• News #20 / 2024

    Optimally Tracked PV Systems with Deep Learning

    June 17, 2024

    Photovoltaic systems equipped with solar trackers show a 20 to 30 percent gain in energy yield compared to fixed ground-mounted systems. Besides this, the layout design and alignment can take other criteria into account, such as the light requirements of certain plant varieties underneath agrivoltaic and biodiversity-PV systems or also the grid feed-in at certain times of the day. In the research project "DeepTrack", Zimmermann PV-Tracker GmbH, part of the Zimmermann PV-Steel Group, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are improving tracking algorithms with a digital twin that uses deep learning to calculate optimized control approaches. Among other things, the digital twin learns from the data of its “real” twin, a PV tracker built by Zimmermann PV-Tracker, which is located at the Fraunhofer ISE’s Outdoor Performance Lab in Merdingen near Freiburg.

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  • Researchers from the Technical University of Berlin, Rena Technologies GmbH, and the Fraunhofer Institutes for Building Physics IBP and for Solar Energy Systems ISE have for the first time created a comprehensive model of the water flows in a solar cell factory with a production capacity of 5 gigawatts (5GWp) per year. Using this model as basis, they tested the introduction of two different strategies for circular water use. The results show that a reduction of up to 79 percent in the water consumption and up to 84 percent in the wastewater is already technically possible with today's production technologies. This would mean that the construction of new solar cell factories in locations with less water availability are also feasible. The study is freely accessible in the latest issue of Solar Energy.

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  • In the foreseeable future, the majority of vehicles on European roads will be electric. Since the beginning of 2023 a European consortium of experts has been investigating to what extent the expansion of vehicle-integrated solar would affect the electricity requirements of an electrified vehicle fleet. Participating in the consortium are the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO; the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE as well as three on-board solar technology system suppliers for vehicles; Sono Motors, Lightyear Layer and IM Efficiency. The SolarMoves project, commissioned by the Department for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) of the European Commission, aims to quantitatively assess solar electricity generation on vehicle bodies and its impact on the future charging infrastructure in Europe. As part of the project, some 20 vehicles that drive throughout Europe have been equipped with mobile irradiance sensors. They are to collect real data that will be used to validate the energy yield models developed by the researchers.

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  • The digitalization of research opens up numerous opportunities for innovative, data-based R&D services, while at the same time requiring standardized data management. In the new Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft pilot project "BatterieDigital_real", various institutes are creating a research data space for battery research. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE is collaborating with the University of Auckland to combine battery development and artificial intelligence.

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  • News #10 / 2024

    Majority of Farmers View Agrivoltaics as Positive

    April 18, 2024

    A study by the University of Göttingen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE showed that the majority of farmers in Germany are open to agrivoltaics, the dual use of land for agricultural production and solar energy generation, and can imagine installing the technology on their farms. The research team conducted an online survey and analyzed the responses from 214 farmers. The results showed that 72.4 percent could imagine using agrivoltaics on their farm. The main motivations given were the additional source of income from self-generated electricity and the future-oriented development that agrivoltaics offers to the farm.

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  • MEA-Production: printing technologies
    © Fraunhofer ISE / Foto: Dirk Mahler

    Electrolyzers make it possible to greatly expand the use of renewable energies by producing hydrogen, which can be used to store clean energy. In order to facilitate the high-volume production of competitive stacks for PEM electrolysis in the near future, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are investigating scalable processes such as slot-die coating and screen printing for the production of catalyst layers for the membrane electrode assembly (MEA). They have now developed catalyst inks for both production processes that enable the production of catalyst layers with lower iridium loading and high throughput. This significantly reduces the material and manufacturing costs for PEM electrolyzers.

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  • To ensure the stability of the distribution grid in critical situations, grid operators should be able to temporarily reduce the power of controllable consumers such as heat pumps and charging stations. The communication to enable this will operate via the so-called Controllable Local System (CLS) channel of the Smart Meter Gateway (SMGW). The joint research project "UtiliSpaces", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is addressing the implementation challenges in the practice. The Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology IEE is project coordinator. The role of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in the project is to test hardware and software for complex system controls in its Digital Grid Lab.

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  • Every day several million silicon wafers are being produced worldwide for the photovoltaic industry, and the demand is rising sharply. At the same time, the industry is increasingly switching to large wafer formats with an edge length of up to 210 mm. Processing these wafers to produce large-format solar cells with at least the same quality and cycle rate as conventionally sized solar cells presents equipment manufacturers with new challenges, especially for laser processing. To ensure that this processing step does not become a bottleneck in the future, a research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has developed a novel system concept with industrial partners, which relies on the clever combination of On-the-Fly processing with ultra-fast scanning technology and lasers, high-end optics and sensor technology. Following the successful demonstration of the first system prototype in 2022, which achieved an effective throughput of over 15,000 wafers per hour, a second prototype that uses UV light to create particularly small structures is now in use at Fraunhofer ISE.

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  • Concentrating solar thermal plant in northern Chile
    © Fraunhofer Chile, Frank Dinter

    Several Fraunhofer institutes and facilities, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and other partners, are working to establish the large-scale production of green hydrogen and its derivatives in Chile. The core of the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is to research the potential for the production of hydrogen and liquid fuels from solar energy. In addition to the technical issues, the project partners are also investigating the economic, logistical, and socio-economic aspects. They are also supporting the installation of a pilot facility for the production of climate-neutral methanol and dimethyl ether in Chile.

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