Consortium led by ECN develops Scalable Shade Tolerant Module for solar PV systems

Friday April 8, 2016 12:39

Penetration of solar PV systems in the built environment is progressing rapidly in the past years. The two key challenges that need to be addressed to further enhance solar PV systems are the size availability and power losses due to irradiance mismatches from close obstructions such as dormers, chimneys etc. that cast shadows on the PV systems. The Scalable Shade Tolerant Module (SSTM) project, led by ECN, wants to resolve these problems.

The Scalable Shade Tolerant Module project aims to determine the feasibility of a Scalable Shade Tolerant Module design based on the criteria of manufacturability, industrialization, lifetime and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The project thereby contributes to the PV program line of the TKI Urban Energy, especially by lowering the LCOE of modules applied under non-optimal circumstances and so opening up new application possibilities.

A Dutch consortium, led by ECN, has decided to work together on these sustainable, high-performance modules that are shade-tolerant. The back-contact technology of ECN has now led to a breakthrough: TESSERA, a shade-tolerant module with unique back-contact technology. As opposed to a conventional solar panel, the contacts of a back-contact module are interconnected at the back of the cell. ECN developed the technology that optimises the performance in shade-sensitive conditions in combination with the intelligent converter developed by Heliox. The Tessera module therefore has a greater annual yield in KWh, which shortens the payback period. 

As said, ECN and Utrecht University are developing the TESSERA (prototyping) in this and SMART (proof-of-concept) module technologies. Other industrial partners are involved to industrialize and market the technologies, focusing on specific parts of the development. 

The project results in full feasibility of the TESSERA concept, including field testing of prototypes, as well as a proof-of-concept of the SMART module technology including lab tests. The field test will be installed at the SEAC facilities in TUe.The project is

The Scalable Shade Tolerant Module project aims to determine the feasibility of a Scalable Shade Tolerant Module design based on the criteria of manufacturability, industrialization, lifetime and levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The project thereby contributes to the PV program line of the TKI Urban Energy.

A Dutch consortium, led by ECN, has decided to work together on these sustainable, high-performance modules that are shade-tolerant. Two module concepts will be studied—ECN’s TESSERA concept (a shade-tolerant module with unique back-contact technology) and a SMART module, using a smart integrated circuit approach, developed by Utrecht University.

Contrary to a conventional solar panel, the contacts of a back-contact module are interconnected at the back of the cell. ECN developed the technology that optimises the performance in shade-sensitive conditions in combination with the intelligent converter developed by Heliox. The Tessera module therefore has a higher annual yield in KWh/Wp compared to standard modules, which shortens the payback period.

In the SSTM project, ECN and Utrecht University are further developing the TESSERA (prototyping) and SMART (proof-of-concept) module technologies. Other industrial partners are involved to industrialize and market the technologies, focusing on specific parts of the development. Rimas and Optixolar cooperate with Rofin and Eurotron to optimize cell cutting and handling of mini-cells. Solned develops flexible patterning of backsheets for the back contact module designs and collaborates with Expice to integrate diodes. NXP provides input on integrating IC’s in the SMART module. Heliox develops micro-inverters matching the designed modules. Stafier and Exasun are involved to determine manufacturability and market readiness/system integration of the modules.

The project results in full feasibility of the TESSERA concept, including field testing of prototypes, as well as a proof-of-concept of the SMART module technology including lab tests. The field test will be installed at the SEAC facilities at the Technical University of Eindhoven. The project is partially financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

More information
You can read more about TESSERA in the article 'From solar panel to shadow panel' on our website. If you are interested in using the Tessera modules, please contact ECN's Wouter van Strien.

Category: Corporate, Solar Energy