Details on new AC, heterojunction solar modules from Mission Solar

mission solar pv modules

Mission Solar Energy, a U.S. manufacturer of high-power solar modules, is displaying three new products at the annual Solar Power International Conference and Exhibition (Booth #3975) that incorporate heterojunction and AC technologies. As there are growing demands for higher panel power, increased lifetimes, and more stringent fire ratings, Mission Solar Energy is remaining competitive by showcasing new technologies.

“Our line of AC and heterojunction modules feature the very best of solar technology. We are gauging customer interest in these products, and based on market response, mass-production could begin as early as Q1 2018,” said Jae Yang, President of Mission Solar Energy.

Mission Solar Energy’s AC and heterojunction modules:

MSE HJT 72 Elite: This is a high-power module featuring Heterojunction technology which produces 460W of power with bifacial boost. The Elite consists of strong dual glass construction, not only durable but also aesthetically pleasing. This module has the ability to withstand high wind load, has a Class A fire rating, and a low thermal co-efficient.

MSE HJT 72: Much like the HJT 72 Elite, this module offers advanced heterojunction cell technology and an industry-leading front side power output of 400W. Conventional frame construction makes for a streamlined installation with current standard racking.

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MSE PERC 60 AC: This module has an integrated micro inverter, which shortens installation time, simplifies inventory management, and maximizes system production in shady conditions. Panel-level performance monitoring is another key advantage of the PERC AC. This module is tested and certified against a >210mph wind load, making it ideal for all locations.

Other modules that will be on display include the MSE PERC 60, MSE MONO 60, MSE MONO 72, and MSE MULTI 72, which are currently part of MSE’s product offerings. All Mission Solar modules are designed, engineered, and assembled at our 200MW facility in San Antonio, Texas.

— Solar Builder magazine

See Panasonic’s new 40mm frame HIT solar modules at SPI

Panasonic

At SPI, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America will exhibit be showing off several new products and presenting on the latest advancements in HIT high-efficiency PV modules with innovative silicon heterojunction technology at booth 6701.

The solar panel products that will be on display are the HIT N315K and N320K, Panasonic’s new line of all-black solar panels that have an industry-leading temperature coefficient of -0.258 percent, as well as the N335 and N330 solar panels, the latest in Panasonic’s line of high-efficiency solar modules with a new 40mm frame. These solar modules are manufactured with “N” type cells, which reduce the annual performance degradation from 0.70 percent to 0.26 percent when compared to conventional solar panels.

Earlier this year, Panasonic and Pika Energy Inc. partnered to create the Harbor Flex and Harbor Plus, DC-coupled solar smart batteries with industry-leading performance specifications. Panasonic will also be exhibiting a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, with a wide range of portable electronic applications.

Vote here for the 2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower strengthens its solar panel warranty

sunpower logo

SunPower is boosting its warranty, guaranteeing power performance and product quality for 25 years, through extreme weather, wide-ranging temperatures, panel aging and more.

The company now guarantees at least 98 percent power for the first year, followed by a maximum degradation rate of 0.25 percent each year thereafter for 24 years. This results in a 92 percent power level at the end of 25 years compared to conventional solar panels which guarantee only 80 percent after 25 years.

“We believe the best warranty starts with having the best product,” said Tom Werner, SunPower President and CEO. “Our proven performance is validated by our customers’ results, as well as extensive field testing under a wide range of real-world conditions, well beyond traditional industry specifications. SunPower stands behind its products so that customers have confidence and peace of mind when they choose SunPower to go solar.”

In partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, SunPower has developed a robust method to calculate solar panel degradation. Degradation is something all solar panels experience, but at varying rates. When this method was applied to eight years of energy performance data from 264 SunPower solar systems operating at various locations worldwide, it shows that SunPower panels degrade less than 0.25 percent per year – 50 percent less than the annual degradation rate for conventional panels.

How one PV module manufacturer wants to meet the needs of homeowners

Unlike conventional solar warranties that typically cover just the panels, SunPower’s Complete Confidence Warranty also includes the servicing needed to repair or replace defective parts when panels are installed by one of SunPower’s 1,300 Authorized Installers worldwide.

For residential solar customers, the new coverage provides 25-year protection for every core component of the SunPower Equinox system. Introduced in 2016, the Equinox system is the nation’s first home solar solution in which every major component has been designed and engineered by one company to work seamlessly together, delivering unbeatable power, long-term performance and premium curb appeal. This includes panels with integrated microinverters and racking, as well as 10-year coverage for monitoring hardware.

SunPower’s Complete Confidence Warranty is effective as of July 1, 2017 and is available to all customers for their SunPower E- and X-Series solar panels.

— Solar Builder magazine

Lumeta Solar launches latest ‘zero penetration’ solar module at SPI

Lumeta Solar LLC, a California PV module manufacturer, announced the launch of Lumeta Lynx, a line of solar modules that eliminate racking resulting in faster installation, zero roof penetrations, and improved aesthetics. The low-profile, black-on-black, frameless monocrystalline modules adhere directly to the roof, which can dramatically reducing module installation time on tile, shingle and commercial roofs.

Lumeta-Lynx pv module

The Lumeta Lynx 60 is a 300W 18.1 percent efficient module designed for both tile roofs, where it is installed using inserts that create a level surface, and composition shingle roofs. The Lumeta Lynx 72 is a 360W 18.3 percent efficient module designed for installation on almost all commercial roof systems. Lumeta Lynx will begin shipping to select partners in Q4 2017 and be available throughout the United States in Q1 2018.

“A module that slashes installation time and almost erases the chance of roof leaks is great for solar contractors’ bottom line,” said Everett Brewer, an executive at WattHub, a renewable energy exchange for solar developers, contractors, engineers, suppliers, and financiers. “We’re excited to be among the first to use Lumeta Lynx and know that a lighter weight system with fewer components will increase operational efficiency for distributors and contractors alike.”

Lumeta Lynx weighs less than half of glass-fronted modules with racking, and their construction varies from traditional modules a few ways:

  • Dupont’s ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) replaces the glass front sheet and enables heat dissipation
  • High efficiency black monocrystalline silicon cells with industry-standard EVA encapsulation provides decades of reliable energy production
  • A FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) semi-rigid back sheet protects the cells
  • A tapered edge seal replaces the frame, removing the need for grounding and lessening soiling
  • Industrial-strength butyl adhesive, commonly used in the roofing industry, secures the module for the system’s lifetime and enables removal if ever required

The module was tested to NREL’s demanding Qualification Plus standard and passed a Black & Veatch-developed reliability and robustness testing protocol that ensures the module withstands the rigors of real-life handling.

The modules will be on display at Solar Power International 2017 in booth 4157.

The Ultimate SPI Showcase: Here’s what to see at Solar Power International 2017

— Solar Builder magazine

How one PV module manufacturer wants to meet the needs of homeowners

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells to reduce power loss as well as achieve an all-black look.

For all of the intrinsic value of solar, selling it on a wide-scale to homeowners might depend more on stuff like emotional appeal and aesthetics. This is driving the influx of black PV panels coming onto the market. LG’s NeON series comes in black. Panasonic just released all-black versions of its popular HIT panels (as we noted last issue). And so on.

A new entrant into this space is Solaria, a technology company that has been developing its technology over the last decade to commercialize a breakthrough product for the industry. As Chinese panels continued to drive down prices in utility-scale projects, that market became less of a focus.

Looking at the market, Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma thinks residential installs are the next big opportunity for high-efficiency, aesthetically pleasing panels that have residential applications in mind from the start.
“If you look at the Chinese model of panels where you basically make two different sizes that you stuff into different channels, that worked when the market was small, but now the market deserves its own product and focus.”

Solaria took its core technology – solar cell cutting, handling assembly and automation and configured a module and design to do two things:

“Produce significantly more power than a standard solar panel using the same bill of materials and, just as importantly, provide a much better looking panel,” he says. “With the industry maturing, those attributes will become more important. We want to break through from the early adopters in the mass market.”

Right now, Solaria’s residential solar capacity is still on the smaller side. Between its line in Fremont, Calif., and its line in South Korea, Solaria is working on adding additional capacity to meet growing demand.

Inside the Design

Conveniently, Solaria’s strategy for designing an efficient panel naturally created a sleek-looking product. The Solaria formula in a nutshell is to cut solar cells (mono PERC) into five strips and then overlap each of them instead of interconnecting them with traditional ribbon wire. The cell architecture of a traditional module leaves dead space between each cell, whereas this overlapping structure creates a uniform, continuous string of strips as well as the aesthetic bonus of covering up the typically visible busbars.

“All of the active areas of a cell are exposed. Busbars on a typical module shade about 3 to 4 percent of the module and cell, so we eliminate that through the overlap mechanism,” he says. “By creating a direct contact between one cell and another, we get better electrical performance because we don’t have the traditional losses associated with ribbon wires.”

Why high-efficiency modules are the best value for installers, homeowners

Part of the value from increasing system efficiency within the module architecture itself — and wiring in a combination of parallel and series — is also reducing the need for efficiency-boosting or shade-mitigating MLPEs. You may still want to incorporate optimizers in certain applications, but the need is reduced.

Add all of that up, Sharma says a Solaria panel (60-cell, 330 Wp) should be expected to produce 15 to 20 percent higher power than conventional panels using the same cells and materials to pair with that all-black appearance. The price point for Solaria is higher than a conventional Chinese panel, but priced below a high-efficiency SunPower back-contact panel.

Looking Ahead

Beyond improved aesthetics, simplicity is another big factor in the residential market. For that reason, Sharma wants to put Solaria on the path toward smart AC modules.

“How does solar become truly mainstream? The installation of the system needs to be simplified more and more. Plus, it’s a complex sell. The broader we can make the installer base, where more electricians get into it, the bigger it’s going to grow. We want to simplify the installation and that’s where we see the opportunity for integrated AC modules.”

Be on the lookout for more news on that front from Solaria as it tests out concepts with various microinverter manufacturers until it feels comfortable enough to offer an integrated product and stand behind the warranty.

Why Mono PERC?

Key to Solaria’s solution is the mono PERC cell. CEO Suvi Sharma explains his reasoning behind that choice.

“You typically get about 1 percent absolute improved power today from a standard mono cell, but the roadmap to improve that power is better with mono PERC,” Suvi says. “There are more dials to play with in terms of efficiency. Not only does mono PERC have higher power than a traditional mono cell, but the difference is going to grow over time. Could become 2 percent absolute over the next 18 months.”

“One issue with PERC is its light-induced degradation [LID]. The PERC manufacturers have worked on that a lot over the last 18 months. The LID is similar to mono cells now. Sometimes in multi PERC there tends to be more LID.”

“Mono PERC is growing in market share because it’s an add-on. If you already have an investment in a mono cell line, you can leverage it for mono PERC as opposed to new cell contents like heterojunction and bifacial, which require a fundamentally new investment in equipment. We believe that within three years probably, all mono cell capacity is going to be converted to mono PERC.”

— Solar Builder magazine