37th EU PVSEC, 07 - 11 September 2020
CCL Lisbon Congress Centre, Lisbon, Portugal

02 July 2019

Preview on Topic 6: PV Applications and Integration

We are excited to continue presenting some of the highlights of our conference programme – today Topic 6 “PV Applications and Integration” will be brought to you in more detail.

This topic presents the application side of PV and reaches far beyond the purely technical components of a PV system. In 2019, the EU PVSEC has increased the number of presentations in this topic. The decreasing costs of PV Generation open more applications which haven’t been cost-effective in the past and therefore not pursued.

During Friday’s Plenary session 6EP.1 there will be two keynotes showcasing the services PV can deliver to all citizens. The first one titled “Solar Electricity and Safe Drinking Water: Global Opportunities and Challenges” is about the solutions PV can provide for a global problem of increasing impact: The production, upgrade and distribution of water for people and agriculture.

By taking a real-world PV installation delivering 20m3 of water per day, the presenters will discuss the possible solutions for rural and urban areas regarding both the control of climate change and the well-being of a global population.

The author of the second plenary presentation has been invited and will present “Lesson learnt from Multi Megawatt projects integrated into Landscapes and Buildings”. The presenter has designed and implemented many larger projects in the multi-megawatt range with specific attention to landscape integration and dual-use in sensitive areas. The development of PV Greenhouses will also be presented in this plenary where we can also expect to see many inspiring photographs.

“Smart PV” is not a very creative designation for what is happening today in the world of grid-connected, distributed electricity generation. Even though PV electricity comes at a very low cost, there is a significant price to pay for the integration into our conventional electricity system, which must be decreased to become competitive. Several solutions are summarised within the buzzword “smart”. Consequently, the presentation titled “An Online Multi-Scale Optimization Framework for Smart PV Systems” (6CO.15.1) addresses the issue “How to optimise distributed energy systems with regards to balanced demand and supply”. The authors developed a PV system’s model based on generation and demand profiles and limited battery storage. Managing the demand as far as practicality goes in residential systems, this online tool reduces the need to purchase expensive electricity from the network operator. At EU PVSEC 2019 the relevance of a future “Prosumer” for smart systems will be presented. As a European Horizon 2020 project one can imagine that such a modelling software could be implemented within an inverter in the future...

In Building Integration of PV (BIPV) optimised PV modules are often used on, in, at or beneath buildings. This can be cumbersome when clients do not really like the look of a standard PV module. The presentation “Methodology and Tool for the Electrical Layout of BIPV-Modules with Novel Design Features” (6DO.8.5) talks about an interesting approach based on the fact that irregular patterns are perceived by most humans as more pleasant to look at. This is why the authors propose to laminate differently sized cells into a module. Assuming there would be cost-effective methods to manufacture different cells of arbitrary shape, there still remains the issue that these cells would generate different and thus mismatched currents. The authors will present solutions to this problem and it is certainly worthwhile not only to listen but also to see the nice results!

At the Subtopic “PV Integration in Non-Conventional Applications” a presentation not to miss is “Lightweight, Flexible and High Efficiency c-Si Photovoltaic Modules for the StratobusTM (6DO.9.4). The authors’ companies currently develop a solar-powered airship serving as low-cost, autonomous communication platform. The audience will see how their biggest challenge, i.e. the weight of the PV system, is reduced by a factor 15 compared to normal PV modules. The use of highly efficient solar cells is certainly a must, but also the development of a light-weight substrate able to withstand surface stress of a high-altitude airship is not an easy process. It is good to have these “what else can we do with PV” presentations in the EU PVSEC showing the multiple uses of PV applications.

Recently, we have seen more PV systems designed for dual use, for example where the land under the modules can be used for agricultural purposes. This can be implemented in PV greenhouses for instance. However, the presentation titled “Feasibility of Hydroponic Solar Sharing System without Liquid Fertilizer” (6EO.2.5) is about a PV system which directly ties in with agriculture. The authors from Japan call it a “Solar Sharing System”. The system is east-west tracking and mounted on top of a pond where vegetables (green salad!) are growing in a hydroponic culture (roots grow in water containing liquid fertilisers). The study focuses on the effects on the yield of crop growth and the reduction of fertilisers.

As a last highlight in Topic 5 the presentation titled “Efficient Si Photovoltaics for Electrically Powered Utility Vehicles – STREET” (6EO.2.4) must be mentioned. It is about one of the recent trends of PV in non-conventional applications. It addresses the question to what extent electric cars can profit from car-integrated PV production (VIPV-Vehicle Integrated PV, as a variation of BIPV-Building integrated PV). The multi-partner project christened “STREET” takes the German mail service’s electric delivery van as a platform to integrate PV cells. Apart from choosing highly efficient (>20%) yet affordable solar cells, the long-lasting integration on top of the box-type cargo space will be presented as a special challenge. The author will show results and probably provide estimates of the possible direct solar fraction of the electricity supply.