efficient, continuous production cycle and has a ready-to-use output product, as opposed to existing solutions which are inefficient batch production and require additional post-production processing. Improved logistics automation (no manual breaking or packaging) reduces the potential for external contamination resulting in poorer product quality and performance. Granular polysilicon is packaged in bulk containers and because they round and can flow freely, it enables automated material transport and crucible loading. These factors combined amount to a significant reduction in the cost of solar ingot manufacturing compared to the traditional method further reducing the cost of solar energy. Moreover, there are a number of technological advantages to the RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process.

Practical manufacturing advantages include:

  • Large surface area for deposition
  • Excellent gas / solids contact
  • Efficient energy transfer
  • Uniform temperatures
  • Continuous operation
  • High gas throughput
  • Higher silane concentrations
  • Compact design Uniform output

When Introduced

The silicon purification process, utilizing a Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR), was launch in March 2010. REC Silicons FBR products are targeted to supplement or replace all existing and emerging crystalline based photovoltaic polysilicon requirements.

Customer Benefits

Overall, the RECs Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) process is an economically-sound choice because it maximizes productivity. Advantages of FBR-produced silicon include: Increased Process Efficiency maximizes crucible load, ability to top-off and/or recharge crucible, highly repeatable, controlled process, mitigates process problems, increases productivity Optimized logistics reduces amount of shipping and handling, increases operational efficiency, High Automation Potential reduces handling, increases operational efficiency, increases productivity

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SOLAR Awards for Excellence (Group)




Dr. Cheng-Wen Wu, Vice President of ITRI accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

ITRI is a national research organization, with a mission of conducting technological research, promoting industrial development, creating economic value and improving social welfare for Taiwan. ITRI is not only Taiwan\'s largest applied technology R&D institution, but also a pioneer in creating Taiwan\'s high tech industry.

ITRI was founded in 1973. The then newly appointed Economy Minister believed that Taiwan\'s economy could only take off if it were properly reconstructed by replacing labor-intensive industries with technology-intensive industries. Determined to develop the country, the government took action to integrate the Joint Industrial Research Institute, the Joint Institute of Mining and Metal Industrial Research Institute to form Taiwan\'s "Industrial Technology Research Institute". ITRI was given the goal of promoting the development of Taiwan\'s industries via state-of-art technology and leading economic growth.

Impact
ITRI is not only Taiwan\'s largest applied technology R&D institution, but also a pioneer in creating Taiwan\'s semiconductor industry. In 1975, RCA was selected as the partner for a cooperation program with Taiwan Semiconductor. In 1976, the first batch of trained engineers from ITRI was sent to the United States. In 1977, ITRI established Taiwan\'s first 4-inch pilot plant for integrated circuits. And from 1980 onwards, many major semiconductor companies were formed, such as UMC, TSMC, and Taiwan Mask, helping to consolidate Taiwan\'s IC industry. In 1983, ITRI also developed the IBM-compatible personal computer, and transferred this technology to the domestic industry, thereby promoting the vigorous development of peripheral industries, laying the foundation for the personal computer and information industry.

As of today more than 60% of the ITRI\'s 6,000 employees hold either a Master\'s degree or PhD in their respective field of studies: Information and Communication ,Electronics and Optoelectronics, Material ,Chemical and Nanotechnology, Medical Device and Biomedical Technologies, Mechanical and Systems Technologies, Green Energy and Environment Technologies. Our focus on these six major fields will lay down the foundation for innovative research in the future of technological industry, and hence, transform our domestic industry into global bedrock for technological innovation.

Recalling the role of the institute in the past, from innovative R&D, personnel training, to other processes such as value-added intellectual property, spin-off companies, enterprise incubation, technology services and technology transfer, ITRI contributed decisive influences on Taiwan\'s industrial development.

For over thirty years, ITRI has accumulated over 10,000 patents, cultivated 70 CEOs and assisted in the creation of over 165 start-ups and spinoffs. This helped to create many forward-looking and critical technologies. Furthermore, it also helped to nurture Taiwan\'s emerging industries and cultivate countless technological talents. These people, including TSMC CEO Morris Chang, MediaTek Chairman Ming-Kai Tsai, are the tillers of Taiwan\'s economy. They are like a dense web weaved within Taiwan\'s technology industry, creating emerging industries from scratch, with success. As of today, more than 1,000 of the ITRI\'s elite 6,000 employees hold PhD degree. ITRI believes we are not only providing revolutionary technological research, but we are also preparing individual talents for their various future endeavours and preparing them to be Taiwan\'s next generation of industrial pioneers.

Future
Through a dense network of strong relationships between the government and industry, ITRI links regional and central research capacity, helping to upgrade and transform the industry. Since 2005, in order to keep up with Taiwan\'s regional industrial development policy and strengthen the link between technology and local industry, ITRI established ITRI South, and the Eastern Industrial Technology Service Center. In the future, ITRI also plans to develop a R&D area for innovation in central Taiwan.

Facing the ever-changing world, ITRI continues to focus on six areas: Information and Communications; Electronics and Optoelectronics; Material, Chemical and Nanotechnology; Medical device and biomedical; Mechanical and Systems; as well as Green Energy and Environment. With an attitude of innovation and courage, working alongside with industry, the institute wishes to become "a world-class R&D institute; a pioneer for the industry", in order to open up a new wave of economic development for Taiwan.
In last few years, ITRI has recognized the necessity for eco-sustainable industry development and global environmental protection, hence, devoted more resources into developing eco-friendly and sustainable energy technologies. ITRI also aims to break down research bottlenecks and develop cutting edge technology that would lead domestic suppliers to invest in emerging energy solutions and environmental protection actions.


Description

A novel planar antenna by using a panel of photovoltaic cells as a metamaterial FSS radome for dual-band operation is presented (the prototype of product is shown in Fig.1 of attached file). A 10-Watt, 72-cell unmodified commercial photovoltaic panel is applied as a transparent layer in the first operation band and as a semi-transparent layer for λ/2 Fabry-Pérot cavity in the second operation band to achieve high antenna gain. The proposed prototype achieves remarkable 17.3 dBi and 6.6 dBi antenna gain at 3.5 GHz and 1.23 GHz, respectively by feeding a dual-band dipole. With the aid of PV panel, the antenna can support an upper band at about 3550 MHz to cover the WiMAX 3.5 GHz (3400-3600 MHz) operation band and a lower band at about 1185 MHz to cover the 70 MHz operation bandwidth. The very combination of photovoltaic cell and antenna exhibits high fill factor, high-gain, and simple construction characteristics. This integration of PV panel and antenna is suitable for outdoor wireless communication devices such as IEEE 802.11 a/b or WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) access points, 3GPP LTE femtocells.

Challenge

The main challenge is to overcome the EM interference when conducting the integration of antenna and PV panels. Since the conductivity of a commercial PV cell is so high to about 100-200 s/m that it is treated as a conductor which will block the EM wave when incidents into the PV panels. To treat the PV panel as an interference load or as a RF antenna ground is currently, the only solution to reach the coexistence of the PV panel and antenna. Therefore, a unique method is proposed to solve the integration of PV panel and antenna EM compatible issue. The goal is to maintain both the PV panel and the antenna area ratio.

Problem Solved

Inspired by the concept of metamaterialFabry-Pérot resonator, we treat the PV cell as a sub-wavelength periodic structure which having the proper frequency selective characteristic in the desired operation band and construct a novel high gain antenna. A dual-band high-gain antenna is fabricated in a very reasonable, area-saving manner without any major modification of PV cells construction. In other words, the filling factor (or area ratio) of PV cell can be well-maintained in our proposed integration design. That also means it contains the same optical efficiency as the ordinary PV cell. In addition, owing to the PV-cell-FSS arrangement and the proper calculation of Fabry-Pérot resonance condition, its very promising for antenna gain improvement (~10 dB comparing to an ordinary single patch antenna) and industrial manufacturing.

Noteworthy

The Electromagnetic inference must be taken into account while constructing the PV-Antenna integrating structure. In our proposed design, the parameters of PV-Cell area ratio has been improved to 90% and the antenna efficiency to more than 80% in contrast of 20% and 39% from SOLANT project supported by the European Space Agency[1] whose PV cell and antenna are arranged in interlacing mode , 50% and 50% from Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology (ISET)[2] as an antenna radiator and 90% and 32% of Dublin Institute of Technology [3] as an antenna ground. For more detailed structure, please see our comparison table 1 in the attached PDF file. It should be noted that the PV panels/cells area ratio and antenna efficiency is a trade off in all of the designs in [1-3]. None of them can be treated as well arranged matrix in sub-wavelength periodic structure.

In Detail

Under the huge demand of alternative energy resources, the deploying area of photovoltaic (PV) panels increases dramatically. However, the roofs of buildings in urban area are sometimes mounted with wireless communication infrastructures, such as base stations for cellular phones, point-topoint transfer spots, satellite receivers, radio communication stations and wireless TV receiving antennas, etc. PV cells and wireless communication infrastructures scramble for the roof area and interfere with each other in the point of view of operation. It’s necessary to integrate these two equipments to maximize the usage of valuable roof area. The design procedure of our product prototype (full picture is shown in Fig.3) is as follows: First we calculate the electromagnetic characteristic (in GHz band) of PV panels. In the attached PDF file, Fig. 2(a) and (b) shows the detailed structure of the poly-Si PV cell element in our EM model, which includes cover glass (thick of 2 mm), Poly-Si layers contained with P-N junctions, finger electrodes and bus-bar, back electrodes and cell-to-cell connecting electrodes. Although the real structure is composed of thin layered fine finger electrodes, to reduce the computing time, they can be ignored as show in Fig. 2 (c). Furthermore, rectangular metallic patch linked with straight metal strip with poly-Si layer and glass cover is also removed, as show in Fig. 2 (d). Fig. 3 shows the reflection and transmission response of the 80 mm × 28 mm unit-cell with periodic boundary conditions. The plane wave is normally incident to the structures and the E-field is polarized in the x-direction. It is seen that two pass-bands are existed and centred at about 1.2 GHz and 3.5 GHz in the observation of frequency range. It also can be observed that responses of these two different models (Fig. 2(c) and Fig. 2(d)) only exhibit slight frequency shift, which generally represent that both of them are suitable for full wave simulation. This is because the particle structures of PV cells are too small with respect to the operation frequency to affect our simulation results. According to our frequency selective unit-cell analysis, the PV panels EM-wave transmission response exhibits multiple pass bands. Our design can have antenna operate at 1.2/3.5 GHz. Secondary, we select first pass band (1.20 GHz) and second pass band (3.50 GHz) as our dual-band operation frequencies. Considering the finite panel size compared to the wavelength at low frequency and the different transmission characteristics of PV cell, we use different mechanisms for each band. At 3.50 GHz, the transmission level of unit-cell is not very high, but the panel size reaches 4.20λ0 × 3.73λ0. In this configuration, Fabry-Pérot cavity mechanism is applied to achieve high antenna gain. The parallelepiped FabryPérot cavity is composed of one semi-transparent surface, one reflective mirror surface and a suitable gap, usually half-wavelength, in-between. The PV panel is treated as a semi-transparent surface. A copper plate, served as reflective mirror, is parallel placed beneath the PV panel with 44 mm (approximate 0.5 wavelength at 3.50 GHz) air gap. A central fed microwave power propagates transversely with slow-varying phase to fill in the cavity and achieve high gain. At 1.20 GHz, the PV panel only reaches the size of 1.44;0 × 1.28;0. It’s hard to apply resonant cavity for this small size. Fortunately, the transmission level is so high that we can treat PV panel as a transparent radome at this band. The parallelepiped structure is not in the state of resonance at this frequency. It becomes a simple antenna with a back-reflector. It should be noted that the PV panel remains unchanged in our design in order to retain its optical efficiency.

Innovation

Our technology is Electromagnetic Metamaterial. Since the pioneer theoretical work by Veselago in 1968 [4] and later the experimental realization by Smith et al. [5], there has been an exploding research interest in metamaterialsubstances that exhibit simultaneously negative permittivity and permeability. This is mainly due to the fact that this new class of artificial material opens up new opportunities in EM design that were not possible before. Researchers have been done and applied in not only fundamental electromagnetic theory but also applied to variety of RF applications. One of those popular studies is metamaterial high gain antenna structure. A FSS (frequency selective surface) is used in these works as a semi-transparent layer at desired operating band to cover on a large reflective ground surface with a single feeding element, which could be a patch-type or dipole-type antenna. Related methods to improve antenna performance by using metamaterial super-strate can be approximately differentiated into three categories according to the antenna height, which are half-wavelength designs [6-9], quarter-wavelength designs [10-11] and the lowest height profile (smaller than 0.1 wavelength) designs [12-13] respectively. The proposed structure with the aid of PV panel given in Fig. 4 was fabricated and studied. Full models are simulated by commercial EM software, Ansys HFSS. Loss of materials and conductivity of PV cells are all taken into consideration. Fig. 5 shows the measured S-parameter of the proposed structure. It can be clearly seen that two resonate modes, which are centred at about 1185 MHz (dipole mode) and 3550 MHz (FabryPérot mode) are excited successfully. For the frequencies over the obtained operating band formed by the two modes, the impedance matching is all better than 3:1 VSWR. The fractional bandwidth of lower mode is about 5.9% (70 MHz) and the upper bandwidth is about 7.3% (260 MHz), which can cover the WiMAX 3.5 GHz (3400-3660 MHz) operation. The simulated and measured radiation patterns at 1.2 GHz and 3.5 GHz, around the centre frequencies of the excited dipole and FabryPérot modes for the proposed antenna are presented in Fig. 6. Also, the radiating patterns over those two modes across the operating band are studied. Although similar results are obtained yet they are not shown for brevity. The gain variation characteristics of the proposed antenna are also studied (Fig. 7), it could be observed that the proposed structure performs a peak gain of 17.3 dBi at 3.50 GHz and 6.6 dBi at 1.23 GHz in broadside direction. Fig.8 shows the distributions of E-field. The E field magnitude is strongest at the centre of the superstrateand the spread of the E-field strength is even throughout the entire superstrate. In other words, the superstrate and substrate well perform a role as a cavity capturing an electromagnetic energy. Unique Antenna-PV-Panel integration technology originated from metamaterialFabryPérot cavity which is capable of 1.2/3.5 GHz dual-band operation is proposed. Extraordinary integration of proposed antenna structure shortens the distance between antenna and PV panel to 1/2 wavelength of 3.5 GHz, which is half-wavelength resonant mode of FabryPérot cavity can be achieved and mutual interference could be eliminated as well by using this technology. Both very high antenna gain of 17.8 dBi in secondary operation band and remaining the same PV panel performance could be achieved comparing with current known literature. In addition, this work successfully turns a PV panel into an integrated dual-band antenna with very little additional structures and fabrication cost, which makes it very promising for industrial manufacturing. Furthermore, this concept could be applied to another type of solar cell, such as thin-film PV cell.

When Introduced

The prototype of product has been constructed at year end of 2010.

Customer Benefits

1. High antenna efficiency Novel high efficiency PV-panel-Antenna Integration technology will create a brand new market.

2. Small form factor PV-panel and antenna are stacked and integrated perfectly with each other without sacrificing any performance.

3. Cost-effective the manufacturing process of PV-cell remains unchanged which means no additional cost will happen.

Click here to download product information (DOC)

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Product Development Award

SunWave System

Note from the Judges

Until now, solar power has only been economic in large solar arrays, but these are subject to land use battles, their power output can be affected by local weather events (such as passing clouds), and their value proposition is almost entirely defined by the cost of solar panels. A growing area for solar and PV application is large scale projects, often in a public setting.

One stumbling block has been integrating solar based energy over time without the need for large storage devices leading to innovative methods of using PV in large scale without requiring a plant size investment.

The winner of this award has pioneered a new technology and value proposition by combining widely distributed solar generation (not affected by local weather; no new transmission lines required) with smart grid infrastructure. The technology pairs well with utility customers business models, scales gracefully, and improves grid reliability and disaster preparedness.

They create the equivalent of hundreds of football fields of solar arrays out of thin air and offer smart grid functionality without an expensive overhaul. What once required tremendous amounts of space is achievable in dense cities where power demands are high and a smart grid is critical.


Description

Combining highly distributed solar generation with smart grid functionality; Petra SolarsSunWave system mounts on existing public infrastructure, including 95,000 utility poles (and counting) across New Jersey. Petra Solar leverages existing public infrastructure to provide scalable, utility-grade clean power along with smart grid benefits.

Product Challenge

Until now, solar power has only truly been economic in large solar arrays, but these are subject to land use battles, their power output can be affected by local weather events (such as passing clouds), and their value proposition is almost entirely defined by the cost of solar panels.

Problem Solved

Petra Solar pioneers a new technology and a completely new value proposition by combining widely distributed solar generation (not affected by local weather; no new transmission lines required) with smart grid infrastructure. The technology pairs well with utility customers business models, scales gracefully, and improves grid reliability and disaster preparedness.

Noteworthy

We create the equivalent of hundreds of football fields of solar arrays out of thin air and offer smart grid functionality without an expensive overhaul. What once required tremendous amounts of space is achievable in dense cities where power demands are high and a smart grid is critical.

Product In Detail

Petra Solar pioneers a cutting-edge approach to solar power generation and smart grid deployment. Its technology is being leveraged right now to create innovative solar, smart grid, and grid reliability solutions for utilities filling a unique niche with close to immediate dispatchability. For decades, the approach to harnessing the power of the sun has been to install large solar arrays: hundreds of panels in a field. Petra Solar explodes that model: its SunWave system installs on existing utility poles and attaches to existing lines, feeding renewable energy directly into the electric grid without need for new sites or transmission. This use of existing assets for solar power eliminates the need to acquire and permit vast tracts of land and avoids other costs and difficulties that often impede the deployment of renewable energy. SunWave systems do not only generate clean, renewable energy, but also serve as intelligent units that communicate with each other and with the grid to build a Smart Grid infrastructure. It improves the efficiency and reliability of the grid by providing two-way communication and control between the solar generators in the field and a utilitys control center. The system monitors grid operations and provides distributed reactive power compensation, as well as volt-VAR optimization. These capabilities bring the performance of the grid into the 21st century, whereby installation costs are shared with renewable power generation lines on a utility balance sheet.

Innovation

Petra Solar is the first company to implement virtual power plants, or highly geographically distributed renewable energy generation systems. The level of distribution of a solar generation system is its best insurance against intermittency, i.e., how much the system is limited by passing clouds or storms. By mounting solar panels on utility poles throughout a utilitys territory (which can even include an entire state), the company achieves a level of distribution never before met by a unified solar project. Further, these virtual power plants are packaged in a new, compelling value proposition that combines power generation, smart grid functionality, and siting/permiting cost savings, which are better suited to the particular needs of utilities than any existing solar generation offering. SunWave is also novel because it reacts to similarly novel times in the utility industry. With the advent of electric vehicles and other technology that places new demands on the electric grid, utilities will increasingly focus on enabling smart grid solutions that will facilitate grid reliability and stability. Petra Solar has pioneered a partnership approach with utilities to address, maintain and improve power quality and reliability.

When Introduced

The product was initially released May 2008.

Customer Benefits

At the most basic level, we see the SunWave solution paving the way for two main changes in the field: the evolution of solar powers value proposition to include other functionalities (such as smart grid) and greater distribution of renewable energy generation. Both offer such clear technical and economic benefits that they cannot be ignored for long, and we enjoy a position of first mover in both areas of change. This unique packaged approach to distributed energy generation with smart grid capabilities allows for more effective use of public infrastructure to enable efficient, effective data gathering and communications, as well as an ability to recover quickly when emergencies strike. This means that as utilities seek to invest in solutions that will help to upgrade the electric grid into a smart, responsive system, they have access to a future-proof solution that ensures more reliable delivery of energy. Moreover, the technology also offers utilities an easy toehold on the smart, renewable energy grid of the future. A recent Electric Power Resources Institute (EPRI) 2011 report states that a complete smart grid overhaul of our existing transmission and distribution electric system will cost upwards of $476 billion  a daunting task but necessary to ensure a secure energy future. However, compared to an expected $2 trillion ROI over time after these upgrades have been performed, Petra Solars solution eases critical pain points in an enormous market that enables profitable, direct utility ownership of solar. This unique combination accelerates ROI and payback to become the natural path of least resistance that leverages the utility core business model to build Smart Grid infrastructure of tomorrow. SunWave also advances smart grid functionality. For example, its dynamic reactive power control automatically offsets abnormal voltage fluctuation from the power supply, making it much more difficult to cripple the entire grid by localizing system failures in the event of disaster. This is of particular interest to the industry in light of the recent earthquake in Japan.

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Industry Development Award

Wagner Academy Solar Training School



Carsten Pump , MD accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Solar and PV technologies have specifically being developed to provide renewable energy sources and despite the noble desires must make its way through the fiscal barriers common to any newcomers trying to move in on incumbent technologies. Creating a positive consumer, political and public awareness of the industry will be as key for continued growth as technology development. In recent years the business needs of different segments of the solar and PV has seen a confusion of information and messages creating uncertainty at a time when embracing renewable solutions would seem more appropriate.

Achieving such goals does not require a grand industry statement or action but incremental changes throughout the industry based on a mutual goal of improving quality, service and ultimately ensuring the growing industry develops increasing awareness and acceptance throughout the communities that will benefit.

The winning entry in this category has chosen to tackle this issue by ensuring the installers in their region are not just qualified to complete tasks but are actively informed about the technology and industry possibilities. The company has invested into the project so it is free for attendees demonstrating their commitment to longer term industry goals. Focusing on installers of microgenerated PV the company improves the overall industry in the region.


Description

Wagner Solar UK Ltd has set up a training school for UK based solar installers. This training school is specifically aimed at solar installers who are already MCS accredited. The training school is run at different venues depending on the content and number of people expected to attend. As a company, we have invested considerably in resources / material, for example we have built 2 indoor training roofs to provide practical hands-on training. All our courses are offered free of charge on a first come first served basis.

Challenge

Currently, the majority of solar training schools in the UK are specifically focused on MCS accreditation training. As commercially run training schools, these establishments must operate to make a profit, so have commercial partnerships in place for supply of training technology etc. With commercial partnerships in place, unsurprisingly the schools are failing to provide an unbiased view of the industry. Once the installer is accredited, they have a narrow view of the industry. This is one challenge. Another is the pace of advance currently being experienced by the solar industry, which leaves these freshly accredited installers behind, as they struggle to build up experience. Our training school is specifically focused on already accredited installers to provide them with ongoing training.

Problem Solved

As a distributor, we are in a unique position with direct relationships with global manufacturers. Our intention is to invite manufacturers to our training, for them to give product training themselves. Working with a range of manufacturers covering different types of technology, we are playing a role in giving installers a holistic overview of the industry. We have carefully selected our suppliers based on quality and performance, so we believe that this initiative will play its role in delivering quality to the industry.

Noteworthy

We are operating in the field of microgeneration. The vast majority of installation outfits are small local companies who do more than just install. These companies are responsible for marketing their services, advising customers on technology/options and selling solar into the mass market. As a result, they shoulder a great responsibility for ensuring the process is carried out professionally and correctly. If not, they will taint the industry and paint a negative picture in the minds of the general public. Our training school therefore plays a role in delivering education and knowledge to the installer, so they in turn can do so in their role of speaking to the general public - outcome is a better quality industry for all concerned.

In Detail

Broadly speaking, our PV training covers two main areas. The first is advanced installation training. When individuals wish to become an installer of solar, they will usually attend a course run by a training school somewhere in the country. These schools will teach the individual how to mount a PV system on a roof, how to wire / connect it to an inverter and how to connect it to the grid. They will rarely speak about calculations. A PV system must remain on the roof for 25 years and beyond to outlast the FIT. This means it must withstand extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow / extreme wind. The last think we want is for systems to fall off roofs in 10 years time, so we must train installers to calculate weather loads, tension and expansion from changing temperature. The installation element of our training is designed to teach calculations, since we expect installers to complete a safe and quality assured installation. The second area of our training covers product training. Product technology is advancing so quickly that it is difficult for all installers to keep up. We have decided to use our position as a distributor to facilitate conversation between manufacturers and installers, by way of inviting manufacturers to sessions to provide product training. This allows installers to learn about the discrete benefits of products which in turn will allow them to use/install them at an optimum level. This benefits homeowners with having a fine tuned system that produces maximum possible electricity. An additional benefit to this exchange is the possibility for manufacturers to learn about installers\' challenges directly from the installers themselves, so that feedback can be incorporated in future product development.
Innovation

We have decided to specifically open the training school to target already accredited solar installers. Once the MCS accreditation is complete, installers are alone. It is up to them to source product, market their services, advice homeowners about technology and sell/install a solar system. Our training school is unique in that now, the installers are no longer alone. They have the possibility to keep up with product technology / advanced installation techniques through attendance, which ultimately will help the industry at large by delivering a better quality image, service and reputation.

When Introduced

Wagner Solar UK Ltd is the UK subsidiary of Wagner & Co, the German Solar company. Our parent company has been involved in providing training for over a decade now. Many of our in-house trainers who train installers in the UK come from our HQ, so we have the advantage of years of experience which is well appreciated in the current young market.

Customer Benefits

A key intention of our training is to openly share knowledge and information to create a better quality industry. As it is the installer who markets their services to homeowners, advises homeowners about technology and ultimately sells/installs a solar system, by improving quality in the industry, we are benefiting customers (homeowners) from having a better installed and better performing solar system.

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PV Tool Award

Eclipse



Darren Brown, Global Business Manager accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Solar and PV manufacturing requires many specialised tools and knowledge from t he tool providers. For manufacturers it is not just about buying tools but how the tool provider integrates the tool to meet their needs. With the need to reduce the overall costs and improve performance in all aspects of the industry, the continual improvement of manufacturing tools to keep up with industry needs will be a key factor in meeting cost per watts expectations.

The winner of this category has developed tools that provide metallization solution for commercial solar cell production and despite early successes have not sat still and continually improve the tool sets they provide in this area. The platform is modular allowing personal configurations allowing manufacturers to easily scale production to 1200, 2400 or 3600 wph as demand dictates and productions can be ramped up by adding further modules.

Description


Description

DEK Solar is the global provider of screen printing equipment and processes for fuel cell and solar cell manufacture. The Eclipse platform is a very high throughput complete metallization solution for commercial solar cell production.

Challenge

Given the growing importance of solar as an alternative energy source, manufacturers around the world are facing a demand to supply silicon solar cells in abundance. They need to maximise utilisation, yield and productivity whilst also achieving a low total cost of ownership. Additionally, as market demand continues to fluctuate, manufacturers need to be available to scale production as necessary. New processes that reduce shadowing of the cell surface boost cell efficiency, and these demand special applications capability and absolute print precision. Eclipse helps to address each of these challenges.

Problem Solved

Fully modular & configurable metallization line allow manufacturers to scale production from 1200 to 3600 wafers per hour, as demand dictates Parallel print head processing options maximise productive uptime  Integrated vision inspection for ultimate process and quality control  Fast yet sensitive handling; high speed, zero edge contact for negligible breakage rates  Multiple conveying, flipping, buffering & stacking options  Superior positional accuracy for high yield precision  Industry-leading repeatability for Print on Print applications; capability (PoP) - +/- 12.5 microns at 2 Cpk  Selective Emitter Accuracy - +/- 12.5 microns at 2 Cpk  Multi-language intuitive GUI control  industry-leading delivery times backed up by worldwide service teams and 24/7 spare parts availability

Noteworthy

Eclipses primary advantage lies in an unprecedented and highly flexible modular design concept. Featuring a series of field-retrofittable process modules, Eclipse enables manufacturers to easily scale production to 1200, 2400 or 3600 wph as demand dictates. Furthermore, for manufacturers who foresee a production ramp, the metallization line can be designed accordingly, by inserting spacer process modules equipped with conveyors where future production modules will be added in. When production demands an increased throughput capability, these spacers can simply be swapped out for additional functional capacity. The primary process modules, including the print head and unloader, incorporate full control systems and are designated as master units. Additional field retrofittable process expansion modules operate as secondary slaves, hooking up to the master control units in the primary modules. By eliminating the cost of additional control units, the scaling process is simple, fast and cost effective. With the Eclipse platform, manufacturers can plan an easy, non-disruptive, cost-effective scale up and future proofed path.

In Detail

Deploying patented multiple print heads operating in parallel for its high throughput configurations, Eclipse maximises productivity; if one head halts for operator attention the others continue to print, boosting operational efficiency and dramatically reducing downtime. Eclipse features a series of field-retrofittable process modules that allow manufacturers to scale production from 1200 to 2400 or 3600 wafers per hour, as demand dictates. In its smallest configuration, the Eclipse 1200, a single print head operates at six-sigma accuracies, delivering handling and process functionality that maximises yields at throughputs of 1200 wph. Scaling up to 2400 or 3600 wph, the user simply deploys additional print head and loader modules. Here, Eclipse extends the end-of-line productivity benefit beyond higher throughput multiple print heads operate independently in parallel to all but eliminate downtime. If one printer halts for attention, the others continue to print. With the Eclipse platform, manufacturers can plan an easy, nondisruptive and cost-effective scale-up path. An Eclipse line can be configured with spacer modules for future capacity. Spacer modules feature conveyors, and are simply replaced on-site with slave printer and loader modules that link to the existing master modules, boosting throughput capability and eliminating changes to factory plant and utility supplies. On the production floor, resolute productivity is the target for the Eclipse platform. The intrinsic repeatability that comes from ±12.5 micron accuracy and 2 Cpk capability is vital to confidently process finer lines and print twice or more with absolute repeatability to create higher aspect ratio conductors. To safeguard the high yields manufacturers expect, Eclipse features a pioneering perforated belted platen that cuts breakage to less than 0.2%, even with wafers of 120 microns (well below the industry norm). Wafers are transported to the print area and anchored using vacuum hold-down. The belt also self-cleans, using dynamic contamination control to remove particulates and present a clean surface. To fully exploit the platforms accuracy, twin cameras precisely align wafers using edge detection for standard printing or fiducials for intricate processes like print-on- print. Coupled with print speeds up to 600mm per second and innovative zero-edge contact handling, Eclipse guarantees exceptional output. Such productivity, modularity and field-scalability backed by worldwide service teams and 24/7 spare parts availability  make the Eclipse platform the ideal choice for manufacturers chasing demanding production targets today and into the future.

Innovation

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Eclipse is the fact that it has been designed with change very much in mind. Todays manufacturers know that their future success lies in being ready to embrace and run with changing circumstances, be they new market demands, technologies, customer locations, government policy or any of the myriad factors that impact the solar industry. Recognising this, DEK Solar has developed a solution that can be reconfigured on an ongoing basis according to budgetary and production needs. After all, why should a manufacturer invest in equipment before it is really necessary? This unique approach to manufacturing configurability satisfies the demands of even the most progressive solar cell manufacturers, allowing them to protect their initial investments into the future, no matter how unclear that future may be, and enabling them to build their capabilities as their needs grow, with a selection of capabilities that make Eclipse quite simply the most versatile, best-designed metallisation solution for the solar industry today.

When Introduced

The Eclipse platform was introduced at EU PVSEC in September 2010

Customer Benefits

Customers benefit from DEKs process knowledge and applications expertise, which has been gathered over more than 40 years. Eclipse adds value by maximising utilisation, yield and productivity. DEKs global infrastructure, built expressly to support DEKs print platforms and process products in every market sector and any part of the world, gives customers confidence that support and parts are available whenever they need it.

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SOLAR Award for Excellence (Product)

Rehm Thermal Oxidiser

Rehm

Note from the Judges

We receive an enormous amount of product releases every year and choosing a winner for this category is always difficult but we try to judge each product based on the job it is to do rather than compare products that some may believe a more vital than others. The most vital things for solar and PV (some areas more than others) is to reduce prices while increasing performance. When this can be done by improving imbedded processes and minimal disruption then all tend to be happier

The winner of this year\'s award has found an innovative way to reduce maintenance and therefore downtime with their thermal oxidation process which removes residue contamination problems by burning the long-chain molecules in the vapour or smoke and transforming them into readily volatile, non-condensable substances reducing the need to exhaust material from the process chamber and therefore helping reduce costs.


Description

A new thermal oxidation process from Rehm Thermal Systems has eliminated the challenge of residue contamination from photovoltaic metallization. In order to minimise maintenance and provide a cleaner process chamber, Rehm has created the Thermal Oxidiser to enhance the performance of its RDS Drying Systems. Thermal oxidation is a process during which the volatile organic constituents and the hydrocarbons (VOCs) in the metallization pastes react with oxygen, and are decomposed. The goal is to burn the long-chain molecules in the vapour or smoke and transform them into readily volatile, non-condensable substances. These are then easily discharged from the system, to significantly reduce the potential of condensation and in turn, minimise system maintenance. Due to the arrangement of the heater and the granulate pack in Rehm�s RDS Drying Systems results in a very compact, thermal reactor which requires little additional energy to reduce energy consumption even further. Rehm�s thermal oxidation process involves heating the gas to a temperature greater than 500°C. The molecules crack at these high temperatures and combine with atmospheric oxygen which is present within the system. In order to oxidise hydrocarbons in an energy-efficient manner at low reaction temperatures of approximately 500°C, catalyzers are installed downstream from the heating chamber. This results in a thermal reactor which is dimensioned for solar dryers such that a gas exchanger of greater than 40-fold assures reliable removal of the vapour or smoke which occurs in the process chamber.

Challenge

During the 200°C to 350°C curing process involved in metallization, significant quantities of vapour and smoke are produced which must be reliably exhausted from the process chamber in order to avoid contamination and yield loss. However, since there is a wide variation in paste compositions associated with solar metallization, it is not always possible to customise a suitably effective filter or condenser to manage the released vapour or smoke.

Problem Solved

The introduction of Rehms Thermal Oxidiser uses an innovative thermal oxidation process to reduce emissions from solar dryers and firing systems during the metallization of crystalline solar cells. With the Thermal Oxidiser, emissions remain well below the statutory limitations for emissions of pollutants  e.g. TA-Luft, Germanys Clean Air Act. The collection efficiency reaches 99.5%, making a significant contribution to lower maintenance costs for solar dryers and firing systems.

Noteworthy

In general, thermal oxidation systems can be used for almost all organic pollutants and are thus a very good alternative to condensate discharges. The main advantage over the condensate separation is significantly reduced maintenance costs of solar dryers and firing systems.

In Detail

The composition of pastes for the metallisation of solar cells can be highly varied. This does not concern the actual metal content (silver or aluminium powder) but the other additives that are key to the printing properties of the paste and the baking and sintering characteristics. The proportion of these substances can be up to about 25 % by weight, of which the largest share is the organic medium in which the solids (metal powders, metal oxides, inorganic binders such as glass frit) are dispersed. Typically, after being printed onto the solar cell, the paste is dried at temperatures from 200 to 350 °C and, in a subsequent firing process, baked into the solar cell at temperatures of 800 to 1000 °C. During drying and firing of the pastes, fumes and smoke are generated. These must be safely extracted from the process chamber to avoid contamination of the system as far as possible. The fumes/smoke arise from the volatile components of the organic medium, which can consist of various organic liquids that typically also contain thickeners and stabilisers. The operator of a conveyor dryer does not usually know the exact composition of the metallisation paste used and its volatile constituents. Therefore, a filter/collection unit for the vapours/fumes cannot be custom-made, but must be designed for a broad range of deposition of various ingredients. At the same time, it need be expected that after passing through the filter/collection unit, the emissions will fall substantially below the limitations set by legislation. Very often, so-called condensate separators are used in this process. On the one hand, the collection efficiency is limited, and on the other hand, the mandatory disposal of the accumulated condensates is expensive. For these reasons, Rehm has taken the known method of thermal oxidation for solar systems and implemented it in an innovative way. The thermal oxidation is a process that takes the volatile organic components and hydrocarbons from the metallisation paste and binds them with oxygen, essentially breaking them down into water vapour and carbon dioxide. The goal is to burn the long-chain molecules in the vapours/fumes and convert them into easily volatile substances that condense only with difficulty. These can then be easily removed from the system, which thus drastically reduces the potential for condensation within the drying system. The thermal oxidation is initiated by the heat of the exhaust gas at a temperature >750 °C. At the high temperatures the molecules break down and bind to the available oxygen in the system. To achieve these high temperatures, Rehm deploys strictly electrical heating systems; the use of open flames is deliberately avoided. The risk of NOx gases forming is thus ruled out as far as possible. With thermal oxidation, emissions are well below the legal limits set for emissions (e.g. Germanys Clean Air Act). Good separation behaviour was achieved not only for volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOCs), but also for the particulate distribution. A clean gas value of particles below 0.2 microns was gravimetrically determined by ILK (the Institute of Air Handling and Refrigeration in Dresden) to be about 2 mg/m³. The oxidiser also copes well with different concentrations, as other measurements by ILK document. At five times the concentration of the model pollutant toluene, the collection efficiency remained > 99.5 %. The oxidiser contributes significantly to minimising the condensation potential, thus significantly reducing the cost of maintenance for dryer systems. As no more condensate can be formed on the clean gas side, the main extraction system of the fabrication plant remains visibly cleaner. A highly positive side effect is the markedly lower odour of solar dryers with an integrated oxidiser.

Innovation

In general, thermal oxidation systems can be used for almost all organic pollutants and are thus a very good alternative to condensate discharges. The main advantage over the condensate separation is significantly reduced maintenance costs of solar dryers and firing systems.

When Introduced

Operating since January 2011.

Customer Benefits

The main advantages of thermal oxidation are:  Reduction in maintenance costs, no disposal of condensate  Secure compliance with the legal requirements for emissions  Universally applicable for various metallisation pastes  Proven, broadband method Robust systems engineering  Low energy consumption, low operating costs  Decreased odour of solar dryers

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PV Process Improvement Award

CONSOL



Matthias Ruh, Proxy/Head of Sales and Angelika Listau Project Manager & Marketing accept award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Anyone involved in high tech manufacturing knows that the term down time is almost a swear word for facility managers. Whether it is tool maintenance, new tool development or R&D testing, the facility manager faces a balancing act to ensure that the manufacturing continues with as little disruption as possible. As with other aspects of the industry, every little improvement is sought to improve process flow.

Until now R&D departments have been faced with a dilemma when there is a new cell development. Such advances, while welcome require interesting time and tool management to reduce downtime while improving process integrations. When a new development occurs one test that must be carried out is for solderability on the stringer and this traditionally is done on the production line causing the dreaded downtime.

The winner of this award has developed a stand-alone soldering station for solar cells for material testing and qualification under production conditions. New materials such as cells, ribbons, flux can be tested and verified much faster. This leads to a time and cost reduction for the process as downtime is avoided.


Description

The soldering table is a stand-alone soldering station for solar cells (identical soldering station as the Somont stringers) for material testing and qualification under production conditions. The station is compact and cost-efficient. New materials (cells, ribbons, flux) can be tested and verified much faster. This leads to a drastic time and cost reduction for the development process which would be normally carried out on the production machines.

Challenge

Until now the R&D departments have been faced with following issue: If there has been f.i. a new cell development, this new cell has to be tested for solderability on the stringer. But the production has the target to produce a certain amount of modules/day. Consequently it is difficult for the R&D to get valuable production time on a stringer for testing new materials (cells, ribbons, flux...)

Problem Solved

The soldering station is a cost and space-saving solution for every laboratory /development department. The station delivers excellent quality soldering results with high peeling forces. New developments (cells, ribbons, pastes, flux) can be tested more intense and without any time pressure on the soldering table and verified much faster afterwards on the stringer. This leads to a drastic cost reduction.

Noteworthy

The soldering table is a compact, cost-efficient tool, which can be set up in every laboratory/development department. We have not found a similar product on the market.

Product In Detail

The soldering table is a self-contained soldering station for solar cells at which materials can be tested under conditions similar to those of actual production, since the soldering unit is identical to those on Somont stringers. Thanks to its compact size and economical price, the new equipment is suitable for use in any laboratory or development unit. Newly developed technology and/or materials can be tested and subsequently verified on the stringer much more quickly than was previously possible. This results in drastically reducing the time and costs in terms of the equipment and production capacity required for development processes. Until now, for example, development departments were always faced with the problem that the solderability of new solar cells for the market had to be tested directly on the stringer in the companys production line. This meant that valuable production time was lost for testing purposes. The new soldering table allows fast, and cost-effective verification of new developments (solar cells, ribbons, flux, pastes etc.) without having to interrupt production. There will no longer be a conflict of interest between development and production departments, and large numbers of materials will be able to be tested without any time pressure.

Innovation

The soldering table is the ideal tool for various target customers: For module, cell, ribbon, flux, paste manufacturers as well as institutes and laboratories. Until now most of the above mentioned target customers have tested/soldered their new developed materials manually or as mentioned under point 1 on a stringer which is very expensive and difficult to get the testing time of the production. To draw conclusions from manual soldering/testing for later automated stringer production is therefore difficult. With the soldering table the customer receive high quality and reproducible soldering results with excellent peeling forces due to Somont Soft Touch Soldering. Testing phases can be done more cost effective (no more valuabe production time on the stringer is necessary anymore). Consequently testing phases can be done more intense without any time pressure. It is time saving as the customer does not need to wait to get a stringer in the production for his testing periods. Thus new developments can be introduced on the market faster.

Customer Benefits

The customer benefits are: - Cost effective - no loss of valuable production time / output - High quality and reproducible soldering results with excellent peeling forces due to Somont Soft Touch Soldering - Recipe pre-qualification and simulation - all stringer recipes can be pre-tested --> faster material validations are possible - Time saving for the R&D department - no more conflict of interests between R&D and production, no more waiting to get a stringer for testing new materials --> new developments can be introduced much faster on the market than in the past - Flexible - a variety of different materials can be tested without any time pressure, test phases can be done more intense - Easy to handle due to intuitive HMI (same as on Somont stringers) to set up parameters - Space saving - can be set up in any laboratory or development department - Fast reaction time to material changes - innovations on the market can be introduced and tested immediately

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PV Balance of System Award

Solar Tracking System



Mr.Xiaohua Wang, VP of International Sales accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

A recent study suggested that Balance of System costs were outstripping the solar/PV panel in a module. This means that BOS products need to follow the same cost reduction path as panels of provide an overall improvement to the module in performance or cost but preferable both. Sometimes the balance of system solution can be instrumental to module success and an increasing amount of attention is being paid to the impact balance of system can have to a project.

The winners of this award are responsible for the largest solar tracking system to have ever been implemented in Asia in providing a solution for China\'s National Energy Administration as they developed the guidelines that would determine the country\'s Feed in Tariff offerings. From a technology standpoint, there was no uniform technology that would enable the ability to facilitate optical or time tracking at the same time. Hybrid technology is necessary so that when solar energy is blocked because of environmental issues such as cloud coverage, snow or other elements, it becomes important to enable optical tracking to complement the widely used time tracking. Tracking technology allows for 40% greater output from a solar installation. The hybrid solution has allowed for 70% greater throughput of clean energy in Solar investments.


Description

HaoSolar was the single source provider of Solar Trackers for this project. CGNPC/Enfinity provided the complete solar solution to the National Energy Adminstration in the winning bid, which utilized all solar tracking technology from HaoSolar. The National Energy Administrations focus was to deliver the FIT Tariff standard that would be used to provide guidelines for future solar subsidies in China. From a technology standpoint, there was no uniform technology that would enable dual use of solar technology. The technological issues stemmed from either being able to facilitate optical or time tracking, but not both. This becomes an issue as Hybrid technology is necessary so that when solar energy is blocked because of environmental issues such as cloud coverage, snow or other elements, it becomes important to enable optical tracking. Tracking technology allows for 40% greater output with solar. So when energy consumption is encumbered, it has a dramatic effect on the overall output. There are many constraints as to why optical and timing technology cannot be integrated starting with the integration between Oracle Middleware and Java.

Challenge

CGNPC/Enfinity is a central corporation under the leadership of the SASAC with nuclear power as its core business. It is the only clean energy corporation in China which centers its business on solar power. HaoSolar developed the Hybrid solar tracking system, which resulted in Chinas largest and first Photovotaic power station. This is the largest solar tracking system to have ever been implemented in Asia. The challenge addressed was the National Energy Administration embarked on establishing the FIT Tariff for PR China.

Problem Solved

HaoSolars Hybrid tracking technology has allowed for 70% greater throughput of clean energy in Solar investments. This project was the largest clean energy project in Asia from a solar perspective and the only project to use Hybrid technology. By being able to shift from carbon emission production to solar energy production, the benefit is net gain of cleaner environment both for the current and future generation. HaoSolars integration and technological development of the optical and time tracking system will allow greater reliance on solar technology in the future because of the associated return on investment.

Noteworthy

The SETT project was the catalyst for solar growth in not just Dunghaung, but for greater P.R. China. This project is the largest solar project in the country as well as the APAC region. By showing that both the project is doable but also that it is financially viable, it opens the doors for future clean energy projects of similar magnitude. HaoSolar was instrumental in both the design and implementation of the project. By integrating optical and timing technology, which have not been integrated until now, there is a much greater business case to be made for solar technology and tracking. HaoSolars research and design of the Hybrid tracker was the tip of the spear that drove this project. HaoSolar is the only tracking company to build and implement this solution to the market.

Product In Detail

The Solar Environmental Technology Transformation Project (SETT) benefited current and future clean energy production at a macro level, and also from a micro level at a country perspective. The innovations and product design are ground breaking for both what the are and what they accomplished. At a macro level, China has an extensive carbon footprint that has grown significantly in the last decade. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency noted that China had 9% growth in emissions and has overtaken the US as the world\'s greatest greenhouse gas polluter. At a macro level from a global perspective, clean energy has the greatest impact starting with China. Solar energy is one of the primary channels to reduce emissions. HaoSolars Hybrid tracking technology has allowed for 70% greater throughput of clean energy in Solar investments. This project was the largest clean energy project in Asia from a solar perspective and the only project to use Hybrid technology. By being able to shift from carbon emission production to solar energy production, the benefit is net gain of cleaner environment both for the current and future generation. HaoSolars integration and technological development of the optical and time tracking system will allow greater reliance on solar technology in the future because of the associated return on investment. In addition, this project provided the overall FIT Tariff standard that would be used to provide guidelines for future solar subsidies in China. Solar Environmental Technology Transformation Project provided the baseline that will be used in all solar projects in China for the next 25 years. At a micro level, HaoSolar has had a direct impact on the Dunhuang region of China. There is a greater reliance on solar technology in this region because of the sparse and rural nature of the population. By implementing solar tracking, large parts of the region have access to clean energy that would have been previously un-serviced. Also, with the Solar Environmental Technology Transformation Project, investors in the Dunghaung region are now incentivized by the province to invest in solar technology. Before the project, the incentive did not exist. This is seen to be a catalyst for future solar projects both in the short-term and long-term.

Innovation

The other element is the proprietary Siemens PLC software which does not natively have PIPS or AIAs into the other platforms. Technology Solution: One of the major business drivers for this project was related to a limited architecture that did not support CGNPC/Enfinitys future growth. Implementation of SOA provided the scalable foundation required to create and maintain improved product master data without impacting the current solar architecture. Flexible and Scalable Architecture  Implementation of Oracle SOA provided CGNPC/Enfinity with the option of integrating most of their spoke systems with the PDH (SOR) in real-time, enabling the organization to execute transactions at a faster pace. This ability to execute environmental transactions allowed for quick response on the Hybrid technology that was implemented. Energy Quality  Improved the solar output rate to 74% for all newly-created Hybrid Tracking Systems by using a business-driven rules engine. Prior to go live, SKU data was inaccurate and as a result, many downstream systems, processes and customer-satisfaction issues were present. With the Siemens PLC integration, timing and optical integration, solar output and tracking were increased dramatically. The Hybrid system also allowed for an override of the timing element so that all external factors ranging from snow and wind to the cloud halo effect would be optimized. Efficiency  Activities related to managing the new Hybrid system was also minimized as all manual processes of checking and validating solar tracking positioning were now not necessary.

When Introduced

The product was introduced to market in July 2011

Customer Benefits

This project benefits society in 2 ways. The first it increases overall clean energy output, thereby reducing reliance on carbon producing energy. The second is that with the Hybrid technology in this project, it provides greater incentives and ROI so that clean energy will be financially viable for future investors.

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Energy Usage Enabling Award

Solar-Log with Easy Installation



Guy Thoin, Managing Partner accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

Solar and PV is all about energy and ensuring the highest level of conversion of sunlight to useable electrical energy. When an installation is at plant level, effective monitoring control of individual modules as well as the overall plant output allows controllers to optimise the performance of the array increasing energy conversion and usage. As with any additive to a solar system, installation and instigation adds cost to a process already attempting to reduce costs and any savings here adds to the overall fiscal goals. Often each brand of system can require individual responses requiring more expensive bespoke solutions.

The winner of this award has developed a monitoring system that is not only easy to install but is capable of dealing with most inverter set ups available.


Description

Solar-Log is a complete monitoring system that can work with most inverters available on the market. The system monitors the power production of a PV plant and gathers detailed status information from the inverters through the corresponding inverter protocols. Usually the configuration of monitoring systems requires IT know-how, since a monitoring system is also an IT product. By means of the inverter-independent Solar-Log system, the installer only has to learn one system to be able to provide a monitoring system for all customers, even those with different inverter installations. There usually still is, however, inverter specific configuration required on site via laptop. To make the local installation easier and to minimize the effort on site, Solar-Log introduced a so called Easy Installation process. This method makes the installation much easier by doing inverter detection and establishing internet connection to the Solar-Log portal automatically. On site, an installer needs only to connect the data logger to the inverter by data cable and connect the data logger to a router. Once these basic connections have been established, the data logger configuration starts automatically by identifying all connected inverters. This works even with different manufacturers connected to the Solar-Log. The data logger also establishes the connection to the internet and does an anonymous internet registration. The progress of these steps is indicated by LEDs on the Solar-Log data logger. The installer can then do the final configuration remotely at the office.

Challenge

The advantages of an inverter-independent system are multiple. An installer only needs to learn one single product to provide a monitoring system for all of his customers, even those having different inverters. Nevertheless, the system still requires a certain amount of study. A monitoring system must generally be simple enough to be installed without requiring a great deal of effort. Since a monitoring device is an IT product, a certain amount of IT know-how must usually be available. The Solar-Log Easy installation, on the other hand, reduces the installation effort of the monitoring device to a minimum, allowing any PV plant installer to install the monitoring device without much training. Additional installation details can then be configured remotely.

Problem Solved

The Solar-Log Easy Installation process performs the main configuration automatically after the logger has been connected to the inverter and to the router. The Solar-Log identifies the connected inverter and uses automatically the correct inverter protocol. By means of DHCP, the Solar-Logestablishes the connection to the router and registers to a portal to be able to find the logger for further remote configuration at the office. Every process step in this auto configuration is indicated by LEDs so that an installer can know the status of the process. The successful configuration is indicated by an LED.

Noteworthy

We are the only company that offers compatibility to such a huge number of inverters. The Solar-Log implements the various protocols of the inverters in order to provide the highest depth of data. Nevertheless, the installation must be simple enough, regardless of the number of supported inverters. Solar-Log has therefore introduced the automatic installation of the device which minimizes the installation effort to keep the whole monitoring setup as simple as possible. Basically, the Solar-Log is the logger with the highest data depth, and the logger with one of the simplest installations.

In Detail

The Solar-Log is compatible with more than 50 inverter manufacturers on the market by having implemented all the corresponding protocols of the inverters. With the implementation of these protocols, the Solar-Log offers a maximum of depth of data to monitor the PV plant. A configuration of a data logger with such a high number of inverter compatibility would usually require a more complex installation and in-depth training of the installer. Solar-Log solved this problem by implementing automatic inverter detection and configuration which allows the installer to install the product without much training or IT knowledge. The installer need to connect the inverter with the data bus. Ready-to-use cables are available or, alternatively, a detailed description of the cable configuration is enclosed with the data logger for self-made cables. After the correct connection of the inverter to the data logger, the installer needs to establish a connection to the internet via a router. This can be established by Ethernet cabling or Wifi. Once this basic work is done, the automatic configuration can start. The Solar-Log identifies all connected inverters and does the required configuration automatically. The successful configuration is indicated by an LED. The second part of the configuration is the internet connection. Using the default configuration of Solar-Log with DHCP and a router with enabled DHCP, the Solar-Log connects to the Internet via the router. This step is indicated by another LED. At step 2, the Solar-Log registers itself anonymously on a Solar-Log WEB registration server. Once this registration is finished, it is indicated by the LED as well. The installer then needs to note the serial number and the easy code and is then free to leave the plant since the configuration can be finalized in the office remotely. SolareDatensystem GmbH offers two portals. One for the installer and his customers and one for independent end customers. To use any one of these two portals, the installer can transfer the Solar-Log configuration from the anonymous registration portal to the respective portal by entering the serial number and the easy code. He can then personalize the Solar-Log, do the web configuration, and change certain settings in the data logger remotely. This whole process reduces the effort of the installation of a monitoring system for a PV plant to a minimum.

Innovation

The innovation of easy installation serves to reduce the complexity of a monitoring system able to collect all data from inverters by implementing the inverter protocol and thus provide a high depth of data. All inverter-specific settings are done automatically to simplify the installation process. Only basic knowledge is required to install the monitoring. The time required at the plant site is reduced to the cabling. The whole costs of monitoring are also thereby reduced.

When Introduced

The Solar-Log was introduced to the market in 2005. The enhanced Easy Installation procedure has been introduced this year.

Customer Benefits

Installers can offer and install a monitoring system with minimum effort. An easy and quick installation reduces the costs of installing a monitoring system and make a PV plant even more profitable.

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Module Manufacturing Innovation Award

"Excellence At Each Step" Manufacturing



Zhe JIANG, CEO accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

The majority of module manufacturers can be placed into one of two categories: Low-cost/low-quality, or high-cost/high-quality. This leaves a considerable gap for customers looking to implement quality solar systems at a reasonable cost. When the solar and PV industries are discussed much of the attention is on the top end of the market and often fails to acknowledgment the breadth of opportunities available.

Whereas many module producers focus primarily on the cost of their products, the winning company works closely with its component suppliers and manufacturing partners to oversee the quality of its products at every point in production while keeping an eye to cost as well and has developed vertically-integrated, precise manufacturing processes that rigorously tests each step ensures its customers receive high-quality modules at competitive prices.


Description

Upsolar ensures premium module output at affordable prices via its Excellence at Each Step manufacturing philosophy.

Challenge

The majority of module manufacturers can be placed into one of two categories: Low-cost/low-quality, or high-cost/high-quality. This leaves a considerable gap for customers looking to implement quality solar systems at a reasonable cost.

Problem Solved

Upsolars vertically-integrated, precise manufacturing ensures its customers receive high-quality modules at competitive prices.

Noteworthy

Upsolar works in conjunction with the industrys best manufacturers so its team can focus on extensive research and development efforts while producing quality modules.

In Detail

Upsolar ensures premium module output via its vertically-integrated Excellence at Each Step manufacturing philosophy. The process begins at Upsolars Test and Development Centre in Shanghai, where a team of PV experts performs meticulous testing on all module components before selecting the top-tier performers as its suppliers. The next level of testing evaluates prototype modules ability to withstand extreme environments, including temperature variations, high moisture exposure and subjection to ultraviolet rays to optimize both performance and durability. When these prototypes are confirmed to operate at a level consistent with Upsolars high standards, the company then proceeds with commercial-scale production. To keep manufacturing lean and efficient, Upsolar works closely with trusted partners around the world. The company also stations quality control experts at its satellite manufacturing facilities to provide assistance and oversee each step of production. After one final round of sample testing, Upsolars modules are dispatched worldwide.

Innovation

Whereas many module producers focus primarily on the cost of their products, the Upsolar team works closely with its component suppliers and manufacturing partners to oversee the quality of its products at every point in production while keeping an eye to cost as well.

When Introduced

Upsolar has used this process since 2006.

Customer Benefits

Upsolar customers take solace in knowing their products where developed with the best quality/cost ratio available in the industry.

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Rural Electrification Award

WASPAM: A PROJECT FOR 15 YEARS



Angel Luis, Serrano President accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

The solar industry began with a vision to provide renewable cheaper energy to a broader section of the global population and this vision has not being lost amongst the necessary profit and loss financial structure that is part of any industry. One area that has remained an ideal of the overall industry is micro-electrification projects, especially in rural areas bereft of a consistent reliable energy source.

There are a range of issues facing rural electrification via a solar method including climactic changes, energy storage, voltage fluctuations and most notably, a lack of sunlight at night. Such projects require innovative thinking that crosses renewable energy resources and solutions may be made up of a number of industrial inputs.

Research will be key in discovering configurations that provide more energy options to rural areas and the winner of this award has been involved in a 15 year project that required international companies to sign up to a sustainable agreement for the 15 years in order to participate. The goal was to assess the needs of rural electrification projects over time.

A key aspect of this project and a current task for the sector is to convince industry that rural projects can have a profitable outcome ensuring it is no longer seen as some form of charity driving more companies towards the idea. The company has been responsible for supplying the equipment and the technical management of the installations.


In this entry we focus in the lessons learned up, until today, from the first steps of the project of WASPAM.

The differential characteristic of this project is related to the base of the international public tender, requiring a turn key project, together with a study to assure the operation and maintenance of the systems during 15 years and a compromise of the supplier to manage the installed systems in a concession procedure.

The base of the operation and maintenance of the system is the capacity of return for the users. Are they capable of assuring minimal annual earnings so other companies are interested in creating infrastructure around these systems? Another key point in the project is the logistics regarding the local operator. The Project is been carried out by a social partner active in the project area, a local installer company, and a PV manufacturer, supplying the financial backing and the technical support. The target of the project is making suitable a concession scheme, in which the user as well as the other players would come out benefiting.

1 INTRODUCTION
The main difference between this project and others is international competitive bidding conditions, not only requesting the supply and installation of the systems, which is a common practice, but also requiring a contractual commitment for the development of a sustainability programme, to assure the operation and management of the systems for 15 years.


Figure 1. Project Area

The project has been developed by the Interamerican Development Bank (from here on BID) and the National
Energy Commission (from here on CNE), and requires the amount of 1,040,000 USD of which the BID provides
85% to the CNE through subsidies and the remaining 15% is obtained from the tariff charged to the end users.

2 PROJET ORGANIZATION

For the correct management of the project for these 15 years it was decided to create a consortium formed by the companies ISOFOTON S.A., TECNOSOL and the NGO PANA-PANA, the last two are located in Nicaragua where the project is being carried out.  The project is being carried out in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) Fig. 1, in 31 communities situated along the shore of the Coco River, the natural border between Nicaragua and Honduras and one of the poorest areas in the country.

The area is inhabited by the Miskita tribe, which has its own language (Miskito) and whose knowledge of Spanish is directly proportional to their proximity to the town of WASPAM. They have a subsistence economy based on the harvest of different crops, frijoles, rice and bananas in two annual harvests in April and September. Their crop fields are often in the Honduran area, due to the quality of the land on the other side of the river, however, it is an artificial frontier that divides the Miskita nation and therefore they do not consider it as such.

This short summary has described some of the characteristics of the inhabitants who are the focus of this project. These characteristics are common to many of the areas where this kind of project is implemented, i.e. a subsistence economy based on agriculture, minimum income that is dependent on harvests, with no integration in the government-generated structures in their respective countries, where everyone non Miskito who has the privilege of visiting the area is called Spanish! We will now summarize the components of the consortium and its qualities to carry out this project.

ISOFOTON is responsible for supplying the equipment and the technical management of the installations.
TECNOSOL, official distributor of ISOFOTON in Nicaragua, is responsible for the installation of the solar equipment and systems, under our training and supervision, and it will also be responsible for the supply of all the Balance of the system, wires, switches, lamps (all this material must be local in order to obtain spare parts relatively easily).

PANA-PANA, NGO for the management of microcredits and aid for the inhabitants of the project areas, is responsible for the initial sensitiveness surveys to find users, the creation of the local lighting committees together with the TECNOSOL installers around the area, and the later management of payments from the beneficiaries.
Founded in 1991, PanaPana has a large prestige across the whole installation area, which is very important to establish the necessary links with the beneficiaries. They will be responsible for all dealings with the beneficiaries.
Two of their specialized technicians will be responsible for maintaining the systems. Before starting the installations, they will carry out surveys to evaluate the payment capacities of the possible users. The basis of the operation and maintenance of the systems is the creditworthiness of these users. Are they capable of assuring minimum annual funds to interest companies in creating an infrastructure around the systems? We believe so, and in any case, the study was carried out conscientiously in order to estimate their real creditworthiness, their level of commitment and maintenance of the system. The results show limited creditworthiness and a certain level of debts and arrears. However, as already mentioned, the 5 USD, which they can easily pay each month (their current expense on radio batteries, candles and kerosene for burning is around 7 USD per month). The user has also the possibility of making just 2 payments per year coinciding with income from crop sales.

ISOFOTON provides its experience in implementing a project of this kind as it has installed several hundred systems around the world, however, it also provides financial resources to cover delays in payments (common in these projects) and initial disbursements to cover the project, trips to the area to prepare the offer and meet fellow team members, meetings, etc.

TECNOSOL provides the consortium with its knowledge of the country as well as the entire capacity of its company, warehouses, workforce and office material. TECNOSOL will become the logistic and bureaucratic centre of the project during the Installation phase, however, once all the systems are installed, the consortium office at WASPAM will also start operating, although the neuralgic centre will still be run by TECNOSOL from its office in Managua. As well as this, TECNOSOL has also provided its installation staff, nearly all of whom have over 5 years’ experience in solar installations.

3 OPERATION EXPERIENCE.

Assuring the quality of the equipment installed is essential for the sustainability and viability of the project, due to the fee paid by the user comprises the replacement of the equipment, as well as the cost of the local infrastructure (an office in WASPAM, furniture, rent, staff cost, their travelling expenses), and the recovery of the 15 % that is not subsidised. Due to the absence of long-term studies about components failures rates on installed systems, this data is quite vague; however, we will base ourselves on our own experience to try to work it out.

After the first 6 months of the installation, when we should have detected all the equipment with manufacturing faults or breakage during transport (regulators 0.9 %, modules 0.05 %, batteries 1%, lamps 1.5%), we consider the working life of the equipment to be as follows: Modules: 20 years (assuring 80 % of their nominal power by the end of the 20 years and that they will continue to work) and therefore spare parts will not be considered. Regulators: Annual breakage rate 6.5 %, therefore, we will have to change all the regulators during the 15 years the system will be in operation.

Batteries: We consider a working life of 6 years per battery; therefore, we will change them twice in the 15 years. The battery is deep cycle with a daily design discharge depth of 15 %. The lamps must be changed by the user. The breakage
rate we have calculated is 100% of the ballasts every 5 years, and a tube replacement every 2.5 years. The rest of the material does not need to be replaced, unless there is a natural disaster, like in 1998 when Hurricane Mitch destroyed around 21000 homes1, without actually reaching Nicaragua. The average is one natural disaster every 10 years; other examples are
Hurricane Fifi, September 1974 or Hurricane Joan, October 1988, as we have already mentioned the system must be assured for 15 years. As we have already mentioned, the quality of the equipment is very important, but we must also mention the importance of the quality of the systems installation. From the begining, we focus in the standardization of the electric works, i.e. to fully charge the battery before commissioning the system, to use clips every 30 cm to avoid catenary on the cables, to avoid the wires crossing and to study the location of the generator to avoid shadows. All these issues together with a sheet which reflects the technical characteristics of each installation, should facilitate the Operation and maintenance and help to enlarge the life time of all the components. It is pointed out the installation period is very short, six month for the hole project, due to bidding demands; therefore, we must work at a rate of 12 installations per day, 6 days a week. Also the equipment transport to the communities should be done in a short period, due to the main river is first dry, and after it is not transit able due to the swelling from the rains. For this purpose, a group was formed with 12 very experienced installers (4 of which speak Miskito), an administrative manager (who also speaks Miskito) and a cook; who all had a strong will, as not just anyone can cope with 6 months on a hard bed, eating frijoles with rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5 SYSTEMS DESCRIPTION.

The total number of installations is reflected in the following table.

6 CONCLUSIONS
The success or failure of this project is based on several factors which we will attempt to list below, however, as a start to these conclusions, we would like to clarify the following point: the special nature of this project should be the objective used to design all the rural electrification projects. The sustainability of these systems is the key to the real motivation for this kind of projects, which is none other than the improvement of the living conditions of the users of the photovoltaic system and not the increase in the statistics of the population with access to electricity. These are some of the most important factors for the success of the project:
- Design of the system in accordance with the users’ needs. After installing the first 700 systems, whether the system appears to be more or less adjusted to the area, in accordance with the size of the houses and users’ needs.
- Correct operation of the system. All the elements have been fitted to ensure this; however, it is a good idea to evaluate it as a factor of importance.
- Breakage rates of the equipment in accordance with the calculations.
- Absence of theft of the systems.
- Rate of non-payments below 10 % (the first day they went to collect the money the whole village was waiting for them with machetes to avoid payment... problems in the information and adjustment in the first village, in the others we have not had any problems at the moment).
- Adjusting the payments of the tariff to the calculations made, this will enable the office to stay in operation without losses, which is very important for the creation of a self-sustainable market.
- Adjusting the payments to the seasonal income of the users (crops).
- Financial return for the participating companies.
REFERENCES:
1 “El huracán Mitch en Nicaragua.”
Dr. Antonio Arroz Alvarez
Marta Aranda de Wong Valle
Carlos Morales Castillo

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Turnkey Supplier Award

Technology and System Capability



Harald Friedrich, Managing Director accepts award from David Ridsdale, Editor in Chief, Solar International

Note from the Judges

For many planning on entering the solar and PV manufacturing arenas the choice of sites, factories, tools and staff can be daunting which is why some will rely on the expertise of turnkey providers. Companies who, in combination with technical experience and knowledge, provide the company with the finished result of their plans.

The main challenges for high volume PV manufacturing sites are reduced running costs by advanced engineering as well as by energy saving and recycling technologies.


Description

M+W Group globally covers the complete added value chain for Photovoltaics with consulting, design, construction and project management, from poly silicon plants to cell and module factories as well as PV power plants. The scope includes the turnkey design, build and technical set-up from smaller pilot lines through to large-scale PV plants, be it c-Si or thin film technology. Currently the scope has been extended to the design of float glass lines with emphasis on the specific requirements of the PV industry. With more than 10 GWp manufacturing capacity designed and built M+W Group is a global market leader in this sector. With a staff of more than 6,000 people spread throughout five continents. M+W Group is able to keep pace with the clients growth strategies and to offer localized expertise around the world. M+W Group had the honour of providing continuous design/build services and accompanying their PV customers on their way from start-up companies to the top ten list of PV players. The high amount of repeat customers emphasizes clients’ satisfaction with M+W Groups work.

Challenge

The main challenges for high volume PV manufacturing sites are: - Reduced running costs by advanced engineering as well as by energy saving and recycling technologies. - Smart design to ensure minimum investment. - Using a smart logistic concept to reduce working capital. - Fast track approach to reduce time to market. - Meeting and exceeding EHS and quality standards. - Smart phasing concepts towards multiple GW sites Thanks to its global network of engineers and specialists, M+W Group can make available its global know-how to customers when providing modular or turnkey solutions based on fast track schedules, appropriate quality standards and rigorous adherence to the budget.

Problem Solved

With its integrated project approach M+Ws best-in-class solutions can solve these challenges: - Comprehensive site selection and site development, including all current and future requirements. - Defining production technology and future expansions. - Defining equipment layout and the logistics concept. - Value engineering and Benchmarking - Final design starts in parallel with issuing the building permit documents - Construction starts depending on partial building permission - Global sourcing and volume purchase agreements reduces costs for hardware - In house engineering for water and chemical recycling/reclaim technologies - Advanced energy supply concepts - Mass and energy flow modelling to reduce overall life cycle costing With its long-term experience M+W Group provides best-in-class solutions with optimum flexibility to future expansions, minimum operating costs and fast time-to-market.

Noteworthy

Based on its 11 years of experience in this market M+W Group operates a comprehensive database with the consumption data of the process equipment with real measured consumption data. This enables the company to benchmark the data provided by equipment suppliers with the real consumption data in the very beginning of the project. With this powerful tool M+W Group can design the utility systems according to the technological requirements of the process tools. In several PV projects M+W Group has proved that the terms environmentally benign and cost effective are not a contradiction. For example water reclaim or water/chemical recycling provides a significant reduction of running costs for high volume production sites. M+W Group has developed adequate reclaim and recycling systems. Several of the projects additionally have been designed and executed according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

In Detail

With the experience of more than 40 PV plants designed and built since the year 2000, M+W Group has a vast know-how to solve all challenges in engineering and construction of a PV plant, be it with c-Si or thin film technology. M+W Group covers the entire PV added value chain from poly silicon plants and glass lines to PV power plants. This enables M+W in a unique way to design the customers production sites according to all technology requirements and to implement various synergies from upstream and downstream technologies in each project. The electrical power usage of the process equipment is one example for potential total invest reduction. Due to design factor margins and unknown duty factors or just because of lack of experience the electrical power consumption often is overestimated. Using its comprehensive benchmark database, which includes live measurements of the electrical power consumption after ramping up the production, M+W Group often can show that the actual power consumption is far less than the numbers provided by the suppliers. Due to the correlation between electrical power and related systems like transformers, cooling tower, pumps and piping for the cooling water the design of these systems could be optimized resulting in less and/or smaller facility systems, so that as a result the total invest of the facility systems could be reduced significantly. Vertical integration is another possibility to reduce costs for PV manufacturers. Since the PV industry so far only consumes 2%-3% of the worlds entire glass production the big glass manufacturers did not focus in particular on the specific requirements for glass to be used for PV applications.

The main requirements are: - low iron content for high transmittance of the cover glass - thin glass (2mm) to reduce weight and increase transmittance - specific coatings like ARC (Anti-reflective coatings) and TCO (transparent Conductive Oxide), depending on application. Therefore M+W Group is teaming up with technology partners and offering the design and build of float glass and glass processing lines for the PV industry. Key feature is a smaller float bath with capacities of 120t/day to 200 t/day and customized glass width (e.g. 1,6m) instead of commonly used jumbo glass (3,3m x 6,1m). Such capacities can deliver the glass demand for a 500 MW Thin Film facility. It is expected that due to the integration and focus on PV specific requirements the cost for glass can be reduced 20% to 30%.

Innovation

The advanced portfolio and the in depth technology know-how as offered by M+W Group for design / build services for the entire PV added value chain from Poly Silicon over glass to PV modules and finally PV power plants makes it possible for our customers to benefit from our experience and use all synergies with regard to energy saving potentials and improved logistics for integrated future PV manufacturing sites in the GW scale. This approach will lead to considerable cost reductions not only in initial invest costs but in running costs as well.

When Introduced

Initially this service was introduced to market in 2000. The latest product, which is the design / build of glass lines is being introduced in 2011.

Customer Benefits

The main benefit for customers is that they profit from fast time to market and turnkey-capability due to M+W Groups integrated project approach as well as that M+W Group can offer services for the entire PV added value chain, depending on each customers requirements.

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SOLAR Award for Excellence Person

Ken Zweibel

Each year the panel (subjectively) chooses on individual that we feel has driven the industry forward in a way that deserves notice and merit. While we fully understand that any innovative technical process takes an army of people and organisation to come to fruition some individuals stand out by their individual personality, ambassador qualities or their driving energy in an organisation leading to world class outputs.
This year\'s recipient hits all those targets and if you have ever read one of his breakdowns of a journalists work you know that he is not shy to speak his mind or clarify misinformation. Our winner has also being prolific in his writings and has pushed the thin film path since its beginnings.

Ken Zweibel has almost 30 years experience in solar photovoltaics. He was at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory ) much of that time and the program leader for the Thin Film PV Partnership Program until 2006. The Thin Film Partnership worked with most US participants in thin film PV (companies, universities, scientists) and is often credited with being important to the success of thin film PV in the US. Corporate participants in the Partnership included First Solar, UniSolar, Global Solar, Shell Solar, BP Solar, and numerous others. Zweibel subsequently cofounded and became President of a thin film CdTe PV start-up, PrimeStar Solar, a majority share of which was purchased by General Electric. Zweibel became the founding Director of The George Washington University Solar Institute at its formation in 2008.
Ken has seen the successes and failures in the thin film solar industry and knows that a crossroads has been reached. When asked why thin film has not expanded as planned he is happy to acknowledge that he has been surprised by crystalline success. Despite changing market conditions Ken has no doubt that thin film solar will continue to grow and be an important part of the industry. His continued support of this technology and industry will continue to be an enabling contribution.

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