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The long read: All that glitters is HJT

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 long read: A deeper understanding of LeTID

Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) has built a reputation for strong collaboration with the PV industry, from cell passivation through to the causes of degradation. Malcolm Abbott, a senior research fellow, directs one of the UNSW teams that is continuing its work into light and elevated temperature-induced degradation (LeTID). He recently spoke with pv magazine to provide an update.

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The long read: Smarter robots to step up to service

On Dec. 1, Tel-Aviv based robotic cleaning provider Ecoppia launched an initial public offering on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. In doing so, the seven-year-old solar startup raised $83.8 million from public and institutional investors – although heavily slated toward the latter. Jean Scemama, who joined Ecoppia as CEO in April 2020, says the IPO will allow it to double down on R&D efforts and expand into the provision of services.

The long read: Rotary printing rocks!

Cell metallization is getting a makeover. Some ‘rocking’ research projects spearheaded by Fraunhofer ISE are now set to introduce new printing methods that could deliver more than a doubling of throughput. There are hurdles to overcome across various process steps and on a materials basis, but initial results appear encouraging.

The long read: Capturing complexity through the power of the cloud

Bifacial modules have brought significant opportunities to PV project developers, but they have also increased complexity in system design and the modeling of plant output. Australian software developers PV Lighthouse believe they have created a fix, by allowing the complexity to be handled by the use of cloud computing. PV Lighthouse CEO Keith McIntosh and CCO Ben Sudbury argue that their software can be useful for module makers, tracker suppliers, and PV project developers alike.

The long read: In the long run

PV module makers are under growing pressure to increase the power output and longevity of their products, which leads in some cases to rapid changes in the technologies and materials they utilize. pv magazine recently sat down to speak with Kaushik Roy Choudhury and Mark Ma of DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions about the changing landscape for quality in solar PV materials.

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The long read: Ever cheaper PV brings pitfalls, new prospects

Large-scale solar has proven resilient in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the associated economic downturn, with the U.S. marketplace exhibiting an acceleration in deployment, reports Shoals Technologies Group. And while solar’s competitiveness is driving market growth, there remain risks to “going cheap,” according to Shoals Technologies CEO Dean Solon and President Jason Whitaker.

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The long read: Bottom-optimization

With bifacial modules making their way into the mainstream, tracker manufacturers and energy companies are operating test facilities around the world. To drive the LCOE as low as possible, tracker manufacturers now also care about what is happening underneath the modules, and not just above. As the power comes from light reflected from the ground, increasing that reflectivity has been mooted by many stakeholders. This is not without complication, however, and the quest for optimization goes into the next round.

The long read: Solar vs. salty drinking water

A solar array – complete with battery storage and remote monitoring and control capabilities – has been transforming brackish groundwater into fresh drinking water in the village of Beyo Gulan in the Somaliland desert since 2018. The installation was developed by Germany’s Phaesun. Its unique combination of low-maintenance electrodialysis desalination with PV saw it pick up an Outstanding Projects award from The smarter E. Phaesun’s Géraldine Quelle and Florian Martini say they are honored by the plaudits, and are readying the system for series production.

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The long read: Sink or swim

The impressive progress made by offshore wind arrays may be attracting a new group of PV developers looking to leave the constraints of the roof and free field behind. And while saltwater, wind and waves are no friend of PV, progress is being made in proving the potential applications.