Renewable Energy with photovoltaics
A sustainable supply with – affordable – energy is vital for a functioning economy and society as we know it. As identified in the EU climate and energy package 2009, securing our energy supply over the coming years and decades will necessitate an increased reliance on renewable energy sources. In this, photovoltaics (PV) will assume an essential role. Over the last few years, a number of Austrian companies have been founded that are successfully active in the international PV market. To enable the PV industry to successfully compete against Asian low-price competition, the optimisation of manufacturing processes and of product quality is gaining increasing importance. A vital role in this has to be attributed to non-destructive in-line real-time inspection and analysis systems.
Focus on encapsulation
Based on this initial situation, the EVAnetz project will deal with the conception and subsequent experimental validation of a non-destructive in-line analysis method for determining the degree of crosslinking of elastomeric ethylene/vinyl acetate encapsulants in PV modules. Elastomeric ethylene/vinyl acetate (EVA) is the currently prevalently used material for encapsulating the actual silicon solar cells inside PV modules. There, this encapsulation plays a vital part acting as mechanical support, optical connection, electrical insulation and permanent protection of the cells from environmental factors at the same time. The degree of crosslinking – which is primarily controlled by the lamination conditions – significantly affects these properties, and thus the long-time operability and stability of the PV modules. At the same time, the time required for crosslinking the encapsulant is a decisive factor determining production throughput and thus the economic viability of PV module manufacturing.