Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “photovoltaics”

50% Weight Reduction Solar Panels from Solarge

Dutch start-up Solarge from Eindhoven and its 12 employees are working around the clock to get a manufacturing facility up and running that should be able to produce 500,000 m2/year worth of solar panels by Q1-2022.

Their selling point: a solar panel that weighs 50% less, by replacing glass by plastic, but retaining all electrical properties. This opens up the perspective of covering far more roofs with light-weight panels, like 100 km2 (business premises with bitumen roofs, for instance, previously not suitable for conventional heavy panels) or 18500 GWh. Additional benefit: the production of this panel comes with 80% less emissions.

The polymer plastic used is developed by Dutch chemical giant DSM and has several advantageous over other plastics used in Chinese panels, that often contain the hazardous PFAS. The panels are 100% recyclable. The Solarge PV modules have made it into the official Dutch governmental Milieulijst 2020, a list of proven sustainable products.

[] – Duurzaamste zonnepanelen komen uit Nederland
[] – Company site
[] – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

Fraunhofer – Solar Panel Energy Payback Time 1 Year

That’s an EROI of 25-50, depending on how long they will let the panels operate and further significant improvement is in the pipeline, towards an energy payback time of 8 months.

Absolutely in the green area, pun intended.

[deepresource] – Siemens Reports EROI Onshore Wind of 50 or Larger

The conclusion is that in 2021, solar and wind are more than mature enough to function as a 100% renewable energy base for the planet. The missing link is still reliable and cheap storage. Once that is in place, a full-throttle go-ahead will be possible.

No significant Solar Panel Degradation After 21 Years

Data from solar panels in Leiden in the Netherlands. After 21 years of operation, degradation against the average is merely 1.8%. This is even better than an array of 35-year-old Telefunken panels, that merely lost 0.35% on a base efficiency of 8.5%. Telefunken has long gone out of business, their panels haven’t.

There is reason to assume that solar panels could function economically for 50-100 years.

[] – Polder_PV
[] – Nieuws & analyses P.V. pagina actueel
[deepresource] – Solar Panel Still Working After 40 Years

Stella Vita Solar Camper On its Way to Spain

Students from the TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands have developed a solar-powered camper van, named Stella Vita.

[] – The future of road trips? Students develop a ‘completely self-sufficient’ solar-powered electric CAMPER VAN that generates enough energy to drive, take a shower, watch TV, charge a laptop and even make coffee

Read more…

Navarra Irrigation Canal to host 160 MW Solar Panels

Similar projects have already been implemented in India.

[] – Canal in Spain may host 160 MW solar plant

Perovskite Solar Cells Could be the Future of Energy

Daily Yield Dutch Solar Panels

Note that at Northern-European latitudes, lots of seasonal storage capacity is required. Minimum yield is almost zero in January, maximum in June-July.

[] – Martien Visser

Exploring Solar Panel Efficiency Breakthroughs in 2020

45 GW Wind/Solar/Hydrogen for Kazakhstan?

Artist impression from the developers site

It sounds a little too Wild West, or Wild East rather, but the company Svevind AB (Swedish? German?) has announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Kazakh investment firm about developing a 45 GW wind and solar farm, combined with 30 GW hydrogen capacity in Western and Central Kazakhstan. Cost and commissioning date are vague:

The overall development, engineering, procurement and financing phases are expected to take about three to five years. Construction and commissioning phases are predicted to take approx. five years.

About Svevind:

Svevind is a privately owned group of companies in the renewable energy industry, based in Weißenbrunn (Germany), Piteå (Northern Sweden), Dresden (Germany) and Almaty (Kazakhstan). The Svevind group plans, develops, designs, sells, and operates onshore wind power and solar PV as well as green hydrogen projects. The projects vary in size and scope from single turbines to farms of 1,101* turbines and up to Gigawatt-scale green hydrogen projects. Svevind’s largest project to date is located in Markbygden in the municipality of Piteå. It is expected to become one of the largest wind farms in Europe, and perhaps the world. Total production is expected to be up to 12 TWh.


The story could win in plausibility if it could be shown that the project has Chinese financial backing. So far, Svevind has realized 1 GW wind power and 1.5 GW under construction.

Grain of salt.

[] – SVEVIND and Kazakh Invest National Company JSC sign a memorandum of understanding
[] – Duitse steppestroom uit Kazachstan
[] – Svevind plans 45GW wind- and solar-to-green hydrogen
[] – Svevind AB

[source] Kazakhstan has excellent wind resources

German Roofs Solar Potential 3 Times National Consumption

…says the German Fraunhofer Institute, whom we trust blindly in these matters.
Total potential yield German roofs: 1,710 TWh/year

[] – Jedem Dach eine Solaranlage: Wäre Deutschland unabhängig?

Read more…

Bifacial Solar Panels

One support structure, two active layers. The front side gets the full solar wax, the behind side indirect solar radiation, like from white flat roof or yellow desert sand. This bonus yield can amount up to 30% extra. In a time, where the cost of the support structure begins to approach that of the active solar layer, this design makes sense.

[] – Bifacial solar cells
[] – What are bifacial solar modules?
[] – Bifacial modules: The challenges and advantages

How China Won Solar (& Why Germany Lost)

The Case for Agrivoltaics

Yes, plants need light, just like you need food. But just like that there is a limit to the amount of food that is beneficial to you, there is also a limit to the amount of light that a plant needs to flourish. Plant growth is proportional to CO2 absorption. The key measure here is photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). According to the video, there is a cut-off point above 1000 PAR, which means that the plants can do without a portion of the daily supply of sun rays and wouldn’t mind a sunscreen, just like you may have in your garden if it all gets too much in the summer:

During sunny days in Southern Europe, the solar influx could reach PAR-values of 1600-2000. In other words, 60-100% could be shaved off the peak value, without impact on agricultural yield. And those are also the hours when solar yield is maximal.

That’s where agrovoltaics come in, where solar panels can be used as sunscreens, providing a nice extra source of income for the farmer involved, without significant impact on his agricultural yield.

[] – Photosynthetically active radiation
[] – Agrivoltaics: opportunities for agriculture and the energy transition
[deepresource] – Airborn Solar Panels

Ørsted Now in Solar and Storage Too

Permian Energy Center in Andrews County, Texas.

The company’s first utility-scale solar plus battery storage project of 460MWAC reaches commercial operation, making Ørsted the first developer to operate the full spectrum of new renewable technologies at utility scale in the US.

420 MW PV and 40 MW battery storage. 1.3 million solar panels, sufficient to provide 80,000 households with electricity. Installed next to oil fields (to intimidate?). Legacy project from US developer Lincoln Clean Energy, which Ørsted bought in 2018.

[] – Ørsted completes Permian Energy Center
[] – Another giant makes its home in Texas
[Google Maps] – Andrews County, Texas

How the site looked like in 2019.

Germany Renewable Energy Tender Timeline 2021-2030

Here are the plans of the German government for this decade, regarding renewable energy installation:

Source 2020 (GW) 2030 (GW)
Onshore wind 54.4 71.0
Offshore wind 7.8 20.0
Solar 53.1 100.0
Biomass 8.2 8.4

[] – Germany aims to tender 4 GW of additional PV in 2022
[] – What’s new in Germany’s Renewable Energy Act 2021

German electricity consumption 2019: 512 TWh. Germany would be at 80% renewable electricity share by 2030, if plans are realized.

World Record Low Solar Energy Cost $0.0104/kWh

[source] The 300 MW Sakaka PV IPP project

The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has announced the intended construction of a 600 MW Al Shuaiba PV IP project, at a world record low cost of $0.0104/kWh.

As we have noted before, the cost of desert solar electricity is no longer relevant. Relevant is the cost of a “prepackaged kWh” on world markets. Storage, not generation, is the real cost. Think the cost of electrolyzers, conversion of hydrogen into a more convenient chemical form, transport, storage.

[] – Saudi Arabia’s second PV tender draws world record low bid of $0.0104/kWh

Record Solar Day in the Netherlands

Record solar day in the Netherlands, for the first time more than 7 GW, or 45% total Dutch electricity demand.

(In March!)

The most important reason for the record is the 50% growth of installed solar pv-capacity, as compared with 12 months ago. The expectation is further 30% growth for the coming 12 months. For 2030, the projected total solar capacity is expected to be three times that of today.

[] – Martien Visser
[] – Felle lentezon zorgt voor recordopbrengst aan zonne-energie

New PV-Solar Materials

Dutch language video

Physicist Dave Blank of the TU-Twente in the Netherlands explains why the photo-voltaic effect isn’t necessarily confined to semi-conductors like silicon.

Classic solar cells require a metal mesh to conduct the electrons that are split of from the crystal due to the impact of light. Metal however is not transparent for light, reducing the electron yield. What you really want is materials that are both transparent and conductive.

Blank draws a comparison between an Indonesian treat with a Dutch name, the spekkoek, a left over the colonial era. The cake is layered and consists of ingredients you wouldn’t want to eat separately, but in combination are delicious:

Blank uses the spekkoek as a model for new materials to be applied in photovoltaic technology, where the desired photovoltaic effect results from combining (ultra-thin) layers of a few atoms thick. These layers are produced using a laser, ejecting atoms from a source medium, that are deposited on a substrate. By shooting electrons from the side it is possible to accurately control the thickness of each atom layer.

To make a long story short, by combining layers, one can obtain physical properties that the individual layers do not possess, like conductivity at the interface of two non-conductors, that are additionally both transparent. All of a sudden, plastics for instance could become materials useful in electronics and solar technology. Think windows as solar panels, windows in homes, cars and busses.

[source] In the works: a transparent smartphone, enabled by plastics that receive properties, useful in electronics.

By piling layer upon layer, each with different properties, it is possible to absorb a far greater part of the entire radiation spectrum.

To be continued.

[] – 580.000 euro voor onderzoek aan alternatieve zonnecellen
[] – Dave Blank “mr. Nano” retires as professor UTwente
[] – Core Dutch nano-technology program
[] – Spekkoek

PVT – the Hidden Solar Trump Card

An Amsterdam houseboat owner has installed PVT panels on the deck of his ship, which feeds a heat-pump.

Most people associate solar power with photo-voltaic solar panels, not in the least because of spectacular price decline, with panels of 100 x 160 cm and 300 Watt Wp, costing 100-150 euro.

That wasn’t always the case. The solar revolution started with thermal solar collectors, used for tap water heating, when astronomically priced panels were reserved mostly for space exploration. Increasingly, people begin to understand that both functions can very well be combined. Solar panels are black, meaning that they are energetically “black bodies”, meaning that they absorb almost all solar radiation, go to good old Max Planck for the physics details. That solar radiation can be used both for electricity and heat generation, with a total yield of 1400 Wp per 100 x 160 cm panel.

Modern, commercial solar panels have an efficiency of 20% or more, thermal collectors much higher. Enter “photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector” (PVT). PVT panels are more expensive than solar panels [*], but the realization that in the urban environment, space rather than money, is the real limiting factor, PVT could become big, now that the solar revolution is picking up serious momentum, especially in overcrowded and prosperous renewable energy laggard Holland, that enjoyed the ownership of a huge natural gas field, it could milk for decades until prices for renewable energy came down sufficiently to jump on that bandwagon, leaving the real innovation effort to the Danes and Germans, who (deservedly) now own the industries, good for them. (Never mind, we’ll make our renewable energy money from maritime installations and monopiles, North Sea electricity production we can export into the EU and perhaps a share in the future hydrogen trade).

We have collected a few examples of PVT-projects in the Netherlands, captured in video.

[*] – as a rule of thumb, solar collectors cost per m2 about twice as much as solar panels, so for PVT expect a price per m2, three times that of a solar panel.

[] – Black Body
[] – Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector
[deepresource] – Our PVT articles
[] – PVT-producer and installer

PVT-panels applied in a new housing project in Utrecht, this is the easy, happy flow.

Adding solar panels/collectors to new buildings is easy, where solar panels can become the roof itself, eliminating the need for tiles and save cost. The real challenge is to integrate PVT-panels in buildings that weren’t designed for solar, like here in Delft.

In this project it is stressed that PVT-systems can eliminate the need for expensive intrusive underground and thus stationary heat exchangers and instead opt for solar radiation and heat extraction from flowing thin air.

Waalre, Brabant.

Hallelujah-video from a Dutch producer of PVT-systems, QPanel by HRSolar.

PV-panels have 300 Wp, PVT-panels 1400 Wp!

Woning van het Gas af met Warmtepomp en PVT-Panelen

Post Navigation