29 June 2011

Q-Cells launches Q.SMART CIGS PV modules on North American market

Q-Cells SE of Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany, which manufactures both silicon and thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, has introduced its Q.SMART CIGS PV modules in the North American market. Q.SMART is a high-yield and high-efficiency thin-film module designed to maximize power output and return-on-investment in distributed solar generation.

With aperture efficiencies of up to 14.7%, Q.SMART has held the record for thin-film modules in serial production since 2009. Its CIGS technology is claimed to be the only thin-film solar technology that does not initially degrade in the first years of operation. Q.SMART harnesses a ‘light-soaking’ effect to generate an average of 2.5% power boost above Nominal Power at Standard Test Conditions when deployed in the field.

Q-Cells claims that Q.SMART also outperforms competitors in diverse environmental conditions, including low-light periods of the day and high-heat climates, suiting both commercial and residential settings. The modules are also claimed to be the highest-yield panels in the world, with high production efficiency rates.

Q.SMART comes with a unique Power Appreciation Warranty of 25 years – a 100% performance guaranty for the first three years, and linear degradation of not more than 0.7% per year thereafter, still achieving 85% of rated output power after 25 years. The warranty program reassures customers that their Q.SMART modules will continue at peak performance throughout their operational lifetimes.

The modules also come with the Q-CELLS YIELD SECURITY seal of quality. This includes an Additional Power Boost (APB), an increase in output by up to 15% through positive sorting and the light-soaking effect; plus 360° efficiency (TDE) through flexible installation in diffused light conditions, in shade and at unfavorable angles.

“The release of our innovative Q.SMART technology in North America aligns with Q-Cells’ corporate vision to bring best-of-world solar technology and partnerships to local markets,” says Marc van Gerven, managing director of Q-Cells North America of San Francisco, CA, USA. “Since entering North America one year ago, Q-Cells introduced first its utility-scale solar business, then rolled out its PV systems business, and began module sales with the availability of Q.SMART,” he adds.

The technology behind Q.SMART was developed in 1983 by the Ångström Solar Center at Uppsala University, Sweden, commercialized by the spin-off company Solibro in 2006, and acquired by Q-Cells in 2009. This March, Q-Cells said it had achieved the milestone of 14.7% production efficiency on the aperture area, a record for monolithically integrated CIGS thin-film modules. At the end of 2010, total production capacity in Thalheim, Germany had reached 135MWp.

Outside of North America, Q-Cells has already deployed Q.SMART modules in both commercial and residential installations. Projects in 2010 include a 3.4MWp commercial rooftop Tontarelli, Italy; a 610kWp commercial rooftop at Venice Airport, Italy; and an 880kWp carport at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany. Most recently in 2011, iGen Energy of Manchester, UK completed work on the first phase of a 96kWp installation in Buxton, Derbyshire for professional cleaning solutions manufacturer Selden Research. The commercial roof-top project is the first in the UK to use Q.SMART modules. When it is completed, the new system covering 1500m2 will be one of the largest in England.

Tags: Q-Cells CIGS module

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