In the past years, the cost of photovoltaics has fallen rapidly. Today the cost of electricity production from solar PV modules has become so low that PV is now cost competitive with fossil fuel energy sources. This became possible through the successful transfer of R&D results to the practice and also due to the fast expansion of silicon photovoltaic production capacity over the past years. Up to now the primary focus has been on cost reduction, while sustainability aspects have remained in the background. There still exists room for improvement in optimizing the energy and material consumption during production. Research work that focuses on saving resources and fosters the future local production of photovoltaics is now in demand. For this reason, Fraunhofer ISE has created and further developed the so-called “in-situ” production of printed solar modules.
Air cooled condensers for dry heat rejection are generally enlarged on the air side by different kind of fins, such as louvered fins, wavy fins or offset strip fins. These fins are manufactured by metal sheets and connected to the tube walls by a metal-joining process. However the possible surface area enlargement is in the range of the surface area of the underlying metal sheets. In order to increase the surface area further on, without using more material, wire structures can be used as fins instead of metal sheets. The diameters of the wire structures are in the range of 50 to 250 µm. In addition fluid flow along wire structures experiences a very high heat transfer coefficient due to the repeating interruptions and small dimensions.
At the end of February the MATS power plant (Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar) was officially inaugurated in Borg El Arab near Alexandria in Egypt. The solar thermal power plant is the first of its kind and was developed in a project with participants from research centers and industry from Italy, France, UK, Germany and Egypt. The project manager Martin Karl was present at the opening ceremony and represented Fraunhofer ISE who provided scientific support for the project.
What is the ideal operating temperature for electric cars? At what temperature do they perform best? The participants of the European research project JOSPEL are addressing just these questions by assessing the optimization potential of electric vehicles. The project aim is to increase the energy efficiency and range of electric vehicles by applying efficient and cost-effective climate control solutions especially developed for battery electric vehicles. Experts at Fraunhofer ISE are working with industry partners on optimizing battery operation, with the goal of increasing battery lifetime through improved thermal management.
The global photovoltaic market is growing rapidly. While the optimization of the efficiency, service life and price has been the main focus of solar module development up to now, the appearance of solar modules is now gaining more and more attention. A new type of coating process promises new color variety for solar modules, while maintaining high module efficiency.