In this article we are going to talk about a technology that is the basis of the solar panels of the future, the PERC technology.
PERC technology: Solar panels of the future
PERC technology is here! Over the past year, PERC technology has become the supreme technology of choice for major manufacturers of both monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels.
PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) , is the process that adds an additional layer on the back of the solar panel that reflects part of the photons that get through the cell back to the cell, increasing the overall efficiency.
Jinko Solar has recently broken the efficiency record with 22.04% recorded by a standard polycrystalline solar panel. The technology was invented by the manufacturer Q cells but they gave it the name Q.antum for their solar panels. PERC technology has been around for several years and is advancing rapidly with major manufacturers leading the next generation of solar panels.
Split modules and Half size cells
Another recent innovation is the use of solar cells cut in half and moving the junction box to the center of the solar panel . Cutting the solar panel into 2 halves with 50% capacity each. The advantages of this method are multiple:
- Reduction of resistivity losses . As the solar cell has half the surface, it produces half the current, therefore it will have lower losses when transported by the conductive tracks.
- The shorter distance that the current has to travel from the cell to the middle of the solar panel where the junction box is located improves the overall efficiency of the solar panel increasing the output power up to 20W .
- Another benefit is that partial shading from one half of the solar panel will not affect the entire panel.
Recently many manufacturers are betting on this technology: Trina Solar, Q-cells, Canadian Solar, JA Solar and Jinko solar.
multiple conductive tracks
Solar cells have a series of conductive tracks to transport the electrons captured by the cell (the current), towards the other cells and finally to the outside of the solar panel.
As the efficiency of solar cells has increased, the current generated by them has increased, which has led most manufacturers to increase the number of conductive tracks from 3 to 4 or even 5 tracks per cell.
The trade-off is that the tracks reduce the cell’s acquisition surface and minimally reduce performance. But instead multiple conductive tracks provide lower resistance and a shorter path for electrons greatly increasing performance.
Bifacial solar panels
Bifacial solar panel technology has been around for several years but is beginning to become popular with the reduction in billing costs for very high efficiency monocrystalline cells required for this type of panel.
Bifacial solar cells absorb radiation from both parts of the solar panel and in optimal conditions can produce up to 30% more than a traditional solar panel.
The solar cells are encapsulated by glass on the front and back, providing much more durability than the plastic sheeting used in normal panels. The rear glass has much less degradation over time and considerably reduces the risk of panel failure, which is why some manufacturers have increased the production guarantee to 30 years .
Traditionally, bifacial solar panels were only used in installations where solar radiation could easily reflect off the surrounding surface, such as in snowy areas or extreme latitudes. Although yields greater than 10% have been demonstrated in installations on earthen floors or even on colored roofs.
The best known manufacturers producing bifacial solar panels are: LG energy, Trina solar, Jinko Solar and Yingli Solar.
Smart Panels and Optimizers
A new technology that is slowly becoming more popular is the inclusion of DC optimizers within the solar panel . Optimizers are basically chips that have the ability to bypass the current in case of partial shadows or dirty cells, which would otherwise reduce the power of the entire series of solar panels.
Partial shadows and dirt can generate hot spots (ho spots) over time, consequently reducing the life of the solar panel.
External Optimizers from companies like Tigo and SolarEdge have been on the market for several years , but now some manufacturers are developing solar panels with optimizers built into the solar panel junction box. Tigo energy TS4 optimizers are integrated into Smartpanels solar panels from Jinko and Trina Solar
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