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European consortium develops thin-film solar PV module

European companies are working together to produce a low-cost thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) module for roofing.

By Isabella Kaminski

PV-GUM, a consortium of 9 European companies, will work together over the next three years to develop new manufacturing technologies and equipment to produce low-cost building-integrated thin-film (BIPV) membranes.

The consortium estimates that the existing potential of suitable roofs for the thin-film (BIPV) product is around 23 million m2. At the end of the project, a 200 kWp roof will be demonstrated in France.

PV-GUM is funded by the European Commission and led by the Belgium manufacturer Derbigum. The other companies involved are: Flexcell, Kema, Meyer, Nolax, Guilbert Express, Eurinnov, ECN and B-Energy.

Eric Bertrand, Coordinator and Initiator of PV-GUM, says: “By the full factory integration of the PV cell into the bitumen membrane, we can realise significant reduction of the installation time of the PV roof system, providing simultaneously a durable waterproofing solution included in the modules itself.”

The main scope of the PV-GUM project is to fully integrate flexible thin-film solar PV modules in the roofing membrane during manufacturing.

The idea is that this new solar thin-film BIPV product will be low-cost, close to ‘classical’ high performance roofing membranes in terms of size and installation, have waterproofing properties and enhanced production of PV electricity, be robust, easy-to-install, sustainable and recyclable. It will mainly be suitable for flat roofs.

Pietro Menna, Scientific Project Officer at DG TREN in the European Commission, says: “The development of a European PV laminate production capacity on the basis of demonstrated new manufacturing equipment could significantly contribute to the growing BIPV market demand.”

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Green building  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity