The Solar PV Module Design project aims to design a solar PV module that lowers operating temperatures, increases power output and improves a system’s lifespan to further increase solar’s competitiveness.
The project brought together the established expertise in cell and module design at UNSW, with the materials scene and manufacturing expertise of partner 3M Ltd and innovators at Australian company 5B Pty Ltd. Models were developed that assessed several proposed technologies for module cooling including the addition of mechanical fins (Vortex Generators) on the backs of the modules, attachment of thermally conductive tape, and the texturing of glass surfaces. The leading approaches were the Vortex Generators and glass texturing. Vortex Generator technology could reduce the levelised cost of energy by 5 to 8% if implemented as an add-on during module manufacturing with a 2 to 3 degree celsius cooling benefit. Glass texturing technology could reduce the levelised cost of electricity by 3 to 15%. This technology can only be implemented when manufacturing PV modules. This project has led to the submission of patent applications on the module cooing technology.
Solar PV modules produce more power and last longer when they operate at lower temperatures. This project will investigate different module and mounting system designs that aim to lower the operating temperature of solar PV.
Operating temperature has a significant effect on both output power and the long-term durability of solar modules. A ten degree lower operating temperature in the field is projected to lead to a doubling in the module lifespan.
The project will include desktop studies of different module materials and module designs, focusing on enhanced convection and conduction losses and their interaction with the environment, mounting structures and field design.
The project combines the established expertise in cell and module design at UNSW with the materials science and manufacturing expertise of project partner 3M Company.
The project will assess multiple types of solar panel technologies and installations.
Lowering solar module operating temperatures in the field will increase the module lifespan. This in turn improves the overall investment prospects of the solar farm and results in more competitive solar pricing due to increased yield.
A key output will be prospective partnerships with module manufacturers and innovators, including project partner 5B Solar and solar farm developers with an interest in manufacturing and deployment tests of new designs. Success will see the delivery of cost-effective and innovative module designs to change to the way modules are manufactured or deployed.