The Similar project addresses the current trend towards innovative module and elevation concepts (lightweight, curved, VIPV etc.) and large modules (>500 W / up to 2.7 m²) and the resulting need to adapt test equipment for mechanical load tests and normative specifications. Model-based and experimental investigations of stress distribution in different module concepts and application situations are investigated and specifications for the improvement of test equipment for mechanical tests are developed. In addition, a technology for cell-integrated measurement of mechanical stresses is being further developed for applicability in the laboratory environment.
The central topic of the project is to systematically investigate relevant mechanical stress cases for novel PV applications. This is done both experimentally and by means of FEM simulations. The focus is on numerous new business areas, such as VIPV, BIPV, high-power modules (>500 W/up to 2.7 m2) or lightweight applications. All these concepts impose new technical and normative requirements on test equipment and certification specifications. In this respect, a study on the stability of latest generation module concepts (e.g. +500 W modules) is being conducted. Based on the findings of this study, a new concept for a multi-zone mechanical load (ML) test stand will be developed in cooperation with the company PSE Instruments GmbH, which will subsequently be developed and constructed by PSE Instruments GmbH. Furthermore, the focus is on the development of a method to use Finite Element Modeling (FEM) to simplify or accelerate the approval and certification of BIPV modules. Another aspect of the project is the development of a lightweight substructure system for flat roof module assemblies in southern orientation, which is being designed by voestalpine Automotive Components Schwäbisch Gmünd GmbH & Co. KG. In order to carry out appropriate load tests in the different development phases, a metal dummy module is being developed which simulates the deformation profile of commercially available modules in order to generate reproducible results in the load tests on the substructure systems. In addition, FEM simulations will be used to identify optimization options that improve the stability of the substructure system. In parallel to the development, a technical-economic optimization of thermoforming-based substructure systems will be carried out and proof of sufficient mechanical stability for several regional load zones will be provided. This will be complemented with studies on possible applications of thermoforming technology in the field of PV, especially VIPV and BIPV. In addition to the test methods and development work, a novel, cell-integrated sensor system for in-situ load monitoring during mechanical load tests is also being further developed, which will be used to verify the FEM simulations.