Even though wind energy is the leading renewable energy source in Germany today, experts still see great potential for the use of solar energy. An important advantage is the low land consumption, especially if the modules are installed on or around buildings.
With the help of shingling technology, PV cells can be connected in such a way that no additional connecting pieces are needed. With shingling, the individual cells are arranged so that ‒ just as with roof tiles ‒ they slightly overlap and are connected by direct contact with each other. Due to the larger connecting surface, less current flows than through the material in comparison to conventional copper connectors. This reduces the load as well as the losses during transmission. By not using the copper connectors, the surface area required shrinks, which means that such a PV module requires 10% less space. Thanks to the new technology, the modules will no longer have the familiar grid design of PV modules; the string gaps will only be visible in one direction. The new design will also be suitable for use in building-integrated photovoltaics, since - for design reasons - vertically integrated PV modules are often avoided.
A German industrial consortium led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems is now developing the technology required to prepare shingled PV modules for the market as part of the Shirkan project. For example, a new adhesive is to be developed that effectively bonds the glass and silicon of the cells and meets the thermomechanical requirements of solar modules. A plant manufacturer is developing the production and process technology for the industrial production of the modules. The systems will then be tested by the third project partner, the PV module manufacturer Aleo Solar, in order to produce the first generation of these innovative PV modules. Since German module manufacturers often grant a 25-year warranty, the modules must of course also be tested for longevity. This task will ultimately be performed by the Fraunhofer Research Institute ISE.
The project began in October 2019 and will run until the end of November 2020. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the research with €2.5 million.