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Highly efficient non-standard solar modules manufactured through an automated, reconfigurable mass production processes delivering 30% reduction in costs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STILORMADE (Highly efficient non-standard solar modules manufactured through an automated,reconfigurable mass production processes delivering 30% reduction in costs)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-03-31

To address the challenges of energy and climate change, Europe has agreed binding legislation and targets for renewable growth to be achieved by 2050. Achieving targets can only be made by significantly increasing the deployment of energy from renewable sources. As a technology nearing maturity and cost parity with fossil fuels, solar-PV has the potential to meet a significant proportion of the EU’s energy needs and represents a cornerstone of the European strategy for large scale deployment of renewable low carbon energy.

STILORMADE targets to meet the requirements of a mass market of niche application for customized (non-standard) solar PV. This market, which is worth 7 billion €, concerns applications with significant variability in user requirements: (i) Building Integrated Photovoltaics; ii) Public / Municipal Infrastructure: street lighting, road signs, etc. (iii) Industry: telecoms, maritime, aviation, infrastructure (iv) Developing Countries: solar home systems / lighting for off-grid areas, etc.
Due to this highly fragmented nature, customized module market is unattractive to incumbent market leaders and is therefore primarily serviced by low-tech manufacturers based in Asia who are able to benefit from low wage economies. An unmet market opportunity has therefore been identified for the supply of high performance, fully customisable solar PV modules that may be manufactured using rapidly reconfigurable production processes enabling mass customisation. With technology leadership in the field of photovoltaic systems and automated manufacturing processes, Europe is uniquely positioned to reclaim manufacturing competitiveness from China due to the reduced cost of manufacturing offered by the innovation developed in the STILORMADE project. This innovation uses the patented technology developed by S’Tile (France) that allows manufacturing modules with characteristics (Power, Voltage, Size …) that can be tailored to user’s requirements and offer design freedoms to fully integrate customized PV into architecture products without compromising performance or cost (Figures 1 and 2). Following process optimization, STILORMADE will validate a technology platform (developed by S’Tile) for the design and manufacture of customized (non-standard) photovoltaic modules achieving >18% module efficiency with tailored mode of operation (current and voltage). The customised modules will be integrated into two product applications (Building Integrated Photovoltaics and Solar Street Lighting) representing two of the largest markets for non-standard solar cells and validated at market replication sites in Spain, Israel and France.
STILORMADE modules use specific metallization patterns to improve generated current collection while improving general aesthetic aspect. Three computer programs were developed by TU Wien (AT) in order to optimize the design of the metallization pattern, generate cell layout and improve their interconnection in PV modules (Fig. 3). More than 1,000 variations in design (number of collecting fingers, finger width) were tested and lead to a theoretical increase of absolute cell efficiency of 0.5%, hence values above 18% on multi-crystalline silicone with standard Al-BSF structures. Manufacturing processes including specific metallization process and pad to pad interconnection step of i-Cell modules were improved and optimized on more than 10,000 cells.

A technology production line for PV module was implemented in S’Tile’s premises (FR). It was successfully tested by manufacturing modules with wide variability of technical requirements as requested by potential partners approached during a market potential and business opportunities study (Figure 4). This range of modules covers applications such as charging stations, solar Street lights, solar roof tiles, weather station. The specific pad to pad cell interconnection process allows the string of cells to adapt to curved shapes to some extent. S’Tile developed a particular laminating process to manufacture modules with different shapes that could give birth to new market opportunities (Fig. 5 and 6).

STILORMADE innovation was successfully tested through load resistance (snow, wind, hails), long term performance and ageing (thermal cycling, UV resistance etc.). Market readiness was finally demonstrated thanks to successful testing to all relevant standards of PV industry (IEC 612215 and 61730-1,2).

Stakeholder engagement and market reviews performed for customized (non-standard) modules have shown an important business opportunity for STILORMADE modules in Building Integration PhotoVoltaics (BIPV) and urban furniture such as Solar Street Lights (SSL). These two applications were addressed to validate performance and benefits of the product.
For BIPV: i) A solar shading system for building facades was developed and implemented in a building in Barcelona with a total power of 8.6 kWp (Fig. 7 and 8). ii) Solar roofing system was designed and was used to cover the roof of city center market of Montpellier in France: “Les Halles de Laissac” for a total power of 69 kWp (Figure 9 and 10).
For SSL: Two models were designed demonstrating unique features and visual appeal provided by the STILORMADE modules (Fig. 11 and 12). These SSL can work independently of electrical grid thanks to smart battery management systems. 26 units were implemented in Spain, Israel and Austria.
Implemented system are under active monitoring and were already validated in terms of attractiveness, energy performance and contribution to global PV energy acceptation.

Dissemination of the project results and outcome was performed to showcase market replication activities and STILORMADE possibilities. Channels such as fairs, conferences, publications, face to face meetings gave rise to an important database of prospects and potential early adopters. As a result, first agreements of a total of 338 k€ were already concluded for fall systems dedicated to solar roofing and solar street lights.
The project lead to significant progress:
- Optimization tools dedicated for STILORMADE innovation were created. It allows design flexibility while enhancing performance of modules and reducing duration of developments for specific customer’s requests during commercial phase.
- Specific designs for S’Tile pad to pad interconnection process were tested and validated. This interconnection process allows for increased power outputs and for reduction in materials such as silver and copper, hence contributing to the development of a better resource efficiency.
- The STILORMADE innovation have proved itself suitable for the manufacturing of curved modules. This offers unique positioning to propose products that combine 3D structures with high efficiency.
- A first production line was implemented with a target of mass production of customized modules. This line can be rapidly reconfigured to adapt to customer’s requirements (cell size, voltage, current, module size …). Thanks to partial automation, it allows production of specific modules with lower cost and high quality robustness.
- As confirmed by market reviews, the development of a trusted brand of European products with competitive price allowed by the implemented line can penetrate the customized growing market.
- Market replication demo sites represent a perfect showcase to persuade stakeholders about the STILORMADE product, hence an accelerated market take-up and exploitation.
BIPV roofing project in France 2
SSL design DST Model (Austria demo site)
Pad to pad interconnection technology
BIPV solar shading project in Spain 2
S'Tile module possibilities
BIPV roofing project in France 1
S'Tile module with specific design
Wavy curved module
BIPV solar shading project in Spain 1
SSL design TULIPAN model (Spain demo site)
1D Curve module
S'Tile black module with no busbar