U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) Announces Successful Deployment of New Product Introduction Program with Commercial Release of Partner SoloPower Systems’ Integrated Module Packaging
New SoloPower Systems application demonstrates PVMC’s ability to quickly test and deploy new technologies; Successful effort announced at PVMC Annual Workshop at SUNY Polytechnic Institute where PVMC partners, the Department of Energy, and other stakeholders discussed solar energy’s potential
Albany, NY – As part of the U.S. Department Of Energy’s (DOE) Sunshot Initiative and led by SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium announced a new SoloPower Systems (SoloPower) photovoltaic-based (PV) technology application that was enabled through the consortium’s New Product Introduction (NPI) Project. The NPI program offers in-depth cost analysis, development, and demonstration of components for consumer and industrial PV installations, and it provides the foundation for PVMC’s Best Known Methods (BKM) package that is being developed for deployed Integrated Module Packaging (IMP) applications that PVMC industry partners can use as a multiplier effect to replicate, market, and assist with financing future projects.
“In support of the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, the U.S. PVMC continues to strongly support and provide an advantage to its member companies and stakeholders through access to advanced facilities and know-how, and we are excited to support the new SoloPower Integrated Module Packaging application at PVMC,” said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, Chief Operating and Technology Officer of PVMC. “The Best Known Methods package for the IMP provides unmatched design for low-cost installation by focusing not only on a systems’ components, but on how to optimize installation as well, which is particularly important in rooftop designs where the higher cost of labor can quickly offset other cost efficiencies. Currently, there is a lack of end-to-end business BKM, and as a result, no single company is responsible for ensuring effectiveness across all stages of solar site development, so the existence of multiple interests with distinct, sometimes conflicting goals can cause a lack of coordination and result in system-wide inefficiency. PVMC offers a great example of how a PV project’s lifecycle can be optimized.”
The PVMC New Product Introduction program supports greater efficiency of commercial PV systems and installations, which is critical because the PV system design and installation process is one of the major overall cost-drivers of consumer and industrial PV projects. Inefficiencies, as well as the technical decisions made during this process, can impact every phase of a project’s lifecycle and affect its cost effectiveness. Also, despite the large potential market for solar on commercial buildings and ground-mounted systems, many are not easily accessible to the solar industry because of structural or site limitations. While such barriers effectively reduce the size of “available” PV customers, PVMC’s growing BKM knowledge base offers solutions that can lead to far greater PV reach.
The SoloPower installation, based in Fairfield, CT, at the Jennings Firehouse system, is a great example of PV component and installation synergy resulting from collaboration with PVMC. Significantly, SoloPower was able to install the cutting-edge PV system on a roof with a 6-degree slope, which ruled out typical ballasted racking. SoloPower was also able to install the system without roof penetrations as the customer had requested and provided a low visual impact solution designed to be compatible with the building’s current roof to meet community requirements.
The SoloPower Integrated Module Packaging application is an attractive and durable PV module designed to withstand the harshest climates for years, providing a reliable solar energy supply that can work with otherwise prohibitive building design elements. Designed in partnership with PVMC, the IMP application addresses a number of challenges, including the complexity of system design and installation as they relate to cost reduction goals, a primary focus area for SoloPower. In addition, many newer commercial buildings tend to be even less PV-friendly; they are designed and built closer to minimum specification requirements to limit costs and build time. To address these complex issues, historically, hardware innovation has focused on the component level, but optimizing systems for specific applications (e.g., low-slope commercial roof), allowed SoloPower’s IMP application to preassemble choice components, while standardizing components and/or interfaces enabled low-cost replication. Other challenges that the SoloPower IMP application tackled, in addition to roof slope, included building orientation, load limits, and restrictions affecting the location of mechanical systems.
The new SoloPower Systems Integrated Module Packaging application is designed to solve some of the challenges that the NPI program evaluated for the consumer and industrial markets and uses novel approaches to maximize effectiveness. Using engineered thermoplastic encapsulants and adhesives, the IMP application addresses many of the issues that have plagued other building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products. PVMC and SoloPower Systems researchers jointly engineered a lightweight integrated packaging design that incorporated a roofing membrane layer with the SoloPower Systems modules, increasing package quality and reducing installation time to a minimum, in addition to meeting UL and/or IEC specifications for their use, as well as all applicable code requirements. After the integrated module package was brought onto the roof, the membrane was attached using an established industry standard for roofing membranes. This resulted in a non-penetrating, high-speed installation using procedures, equipment, and workforce from the roofing industry, turning what could have been a complex photovoltaic installation into a more “routine,” efficient roofing process.
“We delivered 175 of our panels to PVMC’s headquarters in Albany, New York, where they were expertly attached five at a time to the roofing membrane. Upon delivery to the job site, the team lifted them onto the roof in less than three hours, meeting the customer’s needs with no racking, ballasts, or roof penetrations,” said Peter Chaitkin, SoloPower Systems Sales Director, U.S. East. “SoloPower is thrilled to partner with the U.S. PVMC, which enables us to optimize our manufacturing. PVMC also supports us in the field with development of applications to best deploy our product. As a U.S. manufacturer, we find their help to be critical to our continued success.”
This unique Best Known Methods package for IMP is available to companies that partner with PVMC, and is already being utilized by leading PV developers and component manufacturers. The BKM package is offered in tandem with the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium’s new set of evaluation capabilities for photovoltaic systems, called the PVMC’s Solar Energy Optimization Testkit, which was recently announced by the consortium. The Testkit is able to obtain and provide actionable solar energy cost and PV performance information from PVMC test and consortium member sites to improve solar cells, components, modules, systems, and operations and maintenance protocols. These combined services can be provided to members of the solar industry and individuals or companies with existing systems, allowing users to better comprehend the impact of PV system variables. The results are then made available through the PVMC’s proprietary milestone reports.
“PVMC is excited to continue its support of the U.S. supply chain for photovoltaics, including SoloPower Systems and our wide array of partners ranging from system developers and installers, to components and materials suppliers, along with key support from the Department of Energy and NYSERDA,” said David Metacarpa, Director of Technology Development, PVMC. “Ultimately, the goal for projects such as these, which are supported and co-developed by PVMC, is to create a multiplier effect dramatically increasing the deployment of low-cost, renewable energy technologies.”
PVMC also provides critical data to maximize the continuing efficiency of installed PV arrays. For example, the SoloPower-installed PV system’s information is now monitored in real-time and sent to the PVMC’s central location at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Albany NanoTech Complex, where the data is time-stamped to the site weather stations, PV reference arrays, various sensors that monitor solar radiation, the DC side of the inverters, and the module temperature. This allows careful study of the performance of these systems in real-world conditions, allowing SoloPower to validate and further improve their designs as the data is being monitored and analyzed by a team of leading PVMC and SUNY Poly research scientists who are able to provide partners with a detailed report that can offer a roadmap toward a more effective PV system.
PVMC is an industry-led consortium for cooperative R&D among industry, university, and government partners to accelerate development, commercialization, manufacturing, field-testing, and deployment of next-generation solar PV and BIPV systems. PVMC is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and includes more than 50 participating members and partners.
The new SoloPower IMP application and BKM package was announced at the PVMC Annual Program Workshop, which focused on the best ways to spark industry-wide collaboration to advance PV technologies and deployment. It was held in December at SUNY Poly’s Albany NanoTech Complex. Details were originally made available to PVMC’s partner organizations that were in attendance.
A video showcasing the installation can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/194610255/52ef8b608d
About PVMC. The U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC), headquartered in New York State, is an industry-led consortium for cooperative R&D among industry, university, and government partners to accelerate the development, commercialization, manufacturing, field testing, and deployment of next-generation solar photovoltaic (PV) and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) systems. Through our technology programs, advanced manufacturing development facilities, system demonstration, and reliability and testing capabilities, PVMC is a proving ground for innovative solar technologies and manufacturing processes, as well as PV product development and deployment. Further information about PVMC can be found at http://www.uspvmc.org.
About SoloPower Systems. SoloPower Systems is a photovoltaic technology company specializing in the design, manufacture, and deployment of CIGS flexible thin-film solar technology. Further information about SoloPower Systems can be found at www.SoloPower.com.