37th EU PVSEC, 07 - 11 September 2020

19 June 2019

EU PVSEC 2019: Preview of Highlights. Topic 4 Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components

Topic 4 deals with the components which combined make up a whole PV system. The range of presentations therefore covers the design and assembly aspects of PV modules, their performance evaluation, lifetime and reliability. Beyond modules Topic 4 also covers mounting structures, cabling, inverters and dedicated control systems.

At the Plenary Session on Thursday, 8:30 three keynote presentations of 30 minutes each will be featured. The first one is titled “From Sunlight to Power: The History of Achieving a Globally Harmonised Approach to Photovoltaic Measurement” [4DP.1.1] and will bring the audience a historic overview of PV measurements. Starting in 1982 on the level of the International Electrotechnical Commission it has gone a long way, until electrical performance measurements on cells, modules and systems are in agreement within laboratories and industries. It is the base of today’s investors’ and consumers’ confidence in both manufacturing technology and deployment of PV Systems. Being from the European Commission’s JRC, the authors are certainly some of the few who know the entire history from their own commitment.

The second presentation promises “An Overview of Module Reliability” [4DP.1.2]. Seen in context with the first presentation, you will get an understanding of two key factors which today make up the LCoE of PV systems. Reliability has made tremendous progress, and as the presenters are from one of the big investors and end-users of PV modules they will provide more insightinto the parameters influencing the technical lifetime of today’s PV modules. Module reliability is a major cost factor once investment capital has been paid back, so it will be worthwhile to listen to experts of EdF, who established an in-house system of assessing reliability.

The last plenary presentation in Topic 4 explores the role of “PV in the Circular Economy: A Research Agenda” [4DP.1.3]. which addresses the increasingly important debate: Is PV technology manufacturing and deployment environmentally doubtful or can it be part of a sustainable, circular economy? The author from the NREL (USA) will certainly not only say “well, it depends…” but outline the research agenda to make PV a truly sustainable value chain. In his assessment the presenter will touch upon the chain of all materials involved, including the issue of Lithium-ion battery recycling as well as the recycling and reuse of PV modules and their materials like silver. As by 2050 PV waste could contribute as much as 10% to all global electronic waste, this presentation will explain the holistic approach for PV materials within a new, circular economy focussed waste management industry.

The European PV Solar Energy Conference also considers the importance of giving the floor to outstanding research results of University students. In this Topic 4, we will have a presentation about the “Physics of Soiling and Dust Adhesion - Lessons Learnt from Laboratory Soiling Tests” [4BO.11.5]. The research work aims at providing cost-effective solutions to keep PV modules clean and thus always at maximum performance. For this purpose, the author created a dust chamber capable to soil modules under different parameters like humidity and wind. This allowed the author and his colleagues to extract important parameters of the physics of soiling, in order to propose requirements and present optimum strategies for natural self-cleaning. The work is very methodical, scientifically sound and a good example for clear conception, analysis and results.

Regarding the second most important system component, the inverter, the trend is to go further than the normal DC to AC conversion and implement ever more intelligence. The presentation titled “The Inverter: A Multi-Purpose Control Element” [4DO.4.1] gives a comprehensive overview about the functions an inverter can take over today, and developments for the future. The presentation is based on a collaborative effort to tackle the inverter features in a decentralised smart grid: Starting with architecture and low-level control the presentation also includes issues of grid control and -stability. Eventually, it speaks about its increasing role as a central control element to integrate storage and issues on communication protocols and cybersecurity in a networked energy-world.