A PV power plant not only delivers consistent green energy, but is also a significant financial investment over 25 years. From the financial viewpoint, return on investment and system reliability are both crucial.
Researchers in China have analyzed how the marine environment influences the performance of PV modules deployed on ships, and have found that salt particles can be detrimental to their performance as these act as both heating agents and a factor reducing solar irradiance. The temporary cooling effect provided by seawater is not sufficient to offset the impacts of salt spray and ensure increased power yields.
In a white paper, the three Chinese module manufacturers (JinkoSolar, Longi and JA Solar) have reiterated the well-known refrain “bigger is not always better.” Experts from the three companies compared the BoS costs of 182mm-wafer-based modules and 210mm products, and found that the former have a slight advantage in racking, foundation, and land costs.
The devil is in the details, as they say, and when it comes to the next generation of mass-produced, high-efficiency PV cells, silver costs may be devilishly hard to reduce. Making things worse, prices for the precious metal are now heading in the wrong direction.
The share of silver in the total cost of PV modules has increased by around 5% in recent months, according to US analyst Matthew Watson. He told pv magazine that silver prices are set to rise, adding that the metal will eventually account for an even larger percentage of overall module costs.
According to JinkoSolar vice president Dany Qian, PV panel prices rose significantly since the second quarter of last year due to an increasing shortage of polysilicon, glass, silver, and module frames. She also stated that rushing demand cannot stop prices from rising for at least the next six months or longer, until sufficient capacity ramps up.
A white paper published earlier in December by PV Evolution Labs investigates the formation of performance damaging cracks in PV cells, based on mechanical stress testing of more than 40 commercially available PV modules. While the lab warns that susceptibility to cracking will change according to the specific bill of materials making up each module, certain technologies are shown to perform better than others.