SHORTLIST 2012

Turnkey Supplier Award

Borrego Solar

Manz Automation AG

Gebr.Schmid Gmbh + Co

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PV Materials Enabling Award

Heraeus

SOL200 Series

Silver metallization pastes have become one of highest material cost parameters in c-Si solar cell fabrication due to the dependence on the core market price of silver (Ag). The need for both high-performance silver-based pastes for improved cell performance and cost-effective conducting materials is a critical requirement for PV manufacturers.

Heraeus develops front-side and backside pastes that lower the silver content per cell. Heraeus addresses the need to reduce that cost by producing silver pastes that allow for up to 40% reduction in silver usage. Heraeus SOL205S, the current product for the back-side, is produced using 52% silver content.

Heraeus' line of back-side pastes are especially formulated to provide high coverage for reduced usage on wafers. Heraeus continue to reduce the silver content of back-side pastes, while also maintaining excellent adhesion to the silicon cell. With Pb- and Cd-free material options, Heraeus’ back-side pastes offer excellent solderability in both leaded and lead-free solders. All back-side pastes are co-fireable with back-side Al and front-side Ag pastes.

Silver bullion prices have eased over the last nine months, as increased silver bullion production has resulted in an oversupply. Whether this is a permanent situation or not, Heraeus will continue in the direction of reducing the silver usage in cells.

The low laydown of the SOL200 series helps customers save money while maintaining good cell performance.

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Saint Gobain Solar

SolarBond® InFrame

SolarBond® InFrame is an intelligent, innovative and instant solution for solar module manufacturing. An advanced framing concept for automated PV assembly lines, it is a revolutionary material developed by Saint-Gobain Solar. It combines the best attributes of liquid silicone sealants and frame tapes to create a pumpable material with the immediate adhesion advantage of tape solutions. This technology provides a fast; clean application for a durable seal that ensures a high-quality solar module, all while minimizing the costs associated with waste and production inefficiencies.

SolarBond® InFrame helps manufacturer’s meets growing demand for solar modules while minimizing waste and related costs.

SolarBond® InFrame is applied warm in a continuous motion, ensuring both accuracy and high bonding strength immediately after contact with the glass, backsheet and frame. This eliminates the setting time needed for silicone products to cure by offering the instant adhesion of frame tapes coupled with a highly automated application process, shortening production cycles, reducing product waste and minimizing the associated production costs. Additionally, the precision application eliminates the cleaning labour and costs incurred by the runoff cause by silicone sealants. The foamed material fills the aluminium channel in the frame completely, even in the corners, eliminating the risk of water collecting in the frame as experienced with tape solutions. What results is a strong, long-term, weather-resistant bond for a durable final product. Used with Saint-Gobain Solar’s patented single-piece frame, it also reduces the number of corner keys required for framing the module, using just one instead of four as required for both, tapes and silicones, further reducing module costs.

SolarBond® InFrame is the only framing solution of its kind on the market today. It is the first of its kind to combine the pumpable application of liquid silicone with the instant adhesion of tapes in such a unique automated application.

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Solar Junction

SJ 3 Cell

Many multi-junction solar cell technologies are lattice mismatched and therefore have defects within the cell. Additional material is used to try and buffer the defects which results in stunted efficiency gains and reliability issues.

Solar Junction’s technology is lattice matched resulting in higher performance yield reliability and lower cost.

Solar Junction is the only company that has successfully produced III-V multi-junction solar cells using dilute nitrides reaching high-efficiencies. The material substrates used by the company allows for a tuneable and lattice-matched structure that has not been obtained by others.

Solar Junction’s cells incorporate the company’s proprietary adjustable spectrum lattice-matched A-SLAM™ technology which enables the company to more optimally partition the solar spectrum. This enables band gap tunability over the solar spectrum to maximize the absorbed sunlight within the CPV modules while enabling lattice-matched pathway to solar cell efficiencies beyond 50% within the decade. This technology leads to maximum efficiency and greater reliability. It is a sustainable technology that leads to a roadmap of continual efficiency gains and innovation without changing the fundamental structure of the cell which is not true for other multi-junction solar cell providers.

Solar Junction breaks with multi-junction innovations by continuing on a lattice-matched path leading to higher efficiencies and higher reliability. The cell structure maintains pure while other companies are using innovations that use different processes that do not maintain a lattice-matched structure. Solar Junction standard cell achieved 40.9% efficiency in January 2011 which was tested and verified by the National Energy Laboratory (NREL. The cells submitted where standard design production cells and manufactured entirely in-house on its production line in San Jose. CA. February 2011 Solar Junction reached 41.4% efficiency on a production cell again validated by NREL. The cell submitted for testing was also a standard commercial-ready production cell. It is significant because it was not a champion cell gain but a product that could be introduced straight into a customer’s line. In April 2011 Solar Junction broke the World Record in cell efficiency. At 43.5% efficiency Solar Junction has retained the world record for the past year and continues to strive to make additional technology improvements to reach higher efficiency percentages. The cell tested by NREL was once again a standard 5.5mm x 5.5mm production cell.

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Thin Film Innovation Award

Intermolecular Inc

HPC Workflow

High Productivity Combinatorial HPC™ Workflows Experimental data is the lifeblood of innovation. It is the only objective proof of whether new materials and device structures are ready to move into production and ultimately into the hands of consumer.

Traditional R&D is no longer cost-effective for today's leading-edge semiconductor and clean-energy devices. Such devices use nanometer-scale material structures with properties that depend on interactions with adjacent materials. Because these interactions cannot be predicted by theory extensive experimentation is required to prove what really works. To make matters even more complicated multiple device materials must be optimized simultaneously because traditional sequential experimentation cannot identify interdependencies that limit device function. As a result thousands of experiments are required to evaluate possible combinations – and each experiment must include processing characterization and analysis to obtain useful data. This is why the cost-benefit ratio of traditional R&D is becoming unsustainable – and why Intermolecular developed its High Productivity Combinatorial HPC™ R&D platform. By conducting dozens or hundreds of experiments in parallel and using advanced information technology to pinpoint the most promising results the HPC platform provides quick learning for our customers working in the semiconductor and clean-energy industries.

Applying HPC technology to rapid prototyping of complete PV devices dramatically speeds the pace of development for next generation low-cost high-efficiency solar cells and panels. CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide materials and their earth-abundant cousin CZTS copper zinc tin sulfur are both excellent examples of promising materials for clean energy. By applying HPC technology we can rapidly prototype integrated devices that employ these complex material systems – and dramatically speed the pace of development for low-cost/high-efficiency solar cells and panels.

HPC workflows turbocharge the experimental process with site-isolated parallel or rapid-serial processing of experimental materials. HPC characterization tools are throughput-matched and automated data analysis and reporting quickly sort through copious experimental data streams. Each workflow enables rapid and efficient exploration of the relevant process and integration space and produces the exact data types e.g. physical electrical needed to drive materials discovery and integration.

Every development program faces unique technical challenges. This is why Intermolecular's High Productivity Combinatorial (HPC™ workflows are customer-specific. These workflows typically combine: HPC and non-HPC process equipment Automatic characterization using HPC-enabled metrology tools fully optimized procedures and An Informatics data-management system with customized analytics. The workflows provide the capability to rapidly perform the necessary experiments measure and screen the results and manage and analyze the vast amount of data collected. By asking and answering only those questions that are absolutely necessary at each stage of development we help our customers move rapidly and cost-effectively towards a solution that meets their process or device requirements. This approach delivers exceptional competitive advantage by providing a robust production-worthy solution with significantly reduced development time costs and risk.

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SoloPower

CIGS Technology

SoloPower has re-imagined solar. Their lightweight and flexible solar technology provides design versatility that makes integration with a variety of applications conceivable — offering a powerful and aesthetic solution to meet the challenges of growing market demand.

In developing next-generation solar alternatives, a thinner profile is paramount. Here's why: the majority of solar cells in existence today are made from rigid multi- or single-crystalline silicon (Si) wafers. Typically 150 µm thick, the wafers demand multiple processing steps before they can be integrated into a module. On the contrary, thin-film solar cells utilize only a 1-4 µm-thick layer of semiconducting material to produce electricity, thus requiring less processing and fewer materials. These cost-saving alternatives also offer another important advantage as compared to wafer-based modules in that they can be used in a wide range of applications.

Thin-film solar cells employ lightweight, flexible substrates, making them ideal for advanced applications such as building-integrated photovoltaics. What's more, because of the lightweight form factor, the costs of balance-of-system (BOS) components (such as mounting hardware, wiring, inverters and other electronic hardware) are comparatively lower than other PV devices.

Dedicated to delivering the most competitive solar cell solutions, SoloPower targets the critical challenges of producing CIGS-based devices, which have the highest conversion efficiency among the family of thin-film PVs. Our proprietary approach embodies critical technology, manufacturing and cost advantages to enable large-scale, "fab-style" production.

SoloPower is advancing the work of "thin-film" photovoltaic pioneers, thereby enabling increased affordability and widespread product integration, integrating lightweight thin-film photovoltaic devices into buildings that have never before been able to utilize solar energy due to the considerable weight of traditional glass panels. Integrating solar modules into less predictable applications are becoming increasingly possible.

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The NSG Group

TCO thin-film coatings

Thin-film module manufacturers need to maximize module efficiency while maintaining performance guarantees that meet an expected 25-year lifetime and above. However, cost reduction requirements mean more economical coating solutions in high-volume applications are desired.

The NSG Group is a supplier of transparent conductive oxide (TCO) coated glass for thin-film photovoltaic applications. Its 'TEC' product range is a group of products, including a comprehensive range of TCO coated glass, optimized to suit a variety of thin-film photovoltaic technologies.

With different haze and conductivity levels, the product range is designed to offer flexibility in TCO coatings to thin-film module producers' individual requirements.

The TEC products offer a range of conductivity, morphology and haze requirements to help maximize module efficiency. The durable online pyrolitic coating gives the products a virtually unlimited shelf-life, making them easy to transport, store, handle and process, therefore reducing costs and lead times. The coated products are also resistant to high processing temperatures and can be fully tempered, toughened or heat strengthened without any damage to the coating, and without any drop in performance.

The multi-layer TCO coating stack offer robust sodium blocking properties, ensuring the module performance is unaffected by sodium migration from the glass superstrate.

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University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Low-Cost Polymer Solar Cells by Solution Processing

UCLA researchers have developed a new transparent solar cell that is an advance toward giving windows in homes and other buildings the ability to generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside.

The UCLA team describes a new kind of polymer solar cell (PSC) that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light, not visible light, making the cells nearly 70% transparent to the human eye. They made the device from a photoactive plastic that converts infrared light into an electrical current.

Polymer solar cells have attracted great attention due to their advantages over competing solar cell technologies. Scientists have also been intensely investigating PSCs for their potential in making unique advances for broader applications. Several such applications would be enabled by high-performance visibly transparent photovoltaic (PV) devices, including building-integrated photovoltaics and integrated PV chargers for portable electronics.

Previously, many attempts have been made toward demonstrating visibly transparent or semitransparent PSCs. However, these demonstrations often result in low visible light transparency and/or low device efficiency because suitable polymeric PV materials and efficient transparent conductors were not well deployed in device design and fabrication.

A team of UCLA researchers from the California NanoSystems Institute, the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and UCLA's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have demonstrated high-performance, solution-processed, visibly transparent polymer solar cells through the incorporation of near-infrared light-sensitive polymer and using silver nanowire composite films as the top transparent electrode. The near-infrared photoactive polymer absorbs more near-infrared light but is less sensitive to visible light, balancing solar cell performance and transparency in the visible wavelength region.

Another breakthrough is the transparent conductor made of a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which was able to replace the opaque metal electrode used in the past. This composite electrode also allows the solar cells to be fabricated economically by solution processing. With this combination, 4% power-conversion efficiency for solution-processed and visibly transparent polymer solar cells has been achieved.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Solar Tracking

UW-Madison engineering professor Hongrui Jiang looked to sunflowers to help find more efficient ways to harvest solar energy.

Unlike other "active" solar systems that track the sun's position with GPS and reposition panels with motors, electrical and computer engineering professor Hongrui Jiang's concept leverages the properties of unique materials in concert to create a passive method of re-orienting solar panels in the direction of the most direct sunlight.

His design employs a combination of liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE), which goes through a phase change and contracts in the presence of heat, with carbon nanotubes, which can absorb a wide range of light wavelengths. "Carbon nanotubes have a very wide range of absorption, visible light all the way to infrared," says Jiang. "That is something we can take advantage of, since it is possible to use sunlight to drive it directly."

Direct sunlight hits a mirror beneath the solar panel, focused onto one of multiple actuators composed of LCE laced with carbon nanotubes. The carbon nanotubes heat up as they absorb light, and the heat differential between the environment and inside the actuator causes the LCE to shrink.

This causes the entire assembly to bow in the direction of the strongest sunlight. As the sun moves across the sky, the actuators will cool and re-expand, and new ones will shrink, re-positioning the panel over the 180 degrees of sky that the sun covers in the course of the day. "The idea is that wherever the sun goes, it will follow," says Jiang.

In Jiang's tests, the system improved the efficiency of solar panels by 10 percent, an enormous increase considering material improvements in the solar panels themselves only net increases of a few percent on average. And a passive system means there are no motors and circuits to eat into increased energy harvest.

"The whole point of solar tracking is to increase the electricity output of the system," says Jiang.

The materials driving Jiang's design have only been available in the past few years, so for now, he and his team are researching ways to refine them for use driving larger solar panels, where the net energy gain from his system will be the greatest.

Eventually, Jiang hopes to see huge industrial solar farms where fields of photovoltaic solar panels shift effortlessly along with the sunflowers that inspired him.

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Energy Usage Enabling Award   

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ArrayPower Sequenced Inverter™

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The ArrayPower Sequenced Inverter is the first solar module-integrated DC-AC inverter designed for the commercial-scale market.

While a variety of inverters are available on the market at the central string and module levels a clear need has emerged for a module-integrated inverter with a feasible price point for commercial-scale solar electric systems – one of the fastest-growing sectors of the solar energy market around the world.

The Sequenced Inverter combines the performance of a micro-inverter at a price point on par with string inverters.

The Sequenced Inverter is the first to create the three-phase output required by commercial and industrial buildings ensuring the product meets both the performance and price needs of this market segment.

With the Sequenced Inverter ArrayPower offers a module-level inverter technology that encompasses all the system benefits of micro-inverters but is priced at the level of string inverters. The Sequenced Inverter is also the first module-level inverter to create three-phase output. Whereas residential and utility-scale solar systems utilize single-phase power three-phase power is required for commercial-scale solar installations. To implement a single-phase product on a commercial-scale system would require additional equipment and consequently additional cost to the end-user.

Sequenced Inverters are designed for integration into a solar module during the module manufacturing process. While micro-inverters can be affixed to the frame of a module ArrayPower works closely with module manufacturers to optimize the two technologies and allow for product combination in the form of a grid-ready AC module. This integration eliminates the need for previously standard components including the junction box facilitating cost reduction during the production process.

ArrayPower also teamed with Phoenix Contact to design a simple cable harness and three-pronged plug to connect each module resulting in a “plug and play” AC module. Not only does this method of connection increase worker safety by eliminating exposed wiring it also reduces the amount of time and capital required for system installation. Units can be easily replaced if needed equaling cost savings during any maintenance routines over the lifetime of a solar electric system.

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Locus Energy LLC

Virtual Irradiance

Virtual Irradiance provides highly accurate solar irradiance data in real‑time without the need for expensive on‑site hardware. Data is available in 30‑minute intervals at a 1 km resolution throughout continental North America and the

In order to fully understand the performance of a solar power project it is necessary to collect information on the amount of solar irradiance that was available to the project. Larger solar power systems often collect irradiance data in the field using costly specialized instrumentation such as a pyranometer or reference cell. These irradiance measurement devices are expensive and are often cost prohibitive to deploy for residential or light commercial systems. As with any physical hardware these sensors can break or experience downtime and require maintenance to remain properly calibrated. Wide-scale deployments of hardware magnify the problems and costs mentioned.

Virtual Irradiance alleviates the need for physical instrumentation to measure solar irradiance at residential or light commercial sites and compliments the physical sensor data at larger sites by providing high‑accuracy solar irradiance estimates remotely. Virtual Irradiance estimates solar irradiance in real-time at a 30‑minute time interval. Leveraging Locus Energy’s archives of solar production and environmental conditions data Virtual Irradiance can retroactively create a historical record of solar irradiance estimates.

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SolarBridge Technologies

SolarBridge Pantheon II integrated microinverter,

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The SolarBridge Pantheon microinverter addresses a critical problem in distributed PV: the cost of solar adoption is still too high. A key targeted area for potential efficiency gains is the central inverter typically the weakest link in terms of system reliability.

SolarBridge Technologies has developed a microinverter and PV management system that is changing the economics of solar. The SolarBridge PantheonTM microinverter is factory-installed and mounted directly on the solar panel to create a “roof-ready” AC module. Power conversion takes place directly on each module rather than through the central or string inverter.

Designed for reliability SolarBridge microinverters are backed by the industry’s first 25-year warranty enabling module manufacturers to offer the maximum end-to-end warranty on their modules. This directly reduces operating costs and system downtime by eliminating the need to replace inverters.

SolarBridge Technologies has changed the game for solar module manufacturers and installers with its innovative revenue-enhancing solution that makes solar more cost-efficient more reliable and easier to install than ever before. The SolarBridge AC Module System enables virtually any homeowner or business to go solar.

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Power Management for PV Plants

In Germany there are over 600 grid companies and each grid company uses a different technology to control the pv-plant. Solar-Log has to offer a universal method to fulfil nearly all requirements. Another important thing is that at some location the grid is on the limit and no additional PV plants can be connected. Solar-Log is able to limit the power that is fed in with consideration of self consumption. So the plant owner can build a larger plant than allowed and still feed in the maximum allowed power.

Solar-Log has implemented different interfaces to get the commands of the grid company and can control the inverters of which protocols for power management has been implemented. By measuring the voltage e.g. on the 20.000 V side solar-log can control the reactive power based on characteristic curve of the grid company. Finally for self consumption solar-log is measuring the power consumption and reduces this from the produce power based on the difference Solar-Log is permanently control the power of the inverter.

A standard monitoring device has changed to a complete control unit. We are the only company that can fulfil even the most complicated requirements of grid companies. No other monitoring company is able to considering self consumption.

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PV Tool Award


Apollo

DEK Solar is a global provider of screen printing equipment and processes for fuel cell and solar cell manufacture. Apollo - a next-generation integrated cell manufacturing metallization platform is DEK Solar’s latest offering.

Apollo was designed with one primary goal – helping companies in the solar industry to create a more cost effective production line. Two major challenges that Apollo addresses are alignment accuracy and hardware footprint. Alignment Accuracy – Printer alignment accuracy becomes a critical factor with the introduction of newer metallization strategies like Print-on-Print and Selective Emitter. These technologies require that the printed metallization grid is perfectly aligned to previously defined features on the wafer. Hardware Footprint – In the drive to reduce solar cell manufacturing costs a metallization lines throughput and footprint are two important considerations.

Apollo boasts market leading accuracy increased capability and advanced features and allows DEK Solar to now offer a comprehensive portfolio of metallization platforms for the complete spectrum of PV customers from entry level start up through to the multi-national cell makers. Alignment Accuracy – The Apollo platform offers ±10 micron accuracy @ 2 Cpk capability and advanced automated features to deliver repeatability and accuracy. Hardware Footprint – The Apollo platform offers high performance in an industry leading small footprint single configuration line. Offering exceptional productivity per meter of floor space the Apollo platform sets the standard in throughput and flexibility.

Apollo’s advanced automated features optimise accuracy for Print-on-Print and Selective Emitter processes and offer customers repeatability. An innovative in process wafer alignment system has been designed specifically for the selective emitter print-on-print and metal wrap through process which delivers exceptional alignment accuracy and makes these next generation technologies practical. The state of the art print engine design delivers the highest level of print quality through use of its unique closed loop control system and paste delivery systems. Print results are controlled through an SPC software suite for optimal performance

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GXS dry pump

The GXS dry pump from Edwards provides customers with lower operating costs for the creation of mono-crystalline of ingots in Czochralski (CZ crystal pullers through reduced vibration. It also is compatible with argon recycling schemes because of high int

The GXS dry pump provides for reduced cost of ownership in a compact package with advanced control features to help ingot growing customers remain cost-competitive in a rapidly changing industry. The ability to control the pump suction provides headroom for process development for advanced crystal growth.

The pump is designed to rotate at a high speeds to avoid creating mechanical resonances between the pump the inlet piping and the crystal puller. This can lead to a reduced number of re-melts within the furnace. The performance results are what distinguish this product from others. The gains in operational efficiency and reduced maintenance requirements help customers lower their manufacturing costs of silicon ingots.

The GXS dry pump is a combination of a dry pump and mechanical booster pump in a single package. Precision engineering and high quality materials of manufacture are used to deliver a pump with fast rotational speeds and low mechanical vibration. It is incredibly compact with high pumping speed that can be positioned close to the crystal puller. Sophisticated on-board electronics provide advanced control features and internal monitoring to ensure high up-time and minimal energy use. Ethernet and serial interface ports enable interfacing to central monitoring systems to help plan maintenance and monitor performance to ensure high factory operational efficiency.

Although many customers have moved from using oil-sealed rotary or piston pumps to dry pumps there are a large number of users that have yet to experience the benefits a dry pump brings to crystal growing. Not all dry pumps are alike. But the Edwards GXS pump has proven itself as a reliable work-horse for crystal growing with previously unseen advantages in ingot manufacturing. With advanced intelligence and monitoring capability users are able to move to an advanced level of manufacturing previously not achievable by using a generic pump without such control capabilities.

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DragonBack™

Today’s major challenge in PV is to reach grid parity. In order to achieve that goal efforts are made on the cell/module efficiency on one hand and on the TCO (total cost of ownership on the other hand. New-generation PV materials exhibiting higher efficiencies jointly reveals highly capacitive effect that disturbs their performance measurement by conventional method. Such solar cells/modules require new solution for accurately determining their electrical performance in production environments. The DragonBack™ method introduced by Pasan is the solution for efficiently determining the performance of highly efficient modules with economical and high quality pulsed light source.

The DragonBack™ measurement method is the solution for the final power measurement of production of highly-efficient modules. It is used in conjunction with standard Pasan HighLIGHT pulsed solar simulator enabling accurate measurement within one flash at high tact-time while keeping low TCO. Technically the DragonBack™ measurement method is a dynamic sweeping methodology. Instead of applying a continuously increasing voltage ramp the DragonBack™ works by steps during which the module response is stabilized thanks to an adapted overshoot. It consequently diminishes the stabilization time and accurate values forming the current-voltage curve can be measured during a short illumination period (10 ms.

The DragonBack™ measurement method gives an answer to modules producer looking for reliable accurate and cost-effective solution for the measurement of advanced PV technologies. The noteworthy aspect of the DragonBack™ method is the combination of a highly accurate and highly repeatable measurement process for HiCap modules with industry requirements including tact-time low TCO and easiness of use. Up to now the various proposed approaches for testing such material never includes and solved both aspects of measurement accuracy and cost of the solution. From a technical point of view such dynamic sweeping method was never applied to solar cells or modules before Pasan developped it together with the Swiss university and PV reference laboratory SUPSI within a research project funded by Swiss Confederation. It is the only approach which solves the dynamic problem induced by the new high performance technologies through an adapted measurement process.

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NanoFocus, Inc.

µsurf solar

µsurf solar is a high precision optical measurement solution for the board range of solar applications in laboratory and production. Its flexibility allows all measurement tasks to be performed with nanometre accuracy using the confocal technology. This evolution delivers stability of data

As a business solution, the µsurf solar is adapted to the requirements of solar industry from hard- to software. The positioning tables are available up to the metre range which is required to measure whole solar modules. A vacuum chuck with a bearing area of 210x210mm2 guarantees the safe fixture of the solar cell while moving the stages without damaging it.

µsurf solar by NanoFocus enables non-destructive analyses without preparation of the samples. For the 3D inspection system, it doesn't matter if the surfaces possess etched structures or an anti-reflective coating. Also for samples with awkward characteristics such as steep slopes, complex geometries and structures in the nanometre range, µsurf solar delivers exact and repeatable 3D measurement data within a few seconds.

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Silicon Innovation Award

AEG Power Solutions

Thyrobox™ PI

For over 60 years, AEG Power Solutions has been a worldwide supplier of industrial AC and DC power supply systems.

AEG Power Solutions (AEG PS) Thyrobox™ PI power system sets efficiency standards in polysilicon production.

Using proprietary technology developed by AEG PS, the Thyrobox™ PI allows manufacturers of polysilicon, to increase the production output of their existing polysilicon reactors by 10% to 20%, depending on reactor configuration and process condition.

Polysilicon is the base material used in the manufacturing of solar cells. With decreasing polysilicon prices, manufactures are under ever increasing pressure to lower operational manufacturing costs. Thyrobox™ PI can easily be added to existing AEG Power Solutions Thyrobox power systems. That way it allows for permanently lowered operational costs with minimal investment as no new or additional deposition reactors are needed. In addition to increased polysilicon productivity the Thyrobox™ PI reduces internal thermal stresses thus preventing rod cracks, allows for more uniform growth, improves rod joint bridge shaping and minimizes hot spots.

The vision is to deliver sustained value to customers by lowering the cost of PV manufacturing.

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MEI LLC

FlashDry Polysilcion and Material Drying

MEI’s FlashDry is a unique patent-pending rapid drying process that is capable of drying all form factors of semiconductor solar and metal grade polysilicon in minutes with significantly less energy use less material damage and complete drying. 

Flash Dry solves a vexing problem for materials processing how to completely dry polysilicon without wasting energy time and creating additional contaminants. Extremely fine form factors of poysilicon such as slurries muds sands and fines have been considered nearly impossible to dry on a production basis. Lab methods such as heated trays ovens and vacuum chambers where time-to-dry is irrelevant can’t compete on a production basis. FlashDry is more than ten times faster than these archaic methods when used on polysilicon muds sands and fines. It can even dry polysilicon slabs placed face-to-face where the surface to be dried is completely occluded.

FlashDry is a product based on a unique process model. This model allows the FlashDry process to remove the optimum amount of water through a mechanical coalescence process followed by a vacuum evaporation process. By using MEI’s unique process model FlashDry is able to completely remove all of the water present in a variety of form factors of polysilicon from chunks and slabs to muds and fines in the shortest possible time.

In any evaporative drying process typically 85% of the energy input is used to overcome the latent heat of evaporation of water. Since FlashDry is a non-evaporative process it uses only 10-20% of the energy used by evaporative processes and is ten times faster. Since FlashDry can dry polysilicon fines and slurries not dryable by other production-scale means it allows for the wet chemical processing cleaning and purification of these same fines and slurries. At least two major polysilicon manufacturers had given up after spending years trying to develop such a unique process capability without success MEI is the first to achieve this breakthrough in technology.

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Aegis® Wafer for Silicon Photovoltaic Products

Aegis® Wafer is designed to meet the strong desire of a cost-effective solution at the solar cell industry simultaneously driving high performance and low cost (e.g. loss. In particular ultra-high fracture strength for low loss without hampering the conversion efficiency has topped the desired technology list of the PV community.

SAS invented nano-texturing technology to extensively enhance the fracture strength on the fourth generation of SAS high efficiency A-series wafers. High PV conversion efficiency is achieved by ultra-low bulk defect density while ultra-high fracture strength is enabled using nano-texturing shielding surface defects from crack propagation. The Aegis® Wafer perfectly arranges both surface and bulk effects of silicon for the best interest of customers.

The SAS Aegis® Wafer is designed for highly strengthening multi-crystalline silicon substrates combined with impressive efficiency improvement. The Aegis® Wafer technology platform is combined with SAS A-series silicon growth technology of high cell conversion efficiency and nano-texturing technology. By nano-texturing technology the Aegis® Wafer is enhanced dramatically by over 200 % than conventional multi-crystalline wafer. Accordingly the greatest reduction of in-line fracture loss by over 75 % is undoubtedly instrumental in manufacture loss and provides customer user-friendly thinner wafer solution. Furthermore the Aegis® Wafer possesses cost-effective high throughput and its feasibility of batch production to achieve lower manufacturing cost with more than 80 % and energy consumption reduction with more than 50 %.

The SAS Aegis® Wafer has excellent efficiency performance on a global scale to advance two-steps ahead on the dramatic high efficiency photovoltaic market by SAS A-series silicon growth technology. The Aegis® Wafer achieves over 18 % median PV conversion efficiency by more than 1 % enhancement and raises product value premium by more than 20 %. The Aegis® Wafer meets customer’s requirements by the greatest gains in efficiency of solar power and cost-effective solution making it more competitive with other means of electricity generation.

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PV Process Improvement Award


Sikasil® AS-780

The Sikasil® AS-780 is a high performing two component Silicone designed for in-process bonding of backrails or other mounting devices to PV modules and CSP mirrors. This product is unique compared with other bonding technologies in the market. It combines the exceptional long term performance of a structural Silicone used in the façade industry with the process ability of a high tack and high initial green-strength adhesive. This product follows the demand for cost and material savings simplified production processes and secured long term performances to reduce the overall PV system costs. To reduce these overall costs the industry looks more and more into alternative fixation solutions like backrail or mounting interfaces.

So far there was no technology available which meets both the process ability and the desired long term performance. But to assure a well performing solar system in production and in the field both characteristics are required. On one hand there are existing tape solutions which enable a fast processing and handling but the long term performance and needed tolerance compensation is very limited. On the other hand the long term durability can be provided by Silicone technologies but they are very limited in the process as they need pre-fixation devices and/or larger buffer zones for curing.

Due to the high initial green-strength of the Sikasil® AS-780 the bonding application can be integrated into the production lines with a fast handling afterwards. Therefore no large buffer zones for curing or pre-fixation devices are required anymore. Next to this with the pasty-like consistence and geometry of bead application the tolerances between the modules or mirrors and the mounting device can be easily compensated. The long term durability is assured with this Silicone technology which meets the requirements of the most severe standard for structural bonding in facades the EOTA ETAG 002.

Until now there has been no adhesive or bonding technology available which meets all this demands in one. With the Sikasil® AS-780 Sika AG has developed a world innovation in structural in-process bonding technology. This new Silicone technology is way of standard Silicones if it comes to initial green-strength and strength development combined with a structural bonding performance of the cured material.

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DriTech Dryer

Despatch’s innovative DriTech is a revolutionary new dryer for advanced drying of all metallization pastes.  The new dryer utilizes hybrid heating technology which enables decoupling solvent and binder burnoff in the solar cell metallization process.  The environmentally friendly tool includes Despatch’s integral point-of-generation VOC Thermal Oxidizer, providing maintenance free VOC abatement.  This critical component is fundamental to Despatch’s back end of line thermal solution which ensures consistent drying efficiency in addition to low facility and tool contamination at each process step.

Historically drying has been an undervalued process step in solar cell metallization.  Little attention has been paid to the science of drying and what conditions are necessary for effective, efficient and repeatable drying as well as VOC management and separation of solvent and binder removal.

Most cell manufacturers understand the negative effects of inconsistent peak firing, but few are aware that the root cause can be traced back to incomplete drying. Drying deficiency and inconsistency in production environments have led to inconsistent firing and lower overall yields.

Additionally, a growing complexity and diversity in paste drove requirements for a more robust drying solution.

The DriTech’s hybrid heating technology enables the tailoring of the thermal profile to the specific paste.  Harmonized infrared heating and the innovative application of airflow create the conditions pastes need for efficient, repeatable drying and release of solvents where they can be captured and eliminated. Temperature, airflow and integrated point of generation abatement in the dryer all play critical roles in VOC evolution without overheating the paste, managing the volatile’s without smoke, fumes and condensation, and efficient and repeatable drying at fast belt speeds.

There is no dryer available today that comprehensively addresses the drying process in a way that effectively decouples it from the co firing  process and eliminates VOC contamination and personnel exposure.  Where competing drying technologies have proven deficient, the DriTech has demonstrated efficient and repeatable drying that is so critical to a stable furnace environment and consistent peak-firing temperatures.

The integrated VOC Oxidizer has set the standard for VOC abatement using point-of-generation incineration technologies that do not pollute the fab or the environment.   Safe and efficient destruction of  VOCs eliminates the need for handling and disposal of hazardous by-products. The concept of green products producing green products is fully realized in the DriTech, which offers a fab and environmentally friendly solution to drying technology. 

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LayTec in-line GmbH

X Link in-line metrology system.

LayTec has developed an in-line device for monitoring the degree of cross-linking in EVA laminates in close cooperation with Fraunhofer USA. The method is based on the measurement of physical properties associated with the level of cross-linking.

Benefits:

  • eliminate scrapping of laminates
  • easy integration in existing lines
  • 2D product quality control
  • process control of lamination
  • multi-point measurement capability
  • sturdy design for industrial application

The in-line version is based on highly robust industrial grade embedded system protocols and can be directly connected to production systems and SPC databases by a large variety of protocols along with clear user visualization for quick on-line inspection.

The lamination process is the most critical production step of module manufacturing. Currently a major issue why modules fail in the field is due to bad EVA cross-linking caused by difficulties during the vacuum lamination process itself or unstable EVA foil materials.

This system replaces the common and coarse gel content test. The LayTec X Link system ensures a perfect lamination process which is critical to high-quality modules as cross-linking quality and uniformity impact is essential in terms of quality over time.

It analyses the response of the laminated EVA back sheet combination. Placed directly after the laminator, the tool gives direct feedback to the lamination process for the adjustment of heating zones and exposure times. LayTec X Link improves lamination yield by real-time control and gives a detailed proof of the long-term stability of PV modules thereby increasing bankability.

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Logo Levitech
The Levitrack™ ALD system

The Levitrack ™ ALD system is based on the novel concept of precursor separation in space, instead of by time, in combination with the unique floating wafer and conductive heating technology used in the Levitor RTP products.

Recently scientific studies by institutes and Si-based cell makers demonstrated that Aluminum Oxide ALD films have excellent passivation potential for both P-type and N-type solar cells partially because of the negative charges that are present in these films. However the cyclical nature of traditional ALD systems have relatively low growth rates and high gas usage which makes it difficult to achieve the throughput numbers and cost-of-ownership requirements required by solar cell manufacturing environments.

Conventional technologies use time to separate the reactive gasses (a.k.a. precursors in the chamber the Levitrack™ uses separation in space. In the Levitrack™  the solar wafers will travel at high speed through repeating series of gas zones -ALD cells. These cells are designed such that in the no reaction of precursors takes place inside the system other than on the wafer surface. Other contributing factors are operation under atmospheric conditions (no vacuum chambers load locks or pumps easy automation (no carriers the lack of moving parts (except wafers and the ability to operate without deposition on the walls eliminating the need for periodic cleaning.

With this unique “space separation” ALD technology the Levitrack™  closes the gap between the low deposition rates of traditional “time separation” ALD processes and the demands for high throughput and low cost-of-ownership in solar cell manufacturing. The Levitrack™  can deposit films efficiently and effectively. This is crucial for integration of Aluminium Oxide films in solar cell designs and enabling cells with higher efficiency to become available for the mass and to clear the way to and beyond grid parity.

levitrack m

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System Integration Award

ArrayPower

Sequenced Inverter

The solar inverter market is split into three primary categories each defined by size: Central inverters which connect hundreds of solar modules string inverters connecting 10-14 modules and micro-inverters which are connected to 1-2 modules. Central and string inverters are generally the cheapest option in terms of upfront cost but are also the most common point of failure in a solar system leading to costly replacements over the lifespan of a solar installation. Micro-inverters are typically viewed as the most reliable of the three options and provide other system benefits like improved energy harvest ease of installation and module-level monitoring. This makes the technology attractive for commercial-scale installations but the high cost associated with micro-inverters makes the products impractical beyond the residential system level.

Sequenced Inverters offer the benefits of other module-level inverters including Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT anti-islanding protection and smart system monitoring through a communications gateway). However where as competing technologies allocate the DC-AC conversion process to a single unit; ArrayPower designed the Sequenced Inverter to distribute conversion across a system. Each Sequenced Inverter converts DC power from the associated PV module to an output of high frequency pulses phase synchronized to the utility grid voltage. Each Sequenced Inverter operates at a deliberate phase offset relative to its neighbouring inverters and contributes a series of grid synchronized current pulses to the branch circuit summing together and delivering high quality three-phase 208VLL power. This architecture results in reduction of required energy storage and eliminates complex low frequency grid-tracking output filters enabling the elimination of short lifetime components found in traditional inverter designs. The design of the Sequenced Inverter is such that it does away with liquid capacitors seen in other technologies enhancing reliability and ensuring the inverters will perform as long as the rest of the solar system. Additionally the Sequenced Inverter is compatible with grids that operate at either 50 Hz or 60 Hz which gives the technology a distinct advantage over other solar inverter products when entering non-North American or dual-grid markets such as Japan where grids operate at both 50 Hz and 60 Hz.

With the Sequenced Inverter, ArrayPower for the first time offers a module-level inverter technology that encompasses all the system benefits of micro-inverters but is priced at the level of string inverters. The Sequenced Inverter is also the first module-level inverter to create three-phase output. Whereas residential and utility-scale solar systems utilize single-phase power three-phase power is required for commercial-scale solar installations. To implement a single-phase product on a commercial-scale system would require additional equipment and consequently additional cost to the end-user. Sequenced Inverters are designed for integration into a solar module during the module manufacturing process. While micro-inverters can be affixed to the frame of a module ArrayPower works closely with module manufacturers to optimize the two technologies and allow for product combination in the form of a grid-ready AC module. This integration eliminates the need for previously standard components including the junction box facilitating cost reduction during the production process. ArrayPower also teamed with Phoenix Contact to design a simple cable harness and three-pronged plug to connect each module resulting in a “plug and play” AC module. Not only does this method of connection increase worker safety by eliminating exposed wiring, it also reduces the amount of time and capital required for system installation. Units can be easily replaced if needed equalling cost savings during any maintenance routines over the lifetime of a solar electric system.                   

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Molex Inc

SolarSpec™ Smart Junction Box

Molex Incorporated’s SolarSpec™ Smart Junction Box is making it easy for manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to provide their products with module-embedded safety and monitoring functions, as well as convenient, safe and dependable connection facilities.

The modular concept allows maximum flexibility and easy upgrade of PV-panel functionality, since the electronic PCB always resides in the removable Junction Box cover,

This smarter system not only facilitates lean solar manufacturing processes on a manual or automated assembly line, but also ensures easy access to key components should repair or replacement is ever required.

The Smart Junction Box is based on the original two-part SolarSpec™ Junction Box from Molex featuring a base attached directly to the solar PV panel and a removable cover assembly. Functionalities include system safety, shut-off and arc detection, security monitoring and theft protection, performance tracking on output levels and panel efficiencies, remote diagnostics and power optimization.

SolarSpec Junction Boxes can be supplied with optional Solder Charge™ technology for use in conjunction with high-speed assembly processes that provide consistent quality for every termination. A locking mechanism requiring a specialized tool to release secures the top cover to the base, providing total protection against accidental contact with live parts.    

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Power Management for PV Plants

In Germany there are over 600 grid companies and each grid company uses a different technology to control the pv-plant. Solar-Log has to offer a universal method to fulfil nearly all requirements. Another important thing is that at some location the grid is on the limit and no additional PV plants can be connected. Solar-Log is able to limit the power that is fed in with consideration of self consumption. So the plant owner can build a larger plant than allowed and still feed in the maximum allowed power.

Solar-Log has implemented different interfaces to get the commands of the grid company and can control the inverters of which protocols for power management has been implemented. By measuring the voltage e.g. on the 20.000 V side solar-log can control the reactive power based on characteristic curve of the grid company. Finally for self consumption solar-log is measuring the power consumption and reduces this from the produce power, based on the difference, Solar-Log is permanently in control of the power of the inverter.

A standard monitoring device has changed to a complete control unit. We are the only company that can fulfil even the most complicated requirements of grid companies. No other monitoring company is able to considering self consumption.

Solar-Log has added some standard interfaces to be able to receive the commands of a ripple control receiver or a more complicated receiver.. By this the grid company can give commands to the pv plants via the Solar-Log to reduce the power. Some grid companies also require a feedback of the actual power. This can be also realized with Solar-Log. By using provided characteristic curves for reactive power based on voltage in the grid Solar-Log can also control reactive power. Finally Solar-Log can measure the self consumption and limit the power that is fed in at the grid side.

The new thing is that a PV monitoring device has changed to a complete control device including feedback control system and control based on self consumption.

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Yamaichi Electronics

‘Eco-Si’ Junction Box

Yamaichi Electronics cost-effective ‘Eco-Si’ junction box uses hermetic sealed over-moulding technology to provide greater sealing and long-life, even in extreme conditions.

Crystalline solar modules are widespread and increasingly more cost-effective to manufacture requiring lower cost components to take advantage of module manufacturing price declines.  To reduce the costs for module production, fully automated production lines are increasingly in use. The Eco-Si junction box permits simple automation techniques using guide rails and large areas for transport by suction through a robot arm. However, continued advancements in junction box operating lifetime are required

The Eco-Si junction box is the first junction box for photovoltaic modules with an IP protection class of IP68. This permits the safe operation of the solar module even under the harshest of conditions. This high protection class was achieved by the consistent use of the hermetic sealed technology. With this technology, the junction box is not composed of individual ‘failing parts.’ Instead, the cables and electronic of the junction box are over-moulded in a single highly efficient work step. This over-moulding process gives the junction box its shape and ensures absolute freedom from leaks. The Eco-Si is also designed for system voltages of 1500V, allowing higher voltages for future standards requirements.

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PV Balance of System Award

ArrayPower

Sequenced Inverter

The solar inverter market is split into three primary categories each defined by size: Central inverters which connect hundreds of solar modules string inverters connecting 10-14 modules and micro-inverters which are connected to 1-2 modules. Central and string inverters are generally the cheapest option in terms of upfront cost but are also the most common point of failure in a solar system leading to costly replacements over the lifespan of a solar installation. Micro-inverters are typically viewed as the most reliable of the three options and provide other system benefits like improved energy harvest ease of installation and module-level monitoring. This makes the technology attractive for commercial-scale installations but the high cost associated with micro-inverters makes the products impractical beyond the residential system level.

Sequenced Inverters offer the benefits of other module-level inverters including Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT anti-islanding protection and smart system monitoring through a communications gateway. However whereas competing technologies allocate the DC-AC conversion process to a single unit ArrayPower designed the Sequenced Inverter to distribute conversion across a system. Each Sequenced Inverter converts DC power from the associated PV module to an output of high frequency pulses phase synchronized to the utility grid voltage. Each Sequenced Inverter operates at a deliberate phase offset relative to its neighbouring inverters and contributes a series of grid synchronized current pulses to the branch circuit summing together and delivering high quality three-phase 208VLL power. This architecture results in reduction of required energy storage and eliminates complex low frequency grid-tracking output filters enabling the elimination of short lifetime components found in traditional inverter designs. The design of the Sequenced Inverter is such that it does away with liquid capacitors seen in other technologies enhancing reliability and ensuring the inverters will perform as long as the rest of the solar system. Additionally the Sequenced Inverter is compatible with grids that operate at either 50 Hz or 60 Hz which gives the technology a distinct advantage over other solar inverter products when entering non-North American or dual-grid markets such as Japan where grids operate at both 50 Hz and 60 Hz.

With the Sequenced Inverter ArrayPower for the first time offers a module-level inverter technology that encompasses all the system benefits of micro-inverters but is priced at the level of string inverters. The Sequenced Inverter is also the first module-level inverter to create three-phase output. Whereas residential and utility-scale solar systems utilize single-phase power three-phase power is required for commercial-scale solar installations. To implement a single-phase product on a commercial-scale system would require additional equipment and consequently additional cost to the end-user. Sequenced Inverters are designed for integration into a solar module during the module manufacturing process. While micro-inverters can be affixed to the frame of a module ArrayPower works closely with module manufacturers to optimize the two technologies and allow for product combination in the form of a grid-ready AC module. This integration eliminates the need for previously standard components including the junction box facilitating cost reduction during the production process. ArrayPower also teamed with Phoenix Contact to design a simple cable harness and three-pronged plug to connect each module resulting in a “plug and play” AC module. Not only does this method of connection increase worker safety by eliminating exposed wiring it also reduces the amount of time and capital required for system installation. Units can be easily replaced if needed equalling cost savings during any maintenance routines over the lifetime of a solar electric system.

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Esmolo
 
MPS ProtectionBox™

Esmolo Ltd, the Swiss based company has solved one of the most discussed problems of the photovoltaic industry and reacts to the urgent demand of fire fighting associations around the world.

Esmolo MPS ProtectionBox™ Esmolo Ltd. brings a new generation of intelligent junction boxes to protect photovoltaic modules. The extensive Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) protects photovoltaic modules against fire, overvoltage and lightning and against theft.

In case of fire, photovoltaic installations continue to produce dangerous voltage levels and can not be shut down easily. This is a danger for owners and fire fighters in case of fire.

After different accidents involving fire fighters, the German Firefighting Association (DFV) urged the photovoltaic industry to offer technical solutions for safe fire fighting.

Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) is an innovative electronic protection system for pv modules offering a solution to the problem of the life-threatening electric shocks fire fighters could be exposed to.

Compared to other solutions of different providers, Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) does not cut the connection between modules and inverter – whereby parts of the installation still continue to produce dangerous voltage – the module itself is short-circuited. Furthermore the system does not need to be switched off manually, it works automatically and inverter independent on the module-level – and therefore much more effective.

The electronics of the Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) is embedded in the junction box of the photovoltaic module and thanks to sensors; the system identifies itself if a fire occurs. In this case the module will be immediately short-circuited and other modules of the installation will be informed by radio signal without any delay. By transmitting the signal to the other modules, the whole installation is shut down immediately – like in a domino effect. In addition the shutdown procedure can also be activated manually by pressing an emergency button.

Overvoltage and lightning protection

In addition to fire protection, Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) also offers the protection of bypass diodes and cells in case of overvoltage and lightning. According to test results the system was still working properly after induced peak currents even up to 720A at a peak lightning current at 44kA. Without Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) such levels would definitively damage the module.

Protection against theft

Another increasing problem is theft of photovoltaic modules. Because a stolen photovoltaic module equipped with Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS) cannot be reused in a new

place of installation, it becomes unusable and therefore useless for a thief. A reactivation can only be done by the owner of the module.

According to Esmolo, 50% of all potential damages can be avoided by equipping modules with Esmolo Module Protection System (MPS).  As 50% of all damages are caused by fire, overvoltage, lightning and theft, all these damages could be avoided by a simple and economic protection system and there with protect the investment of the installation as well as the involved persons.

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SolarBridge

The SolarBridge Pantheon™ microinverter

The SolarBridge Pantheon™ microinverter addresses a critical problem in distributed PV: the cost of solar adoption is still too high. A key targeted area for potential efficiency gains is the central inverter typically the weakest link in terms of system reliability.

SolarBridge Technologies has developed a microinverter and PV management system that is changing the economics of solar. The SolarBridge PantheonTM microinverter is factory-installed and mounted directly on the solar panel to create a “roof-ready” AC module. Power conversion takes place directly on each module rather than through the central or string inverter. Designed for reliability, SolarBridge microinverters are backed a 25-year warranty enabling module manufacturers to offer the maximum end-to-end warranty on their modules. This directly reduces operating costs and system downtime by eliminating the need to replace inverters.

SolarBridge Technologies has changed the game for solar module manufacturers and installers with its innovative revenue-enhancing solution that makes solar more cost-efficient more reliable and easier to install than ever before. The SolarBridge AC Module System enables virtually any homeowner or business to go solar. The SolarBridge PantheonTM microinverter makes this possible.

Featuring a highly reliable patented architecture the Pantheon arrives at a job site already installed on every PV module. Combined with 24/7 module-level monitoring and a web-based management system the SolarBridge AC Module System is a reliable solution on the market.

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Industry Development

DUNMORE Corporation

SmoothStart

DUNMORE Corporation's SmoothStart program is an engineering service offered by the company through purcheses of DUNMORE's high-performance engineered film / foil products. The program places one of DUNMORE's engineers on the customer's production floor at no additional cost. The DUNMORE engineer supplements the customer's in-house engineering expertise, contributing knowledge and experience to help negotiate complicated production issues in industries such as solar photovoltaics.

The SmoothStart program will provide customers with on-site expertise based on DUNMORE's decades of experience incorporating its products into lamination recipes in industries such as solar pv. DUNMORE's engineers will use this knowledge to help customers start their production runs sooner and significantly reduce material waste.

In some cases, such as photovoltaic backsheet production, it's not just the material that's important but how you put it together. Having an engineer on site to launch a new production run with DUNMORE material can reduce material waste by tens of thousands of dollars and make necessary adjustments to lamination recipes in days instead of weeks.

SmoothStart is DUNMORE's most recent initiative to help customers integrate DUNMORE products into their manufacturing processes with minimal cost and interruption. Most companies include basic consulting with their products – advice on temperature and pressure, for example – but typically having an engineer on site would cost the customer extra. DUNMORE is looking to create relationships with their customers' engineers so they get the full value from using the company's products.

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Locus Energy LLC

Virtual Irradiance

Virtual Irradiance is a product that uses satellite imagery and ground sensors to estimate solar irradiance in real-time every 30 minutes at a 1 km resolution without the need for additional hardware. Integrated with Locus Energy’s solar monitoring and analytics platform Virtual Irradiance is a scalable solution for providing highly accurate solar irradiance data for an individual PV system or an entire fleet of installations. With solar irradiance data available system owners and operators can conduct irradiance adjusted analyses of PV system performance.

Virtual Irradiance is a ground breaking product for providing high-accuracy solar irradiance data in a scalable fashion without the need of physical hardware. The core methodology of Virtual Irradiance is based on decades of academic research in the fields of astronomy meteorology remote sensing solar energy and statistics.

Virtual Irradiance is a multi-step process for calculating available solar irradiance at a location. First the Sun-Earth spatial relationship and the quantity of solar irradiance reaching the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere are determined using astronomical formulas. Next NASA/NOAA GOES Satellite imagery of the visible and four infrared spectrums is combined with meteorological data from over 3000 NWS weather stations to quantify the atmospheric impact on solar irradiance transmittance. Using the aforementioned calculated data solar irradiance reaching a location can be estimated. Finally machine learning techniques are used to improve and highly-localize these solar irradiance estimates with PV production and solar irradiance data from over 150000 nodes in Locus Energy’s monitored network of solar installations. The patent pending innovations of Virtual Irradiance have created the most accurate solar irradiance product on the market.

Virtual Irradiance is built upon highly scalable software infrastructure within Locus Energy’s monitoring and analytics platform. This allows solar irradiance data to be provided across continental North America and Caribbean Islands for any number of sites. Within Locus Energy’s platform Virtual Irradiance can serve as a replacement or complement to physical irradiance sensors allowing for advanced analyses of PV system production.

The current existing solar irradiance products in the market are standalone data products generated from pure satellite models on a time delay. Virtual Irradiance breaks with conventional solar irradiance models by combining satellite imagery with meteorological data from ground stations in order to provide a unique view of atmospheric conditions impacting solar irradiance availability. Beyond improving the core satellite-based model Virtual Irradiance has introduced the novel concept of augmenting solar irradiance estimates with ground station data from PV systems and solar irradiance sensors through machine learning techniques. Furthermore Virtual Irradiance breaks with conventional ideas of product delivery in the fact that the data product is integrated with Locus Energy’s monitoring and analytics platform. By embedding irradiance modeling directly within the monitoring platform this innovation eliminates the complications of syncing solar irradiance data with PV system production data. The innovations of Virtual Irradiance have improved both the accuracy of solar irradiance data and the delivery of the data to users .

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Life Shines Brighter (End User communication campaign on benefits of PV)

SMA Solar, global leader in photovoltaic inverters have launched their first end-user marketing campaign in the UK. The photovoltaic market has changed dramatically in the UK over the past five years and with the ever changing ‘feed-in tariffs’ so has end-user perceptions. SMA have developed a series of cross-media initiatives with the overall aim to raise public awareness of the importance of photovoltaic technology and the role of the inverter plus dispel the myths surrounding renewable solar energy and the feed-in tariff. SMA identified that when it comes to solar energy most householders focus their attention on choosing the panels however it is the quality and efficiency of the inverter that determines how much energy is produced. So whether householders are looking to mitigate the impact of climate change or reduce the cost of their energy bills choosing the right inverter is crucial if they want a high performing system. That is why SMA Solar UK created Life Shines Brighter – a simple concept built on the premise that with more electricity to use and sell householders can enjoy the things in life that really matter.

What, exactly, is novel about the campaign?

Firstly a unique integrated campaign that educates the householder into the benefits of PV as a lifestyle choice and sound investment in todays sceptical and uncertain market. When we researched the available communications to end users there was no component manufacturer communication directly to end users purely just to distributors and wholesalers. Therefore the main messages were cost points and technical jargon which completely switched off the end user homeowner. We recognised a need to educate the benefits of a PV lifestyle and worked with a specialist agency to develop a campaign targeted to educating and providing tools that allowed homeowners to discuss a PV system with an installer and help make the best educated choice. The tone of voice is removed from technical language allowing the end user to discover the benefits and what to look for in choosing the best performing system regardless of cost or price. We believe this is unique in the inverter category and in the UK as a manufacturer of system components. SMA UK has also made the unique step of entering B2C marketing and advertising rather than the traditional B2B standard approach that exists in the UK market today. We have backed this up by providing sales tools to the smaller installer so they can use the communications and tools to aid their selling approach to end users.

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Tigo Energy

Anti-Theft System Enabled by the PV-Sentry Device

Tigo Energy’s Anti-Theft system is a theft prevention and monitoring device for solar arrays integrated in to their industry leading solar optimization suite. In addition to the benefits of an optimizer alerts will be sent out to first responders the moment a circuit is tampered with on an array and the owner will be notified the system can also trigger lights and alarms onsite. In Tigo Energy’s integrated Smart Module designs (with leading panel manufacturers the module goes into lockdown mode when removed from the site and cannot be activated without a specific code from the owner. This theft prevention is a critical component in large-scale ground arrays as PV burglary is becoming an increasingly large trend around the globe.

This product addresses the widespread issue of PV theft in residential commercial and utility solar installations. We need to protect the value of solar installations to continue generating renewable energy. According to a recent study by US specialist insurer SolarInsure the past few years has seen a significant increase in solar panel robbery. Solar thefts grew by 15% in 2009 compared with the previous year and some believe that figure has risen by 15% each year since 2002.

Tigo Energy offers an anti-theft system that features PV-Sentry which constantly monitors an array to ensure line continuity. If a circuit is broken the system immediately sends an alert to first responders. When paired with smart modules this system prevents the module from being used anywhere else if it’s been stolen.

Tigo Energy has built security functions into its solar system management software that can send alerts to solar system owners when a panel is disconnected. Tigo Energy is the first to integrate anti-theft capabilities into solar optimization technology. A chip embedded in the panel communicates wirelessly with a central monitoring unit. If this communication is interrupted the panel is automatically deactivated and the system sends out alerts. The deactivated panel cannot be brought online in another location without a special security code.

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Upsolar Module Lifecycle Assessment

Upsolar’s lifecycle assessment meticulously examines the environmental impact of the company’s mono- and polycrystalline modules over their entire lifetime. The company dedicated 10 months to data collection working alongside respected evaluation body Bureau Veritas CODDE to verify its methods and results. The analysis began with the raw materials used to create Upsolar’s modules to ensure the company is working with environmentally conscious component providers. Next Upsolar thoroughly assessed the practices of its primary manufacturing platforms monitoring gas emissions toxicity and waste levels throughout the production and packaging processes. The study then moves to installation and in-field operation analyses before taking a close look at end-of-life procedures on Upsolar modules.

As a member of the PV Cycle, Upsolar is fully committed to enacting the most sustainable disposal and recycling processes for its products. The resulting data from the LCA process will serve as a baseline and allow Upsolar to determine where it can improve its energy use material consumption and recyclability on an annual basis.

The solar industry creates products that enable consumers to reduce their carbon footprints through renewable energy generation. However to cultivate a truly “green” industry clean technology providers must examine ways to optimize their processes and minimize environmental impact. Upsolar is one of the first China-based module producers to perform an in-depth analysis of its environmental impact. This is especially significant as China currently manufactures more than 80 percent of the world’s silicon-based PV products leaving the region to face the consequences of any environmentally harmful procedures.

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Module Manufacturing Innovation Award

Solar Junction

SJ 3 Cell

Many multi-junction solar cell technologies are lattice mismatched and therefore have defects within the cell. Additional material is used to try and buffer the defects which results in stunted efficiency gains and reliability issues.

Solar Junction’s technology is lattice matched resulting in higher performance yield reliability and lower cost.

Solar Junction has successfully produced III-V multi-junction solar cells using dilute nitrides reaching high-efficiencies. The material substrates used by the company allows for a tunable and lattice-matched structure that has not been obtained by others.

Solar Junction’s cells incorporate the company’s proprietary adjustable spectrum lattice-matched A-SLAM™ technology which enables the company to more optimally partition the solar spectrum. This enables bandgap tunability over the solar spectrum to maximize the absorbed sunlight within the CPV modules while enabling lattice-matched pathway to solar cell efficiencies beyond 50% within the decade. This technology leads to maximum efficiency and greater reliability. It is a sustainable technology that leads to a roadmap of continual efficiency gains and innovation without changing the fundamental structure of the cell which is not true for other multi-junction solar cell providers.

Solar Junction breaks with multi-junction innovations by continuing on a lattice-matched path leading to higher efficiencies and higher reliability. The cell structure maintains pure while other companies are using innovations that use different processes that do not maintain a lattice-matched structure. Solar Junction standard cell achieved 40.9% efficiency in January 2011 which was tested and verified by the National Energy Laboratory (NREL. The cells submitted where standard design production cells and manufactured entirely in-house on its production line in San Jose. CA. February 2011 Solar Junction reached a 41.4% efficiency on a production cell again validated by NREL. The cell submitted for testing was also a standard commercial-ready production cell. It is significant because it was not a champion cell gain but a product that could be introduced straight into a customer’s line. In April 2011 Solar Junction broke the World Record in cell efficiency. At 43.5% efficiency Solar Junction has retained the world record for the past year and continues to strive to make additional technology improvements to reach higher efficiency percentages. The cell tested by NREL was once again a standard 5.5mm x 5.5mm production cell.              

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Silevo, Inc.

Triex Solar Technology

Silevo, Inc., a solar cell innovator and photovoltaic solar module manufacturer, was founded by leading executives and engineers from the semiconductor industry.

The Silevo proprietary Triex™ technology evolves silicon-based PV as the first hybrid solar solution to combine high-performance crystalline silicon N-type substrates, thin-film passivation layers, and a unique tunnelling oxide layer – all in a single solar module.

Powered by breakthrough "tunnelling junction" architecture, these three materials together enable the Triex module to deliver high efficiency, competitive module costs, and optimal energy harvest.

Triex's "silver free" technology also eliminates the use of costly silver pastes that traditional c-Si device manufacturers rely on for electrodes – typically the second highest priced material in a module after silicon itself. By utilizing a low resistivity copper-based metallization scheme instead, Silevo is immune to silver's increasing cost issue in the marketplace, while capturing the performance advantages of copper.

Silevo is currently producing modules in pilot production, manufacturing Triex cells that demonstrate between 20 – 21 percent conversion efficiency on full-size substrates with proven production materials.

The Triex technology roadmap shows headroom for up to 24 percent conversion efficiency in commercial products. As well, Triex yields cell temperature coefficients of -0.22%/C, which will enable thin film module like energy harvest in real world service environments.

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Suntech Power International Ltd

HiPerforma™

Suntech's HiPerforma 245 watt module utilizes the company's Pluto cell processing technology, which features a proprietary metalization process for shading reduction on cell surfaces, allowing the cells to absorb more electricity.

Suntech says that its 60-cell HiPerforma multicrystalline module offers 2% to 5% more power per watt peak over time, due to superior spectral response and high shunt resistance.

Suntech's Pluto technology, which is used in the HiPerforma multicrystalline module, features a front surface metalization process that creates grid contacts thinner than 30 microns wide, and is made from copper instead of silver.

Suntech believes that this reduces shading on the cell surface, allowing the cells to absorb more sunlight, and claims that this improves cell performance by 10% compared to traditional screen-printed PV cells.

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Westinghouse Solar

INSTANT CONNECT™ Solar Panels

INSTANT CONNECT™ Solar Modules - from Westinghouse Solar makes installing solar power systems faster and easier.

Building on the Westinghouse Solar legacy of innovation, including the industry's first grooved solar panel frame, first integrated racking, wiring and integrated grounding solution, and the first fully integrated UL approved AC solar panel, INSTANT CONNECT™ technology delivers the world’s first fully integrated "Plug-and-Play" AC & DC solar panels.

With panel prices declining to historic lows, the unfortunate reality is Balance of System and labour costs have grown from 30% back in 2001 to nearly half the system cost in today’s market. As a result, installers profit has been significantly reduced and the practice of designing and installing a solar power system has remained relative unchanged for decades. The opportunity to lower BOS costs and restore margins removes much of the resistance that factors into today’s rate of PV marketing penetration.

Westinghouse Solar’s INSTANT CONNECT™ is the first product to change the way solar in designed and installed.  By integrating the racking, wiring grounding and inverter directly into each panel, INSTANT CONNECT™ eliminates 80% of the hardware required to design and install a solar power system and reduces the amount of installation labour by 50%, helping to restore profit margins for installers.

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Rural Electrification Development Award

AUTARCON GmbH

Integral solutions for water purification

SuMeWa|SYSTEM offers a solution for the decentralized drinking water treatment. Within a matter of minutes the systems are ready to pump, treat and safely disinfect microbial contaminated fresh water.

How it works
The functional principle of SuMeWa|COMPLETE, a stand-alone-solution for decentralized drinking water treatment, is described in the following:

  1. Freshwater is lifted with a submersible pump from depths of up to 70 m.
  2. After the filtration process, chlorine is produced electrolyticall from salts that occur naturally in the water.
  3. In the reservoir the disinfected water is safely stored. From here it can be tapped or distributed via a central piping network.
  4. The water quality is continuously monitored.
  5. Depending on the water quality the control unit adapts the disinfection process and sends all operational parameters online for remote control.
  6. Due to the included solar photovoltaic modules SuMeWa|COMPLETE works energetically self-sufficient and is independent of any infrastructure. Batteries are not required.

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Phaesun

Pico PV Systems: Mozambique School Project

Description: Description: http://www.phaesun.com/typo3temp/pics/471e125a30.jpg

A PicoPV system is defined as a small PV-system with a power output of 1 to 10W, mainly used for lighting and thus able to replace unhealthy and inefficient sources such as kerosene lamps and candles. Depending on the model, small ICT applications (e.g. mobile phone charger, radio) can also be added. PicoPV systems are powered by a small solar panel and use a battery which can be integrated in the lamp itself.

PicoPV systems offer a wide range of advantages: easy installation (Plug & Play), user-friendly application, low investment costs, little maintenance required, high degree of expandability and flexible use. The prices are generally within the payment capacity of most rural people in developing countries.

Mozambique School; Project description

The goal of the project was to provide a reliable lighting solution for the school of Pessene. Therefore a set of PicoPV systems (Ulitium Lightkits) of the manufacturer Sundaya were installed at the school house to provide light for evening classes and for the directors office. Additional Lightkits were installed at the neighbouring houses which accommodate the teachers. The standard Ulitium 200 Lightkit is an energy-efficient lighting installation designed for one room, it consists of a solar panel and an LED-lamp with integrated battery that are directly connected by a hub box with bayonet plugs. Due to the simple plug and play technology the systems can be easily extended and several Lightkits can be combined to provide a lighting solution for an entire house.

Why was PV selected?

Although the village of Pessene is located less than 50 kilometres away from the Mozambican capitol Maputo, the national electricity grid does not cover the area. For lighting purposes petrol lanterns and candles are normally used. Due to the efficient LED lights of the Ulitium lamps, the small stand alone photovoltaic systems provide a unique comfortable solution to light small private rooms as well as large classrooms. The Ulitium systems are easy to operate and do not require continuous maintenance.

The use of PV is quite unknown in rural Mozambique. Due to the simple features and the low maintenance needs, the Ulitium Lightkits are best suitable for lighting purposes in rural areas.

The battery pack and the management electronics are housed inside each Ulitium lamp, thus a centralized controller and battery which need tedious maintenance is not necessary.

The Ulitium lamps are leading as far as illumination and energy efficiency are concerned. The Ulitium 200 lamp has an illumination of 240 lumen with a nominal power of 1,8W. This means a lumen efficiency of 133 Lm/W.

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Steca Elektronik GmbH

Steca PF 166 and Steca PF 240: Solar refrigerator/freezer

The Steca PF 166 and Steca PF 240 are efficient DC energy-saving refrigerators. They can be used as either a refrigerator or a freezer.

The Steca PF 166 and Steca PF 240 are fully programmable. The inside temperature and each of the other configuration values can be set by the user. They are therefore perfectly suited for all DC applications including even the refrigeration of medicines in hospitals. Thanks to the latest A+++ energy efficiency class, together with optimal electronic control and an RPM control of the compressor, it is possible to ensure that the energy is used extremely efficiently. This leads to significant cost reductions.

This product stands out for its user-friendliness, thanks to a large digital display with setting options, the highest standards of quality and reliability and a long service life. The refrigerator or freezer is easy to clean as it has a sealing plug on the bottom for draining water. This maintenance-free appliance can work with an input voltage of either 12 V or 24 V.

Product features

  • A+++ energy efficiency class
  • Fast cooling due to compressor speed control
  •  
  • Freezer runs on a 70 W photovoltaic module in most climates
  • Automatic detection of voltage
  • Temperature fully programmable
  • Adjustable refrigerator or freezer function
  • Suitable for all DC applications
  • Low maintenance and easy to clean
  • Lock with two keys
  • Suitable for mobile use
  • Auto-dimming for reduction of own consumption

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Project Development Award

Mobisol    

Mobisol-plug in the world

Mobisol aims to electrify the rural population in developing countries with combining solar energy and mobile banking to make payment and maintenance for Solar-Home-Systems as easy as possible.

The goal for 2012 is to install 1000 Solar-Home-Systems in rural off-grid households in Kenya and Tanzania, which will become the biggest privately funded rural electrification project in East Africa.

This will allow rural and semi-urban households to have lighting, use small electric appliances and improve their general living conditions. Children will have longer study hours, noise and air pollution are prevented. Kerosene lamps and Diesel generators are replaced and health problems same as carbon emissions are therefore largely reduced. The households can use the systems to fund their own businesses such as barber shops and mobile phone charging stations. This will let customers to refinance their systems and open income generation opportunities for people formally not having access to reliable energy and who largely depend on expensive fossil fuels as their main energy source.

The commitment will be realized due to an innovative approach of the technical design of the project and the successful implementation on a local level together with reliable local partners.

All solar panels are connected to a GSM modem and therefore it is possible to communicate with every system through a web based database. This allows for remote monitoring of the system and will diagnose all sorts of possible system failures, before they actually occur.

The mobisol controller, which is also connected to the GSM modem, makes it possible to lock the system in case the payment has not been fulfilled.

The mobile banking service is widely used throughout target region, in Tanzania for example with partner M-PESA. This makes a personal collection of the credit repayments obsolete, otherwise a big hurdle for similar projects.

Mobisol SHSs are available in four different sizes to match the varying electricity needs and payment abilities of different customer groups. The smallest is a 20W system able to provide enough electricity to light two rooms and charge one mobile phone a day. The biggest is 200W which can power multiple lights, a stereo, a laptop/TV and even an efficient refrigerator. The solar system is completed with several LED light bulbs, a portable torch, a mobile phone charger, BOS-components (balance of system) such as wiring and switches and an inverter to also allow the use of appliances running on AC (alternating current). The function of the system is to provide light and electricity to supply household and small business appliances.

Unlike other SHS on the market, the Mobisol SHS may be purchased together with a sound service package. On the one hand, customers do not have to pay for the system upfront but pay it off as they use it over a period of 3 years. Additionally, a technical service, consisting of free maintenance and repair throughout the same period ensures the usability of the system.

Additional Details

Since commencing operations, the Mobisol product has been developed and pilot programs are currently in progress in Tanzania and Kenya. In October 2011 the first systems were installed. In total, 200 systems have been installed in Tanzania and Kenya to date. The successful pilot phase has been designed to test and demonstrate the capabilities of the Mobisol Solar Home Systems. The pilot has demonstrated the viability of the business case and the acceptance of the M-Pesa billing system by the user whilst allowing technical refinement of the design. The installed systems are sending real time data, allowing local technicians to observe the performance of the solar panel and battery. The payments made by customers are recorded on the database, allowing the systems to be locked and unlocked based on the payment amount. This first pilot phase was run to collect as much feedback from the customers as possible, to adapt the technical part of the Mobisol product. The second pilot phase starting in September 2012 will be focusing on building up supply chains directly from the producers but as well will experiment with different ways of distribution channels. The goal of the second pilot phase is to understand and optimize the supply chain, finding the right financial structure for the micro-finance (down payment/instalments) and develop a distribution network for the implementation of a several thousand systems in 2013. The first pilot phase took place in Tanzania and Kenya with the aim of collecting data and learning from two similar but different countries. The second pilot phase will concentrate on the Arusha region with 800 systems installed until end of 2012, for the Nakuro region another 200 installations are planned. We will celebrate our 1000th system installation in December 2012.

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Phaesun

Rural Electrification with Plan Ethiopia

Plan International works in the field of Rural Electrification in Ethiopia and has a holistic approach including the development of local infrastructure, the set-up of educational institutions such as schools and training centres and health stations, as well as capacity building. As part of their activities they provide solar off-grid power supply to public institutions. Phaesun in cooperation with the local partner Lydetco PLC provided the equipment and installed the systems.

Photovoltaic technology was selected as the only viable energy source for several reasons. The national electricity grid does not reach many rural areas. The use of diesel generators is not encouraged owing to the scarcity of fuel, noise factor, environmental problems and high price of transport of the fuel to far flung remote sites. Additionally the operation and maintenance cost of generator sets is problematic.

SPECIAL CHALLENGES
The challenge to successfully implement these systems was mainly the remoteness of the sites. Transportation of the equipment and installation crews was a challenge but was safely and efficiently carried out by local partner Lydetco PLC.
LOCATION
7 sites in Shebedino District, Southern Region, Ethiopia
PROJECT PARTICIPANTS
Funding and local Project coordination: PLAN Ethiopia
Local facilitation and installation: Lydetco PLC
END USER: End users are the beneficiary communities (schools, health centres, village population) in Shebedino District
INSTALLATION:  12/2010 - 08/2011 
SIZE: 1 System x 2,6 kWp/ 3 Systems x 1,6 kWp/ 3 Systems x 1 kWp
SYSTEM COMPONENTS
94 x Istar Solar Module Istar 100W
82 x Hoppecke power.bloc Battery 12V/100 Ah (C10)
5 x Solar Charge Controller Outback FLEXmax FM 60
6  x Solar Charge Controller Steca Tarom 245
12 x Inverter Steca Solarix PI1100
293 x Energy Saving Lamp 13 W with Sundaya Lamp Shade
64 x Energy Saving Lamp 9 W with Sundaya Lamp Shade
cabling, mounting structure and accessories

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Key Dates

Nominations open 1st March 2016
Nominations close 6th May 2016
Voting opens 19th May 2016
Voting closes 14th June 2016
Winners informed 15th June 2016
Awards ceremony 22nd June 2016