Imec integrates silicon heterojunction solar cells into curved surfaces

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Belgian research center Imec is working with research and industrial partners to integrate silicon heterojunction solar cells into curved glass to create solar products that could be used for vehicle-integrated photovoltaics (VIPV), as well as for BIPV systems.

Solar roofs in cars currently generate limited output due to space constraints, typically adding only a few kilometers of extra range.

Imec researchers designed glass solar modules with a proprietary ‘multi-wire’ connection technology, utilizing silicon heterojunction-based solar cells and a low-temperature process up to 180 C. This innovative architecture provides flexibility in the electrical design, maximizing space usage with minimal additional materials and lower costs.

The Imec researchers used a multi-wire configuration, connecting solar cell circuits in parallel to maximize energy production on curved surfaces. This innovative interconnection, along with optical coatings, increased efficiency and minimized heating of solar cells and vehicle cabins.

In addition, they automated the previously manual production process of the multi-wire connecting films, enabling the cost-effective transfer of innovations to glass solar modules.

“Further upscaling is absolutely necessary,” said Jonathan Govaerts, project coordinator and lead researcher at Imec. “But what makes this project so unique is its proof of concept for a wide range of applications. The flexibility of the multi-wire connection for integrating solar cells on different surfaces and in different configurations is impressive.”

The Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is financially backing the SNRoof project. The consortium consisted of the industrial partners AGP eGlass, IPTE Factory Automation, Arkema France Sa and Michiels Group.

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