Solar PV technology trends: Moving towards thinner glass
Over the years, the solar industry has made great strides in improving the efficiency and performance of photovoltaic (PV) modules. One of the latest trends in PV technology is towards thinner glass, which offers several drivers and benefits but also poses potential risks.
One of the drivers for thinner glass in PV modules is the bifacial technology, which requires a transparent backsheet to enable sunlight to pass through to the rear side of the module. Thinner glass also offers cost savings through reduced weight, which results in lower shipping and installation costs. However, ultra-thin glass can be expensive and may pose a challenge for manufacturers looking to balance cost savings with module efficiency.
Another potential benefit of thinner glass is that it can improve the aesthetics of PV modules. By reducing the thickness of the glass, manufacturers can create sleeker, more streamlined designs that are more visually appealing to consumers.
However, there are also potential risks associated with thinner glass in PV modules. For instance, thinner glass may compromise the structural integrity of the module, making it more vulnerable to damage during severe weather events such as hail, wind, and snow. Thinner glass may also be more susceptible to breakage during handling and installation, which could result in increased costs for manufacturers.
Another potential risk of thinner glass is the need for a change in heat treatment. Thinner glass may require a process change from tempering to heat-strengthening, which could increase the risk of glass breakage during manufacturing.
Despite these potential risks, the trend towards thinner glass in PV modules has continued to gain momentum. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports, the market share of modules with a glass thickness of less than 2.5mm has increased from less than 1% in 2012 to around 30% in 2020. This indicates that manufacturers are willing to take on the potential risks associated with thinner glass in order to achieve greater efficiencies and cost savings.
In conclusion, the trend towards thinner glass in PV modules is being driven by the need for bifacial technology and cost savings through reduced weight. While there are potential risks associated with thinner glass, manufacturers are taking steps to address these concerns and continue to improve the efficiency and performance of PV modules.
|Trend||Drivers & Benefits||Potential Risks|
|Thinner Glass in PV Modules||– Bifacial technology<br>- Cost savings through reduced weight<br>- Improved aesthetics||– Compromised structural integrity<br>- Susceptibility to breakage during handling and installation<br>- Need for a change in heat treatment process|
|Market Share Increase||– Greater efficiencies<br>- Cost savings||– Potential risks associated with thinner glass|