A Dutch research team has used a series of techniques from the automotive industry to develop a new method for repairing the glass in double-glazed solar panels. Their experimental work represents a step towards converting glass-damaged solar panels from waste into valuable products.
“Until now, glass defects have been considered an unrepairable defect, and there has been no significant attempt to develop repair methods,” they emphasized and stated that their technology is based on methods applied in the automotive industry, where the repair of glass laminates has been done. long record. “Ultimately, the aim of this research is to increase the scarce scientific knowledge about the repair options for PV modules, especially glass-to-glass PV modules, and to try to put defective PV modules in a new perspective: from waste to valuable products.”
The researchers explained that glass breakage in glass-to-glass solar panels could lead to a breakdown of the insulation of the encapsulation layer, which would cause water and moisture to penetrate the modules or micro-cracks to form in the solar cells, which would be very detrimental to their performance.
The proposed technique is based on the German Novus Automotive GmbH’s edge pit repair method for windshields and the advice given by international glass expert Marcel Falk.
It is carried out in seven different steps: Determining freshness and end of fracture; Cooling or heating the PV module to the required temperature of 5 to 29 C; cleaning the module with window cleaner; adding repair resin to fractures in small drops; by applying drops of dimple resin over the larger edge dimples; placing an ultraviolet (UV) lamp at a distance of 20-30 cm and curing for at least 20 minutes; and check if all fractures have been repaired.
“The materials needed for the experimental repair consist of a repair resin and a well resin for the windshield, which are intended to restore the strength and insulation of the glass layers,” the researchers explained. “Furthermore, a UV lamp with an intensity of 108 W UVA is needed to strengthen the resin, the resin can also be cured with natural UV light.”
They performed accelerated lifetime damp heat simulations and performance and reliability tests to validate the effectiveness of the repair process. They compared the performance of 30 glass-damaged panels with the performance of undamaged modules, all from SolSolutions’ Netherlands-based solar installation. The group uses 290 W panels supplied by Chinese producer DMEGC.
Through this experiment, the research team ensured that the proposed method did not damage the repaired panels, which were found to be working “correctly” after repair and tests. “The absence of water degradation indicates that the repaired glass layers are insulating again,” it explained. “However, firm conclusions must be drawn with caution, as the unrepaired solar modules also showed no visual signs of water ingress.”
The researchers presented a new approach in their study “An Experimental Repair Technique for Glass Defects in Glass-Glass Solar PV Modules – Technical-Economic Analysis”, published in Solar energy materials and solar cells. “Overall, the first indicators of a technically feasible and effective repair technique are positive,” they concluded.