5 September 2011

Solar Frontier CIS PV panels TUV-certified for salt mist and ammonia resistance

Tokyo-based Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Japanese energy business Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., says that its CIS (copper, indium, selenium) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules have passed all salt mist and ammonia resistance tests devised by TÜV Rheinland, and that it has received the relevant certifications proving this (a distinction that few PV manufacturers have, it is claimed).

In agricultural areas it is vital that the glass, frame and connections of the modules are not corroded by ammonia generated by livestock. Near seashores, resistance against the corrosive attributes of salt mist is essential. TÜV Rheinland’s tests showed that even high concentrations of salt mist and ammonia did not affect Solar Frontier’s modules or lead to accelerated degradation.

“With TÜV Rheinland salt mist and ammonia resistance certification, installers and homeowners can now rest assured that a PV installation with Solar Frontier modules is not only an economical and ecological investment, but also a secure investment when located near the seashore or in livestock-intensive agricultural areas,” says Wolfgang Lange, managing director of Solar Frontier Europe GmbH in Munich, Germany. “Our modules withstood even the most challenging TÜV Rheinland tests, showing that they remain unaffected by the corrosive properties of ammonia or salt mist.”

Solar Frontier’s globally distributed CIS thin-film PV modules are produced at its new $1bn Kunitomi Plant in Miyazaki, Japan (reckoned to be the world’s first gigawatt-scale CIS module factory), which reached commercial operation of all its production lines in July (after shipping its first commercial modules in February, just 16 months after breaking ground). Earlier in July, the firm had announced the commercial availability of 150W modules with solar energy conversion efficiency of 12.2% (power output is now rated at up to 155W). 

* In mid-August, Solar Frontier’s modules were certified as RoHS compliant. While solar modules are currently exempt from RoHS compliance, Solar Frontier is one of the few manufacturers able to meet the requirements and has completed voluntary testing by TÜV Rheinland to make it official. The ‘Restriction of Hazardous Substances’, adopted by the European Union in 2003, sets a 0.01% concentration limit on cadmium and a 0.1% limit on lead, mercury and three other hazardous substances, for any component of a certified device.

“Solar energy has many environmental advantages in the world’s energy portfolio, but toxicity is an extremely important issue,” says Wolfgang Lange, managing director of Solar Frontier Europe GmbH in Munich, Germany. “Solar Frontier believes that as solar energy rapidly grows around the world, it is important that environmental standards advance to ensure that solar energy also fulfills its ecological promise,” he adds.

The goal of RoHS is to reduce the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. Solar Frontier says that it has been developing its proprietary CIS technology since 1993 in order to achieve a combination of better performance and environmental friendliness at a lower cost per kilowatt hour.

Also, last year the firm joined the Brussels-based European association PV Cycle, an interest group founded in 2007 that is developing an industry-wide, voluntary waste-management and recycling program for end-of-life photovoltaic modules.

End-of-life modules are still scarce compared to the number of modules still in operation, as many photovoltaic systems began ramping up in the early 1990s. The average module is expected to produce energy for over 25 years. PV Cycle intends to have its program in place by 2015, when a large number of modules have to be replaced. It hence supports research to minimize recycling costs and provides information for owners, installers and distributors of PV modules.

Solar Frontier says that its CIS technology has been developed since 1993 to minimize the challenges of panel recycling by eliminating hazards. In addition, parent company Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. has partnered with Kitakyushu City to build Japan’s first PV system recycling facility in a project with Japan’s New Energy Development Organization (NEDO). It is cooperating with NEDO and universities to co-develop appropriate processes to recycle all kinds of solar panels.

Tags: Solar Frontier CIS thin-film PV modules

Visit: www.solar-frontier.com

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