Plastic for photo voltaic panels? – pv journal USA

Three corporations are changing aluminum and glass with plastic to save lots of weight and achieve flexibility. We check out the professionals and cons.

Three producers, Merlin Photo voltaic, Solarge and LG, are transferring away from the usual aluminum and glass photo voltaic panel in an effort to scale back weight, emissions and price.

Merlin Photo voltaic’s product was not too long ago discovered on yachts in pv journal United States. Its worth is that, initially, it isn’t a regular framed product and due to this fact will be fastened on to a flat floor. Second, due to its distinctive busbar know-how, the product will be walked on with out harm.

Merlin Photo voltaic’s product has been included on solar-assisted yachts.

Merlin Photo voltaic’s major objective, nonetheless, is to position its product on industrial buildings with restricted out there collateral load – the quantity of weight that may be added to the roof of a construction and meet native constructing code laws – doesn’t enable the kilos per sq. foot (3-7 psf) required by a regular photo voltaic set up.

The corporate not too long ago put in 550 kWdp of its product on an oil storage tank in Rensselaer, New York. Merlin Photo voltaic acknowledged that this web site might neither help the extra weight nor acquire the proprietor’s approval for a fastening method that might puncture the construction’s outer roofing layer.

Merlin Photo voltaic’s product in a extra standard setting.

Merlin Photo voltaic additionally markets its product in a boxed format the place stronger structural attachment is required, or the place a extra inflexible photo voltaic panel is desired. Even so, the product weighs significantly lower than a regular photo voltaic panel as a result of it doesn’t use a glass windshield.

Solarge has launched a product that replaces the glass in a photo voltaic panel with a plastic product. At present, the corporate is manufacturing the panel on a pilot line that it has mentioned it hopes to broaden by the top of 2022. The corporate’s panel will be bought by itself or as a part of their east-west going through roof racking product. customized. .

The photo voltaic panel weighs just below 32 kilos (14.5 kg). For comparability, a Q Cell product made in Georgia weighs 43.8 kilos (19.9 kg). Within the east-west configuration and together with the shelving {hardware}, the Solarge DUO will weigh 1.35 psf (6.6 kg / m2). And remember the fact that the bottom allowable collateral load is usually round 3 lb / ft².

A degree emphasised by the producer is the obvious excessive emission of the product and its credibility when it comes to recyclability:

The product can have an 80% decrease CO2 footprint than standard photo voltaic panels and the panel is totally round in design and doesn’t use any per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) materials, in contrast to all different photo voltaic panels that use polymer movie as a substitute of glass.

LG Chem, which is a part of the conglomerate that additionally sells the profitable LG line of photo voltaic panels with a producing facility in Alabama, has introduced that it’s contemplating turning the aluminum photo voltaic panel frames into plastic.

LG Chem mentioned the product is as robust as aluminum, however cheaper and, in fact, light-weight. Whereas no particular figures can be found, a press launch from LG Chem mentioned its product will be made with post-consumer recycled polycarbonate, which can cut back body emissions.

LG Chem LUPOY plastic

Picture: LG Chem

The compound, known as LUPOY EU5201, is an engineering plastic produced from ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) resins with polycarbonate as the bottom and strengthened with glass fibers. Excessive temperatures on the roof are nicely tolerated by the compound, which includes a flame retardant. It will probably retain its form in a variety of temperatures on account of its low coefficient of thermal enlargement. And LG Chem claimed that the brand new compound is extremely proof against corrosion, impression and very UV resistant.

The corporate mentioned it began promoting merchandise within the third quarter, indicating that it could already be transferring to photo voltaic panel factories for ultimate manufacturing.


A shift to extra plastics in photo voltaic panels will entice the eye of these contemplating the environmental credibility of photo voltaic power. Whereas the manufacture of aluminum and glass makes use of an immense quantity of power, plastics are a serious contributor to world waste air pollution. They’re additionally produced from hydrocarbons (petroleum).

Nevertheless, the precise manufacture of plastics from hydrocarbons – a course of known as cracking – doesn’t launch emissions. It’s the power used to provide warmth – normally from fossil fuel – that leads to greenhouse fuel emissions.

On this writer’s expertise in constructing rooftop solar energy, entry to merchandise that would cut back psf by greater than 50% of what’s usually our lowest allowable collateral load of three psf would open up a considerable amount of rooftop area for growth.

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