PV: Optics based surface technology gets NREL boost

Soloptics has publicised the results of tests conducted at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for its FUSION technology, designed to make PV panels more efficient.

According to Soloptics, the FUSION technology consists of microstructures that can be embossed or cast into either a thin polymer film and then adhered to a PV panel, either in the factory or in the field, or engineered directly into the protective glass layer utilised in most PV panels produced today.

In tests performed by NREL at its Golden, Colorado research campus, FUSION delivered conversion efficiency gains ranging from 10-12.5%, depending on testing conditions. According to Soloptics, FUSION achieved these gains regardless of the underlying PV material for less than US$0.10/watt (installed cost). Soloptics projects that the breakthrough could create US$1-US$2 billion dollars of incremental value in the marketplace within 3 years.

"The FUSION product shows significant improvement in the PV current over existing technology, particularly under various low level lighting conditions," says Keith Emery, principal research supervisor at NREL's outdoor test (which characterises the performance and reliability of PV cells, modules, and small systems).

The company also claims that FUSION’s gains in efficiency are amplified by low cost, driven primarily by integrating the technology into existing glass and plastic film manufacturing processes together with its use of readily-available and inexpensive materials. In addition, the company also claims that FUSION is the only efficiency-boosting technology whose application process can take place in the field - for the film version - or at the production facility, and the installation does not require expensive specialised equipment or labour.

"FUSION can also be customised based on various factors such as higher/lower diffuse light conditions, specific panel manufacturers, or to filter out specific wavelengths of light," a statement explained.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity