The Metallised Encapsulant for Silicon PV Modules project will develop an innovative module fabrication technology where conductors are directly electroformed in laser-structured encapsulant surfaces. The developed technology can increase module fabrication flexibility, with manufacturers able to purchase pre-fabricated metallised encapsulant for module lamination. The project aims to reducing the levelised cost of electricity of silicon photovoltaicsby: (i) using low-cost materials; (ii) increasing efficiency through elimination of cell busbars and introducing high aspect ratio conductors; and (iii) increasing module reliability by reducing stress induced through the use of interconnecting wires and ribbons.
How the project works
The Metallised Encapsulant for Silicon PV Modules project is a key initiative of researchers from the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering at UNSW Sydney and builds upon their knowledge of laser structuring, electrodeposition andoptical modelling. The technology will be developed in collaboration with PV ribbon manufacturer Sizhuo PV Tech, leading PV manufacturer LONGi Solar and PV materials provider DSM Advanced Surfaces (Netherlands), with the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and Australian National University (ANU) partnering on the optical modelling and laser structuring research.
Area of innovation
The innovation of this research lies in the development of a new method for interconnecting solar cells in modules that can make possible a new paradigm for silicon PV module manufacturing where
manufacturers can purchase pre-metallised encapulsant for module lamination. This process is radically different to existing methods that use tabbing or round wires and allows for high aspect ratio conductors that can increase the optical performance of the PV module.
Significant inroads have been made in the last 5 years to reduce solar cell manufacturing costs, however the interconnection of individual cells into encapsulated modules now comprises ~37% of the cost of total PV modules. This research program will develop a novel silicon PV module fabrication technology where conductors are directly electroformed in laser-structured encapsulant surfaces. The developed technology may also find applications in other fields which require polymers with embedded conductors. The project will also develop associated optical and stress modelling methods, that will have broader application to PV module fabrication and PV power prediction.