French off-grid specialist Sunwind has developed a lightweight, curved solar panel that can be used in ski resorts. It is currently working with CEA-Liten to develop its own solar panel encapsulation line.
French off-grid solutions provider Sunwind has developed a solar module that can be used in ski stations, ski lifts and resorts in high mountain areas.
“The mountain is in our DNA,” § company founder Xavier Duport said pv-lehti France. “The high mountain environment promotes the production of solar electricity due to higher radiation, less air pollution and a stronger albedo effect, which brings 5-10% more production in the winter months due to the snow cover.”
For the modules, the company uses a special encapsulation process based on a multi-layer composite layer that gives them the exact shape of the replacement polycarbonate side windows.
“It all started at the Serre-Chevalier ski resort in the Hautes-Alpes region, where we solarized a ski lift station for the first time by replacing polycarbonate canopies with our semi-rigid photovoltaic panels called eV+, which are five times lighter than a framed glass module,” said Duport.
The 20% efficient panels are 1020mm x 2000mm and use PERC solar cells. The products can be used in photovoltaic systems with a power range of 7 kW to 12 kW depending on the surface size.
“There are a dozen ski areas in France equipped with eV+ panels, so we have opened a new market for ski lift manufacturers,” he said. “We are partners of the Italian Leitner and the French Poma, who are now taking us internationally. Poma offers the installation of eV+ solar panels as standard in its catalog of ski lift stations as well as in the retrofitting of existing stations. The cottages are small off-grid networks equipped with eV+ panels and a battery.
Sunwind currently encapsulates the panels on the Italian subcontractor Solbian’s production line, but it hopes to have its own production equipment in place soon.
“We have started a research program with CEA Liten and the Rhône-Alpes region to develop our own encapsulation line, which could initially reach 40 MW to 50 MW per year,” Duport said. “We want to offer a 100% European or even 100% French product within two years.
Sunwind doesn’t want to limit itself to ski resorts and aims to offer eV+ panels to the construction world.
“We are also going to take advantage of a market that is still underutilized, the market for industrial building facades and solar noise barriers,” said Duport.