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Investigation of cell-to-module (CTM) ratios of PV modules by analysis of loss

and gain mechanisms

Article · June 2016


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7 authors, including:

Hamed Hanifi David Daßler

Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics


Jens Schneider Sebastian Schindler

Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics


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Fab &
Investigation of cell-to-module (CTM)
Materials ratios of PV modules by analysis of loss
and gain mechanisms
Hamed Hanifi1,2, Charlotte Pfau1, David Dassler1,2, Sebastian Schindler1, Jens Schneider1, Marko Turek1 &
Thin Joerg Bagdahn1,2
1Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP, Halle; 2Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Faculty EMW,

Koethen, Germany
Watch The output power of a solar module is the sum of the powers of all the individual cells in the module multiplied
by the cell-to-module (CTM) power ratio. The CTM ratio is determined by interacting optical losses and gains
as well as by electrical losses. Higher efficiency and output power at the module level can be achieved by using
novel ideas in module technology. This paper reviews methods for reducing different optical and electrical loss
mechanisms in PV modules and for increasing the optical gains in order to achieve higher CTM ratios. Various
solutions for optimizing PV modules by means of simulations and experimental prototypes are recommended.
Finally, it is shown that designing PV modules on the basis of standard test conditions (STC) alone is not
adequate, and that, to achieve higher CTM ratios by improving the module designs in respect of environmental
conditions, an energy yield analysis is essential.

technology it is expected that CTM ratio of PV modules by modif ying
The processing of solar cells into ratios of over 100% will be achieved module integrations and employing
modules leads to different physical by reducing the electrical and optical different module designs. Optical
power loss and gain mechanisms in the losses and increasing the optical gains effects in PV modules are discussed,
stack. The optical losses result from at the module level, as seen in Fig. 1. along with possible solutions for
reflection and absorption in the glass (Note that ‘CTM’ is still occasionally re duc ing the optic al lo ss e s and
and encapsulant, and the electrical used to refer to cell-to-module power increasing the gains. Also presented
losses are caused by the Joule heating losses; however, since the losses are are various modifications of module
effect in module interconnections. nowadays expected to be 0% and interconnections and connecting tabs
Optical gains are realized through back below, the CTM power ratio is more in order to decrease electrical losses by
reflections of light from the backsheet widely used.) means of alternative measurement and
through the cell spacing, from solar This paper re vie ws different simulation methods. Furthermore, the
cell metallization and connecting tabs, methods for increasing the CTM impact of environmental conditions
and from the solar cell surface inside
the cover stack [1–5].
The ratio of module power to cell
power, multiplied by the number
of cells integrated in the module, is
defined as the cell-to-module (CTM)
power ratio. This factor quantifies the
general loss/gain percentage in a PV
module [6], and its importance can
be explained by means of an example.
The efficiency of some of the top solar
cells recently launched on the market is
about 21.25±0.4% for multicrystalline
solar cells, while the corresponding
P V m o d u l e i n co r p o r at i n g th e s e
cells demonstrates an efficiency of
19.2±0.4% [7]. This corresponds to
a reduction in module efficiency of
almost 2% abs, or a CTM ratio of 90%,
which equates to almost 18 years’ R&D
work on improving the efficiency of
multicrystalline solar cell technology
According to the International
Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics Figure 1. Expected trend of the CTM power ratio over the next 10 years [6].
[6], with advances in PV and module

90 w w w.p v - te ch . o rg
on module performance is analysed, light from inactive module areas to tab widths, but, at the same time,
and possible solutions and tools are the cell. smaller tabs cause higher resistive
proposed for increasing the CTM Fig. 2 shows the relevant loss and losses. The electrical losses in the
ratios with regard to different locations gain mechanisms that occur in the interconnection should always be
and climates. different regions of a typical c-Si taken into account. In the optimization
solar module, i.e. in the front layer of the efficiency of a module, the
stack (mechanisms 1–5), in the cell product of all loss/gain factors has to
“A higher CTM is achievable interspace/module border areas (6 and
7), on the top contacts (8 and 9), and
be maximized. A cost–benefit analysis,
by reducing unavoidable however, is also essential, especially in
in the electrical interconnection (10). the case of commercial modules.
electrical and optical losses The indicated numbered effects and
possible related CTM improvements Optimization of the module stack
and by enhancing direct and are discussed in the following (mechanisms 1–5)
indirect optical coupling subsections. On a light path through the front layers PV
A suitable method for predicting the of a module, the targeted optical losses Modules
gains. ” total power of a module has proved
to be a sequential consideration of
for reduction are (with reference to
Fig. 2) the reflection at the glass/air
Power gain approaches the mechanisms , where a certain interface (1), the absorption inside the
loss/gain factor is calculated for each glass (2), the reflection at the glass/
Basically, a higher CTM is achievable effect [3]. In the determination of the encapsulant interface (3), and the
by reducing unavoidable electrical individual factors, the whole system absorption inside the encapsulant
and optical losses and by enhancing needs to be considered: an example (4). With regard to the CTM, the
direct and indirect optical coupling of this is that the reflection loss at the ref lection at the encapsulant/cell
gains. Electrical losses in the glass/encapsulant interface is (as will interface (5) is usually a gain. This is
module are ohmic losses due to the be explained below) determined by due to the fact that a larger fraction
interconnection in the module and the glass, the encapsulant, and the of light is coupled into the cell surface
bypass diodes in the case of shading spectrum hitting that interface, as after lamination, because the high
conditions. Optical losses are caused well as by the spectral response of the refractive index of the cell (nSiN ≈ 2 and
by light reflection and absorption in present cell. nSi = 3.8 at λ = 680nm) better matches
the front stack of module materials, as In module evaluation and design, that of the encapsulant materials
well as by light incidence on inactive the optical and electrical interactions (nencapsulant = 1.48 … 1.50 at λ = 680nm)
module areas, such as the module between the different module than that of air (nair ≈ 1).
perimeter, cell interspaces and top components need to be considered. For Th e ch a n g e i n l i g ht i nte n s i t y
contacts. Direct optical coupling gains the top-contact design in particular, at the ref lecting interfaces under
result from improved index matching the optical and electrical effects consideration and inside the
at th e f ro nt cel l i nte r f a ce a f te r influence each other; for example, corresponding absorbing layers can be
lamination. Indirect optical coupling the optical shading losses of the front calculated using the Fresnel equations
gains can be obtained by redirecting contacts are reduced by using smaller [9] if the optical spectroscopy data

(a) (b)

Figure 2. Schematic cross section (a) and top view (b) of a typical crystalline Si-based PV module, showing the different
loss/gain mechanisms described in the text.
of the material are known. In the can be reduced from about 4% to at λ = 680nm).
ca se of thin layers , interference below 1% by introducing a single AR The absorption loss inside the
effects have to be considered in an layer. A popular AR layer for glasses encapsulant (mechanism 4) is more
electric field description; this can in is nanoporous SiO 2, since it has the critical. Because of its reactivity, EVA
principle be done analytically, but is required low (effective) refractive index is usually doped with UV blockers,
usually calculated numerically by the n, the specific value of which can be causing the UV-absorption edge of the
so-called transfer-matrix method [10]. designed by the volume fraction of the EVA to already set in at 380nm. Since
If the effects of structured interfaces pores. such UV protection is not necessary
or regions need to be determined, The optimum refractive index of for PVBs and silicones, they provide
it might be necessar y to perform an AR layer is intermediate to those much better UV transmission.
numerical simulations – for example, of the materials on either side, i.e. From an optical optimization point
finite element calculations. n A R = ( n j × n j + 1 ) 1 / 2 . It s o p t i m u m of view, when choosing an encapsulant
Considering the standard case of thickness is d = λ/(4×n AR ), leading the index matching to the glass is more
PV vertical incidence on a planar interface to zero ref le ction at the desig n important than index matching to
Modules between layer j and layer j+1, the wavelength λ by destructive the cell surface. The reflection at the
Fresnel equations can be simplified, interference. Of course, multilayer AR encapsulant/Si interface can be more
and the reflection coefficient, given coatings can suppress reflection over a effectively influenced by the surface
by the ratio of reflected and incoming broader spectral range. However, with texture and the silicon nitride AR layer
intensities, is then: regard to the achievable additional of the cell. Thus, an improvement
ef f icienc y gain, the adde d cost s related to mechanism 5 requires an
of multilayer coatings have to be optimization at the cell level, which is
(1) taken into account for the economic not discussed further in this paper.
production of solar modules. In general, the effects of different
Cor re sp onding ly, for a simple The absorption loss inside the glass module materials depend on the
air/Si interface a large amount of (mechanism 2) can be minimized by particular set-up. The loss factor,
light intensity R = 35% (see values a proper choice of mineral glass, such which is the relevant quantity in
above) is lost. Theoretically, this loss as the extra-clear, low-iron, soda- module design, is a weighted total
can be reduced to about 10% by the lime silica glass. Besides the glass i nte g r a l i nte n s i t y l o s s o v e r th e
distribution of the large refractive composition (transition metal ion relevant spectral range. The integral is
index difference Δn over se veral impurities cause absorption losses weighted with the spectrum incident
smaller steps. in the relevant spectral range, and on the corresponding layer and the
Materials with optimal refractive network modifiers determine the UV spectral response of the solar cells
indexes, however, are not available. absorption edge), the glass quality under consideration. In Fig. 3(a) the
Although a very good index matching (glass defects cause scattering losses) is combined weighting function, i.e.
between glass and encapsulant of relevance. the product of both functions, is
is possible, in the case of the The reflection loss at the glass/ shown for an irradiated AM1.5g sun
other interfaces (i.e. air/glass and encapsulant interface (mechanism 3) spectrum and selective emitter (SE)
encapsulant/Si) anti-reflection (AR) can easily be reduced to below 10 -3, cells with a high UV spectral response.
coatings or light-trapping structures since suitable encapsulant materials By means of this weighting, the fact
are the best options for reducing with the same refractive index as glass that the module materials need to be
reflection losses. (nglass ≈ 1.5 at λ = 680nm) are available optimized with respect to the spectral
The integral reflection loss at the (EVA , PVB, TPSE – all having a distribution of the available (and also
air/glass interface (mechanism 1) refractive index between 1.48 and 1.5 convertible) light intensity is taken

(a) (b)

Figure 3. (a) Irradiated AM1.5g solar spectrum [12], spectral response function of selective emitter (SE) cells, and
resulting weighting function. (b) Relative power losses due to various optical processes in the front stack of a baseline
module compared with a module optimized with an AR coating on glass, thinner glass and high UV transmittance
encapsulant [11].

92 w w w.p v - te ch . o rg
into account. In the example given glass, resulting in the reflection loss at induced shrinkage of the encapsulant,
next, the performance of the material the glass/encapsulant almost vanishing which can bring adjacent strings into
is relevant between approximately for both modules. contact and thus cause short circuits.
300 and 1100nm, where the design The absorption loss inside the With regard to the dimensioning of a
wavelength should be at about 675nm, encapsulant, on the other hand, has module, a compromise between cost
in other words at the maximum of the a large impact, but is significantly and benefit needs to be found.
combined weighting function. reduced when using PVB instead of In this context , it must b e in
EVA . Here, the above-mentioned particularly borne in mind that these
Example: Effects of AR coating, thinner higher U V transmittance of PVB inactive areas do not negatively affect
gl a ss and high U V tran smi ssion basically explains the positive effect; the module power. On the contrary,
encapsulant a larger part of UV light reaching the the partial redirection of light from
To illustrate the effects of various cell can be used for electrical power inactive areas to the cell (mechanism
i n n o v at i v e t e c h n o l o g i e s , i n t h e generation. Especially in the case of 7) provides an extra current and thus
fol l ow ing ex a mp le th e d i f ferent the SE cells considered here, this effect additional power. This gain can be PV
loss factors for mechanisms 1–4 is significant, because SE cells yield a achieved by means of reflections from Modules
are determined for a baseline and relatively good UV response. In total, the inactive areas, since a part of that
an improved solar module. B oth the relative power loss is reduced light is reflected back at the glass/air
modules are prepared with SE solar from about 8% to below 4% by all interface and thus partially redirected
cells. In essence, the baseline module the innovative technologies used in to the cell. This light-recycling effect is
is built with standard solar glass and the improved module. The results a decisive step towards the ambitious
EVA enc ap sul ant , where a s g l a ss could be verified by means of flasher goal of achieving a CTM well above
with an AR coating and reduced measurements on mini-modules and 100%.
thickness (2mm instead of 3.2mm) on standard-size modules.
and PVB encapsulant is used for the Example: Effect of a white backsheet
improved module. The experimental Optimization of cell interspaces and As an example, for state-of- the-
investigations of the modules and the module border areas (mechanisms art white backsheets it has been
module materials used are presented in 6–7) s h o w n , b y l i g h t- b e a m - i n d u c e d
Schneider et al. [11]. A portion of the incident radiation on current measurements (LBIC), that
Here, the factors are calculated a module hits the cell interspaces and illumination of the area next to a cell
with the combined weighting function module borders first rather than the generates typically 20% of the short-
given in Fig. 3(a) by using the optical solar cells themselves, and thus cannot circuit current obtained from direct
transmittance and reflectance spectra directly be used for power generation cell illumination. If the space between
of individual and combined module (mechanism 6). The absolute efficiency neighbouring cells is also considered,
materials. The resulting power losses of the solar module decreases in the relative amount is doubled to 40%.
are summarized in Fig . 3(b). The proportion to the size of those inactive For a typical cell efficiency of 18%,
relative power loss of mechanisms 1–4 areas . The corresponding optical the efficiency of the cell interspaces
is about 8% in total for the baseline efficiency loss can be reduced by is thus greater than 7%. In the case
module investigated. The largest minimizing these areas and by a proper of a standard module with 5mm
contribution to the power loss, being choice of module geometry and cell cell spacing, the additional total cell
about 4%, stems from the reflection at format; for example, full-square wafers interspace area with 7% efficiency
the air/glass interface. By introducing yield a higher fraction of active areas is about 0.1m 2 ; this corresponds to
an AR layer onto the glass, this loss on a module than pseudo-square or approximately 3% more power [13].
could be significantly reduced for round wafers.
the optimized module, as seen in Fig. The ability to reduce the distance Optimization of the top-contact
3(a). The difference in the absorption between the cells, however, is limited. design (mechanisms 8–9)
loss originates from the reduced glass The cell space within a string is mainly Cell shading due to the front-side
thickness, but the effect is small, since limited by mechanical stress caused metallization (mechanism 8), i.e.
the low-iron glass utilized has only by tabs between the front contact fingers and contacting tabs, can be
minor residual absorption losses. The of one cell and the back contact of reduced by minimizing the widths
reflection loss at the glass rear-side the neighbouring cell. A minimum of these contacts; however, series
interface is even smaller, because the distance between strings is basically resistance losses increase with smaller
refractive index of both encapsulant impose d be cause of positioning- contact cross sections . Thus , an
materials matches very well that of the accuracy challenges and lamination- optimization with regard to these

Figure 4. Schematic of the reflection paths produced by various tab technologies [13].
optical and electrical losses would tabs made by Schlenk) and without of the interconnection designs is a good
suggest that contacts with high aspect them: LBIC measurements taken on way of reducing electrical losses and
ratios (i.e. having small widths and large both modules are presented in Fig. 5. increasing the CTM ratio [4].
heights) are necessary. However, with The results indicate that illumination on
high aspect ratios come stiffer tabs, a standard tab produces 5% of the short-
which can induce cell breakage during
module processing and operation [14].
circuit current generation of the actual
cell, whereas for LHS this proportion
“PV modules with half-
size cells demonstrate
One option for improving the CTM is increased to 75%. This extra current
is to obtain an indirect coupling gain on means that the total current and power better performance than
the top contacts (mechanism 9) by using of the investigated module is enhanced
improved tab geometry. In Fig. 4 the by 3%, a value that is in agreement with
conventional PV modules
light reflection paths following vertical directly measured short-circuit currents, because of the higher optical
incidence are shown schematically for where an enhancement of 2.5–3% was
PV three different tab geometries. found. gains and lower electrical
Modules S t an d ar d t ab s re f l e c t n o r m a l
incident light straight back and thus Reduction of electrical losses in the
losses. ”
do not generate a gain. For round interconnection (mechanism 10)
tabs, depending on the region where Electrical losses at the module level are Example: Half-cell modules
light hits the wire, different cases are mainly due to the losses in the cell and P V mo dules w ith half- si ze cells
possible: hitting the first region, light string interconnections (mechanism 10). demonstrate better performance than
can be reflected sideways towards the Cell interconnections cause optical losses conventional PV modules because
cell; entering the second region, light by partially covering the active area of of the higher optical gains and lower
is reflected to the glass/air interface at the solar cell, while electrical losses result electrical losses [16,17]. According
such an angle that it is totally reflected from the current passing through the tabs to the experiments performed on
back to the glass. The reduction in the [3,4]. Advances in module technology monocrystalline cells by Hanifi et al.
effectively shaded area of a wire can be are expected to optimize the optical and [4] and Eiternick et al. [18], when solar
easily calculated and is 70.7% for the electrical losses in order to achieve higher cells are cut in half the efficiency of the
first region and 35.7% for the second CTM power ratios. cells slightly decreases, by about 1.1%rel,
[15]. In the third case, light hitting this Electrical losses decrease by increasing because of the laser-scribed edges. As
region is either reflected back through the tab width, whereas optical losses illustrated in Fig. 6, the measured full-
the glass or partially reflected at its increase linearly with increasing tab size cells have an average efficiency of
surface, depending on the specific angle. width. The optimum tab width for 19.4%, and the half-size cells exhibit a
Textured tabs are designed in such a way harvesting maximum power should lower efficiency after the laser-cutting
that they reflect vertical incident light therefore be determined by considering process. The reduction in efficiency,
sideways so that it reaches the glass/ both electrical and optical losses. however, is offset after the fabrication
air interface at angles greater than the Moreover, the electrical losses are related of one-cell modules: half-cell modules
critical angle for total internal reflection, to the square of the current passing demonstrate 19.1% efficiency, which
and is thus redirected to the cell. through the tabs; thus by changing is 0.7% higher than in the case of full-
the module design and decreasing the cell modules. These results explain the
Example: Effect of light-harvesting strings operating current of the solar cells, the 94.8% CTM ratio for full-size cells and
Turek and Eiternick [5] and Schneider electrical losses can be significantly 98.4% for half-size cells, when the losses
et al. [11] compared modules built with reduced [2,4]. The use of cut solar cells due to the laser-scribing process are
light-harvesting strings (LHS, textured in combination with a rearrangement considered [4].

(a) (b)

Figure 5. Light-beam-induced current images: (a) without light-harvesting strings (LHS); (b) with LHS. The current
generation from the tab regions is significantly improved [11].

94 w w w.p v - te ch . o rg
Half-cell modules generate half and their electrical properties are It should be noted that the extra optical
the current of full-cell modules; measured before and after the module gain resulting from the additional cell
therefore, the electrical losses of the fabrication. At STC the optimum tab spacing in half-cell modules is not
connections of half-cell module are width for standard cells is 1.7mm. By included in the simulation results.
one-quarter those of full-cell modules cutting the solar cells in half, the power
[17]. New module designs require loss decreases by 2.14%. By reducing
From power to energy
a rethinking of the tab dimensions the tab width of half-cell modules to
when optimizing the electrical losses 0.8mm, 0.92% more power can be Spectrally resolved CTM
in module interconnections. Fig. 7 gained. It can be concluded that the Higher CTM ratios can be achieved by
shows the simulation results for the optimum tab width for half-cell modules using different technologies in module
optical, electrical and overall losses of is around 0.8mm, which is almost half integration. Solar cell technology, as
a module with two half-size cells, and the optimum tab width of the full-cell the most important part of module
for a module with one full-size cell, layout. The use of a narrower tab width integration, can play a significant
in respect of different tab widths at for a half-cell layout therefore leads to role. Monocrystalline solar cells have PV
standard test conditions (STC). The cells an increase in the CTM ratio and to a alkaline-based textures with good Modules
are monocrystalline with three busbars, reduction in material consumption [4]. optical properties which lead to better
quantum efficiency compared with
multicrystalline solar cells with an acid-
based texture – see Fig. 8(a). The lower
texture quality of multicrystalline cells
brings with it higher reflection losses
and thus decreased initial cell efficiency
in air. A higher coupling gain when
embedded into a module is therefore
made possible, which yields a higher
CTM ratio, especially in the UV and
near-IR ranges, as a result of indirect
optical coupling of the reflected light.
This becomes evident when the external
quantum efficiency (EQE) of mono-
Si and multi-Si cells and modules are
compared, as shown in Fig. 8(b).

“It is important to understand

the loss mechanisms
at different irradiation
Figure 6. Efficiencies of half-cell and full-cell concepts at the cell and module levels, especially low-light
levels. Losses due to the laser-cutting process are compensated for at the
module level [4]. conditions. ”

Figure 7. Optical shading, electrical and overall losses of three-busbar, full-cell and half-cell modules as a function of tab
width at STC, without considering other optical gains in the module. The optical losses for both modules are the same [4].
(a) (b)


Figure 8. (a) Measured EQE for multi-Si and mono-Si solar cells and their corresponding mini-modules. (b) Measured
module-to-cell EQE ratio for these two technologies.

Light-intensity-resolved CTM
Most of the efficiency evaluations of
PV modules are referred to STC. It is
important, however, to understand the
loss mechanisms at different irradiation
levels, especially low-light conditions.
Fig. 9 shows the simulation results for
the efficiencies of half-cell and full-
cell modules described in the earlier
section on interconnection electrical
loss reduction, with two optimized tab
widths and at different irradiation levels.
At high irradiation levels the electrical
losses are the major reason for power
loss in full-cell module interconnections,
whereas half-cell modules demonstrate
better performance at high levels
because of reduced electrical current.
The overall power loss trend in half-cell
modules, however, indicates that the
optical losses caused by the tabs are the
dominant loss mechanism in full-cell
modules at high irradiation levels. Figure 9. Efficiencies of half-cell and full-cell layouts with respect to
In low-light conditions the optical irradiation, for two optimized tab widths. The continuous lines on the graph
losses are the dominant loss mechanism represent the optimized tab widths.
for both types of module [4]. Therefore,
in locations with low irradiation levels,
there could be a benefit of higher irradiance levels determined for a confirm that the energy yield of half-
efficiencies with modules having narrow moderate climate (Germany) and a cell modules is consistently higher than
tab widths than with modules having desert climate (Morocco). The data that of a full-cell layout, because of the
wider tabs. used were accumulated between 2012 reduced electrical losses. Furthermore,
and 2014, without considering the the changes between electrical and
Energy yield in different locations night time. The results demonstrate optical losses at different irradiation
As mentioned in the previous section, the more frequent occurrence of high- levels cause the optimum tab width for
the loss me chanisms at v ar ious level irradiation in a desert climate a full-cell module to shift to 1.3mm from
irradiation levels are different for full- than in a moderate climate, which leads the 1.7mm already simulated for STC.
cell modules. This explains the need to to higher electrical losses in module In this case, compared with full-cell
consider energy yield calculations when interconnections [4]. modules the half-cell modules benefit
determining the best module design for The simulation results of the energy from a greater energy yield of 1.52% and
different locations in order to increase yield based on the overall loss results for 2.20% for the moderate (Germany) and
the CTM ratio. the modules mentioned in the section on desert (Morocco) regions respectively
Fig. 10(a) demonstrates the periods interconnection electrical loss reduction [4]. It can be deduced that it is not
(average hours per year) of different are shown in Fig. 10(b) [4]. These results sufficient to consider just STC when

96 w w w.p v - te ch . o rg
(a) (b)


Figure 10. (a) Relative frequency of average annual irradiation over three years, along with the corresponding irradiation
levels, in Morocco and Germany for 2012 to 2014; (b) related energy yield calculations for the half-cell and full-cell mini-
modules using different tab widths [4].

analysing the losses. Energy yield analysis the different reflectance of the cell modules under irradiation at different
is a tool that can be used to quantify surfaces and direct coupling gain, angles of incidence and in different
the module behaviour under different a higher relative CTM gain than locations, energy yield measurements are
environmental conditions in order to for high-efficiency mono-Si cells is also recommended.
propose better module designs. achievable.

Conclusions and future work • A better UV and near-IR response

makes multi-Si cells more suitable for
“With the use of novel module
technology techniques, it is
In the work presented in this paper, the extreme climates, such as in highlands
different loss and gain mechanisms in and deserts. possible to obtain higher CTM
PV modules were reviewed. It was also
shown that with the use of novel module • The dominant loss mechanisms for
ratios and achieve economic
designs, it is possible to minimize the tabs vary with different irradiation benefits over optimized
losses and increase the gains. The levels. Electrical losses are the
conclusions can be summarized as
dominant power loss mechanism for
full-cell modules at high-irradiation
module integrations. ”
levels, while optical losses are behind In this paper the investigation of
• The interaction of individual layers the main power loss in low-light the response of standard mono- and
and components is important. conditions. In the case of half-cell multicrystalline solar cells was presented;
modules, optical losses are the major the behaviour of other cell concepts –
• By modifying module integrations – cause of power loss in both irradiation such as bifacial and PERC cells or other
such as glass thickness, backsheet or conditions. cell designs (e.g. cells with more than
tabs – the optical losses and gains can three busbars or multi-wire technologies)
be optimized. • Referencing only to STC is not – is proposed for future studies.
adequate when looking to optimize B e s i d e s th e e f fe c t o f m o d u l e
• Modules with cut cells demonstrate module design for different locations. integrations on CTM ratios, the role
better CTM ratios because of lower Energy yield analysis is a good tool to that the electrical interconnection and
electrical losses and higher optical use for designing modules with higher novel module designs can play on loss
gains. CTM ratios at different environmental and gain mechanisms in PV modules
conditions. is another consideration. A half-cell
• Cutting solar cells leads to a slight layout has been compared with a layout
decrease in cell efficiency, but this loss • The results show that with the use of incorporating standard-size solar cells,
is offset at the module level. novel module technology techniques, but other designs – such as one-third
it is possible to obtain higher CTM or one-quarter cell layouts – should be
• The efficiency of half-cell modules can ratios and achieve economic benefits investigated.
be increased by using a narrower tab over optimized module integrations. Finally, the yield of solar modules
width. in non-STC conditions (such as in
Th e o p t i c a l c h a r a c t e r i z at i o n s deserts) by taking into account the
• The cell type and sensitivity are presented here were carried out for light irradiation was discussed. However,
important. For solar cells with with a perpendicular angle of incidence. other environmental conditions, such as
lower efficiency (multi-Si) due to In order to qualify the behaviour of PV temperature, also need to be considered.
Acknowledgements [12] ISO 9845-1:1992, “Reference solar group at Fraunhofer CSP, working in the
We thank our colleagues at Fraunhofer spectral irradiance at the ground at field of yield analysis. In 2015 he began
CSP for their contributions to this different receiving conditions – Part his Ph.D. at Anhalt University of Applied
work in preparing, measuring and 1: Direct normal and hemispherical Sciences and Fraunhofer CSP, with a
characterizing the samples. We also solar irradiance for air mass 1,5”. topic of yield modelling and prediction
thank the Federal Ministry for Economic [13] Seifert, G. et al. 2015, “Light of solar modules in desert climates.
Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the management in solar modules”,
Federal Ministr y of Research and in Wehrspohn, R.B. et al. (Eds), Sebastian Schindler
Education (BMBF) for their financial Photon Management in Solar Cells. received his diploma in
support under the Wuestenmodule Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH. the field of
contract (reference number [14] Schneider, A. et al. 2014, “Cell to microelectronics
03FH014IX4) and the CTM100 contract module loss reduction and module packaging from Dresden
(reference number 0324033). reliability enhancements by solder University. At Fraunhofer
PV ribbon optimization”, Proc. 29th CSP he leads the module technology
Modules References EU PV SEC, Amsterdam, The team, focusing on improvements in
[1] McIntosh, K. et al. 2009, Proc. Netherlands. interconnection technologies for novel
34th IEEE PVSC, Philadelphia, [15] Braun, S., Micard, G. & Hahn, G. cells and ne w mo dule a ssembly
Pennsylvania, USA. 2012, “Solar cell improvement by technologies for PV applications.
[2] Witteck, R. et al. 2014, “Simulation using a multi busbar design as front
of optimized cell interconnection electrode”, Energy Procedia, Vol. 27, Prof. Jens Schneider
for PERC modules exceeding pp. 227–233. received his Ph.D. in
300W”, Proc. 6th WCPEC, Kyoto, [16] Guo, S. et al. 2014, “Investigation electrical engineering
Japan. on the short circuit current increase from TU Berlin and HMI
[3] Haedrich, I. et al. 2014, “Unified for PV modules using halved cells”, Berlin. In 2011 he joined
methodology for determining CTM Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells, pp. Fraunhofer CSP, where he
ratios: Systematic prediction of 240–247. is head of the module technology group.
module power”, Sol. Energy Mater. [17] Hanifi, H., Schneider, J. & Bagdahn, Since August 2014 he has been a
Sol. Cells, pp. 14–23. J. 2015, “Reduced shading effect on professor at Leipzig University of
[4] Hanifi, H. et al. 2016, “Optimized half-cell modules – Measurement Applied Sciences (HTWK).
tab width in half-cell modules”, and simulation”, Proc. 31st EU
Energy Procedia. PVSEC, Hamburg, Germany. Dr. Marko Turek studied
[5] Turek, M. & Eiternick, S. 2014, [18] Eiternick, S. et al. 2014, “Loss physics at Dresden
“Rapid module component testing analysis for laser separated solar University and received
and quantification of performance cells”, Energy Procedia, Vol. 55, pp. his Ph.D. in the field of
gains”, Energy Procedia, Vol. 55, pp. 326–330. condensed matter theory
369–373. from the University of
[6] SEMI PV Group Europe 2016, About the Authors Regensburg. Head of the team working
“International technology roadmap Hamed Hanifi received on the electrical characterization of solar
for photovoltaic (ITRPV): 2015 h i s M . S c . d e g re e i n cells at Fraunhofer CSP, he focuses on
results”, 7th edn (Mar.) [http://www. electrical power the loss analysis of solar cells and
itrpv.net/Reports/Downloads/]. engineering from modules, advanced characterization
[7] Green, M. et al. 2016, “Solar cell Brandenburg University methods, and the development of new
efficiency tables (Version 47)”, Prog. of Technology. Since 2015 test methods and devices.
Photovoltaics Res. Appl., p. 8. he has been a Ph.D. student at Anhalt
[8] N at i o n a l R e n e w ab l e E n e rg y University of Applied Sciences and Prof. Joerg Bagdahn has
Laboratory (NREL), “Best cell Fr au n h o fe r C SP i n th e m o d u l e a diploma and a Ph.D. in
efficiencies”, Report. technology group, where his research materials science from the
[9] Krauter, S. & Grunow, P. 2006, focuses on the optimization of PV Technical University of
“Optical modelling and simulation modules for desert applications. Chemnitz and Martin
of PV module encapsulation to Luther University Halle-
improve structure and material Charlotte Pfau studied Wittenberg respectively. The director of
properties for maximum energy physics at the University Fraunhofer CSP since 2007, he has held a
yield”, Proc. IEEE 4th WCPEC, of Leipzig , Germany. ‘Photovoltaic Materials’ professorship at
Waikoloa, Hawaii, USA. After receiving her Ph.D. Anhalt University of Applied Sciences
[10] Born, M. & Wolf, E. 1964, Principles in 2014 from the Institute since 2009.
of Optics: Electromagnetic Theory of Physics at Halle
of Propagation, Interference and University, she began working at Enquiries
D iffraction of Light. Oxford: Fraunhofer CSP, focusing on optics in Hamed Hanifi
Pergamon Press. solar modules and module optimization. Fraunhofer Center for Silicon
[11] Schneider, J. et al. 2014, “Combined Photovoltaics (CSP)
effect of light harvesting strings, David Dassler received
anti-reflective coating, thin glass, his M.S c . in applie d Otto-Eissfeldt-Str. 12
and high ultraviolet transmission mathematics from Leipzig 06120 Halle
encapsulant to reduce optical University of Applied Germany
losses in solar modules”, Prog. Sciences. Since 2012 he
Photovoltaics Res. Appl., Vol. 22, pp. has been with the Tel: +49 345 5589 5515
830–837. reliability of solar modules and systems Email: hamed.hanifi@csp.fraunhofer.de

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