News | Photovoltaic solar power
The photovoltaic industry is fast becoming one of the major sources of energy, the most widely deployed on the planet today. Further reducing its environmental impact is now a competitiveness driver for the industry, as well as an essential innovation axis to maintain the sector's growth rate and better meet societal challenges.
Committed to this approach for several years, the CEA at INES has set itself the challenge of developing a photovoltaic panel employing heterojunction technology (HJT) by seeking to combine everything that one would expect of a "premium" product with:
To lead our teams in their technological choices, a Life Cycle Assessment sensitivity study was carried out. This allowed focusing on the most critical aspects of the carbon footprint: the silicon wafers, the glass front panel and the aluminum frame.
To guarantee high efficiency, which is also a critical lever, the interconnection of the cells by a paving (or gapless) process has been favored. This eliminates the gap between the solar cells and interconnects them by creating a 1 mm overlap between cells while keeping the interconnection strips. It densifies the panel and increases its power per sqm (or conversion efficiency).
The demonstration module shows a power of 566 Wp and embeds heterojunction technology cells with an average efficiency of 22.9%. It achieves a very low carbon footprint of 317 kgCO2eq/kWp compared to standard Chinese products (700 to 800 kgCO2eq/kW) and places our laboratories among the leaders in Europe.
This result is mainly due to
Details of the eco-design approach used
The reduction of the environmental impact considers more than 15 criteria to evaluate a photovoltaic panel, of which the carbon footprint is currently the reference criterion by the industry and public authorities.
The Life Cycle Assessment was carried out in accordance with ISO14040 and ISO14044 standards. The scope of the study was limited to the module manufacturing phase (from cradle to door). The various parameters of the module were taken into account (number of cells, wafer thickness, power, etc.). The functional unit was "1 kWp of a photovoltaic module". The production location of the different components of the value chain was taken into account.
Comparative life cycle analyses of a standard panel manufactured in China and the demonstrator panel made by CEA at INES
Eco-designed demonstrator panel, 317 kg CO2 eq/kWp, 566 W power, made by the CEA teams at INES © CEA
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.