As a supplier of goods and services to the Australasian market Solar Power Australia prides itself on sourcing only the best quality products for our customers. With this in mind we’ve identified Uni-Solar as a product that complements our existing product range, while adding a new dimension to our renewable energy solutions.
UNI-SOLAR products are lightweight, flexible and directly adhere to roofing surfaces, thus avoiding numerous roof penetrations. At less than 1 lb per square foot UNI-SOLAR’s PowerBondTM solar laminate is less than 1/5th the weight of crystalline solar panels. This makes them particularly valuable on low-load roof structures which cannot tolerate the weight or roof integrity risk posed by conventional solar systems. UNI-SOLAR products are particularly well suited for integration with membrane or metal roofing systems.
Two particular features of UNI-SOLAR modules that make them attractive in the Australasian market are their superior performance in both high temperatures and shade. In comparison to crystalline modules, the amorphous silicon technology used in UNI-SOLAR modules ensures that system performance is less affected by high temperatures and partial shading.
As the most proven, roof friendly solar solution, UNI-SOLAR has been installed by a number of leading global companies including Aldi, General Motors, K-Mart, Ikea, Target and Westfield with systems up to 12 MW in size, delivering superior power production for those seeking high energy savings and a greater return on investment.
Each UNI-SOLAR PV-laminate utilizes unique triple-junction thin-film solar cells made from amorphous silicon and silicon germanium. Each cell absorbs the blue, green and red light of the sun through the three layers of the cell.
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates convert a wider spectrum of light into electricity than conventional amorphous silicon modules.
Bypass diodes between each cell allow the module to produce power even when partially shaded or soiled. Conventional crystalline silicon PV-module
In a conventional crystalline silicon PV-module cells are connected across a string. Hence, if one cell is shaded or soiled, the power output of the total string is lost, usually 30 % or more.
In a UNI-SOLAR PV-laminate all cells are connected to each other via bypass diodes. Therefore, if one cell is shaded or soiled, only the power output of this one shaded cell is lost – usually less than 4.5%.
All amorphous silicon-based solar modules experience a predictable initial light-induced degradation (LID), which stabilises after a few hundred hours of light exposure (usually 3–10 weeks of outdoor exposure). United Solar has done extensive studies, showing that even after 1 000 hours of use UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates produce 88% of their initial power.
At the time of flash testing, performed on all UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates prior to shipment, a 15% assumed stabilisation allowance is built in, based on 12 % with an additional 25% safety factor. In this way, United Solar ensures that all modules perform as per rated power stated on the data sheet. Such 15 % allowance in initial power leads to UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates having a significantly higher output than the rated power when first installed.
Accordingly, our data sheets state “during the first 8–10 weeks of operation, electrical output usually exceeds specified ratings.
Power output may be higher by 15%, operating voltage may be higher by 11% and operating current may be higher by 4%”. As a result, we can ensure that UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are within our stated power tolerance of + / – 5 % after light-induced degradation. The minimum power of any product shipped from our factories is therefore:
Rated power x (1-tolerance) / (1– % LID allowance) In case of a product with a rated power of 144 Wp, + / – 5% tolerance and 15% LID allowance the minimum acceptable measured power before stabilisation is: 144 Wp x (1–0.05) / (1–0.15) = 160.9 Wp.
Due to the low temperature coefficient of UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates, rising module temperatures have only a little effect on the power output.
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates show excellent performance compared to other photovoltaic technologies, whether crystalline silicon or thin-film.
The comparatively high specific annual energy yield is due to the aforementioned exceptionally low and diffuse light performance, bypass diodes across each cell and the high energy yield achieved at high module temperatures due to the low temperature coefficient and the annealing process (healing radiation induced structural damages – the so-called Staebler-Wronski effect) – making them ideal for use in hot climates or BIPV.
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are extremely lightweight with only 3.6 kg / m2 or 0.7 lbs / sq. ft.
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are easy to install using common roofing techniques. PV and roofing can be installed at the same time
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are flexible, offering freedom of design to architects and they can also conform to curved surfaces.
Glass-free, encapsulated in UV-stabilised, weather resistant polymers, UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are resistant to wind and hail.
Lightweight panels are particularly designed for low-load bearing industrial or commercial rooftops. These are usually unable to be fitted with conventional solar systems made of glass-framed, tilted modules, which not only add their direct weight, but also further wind loads to the statics.
As UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are flexible, they can adapt to settling ground, they can even be installed in areas prone to surface movement, such as landfill sites.
The combination of these characteristics allows currently unused space to become available to photovoltaic systems’ renewable energy production.
Easy assembly without roof penetration maintains the integrity of the roofing material and its respective roofing guarantees. The low visual impact, its direct fixation to the roofing material paired with a glass-free encapsulation make the UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates impervious to vandalism or theft.
The textured module surface has a self-cleaning effect and by being anti-glare increases light absorption. While this attribute increases energy yield it also makes the UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates a perfect choice for reflection-sensitive applications such as at airports.
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates offer cost advantages inherent in the system due to:
Particularly attractive is the fact that no additional substructure is required for mounting reducing material and handling requirements. Higher Return on Investment
The advantages described combined with the high energy yield of the shadow and heat-tolerant triple-junction cell technology ensure a high rate of return on the investment over the system’s lifetime.
Our confidence in the long-term performance of our products allows us to offer a three-step performance warranty, which guarantees that the UNI-SOLAR module will produce:
UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are produced under efficient, ecologically friendly production parameters with lower material and energy input compared to conventional crystalline silicon modules.
Due to the volatility of the cost of silicon, crystalline manufacturers stress their improvements in material usage due to increased cell efficiency and reduced wafer thickness. Nevertheless, best in class crystalline manufacturers still require up to 6 g / W of silicon material input compared to 0.15 g / W of the UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates, i.e. 40x less than the best crystalline manufacturers.
Contrary to other thin-film technologies UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are produced without toxic cadmium and do not contain materials heavily used in the semiconductor industry that could be subjected to raw material shortages. The vacuum deposition process uses lower process temperatures leading to lower energy consumption during production.
The energy and material input is further reduced as UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates are encapsulated in polymers instead of glass. Glass encapsulation contributes up to 12 % of the total PV-module carbon footprint (Mariska de Wild-Scholten, ECN – Energy research center of the Netherlands, May 2009). Compared to conventional glass-based modules, UNI-SOLAR PV-laminates offer a better energy balance, providing higher contribution to the protection of the environment.
While our drive to helping the environment is inherent in all of our products, United Solar’s commitment to environmental sustainability moves beyond product development. As an environmentally responsible company of the global community we strive for our facilities, processes and products to exceed governmental regulations by implementing state-of-the-art expertise on environmental sustainability.
United Solar continues to reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and increases its energy efficiency efforts throughout its corporate offices and production facilities. Within the framework of our product life cycle management we take care from conception to completion to the end of life management of our installations.
As members of the PV Cycle Association United Solar works at the forefront of ensuring that photovoltaics deserve to be called a clean energy resource.
Research on fellow inhabitants powered by clean UNI-SOLAR solar technology